Me Obey Him ‘vs’ Me Submit to Him

In the husband/wife relationship, is it... "me obey him" or... "me submit to him"? Did you know there is a difference? True... to obey requires one to submit, and to submit means you obey the wishes of another, but the processes of the two are very different.

As basic as I can state it - to obey means to be obedient and carries with it an authoritativeness that says, "This is the way it’s going to be; it is not open for discussion; this is non-negotiable." Whereas to submit, to be in submission to another, carries with it a subdued form of authority that allows room for negotiation and consideration. Submission allows one to have a voice and an opinion, whereas obedience does not allow this considered negotiation.

For example, we are commanded to obey God’s commandments, which are not subject to negotiation or debate... God said it and that settles it. Obviously, we have no righteousness of our own, nor any omniscient power of our own to negotiate any subject matter with our Holy God. God’s ways are not our ways, but we can be assured that He always has our best interest in mind, hence the reasons we are commanded to obey God. (Deuteronomy 11:27, 28; 26:17; 27:10; 28:9; 30:2, 8, 16; 32:4; I Samuel 12:14, 15; Jeremiah 42:6; Psalm 19:8; 119:75; Romans 7:12; I Peter 4:17) But there are also two other authoritative relationships mentioned in the Bible: the relationship of children with their parents (Ephesians 6:1; Colossians 3:20; Deuteronomy 21:18-20) and servants with their masters (Ephesians 6:5; Colossians 3:22). It is both interesting and necessary to note that these other two relationships (of children/parents and servant/master) are to be patterned in much the same way, for many of the same reasons. (Exodus 20:12; 21:15, 17; Leviticus 19:3; Deuteronomy 8:5; 21:18-21; Proverbs 13:24; 20:20; Psalm 123:3; Mal. 1:6; Ephesians 6:5-7; Colossians 3:22-25; 4:1; I Timothy 6:1, 2: Titus 2:9, 10; I Peter 2:18, 19)

 Have you ever notice that the Bible never says, "Children submit to your parents," or "Servants submit to your masters"? There isn’t the slightest hint of these relationships being of the negotiating kind. In all three of these examples, the command is to obey and there is no suggestion of a negotiating relationship, and it is this command of obedience that also carries with it the hand of chastisement (Deuteronomy 11:1, 2; Hebrews 12:7-11). All three of these relationships are based on a superior and subordinate design... but the husband and wife relationship is a unique unity and is designed to be different, hence the reason why the Bible repeats, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands..." in Ephesians 5:22 and Colossians 3:18.

In the Bible, it is only with the husband/wife relationship that we see submission and that is because marriage is not to be a domination relationship. (I Peter 3:1-5; Ephesians 5:21, 22) Marriage is about two becoming one flesh, not just physically (bodily) speak, but more importantly mind, and soul; becoming soul-mates. It is only submission that encourages this as a reciprocating relationship which results in the unique unity of marriage (I Corinthians 7:3, 4; I Peter 3:7; Genesis 2:23, 24; Matthew 19:5, 6). And, with this unique unity of marriage, submission does not allow a husband to dominate his wife. He is also not allowed to chastise his wife in any form or manner. Christ set the example of how a husband is to treat his wife, in Ephesians 5:22-33, and Christ does not dominate. Even when God has to chastise a wayward Christian, we are corrected as a child, not a bride. (Deuteronomy 11:1, 2; Hebrews 12:7-11)

Thank you for reading my post, your questions and comments are welcomed.
God Bless,
Jane Coley


Grammy Blick said...

This is a subject close to my heart, one I've recently posted on, too. Those calling themselves Christian and still denigrate submission are not prayerfully reading their Bibles. I am grateful that those who do continue to spread His word. Perhaps others will come to understand. Thanks for helping them do so.

Grammy Blick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
rjk said...

The definition of submit is obedience.
Does an army that submits to it's enemy get to negotiate?
Again look at Ephesians...
Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (AS UNTO THE LORD OBEY.)
Eph 5:23 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.
Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Websters definition of SUBMIT', v.t. [L. submitto; sub, under, and mitto, to send.]
1. To let down; to cause to sink or lower.
Sometimes the hill submits itself a while.
[This use of the word is nearly or wholly obsolete.]
2. To yield, resign or surrender to the power, will or authority of another; with the reciprocal pronoun.
Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hand. Gen.16.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands. Eph.5.
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man. 1 Pet. 2.
3. To refer; to leave or commit to the discretion of judgment of another; as, to submit a controversy to arbitrators; to submit a question to the court.
SUBMIT', v.i. To surrender; to yield one's person to the power of another; to give up resistance. The enemy submitted.

The revolted provinces presently submitted.
1. To yield one's opinion to the opinion or authority of another. On hearing the opinion of the court, the counsel submitted without further argument.
2. To be subject; to acquiesce in the authority of another.
To thy husband's will
Thine shall submit--
3. To be submissive; to yield without murmuring.
Our religion requires us--to submit to pain, disgrace and even death.

KJV4ME said...

Great post. The Bible also tells us to submit to one another! And for husbands to prefer their wives over themselves and to cherish her and care for her as they care for their own bodies. Husbands who carry a billy club "obey me or else" mentality may have their wife's will, but they will not have her heart. Once you have your wife's heart, all she has will be yours. I thank God for a patient, kind, loving man. Even tho he is not a perfect husband, he is so good to put others before himself, me included, which drives me to want to put him before me in everything. The number one thing I looked for in a man was a man who loved God even more than he loved me. I believe his commitment to me and our relationship's growth is due to that relationship and sweet spirit he has towards God, first. A godly spirit is not one of a bully, but of a loving and sacrificial giver.

