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No. Your Wife Doesn’t Believe in Headship/Submission

The following is an exchange I had with several women, most of whom are Christians, who say they believe in the husband’s authority over the wife. This is not the case. As you will see, you will hear them repeating the same nonsense they’ve gleaned from Doug Wilson, Mary Kassian, Nancy Wolgemuth, and the list goes on. Read and take note- this is what Christian women in the Christian church really believe about submission. They will never debate it or argue like this in person, but behind a keyboard, this is where you get to see what they truly think.

All of their names were censored to preserve their anonymity.*

Woman #1: Shares an image wherein a pastor promotes replacing an occasional Sunday service with a symposium addressing domestic abuse.*

FullMetal Patriarch: If all this is is a men bad, women victims symposium, then that’s not the kind of thing the church needs. It’s just going to be another event demonizing husbands and fathers for the human scum they are. Another warning to men not to impose their authority over their wives. Because that’s abusive, supposedly.

Woman #2: Any assumption that only women can be victims is sexist. We absolutely need all resources and education to be inclusive.

FMP: But who is going to vet these advocates or specialists to ensure they’re not going to tear down the authority of husbands and fathers when teaching on this subject? Nobody will, because Christians believe that that authority is inherently evil and must be torn down. Even though it’s biblical.

Woman #1: I know plenty of Christians who believe in biblical authority. I think the main difference is application. Is the authority being applied in love and a desire to build others up and keep them on the right path or is it being abused by someone on a power trip? A lot of people, men and women who are in an abusive situation are at their wits end by the time they seek this kind of resource. Any wise counselor or organization will of course vet their counselors.

FMP: Except that this vetting isn’t so easily done. Anyone can pay lip service to authority, but that’s not the same thing as holding to that and filtering out what counsel you will offer to a suffering marriage. For one, let’s say the husband is in the habit of quoting the Bible and demanding his wife submit to him when she tries to do things her own way. Many Christians will say that’s abusive, and they’re all wrong to do so. Most Christians will say a wife should only respect and obey her husband when he’s being nice, but not when he is sinning. They’re wrong about that too. Those sorts of Christians ought not to be brought in to adjudicate over difficult marriage situations. The first thing they’ll do is tell the wife they’re going to take their husband down in some intervention, because the last thing they want to be accused of is telling an “abused” wife to say in an abusive situation.

Woman #1: The godly men I know who lead their homes don’t have to “demand” anything. That sounds awful, neither spouse should be demanding things in order to get their way. That will never end in a solid happy home. The husband leads his home in love not law. The same way Christ leads us as believers and loves us through our faults and failings.

FMP: Which is why Christians just casually throw out the abuse label. A person in authority is in a perfect position to make demands, and Christians hate that. That means the husband is in charge, not the wife. We can’t have that, so let’s just call it “abusive”. Even though the Bible never teaches that.

Woman #3:
*FullMetal Patriarch Gospel*

Jesus: you’re a good dude except you love money to much, go, sell what you have and give to the poor.

Rich young Ruler: Nah fam… I think I’ll keep my money.

*Morgan Freeman voice*

“So Jesus demanded him to submit and had 4 disciples grab different limbs until he said he would do what Jesus asked. Then Jesus spoke the people and said”

Jesus: this is how the Gospel of my Kingdom is spread, go and do likewise.

FMP: Jesus said in John 14:15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. ” That’s a demand. If you don’t do what Christ says, you don’t love him, and you are not a Christian. This idea that it’s evil for husbands or God to make demands is not biblical.

Woman #4: demanding your wife’s obedience isn’t Biblical anyway.

Woman #4: early the use of the ‘if’ makes it a choice of the listener and to equate a husband to the authority of Christ would be highly sacrilegious

FMP: Except that if you don’t choose to love Christ, you get sent to hell. It’s not optional. And it’s the Bible that tells wives to obey their husbands just like Christians obey God. Ephesians 5:22-24: “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”

Woman #4: It is optional, it just is clear that to live a sinful life means hell. Not the same thing at all. It is still a choice whether to obey God. Jesus explaining the path or salvation is not a demand, but a love explanation of the wages of sin and the way to life eternal. To equate the message of Christ as the exact same as whatever demand a man may require of his wife is nowhere in the bible and is your interpretation. A wife is to obey her husband, but he is not to demand her obedience, but to earn it by living a Christ like life and loving her as Christ loves the church and gave himself for it. That does not speak of demanding

FMP: Nothing you just said is biblical. There is no verse that says husbands are prohibited from demanding their wife’s obedience. If you’re going to say husbands can’t do that, you better have some Scripture to back it up.

