Sunday, July 18, 2010



“If men exhibited Christ-like leadership,
women would submit...”

Are we not commanded to submit to un-regenerated authority (Kings, parents, etc.)?

Is poor leadership the only problem with submission, or can rebellion be a factor too?

Do either gender always submit to Christ’s perfect leadership?


The Church today tends to hold one of two views about gender authority in marriage;

1. Wives submit to husbands.

2. Mutual submission.

One of these views is setting up it’s own authority structure in violation of God’s order. The Bible says that is a serious matter!

2 Cor. 10:4-6 (Msg) The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. [5] We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. [6] Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.

That means that if mutual submission is what God has ordained, any husband who exercises gender authority as a practice is violating scripture, and every wife who submits to it is disobeying God. Conversely, if gender authority is what God intends, any husband who operates in mutual submission is abdicating responsibility, and the wife is making the same shift Satan did in rejecting the authority established by God.

Please consider carefully the following questions.

1. Is your belief about gender authority in marriage primarily directed by reactions to faulty leadership, another person’s teaching, or your own careful, Biblical, Spirit-led study of this issue?

2. What do you believe about this before God?

3. What will happen or change if you make a 180 degree change in your thinking? Are the consequences of that change guiding your interpretation of gender authority, or is God’s Word?

REMEMBER; Scripture is to be our first and final guide.

Extensive teaching that opposes mutual submission is covered in ‘Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood’ by John Piper & Wayne Gruden. In ‘Beyond Sex Roles’ by Gilbert Bilezikian a typical supporting view of mutual submission is given.

The Bible states that there is gender authority in marriage, and not mutual submission. This was established before the fall.

1. Adam was created first; 1 Tim. 2:13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve.

2. Adam is judged for listening to his wife; Genesis 3:17 Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree...

3. Adam named Eve.

4. Throughout history and around the world, Society seems ‘hardwired’ for gender authority.

5. Old Testament Law, Biblical culture and examples give clear and consistent witness of gender authority in marriage.


A. Ephes. 5:21-33 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
[22] Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. [23] For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. [24] But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
[25] Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, [26] so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, [27] that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. [28] So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; [29] for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, [30] because we are members of His body. [31] For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. [32] This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. [33] Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband.

*Please note; The full context of this passage is Ephesians 5:21 through 6:9. After the call to ‘be subject to one another’, it gives instructions on how the submission looks in the different relationships of husbands and wives, children and parents, and slaves and masters. None of these structures of authority listed look like mutual submission!

There are two contested words in this passage, ‘subject’ (submit), and ‘head’.

1. Subject; hupotasso ; to place or rank under, to subject, mid. to obey:— put in subjection(5), subject(16), subjected(7), subjecting(1), subjection(4), submissive(3), submit(2)

-It is always used in the context of submission to authority in the New Testament.
In love and Christ-like character we are all to humbly put others before ourselves, but that does not eradicate positions of authority! Our example Jesus, put others before himself, but without abdicating his authority.

V21 is the key verse used to justify mutual submission. Here is the crucial weakness of that argument; The context of the passage is submitting to one another, and is clearly communicated in verses 5:22-6:5, wives to husbands, children to parents, and servants to masters. It does not make sense to call for mutual submission in verse 21, and then give an extended reversal of the command in the very next verses!

How should this passage read if it were speaking of mutual submission?
-Would it not start as Jesus did, ‘You have heard... but I say...’
-Would there not be extended explanation, especially in light of the culture

The example of submitting to authority is even given using the Church. Paul communicates this in v23 saying ‘as Christ is the head of the church’. He then emphasizes the truth by inverting it in v24, saying ‘as the church submits to Christ’. Can’t be made any clearer than that!

V24 Calls for submission in marriage to the full extent that the Church submits to Christ. Consider the depth and breadth of that statement! Wives, submit to husbands as the Church does to Christ… in everything that is holy, good and right!

V31 Refers to Genesis and the man leaving home and taking a wife ~ an expression of new authority being established and leadership in action. Another powerful example is the Ten Commandments where we are instructed not to covet another man’s wife.

