YMJ014 Little “s” submission flows out of BIG “S” submission

Sep 3, 2023You and Me and Jesus Podcast

Listen to "Little s submission flows from BIG S submission" Here

Picture of podcast co-hosts Carey Green & Mindi Green, hugging.

HOSTS: Carey & Mindi Green

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What does the Bible really say about a wife submitting to her husband?

It’s pretty clear in scripture, wives ARE INDEED to submit to their husbands. It’s unavoidable.

EPHESIANS 5:22 – Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

EPHESIANS 5:24 – Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

COLOSSIANS 3:18 – Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

But what does it really MEAN for a wife to submit?

Is it demeaning subservience and loss of identity (as some would claim)?

Is it a partnership of sorts, putting her on equaly footing with her husband because he too, as a Christian, is supposed to submit to her as his Christian sister (as some wrongly assert)?

It’s neither of these. Think of it this way…

You are a violinist in a symphony orchestra and you’ve auditioned with the conductor and out of all the violenists, you are chosen to be the first chair violinist. This means you are the most skilled, beste player in the violin section of the orchestra.

But despite being incredibly talented, a professional violinist, you must submit to the conductor and follow his/her instructions. That’s truly an incredible thing when you realize that the conductor may never have played a violin, and certainly not at your level of skill. But you do it willingly, for the good of the entire orchestra.

But imagine what would happen if every first chair player in the orchestra – trumpeter, trombonist, percussionist, had a non-submissive attitude toward the conductor. What would happen? Their resistence to the conductor’s position as leader would create disunity and a lack of harmony within the orchestra. Those ultra-talented individuals within the orchestra would be noticed, but for all the wrong reasons.

This analogy is helpful when we seek to understand the biblical teaching of wives submitting to their husbands. That’s because the violinist’s submission to the conductor says nothing about her value or skill or talent. It only speaks to her role within the orchestra.

Biblically, the term “submission” is applied to the wife’s role of “helper” (see episode 12 of this podcast for to hear more about that biblical teaching). It’s within that role in her marriage that submission takes on its full meaning and proper significance.

The fear surrounding the notion of submission is understandable

Mindi and I fully acknowledge the fear and hesitation women may have when considering submission to their husbands. Everyone feels hesitant to submit themselves to flawed and sinful individuals, which is exactly what’s happening when a wife submits to her husband. But the issue is larger than that. There is a responsibility Christian wives have to the Lord that insists that she overcome her fear, replace it with an attitude of faith, and trust that God (who gave her the instruction to submit) knows what He is doing.

God, who is perfectly loving and wise has given her the command to submit to her husband, and so out of honor for Him, she must learn to obey what He’s said. You might say that her “little s” submission (to her husband) has to flow out of her “BIG S” submission to the Lord Himself.

Fear can only be overcome as Christian wives trust God as they submit to their husbands. The idea is that God is bigger, stronger, and wiser than their husband – so God can handle him even if he is not very respectable, wise, or loving. Her faith in God enables her obey while relying on Him to do what only He can do in her husband’s life.

Takeover syndrome (a bad approach), and what to do instead.

When a wife doesn’t feel able to rest in the Lord, when she’s anxious and worried, and concerned (sometimes legitimately) for what will happen if her husband doesn’t fulfill his role as head of the home, she may be tempted to take over the areas where he is failing. She’d rather see SOMETHING done than nothing, and in so doing many wives encroach on their husband’s role as head, which in turn, often causes him to back off even more. 

Taking over and assuming the husband’s role is not the solution and it goes against the biblical principle of submission. Christian wives, you need to learn two things:

  1. How to lean on God through prayer.
  2. How to wait on God for His work to be done in your husband.


If it’s all you can do to NOT take over where your husband is slacking, there is something powerful you CAN do. Pray.

Think of this as a “prayer project” where you are coming to God in complete dependence day after day. Pursue God’s blessing and transforming power for your situation without letting up, asking Him to do what only He can do. Ask for the specific changes in your husband’s heart that you’re longing to see. Read God’s instructions for husbands found in Ephesians chapter 5 and pray for God to do THOSE things in your husband. 

In this way, you’re asking God for the things He desires for all husbands, so pray in faith, expecting Him to do miracles in your situation.


The heart of faith that seeks for God’s help is a heart that is first of all, submissive to Him, which means being willing to wait for His perfect timing. God is not slow in keeping His promises. He does things right on time, every time.

