Friday, October 26, 2007


I'm sure you've all read the verses in 1 Peter 3 1:6. It's the one where it says for wives to be in subjection to their husbands, have a meek and quiet spirit, etc. I believe we should always follow God, and that God wants us to submit to our husbands, but where.. WHERE do we draw the line? Is there a line?

I read an article today in the new Above Rubies about a woman whose husband wanted to live frugally, so he moved her (she was pregnant) into a two man tent in a park. She wanted a home, but instead ended up giving birth to her baby in a tub outside her tent. She now has two young children and is still roughing it with her husband. Was she wrong to want more? We live in America. Should we be content to live like those in a third world country, when we don't have to? How about her husband? Was he shirking his responsibilities by not providing better for his wife?

The article bothered me. I love my husband and try to submit, however if he CHOSE to move me into a tent and had me give birth in an outdoor tub, I'd be pissed off! We are not talking super broke, need to make the best of a situation here, but choosing this for your reluctant wife and children, it just seems wrong.

It's not just this article that makes me question submission in some circumstances.

I recently read Created to be his Helpmeet by Debbie Pearl. The book was helpful for me because I have a FANTASTIC husband! He is a great father, provider, and would never dream of taking advantage of my submissiveness. The biblical principle of submission works great in my marriage, because I am married to a Godly man.

I gave the book to my mother. My mother is an awesome Christian woman who has been devoted to my un saved father for over 30 years. My father is an alcoholic. He is mean, and abusive. He calls her names and has to control every aspect of her life. He puts down their children (that would be me and my brother) and gets angry when she spends time with us. He wont let her go to church, wont let her have friends, etc. He also gets angry at her if she won't drink with him (she's a diabetic and this is very dangerous for her health). Any freedom my mother gets, she has to get by putting her foot down. Se has to "disobey" my father's commands.

My mother read this book, and with prayer, decided to follow it. The results? My father thought he had more rights to bully my poor mother and fully alienate her from her family, her hobbies, etc. She cried to me one day. It's like a prison.. and I would rather die than live in it."

I told her to throw out the book and stand up for herself. What really is the line of submission? Does anyone know? Should my mother live in hell to obey the rule of submissiveness? Is that REALLY what God wants for her? I don't know, with tears of anger I scream I DON'T KNOW!

Praise God I don't have to bare what these two women must bare. Honestly, I'd be gone! I say I don't believe in divorce, yet that is easy to say because I have a great marriage. To spend my life with someone like my father? I don't think I could do it. I didn't do it. I ran away from home at 15, to escape him.

Where does God stand?


Emily said...

I love your blog for this very reason. You have a brain...and you're not afraid to use it.

I also have a good marriage and a very godly man who has a healthy fear of God. Which means, he wouldn't WANT to treat me poorly, (for many reaons, but mainly....because God says to love your wife like Christ loves the church)

Super thoughts Karlie, but I have no brilliant thoughts to add.

I do know that God can work in bad marriages and He is to be praised when it works out. Is that to mean He is NOT to be praised when life sucks? certainly not.

Just know that I think highly of your moxi for simply POSING these thoughts.

When we stop thinking about things and just D-O. We're already dead, right?

Gayle said...

Oh My Goodness! Can't wait to read the comments on this one!

carrie said...

God stands in the entirety of the scripture, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"

The most important thing to remember is that to take one verse of scripture and hold all things to it may or may not always be correct. God gave us His ENTIRE Word to live by...not just a couple key scriptures. I believe He doesn't expect that we submit to doing things that are against the will of God, I believe He doesn't expect we submit to someone who does not come close to loving us as Christ loved the church. Now mind you in a household that is NOT abusive that can be different. An unsaved husband can be submitted to and it can bring Glory to God (I've seen it happen) and it can bring the husband to the Lord...but I don't believe that God wants women to be's a two way street ~ submission is.

carrie said...

Oh and i forgot to add I quoted Ephesians 5.22 through 5.25.

As for the 1 Peter scriptures...same rule applies...don't take the first 6 verses of chapter 3 out of context. Make sure you read the 7th one as well.

Gayle @ thewestiecrew said...