FMP: Not to mention that what you wrote ignores the ultimatum God has given to man. You obey him, and if you don’t, you suffer in hell for eternity. That’s a demand, no matter how you slice it.

Woman #4: you have no verse that says a man may demand either. And since there is no verse to say either way, then it is open to the case by case situations that occur in marrige

Woman #4: it is not a demand, it is explanation. You live or you die, but he cannot force you to love or obey him.

FMP: That’s not true. If you’re in authority over someone, you’re entitled to tell them what to do. Parents, for example, don’t need a simplistic word-for-word sentence that says they can make demands of their children. That just comes with being in authority over them. Same with husbands. They have the right to make demands by default, not case by case, and certainly not before their wife has decided he has earned it. God has given that right to him.

Woman #4: Untrue, a parent relationship is not the same as a marriage relationship. They are helps to each other with the husband as leader, not dictator.

FMP: The point is that neither category of authority figures needs an explicit verse that authorizes them to make demands. Besides, Scripture doesn’t compare husbands to dictators. It compares husbands to God himself, who has far MORE authority than a dictator.

Woman #4: No, it says to obey your husband as to the Lord, not your husband like perfect and without question like God

FMP: Except it says submit to him because the husband is like God. Ephesians 5:23.

Woman #5: Submission is a choice to follow ones authority. If a man is living a life against the scriptures a women is not called by God to submit herself to ungodly acts. The fruit of the spirit and the virtues listed by Peter are clear how we as Christian’s are to live and women are not called to submit or be silent in the face of unbiblical behavior. If a man is rude, nasty, foolish with time money etc, demanding his wife commit sins, and not loving his wife as Christ loved the church he doesn’t get to demand his wife accept his behavior and acts. A truly Godly man who lives biblically will have no problem with a Godly women in the issue of submission.

Woman #4: Lol, that is only pointing out that the husband is an authority figure over a home as God is over the church, not saying that husbands are God-like. They do not and cannot have the same position as sinful men. It is establishing an institution, a structure or authority not attributing God-like expectations to a human man

FMP: Not the point. It’s talking about why the wife should submit to him, and the reason why is because he is the head like Christ is our head.

FMP: False. 1 Peter 3:1-2 “Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.” You say wives aren’t called to submit to a sinful husband, but the Scripture says the exact opposite. Wives must submit, even to evil husbands.

Woman #4: but it is not saying that you must obey your husband as you obey Christ because a man is not Christ and may ask for a sinful thing. Unquestioning obedience belongs to God alone and not to men. Hence, God instructions to render to Caeser what is Caesar’s (earthly obedience) and the things of God unto God (Godly obedience)

Woman #5: That does not mean a wife has to submit to sinful behavior. God does not say “be kind, but if you husband says to be unkind to others better obey!”

FMP: But it does mean wives must submit even to an evil husband. This idea that a wife doesn’t have to submit because he hasn’t earned it, or he isn’t being loving, or that there’s no simplistic word-for-word verse telling him he can make demands is all extra-biblical nonsense.

Woman #5: It’s not a “if he hasn’t earned it” a unsaved husband is capable of asking perfect biblical things in a marriage. But if he asked his wife to behave in an unbiblical sinful way she is not obligated to follow that in Gods eyes.

FMP: Ephesians 5:22-24 literally says to submit to your husbands as to the Lord. You just said the opposite, and that’s been the problem all along. The Bible says one thing, but you say the opposite. And besides, it’s not sinful for a husband to demand his wife’s obedience, so that’s irrelevant.

Woman #5: If an unsaved husband tells his wife to steal, lie, not go to church, not instruct her children, not care for the sick etc that would be wrong in the sight of God and she doesn’t have to submit

FMP: It is absolutely biblical to demand your wife’s obedience, so that point is irrelevant.

Woman #5: As to the Lord! I obey God first and my husband second. If my husband asked me to sin against God I would say no to my husband. Because the Bible doesn’t require me to submit to the point of sinful unbiblical behavior

Woman #5: God doesn’t call us to sin against him to make sinful men happy.

Woman #5: Do you really believe that a women if told by her husband, can break all commands in the Bible and sin against God so to obey her husband? No, that isn’t biblical and you’re putting a husband’s authority over God

FMP: This whole debate erupted over the prospect of husbands simply demanding their wives submit to them. That’s evil, supposedly, but now you’re all backing up and saying, well, a husband can’t command his wife to commit an evil act! No one said he could. But he can demand she do as he says. Ephesians 5:24 – wives must submit to their husbands in “everything”.

At this point the conversation was censored by Woman #1.

