Does Christianity really say wives submit to your husbands?

Does Christianity really say wives submit to your husbands? Well, that depends. The English words say that. Unless we take the time to read the rest of the sentence in which they occur. If we turn to the spirit of the words, no, it doesn’t necessarily say that at all. I ask because I was going to write about something totally different today. That is, until I read the headline – Grace Community Church Leaders under Fire for ‘Excommunicating’ Wife Who Refused to Stay with Abusive Husband. That is, in a word, disgusting! And it’s a misuse of the verse in question. So, in another word, it’s wrong.

Does Christianity really say wives submit to your husbands?

The original version of this was published in The ROYS Report under John MacArthur Shamed, Excommunicated Mother for Refusing to Take Back Child Abuser. According to their site, The Roys Report is a Christian media outlet, reporting the unvarnished truth about what’s happening in the Christian community so the church can be reformed and restored.

For those that don’t know about Grace Community Church, it’s led by Pastor John MacArthur. I use some of his material in my research and quote him in my writing. It’s very disappointing to read about this situation. However, I must also say, some of what I wrote about him relates to stepping outside the boundaries of what I believe Jesus taught us. But this is, by far, the worst I remember.

This is just awful. The reason I’m writing isn’t to pile on. Rather, my goal is to say that this is not Christian. This kind of treatment of someone who needed help and protection is so far from what Jesus taught and the examples He gave us. No woman in this situation should be afraid to go to a Christian church for help. But if you do encounter this – go to another church! One man’s or one church’s misuse of an important verse should turn someone away from Jesus. No one.

And if you’re not Christian, know that what was done at this church is not, in any way, how Jesus commanded us to act. Rather, it’s very much like the illustration. It’s something that should never have been done.

Where does the Bible say, Wives submit to your husbands?

Wives submit to your husbands is in the NIV twice:

  • Ephesians 5:22
  • Colossians 3:18

There’s a reason why I only gave the chapter/verse locations. Why? Because giving you the entire verse right away makes the incredible error of what happened to this poor woman instantly obvious. Incredibly obvious. And before you read it, I want to try to be sure you’ve gotten the point – the interpretation and subsequent actions taken at Grace Community Church are just so, so wrong.

So – let’s look at both instances. First, just the sentences, as translated into English.

Wives submit to your husbands – Ephesians 5:22

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

Wives submit to your husbands – Colossians 3:18

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

What do Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18 say?

As you can plainly see, in English (unless you’re viewing a translated page), the words “wives submit to your husbands” are in both verses.

However, it’s also plainly obvious that there’s more to the sentence. One says as to the Lord. The other includes as is fitting in the Lord. As you might expect, the presence of “the Lord” greatly changes the meaning of both sentences. Both commands.

In order to learn more precisely what difference adding “the Lord” makes, let’s check out both verses in the context of their respective passages.

Wives and Husbands in Ephesians

Wives and Husbands

5:22-6:9 pp — Col 3:18-4:1

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

We’ll get into more context in a moment, but first I want to point out two things.

    1. Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
    2. Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

I feel like I should be able to just stop writing here. I should be able to “drop the mic” and click publish. And yet, I know that for some, this isn’t enough. Not nearly enough. If it was, the events at Grace Community Church would never have happened!

So – better get another mic and keep going.

Rules for Christian Households in Colossians

Rules for Christian Households

3:18-4:1 pp — Eph 5:22-6:9

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

Col 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Col 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Col 3:21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Col 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.

OK – now we add the household – the entire family – onto the first passage about husbands and wives. It adds children.

Are we done now? Can I drop the mic and hit publish now?

No. Instead I just taped the mic into my hand. There’s just too much coming to risk even dropping it by accident. And I’m surely not going to even think I’m near done yet.

This is going to feel like a horror movie as we move on. But it isn’t. It’s real life. And as I proceed, I want you to think about “god”. The “god” you believe in. And you do believe in some “god”, even if it’s yourself (like my father did) or money or power or whatever. And then compare your “god”, the version of God exemplified by this incident, and what God said about Himself in the Bible. Finally, in the end, there will be one last question. Which of those three “gods” do you want to believe in?

