Submission to authority



April at The Peaceful Wife received this request and kindly forwarded it to me:

On today’s post, Robyn made the comment:  ‘I’m a recovering feminist and require a firm hand.’  I would like to know what that means to her practically, and how she feels “a firm hand” can help her to be a former feminist godly wife.  Would you please ask her to describe this with examples and/or consider writing a post on this?  There are many young men in the church who want to lead their wives well, but don’t know how to deal with arrogant, disrespectful, un-submissive, feminist women/girlfriends/wives in the church.  It’s frustrating when many women admire Sean Connery, sometimes even knowing that he hits his wife, but they won’t respect their own men who don’t.  I don’t want to hit any women, but there must be a godly response men may use to inspire women to want to obey.  What works for Robyn?”


Before starting, I want to get a few things out of the way.  I’m not going to address the feminist behaviours of all women or girlfriends ‘in the church’ because they cannot surrender to the authority of a husband which they do not have.  I am addressing this part of the request: There are many young men in the church who want to lead their wives well,”

Also, It’s frustrating when many women admire Sean Connery, sometimes even knowing that he hits his wife, but they won’t respect their own men who don’t. “  This seems to be in a negative vein to demean Sean Connery.  This is judgmental and I do not agree.  If you would like to view the video you can do so here.  Also, you can read an interview from 2011 from Sean and Micheline Connery here. I have recapped Barbara Walters closing statement to the video, which is given in her likeable Barbara Walters style:  “By the way, Sean Connery has been married to Micheline for 31 years, and we have not heard a single complaint.”   And just out of curiosity I Googled images of the two of them, and I could only find TWO in which Sean was not touching Micheline.  The connection of the two of them appears even warmer after you read their interview.

I’m sorry, but instead of criticizing the man or their marriage style, how about looking at the fact that in a world where divorce rates climb and women are leaving in droves (70% of divorces are initiated by women) and even with those in the public eye … Micheline stays.  I’m not saying I condone domestic discipline but neither am I saying that I condemn it.  What I am saying, is that I don’t want to be so narrow as to disregard a couple or their marriage that has obvious proven longevity because some small part  might ‘appear’ to be distasteful.

OK now, onto what the email calls, What works for Robyn?”

First, I’m not totally comfortable with writing to the male gender.  When I write, it’s… well, it’s to me and to women who are like me.  The extrapolations from my experiences come from a female mind for female readers.  I write in ways that I feel would have connected with me years ago had I been willing to listen.  So be patient with me if I dance around a bit as I attempt to find the ‘write’ voice.

Second, my husband did not force me to become obedient to him.  It was a breaking I experienced between me and God.  My husband was (and is) the instrument that God used to make me obedient to Him.

Third, I prefer to respond to such requests via private email, but at my husband’s direction I am doing it as a post.

A person needs for their ‘no’ to stand as their ‘no’ (or their yes as their yes).  This isn’t a male-female issue but an issue of person. It is carried out in marriage by a husband and wife, and we each do it differently.

If we are both a ‘no,’ or both a ‘yes,’ everything is cool, right?  It’s when we run into that inevitable (and unenviable) no/yes conflict that we run into problems, because what we are really talking about here is who is going to lead and who is going to follow.

When you have a wife who is, “arrogant, disrespectful, and un-submissive” like I was, as a husband you are going to need to be all man.  By that I mean know how to be confident in your masculinity.

Lots of Christian men generally don’t do this.  They move in their part of the curse – they back down, back away, withdraw – let her eat the fruit.  They call it preserving the peace or serving her with love.

Poppycock!  This is the reasoning of the lazy or the coward.

It boils down to the same end result:  You give in.  Your ‘no/yes’ is not respected, so therefore you are not really leading (which is love) – you are allowing your wife to lead in power, just like Adam let Eve lead.

To press forward in masculinity is to move into her space.  A method of doing this is to use physical stature to exert your authority over her so that you can rein in her power, pressing into her arrogance and disrespect by calling it into the open.

I don’t know what tipped the scale for my husband, and I can’t tell you the day, but I remember the calm coldness of the moment when he said, “If you were a guy I’d deck you, but I can’t because you are a female. But then another guy would never have said that.  If you were a subordinate at work I’d fire your ass, but you’re not, so that is not an option either,” and turned – very casually – and walked away.