JTR said...

"Our religion requires us--to submit to pain, disgrace and even death." ??? The Muslims or Mormons may require a wife to submit to pain, disgrace, or death...but a Christian man should be revolted at this idea. I assume you believe it is alright for a man to beat his wife into submission? This is a Muslim idea. I looked for anywhere "obey" was used in the NT in reference to a wife..and did not find it. I will grant you that the ideas are close - however, they are not exact. The word submission carries with it a willing heart, with no consequence of pain (or death!!). It is a noble act with precursor of a command nor a threat implied. Obedience can be thought of as obeying, even blindly, based on commands to be followed, and punishments (boss - firing, disgrace, child - stoning (OT) swats, loss of priviledges, slaves and masters - beatings and even death) when obedience requirements are not met.

Grammy Blick said...

RJK -- "Eph 5:22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. (AS UNTO THE LORD OBEY.)"

Unfortunately, you added to the scripture words that are not there. And, it appears there is a fixation on the word submit, and an ignorance of its surrounding. I regret that your religion, or any for that matter, requires submission to pain, disgrace and death.

Jesus, Christ, my Savior took those on Himself for His church, as a husband takes them on for his wife, in accordance with the scripture you quoted. I'll stick with the full meaning of scriptures, and thank God for them.

Jane M. Coley said...

Dear rjk,

You began your post by writing: "The definition of submit is obedience.
Does an army that submits to it's enemy get to negotiate?"

It seems to me much work was put into defining the word submit that the relationship part was forgotten.
The relationship an army has with their enemy is an opposite relationship that a husband and wife are to have with each other.

The relationship of a husband and his wife is to be based on loving care and the example of Christ with His bride (the church) is given in Ephesians 5:25-32. We have a loving Lord that says, "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.” Matthew 11:28
I am so very sorry if there is no difference for you.
Thank you for your comment,
Jane Coley

rjk said...

All I am saying is our standards of submission aren't God's. Throughout God's Word, God is more strict than we will ever be. We seem to think God thinks likes us, reasons like us, & makes mistakes. Wrong. Women make the mistake of marrying a man they shouldn't and then make the excuse I shouldn't have to submit to that. I think most "Christians" make the mistake of making the word submission a matter of opinion, not fact. God hasn't changed from Old to New Testaments we where just given a Saviour and Grace abundantly. God is always just.
It easier to get out of a marriage today even as a "Christian" than it is to stay in one.
Unfortunately, the replies to my comment are more an act of conviction or taking offense to what I said. I agree an enemy isn't the same but the emphasis isn't on the enemy but on the word SUBMISSION.
Jesus Christ is the perfect husband to His bride! He is the only perfect One. But, He is also hard to submit to. As sinners we justify ourself every day for what we do and say. I am a sinner come short of the Glory of God. My husband is the leader of the home. My life is never in danger.
If more women would take submission more seriously as an act of obedience they would pick the right leader for them or not get married. What a virtuous woman would we be if we just submitted ourself before God... An awesome physical act of obedience. Sarah called her husband lord... Wow! What courage!
The same wonderful God and Creator Miriam realized she couldn't avoid when she spoke against Moses is the same God and Creator today. Praise God for that!
By the way the all caps in () is my comment not addition. I should've made myself more clear, it is another case of picking on the unspecific.
I agree my Faith in Christ is a daily putting down of my own desires and following Him. As Paul but it so eloquently, I die daily. I submit (obey). I don't sit a ponder what I think God meant I open His Word and read it. It is a Living Word. Praise God!
My life is a ministry daily. I speak to others not for gaining anything but a soul for Christ or a seed planted so someone else can water. I love the Lord deeply and I regret all I don't do because everything I do isn't enough for the sacrifice Jesus paid for me. He is my Saviour! I will never be worth of His love or pain.
I didn't mean to cause a dispute all I was trying to do was comment. I hold The Sword very highly in my daily walk. Not because I know it all but because it's worth to be praised. Every single jot and tiddle is special. Every word. It saved a wretch like me! To God be the Glory!!! Amen.

rjk said...

Just one last thought...
We seem to think we are chasing God... He chases us. Submission is our act of obedience to His pursuit! When we say "I do" to God we are saying we are His for eternity and our actions testify or for some don't testify to that. He pursues and we make te choice to show our obedience through submission or we choose to reject. God has His requirements laid out for every believer, husbands unfortunately don't have a book for us to read before we say I do, wish they did!

Grammy Blick said...

I apologize for misunderstanding your "Does an army that submits to it's enemy get to negotiate?" to be the subject of your initial response, and my responding to that analogy. I cannot see God nor our marriages as enemies requiring negotiation. Adding "revolted provinces" took me further down that road.

I do however, disagree with your third close: "God has His requirements laid out for every believer, husbands unfortunately don't have a book for us to read before we say I do, wish they did!" Husbands don't need a book for us to read -- we both have God's word. God does know that we will respond imperfectly.

I do appreciate your additonal explanation that brings us back to God's love. I totally agree with your second close: "To God be the Glory!!! Amen."