Respectful submission not submission

Over at Dalrock’s post on advice to a wife about troublesome mother-in-laws many of the same debates have risen up again. In particular, women have the tendency to ask about submission when a husband tells her to sin. I wrote this post over there, but I’m reposting it over here because this concept needs to be reinforced.

As many of you know, this line of conversation is also a red herring as Cane has addressed this topic before in You Bowed Up When You Should Have Bowed Down. In effect, looking at such obscure scenarios is a red herring compared to the vast majority of circumstances. Indeed, the true answer lies not in submission itself but in respectul submission:

Over and over again we see examples in Scripture where a servant cannot or will not obey a master; whether good or evil. The righteous servants always say something along the lines of, “I cannot comply with this. What can I do instead to appease my lord?” David says this to Saul; Daniel to Nebuchadnezzar; Lot to the men of Sodom; Esther to King Ahasuerus; Tamar to Amnon…

This is not ONLY about submission or obedience. It is FIRST about attitude.

A disrespectful heart will see a command or request from someone in authority and first think about the self: how do I get out of this or how can obey minimally or do I even have to obey at all? A respectful heart will think about the whole picture, especially including the desires of the one in authority: “I cannot comply with this. What can I do instead to appease my lord?”

Matthew 15:18 But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. 19 For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, [i]fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. 20 These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man.”

If they encounter a situation where they think it would be a sin either because of a conscience, Scripture, or whatever then their first reaction should involve not acting a rebellious manner nor a kowtowing doormat manner. Instead, they should reflect a proper heart attitude of respect to desire to act in a submissive manner. In the vast majority of cases it is the attitude of respect in a difficult situation will turn a husband’s heart towards kindness, grace, and mercy.

The Scripture reiterates this twice in Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3: wives are to respect their husbands.

1 Peter 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 [a]respectful behavior.

Ephesians 5:22 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. […] 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 [r]respects her husband.

Many a wife may submit but if they obey with a disrespectful attitude they will not win the heart of their husband. This is because their heart is set upon rebellion even in obedience. There are many parallels for this which I’ve used before:

  • The kid who is forced to say sorry will have a bad attitude but will obey what they are told to do. But you can tell from their attitude that they don’t mean it.
  • We all know employees at work who complain and moan about everything their boss has for them. No one wants to be around this type of employee because the atmosphere is rotten to the core.

This is the same thing that husbands feel when their wife is disrespectful even if they obey. It is a wife’s respectful and chaste heart that wins her husband in submissiveness. Not solely her obedience.

This does not just apply to solely Christian husbands and wives. This is why when I have to submit to authorities such as the Church, in a job, in academic settings, the government, and other areas of life where I am under authority I always try to make it a point to obey respectfully. You will have more favor from those in authority if you obey respectfully rather than obeying disrespectfully, and this is part of your witness of Christ as salt and light of the earth.

  • A respectful heart searches for ways to obey in the fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and self control.
  • A disrespectful heart searches for ways to disobey, often without care for the concerns of the one in authority even if they ultimately obey.
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21 Responses to Respectful submission not submission

  1. Pingback: Respectful submission not submission |

  2. Coastal says:

    Good stuff! Definitely a reminder to check my attitude when dealing with authority.

  3. ballista74 says:

    An old comment of yours is drawing some traffic to my blog right now. Thought you might like to know.

  4. @ ballista

    Thanks. Looks like the same old criticism by people who don’t understand the importance of attractiveness in a relationship.

  5. Coastal says:

    @DS @Ballista

    Yep, if the avatar doesn’t give it away, I posted that in another board I frequent to see how they’d react to it (it’s a mix of both Christian and non-Christian folks). From what I can tell the men seemed to do a better job of getting the gist of it, but that seems to be par for the course.

  6. @ Coastal

    You kind of posted it in an out-of-context way as I didn’t provide the context of said boundless post in my response. Basically, the question(s) that boundless was asking was:

    1. Why aren’t more Christian men asking women out on dates
    2. Why aren’t more Christian women going on dates with Christian men who ask them.

    The answer is obviously attractiveness. Hence, my answer about things men and women need to do to become more attractive.

    The one thing that stood out to me in the other thread is that the women in particular always want to play the role of special snowfake. “Well, I was confident, strong, and independent being self sufficient and I have a boyfriend now.”

    No honey. That’s not the confident, strong, and independent that men are talking about.

  7. Pingback: Independent versus self sufficient and responsible | Reflections on Christianity and the manosphere

  8. Stryker says:

    I recently had one of the first tests from my bride of two months. She asked to wear dress pants to church on Sunday because it was chilly. I told I wanted her to wear a dress. She did, but was not happy about it.

    She knows I like her in a dress, and since I’ve known her, I have never seen her wear dress pants once, and we have been attending church together for 18 months, sometimes twice a week. Not only did she wear a skirt every time, she also did so in sub-freezing temps all winter.