Why are the references to “the Lord” so important?

Hopefully you realized I made a big deal of “the Lord” in both passages. Even within the verse containing wives submit to your husbands. Why?

Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord – in Ephesians

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

Here’s John MacArthur’s own analysis of this verse from his study Bible.

5:22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands. Having established the foundational principle of submission (v. 21), Paul applied it first to the wife. The command is unqualified, applying to every Christian wife, no matter what her own abilities, education, knowledge of Scripture, spiritual maturity, or any other qualifications might be in relation to those of her husband. The submission is not the husband’s to command but for the wife to willingly and lovingly offer.

“Your own husbands” limits her submission to the one man God has placed over her, and also gives a balancing emphasis that he is hers as a personal intimate possession (SS 2:16; 6:3; 7:10). She submits to the man she possesses as her own. as to the Lord. Because the obedient, spiritual wife’s supreme submission is to the Lord, her attitude is that she lovingly submits as an act of obedience to the Lord who has given this command as His will for her, regardless of her husband’s personal worthiness or spiritual condition. Cf. vv. 5–9.  [1]MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Eph 5:22). Thomas Nelson Publishers.

What’s wrong with this?

Is wives submit to your husbands really unconditional?

MacArthur says, The command is unqualified, applying to every Christian wife, no matter what her own abilities, education, knowledge of Scripture, spiritual maturity, or any other qualifications might be in relation to those of her husband. And then, he goes on to say, Because the obedient, spiritual wife’s supreme submission is to the Lord, her attitude is that she lovingly submits as an act of obedience to the Lord who has given this command as His will for her, regardless of her husband’s personal worthiness or spiritual condition.

Wow. Unconditional. No matter what. And even specifically saying it’s still up to the wife to obey the husband, regardless of his spiritual condition. Does this mean even if he’s evil, the wife who knows better must still submit to the husband, even when she knows his desires and actions are contrary to what God expects?

I don’t think so. MacArthur clearly does. But here’s another point of view. One that looks deeper into the context, rather than just taking such an absolute position.

5:22. As unto the Lord: This is a comparative clause. But in Greek there are two different types of comparative clauses. (1) Elucidation, which means that wives are to give their husbands the same unquestioned, absolute submission they give Christ. Would this apostle expect wives to render the same submission to imperfect husbands they give to their perfect Lord, when other apostles recognized the periodic need for believers to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29), if the wills of human and divine authorities clash? It is better, then, to take this comparative clause as that of (2) emphasis, which means that wives are to submit to their husbands as submission rendered by them truly is submission rendered to Christ Himself. When the wife yields her will to that of her husband, she yields to the Lord—provided the husband’s directions are “in the fear of God” (v. 21) or in line with God’s will.  [2]King James Version study Bible . (electronic ed., Eph 5:22). (1997). Thomas Nelson.

The authors of the King James Study Bible, I believe, ask an incredibly important question. Would this apostle expect wives to render the same submission to imperfect husbands they give to their perfect Lord, when other apostles recognized the periodic need for believers to obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29), if the wills of human and divine authorities clash?

Then, they go on to explain their reasoning process, using the phrase “as to the Lord”.

Did God really want a woman to be in an abusive relationship?

Macarthur wrote – her attitude is that she lovingly submits as an act of obedience to the Lord who has given this command as His will for her, regardless of her husband’s personal worthiness or spiritual condition. Cf. vv. 5–9.

Does he believe God’s will is for her to be in an abusive relationship? And even worse, once she finds out she’s in such a relationship, does God’s will demand that she remain in it? Actually, yes, he does.

This is my main issue with MacArthur and others who believe in an extreme version of pre-destiny. I believe it turns God into the author of evil. The extreme alternative is a world where God gives us total free will, and just sits back and watches.

All of this is a very complex topic. As such, I’m not going to get into it here. However, I do have a series of three articles on it, including my conclusion that the Bible shows evidence of both predestination and free will. Although, I worry about taking either of them to the extreme, because it leads us to a dangerous place in our understanding of God. I don’t believe He’s the author of evil. Neither do I believe He’s just watching as an uninvolved observer.

