A Wife Should Submit To Her Husband?

a wife should submit to her husband” (Eph 5:22).


This is very familiar church advice offered to abused wives throughout Western communities around the world. After careful consideration and proper exegesis, one could come to the conclusion that Eph 5:22  is not being used in its proper context. This however, is not the reason for this post.

I know there are many scholarly blogs and sermons written on the subject of violence in the church, this is just my take on the matter.  I may not be a scholar but I’ve been given a sound and clear mind through my Saviour and He has given us the ability to reason.

In my field of experience (counselling), I came across the ‘Biblical teaching’ that if a woman is being beaten or abused by her husband, she as a Christian, should go home and submit under her husband because that is God’s will for her life. I‘ve also seen that many believe that she ‘deserves’ it since she drove her husband to act in that manner.

I’ve often seen that the bruised and sunglass disguised woman in front of me was instructed by her pastor or elder “if only she would have submitted”. What was breaking my heart was that these big strong men were telling these frailer women to go back and submit under a beating. I often thought about the logic of this advice…

By comparison…

What if Mr. Jones was telling Mr. Smith to go to down a dark alley to be beaten up by an even bigger guy? And not only once, but on a regular basis!

Would he willingly go?

Would he submit under Mr. Jones`s advice / counsel?

Will any man advise another to go get beaten up?

If anything, one would think they would rather go with him next time to sort the bully out together.

Mr. Jones, do you know how scary and painful it is to beaten?

Mr Smith, would you submit under Mr Jones? Probably not, because you are not so dumb.

Wait…there is more…..God appointed Mr. Jones to be the boss. What now Mr. Smith?

Does this mean God wants you to be beaten up?

……and women are illogical??

And remember, a woman is not going to a dark alley, she’s going home! Home is supposed to be a safe place. And most of the time, her children are there.

If she doesn’t submit she’s not called smart; she is called an unruly wife.

The worst is: The men are saying…. “God said you must submit…..” Who has the problem? God and the woman. God is the responsible one and the woman the disobedient one. The man is not guilty.  (Adam said….Lord it wasn’t me…)

Yahweh tests the righteous and the wicked, and the one who loves violence His soul hates. Psalm 11:5

I have come to the conclusion that Ephesians 5:22 should not be used against a woman in a violent marital situation.

If we look at the following scriptures about what God says about violence, and the list is by no means exhaustive….. Psalm 7:9  Psalm 18:48  Psalm 140:1  and we look at Scriptures about controlling oneself….James 1:19-20 Ephesians 4:26-27  Proverbs 14:29 Ephesians 4:32  Proverbs 16:32 there is a lot of evidence that this submitting thing makes no sense the way it is interpreted.




6 thoughts on “A Wife Should Submit To Her Husband?

  1. I read something once that said a woman could first involve church elders if she were being abused, and if that didn’t work she should go to the police. Maybe a night or two in jail would teach him a lesson. Really? While I agree with going to authorities, do these people not realize that is likely to make the problem worse? Like an abusive man will change after she sent him to jail. Good luck with that.


    • Thanks for your comments. It is important to keep on talking about how not to misuse and abuse the Scriptures. Going to the police, although they can be supportive, doesn’t solve the problem which is the abuser’s heart. The short term solution is for the woman to get out of the situation. At the heart of the matter is the advice being given ‘to submit’ is potentially putting her in further danger. Tiana


      • From what I can tell, the Bible never addresses the issue of domestic violence. That’s why I think people end up misusing scripture. Of course God does not want a woman to be abused. He commands husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Yet there doesn’t seem to be any guidance for a woman in an abusive situation. Surely this was an issue even back in Biblical days. My husband suggested that back then maybe the woman’s father, brother, uncle, etc. probably beat the snot out of him.

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      • I agree with you, it is complicated, and it is not always clear what is the best way to handle such cases. I do however believe that telling a woman to go back and submit is not a realistic solution. It is cruel and unloving. Knowing Yahweh, His love and resurrection power, I am sure His body can lovingly and creatively and prayerfully come up with a better solution for both parties.


  2. Michelle, I believe the reason that God said in Genesis 2, “… a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife…” was a pre-emptive measure to prevent domestic abuse. If she leaves her family to live with him (as happens in most cultures around the world), who is there to protect her? Whereas if he leaves his family to live with her, her father and unmarried male relatives are there to, as you say, “beat the snot out of him” if necessary.
    And I also believe that, in most cases, the police are a better safeguard than the church elders in terms of protecting the abused woman. I wish I were wrong on that one!


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