Does the passage not clearly expresses that the attitude in marriage is sensitive, caring authority by the husband, and respectful submission by the wife?

2. kephale ; a prim. word; the head:— chief(4), hair(1), head(50), heads(19), very(1).

There is a very recent definition in a Greek Lexicon that defines kephaleo as ‘source’, instead of ‘head’. 1981 was the first time a Greek Lexicon or commentary interpreted Kaphale as ‘source’ (Word variations~head). In the plural definition of kephaleo in that same dictionary, ‘head,’ not ’source’ was used.

-A study of Greek writings in the time period this passage was written, produced over 2300 examples of Kaphale. Every one indicated leadership or authority (Wayne Grudem, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School). I must ask, why would someone choose a dictionary so distant to the original writing to define a passage? Especially when there are numerous other more appropriate ones available!

When ‘source’ is clearly intended in Scripture a different word is always used.

Note that the context of ‘head’ in verse 23 is immediately preceded AND followed by a context of authority.

Ephes. 6:1-4 (NASB-U) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. [2] Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise), [3] so that it may be well with you, and that you may live long on the earth. [4] Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord

Ephes. 6:5 (NASB-U) Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ;

If Ephes. 5:21 ‘and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ,’ infers mutual submission between husbands and wives, then it would also have to apply to the next two relationships of employment and children.

-It does not make sense for Paul to command mutual submission, and then instruct the submission of wives, slaves and children in the verses immediately following.

-Nowhere in Scripture is a husband ever told to submit to his wife (Or for that matter, a parent to a child, or a master to a servant).

-Peter states nearly the same ideas in a parallel passage, prefaced by the same thought. 1 Peter 2:13 (NASB) ‘Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution‘, and then Peter gives the same guidance for slaves and wives.

Does servant-leadership or Christ-like leadership nullify authority?

Only if it nullifies Christ’s authority over the believer or a parent’s authority over a child.

Mutual submission can only be a aberration of authority.

Mutual submission either means no one is in authority, or everyone is their own boss. The end result can only be everyone doing what is right in their own eyes. We also call that anarchy. Doesn’t mutual submission also create two masters?

The only qualification that Scripture ever puts on submitting, is ‘in the Lord’. If it violates the direct instruction of God, we are to flee (David), or face the consequences (Daniel).

We also must be careful not to confuse positions of authority with walking in oneness. Just as we can misunderstand authority as nullifying value, we can misunderstand it as violating unity. God is one, yet Christ is submits to the Father without diminishing His value, or disrupting their unity.

Isn’t even good authority wrong if submission is always demeaning?

If so, you would have to see Christ’s position under the Father as demeaning. If wives submitting to husbands is demeaning, anyone under any authority is dishonored then. David submitted to Saul and Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar. We don‘t see their position under authority as demeaning, but we do in how they were treated. A good parent exerts authority over their child, and we don’t consider that demeaning. At the same time a parent will even forfeit their life because of the value they place on their child.

In this passage, in several ways, a clear analogy is made between Christ and the Church, and husbands and wives in the context of authority. If you dispute gender authority, you will have to dispute that Christ is the head of the Church. Put another way, if mutual submission is what God intends, then Christ is not in authority over the Church.


This passage overtly establishes gender authority in marriage and sets attitudes for both positions. I Peter 3:1-7 virtually repeats the same principles, but with the wife responding to authority as Christ and Sarah did.

Even more important, this passage exposes the marriage relationship, in the context of gender authority, as a visual picture of relationship between Christ and the Church. What critical and powerful influence and message do we lose when we negate that picture?

B. Col. 3:18-19 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. [19] Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them.

Gender authority is once again clearly commanded.

The qualification of submission to any authority is always ‘as is fitting in the Lord’ (Also in Eph. 5:22)! I understand that injunction several ways. That submission should not violate God’s commands. The attitude of submission should reflect godliness.

The caution against embitterment only makes sense in referring to a fleshly reaction to an un-submissive wife. Especially in the context of the curse against Eve.