If you want to examine the question in more detail, here are the articles on free will versus predestination:

  1. Introduction to predestiny and free will
  2. The problem of predestiny
  3. The Problem of Free Will
  4. The problem of Either/Or: Free Will vs Predestiny

Another related article is The “knowledge of evil” versus “actual evil”. It shows the difference between knowing about evil and actually perpetrating evil.

Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord – in Colossians

Now, let’s turn to the wives submit to your husbands verse in Colossians.

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

Once again, let’s begin with John MacArthur’s analysis.

3:18 be subject. See notes on Eph 5:22, 23. The Gr. verb denotes willingly putting oneself under someone or something (cf. Lk 2:51; 10:17, 20; Ro 8:7; 13:1, 5; 1Co 15:27, 28; Eph 1:22).  [3]MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Col 3:18). Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Merely a reference back to the Ephesians verse. Except that it adds in Eph 5:23. We’ll get to that shortly.

The King James Study Bible is a bit longer. It also adds a comment about the relative importance of submitting to Christ and submitting to the husband. A thought that’s totally lacking from MacArthur. Given his stance on God putting the woman into the abusive relationship, this isn’t surprising. It’s very sad. Unfortunately, not surprising.

All things considered, it’s pretty easy to see why Grace Community Church did what they did. And it’s pretty bad. However, we’re still nowhere near done!

So what did this wife have to deal with in her husband?

So far, I haven’t said anything about the husband. I think it’s time. As we go through the remainder of the passage, we need to know what kind of husband this woman had. After all, I’ve said I see issues with claiming God wanted this kind of husband for her. Or for any other woman.

Also, I believe the church directed their “help” and extracted Biblical quotes at the wrong person. That becomes more and more obvious as we look at both the remainder of each of the two passages and at the husband. The truth is, the situation in that household is far worse than the headline implies. Remember, the headline? Grace Community Church Leaders under Fire for ‘Excommunicating’ Wife Who Refused to Stay with Abusive Husband.

So, here’s a bit about the abusive husband.

He is now serving 21 years to life in a California prison for his convictions for aggravated child molestation, corporal injury to a child and child abuse.

I read that and had to ask – are you kidding me? A father abusing his child, and this church says God wanted this for the wife? Presumably, since they were silent on the child, God must have wanted this for the child as well? God ordained this and wanted them to remain in that situation?

And what about the church’s actions and words? Would you believe, MacArthur said, “This is what the Lord wants. He wants discipline … to be put out of the church, to be publicly shamed, to be put away from fellowship. In this case, it applies to …” {I chose not to include the woman’s name, but he did name her to the congregation in a sermon). That sounds very Old Testament.

What happened to what Jesus said in verses 12-13 below?

The Calling of Matthew

9:9-13 pp — Mk 2:14-17; Lk 5:27-32

Mt 9:9 As Jesus went on from there, he saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” he told him, and Matthew got up and followed him.

Mt 9:10 While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and “sinners” came and ate with him and his disciples. 11 When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and ‘sinners’?”

Mt 9:12 On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Where was the mercy here? And that’s the least of my comments about this. It continued:

MacArthur said that (wife’s name)had left her husband, (husband’s name), after she reported to the church elders that he was mentally and physically abusive.

He said (wife’s name) rejected “all the instruction and counsel of the elders, all instruction from the Word of God.”

He also told the church to pray for her and to “treat her as an unbeliever – for all we know, she may be.”

What about the husband? There’s nothing about speaking to him, praying for him, or considering him an unbeliever.

And there’s more.

(wife’s name) said church leaders told her that she needed to “suffer for Jesus” and stay with her husband.

Really? Suffer for Jesus? And again, what about the child? Presumably, the child must also suffer for Jesus?

The church went even further though.

She got a restraining order against her husband.  However, according to a report, church members and staff also reportedly visited (wife’s name) home and sent her letters warning that she would face church discipline if she did not obey the request of church elders’ to drop the restraining order against David and get back together with him.

What about the child?

I already asked this question multiple times, but what about the child? Did God want this for the child? Did God ordain that this must happen to the child and that it should continue unhindered by any means?