If Your Husband is a Godly Man, Submission Will Be Easy!

Such is the message that continues to be preached to Christian women by other Christian women who should know better.

Back in 2010, Nancy Wilson published her book Why Isn’t a Pretty Girl Like You Married? and Other Useful Comments. Earlier this year she published Single and Satisfied: A Grace-Filled Calling for the Unmarried Woman. According to the Amazon description, this new book is actually the second edition of the first book.

This is the second and revised edition of Why Isn’t a Pretty Girl Like You Married?

Any regular reader of mine won’t be shocked to learn that Nancy Wilson delivers the same poisonous lies about wifely submission today that she did ten years ago. The following quote appears in both books, almost on the same pages:

The Bible requires wives to submit to their own husbands, so a woman ought to marry a man that she respects. If she respects him, she will be able to freely submit to him. If he is the kind of man who is eager to please and obey God, she should not have trouble following him. The Bible also requires wives to respect and honor their husbands. So it follows that a woman should marry a man that she can easily look up to. Respect and honor are far more easily rendered to a respectable, honorable man.

Page 71 of “Single and Satisfied: A Grace-Filled Calling for the Unmarried Woman”, and page 73 of “Why Isn’t a Pretty Girl Like You Married? and Other Useful Comments”

Nancy Wilson doubtless has more experience being a Christian wife and mother than your average woman. In spite of all that, to this day, she is still preaching feminist falsehoods, laying the seeds for marital strife in the minds of single Christian women. Paragraphs like these demonstrate why even older Christian women shouldn’t be allowed to teach anyone at all unless they are well and thoroughly vetted by their male spiritual leaders first. Let’s walk through it and explain where she goes wrong:

The Bible requires wives to submit to their own husbands, so a woman ought to marry a man that she respects.


If she respects him, she will be able to freely submit to him.

A. Being able to submit “freely” is not a biblical prerequisite for submission, nor can it be. Slaves couldn’t “freely” submit to their masters, but that didn’t stop God from commanding their submission.

B. Who says a woman can’t submit, freely or otherwise, to a man she doesn’t respect? Those commands of submission in the Bible go out to women across the board. That includes women who are already married, which would include women married to men they didn’t respect. Could they not submit to their husbands then? Is that something they are simply unable to do, in Nancy Wilson’s mind?

If he is the kind of man who is eager to please and obey God, she should not have trouble following him.

Completely and totally false. Incorrect. Unbiblical tripe that no older Christian woman should be caught dead preaching. Remember, this is from Nancy Wilson, an experienced wife and mother, and a woman who has given marital counselling. She has a great deal of personal interactions with women who struggle in this area. Apparently none of it has clued her into the struggles Christian women have in following their husbands.

The desire to disobey your leader is one all humans experience, from young to old. We are sinners that love our sin. It’s an evil, perverse desire of ours that we will experience whether or not the one in charge of us is eager to obey God. That’s our lot in life. Disobedience feels good. We don’t need our parents/bosses to be unbelievers before we experience a desire to disobey them. We’ll want to disobey them with or without their help. A Christian woman will still want to disobey even a Godly husband. She will have plenty of trouble following him because she herself is a sinful human who loves to sin for its own sake. Thus, Christian women will always have trouble following even a man who loves and obeys God.

The Bible also requires wives to respect and honor their husbands. So it follows that a woman should marry a man that she can easily look up to. Respect and honor are far more easily rendered to a respectable, honorable man.

Women should definitely marry men they can easily look up to. No question there. The lie comes from what came before; That obeying, showing respect, etc. will all be easy if the right steps are taken. This is false. It’s never going to be “easy”. Christian women should marry a man they can look up to so they can reduce the intensity of the difficult struggles to come. Nancy Wilson fundamentally denies this. Yes, she does say respect and honor are “far more easily rendered”, but immediately prior to this she was saying that, “If he is the kind of man who is eager to please and obey God, she should not have trouble following him.” There is a basic expectation that a woman’s struggle to obey and honor her husband can be made easy, or even dodged altogether. Again, this is simply false, and it’s something that single Christian women should never be taught. They’re going to have enough difficult obeying their husbands and calling them Lord in the best of circumstances. The last thing we need planted in their heads is the thought that if their husbands are doing their job, they won’t want to undermine him. Rebellious women are already chomping at the bit for excuses to justify their disobedience and disrespect. You think they won’t seize upon teachings like this, when they in their sinful rebellion are looking for some way to tear their husbands down while still appearing to be the good guy? Of course they will.

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.

The Dreadful Prospect of Calling Their Husband “Lord”.