(Please remember that I am not writing as a prescription, I am sharing what worked for me – for us.  I believe in the form of what I’m saying, but it is lived out slightly different in each marriage because each marriage is comprised of two uniquely different people)

Equality opposes synergy

Here’s my take on the equality issue.  Husbands and wives are about as equal as a banana and a peach.  A banana is 100% banana, equal to all other bananas.  A peach is 100% peach, equal to all other peaches.  To measure a banana against a peach would be foolish, because although they are both fruit, they are completely different.  A banana split won’t work with a peach and a peach cobbler won’t work with a banana.  Each is equal in its own rite.

We are duped when we think that marriage is about equality.  It isn’t. It’s about the synergy of masculine authority and feminine power.  It isn’t about 50/50 – ‘You chose last time so I’ll choose this time,’ or ‘I have equal say in this marriage and I have valid points, so you are going to listen to me’.  Views rooted in equality pit two people against one another, making synergy impossible.  The equality of men and women is not the issue, and it muddies the water when we enter marriage with that mindset.

That’s the problem with the feminist view: equality.  Authority and submission are not equal, because they are synergistic – 100% authority and 100% submission.  Equality calls for keeping score.  Synergy is about the bigger picture:  The marriage.  Equality is about division.  Synergy is about unity.

Failed masculinity

With the benefit of foreknowledge about the fall of humankind, what should Adam have done with his wife’s action that was disobedient to God and disrespectful of Adam’s authority?  You know the answer.  With her power she stepped into the space of his authority (she thought she knew better).  He should have pushed back into her physical space with his authority and said, “No.  God said no,” as he [Adam] took the fruit out of her hand.

If a wife’s response is, “arrogant,” anddisrespectful,” treat her the way she is acting:  She is unwittingly calling you to battle.  You are feeling her move in her God-given power.  She IS a worthy adversary, but she’s using it to destroy and not build up (Proverbs 14:1).  This move shows immaturity on her part and disrespect of God’s authority, because He gave His authority to you, you didn’t make it up. (Ephesians 5:22-24; Colossians 3:18)

Don’t walk away in anger, throwing your hands up; rather, press in with your authority.  Meet her at the point of her request, but not in her way which is with femininity, respond with what you are – with what you have: your masculinity.

  • The eyes – a direct ‘stare’.
  • The voice that is calm, cold and disconnected, a ‘tone’ that lacks any emotion.  Because at this point in the disagreement, conflict, fight, or whatever you want to call it, she’s probably got enough emotional power for 5 people. You need to offset that.
  • Physical stature that turns square on as if to face an enemy, which is what she is making herself to you at this moment
  • Physically start to press into her bubble of space, narrowing the gap between the two of you.
  • Don’t stop until she backs up – even if she backs into a wall (or your motorcycle).  With me, it is not usually until I feel an object against back and sense I’m being ‘fenced in’ that the negative emotion subsides.

You are not trying to diminish her power – you both need that power to be an efficient force against Satan – but rather, trying to get back together on the same side so that Satan cannot come between you.  As the husband this is your responsibility, clearly defined by the delegation of God’s authority.

I asked my husband where or how he learned to do this and if he realized it’s a pattern. He responded, “It’s battle mode.  It happens naturally for me.  My testosterone gets ‘jumpy.’  I know I’m a man, but I start to shrink inside like a little boy.  The problem was that I used to blame you for ‘making’ me feel that way with your lack of respect – it made me angry, which just made it worse. (Hulk is out.) When I realized it wasn’t so much your fault as me not stepping up to my authority, the pattern became much more effective.”

