A Time for Christian Men to Step Aside and Let God Lead

A while back, I read a quote. It describes common views on marriage roles within Christianity: “Two people with equal value before God walking in different and unequal roles. A marriage where I follow Christ’s leading and then (my wife) follows me.”

Many Christians believe in a “God-given” hierarchy within marriage. To them, it looks like this: God, men, women, then children.

But just because someone believes passionately in something and even builds their traditons around it, that doesn’t make it true or even biblical.

“I follow Christ and my wife follows me” doesn’t sound in line with the relationship God has with His people. When we make the claim that only one half of the population is to be led by the Holy Spirit directly, when we claim that only one half follows God directly, are we not missing the point? Are we not misunderstanding who God is?

The GOOD news is freedom in Christ to ALL people. There seems to be a disconnect in proclaiming freedom, but also teaching “we have some extra rules for the women.” These systems are unfortunately set up in ways which don’t give women a choice in the matter. 

Friends have told me that a woman’s submission to her husband’s leadership and decision-making is voluntary. I have heard it said that “it takes a strong woman to submit.” 

My question is this: In what way is the submission spoken of in the patriarchal worldview a voluntary thing, when a woman’s devotion to God – even at times her faith itself – is questioned if she doesn’t go along with it?

Is it truly freedom if women believe they are somehow displeasing to God or not a true Christian if they believe they are equal to their husbands instead of subordinate?

I’m not trying to be argumentative here. I would really like to understand how to reconcile these two ideas. It honestly does not make sense.

The truth is that all humans – men and women alike – have the ability to read the Bible themselves, understand it for themselves, be taught by the Holy Spirit themselves, and discern situations themselves. We are each individually accountable to God for our choices. 

I am all for submission. I believe we as Christians should be submissive. 

But friends, it seems we have mixed up the word SUBMIT with the word OBEY. Even I sometimes mix the two up. I get it. They look similar. Sometimes, submission looks like obedience because it’s a yielding, a giving way to another person. But this is where we need to look at context in the Bible. Nowhere in the Bible is a wife commanded to obey her husband. Obedience, by definition, leaves no room for choice.

If I offer my seat to someone else, I am submitting to them. When I step out of the way to let someone pass, I am submitting to them. I’m not doing this because they have authority over me. I do it because submission is an attitude I choose to have.

When the Bible speaks of the way a husband is to love his wife, in a sacrificial way, it is describing mutual submission. 

We do this, we yield, out of a reverence for Christ. But we ALL do it (Ephesians 5:21). Many Christians have confused things with the addition of “the husband is the decision maker” or “the husband has the final say” or “pastors have authority OVER people.”

I believe we are misunderstanding the Bible when we make these additions to it. Because these things aren’t biblical.

What IS biblical is all of us standing shoulder to shoulder, hand in hand, together – as opposed to all of us trying to find our spot in line based on our gender or status. It’s everyone looking to Christ first, trusting in Him fully. It’s Him leading and guiding and teaching us. 

If we all live in a state of submission to the Lord, with our eyes on him rather than on our earthly “authorities,” our heart posture will be bowing constantly. And out of this, our lives will overflow with love for each other. This is the fruit of the spirit, which comes from the inside out. We don’t strive for the fruit. We look to God and the fruit is produced as a result of our relationship with Him.

This is true unity.

If God is who He says He is, then He is our authority. Why do we need another person to be our other, EXTRA authority, the one who decides what the actual authority is saying? Why do women need to be lead by anyone other than the Lord?

Even Paul, when telling the Corinthins to follow his example, wasn’t saying “I’m going to follow Christ and you follow me.”

Paul was talking about being an example and showing people what it looks like to follow Christ, so that others could have their own personal relationship with Him. In the same way, we are to be examples to others. He wasn’t talking about hierarchy, or being “over” people. He wasnt talking about being in charge. 

We are each accountable to God. He is our leader. No one on earth can determine the convictions of our hearts. Let’s look to each other as examples. Let’s treat each other with dignity. Let’s show reverence to those who live lives of service and love. Let’s mine the gold out of what is preached and what we hear and read, and discern it before the Lord.

Let’s look to God first, and trust in Him to be who He says He is.


2 thoughts on “A Time for Christian Men to Step Aside and Let God Lead

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  1. I remember reading a christian article titled “soap bubble submission” in which a wife obeys her husband’s instruction to wash the dishes again / more thoroughly in order to ensure all the soap bubbles that he doesn’t like get fully washed away. In this story, “submission” is conflated into “obedience”:

    “Sanford and I had many conflicts, but one kept occurring. The conflict was over how I rinsed the dishes that I had washed. When I washed dishes, as always, I was in a hurry. Because of that, I did not always rinse every dish perfectly. For all of our married life, he would sometimes say, “You did not get all the soap bubbles off the dish.” My pre-salvation self would reply, “If you don’t like how I am washing the dishes, you can do it yourself!” My post-salvation self still, at times, did not like to be told what to do. So, the inevitable showdown came.
    I was washing dishes and rinsing a glass I had just washed. Sanford walked through the kitchen and was behind me. He noticed that I was about to place the clean glass in the dish drain and he said, “You did not get all the soap bubbles off!” Now to my credit, it was not dripping with soap! But he must have seen something. Well, in my heart I thought, “If you don’t like how I am washing the dishes…” Quickly, though, I thought, “He is telling me to rinse it again and I need to be submissive.” Neither one of us was saying a word but Sanford stopped to see what I was going to do. The water was running and I knew I needed to rinse it again. I did not want to do it but I knew the Lord wanted me to. Meanwhile, as I contemplated what to do, my arm was stuck in an uncomfortable, outstretched position. So, I began in my mind to talk to my arm, ‘Come on, you can do this! Rinse it again.” It took so long for my arm to begin to move back toward the running water, that the muscles began to ache. Finally, I talked my arm into moving towards the water and carefully rinsing the glass again.
    After I rinsed it again and put the glass in the dish drain, I began to wash the next dish. Sanford said in astonishment, “You did it!” I replied, “Yes, you told me to.” And he countered with, “But you did it!” That moment was a turning point in my walk with the Lord. The Lord was testing me and teaching me to be faithful even in the very least of things. Submission was beginning to be my joy.”

    I read another story where a husband was upset that his wife wasn’t being as submissive/obedient as he would have liked, so he decided to withhold the purchase of the dishwasher he had promised her in order to punish her until she came around to his way of thinking. Some Christians husbands do take it upon themselves to discipline their wives as if they were a spoiled daughter and not a grown adult. That’s why this hierarchy fails us – do you think God treats Jesus that way? Never!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing that article! It’s so interesting because that actually sounds like there are possible undertones of mental abuse there, and it seems to be glorified in this instance. But the lines have been so blurred between authority/obedience and abuse at times, that people don’t know what to do with it. And so it’s a grey area and they don’t touch it.

      The Bible tells us to be tenderhearted and kind to one another, all of us. One of the issues I have with these systems is they are set up in such a way that if a woman marries a kind and tenderhearted man, then that’s wonderful. Of course he will be easy to submit to because he’s probably submitting to her as well, even if it’s not labeled that way.

      But if he’s not kind, then all she is able to do is stay, pray, obey, and hope things get better. It puts many women out there in mental cages. But they are sometimes told there is holiness in enduring cruelty from their husbands.

      Thank you for your thoughts 🙂


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