In his 2012 sermon The Willful Submission of a Christian Wife (Ephesians 5:22-24), John MacArthur preached on I Peter 3, and when it came to verse 5, he had this to say (35:27-36:08):

Holy women have always done this. Holy women, women who hoped in God, this means redeemed women, this is how they’ve always adorned themselves, by being submissive to their husband. Illustration: Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him Lord. Now, don’t get carried away, Men. Please. But you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.


MacArthur’s warning to the men in his audience was met with laughter by the congregation. Whenever a pastor has to preach the text as written, he can bet money it will produce anxiety in the minds of the women listening. The condescending exhortation for men to get over themselves is meant to dispel this anxiety from the ladies’ minds. The laughter you hear is not one of humor, but of relief. “Oh, thank God. For a minute there I thought I had to call my idiot-husband lord. Ha! Like that’s ever gonna happen.”

But let’s say John MacArthur went in the other direction and said something like the following:

Ladies, there is no mistaking what God has commanded of you. Your husband doesn’t simply sit in the place of Christ in your marriage, but you’re to address him as lord. He isn’t The Lord God, but, he is your lord. And I gotta tell you, Ladies, I’ve never heard of a marriage ending in divorce after the wife started calling her husband Lord.

These statements would also be met with laughter, only it would be one of nail-biting anxiety. Pastors know full-well that women cannot abide being corrected for their failures in a relationship. In 2016 Doug Wilson wrote that he (and his wife in an unquoted portion of the article) encounters this phenomenon when counselling married couples:

Even though the world gets conviction of sin all wrong, this climate does mean that the simple message of repent and believe is one that can still be delivered to men. The men usually expect it, which is good, because they deserve it.

But that is not the case anymore with women.(…) Now I know that some women have done awful things to men also, and I take it as a given that this can and does happen. I do not assume that the man must be the worst offender. But in the counseling I have done over the years, the thing that usually wrecks the woman’s joy is not the fact that her sin is equivalent to the man’s, or greater than the man’s, or less than the man’s, but rather the fact that her sin is untouchable. We are dealing with a culture-wide insistence that women not be held responsible for what they do. This assumption has crept into the church, even into the conservative wing of the church, and has now been weaponized.


This obviously poses a problem for women when they’re confronted by 1 Peter 3:5. On one hand, the Christian church has taught them to demonize anyone who would dare criticize their failures towards their husbands. But then, the Bible does say that wives should call their husbands Lord. This naturally makes them worried, because a daunting truth is looming on the horizon. “Uh-oh… But if the Bible does teach this, doesn’t that mean I’m the bad guy?”

But this anxiety is a great opportunity for a preacher. He could take that very opportunity, knowing the fear that has been stirred in the hearts of the women listening, and say,

“Ladies, most if not all of you have failed in this area. You don’t respect your husbands, and if I bet money, none of you have ever dreamed of calling your husband lord. You may even hate your husband, but if you’re a Christian woman, your duty is clear. Obey your husband and call him Lord. I know, I know, you hate what I’m saying. Right now you may be thinking, “I won’t. I can’t. It’s just never going to happen.” That’s true, but only without God’s help. Maybe you’ve disrespected your husband for years, and you’re thinking it’s way too late to turn things around now. I’m telling you right now- it’s never too late. I’m confident that if you make it a regular point to beseech the Lord for his help, you will not just call your husband Lord, but your attitude towards him will change, and you will respect him like you never have before.”

This is the kind of preaching that women need to hear. This is the teaching that will help a disrespectful wife grow and mature in her faith. MacArthur’s approach is to stunt that growth, and to encourage women to snort at the idea that they should obey 1 Peter 3:5. We again see why the Christian church is feminist in nature. MacArthur has been preaching for a loooooooooong time. If he still can’t get this right, then it’s no wonder most of us are getting it wrong.

I’m not going to submit like those lousy slaves!

Back in the summer of 2009, a lady named Shelley Poston wrote several articles for carm.org addressing the topic of submission in marriage. She teaches that wifely submission in marriage is voluntary in nature, and thus, it’s not appropriate for a husband to demand it.

The Greek word for submission is hupotasso, “to subordinate…put under…”   God exhorts women to voluntarily follow their husband’s leadership (Ephesians 5:221 Peter 3:1).  A woman is actively doing this– choosing to put herself under leadership, choosing to be subordinate in a circumstance or relationship.  This is not forced upon her by the recipient.  Biblical submission is chosen, no coerced.