If she doesn’t like it, tell her to take it to the church (Pastor/Elder/Leadership).  If you’re validated by your convictions and conscience, you have nothing to fear.  This is the same thing I tell wives when they feel that their husbands are abusing the authority.  It’s the responsibility of the church – hold them to it.  It’s not about ‘counseling.’ It’s about a judge making a decision so that you can move on with life. (1 Corinthians 6:1-5):

Does any of you dare, when he has a matter of complaint against another [brother], to go to law before unrighteous men [men neither upright nor right with God, laying it before them] instead of before the saints (the people of God)?  Do you not know that the saints (the believers) will [one day] judge and govern the world? And if the world [itself] is to be judged and ruled by you, are you unworthy and incompetent to try [such petty matters] of the smallest courts of justice?  Do you not know also that we [Christians] are to judge the [very] angels and pronounce opinion between right and wrong [for them]? How much more then [as to] matters pertaining to this world and of this life only!  If then you do have such cases of everyday life to decide, why do you appoint [as judges to lay them before] those who [from the standpoint] of the church count for least and are without standing?  I say this to move you to shame. Can it be that there really is not one man among you who [in action is governed by piety and integrity and] is wise and competent enough to decide [the private grievances, disputes, and quarrels] between members of the brotherhood.

Women are multi-faceted powerhouses

In marriage I believe we are called to achieve a perfect balance.  Not to BE perfect, but to work towards a perfect balance with each other.

God gave the husband all the authority. When He created the wife, He did the same thing with all the power.  Husbands abuse their authority – they are human.  And wives abuse their power – they are human.  Without the blending of the two forces we get a continual loop of the scenario of Adam and Eve.  Please don’t let your ‘take away’ be that the husband is always right and the wife is always wrong. That’s not what I’m saying, and if you hear that, you are missing the point.

A husband needs the power of his wife to be a better man.  A wife needs the authority of her husband to be a better woman.

Here’s a really cool metaphor that God taught me.  The power God gives a wife is equivalent to an 18-wheel truck that is speeding downhill.  The husband’s authority is the air brake system.  Her power is so great that she will continue in it, because that’s what she was designed to do!  It is only the air brake system that can slow this massive moving force.  A wife in her power (speeding truck) must be willing to trust and yield to her husband’s authority (air brake system).  Now I’ll bet if you’re a wife reading this, your reaction will be similar to what mine used to be, ‘why does the husband get to be the air breaks and have the control over my power?!’  That’s the punch:  A truck didn’t make itself, and it doesn’t drive itself.  God not only manufactured the truck … He’s also the Driver.

Your marriage is the truck.  Neither one of you owns it – it belongs to the Driver.

Finally, a word of caution:  to want to have authority over your wife’s power is a good and godly thing; but to want to make your life easier or to just get your way because you are stronger and bigger, or thinking you are better or more privileged in any way just because you are the man, is not the way of the Lord – it is the tradition of men. This is the seed of feminism: men following the tradition of ‘wearing the pants.’

Satan twisted the direction and purpose of the authority God gave men because he could not diminish it, so men hated the power of femininity and abused women, seeing them as less valuable.  Women, being responders, have merely reflected that twist of direction and purpose; but they move in what they are – power – so women are usurping the masculine authority that originally hated their femininity.

Satan subtly shifted the direction of authority and power in marriage so that husbands and wives would be at each other instead of one synergistic unit directed at him.

Slippery isn’t he?

You must want to lead your wife with authority because it’s what God commands.  Because it is what’s best for her, for you and what’s best for the marriage.  Your success will depend on the motive of your heart.





  1. That was awesome.

    I agree with your husband, no one had to teach me WHAT to do. We seem to figure that one out on our own, but I did need to be taught THAT I had to do it, something we should have learned growing up (seeing it modeled), but few do anymore. In your case, it sounds like you stepped over a line, giving your husband the kick he needed to recognize it, in mine it just happened to be lots of reading that brought the point subtly to the surface until it clicked in my mind.

    I only come to fully realize this in the last year or so, and so all the nuances are still coming through and the “technique” for lack of a better word still being owned. It’s uncomfortable at first. We’re taught, or have this inner nature to back away, as Adam did.

    It says in 1 Timothy 2:4 that Eve was deceived. It seems she didn’t know if she was doing right or wrong, but Adam sure did, and he stood by and watched, then participated. I wonder if this dynamic is what Peter meant when he wrote that women are weaker vessels (1 Peter 3:7).

    1. Thanks Jay Dee, I appreciate the encouragement. I’m happy for your marriage – and your wife. I bet she’s reaping such benefits as you become stronger and stronger as the leader.