At this point, let me just say something, and then we’ll return to it later. The mother asked for counseling. She was told by Grace Community Church leaders that professional counseling is “worldly” and wrong. Since I go to a church where Biblically-based counseling references are available, I obviously do not believe this is wrong. Having been through Biblically based-counseling myself, adds to that belief. Being married to someone who offers Biblically based-counseling, my belief is that much stronger. Of course, I’m not saying everyone who offers it is necessarily good at it. However, those who do it right have knowledge of both the Bible and counseling. Here in California, to be a licensed marriage and family counselor, a masters degree in an appropriate field and some number of supervised hours of counseling are required.

In any case, I just want to say that she did ask for counseling and the church said it was wrong. Later, we’ll get into the matter of forgiveness, looking at a booklet written by John MacArthur.

Therefore, for now, the question of – what about the child – is still not answered. In fact, not even addressed!

What else did Ephesians say about the topic of wives submit to your husbands?

As a reminder, let’s take another look at the Ephesians passage.

Wives and Husbandsw

5:22-6:9 pp — Col 3:18-4:1

Eph 5:22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Now, let’s break this down. Then we’ll see other places where the Grace Community Church interpretation falls apart. And, where they let this woman down.

The husband is the head of the wife …

Yes, it does say “the husband is the head of the wife. However – and it’s a really huge however, it doesn’t stop there! There’s more to it. And by carving out those few words, we totally lose the meaning behind the passage as a whole.

23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.

OK – we get into some real issues with this one.

Christ is the head of the church. No problem there. The husband is the head of the wife. Certainly, in Jesus’ time, that was pretty much the way it was. These days, not so much. However, I don’t believe we even need to belabor the point. The real problem here is that Jesus is always good. Always acts in a loving way. This husband didn’t. The comparison of Christ to any husband is always going to have the husband coming up short. But, there’s another level to this.

One of the comments MacArthur made in his sermon was: “treat her as an unbeliever – for all we know, she may be.” What about the husband? Was his behavior indicative of a believer? Lest there be any doubt, nom it wasn’t. She wanted counseling to improve the situation. The church told her no. One of the leaders did this instead. “He would teach me over and over ‘the threefold promise of forgiveness’ . . .” she stated, “where you act as though it never happened, and you never bring it up again, and you never tell anyone about it.”

The role of forgiveness in wives submit to your husbands

Let’s take a moment and look at forgiveness. You probably remember, or have been told about, the passage below.

Sin, Faith, Duty

Lk 17:1 Jesus said to his disciples: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. 2 It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. 3 So watch yourselves.
“If your brother sins, rebuke him, and if he repents, forgive him. 4 If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Lk 17:5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”

Lk 17:6 He replied, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it will obey you.

Lk 17:7 “Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, ‘Come along now and sit down to eat’? 8 Would he not rather say, ‘Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink’? 9 Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? 10 So you also, when you have done everything you were told to do, should say, ‘We are unworthy servants; we have only done our duty.’ ”

So – what’s she supposed to do? Pray for increased faith? Continue to let her child be abused until her faith is increased enough? Why? Because obviously, from the church’s point of view, this is all her fault. She’s the one who left her husband to save herself and her child from his abuse.

No! That’s ignoring something else in the passage. And ignoring something else in the lives of these people. In verse 4 Jesus said, If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”

Here’s the thing about that. The husband did not repent. And even if the words were there, the actions weren’t. On top of that, his sins against the child. So we’re still going back to the question of what about the child?

So – I went to MacArthur’s Answering the Hard Questions About Forgiveness booklet.

Sure enough, it has one verse from the passage I just put in above.

How Should We Handle Repeat Offenses?

Jesus answered this question expressly in Luke 17:3-4: “If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Again, our forgiveness is supposed to be lavish, enthusiastic, eager, freely offered, and unconstrained—even for repeat offenders. After all, we are all repeat offenders against God.

Immediately after that, he addresses the question of not truly repenting. Notice especially the underlined sentences below.

But What If There Is Reason To Think That the Offender’s “Repentance” Is a Sham?

In normal circumstances, love obliges us to assume the best about those who profess repentance (1 Cor. 13:7). Scripture does suggest, however, that there are certain times when it is legitimate to demand fruits of repentance before assuming that someone’s profession of repentance is genuine (Matt. 3:8; Luke 3:8).