Mary Kassian and Nancy Wolgemuth made this same argument in their book True Woman 201: Interior Design – Ten Elements of Biblical Womanhood:

Hupakouō means to yield to a superior command or force without necessarily being willing, whereas when Paul tells a wife to hupotassō herself, it means to willingly put herself in the proper position.3(…)According to the Bible, a wife’s submission is her choice alone. A husband has no right to demand it or to try to extract obedience from her. His only responsibility is to love her, woo her, and humbly sacrifice himself for her as Christ did for the church.

True Woman 201: Interior Design – Ten Elements of Biblical Womanhood Mary Kassian & Nancy Leigh DeMoss (Page 189)

I’ve already debunked this argument here. I want to approach this from a different angel. In this same article, Shelley Poston wrote (bolding mine):

First, submission is actually a voluntary action by the wife.  Wives are commanded by the Lord to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:221 Peter 3:1).  This is a commandment from the Lord.  However, there is nowhere in Scripture in which husbands command their wives to submit.  A wife chooses to follow her husband’s leadership.  Slaves, on the other hand, choose nothing.  Their decisions are chosen by their master.  When a woman submits to her husband, she is actually submitting to the Lord.  It is an act of worship and love for her Savior, not as one of a weakened slave.


The most glaring flaw in this article begins with the title. It asks if a wife’s submission is like slavery. You might expect that Shelley, having chosen such a title, would naturally proceed to quote and analyze 1 Peter 3:1, since that is a key text in Scripture that explicitly compares those two things with each other.

I Peter 3:1 Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,

That’s the text, and yet, Shelley only references I Peter 3:1, and never quotes it. She also did not even reference I Peter 2:18-25, which are the verses directly preceding I Peter 3:1. Those verses explicitly talk about the submission of slaves before immediately commanding wives to submit in the same manner. They would been a perfect launching pad for the topic Shelley wanted to write about. She could have taken those texts, expounded upon their meaning, and showed how a wife’s submission is not analogous to that of a slave’s. However, she didn’t do any of those things. In avoiding delving into those most relevant texts, she wound up making the ludicrous statements she made above, which I will delve into now.

The notion that a wife must submit like a slave to her husband is clearly abhorrent to Shelley. For her, a slave who obeys isn’t “choosing” to obey. Nor is this obedience born out of strength, but weakness. This is in direct contradiction to I Peter 2 which says:

I Peter 2:18 Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

Shelley’s wrote that slaves, “…choose nothing.” That’s false, as verse 18 clearly shows not only that they can choose to submit, but they have the ability to do so in a particular manner- respectfully. They can choose to respectfully submit even when being beaten. And not only when being beaten fairly, but when they’re being beaten unjustly. There’s a great deal of choosing being mandated for Christians who are slaves.

Also, while Shelley attributes such obedience to weakness, Peter attributes it to grace. He even says it’s following in the footsteps of Christ.

21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

For Shelley, this cannot be true. For her, a wife’s submission to her husband is to perform an act of love and worship for her Savior, in contrast to that lousy weak submission a slave might perform.

When a woman submits to her husband, she is actually submitting to the Lord.  It is an act of worship and love for her Savior, not as one of a weakened slave.

And yet verses 19 and 23 directly state that a slave is doing both. A slave would submit to the master specifically because it is also an act of mindful obedience towards God.

19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly.(…) 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly.

Even a scratch-the-surface approach to these texts might have helped Shelley avoid saying what she did. Then again, neglecting to do so could very well be purposeful. Her attitude is typical of Christian women who have been raised to think they are God’s princesses on earth. They aren’t doormats, gosh-darn it! Sure, they must submit to their husbands, but not like some weak slave!

But consider how callous this would be to slaves in the Christian church. Let’s say Jeremiah-Mc-Slave-Boy has a master who beats him even when he doesn’t deserve it. He may well wish to kill his master in retaliation. And yet, having heard the command from Peter, he does what his master says and shows him respect in spite of it all. This would require a level of humility and self-restraint we can only imagine in our minds. This would be an incredible demonstration of strength of mind and character, not to mention devotion to God. Then Shelley comes along, and sneers at Jeremiah’s lot in life. His behavior isn’t something to be praised and lauded for the sterling example of Christian faith that it is. No, it’s something lowly. Something weak. Has nothing to do with obeying God, just mindless obedience to his master.

Which is made all the more ironic considering what Shelley said in her opening paragraph:

Culture views submission as a weaker person allowing a stronger person to use them, a person of lesser value giving up his rights to someone of greater value. This is not what the Bible means when referring to submission.

And yet when slaves submit to their masters, this is exactly how Shelley sees it. The cognitive dissonance is strong with this one.