C. Titus 2:3-5 (NASB) Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, [4] so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, [5] to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

Here again, is clear, consistent instruction about gender authority and how to practice it. In the context of the Church, older women are to exercise reverent behavior. Reverence is only fitting as a response to positions of authority. They are to teach other women, confirming Paul‘s instructions about women teaching. Their instruction to young women in marriage specifically includes submitting to their husbands.

Significantly, this passage packages both Church and marriage in the structure of gender authority!

The end of the sentence to be subject to husbands is, “so that the Word of God will not be dishonored.” Is that not a clear, direct validation of what the Word of God teaches about gender authority in marriage?

It seems as though the Church today is more concerned about dishonoring the world’s opinion then it is God’s command!

D. 1 Peter 2:13-3:7 (NASB) Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, [14] or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right. [15] For such is the will of God that by doing right you may silence the ignorance of foolish men. [16] Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God. [17] Honor all people, love the brotherhood, fear God, honor the king.
[18] Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. [19] For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a person bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly. [20] For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God.
[21] For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, [22] who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; [23] and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; [24] and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. [25] For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls.
[3:1] In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, [2] as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. [3] Your adornment must not be merely external—braiding the hair, and wearing gold jewelry, or putting on dresses; [4] but let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the imperishable quality of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is precious in the sight of God. [5] For in this way in former times the holy women also, who hoped in God, used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their own husbands; [6] just as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear.
[7] You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.

The context of this passage is set in verse 13 of chapter 2; ‘Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human institution...’ It then goes on to define that submission in the institutions of government, work and marriage.

3:1 ‘In the same way’ goes back to the example started in 2:21. The suffering of Christ is the immediate context! But even more profound, it clearly gives the example of Christ’s submission to unrighteous authority. The example of submission is Christ’s sacrifice for sinful man, and the incredible impact it has on those who receive it.

Peter in a clear and powerful way defines godly submission in this passage. It has the power to convert an unbelieving husband across generations and cultures. It was practiced in the Old Testament, and is carried into the New. It is a fundamental characteristic of godly women. In choosing Sarah as an example, Peter assumes the faults of Abraham, reflecting a fearless faith in God by Sarah. It connects the response of Christ to unjust authority as an example to wives in similar situations. Godly submission honors God, receiving His approval and blessing. It identifies a woman as the daughter of Sarah. It creates an inner beauty that transcends outward looks.

Verse 7 addresses an issue that only now science is discovering the tremendous implications of. Doesn’t it make sense that God would design the leader with the physical, mental and psychological characteristics to fulfill that function? Would God not also gift the ‘helpmate’ with characteristics that facilitate that purpose? Haven’t cultures throughout history intuitively recognized that truth? Our society has had to admit the ‘interruption’ that child-bearing brings to a female careers among other distinctions. Do I dare mention the impact that the monthly cycle and menopause must have in a leadership role? Peter acknowledges that difference by instructing that the wife is to be guarded as a precious delicate treasure and the husband is threatened with God’s judgment if she is exploited by his leadership.

If submission is dependant on perfection, no human authority would qualify. If marital authority is rejected because of male deficiencies, no marriage would survive, nor any authority. Rather than rejecting human authority with it’s faults, this passage affirms it in the context of government, employment (even slavery), and marriage.

It is the rejection of the message about gender authority in this passage alone, that brings home the reality of spiritual deception. How can anyone spiritually, let alone logically not only reject this passage, but even speak against it? I cannot see how a sincere person would not be struck with fear and immediate repentance if their view conflicted with just this single passage!


Submit has become the ‘S’ word in our society, and sadly, even the Church. More often than not it is taken out of the marriage vow. Mutual submission also is often the teaching from the pulpit. We twist or ignore what the above passages clearly state. Is it any wonder Christian marriages are in the same state as society’s?

Do not forget the foundation of this instruction. While wives are called to submit to husbands, men and women are both called to submit together to the lordship of Jesus Christ first and foremost.

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