Oh my goodness...I am trying to think how I can comment without writing a dern book here...
First, I will say that this post hit home. NOT my home now, but my original family.
VERY long story short, my Mom was in a situation where her pastor/husband had an affair while they were in active ministry and things were going (she thought) well. She tried to stay with him, but he kept going back to this woman (who, incidentally was my best friend...told you it was twisted). Both my best friend's husband and my Mom tried to work it out THREE times with their respective spouses, but they. kept. doing. it.
My Mom filed for divorce and would you believe that there are STILL people that said she should have fought it out? We feel like he would have never filed himself because it was some kind of sick game for him, so what was she supposed to do?
I love the Lord so much and I take His Word more seriously than ANYTHING else in my life. I believe in His principles and I know that He can turn even the worst situations maybe she should have stuck it out as inhumane as it is, but GIRL...I just cannot tell you how hard it is to sit back and watch that. My counsel to her was to file, and I won't lie to you that I have wondered if I was out of line. This is so hard, and I don't know if anyone can fully appreciate the pain of this kind of situation until they are put in it.
I know, I've been no help here, but I just wanted to tell you that I have thought the same kinds of things.

Chelle said...

I have so many thoughts, I don't even know where to begin. First of all I have to say that I love your blog because you aren't afraid to post the hard stuff!! I love it that you think and learn and are not afraid to share it.

I think that there is always danger whenever we become legalistic about ANYTHING. I agree with Carrie...we can't take one Scripture and build on it and it alone. We need to take the whole Bible in context and be sensitive to the Spirit and the individuality of everybody's walk. I have a really hard time believing that God expects a woman with an abusive husband to submit to more abuse. I also believe that she CAN still be a light and an example with her attitude while standing up for herself. Does submission = doormat? I don't think so. Jeremy (my dh) has taught many a men's group that they are to serve and love their wives like Christ loved us so deeply that we are drawn to love and serve them. Like Christ draws his Bride to Him. Now, that's not to say that we sit around waiting for them to do something nice before we submit.

I have so much to say, but I'm going to stop by saying that I firmly believe submission is a word that has been badly abused and taken out of context in a lot of ways. This topic deserves a full on Bible study. :-)

Looking forward to reading the responses.

Melany aka Supermom said...

I have had so many people reach out to me , it sure feels as though God is talking to me and wanting me to .... well let's just say I'm going through a real tough time with my relationship with God. That's why I'm so amazed that you found my blog....anyway - with what you wrote.
Her husband is wrong. Yes the bible says a wife should submit but a husband needs to love his wife, like God loves us. God wouldn't do that to us...why does he? Then he is wrong and she doesn't have to submit...he is not keeping up his side of the bargain in a I making any sense?

Halfmoon Girl said...

7 Ye husbands, in like manner, dwell with your wives according to knowledge, giving honor unto the woman, as unto the weaker vessel, as being also joint-heirs of the grace of life; to the end that your prayers be not hindered.

8 Finally, be ye all likeminded, compassionate, loving as brethren, tenderhearted, humbleminded:

Just thought I would metnion the verses further on. The Bible needs to be taken as a whole, as others have commented here.

Many Christians use select verses like a weapon. I have experienced this first hand- getting the cold shoulder from people until they were satisfied it was ok to be around me as divorced young mom because I was cheated on. God has compassions on these situations, and we can sometimes really abuse hurting people with our legalism. We al should start walking a mile in each other's shoes. Thatk oyu for your honsesty. You wrote with such clarity about a situation that sti;; must be very painful for you. Excuse my typing- still can't see too well!

Christin said...

So much...

Wow. bless your heart.

When Paul is talking about submission, you CANNOT separate it from the fact that the husband is supposed to lay down his life for the wife. not the other way around. The woman is to honor the man within the context of the man being like Christ.

As far as the Above Rubies magazine...I haven't read that article yet. So not having read it and not knowing the details, I'd have to ask if the decision was a MUTUAL one. Because some people are called to that...a gift of poverty. So did she AGREE to it? Because the husband cannot impose it on her...because then he's not fulfilling the scripture of laying down your life for the bride.

I cannot even begin to imagine the things that you have endured in your life, watching your mom go through what she does. (I experienced some of this through watching my parents, but nothing compared to what you're saying). But I can imagine that your woundedness in this whole area makes the submission thing a really hard thing to swallow. So often people hold up this submission thing in the light of a mean, hard God. But he wants a Bride who wholeheartedly is saying YES. Because he loves us that much.

Godly submission is FREEING, EDIFYING, and STRENGTHENS BOTH SIDES, enabling the wife to walk in the helpmeet position. UnGodly submission paralyzes the woman from being able to fulfill that role.

May God bring *freedom in healing* into your mom and dad's lives. And into your own... I will be praying for it. I promise.

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

You are so good at making people laugh and making people think!!

I love the idea that submission is protection for me. If I submit, even in something painful or something I'm not confident is God's plan, that I am under the umbrella of protection. It is on my husband's head, not mine. Beth Moore says something like submission is ducking so God can whack your hubby in the head. :)

Like you, I am blessed to be married to a godly man who loves me the way God planned for him to. I think above rubies lady is a little out there, and I'm not always on the same page she is on stuff.