How would you respond if your husband lead/loved you like Christ?

This is the first time I’ve ever re-blogged an article. This is an old one from Dalrock in 2015, but it’s worth its weight in gold. Christian women are constantly tricked into thinking that a husband who is properly leading her will automatically make her want to submit to him. If she doesn’t want to submit to him, that’s defacto evidence that her husband isn’t leading properly. This article is the antidote to such poison. If only more pastors preached with as much perception as Dalrock wrote.


In the discussion of Effortless the conversation turned to how wives should expect to be lead, and how they would naturally react if their husband lead them as the Bible teaches.  There are two parts to this, which correspond to the separate instructions to husbands and wives:

  1. Wives are to submit to their husbands even if their husband doesn’t obey the word.  The idea that a wife should expect her husband to first lead (and lead correctly) before submitting is not only not supported by Scripture, but it is in direct contradiction to 1 Pet 3:1-6.
  2. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the Church (Eph 5:25-29).

The first point is generally ignored, although it is worth noting that modern Christians are quite enthusiastic about 1 Pet 3:1-6 with a twist.  The second point is much more popular, and this is what I want to touch on with this…

View original post 1,199 more words

Doug Wilson Plays the Motte and Bailey

Last Friday, Doug Wilson came onto The Gospel Truth to discuss his book Reforming Marriage.

At 30:15, the host, Marlon Wilson, brought up a question I’d typed in the form of two chat messages. Unfortunately, he brought them up in the wrong order. Here’s what I said:

After reading the question, Marlon first asks Doug if what I said was true. I think it’s interesting that Marlon first asked to confirm if Doug really did write what I said he wrote. The easy answer should have been, yes, that’s true.

Instead, Doug answered thusly at 30:50 (I’ve tried to cut out extraneous words, ums, uhs, stammering, and other things to make it more reader-friendly):

The word “despot” there is the word that Paul uses, “despotes”. And so, those statements from “Reforming Marriage” and from “How To Exasperate Your Wife”, harmonize. And they harmonize this way: The wife is the executive of the home. Alright. So, when I was in the navy, I served in the submarine service. The captain was the captain of the ship, but every ship had an executive officer, the XO. And the captain was the final authority in the home, but the executive officer was like, in a company, you’ve got the CEO, and then you’ve got the chief operating officer, the COO. My understanding is that God’s pattern in marriage is that the husband is the protector and provider for the home, and he’s the captain, the head of the house. But, when it comes to the management of the house, like, what goes in the dishwasher when. “Don’t put paper plates in the dishwasher,” Mom says, right. Or, since Mom is the one keeping everything clean, she says, “I really want everybody (to) kick your shoes off by the door, by the front door.” You know, things like that. She’s the executive of the home, and she’s running the home. And that can happen without the husband relinquishing his headship or his authority. So, if she says, let’s say it’s a rinky-dink kind of thing, where she’s the one that does the grocery shopping, she stocks the fridge. I remember when our kids were teenagers, and Nate was moving into the age where he would drink lots and lots of milk, Nancy’s impulse was to, “I just went to the store yesterday, I just bought that! Limit the milk!” And I said, “No, our kids can drink as much milk as they want.” So, I make an occasional decision as the head of the home, this is what we’re going to do. But when it comes to the running of the house, that’s her area of expertise. That’s what she does. Now, if she thinks that I would have any question about something, Nancy runs it by me, but I believe that… Wifely submission is something we believe and practice, but, in 43, coming up on 44 years of marriage, actually, we’re coming on 45. 45 Years of marriage(…)So, um, coming up on decades of marriage, the instances where Nancy and I differed about something, and I made a decision and she needed to submit to it, has probably happened less than ten times. Everything else is just ordinary (lack?) together, talk-it-thorough, that sort of thing. Submission is assumed in everything we do. Headship and submission is assumed. But, if you are having a showdown every other day, and you’re pointing to the Bible verse in Ephesians 5, and you’ve got bigger problems. You’ve need to go get counseling.

Doug said that the word despot is the word used by Paul, which is despostes. In How To Exasperate Your Wife, he didn’t say Paul used despotes. He said oikodespotein. Here’s the quote (bolding is mine):

As the apostle Paul is urging young women to marry, he lets a very interesting comment fall in passing. “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Tim. 5:14). The word translated here as “guide the house” is oikodespotein. The wife is to be the ruler or despot of the home. This means that when she tells you to take your shoes off at the door, you will take your shoes off—and cheerfully.

How To Exasperate Your Wife (Page 11)

Perhaps Doug has argued for the word “despotes” in another book or article. Or maybe he was thinking of “oikodespotes“.