      My husband says it’s rather a foreign feeling too – but at the same time, feeling so right. It’s interesting, when Darrell became a believer (after that long-OH-SO-LONG-16-year-wait-for-him) I felt like I had won the Spiritual lottery, seriously – it was a blessing that I thought couldn’t be topped!!! And now God is teaching us how to order our marriage in His way – and in this season of our lives, it’s the Marital Lottery!!! Now I can truly say, “God DOES give you double for your trouble!”

      OH, that bit in 1 Tim 2:4 is a very interesting perspective – you could be right you know, you’ve given me something more to think about with this, thanks brother!

      1. Yeah, I know how you feel there. When my wife stopped refusing, man, that was like he happiest time of my life…till we figured out gender roles. Then wow, that just kicked it into high gear.

        That hard part is explaining it to people and having them understand that we both (my wife and I) benefit from following God’s word in this. They just think the husbands are being abusive, and the wives are doormats, instead of realizing the husbands are serving more than anything when they lead, and the wives have to be strong enough to submit.

        1. I’m so happy for you guys!! A man changes from night into day 🙂

          Interesting choice of words, “strong enough to submit.”

          “They just think the husbands are being abusive, and the wives are doormats” – I know when ‘they’ are speaking/writing because of the familiar buzz words (I know b/c I used to have the same perspective) –

          … it’s fear.

  2. This is the kind of stuff that makes women hate the idea of submission. If you require force/bullying you aren’t really submitting. When we refuse to submit to our husbands, we are refusing to submit to God. When you are forced into submission it requires no maturing on our parts. Fortunately for you, you back down after you run out of room to move. What happens if you don’t. Where do you go from there? A slap, as indicated by Mr. Connery, might be in order? If that doesn’t work is a punch then justified? This sure sounds like abuse to me. I’m very disappointed that you would advocate men to bully their wives.

    1. I know exactly what you mean. I used to see that a man exerting his masculine authority was bullying and was no different than abuse. I was afraid of the authority. It was something to be hated. But when I trusted God, followed what He commanded and stepped out in fearless faith, it changed my heart.

      Speculation is a good thing, but only for the stock market, not for people – and certainly not where marriage is concerned. When I speculated, it was always that the worst would happen, I always saw the worse case scenario. This is in direct defiance of 1 Corinthians 13:7, “love is ever ready to believe the best of EVERY person.” I chose to obey God about submission and believe the best about my husband.

      I moved from a victim mentality to a victorious conqueror THROUGH submission.

      It is the power of submission that is hidden in 1 Peter 3:6 – “It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham [following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by] calling him lord (master, leader, authority). And you are now her true daughters if you do right and let nothing terrify you [not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you].”

      “It was thus that Sarah obeyed Abraham [following his guidance and acknowledging his headship over her by] calling him lord (master, leader, authority).” — this is submission.

      “And you are now her true daughters if you do right and let nothing terrify you [not giving way to hysterical fears or letting anxieties unnerve you].” — this is fearlessness.

      God always gives a reward for a command – the command is to submit fearlessly. Fear is what keeps us from our promise of power.

      My victim mentality was the same as the 10 spies that were scouting the Promised Land, fear. Instead of focusing on the command to go and conquer the land, they only saw all the giants in between. And then proceeded to incite fear into the rest of Israelites. The spies said they were too weak and small against the giants – they were measuring themselves against other men and not trusting God. They were seeing only their own human ways and not God’s power. (Numbers 13)

      If Satan can keep you focused on the problems (real or imagined) instead of the promise of power through submission – he can keep you caged in your victim mentality.

      I didn’t want to be like the faithless spies anymore, I wanted the faith of Joshua and Caleb. I didn’t want to spread a message of victim anymore; but that of a victor.

      As I stated in my original post, if your husband was to move in his authority to quell your mouth from a verbal assault and your rebellious arrogant heart, and you believed that it was abuse, you SHOULD take it to the church. As directed in 1 Corinthians 6.

      I’m an advocate of the power that a woman has within her to be victorious in the success of her marriage – rather than a victim trapped within her own fears. If she will only believe what God says about submission.