One author paints a hypothetical scenario where an offender intentionally punches an innocent person in the nose. After the first offense, the offender asks for, and receives, forgiveness. Moments later, in another unprovoked attack, he punches the same person in the nose a second time. The cycle is repeated a third time, and a fourth, and so on, with the bully professing repentance each time and the victim granting forgiveness each time. That author suggests this is how Jesus’ words are to be interpreted: “If he . . . returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” All the offender needs to do is to say he repents, and the offended person is obliged to forgive.

But that is far too wooden an interpretation of Jesus’ words. Our Lord was not suggesting that the disciples should throw discernment out the window when it comes to evaluating a person’s repentance. Nothing in the context of Luke 17:3-4 suggests that the offense Jesus had in mind was deliberate or that the repentance was feigned.

In fact, it is important to be wary of feigned repentance in cases like the hypothetical one just described. Such deliberately repeated offenses, especially when accompanied by phony repentance, are evidence of a profoundly evil character and a cynical hatred of the truth. John the Baptist was justified in refusing baptism to the Pharisees until they showed the reality of their profession of repentance (Matt. 3:8).

So there are times when it is sheer folly to accept a mere profession of repentance, especially in the wake of several deliberate repeat offenses.

Nonetheless, even after multiple offenses, the offended person must be prepared to forgive—eager to forgive—unless there remains some very compelling reason to doubt the offender’s profession of repentance. Even the hardest and most deliberate offender should never be permanently written off; rather, complete forgiveness and reconciliation should remain the offended person’s goal.

There is a difference between continuing to forgive when there’s no repentance and forgiving when there is repentance. So why must this woman, with her abused child, continue to forgive when there’s nothing resemblance repentance that appears to exist? In fact, she wanted help, via counseling, as opposed to writing him off. However, it was the church who said no.

Granted, we only have one side of the story here. So far, the church is refusing to comment.

Husbands love your wives

Now we have yet another verse where the husband did not live up to what was expected.

Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

This particular husband doesn’t appear to be anywhere near being able to do any of these things. And yet, the church ex-communicated the wife.

What else did Colossians say about the topic of wives submit to your husbands?

Here’s the passage again.

Rules for Christian Households

3:18-4:1 pp — Eph 5:22-6:9

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

Col 3:19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Col 3:20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Col 3:21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

The part about husbands, love your wives echoes the thought in Ephesians.

On the issue of children, obey your parents, I can’t imagine how that was interpreted. However, we do have MacArthur’s words in his study Bible. And they are fascinating.

3:20 in all things. See notes on Eph 6:1–3. The only limit on a child’s obedience is when parents demand something contrary to God’s Word. For example, some children will act contrary to their parents’ wishes even in coming to Christ (cf. Lk 12:51–53; 14:26).  [4]MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Col 3:20). Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Wow. The child is allowed to ignore a parent’s commands if they violate God’s words. And yet, the wife, seemingly, doesn’t have that same right? For those of you that don’t live in California, the law here requires something that did not happen. The wife went to the church with issues of abuse. At that point, anyone who is aware of abuse allegation must report it to authorities. The church did not do this. Even though:

Submission to the Authorities

Ro 13:1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4 For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

Ro 13:6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. 7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.

Interesting, isn’t it? This did not happen. The church did not submit to the authorities. Not even, apparently, because of conscience. One more time – what about the child?

What about counseling?

We saw that this church thinks counseling is worldly and wrong. Tell me, what’s wrong with the following segment?

Intervention. The first intervention in child maltreatment is generally a report to the child protective services system. Many of the factors that predispose individuals to parenting problems are increased as a result of being identified as having maltreated a child (e.g., self-esteem is lowered, isolation is increased), a fact that makes remediation even more difficult. It is critical that the services to support children and families be commensurate with the stress that charges, inquiries, and labeling will inevitably bring. The present system, however, is designed primarily for protection rather than assistance.