That aside, my assertion was more than that Doug used the word despot to describe the wife’s authority. I made sure to mention that he meant the wife, as despot, could order her husband around. The obvious point being that Doug, in the book this episode was named after (Reforming Marriage), condemns bossiness on the husband’s part, but allows the wife to do just that in another book (How To Exasperate Your Wife). Doug asserted that the two statements harmonize. But if you look at his answer, he harmonized nothing at all.

Remember, there’s two conflicts asserted by me in my chats. One is hypocrisy when it comes to allowing bossiness for the wife but not the husband. The second is a challenge to Doug to explain how he can allow the wife to order her husband around when he knows full-well that wives are to submit to their husbands. Keep that in mind, and now look over Doug’s entire response. Listen to it in the video. Despite speaking at great length in response, he never even tried to show how he resolved either of the issues I raised.

Instead of harmonizing what he wrote, Doug resorted to professing a completely different view. In How To Exasperate Your Wife, he didn’t write all this nonsense about XO’s and COO’s. He wrote that a wife is a “despot” and proceeded to grant to wives the authority that a despot would naturally have. Several pages later in the same book, Doug Wilson only fortified his belief:

A wife therefore has true authority over her home which no one, including her husband, can take away from her. She must be obedient to him, as this verse states, but this is a clearly delimited obedience.(…)In a certain sense, a husband (as the head of his wife) is an honored and permanent guest, but he should learn to see himself as a guest. He wipes his feet at the door, he eats what is served to him, and he seeks to conform to the pattern established by her

How To Exasperate Your Wife (Pages 17-18)

A husband is a guest in his own home? His wife has authority to tell him to stop in his tracks and remove his shoes? She decides what he eats? He conforms to her pattern? And he better do it with a smile on his face? Wow. It sounds like the wife is ruling over him. Sounds pretty bossy if you ask me. One might even call it despotic, which is exactly why Doug would shrink away from defending it.

However, he doesn’t have to defend what he wrote in How To Exasperate Your Wife. He could always just renounce what he’s written, but he can’t do that. His whole scheme as a feminist-in-patriarchal-clothing relies upon him playing the motte and bailey. In person, he’ll assure you that a wife should submit to her husband, and any authority she has over his household is, of course, subject to his veto. Then you buy How To Exasperate Your Wife expecting to find the same biblical model being proclaimed there, and you find this bizarre monstrosity has taken its place.

But honestly, what else is Wilson to do? Well, if you’re familiar with his work, he talks about masculinity being the glad acceptance of responsibility. If what he wrote is indefensible, then he could just withdraw the book from sale, say that he was wrong in this area, you know, basic stuff a man would do if he were gladly accepting the responsibility for correcting his error. But Wilson simply cannot do that, so the game must go on.

Must Wives Obey Their Husbands Even When They’re Acting Outside Their Scope of Authority?

A little over a week ago, Pastor Tom Buck posted the following Tweets (UPDATE April 7th, 2022: It appears Tom Buck deleted these Tweets. Thankfully, I or someone else managed to get these saved in The Wayback Machine. I’ll add screenshots from those archives, plus the included text):

One of the biggest mistakes being made right now is an over simplistic reading of Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2. If you applied the same idea of submission to a wife/husband relationship (Eph 5) that’s being applied to Christian/government relationship, it would be disastrous.
My wife submitting to me is not give me tyrannical control over her. There are many things outside the scope of my authority. For example, would my wife be required to “submit” to me ordering her to wear a red dress every Tuesday?

[Tom’s first Tweet. Here’s the archive.]
[Tom’s second Tweet. Here’s the archive.]

I’m going to assume that Tom Buck has had to interact with Christians who propose we ought to obey our government even when it oversteps the authority granted to it by the scriptures. This is what he’s rebutting when he says that it would be disastrous to apply such a standard to the requirement for wives to submit to their husbands. I also assume that the Christians he is dealing with are specifically using Romans 12:1-7 and I Peter 2:13-25 in their arguments with him. Notice also that Tom Buck rhetorically claims that his wife would not be required to submit to his command to wear a red dress every Tuesday. From his perspective, such a command is outside the scope of his authority. That’s what makes it tyrannical. He would be trying to exert control where he has no biblical right to do so.

Let’s take one of the scriptures that Tom Buck made reference to in his first Tweet; 1 Peter 2. Specifically, let’s examine verses 18-20:

1 Peter 2:18 (ESV): Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

Peter grants that the servants reading his letter may have a master who is unjust. They will suffer sorrow at their masters’ hands, to the point of being beaten. To act in an unjust manner is obviously sinful, and an unjust master would clearly be acting outside the scope of authority that the scriptures give him. In fact, we even have laws in the Old Testament to protect a slave who is unjustly harmed by his master:

Exodus 21:20-21: “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.