      Saw a great quote today at Passionate Christian Marriage from C.S. Lewis, “They have chosen cunning instead of belief. Their prison is only in their minds, yet they are in that prison; and so afraid of being taken in that they cannot be taken out.” -The Last Battle

  3. Too true. Unity is powerful.

    Matthew 12:25 — “And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.”

    Proverbs 14:1 — “The wise woman builds her house, But the foolish tears it down with her own hands.”

    The choice is submission or rebellion. A husband cannot lead without a follower.

  4. Hi DS, TOO TRUE – this is why I believe a wife holds all the power, she’s the one who enables her husband to step into his God given authority to lead. Yes, we don’t get to pick and choose, “a lil bit of submission” and “a lil bit of rebellion” – it’s either one or the other.

    Matthew 12:25, is a pretty good description of what is happening to the institution of marriage: divided against itself and laid to waste. Zero unity.

    1. I think there’s two distinctions to be made. Spiritually, the responsibilities and roles for submission to God and His Word are equal (just like men and women are equal in terms of spirituality — all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God). However, the physical consequences are probably more in favor of more of the power to the woman’s side.

      1. Authority/leadership is given to the husband, and he is to love her as Christ loved the church, washing her in the Word. The wife cannot make a husband who doesn’t want to lead to lead.

      2. Submission is commanded of the wife. And like you and I both said, it is either submission or rebellion. A husband cannot lead without a follower.

      There are both roles and responsibilities given to both sexes in marriage. A marriage is not in God honoring unity until both the husband and wife walk into what He has commanded them to.

      Just as a husband cannot command a wife to submit, a wife cannot command her husband to lead. These are two separate commands that each sex must obey if they want to honor God. God is more important than the spouse, and will bring submission to these roles into the unity and sanctification process that is marriage.

      Now, on the topic of physical consequences… just as pre-marital sex damages the woman more than the men, the woman’s submission in marriage will more likely determine if the marriage fails or not. Proverbs and Matthew verses included. Division per the wife is more likely to bring about a split than two people wandering because the husband won’t lead.

      It’s quite interesting to think about.

  5. I never thought about pre-marital sex damaging the women more – but I think you could be right.

    In regard to your #2 point, I believe that a woman’s power of submission can open the way for a man to lead. But only when she’s experienced a complete (or almost near death of her flesh) It must be a submission of the heart and not just the head (to get something in return). It has to be a submission that truly seeks her brother’s best interest in masculine authority – over her own. The type of submission that Jesus demonstrated at the cross.

    Some men are stronger than others and will move into it easily. Some are not so strong (more wounded) and will require more time to believe that it is true submission.

    “the woman’s submission in marriage will more likely determine if the marriage fails or not.” A big AMEN on that one.

  6. Such a fantastic post, Robyn. Bravely done!

    Loved this ” Equality calls for keeping score. Synergy is about the bigger picture: The marriage. Equality is about division. Synergy is about unity.”

    So true. Lots of other excellent thoughts here, and I’ll no doubt be referencing some of it as part of my “Male and Female” series.

    The idea of husbands holding authority and wives holding the power is an interesting one that I had never considered. The more I think about it the more I think you might be onto something significant.

    1. Thanks Scott, I value your thoughts and opinions. The blend of submission and authority in marriage is the most elegant display of synergy that there is. Well, I think it is 🙂

      I read the first installment of your Male and Female series and loved it! I’m looking forward to the others.

  7. We’ve been married 25 yrs now. If my husband would have reacted like you suggest it would have been a 911 call because I would have met that with force. Yes, I would have started the physical. When we were first married God cornered my hubby and told him that his job was to love me and God’s job was to fix me. So when it became a power play my hubby submitted the issue to God to fix—and He did. Now I’m not a normal woman–much more aggressive than most–which God uses in prayer frequently!
    I also decry the utter lack of masculinity in our society and for many this is a good answer, I guess what is boils down to is developing an intimate relationship with God and so that He can direct your path.