Primary prevention efforts to decrease the risk of maltreatment would be most effective if begun prenatally. The provision of adequate health care, parenting information, community resources, and assistance in developing healthy social support would decrease risk of maltreatment. Services must be presented in a manner that is culturally sensitive, nonthreatening, and consistent with the stated needs of these families. Social support provides feedback to parents about their parenting, clarifies expectations about children, and helps with concrete tasks (e.g., outside contacts provide respite from continual interaction that may fuel impulsive, abusive behavior). Support also enables parents to control impulses through meeting their emotional needs and thus allowing appropriate attention to their children.

Intervention following the identification of maltreatment usually means removal of the child from the parents and placement in a children’s home or foster care. Children tend to improve emotionally and behaviorally, but the solution is temporary and costly. When to return the children is a vexing problem. Recent efforts have focused on maintaining the child in the home. First, economic assistance and linkages to social services are necessary to help the family utilize other treatments most effectively. Next, intensive therapeutic and support services utilize an intensive, case-manager approach that allows access to many sources of economic and educational support, with the continued option of out-of-home placement for limited progress. Components of these approaches include group therapy and support groups (e.g., Parents Anonymous), home visitation, and parent education. Home visits provide parental support and instruction in child management and stimulation, leading to improved child-rearing skills and adjustment in parents when the intervention is sufficiently prolonged (one to three years) and a sound therapeutic alliance is formed with the parent. Group education impacts parental knowledge and attitudes, especially when a broad scope of material (e.g., child development, anger management), which includes information specific to the stress in parents’ lives, is presented.

With some environmental stabilization, traditional psychotherapies can have an effect. There are inherent difficulties in initiating therapy with families who have maltreated their children. However, efforts should be made to address individual caregiver problems and family system problems. Individual therapy should address general emotional disturbance and specific issues of caregivers who were abused as children. Referrals for treatment of substance abuse may be indicated. Family therapy is an important intervention not only for improving parent-child relationships but also for addressing problems of marital discord or spousal abuse. Assisting parents in relating to their children in appropriately nurturing ways can decrease children’s opposition, which is often fueled by their non-nurturant experiences with parents. Finally, teaching the child to adhere to rules and develop self-control would decrease the risk of abuse.

Therapists who consider the Christian viewpoint must be clear about their role: to protect the child, to preserve the family, and to promote the healthy growth of each of the individuals within the family. When working with Christian families whose primary discipline is to not spare the rod (Prov. 13:24), encouraging a broader understanding of the biblical teaching on child guidance and nurturing (Prov. 19:18, 22:6, 29:17; Eph. 6:4) as well as explaining the benefits of nurturing relationships for each family member’s growth may be useful.  [5]Moncher, F. J., & Josephson, A. (1999). Abuse and Neglect. In D. G. Benner & P. C. Hill (Eds.), Baker encyclopedia of psychology & counseling (2nd ed., p. 35). Baker Books.

Just so you know, here’s something about the source of that excerpt.

Preface

The Practical Encyclopedia of Christian Counseling is designed to afford Christian counselors quick reference as well as comprehensive access to the chief principles and practices of biblical counseling. It is called an “encyclopedia” because a counselor interested in surveying the gamut of those principles and practices will find in this volume a wider variety of subjects than may be located in any other book of biblical counseling. The counseling described herein is truly “Christian,” with method and content firmly rooted in careful scriptural exegesis. At the same time, this encyclopedia is “practical” because articles consist not merely of definitions and descriptions, but also of practical applications of the material useful to Christian counselors. Of course, these are not necessarily the only ways that the biblical principles can be applied; although they are the fruit of years of study and experience in biblical counseling, such applications do not carry the full authority of Scripture. In short, the book is designed as an aid to the working counselor who needs a quick reference guide to the field. I trust that God will use it to His glory and to the blessing of His people.  [6]Adams, J. E. (2020). In The Practical Encyclopedia of Christian Counseling (p. iii). Institute for Nouthetic Studies.

Conclusion – Does Christianity really say wives submit to your husbands?

Does Christianity really say wives submit to your husbands? The truth is, the question cannot be properly answered in one word. It takes at least two words.

Yes, but.

We just looked at a whole lot of the buts. To be sure, there are many, many more. This is one incident. And since the church apparently has been silent on the event, it’s one-sided.

