Cowering, Submissive Female? Not me. Not you, either.

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As a professional writer, I skim through a lot of blogs, and a general, recurring theme of conservative, female, Christian writers is a blend of Ephesians 5: 22-24 and Titus 2: 3-5.

Marriage is a dance, and it takes two people actively moving and working together to create beauty. Evening Waltz, original oil painting by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art.

If you don’t recognize these verses, you are Christian, and you are female, then you’re either remarkably obtuse or enviably free. These are the famous, or infamous, “submit yourselves to your husband” verses trotted out and waved around to all women of marriageable age, and the import is that we need to shut up, put up, and give in to what our man has to say about everything, because he’s in charge, you know.
Well yes, he is. I’ve been married to my Norwegian Artist for 31 years, and he’s the CEO of our family, which includes an actual company, incidentally. But I’m the president, and neither our company (Steve Henderson Fine Art) nor our family enjoys success without my active, pointed, professional, and aggressive involvement in day to day affairs. This involves not only working closely with my husband, but disagreeing with him now and then, or pointing out that as I know more about a particular subject than he does, then this is one case where I take the lead.

According to the Titus 2 people, however (some women identify themselves by this appellation, introducing themselves along the lines of, “I’m Genevieve, and I’m a Titus 2 Woman”), I am in the wrong, my attitude being “strong willed” and disobedient, terms that should only be used — with extreme discretion — when talking about a child, or a dog, but not a full-grown adult woman.

“Ephesians 5:22 says, ‘Submit yourself to your husband as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife,'” the Titus-twosers intone. For some reason, they always stop around there, totally ignoring that the majority of the section, verses 25 through 33, addresses the responsibilities of the husband, and the chapter before the “Wives, Submit” verse discusses how believers interact with, and submit to, one another, regardless of their gender or marital status.

And submit, incidentally, does not mean, “obey.” We left the 17th century several hundred years ago.

As daughters of God, we can enjoy freedom and joy in Christ, if we don’t bind ourselves up with knots of our own making. Ocean Breeze, original oil painting and licensed open edition print by Steve Henderson.

“It doesn’t matter what God says to the husbands,” T-2’s aver. “It is your responsibility to accede your will, your opinions, and your dreams to your husband. He is in complete charge of everything, and if you do not give him control over your life and activities — except cleaning the toilets — you can’t expect him to love you as Christ loved the church.”

I have heard some women blame other women — strong-willed, disobedient sorts — for the husband’s lack of success because of the wife’s lack of passivity, mistakenly seen as submission. She speaks up. She has an opinion. She manages the family finances because she’s the one who swipes the debit card and knows where the money needs to go. But her husband can’t succeed because she isn’t submissive enough.

This attitude is not only misguided, it is an insult to the man as much as it is to the woman, implying that he is so weak that he can’t handle a woman who doesn’t give in to everything he thinks and says.

Adam and Eve were partners, a man and a woman who faced the world side by side with God in between. And while women are described as “the weaker vessel,” 1 Peter 3: 7 encourages our husbands to treat us with respect and consideration — something that does not happen when we wait upon him as if he were the master and we were the servant.

After 31 years of marriage, this is the advice I would give younger women, which Titus 2:5 admonishes to be “self-controlled, and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands” — He’s the boss. But you’re not an employee. You are his partner, and he can’t make it without you, the way that you can’t make it without him. You need each other, and you owe one another mutual respect, faithfulness, encouragement, and love.

It will take the gifts and abilities of both of you, tempered with grace, to make it in this cold, brutal world, and he needs your support and loyalty. Give it to him. But remember that, in addition to being your husband’s wife, you are Abraham’s daughter and the child of the King. Conduct yourself with dignity, self-respect, and confidence. Your husband deserves no less.

About Carolyn
Carolyn Henderson is a lifestyle writer whose blog, This Woman Writes, addresses finances, homeschooling, family life, 21st century Christianity, and eating decent food. Her BeliefNet blog, Commonsense Christianity, delves more deeply into what it means to live like a Christian — male or female — in a world that encourages conformity, obedience, and lack of independent thought.
Carolyn is the author of two books, Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle and Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I Say Him and Me or He and I?” She is the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art which she co-owns with her husband, fine art painter Steve Henderson.


  1. Cindy Watson says

    I appreciate your article. So many articles on the subject of submission seem to leave with me the idea that a woman is to cower and live very much in the shadows and to fulfill her husbands every wish and whim. I did wonder about this statement in your article though, “And submit, incidentally, does not mean, “obey.” We left the 17th century several hundred years ago.” Although, based on my study of submit I agree with you. Children and slaves obey, wives submit. Submit is about our attitude. It is voluntary. I believe husbands are also to submit. As all Christians are to put others before self. To yield for the good of others. Submit as used in Ephesians, obviously does not mean the same thing as obey. Although I don’t believe it is because it isn’t the 17th century. I believe that it was never the intention for them to be the same and the original text bears this out. However, I will say that obey and submit in action look very similar. If I ask my husband to help me carry in the groceries it could be said that he is submitting to my request. Could it also be said that he is obeying me? I think it is just plain silly when some insist that a husband should never submit to his wife. What kind of marriage would that be? We need to understand the spirit of God’s laws. His intention for a husband and wife was unity. A marriage with two people putting the other before self and striving for harmony. The husband is to be a spiritual leader and his wife is to help him. He is not to be the king and ruler of his home but rather a God focused leader who puts the good of his family before self. God is the boss in a Christ centered home. A good leader recognizes that God said he needed a helper and that he was insufficient by himself. A good leader will avail himself of the wisdom and knowledge of his wife. Only a foolish husband would suppose that he always knows better than his wife.

  2. Tami Lundgren says

    Unbroken Ministries –
    First off we at Christian Women Bloggers are so very sorry you were discouraged and upset by this post. It is very much our intention to encourage and inspire, and we are truly sorry when we miss the mark. There is no doubt this is a difficult subject and people come at it from very different angles. CWB edits all posts for content and Biblical accuracy but we do not change the words or tone of any of our guest writers. When someone speaks boldly we let them speak and do not temper that. I hope you will continue to come to us for encouragement and inspiration. The Team

  3. Unbroken Ministries says

    Considering this blog intro states it’s a place of encouragement and inspiration for Christian women, I have read this a few times now to make sure I am understanding it right
    See, not only am I a Christian blogger but I am also one of these cowardly women you are describing. I don’t feel inspired or encouraged. I continued this on my blog because this is a common response I receive from women for taking a Biblical response to my marriage

    • K. Martin says

      I read the Unbroken Woman’s post. However, it’s unclear why she got so offended and took Caryoln’s post as if it were a personal attack against her. I noticed that 1 of her own commenter’s asked, “… you were called a coward. Please help me out here. Can you quote the line, so I can find it?” A question that she didn’t answer with that quote.

      Caryoln’s post is rooted and grounded in scripture, and I recognized those “uncited” verses as I read the article. It’s not my job to defend Carolyn or this site, but I do feel like citing scripture is needed and helpful.

      For entire comment:

    • Cynthia says

      What an excellent response, K. Martin. I hope that Jennifer from Unbroken Ministries takes the time to read it.
      Jennifer did not link back to this article, so people could see for themselves what was actually said, nor did she quote what was written here. Her reply did not match what was written above.

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