Tag Archives: Mutual Submission

You Would Love Submission If You Properly Understood It!

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.

Even Mary Kassian could see through the spell!

Mutual Submission is a doctrine Christians invented decades ago to make marriage less repulsive to women’s sinful natures. We had grown tired of wringing our hands whenever we had to tell women they have to do what their husbands say. We had to find some way around it, and so we conceived a new strategy: Couple our teachings about the authority of the husband over his wife with a hasty assurance that husbands must also submit to their wives. See? Now we can assure the women we preach to that the only reason they think submission in marriage is a bad thing is because they thought they were the only ones who had to do it! Pure genius! Christian teachers latched onto it with glee and we continue to preach it to this day.

Not everyone fell under the spell, however. To my surprise, not even Mary Kassian bought into this. Back in 1992, she wrote the following on page 216 of The Feminist Gospel: The Movement to Unite Feminism With the Church:

FUNCTIONAL EVALUATION — THE STARTING POINT
The primary concern of Biblical feminists is the question of the ordination of women — whether or not women should be allowed to occupy the office of elder (pastor, presbyter, bishop, priest). A second related concern is the mutual sharing of authority and responsibility in the marital relationship — “mutual submission.”59

The #59 footnote is on page 278. It says:

59. “Mutual submission” is a misnomer. Besides being a linguistic impossibility, it is a concept that is absent from the Bible. See my discussion of the term in Women,
Creation and the Fall, pp. 36, 37.

The book Women, Creation, and the Fall was published in 1990. You can read the following from pages 36-37:

The one in authority is also required to submit.
Mutual submission is also an incorrect concept, for submission is the responsibility of the one under authority. Although admonitions to bend to meet the needs of a submissive partner in a relationship, as well as to lead with love, consideration, and respect, are present throughout Scripture, the one in authority is never asked to submit to the subordinate.8 The term mutual submission is thus a misnomer and is foreign to Scripture.

Ephesians 5:21 is used as the prooftext to support the mutual submission concept. Hypotasso (Greek for “submit”) in verse 21 is interpreted to mean submitting to the needs of each other. Mutually looking out for each other’s needs and altering one’s behavior for the sake of the other is in line with Christ’s pattern of self-sacrificing love and is indeed what He wishes us to do. However, interpreting hypotasso as requiring reciprocal obedience within a hierarchical relationship obviously overlooks its New Testament meaning.

Hypotasso always requires one party in a relationship to submit to the other, and not vice versa. The context of Ephesians 5:21 supports this position. In this verse, Paul makes a general call to all Christians to submit to one another in whatever hierarchical relationships they are involved in. He then gives three specific examples of relationships in which submission of one party is required. Verse 21 is thus properly understood as an introductory verse to those which follow. As James Hurley points out:

Verse 21, “submit yourselves to one another out of respect for Christ,” is thus to be understood as a general heading indicating that there will be various situations in which certain believers will have to yield to the authority of others. The following text (5:22–6:9) sets out three particular relations in which this will be the case: wives will need to submit themselves to husbands; children will need to obey their parents, and slaves their masters. The idea of mutual submission has to do with various members of the congregation rather than with the two partners of each pair.9

Although the Bible does not teach mutual submission within an authority structure, it does teach principles of conduct which are to be mutually practiced by all believers. Believers are to encourage,edify, be devoted to, and live in harmony with each other. They are to exhibit Christlike traits of gentleness, patience, and kindness. Believers have mutual responsibility to show concern, love, and respect for each other, and to esteem each other better than themselves. They are warned against being conceited and against biting, devouring, consuming, provoking, envying, hating, and begrudging one another.10 This is the mutual responsibility of both the one in authority and the one under authority. But submission, or obedience, is required only of the one who is under authority, not of the one in an authoritative or leadership position.

Now fast forward to 2015. In her True Woman 201 book that she co-authored with Nancy DeMoss, you can find this on page 195 (Location 3806 in the Kindle version):

Ephesians 5:21 instructs us to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. The passage then identifies three specific relationships that call for a submissive posture: wives to husbands, children to parents, and bondservants to masters. The concept of authority and submission extends into all sorts of other chain-of-command relationships, too—like governments and citizens, bosses and employees, church elders and congregations.

The term mutual submission is popular in Christian circles, but “submitting to one another” doesn’t mean that both parties in a chain of command are to submit to each other. It means we’re to have a respectful disposition that inclines us to submit in all the relationships that call for submission. In some relationships you may have the responsibility to govern, and in others the responsibility to submit.

In the “Personalize” section on page 204 (Kindle location 3986):

6. Ephesians 5:21 instructs us to submit to one another. How are those instructions different from the notion of “mutual submission” that’s so popular today?

I assume Mary Kassian hasn’t changed her mind since 2015. If that assumption is correct, then she has been consistent on this point for the past THIRTY YEARS. She has been bold enough to point at “mutual submission” and clearly state it’s a doctrine at odds with what the Bible teaches. That’s despite her hatred for patriarchal authority and her desperate attempt to justify it from the Greek. If even a woman as prejudiced as she is could figure this out back in 1990, then you know that plenty of God-fearing men knew it too. No, it’s worse than that. They’ve known full-well this entire time. Unlike Kassian, they either embraced it, or they let it go unchallenged. That’s why we’re still dealing with it today.