    1. Hi Jody, Congrats on 25 years, that’s terrific!

      My ‘suggestions’ are what worked for us. Wives who’ve reached a breaking point through humility with God and want their power to be a cohesive unit with their husband’s authority. I delineated this in my post: “Second, my husband did not force me to become obedient to him. It was a breaking I experienced between me and God. My husband was (and is) the instrument that God used to make me obedient to Him.”

      I have not ‘suggested’ that men use the force of touch in any way; but rather the force of their authority – it is quite different.

      If you would have called 911 (because your husband followed my suggestions) what would you have said the police? “My husband is standing too close to me. He won’t yell back at me the way I want to fight? All he does is talk too coldly and calmly and is in too much authority by being in control of his emotions (aggression)? He won’t respond to my verbal/physical/emotional abuse?”

      Paul says we are to be ashamed because we go to the secular for help. If you don’t like the way your husband is dealing with you, and you think it’s abuse, he gives us clear instructions on how to deal with it. 1 Corinthians 6. I believe what Paul says.

      I am ashamed that I too, came at my husband with my guns blazing.

      “I guess what is boils down to is developing an intimate relationship with God and so that He can direct your path.”

      This is key. God directed my path to my husband’s authority to be in unity with him. As I also said in my post: I believe in the form of what I’m saying, but it is lived out slightly different in each marriage because each marriage is comprised of two uniquely different people.

      I believe women should be aggressive; not in the form of a human female, but in the spirit. Good grief, on Twitter I describe myself as a spiritual warmonger.

      You and your husband have found what works and that’s awesome! Neither egalitarian nor complementarian forms worked for us, the synergy of submission and authority does. And there are so many husbands that need hear, “It’s ok to be a MAN. Your masculinity is a GREAT thing. Your masculinity is NOTHING like femininity – and it shouldn’t be.”

  8. Excellent job, Robyn. I can see where I need to step up more in my marriage. I can tell is it what my wife desires and she is prepared to submit to my authority. She is actually the stronger Christian between the two of us which is something I am ashamed about. She makes no attempt to be the surrogate priest of the household which is much to her credit. She patiently waits as I mold myself into the role I for which I was created. There is a post in there somewhere. I wonder if the “church” has ever looked at the the role women can play in getting their husbands to assume their position of authority? I know they cannot withhold it nor give it as it is already given. I also realize it is the man’s right to assume this position. I am just wondering what role women can of do play beyond submitting and I don’t mean just following scriptural directives, but things they can do on a day-in-and-day-out basis to encourage and provide leadership opportunities. Is it possible such efforts would be part of the power of women? Is there a role that mothers and wives have to play in developing leaders of their husbands and sons that is different from that of which their fathers play? I suspect many of the anecdotal stories about strong Jewish mothers are based in those women exercising their power in their part of the proper training of the sons to be authorized husbands. I could also be way off base too.

    Good job, sister.

    That Joseph Campbell quote is so true.

  9. Thanks Dan. What a blessing to have a wife such as yours, but I’m guessing if you were to ask her she’d say the same thing about having a husband like you! It sounds like you can say she’s worth far more than rubies – how awesome is that!

    Darrell and I each have our own areas of strengths and weaknesses in our faith – usually they are opposing.

    “Is it possible such efforts would be part of the power of women?”

    Yes, I believe it is. To go beyond ‘submitting’ is the best approach because it’s proactive. I found that when my heart changed (not to sound too ‘pie-in-the-sky’) it became easy to see the opportunities for leadership, Darrell could feel that my heart was genuine. He knew that I trusted him and believed in him.

    The Do Not Disturb blog had an excellent post today for spring boarding into some practical encouragements for spouses – Go check it out if you’ve not done so already.

    Children believe what mamma tells them and shows them. What mamma tells them is then cemented in the child’s mind and heart as they watch her interact with hubby.

    Your suspicions could be right about the strong Jewish mothers, history seems to lean in that direction.

    Glad you liked the Joseph Campbell quote. If I was into needlepoint, I’d say that one needs to be on a cushion!

    1. Maybe hearthie can do that for you, crafty little thing that she is. Checked out the link and left a reply. Thanks for sharing and caring. I shared your joy when Sis called you “our Robyn.” She was so proud of you and your post. She’s such and icky sticky sweety. Love her to death.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s