(Closed) Can a wife be submissive and supportive and still be a leader?

posted 11 years ago in Christian
Post # 3
792 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

You can still believe in God and be a Christian and still be a strong and independent woman, wife and leader… this is the 21st century and there is no reason you should feel like you need to hold your tongue because you don’t want to offend your husband. That’s just insane. I’m so sorry if this comes across as harsh, but no adult woman should ever have to "submit" to any man.

Post # 4
164 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: April 2009

I think the key to both is just strong communications and prayers. I would say continue to try to explain your thinkingto your husband… exactly how you have explained it here. I think it is completely possible to be a supportive and submissive and God-loving wife while also displaying your own ideas and passions for the Lord. Maybe if you and your husband could pray together on the subject… a solution will work itself out. It sounds like maybe your hubby is being a lil to sensitive.. he should be thrilled that you have such a passion for the Lord and a strong desire to worship Him in creative ways! Maybe he is feeling a little jeaous of your good ideas?

Post # 5
14181 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2009

Well, that depends if you consider yourself as a submissive wife or not. Submissive, to me, means you don’t see yourself as equal. And if you don’t see yourselves as equals, how can you ever expect him to respect your opinions?

Like the PP said, that you can be a good Christian, be independent, and be a leader as a woman. Your ideas and opinions should be valued, not cast aside because you’re the lesser being in the relationship.

Bottom line, you’re supporting HIM, but is he supporting YOU? Your ideas? Sorry, but your Fiance sounds a lot like my dad–a “my way or the highway” kind of guy and if you don’t want to be his submissive wife, then he needs to acknowledge and respect your opinions.

I don’t think you should ever have to believe outwardly what your husband does and inwardly think differently, as a wife.

I support my husband by encouraging his passions and his pursuits in life. By helping him out when he needs it and making sure he takes time out for himself. When he needs a little uplifting, I make him a nice meal and share the remote. And when I’m in the same boat, I fully expect the same treatment from him. I expect that if I have an opinion about something, and if he disagrees, that he says so, but that maybe he at least sees where I’m coming and acknowledges that. We don’t have the same views on everything, and by becoming his wife, I’m not obligated to suddenly believe in everything he says and does. We’ll find common ground when it comes to raising our children, but to suddenly expect me not to have a mind of my own after 23 years? That’s just not going to happen.

Post # 6
732 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2010 - The Tower Club

To your last question, “Am I really called to hold back from saying what I think and believe about things if they differ from what my husband thinks?”

The answer is NO. “Submit unto your husband” does not mean “submissive” (mousy, quiet, passive, etc.). It means consider his opinions & ideas carefully & with respect. That verse also says that the husband is supposed to submit to the wife in the same way! Your fiancé is not holding up his end of the bargain. With the specific example you gave, your FH should have listened to you, considered your ideas, and made a decision.

My FH and I are both strong willed and we have opinions. I never refrain from speaking up, but I’ve learned that sometimes, I need to state my opinions & then back off. Usually, FH will consider what I’ve said and later come to me and say, “That was a pretty good idea” or whatever. Sometimes he does the same with me.

I’m someone who grew up in the Christian tradition and I have seen this edict (“obey” your spouse) abused more often than not. When I was in college, I had a fellow student with a beautiful voice (it was a music school). Her husband forbade her from studying anymore because he didn’t want her to go to college, and he didn’t have a degree, and so he used the Christian Husband Argument to get her to drop out. I still remember the last time I saw her.

How is your FH reacting when you state your opinions? Is he just strong-willed and unwilling to listen at first, or is he using the Christian Husband Argument to encourage you to stay quiet? Some pre-marital counseling would help clear that up.


Post # 8
458 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

I think you should find a time to talk to him about all of this when you two aren’t in the middle of an “argument.”   Let him know that you 100% support him and that elaborating on his thoughts isn’t a sign of disapproval.  I don’t think a wife should ever be “submissive.”   Someone posted a great article by Kristin Armstrong that I think would help a lot.

Post # 9
9 posts
  • Wedding: March 2010

I work as admin assistant to ministry leaders and something my boss, a pastor with a masters in divinity, told me that has stayed in my mind is how I should open a psych clinic for ministry leaders, there are some very strong personalities in the field and set minds. He said sometimes ministry leaders get a shepherd complex. Meaning they are constantly on their soapbox and they get this high from having their flock follow them that they forget to take time to get off from preaching and listen. So like ejs and mit have stated, here’s the biblical sense (New King James version):

John 13:14 – “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash ONE ANOTHER’S feet.” (This is an appropriate manner of submission)

John 13:16, 17 – “… a servant is not greater than his master; nor is He who is sent is greater than He who sent Him.” (I fear if your fiance is not considering your ability to contribute to the ministry, God will circumlocute around the fallacies of humans and go directly to you somehow.) See Parable of Talents, Matt. 25:14 – 30 or Luke 19:12 – 28.

