I am reading a book widely read and often recommended by other Christian women. It is called “The Excellent Wife.” And in it is some rather ridiculous BS about submission. It says wives should submit to their husbands in everything that isn’t sin. On the surface, this is true. But then the book started giving examples, even saying that your husband has the final say on home decor. While I’m not advocating spending 10,000 on a living room suite your husband hates, it is also ridiculous to suggest that a man should be the one decorating the home.
Wives are to subject themselves to their husbands in everything, but at the same time only a man who is an absolute tyrant would tell a woman how she can and cannot decorate her home. The beauty and atmosphere of a home is a womanly thing. If your husband micromanages you to the point of telling you what decorations and colors you use, here’s a newsflash ladies. Your husband is either an overbearing tyrant, or he’s gay. So which is it? Because a straight man without serious control issues doesn’t care how his wife decorates. He just thinks it’s nice she did something with the place. Making a house a home is a woman’s thing.
Some women, and these dreadful women’s devotional writers, take it too far. It says you should submit to every decision your husband makes, no matter if it is bad for your family or cruel to you. That you should submit and submit joyfully. So it isn’t even enough to accept bad treatment – you have to smile about it.
Obviously, submission involves submitting to things you don’t like sometimes. If you are only submitting when it is a decision you like, you are not submitting at all. Within reason, you should submit even when you don’t agree with something. But those are the key words – within reason. If your husband is a selfish, stupid SOB you don’t need to follow him into stupidity, poverty, and misery. These women miss the verse that comes right after the verse that tells women to submit to their husbands; they miss that verse that says husbands must love their wives like Christ loves the church and lay down his life for her. Every husband will make some selfish decisions. Your husband is, after all, human. And for the most part, when he does you should submit in love.
But if your husband is a selfish, arrogant prick who never puts his wife or his kids first, it is time to break free. You are a person with equal value to your husband, and your own mind and common sense. Don’t let your husband run you broke, drag the family miserable places for selfish ambition, treat you like dirt, be an absentee father and husband, and totally consume your life. If your husband micromanages everything you do and say, pretty soon there won’t be a you anymore. The verse in the Bible call men to be leaders, not micromanaging tyrants. A woman who needs her husband’s permission for everything is a woman in an abusive relationship.
The book has other gems too, such as saying that if your husband ignores you, be grateful for whatever small attention he does give you and thank God. Personally, I didn’t get married to be alone. I am not going to be grateful for table scraps. If my husband ignored me I’d tell him to move out until he decided he was interested again. The book also says that if your husband comes home from work in a bad mood and takes it out on you that you just need to remember he may have had a stressful day and you should be extra kind. Are you kidding me? If your husband just comes home in a bad mood, you should be extra kind and try to make him feel better. BUT if he comes home and takes that bad mood out on you, you shouldn’t stand for that. You get stressed and have bad days too. But interestingly it doesn’t say that it is okay to take out your frustrations on your husband and he should be understanding and rub your feet. Why? (aside from the double standard) Because it isn’t ever okay to take out your bad mood on someone else, let alone to expect them to respond by kissing your ass and thanking God for whatever treatment you are willing to give them.
It rather turns my stomach sour to see Christian women advocating for this. Submission is a beautiful, spiritual, loving thing. But what these women are advocating for is not submission, but abuse and slavery – an indentured servanthood (you get out of it when he dies) and total whitewashing of personality and healthy desire. And I bet you that almost every single woman in these women’s ministries that advocate for that life for women are women who themselves have loving, responsible husbands who do what is best for the family 9 times out of 10. So it is easy for them to talk about total submission in all circumstances, because they aren’t micromanaged and controlled. If your husband only requests submission in the small things or the female things once in awhile, that is okay. But if it is all the time, that is abuse of power. And rare (and brainwashed) is the woman who actually is living through that that would write an entire book telling other women to do the same. I read this book because of my profound interest in gender studies from a Christian perspective, in marriage, and submission. But many of the women I’ve seen this book recommended to are women in bad marriages who are searching for advice. This book is full to the brim with terrible advice. There’s a couple of good chapters, such as a chapter on homemaking. But most of it is dreadful.
I write about submission a lot because it is something that has been laid on my heart by God. I have learned a lot from it, and I think my marriage is stronger for it. I like to study the subject and pray on it and learn more to draw closer to my husband and to God. But my husband leads me – he does not terrorize me. I wouldn’t tolerate that for a second. i have a good marriage to a good man, so I can trust him and submit. And when I talk about how women should submit to their husbands, I mean most women. Most women in good or decent marriages should be submitting to their husbands. It will increase the joy in their marriages, bring them in line with God’s commandments, and give them security. But I would never, ever say that every woman should submit to her husband. That is dangerous. There are a lot of men who should not be submitted to – a lot of men that shouldn’t even be husbands. Women who write books like this lead women to tolerate abuse and mistreatment and tyranny.