Someday I’ll need to start a collection of when Christians say, “Wives, you would love submitting to your husband if you understood submission properly!” It’s a well-meaning sentiment, but it’s a lie, and one that leaves women confused as they struggle with the concept.
On one hand, Christian women do want to obey God. On the other hand, these same women still have a sinful nature that wants to disobey God. Just like with men, they have a battle going on in their minds where they have two natures waging war against each other. Knowing what the Bible commands us to do is key to discerning what actions constitute obedience and disobedience. We cannot determine what actions are Godly based upon our feelings. This is especially true for women given the fickle nature of their emotions.
What I’ve seen is that Christian women try to broach the topic of wifely submission by assuring their female audience that the reason they have an immediate negative reaction to the concept is because they simply don’t understand it. They follow this up with a complaint that our society has made submission a dirty word, but the true biblical definition is one you would be happy to embrace.
Take a video by Jackie Angel called What it Means to Submit to Your Husband:
In this video she makes a few faces she says she has made and has seen other women make when submission is preached on in church:
At 1:09 she says:
I’m going to share with you what it actually means because it’s so beautiful!
What follows is she reads Ephesians 5:21-32, and then at 2:22 says that submit means,
“to be under the mission”. So, wives, be under the mission of your husband. And then it says husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the church. Um, the mission of a husband is to lay his life down for his wife. To love her as Christ loved the church. How did Christ love the church? He laid his life down he sacrificed his life so that we might live. So, husbands, like- That’s the mission of a husband, is to lay his life down. It doesn’t say in there, ‘husbands, your mission is to treat your wife like an object, to treat her like property, to be a domineering man, to be prideful, to be- no. It’s saying to love her as Christ loved her, with tenderness, with beauty, with gentleness, to lay your life down, to sacrifice your pride.”
This is a standard method of sanitizing what the Bible says. Submit does not mean ‘to be under the mission’. It means to be obedient, and no one in a debate/dialogue setting could dispute that. But, having inserted that awkward definition, Jackie then says that the husband’s “mission” is to be super duper nice to his wife and never be egotistical, which also isn’t what the text says. Having done that, she says at 3:05,
And women, I mean, that’s the kind of mission I want to be- like, that’s the kind of mission I will be like, “Heck yes, I support that mission! I’m gonna be under that mission.”
If you watch that portion of the video, you should see how hard she has to act as if she’s positively thrilled with what she’s saying. Whereas her faces of disgust and revulsion were quite convincing, this is pathetically artificial. Even after mangling the meaning of submission, she still can’t do a convincing job of faking “delight” at her feminist-friendly interpretation.
Her poor acting is just icing on the cake, of course. The truth is that wifely submission is not a doctrine that women will ever be “thrilled” to embrace. The fact that Jackie still doesn’t like it even when she twists its meaning to suit her feminism only proves this point beyond all question.
That being said, her point is clear: If biblical submission is taught, it should make Christian women happy to embrace it. Thus, a basic thought has been planted in her viewers’ minds: “I’m supposed to like submission.” Thus the groundwork has been laid for marital catastrophe, since these women are now prepped to gauge the validity of the doctrine of wifely submission with their feelings. If those women aren’t thrilled to death about what their pastor is teaching about submission, then something must be incorrect with what he’s preaching.
The fact of the matter is that submission is not a doctrine women are ever going to love. What Jackie has done is admit that women hate it. Submitting to their husbands is something she and they loathe, and at our core, we all know what submission truly means. It means someone else is in charge of us, and we must do as he says, like it or not. But, since Jackie has been told she is a strong woman (she says this multiple times in the video, and with indignation), she despises the prospect of her husband being in authority over her.
Jackie may have been saved this struggle had the Christians in her life simply explained what submission really means and acknowledged her ugly-face for what it was. It’s not due to a misunderstanding of submission, but a proper understanding of submission. Teaching what the Bible says requires violating women’s phony notions of self-esteem, hence they will never “like” it. But, a truly born-again Christian woman can still grow to accept it. Slaves were expected to respect and obey their evil masters in 1 Peter 2:18-20. If a slave can be expected to do it, then so can women today.