As for your most recent incident regarding selecting church leadership, I will offer what my congregation and the conference we belong to has agreed upon. Every two years we nominate positions for leaderships, everything from elders to deacons and deaconesses through suggesting possibly great people that ministry leaders have observed like your fiance’s method. Like your method, we also allow a blank spot for suggestions from the congregation, we always miss someone’s passion and spiritual gifts from the inside looking out, so using the congregation is a wonderful way to notify us. Then we have the church on a preliminary yea or nay reading when we gather to worship to let people know we’re considering electing such person. Next week, we do a secondary yea or nay reading but this time just to say, “Hey this person is on the ballot, no one has nayed them prior, they are still here and we’re submitting them for such slot today if no one else disagrees.”

This is the practice of the SDA church, protestant-based. Maybe your church’s beliefs might not be as similar, so please cut-and-paste what you can to apply to yours.

Post # 10
200 posts
Helper bee

I guess I’m wondering if I should be less outspoken about some things just for a time to build up his security in my support of him, then gently bring some of this up?


This doesn’t seem like a good approach to me. You don’t want his feelings of self-respect and security to come at the expense of your ability to be yourself and speak your mind. His self-respect and security need to grow THROUGH and WITH you, not at your expense. That seems obvious to me if you are to have a healthy and fulfilling relationship.

The real task here is helping him to see that disagreeing with him or engaging in debate and discussion with him are NOT signs that you don’t love and support him. It is important to be able to disagree with one another but still know that you are both on the same side and that you both love, respect and support the other. 

I also recommend pre-marital counselling so that you can work through this issue together and as equals.  

Post # 11
363 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: January 2010 - Trinity Presbyterian Church/Harrison Opera House

I think a lot of him accepting your point of view is how you approach him – tell him the truth in love.  Engaging in iscussions and offering different points of view, I think are great approaches to handling disagreements.  Say, “I see your point, but have you considered x, y, z?”  There should be mutual respect there to listen to one another.  If it’s a larger issue than just recently, or you’re unsure of how these relational roles will work out in the long run, you can always talk to a spiritual advisor you trust.  I also recommend the book “Captivating,” by Staci Eldridge, if you’d like to explore the different views on women’s roles and christianity.

Post # 12
2765 posts
Sugar bee

Maybe you could ask him what would make him feel supported?

Post # 13
801 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2008

I read your post and immediately knew I should ask my husband to write a response from the male perspective.  I promise I haven’t edited his thoughts (grammar included) so I hope his perspective helps you.

As my wife will tell anybody I am a random thinker so let’s start with the last and maybe most important question you ask and then I will ramble on from there….