EEEEMommy said...

Some good thoughts have been shared. The hardest part about your parents' situation is the he's not saved, so how can he possibly love his wife like Christ loved the church. There are other verses that deal with that situation, I'm sure your mom's aware of those. There are also verses about obeying God rather than man. Bottom line, God's word is true, but there are no easy answers. I wish I had some great insight but I don't. I will say that I'll be praying fervently for your dad, that he'd come to a point of repentance and turn to God and that would yield such an amazing love for the woman who has stood by his side so faithfully all these years! Don't give up on him, never stop praying!
Much Love,
(And no, I wouldn't move into a tent and have a baby in a tub, unless God called us to a mission field and that was the only option available. My husband told me just yesterday that he appreciates that I vocalize when he's being dense and insensitive, because it holds him accountable. It's not always unsubmissive to disagree with your husband. It's all about the attitude of your heart.)

Anonymous said...

I LOVE your post! (and you don't have to publish my comment if you don't want to- I know I'm out on a limb here!)
This is a huge issue for christian women- especially Christian wives of unsaved men (which I happen to be!) I believe God intended for women to be admired, respected, and loved- not just "taken care of"...but LOVED in the way Christ loved the church! My husband is not a christian, but respects my beliefs and my desire to go to church and raise our kids to fear God! I am luckier than some women-like your mother. However, I believe there is a time for women to put their foot down and say to their husband "I Serve a loving God who paid for my sins by shedding his blood on the cross,and because of God's grace and love I CHOOSE to honor you, but I will not forsake my savior to satisfy you...take your choice!" The word tells us that God has so much more for us than WE can even imagine! I DO NOT believe in just getting by, I believe Opening up my WHOLE life to receive Gods blessings!

Anonymous said...

First...I'm so sorry that your mother is going through this with your father. I wish I had some great answer to fix all that but only belief in Christ will make him see his failure.

Second...for a Christian marriage, I'm convicted by scripture that the main issue with submission of a wife to her husband does not lie with the wife but rather the husband. If husbands were loving their wives sacrificially as Christ loved the church, you would have wives who would whole heartedly submit to their husband because they know that their husband has their best interest at heart. I admit I fall short daily in my task.

As you said in your post, these are hard questions. I agree with others who have replied that we should never submit where it would require the spouse to sin.

I can feel how painful this whole ordeal is for you and your family. I pray that the Lord would move in the heart of your father and we can one day rejoice with all in heaven at a sinner repenting and turning to Christ (Luke 15:7).

Take care. We're still off-line...extended family issues. Too much to go into now.

EE said...

I struggle with being submissive to my husband. I'm with you...where's the line?
I can tell you this, though...I COULD NOT live in a tent!!!
That being said, my husband respects me and would not ask me to.
I'm so sorry that your mother is/has been going through. Has she ever sought out counseling? There are some excellent Christian counselors out there.
God Bless!

Anonymous said...

I have also read Created to be His Helpmeet and thought it was a very poorly put together book. Debi used an excessive amount of proof-texting to make her points and misued and twisted scripture until it fit her ideas rather than her ideas being molded by the Scriptures. I believe 100% in Biblical submission and headship order, I believe that the Bible is our final authority in how we live our lives and that if I disagree with the Bible it is a problem within me, but the Bible is never wrong. That said, her ideas on what submission is are just that, her ideas. They are based on the scripture verses, but are not purely in line with the whole council of God's Word. I cannot caution enough women to stay far away from that book and find a good work on submission to learn from. I recommend The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace and The Fruit of Her Hands by Nancy Wilson.

I did not read that article in Above Rubies so I cannot comment on that other than to say "wow!" but it doesn't sound like she was forced into it, just coaxed a bit.

I am heartbroken for your mother. I was seriously abused by my first husband (yes, I am divorced and remarried) and he was also unfaithful and I understand how horrible it is and how low you feel and I pray that she finds relief and strength. A book that helped me was Love Must Be Tough by Dr. Dobson. Yes, we are to submit ourselves, but not unto sin and the advice in CTBHH is so dangerous for women with abusive husbands that it sickens me.
I am praying for her, let her know she is not alone!

Anonymous said...

For women in bad marriages, Abigail in the old testament is the example

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Hey, I just came across your blog.

Don't have much time to write, but wanted to share a book title with you.

Why Not Women by Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton

Here at Amazon:

The book examines the scriptures relating to women/submission. I think you might find it an interesting read.

I think you did the right thing in telling your mother to get rid of the Help Meet book.