    Needless to say I stuck to my guns and tried to give her a good reason why I like her in a skirt, at least at church. She didn’t really buy my reason (respectful to God, and to me, to appear as feminine as possible) and stated that the reason she always has worn a skirt in the past is because I liked it. Apparently now that we are married that isn’t a good enough reason??

    Anyway she is very obedient and wore a skirt, but she was not cheerfully obedient…

    Overall I think passed this “test” but I probably could have done better. Any suggestions?

  9. Looking Glass says:


    If she wore the dress, then you passed. Obviously, we can’t say with flying colors or not, but you have to be less concerned about the “not happy” part. Women have an amazingly ability to get really upset then utterly forget they got upset about something.

  10. @ Stryker

    Focusing on “the disagreement” is a bad way to go. As you found out, reasoning with her isn’t going to put her out of a bad attitude. Reasoning doesn’t work with emotions. Generally speaking, you should:

    1. Compliment her on the dress which will tend to put her in a better mood.

    2. Move on. Practically speaking, what is done is done. If you dwell on the fact that your woman has a bad attitude about something then you will also be put in a crabby mood. Women tend to be able to sense crabby moods and it only fuels her negative mood more. Likewise, calling out a bad attitude in real time almost always backfires.

    If a husband is unconcerned about something and has a good attitude wives start to take that on as well (unless she is vindicative which hopefully you vetted her enough that you know she isn’t).

    Be a rock of the relationship with a joyous heart and good attitude. Your wife will generally follow suit like LG said.

    3. If you decided that it is indeed too cold then make the suggestion for leggings under the dress. She may not like wearing the dress, but now she can’t say anything about it because her reason is dismissed. Most women will gracefully admit “defeat” at this point because you “outsmarted her” rather than be stuck in a bad mood.

  11. Stryker says:

    Thanks for the comments gents, I have a great wife by any measure, was just wanting an opinion on the situation since it was my first. I wasn’t too worried about it all and kept a good attitude myself, my wife is the type of wan that just needs time to think things through, overall she is very submissive and determined to be obedient.

  12. Feminine But Not Feminist says:

    I was going to make the “tell her to wear leggings underneath her dress to keep warm” suggestion, but DS beat me to it. Fleece-lined leggings are even better for keeping warm, and are in fact warmer than dress pants. I wear them all winter long.

  13. Nonya says:

    How is wanting to wear pants in the cold is a test? Are you sure that she wasn’t upset after because you cared more about her dressing the way that you like than about her being dressed appropriately for the weather?

  14. @ Nonya

    How is wanting to wear pants in the cold is a test? Are you sure that she wasn’t upset after because you cared more about her dressing the way that you like than about her being dressed appropriately for the weather?

    Please, I know you’re not that naive.

    Stryker said that she willingly wore dresses all throughout their relationship prior to marriage through the cold winter. She didn’t mention it once or complain. She knows he likes dresses.

    The fact that she’s bringing it up now IS a test. It’s not a test in a traditional sense, but it is a test of boundaries. If she had wanted to she could’ve worn the dress AND put on leggings like FBNF said to avoid the cold and please both of them. Instead, she goes for the option that she knows he doesn’t like: pants instead of dress.

    If a man continually gives into testing of his boundaries he becomes a wimp. Women treat wimps with contempt and often times divorce them.

  15. Pingback: The parable of the whore | Reflections on Christianity and the manosphere

  16. Nonya says:

    @ Deep Stregnth – I don’t necessarily agree that it was a test. But test or not, it is an excellent example of why women shouldn’t pretend to be something that they are not when they are looking for a husband. She pretended to like dresses in the winter because she liked Stryker. Now she’s married to someone who expects her to keep wearing them cold weather or not. There are a lot of cold and uncomfortable winters in her future. LOL. Single ladies take note.

  17. Looking Glass says:


    You called Stryker’s wife a pathological liar. You owe him an apology.


    It dawned on me later that after she put on the dress, some sort of physical affirmation was properly in order. A nice squeeze of the tush and a good compliment on how she looks with a dress on would have eventually sunk in for her. Positive reinforcement does work on people. It’s an incredibly important part of leadership.

    Have we gone over the importance of “bemusement” when it comes to dealing with Women? It helps a lot.

  18. Nonya says:

    @ Looking Glass

    Please note the quote from stryker’s comment.

    Needless to say I stuck to my guns and tried to give her a good reason why I like her in a skirt, at least at church. She didn’t really buy my reason (respectful to God, and to me, to appear as feminine as possible) and stated that the reason she always has worn a skirt in the past is because I liked it.

    She wore the dresses because he liked it, not because she liked it. Now she’s stuck.

  19. Stryker says:

    @Nonya – My wife likes wearing dresses and skirts, she just wanted the freedom to wear whatever she wanted to church. I only expect her to wear them to church…

  20. Pedat Ebediyah says:


    Even still what would be wrong with a wife wanting to do something because her husband likes it?

    Pray tell what she (or ANY woman) has to lose by doing so?

  21. Pingback: The influence of emotions on respect, submission, and love | Christianity and the manosphere

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