Shows Main Idea – How do I practically respond to my husband when he demands submission to all his wishes regardless of what they are? How does a coequal hierarchy practically work out in a marriage like that? He does not evaluate my opinion on its merit; he tells me to obey him because disobedience to him is disobedience to the Lord.
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Supporting Member – Does biblical submission mean my husband has final say in all decisions?
I would not frame the question that way. It’s too narrow and misses the beauty and practicality of what a biblical marriage should be. Framing the issue as you have sounded more like a dictatorship than a one-flesh covenant. Who has the “final say in all discussions” is a behavioral talking point that reveals the heart of a marriage that is not right.
Marriage is a collaboration within a humble, coequal hierarchy. I’m the head of our family, but I do not discount my wife’s views because she is coequal with me. Coequality and headship do not compete. Or, they should not.
A husband should never make his wife feel insignificant, unimportant, or a nuisance. Those kinds of “relational negatives” speak to the ineffectiveness of his leadership. Biblical husbands create an environment that invites the “submitted” to speak, ask questions, present other opinions, and humbly disagree.
I welcome my wife’s opinions because she has perspectives I don’t have. I would be a fool not to confer with my wife. Does my desire for her wisdom weaken my headship? Does my reliance on her opinions negate the necessity of my leadership? Absolutely not on both counts.
I’m not competing with my wife, neither am I insecure when she offers an alternate opinion. She’s not competing with me either. She does not want to lead, and she does not want relegation to the role of the eldest child in our home. Competition and relegation are non-arguments.
If they become “arguments” in your home, your marriage is not a biblical one. If your marriage is negotiating over headship, submission, and coequality, I appeal to you to find help from your church.
The Final Say
I assume you have made your appeals to your husband following the Matthew 18:15-17 template. You do this to restore your husband to Christ, and then to you (Galatians 6:1-2). This may mean you must press your church to confront him. Until this happens, you guys will forever disagree on the “submission issues” that occur, and, as you know, there is no end to these kinds of disagreements.
Sometimes wives are so confused about the submission thing that they believe they are disobeying God when they think differently from their husbands. This kind of murkiness typically happens because the husband equates total submission to him as total obedience to the Lord. “If you disagree with me about anything, you are disobeying God.”
His opinion of you is not the main opinion you want to control your life. Does the Lord see you as a submissive wife? That is the opinion you want governing your mind.
The more important questions are:
- Do you want to submit to your husband?
- Are you characterized as a submissive wife?
Don’t equate lack of submission to disagreeing with your husband. Lucia can disagree with me, but that does not mean she’s an unsubmissive person. This is where coequality and hierarchy come into play
- You are coequal under God, thus, you have your opinions, which may not agree with his.
- You are daily submitted to him because that is your heart.
Ten Practical Points
- Always affirm your love to your husband?
- Submit to him as much as you can, as often as you can?
- Be sure your characterization is submission to your husband.
- Make sure you fully understand his perspective when it’s different from yours.
- Each “submission situation” is unique. It does not have to be wrong for you to disagree with your husband. These are “Spirit-led” moments where you have to decide. The prerequisites to disagreeing are (1) you love your husband, (2) you want to submit to him, and (3) you are characterized as a submissive wife.
- Let others know about this problem because it rarely corrects itself.
- Be sure you’re not in a position where he will physically harm you.
- Guard your mind and body against things to alleviate the suffering you’re going through, e.g., drinking alcohol, binge TV watching, excessive eating, a relationship with another man.
- Share this podcast with your husband and your pastor.
- Read the book I wrote with Brandi Huerta called, Complete Marriage