Waiting on Him to bring about change in your situation is an act of faith. It’s an opportunity for you to trust Him, to continue expecting from Him, and to see Him care for you in little and big ways AS you wait for His hand to move.

Don’t grow wearing in the waiting. Don’t allow the slowness (from your perspective) to make you cynical or discouraged. Cling to God as Job did, with a willingness to genuinely say from  your heart, “Even if He slays me, I will trust Him!” (Job 13:215).

Fight the urge to disrespect your husband (even when he’s not very respectable)

Disrespecting your husband may feel justified and fitting if he’s not fulfilling his role as head of your home and as loving leader in your relationship. But stop and think that through…

First, that attitude is worldly and sinful, Period. It’s very unfitting for a woman who calls herself a daughter of the King of kings.

Second, disprespect makes your frustrations and problems even worse, ruining the potential of a good marriage.

Respecting toward your husband is an act of obedience to the Lord. As we said in episode 13, your respect of your husband is a tool in God’s hands, to turn the heart of your husband toward the character and integrity that God wants to build into him.

When thinking of the biblical instruction to submit to their husbands, Christian wives should keep in mind WHO is giving the instruction. It's the God of the universe, the one to whom they will one day give account.

Christian wives are a slaves to righteousness

The Apostle Paul paints an intriguing picture by comparing the life we came from, before placing our faith in Jesus, to the life and role we have now.

Romans 6:17-18But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.

Follow Paul’s logic:

You used to be a slave to sin. In other words, you HAD to obey it.

But you became “obedient” to the teaching about Jesus that you heard and placed your Faith in Jesus.

This was a fundamental change in your life, and in your very identity.

Your status as a slave suddenly changed: you are no longer a slave to sin, but instead are now a slave to righteousness – God’s righteousness.

That means that you now you MUST obey God, you MUST carry out His righteous desire for your life. And if you’re a Christian wife, submission is part of that “must.”

Embrace the priviledge of having a part to play in God’s redemptive story for history. Accept and delight in the specifics of that role as a wifes, mother, and helper to your husband. As you do, you will find the Lord smiling on you, taking pleasure in your humble submission to HIS plan for your life. And you may begin to see change happening in your husband as a result as well.

When submission is painfully or dangerously difficult

I acknowledge that there may be situations where abuse is taking place in a marriage, both physical and emotional. What should submission look like for a wife in a situation like this?

Mindi believes that God’s wisdom would guide the woman to move herself out of such harmful situations so that the wrong does not continue. But she suggests this with the emphasis that the separation is made while maintaining a mindset of submission and hope for the abuser’s repentance.

Guard yourself against bitterness. It’s natural in situations where mistreatment is ongoing, but remember our sisters that you are NOT natural women, you are supernatural by virtue of the Spirit of God living in you.

Continue to pray for your husband. Continue to plead with him to get help, to move closer to the Lord, and to know that you are ready to reconcile when he’s ready to humble himself under the instruction of God and accountability of Christian brothers and sisters (a local church family).

Hold onto faith and trust in God’s ability to bring about restoration and miracles on your behalf.

Don’t give in to discouragement. Fight for your marriage. Do not let the enemy destroy it.

Jesus is our example of suffering for the sake of honoring God’s plan. We are his followers. You are His follower, so walk (live) as He walked (lived).

What the bible says about submission for Christian wives (1)

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Father, we thank You for Your word and the truth that it conveys to us. It’s hard sometimes to get our hearts around what that truth means for us when our circumstance is so hard and so confusing and has been going on for a long, long time. And so we just ask for an overflowing amount of Your grace for women who are in scenarios like that and just need to understand what it looks like in their setting. How should they orient their hearts? How should they direct their thoughts? How should they commit themselves to prayer? How should they take action to disrupt a cycle of sinful behavior if needed?

Lord, show our dear sisters how to apply this rightly.

And for the many, I’m sure, who are out there who are truly wanting to better love their husbands and things are pretty good right now, but they want to do this even better – Lord, inspire them and motivate them and encourage them how to be that one who encourages and, respects, and builds up, and does so through submission in a way that affirms their husband and makes him into the man he’s supposed to be, even indirectly. Lord, we’re just asking You to do these things.

In the name of our King, Jesus.