Having said that, I find it very difficult to believe that the God I read of in the Bible would tell someone in this situation, “Suffer for Jesus”. Continue to be abused yourself, And continue to let your child be physically, emotionally, and sexually assaulted. It’s part of suffering for Jesus.

If you are in a situation where you have problems like this, or know of someone in this kind of predicament, know that there are alternatives. There are Christian churches that don’t believe every wrong thing that happens is because God made it happens and He wants you to suffer for Jesus until it’s resolved.

In fact, in a passage called Warnings from Israel’s history, with the warnings from the past given to us today as examples from which to learn, we read:

Warnings From Israel’s History

1Co 10:1 For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. 2 They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. 3 They all ate the same spiritual food 4 and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert.

1Co 10:6 Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry.” 8 We should not commit sexual immorality, as some of them did—and in one day twenty-three thousand of them died. 9 We should not test the Lord, as some of them did—and were killed by snakes. 10 And do not grumble, as some of them did—and were killed by the destroying angel.

1Co 10:11 These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come. 12 So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

Did you notice the last verse?

13 No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.

I think sometimes we feel like we should, or even deserve to, suffer for Jesus. But we must ask a question of ourselves. Is that always the case? That last sentence, including the context of the entire passage, indicates the answer is no.

In this one case, there were ways out.

  • Counseling. Christian counseling, which many mainstream churches not only allow, but support. But not this church.
  • Reporting the situation to authorities. The government. The government that, as we saw, was instituted by God. Grace Community Church sued the government over mask requirements and limitations on Sunday services during the height of COVID. And they used a government process to do it. But they did not use government services to protect this woman or her child.
  • We don’t know what, if anything, was provided in the way of help, discussions about being a Godly husband and father, Etc. were given for the husband. That could have been a way out of the situation. We don’t know if it was offered. And if it was offered, we don’t know if it worked.
  • Christians believe that knowledge comes from God. What we do with that knowledge, of course, is another thing. The question then is, do we really believe that professional Christian counselors who are educated and trained to combine the Bible with counseling techniques are somehow inherently evil? And yes, I did say evil. Isn’t something that’s worldly and wrong, by definition, evil?
  • What did finally happen is that the husband was arrested and jailed for 21 years. Here in California, that’s a long sentence.

Conclusion – Does Christianity really say wives submit to your husbands?

After all this, what do you think?

Does Christianity really say wives submit to your husbands?

Clearly, the words are there. So the question we must answer for ourselves is this. What is the meaning of, the intent behind, that idea of submission to husbands? I read something yesterday from a Crosswalk.com article titled, What Does Submissive Mean in a Christian Marriage?

In life and in marriage we will hit junctions. A junction is defined by Webster’s dictionary as, “An intersection of roads especially where one terminates.” Although you and your spouse might have differing opinions on a direction for your life together, you are in the same car (so to speak) and decisions will need to be made. The husband might be in the driver’s seat, but the wife could have a really great sense of direction.

That says a lot, doesn’t it?

So – which God do you believe in?

The god who says wives, and their children, must suffer through whatever the husband feels like doing to them?

Or do you believe in the God who wants a marriage modeled in a Christian fashion given to us in the Bible? A marriage where the husband and wife love each other, and any children they may have? A marriage where each person has something to bring to the table, and they live in harmony?


Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay


References

References
1 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Eph 5:22). Thomas Nelson Publishers.
2 King James Version study Bible . (electronic ed., Eph 5:22). (1997). Thomas Nelson.
3 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Col 3:18). Thomas Nelson Publishers.
4 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Col 3:20). Thomas Nelson Publishers.
5 Moncher, F. J., & Josephson, A. (1999). Abuse and Neglect. In D. G. Benner & P. C. Hill (Eds.), Baker encyclopedia of psychology & counseling (2nd ed., p. 35). Baker Books.
6 Adams, J. E. (2020). In The Practical Encyclopedia of Christian Counseling (p. iii). Institute for Nouthetic Studies.

Please leave a comment or ask a question - it's nice to hear from you.

Scroll to Top

By continuing to use the site, you agree to the use of cookies. more information

The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.

Close

I