Pre-marriage headship and submission

Oscar makes a very astute comment on Jack’s post about if she loves you then she’ll be a PITA.

There’s no Biblical requirement for a woman to submit to a man before they’re married, but if she’s rebellious before marriage, it’ll only get worse after marriage.

In other words, she’s not required to submit, but he’s not required to marry her, either.

Precisely what I recommend in Practical advice to single Christian men establishing leadership and the right frame when starting a relationship.

If we look at Jesus’ life we can see He offers to become the “head” of the disciples / Church by asking them to “Come, follow Me” and then He leads and teaches them. They voluntarily act according to what He is teaching them about God and how to live life in accordance with how He is going to change the world. John 6 also shows that many disciples who disagreed with Him left Him in great numbers at one time as well.

This is an excellent model to show the types of “bid and response” we would like to see in men and women while dating and then engaged and subsequently married.

I am often fond of making the point that you are the same person that you were before you got married as the day after you got married. So the the potential spouse, whether a husband or wife, is not going to magically change upon saying vows. If they’re an untrustworthy or unfaithful person before they say their vows that’s not something that changes in the snap of a finger. The same is true of attitudes and actions held by a man or woman because of one day or one commitment (except, perhaps, accepting Christ who can break those chains immediately, though, usually we see gradual sanctification). Who they were before that day for weeks, months, and years is going to be the same person after marriage. The trajectory of their growth pattern or already having the long term habits of obey God and being faithful with the small things and big things is the most important.

The key then, for both sides, is to make good “bids and responses” in terms of proper headship-submission and love-respect lines. The man should show leadership and see how she follows. The wife should be trying to follow and see if he exhibits good headship. The husband should love his wife and see if his wife respects him. The wife should respect her husband and see if it helps him love her more. Building up these good cycles and habits start to hedge against bad behavior from cropping up and going into more destructive behavior cycles.

Obviously, one should be doing these things irregardless of how someone is treating them as God shows us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5). However, we are not required to marry and thus we should be choosy of only someone who is wants to and is willing to do these things without having to have pressure put on them to do it. If they aren’t willing to do things when there’s no requirement, it’s unlikely that they’ll do them when things get tougher like when tough times can come during marriage.

In these we must always be reminded that God’s mission and our sanctification are the end goal.

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14 Responses to Pre-marriage headship and submission

  1. Oscar says:

    Check out “The Lie of Servant Leadership”.

    https://mycanonplus.com/tabs/search/videos/1688

  2. Rock Kitaro says:

    Well said. One of the biggest misnomers people too often believe is thing like, “once he becomes a father, then he’ll change” or “once she’s married, she’ll change”…Even if this does often happen and people believe it based on what they see on TV…why risk it? Why not find someone who’s simply ready?

  3. elspeth says:

    @ Oscar:

    There are few terms I loathe more when Christian women talk marriage than “servant leader”.

    I am very vocal about why. I don’t hold back because I want these women know that this concept is little more than an excuse to neuter husbands and undermine if not outright obliterate their authority.

  4. Oscar says:

    @ Elspeth

    And, for your efforts, we salute you.

    @ RK

    One of the biggest misnomers people too often believe is thing like, “once he becomes a father, then he’ll change” or “once she’s married, she’ll change”…Even if this does often happen and people believe it based on what they see on TV

    I advise my children similarly. There’s no point in trying to change people. To my boys, I say that if a woman is willing to follow you before marriage, great! But if she’s not, then assume it’ll get worse after marriage, and bail out.

    To my girls, I say that if a man displays leadership qualities, and they’re willing to follow him before marriage, great! But if he doesn’t, then assume it’ll get worse after marriage, and bail out.

    Even if this does often happen and people believe it based on what they see on TV…why risk it? Why not find someone who’s simply ready?

    I wouldn’t go quite that far. Let’s face it, few people are ready for marriage before they get married. I’d say that, if they’re moving in the right direction, that’s usually good enough. It’s a tough needle to thread, because we want our kids to marry relatively young, but when you’re young, you haven’t lived long enough to have acquired the skills you’ll need to be a good spouse and parent. That’s especially true for young men, because leading requires more experience than following.

    I’d like to read Elspeth’s take on that.

  5. professorGBFMtm2021 says:

    Servant leader?Nay I say servant king!

    Thats how women I meet usualy treat me,so with a little GBFMness you can too dude!
    BUT 100% serious D.S. you see GUNNERS latest post!?
    https://gunnerq.com/2022/02/25/christ-is-the-answer-or-your-money-back/comment-page-1/#comment-12066
    Thats my comment with me talking about RAY,GBFM&professorGBFM,the best examples ever of GODLY ALPHAS with ALL the traits that drive the girls wild, to ever come out of the manosphere!

  6. Elspeth says:

    I don’t think anyone is “ready” for marriage in the sense that there will always be those sometimes uncomfortable adjustments that come from simply learning how to be married to the person you’ve married. Living together with other people is an adjustment; always. That’s the case no matter how holy and submissive she is or how responsible and leader-like he is. Humanity will out at some point.

    That said, I do think that we can be a lot more ready than most are, and certainly more ready than my husband and I were. We have had a really great run, but we had zero idea what we were doing when we tied the knot. We were immature in all the ways single people are; especially single people as young as we were (20 and 22, with me being the older of the two of us).

    And yes, leading requires more experience than following. I have a front row seat to some pretty painful scenarios which illustrate that point. I married a natural leader, so he took the steep learning curve pretty quick, and still…there was a learning curve. Expecting anyone to be completely ready for marriage in all its layers is a bit much.

    However, I do believe that a woman (or man) can develop the character -even at a younger age- that will make them much more suited to marriage than someone who has spent the entirety of their single life thinking only about themselves and how they feel.

  7. Jack says:

    Most people have no idea what they’re getting into when they get married. The fact that Headship is not taught and modeled makes the transition into married life soooo much more of a shock and a hardship. This is because people don’t choose partners based on this structural model, and they don’t have any idea how to act according to this model. Many people never even realize that Headship is how marriage should be done. I grew up in the church, and I never learned about Headship until I came across the Christian Manosphere.

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  11. info says:

    “If we look at Jesus’ life we can see He offers to become the “head” of the disciples / Church by asking them to “Come, follow Me” and then He leads and teaches them. They voluntarily act according to what He is teaching them about God and how to live life in accordance with how He is going to change the world. John 6 also shows that many disciples who disagreed with Him left Him in great numbers at one time as well.

    This is an excellent model to show the types of “bid and response” we would like to see in men and women while dating and then engaged and subsequently married.”

    Best done before marriage. Because after marriage. Its bound to lead to conflict that will either blow up the marriage or the wife submits.

  12. jorgen says:

    “There’s no Biblical requirement for a woman to submit to a man before they’re married…”

    Well in the analogy the church is the bride of Christ not the actual wife yet, so…it seems submission starts with engagement actually.

  13. Oscar says:

    Well in the analogy the church is the bride of Christ not the actual wife yet, so…it seems submission starts with engagement actually.

    Ephesians 5:22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

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