So I was wondering how you support your fiancé/husband? Is it possible to be supportive and submissive while still functioning in the gifts and passions that God’s give you? As a wife, am I really called to hold back from saying what I think and believe about things if they differ from what my husband thinks?”
I though about quoting all kinds of scripture, maybe a discussion of the complimentary vs. egalitarian views, but instead I though I would just share what I believe as a Christian male.  
I actually really do believe that Christian wives are to submit to their husbands.  
So what does that mean?  
I think that in God’s eyes as individuals we are all equal.  Galatians 3 talks about our equality as humans when it comes to Christian privileges.   I think that as a Christian, every thought, prayer, desires, opinion you have is important to God and holds no more weight in God’s eyes than does your husband.  
Therefore, I think you have every right to share your opinions, thoughts, desires, etc with your husband and he should respect what you say and what you think.  This is hard for men…
So if you can share your ideas and tell him what you think how does that fit into submission?
Let’s start with the guy’s role in this.   He is called to be your spiritual leader; he is called to love you just as Christ loved the church, and just as he loves himself.   You are to be cherished and nourished.   Now here is the kicker most men miss in the whole wives submit thing…  “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.”  
That’s a tall order to fill.  
So what is the female role in this? “Wives submit to your husband, as to the Lord.”  
Do you tell God what you think?  Do you tell him when you are angry at him?   Do you tell him what you want in life?   Do you tell him when you are uncomfortable in a situation?  
I would wager that the answers to these are yes.  I would also bet that you try your hardest to defer to God to make the decision and do what is best for you.   This is not unlike the submission that Christ wants a wife to have for her husband.  
My view ends up looking like this:   In a marriage all things should be open and relatively equal.   You should talk through all your decisions and try to make those decisions together through compromise.  When a compromise cannot be reached, you should defer to your husband.  He then has a large responsibility to do the best he can to be humble (which includes knowing that you may know more about some things), keep your best interest (and dare I say desires), in mind, and be willing to sacrifice for you if need be.   He should make his decisions with love and compassion just as Christ would. 
Once a decision is made it is important to stick together on it…( I am still learning this part)  
I think decisions made this way tend to be Godly and good.  They tend to hold a peace about them that makes them easy to support.  
Now for the church stuff…
I think being in a ministry is one of the most intimate things a married couple can do together.  I would rank the spiritual connection achieved during true worship of God , which ministering to others  is a part, right up there with sex.   Having said I think it can also be one of the hardest things to do together without causing conflict because it is something God gives us such a passion about.  
It is obvious you feel called to this ministry.  My first suggestion is to sit down and discuss what is going on as a whole in the church with your fiancé.  It might be he is no longer comfortable with where the church is going.  Make sure you both still feel called to this ministry and keep in mind callings change according to where God needs you.   You first priority needs to be that you find a place you can really WORSHIP together.   I think this a hard and long process.  I know it has been and still is for my wife and me because we are now trying to find something that fits us both as a couple and as individuals.  It needs to be a place where you can grow and learn.  If this is the church you are in then that is great!  It might be worth both of you considering taking a small sabbatical from ministry in the final weeks of your engagement and the first few months of your marriage.  Don’t be afraid to take time away from the ministry and let God grow this new and wonderful area of your life. It may be that some of discomfort you feel is God letting you both know that it is a time to need to be ministered to and not the one necessarily doing the ministering. 
Sit down talk it all out.  Take time to ask him what “supporting him” means to him.  My wife and I are always figuring out that what things mean to one, means a totally different thing to the other.

Post # 14
1514 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

I think it’s one thing to be submissive and another to be stepped on.  It seems to me that he doesn’t view your opinion as valid and only an arguement to his opinion.  If he just saw it as you helping him to make the best decisions/opinions possible he’d see it differently.

Post # 15
2004 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2008

It sounds like you and your husband are disagreeing in the same way my husband and I disagree all the time! The issue with how to run the church is just one example, isn’t it, of the way you are relating to one another?

I have a huge tendency to play devil’s advocate. If my husband voices an opinion, especially on something important to me or both of us, I say something to oppose it. It is incredibly important to me to examine all sides of an issue. I think that I am being helpful by supplying these contradictory arguments for their own sake—even when I actually agree with my husband in the first place. My husband, however, just feels like he’s being contradicted and shut down.

I would recommend you and your husband practice some active listening. Active listening is a counseling technique where you repeat back in a paraphrased form what you heard the other person say. You try to identify themes in what they’re saying, point out things that are important to them. When you are actively listened to, you feel heard and appreciated (try it! You’ll like it). Then, after you’ve actively listened to one another, each can contribute another angle to the discussion.

The crux is that you don’t move to a new point before acknowledging and discussing where you’ve been. From your description of your fiance’s background, he’s been marginalized a lot in his life. He probably is reacting this way to you because he feels that he’s not being heard and his opinions appreciated. Talking this way is slower going, but it really helps curb tempers and hurt feelings. Absolutely you don’t need to keep your opinions to yourself because you’re trying to submit to him. The wives-husbands submission thing goes both ways, but here it sounds like his main problem is that he’s not feeling heard, and you can help with that. If you go to a counselor, I think it’s pretty likely you’re going to learn how to do this. Try it and let us know how it goes! Good luck 🙂

Post # 16
248 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2010

It seems like there are deeper issues to be addressed, but maybe a surface-level solution would be to reword what you’re saying? Agree (if you do) with him/affirm his suggestions, then say “how do you feel about xyz?” “do you think xyz is another possibility?”. Or “I had thought about xyz, what do you think?” (submitting ideas to him). Maybe you do this already, I don’t know.

Though, i think a lot it is that your husband still needs some healing from those old wounds, not that you are undermining him or disdaining his ideas. Could you encourage him to talk to his own pastor about it? It’s certainly something that I think is worth persuing as it has ramifications for his own ministry and the way he relates to people.


(and great post by Pelikila’s husband!).

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