Exod. 21:26-27: “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth.

It’s clear that the Bible forbids masters from mistreating their slaves. A master who would demand his slave put up with such mistreatment is therefore acting outside the scope of his authority. However, it’s also clear from 1 Peter 2 that slaves are still, in Tom Buck’s words, “required to submit” to such evil masters in spite of that. If we were to re-word Tom Buck’s question like this:

Would my slave be required to “submit” to me beating him even though he doesn’t deserve it?

The answer would be a definitive yes. His obligation to submit doesn’t end with his master’s scope of authority. In fact, it stretches beyond that. Does his master have the right to demand such submission? No. But, is that slave still required to submit to him anyway? Yes, because God requires it.

So, let’s revisit Tom Buck’s original question. He rhetorically argued that his wife isn’t required to submit to him if he issues an order that falls outside his scope of authority. For him, his wife’s dressing habits are one of those things he can’t assume authority over. I don’t know why he thinks that, but let’s grant him that and ask: Does he have the biblical right to impose such demands upon his wife? No. But, does God require that his wife obey those demands? Yes.

A complimentarian would likely demand to be shown a text that grants to husbands the specific authority to govern their wives’ dressing habits. I would respond by saying you’re missing the point. If a slave wrote back to Peter and quoted Exodus 21 to him, Peter would still tell him to obey and respect his unjust master. This is directly relevant to wives, because after Peter finished instructing the slaves in chapter 2, he turns to wives and orders them to treat their sinful husbands in the same way.

1 Peter 3:1: Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,

The “likewise” ties the manner in which wives should “be subject” to their husbands to the manner in which servants ought to “be subject” to their unjust masters. While Tom Buck rhetorically argues that his wife shouldn’t have to submit to his dress-code, Peter is telling wives to go way beyond that. Never mind wearing red on Tuesdays- you need to obey your husband even if he beats you unjustly!

Would that be tyrannical? Yes. Would it be unjust? Yes. Would it be, in Tom Buck’s language, “disastrous”? Yes; And in spite of all of that, wives are still required to submit to it. It’s definitely a difficult truth to accept, even for genuine born-again Christian women, but this is the mandate God has given to them.

I could end my response here, but, if you’re a complimentarian reader and you’ve made it this far, but you still would like an explicit text relevant to the clothing issue, I’m happy to say I have one, and I’m glad to give it to you. I’d like you to notice something about 1 Peter 3:1-6:

1 Peter 3:1: Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

It’s ironic, isn’t it? Tom Buck just happened to use a hypothetical example of clothing as one of those situations where his wife is not “required to submit” to him. And yet, the apostle Peter went out of his way to tell Christian wives to disregard concerns about their clothing in favor of being obedient to their husbands! For a wife to cling on to her preferred manner of dressing herself against her husband’s wishes would be to directly disobey this command. Tom’s question may have been rhetorical, but the scriptural answer is not. If a husband tells his wife to wear red dresses on Tuesdays, then that’s exactly what she should do.

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:

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.

The Greek Says My Husband Can’t Demand Submission From Me!

In their book True Woman 201: Interior Design – Ten Elements of Biblical Womanhood Mary Kassian & Nancy Leigh DeMoss, they make a textual argument for their position that when it comes to wifely submission, wives are only required to submit to their husbands of their own volition. Husbands are forbidden from demanding submission from their wives, and in this book, Kassian/DeMoss make an argument from the Greek text (Page 189):

The Greek word translated “submissive” is the word hupotassō from hupo “under, beneath” and tassō “to place in order, arrange, or line up.” The word is an old military term. It means to arrange under in an orderly fashion—to place in the proper position under rank. In this case, it indicates that the Lord wants a wife to voluntarily line herself up under the headship of her husband.

It’s important to note that the word for submission used for the wife’s desired attitude differs from the one used for the child’s behavior toward his parents and the bondservant’s response toward his master. In the case of children and servants, the word is hupakouō, from hupo “under, beneath” and akouō “to hearken, obey.” Hupakouō means to yield to a superior command or force without necessarily being willing, whereas when Paul tells a wife to hupotassō herself, it means to willingly put herself in the proper position.3

Although this book was co-authored with Nancy Leigh DeMoss, I assume Mary Kassian is the one responsible for the content of this portion of the book. As we proceed, I’m going to refer to Kassian alone for ease of reference. Continue reading