How Can I Be Submissive When I Know He’s Wrong?

Selfish and arrogant

There are two very powerful concepts that are being addressed in the question asked above. The first is regarding SUBMISSION and the next is whether or not someone is WRONG.

To understand the intent of something, we have to understand the position of the statement. When we look at something from a perspective of “law” we see rules and regulations which demand strict obedience.

When we look at something from the perspective of LOVE, we gain a very different view of law. Jesus said in Matther 5:17 that He came to fulfill the law. Then in 1 John 4:8 we are told that GOD IS LOVE.

The word “submission”, through the lens of law has a very different meaning than it does when viewed through the lens of love.

Submission through the lens of law, DEMANDS obedience. Through the lens of love, it facilitates respect and honor.


Submission is an attitude of the heart. And when it is perceived in that manner, it gives respect and honor. When it is demanded, it carries nothing that represents Christ or Him Crucified. It becomes brutal and self serving to the one who demands it and causes resentment and bitterness in the one who it is demanded of.

A husband demanding submission of his wife will reap a harvest of bitterness and resentment, certainly not her respect and honor.

But if a husband has a heart of love, he understands that submission is an attitude of love, honor and respect. We are told to do just this in Ephesians 5:21.  (by the way, this is not something we do IF the other person has the same attitude too.) We are always held responsible for our OWN attitude, not someone elses.

Next is the question of WRONG. This is a powerful concept; as to assume that you know what is WRONG, is to assume that you know the final outcome which is something that only God knows.

The concept of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ is a judgement call.  Judgement is the end result of law and can only be given by the One who created the law. None of us has a right to judge right or wrong. (hang in there with me … this gets better)

We are told to judge fruits (not people) and we have experiences through our lives which have come to be viewed by us as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decisions. (Fruits, by the way, are the end result of someone’s actions.)

“But,” you ask, ” in order to make a decision, don’t we have to know what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’?” The answer is, of course, a resounding “YES!” followed by … “According to God’s Word”. Right and wrong are ALWAYS to be judged by His Word. Everything else is just speculation and or assumption on our part.

We must have some sort of measurement of what is going to be a profitable conclusion, however. So let’s rephrase our ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ thinking to ‘beneficial’ and ‘non-beneficial’.  For the sake of this discussion, let’s set aside the concept of ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and rephrase the issue to the matter of what is beneficial or non-beneficial.

For certain, we know that each person approaches a problem with a different solution. Was one solution better than another? No, it was just different – and it was either beneficial or non-beneficial.

There are many ways to solve a problem. Some ways don’t make sense and some ways are not nearly as effective. But when we have an attitude of submission, we are extending grace and honor to the one who is making the decision. Whether that someone is your husband or another leader in the church, or your child, or a friend … anyone, for that matter.

What if you knew the more beneficial solution and was not listened to, and the outcome was disastrous? Hopefully, a lesson will have been learned in the matters of considering all options before a decision is made.

Earthly things come and go. But matters of the heart are issues that will come before the throne of God.  As a pastor’s wife, many eyes are upon you. Those of the women in the congregation and possibly the eyes of your children.  Being ‘right’ isn’t nearly as rich of a lesson to them as having the character and grace to allow for mistakes and love absolutely the one you have chosen as your life partner.

A more important question might be, “Why is it so important for me to be right?”  Ah, but that is for another post …


Shannon Parish is the Founder of Sarah’s Tent and President of Living Stones Center. She is an award winning cartoonist and graphic recorder who, after more than thirty years of ministry and as a Life Coach utilizes her artistic talent to teach and Illustrate You.

4 thoughts on “How Can I Be Submissive When I Know He’s Wrong?

  1. Laura says:

    What are your thoughts on the belief system that the husband and wife are to submit to one another, but if they can’t come into agreement over a certain decision, it’s the man’s responsibility to make the final decision?

    • admin says:

      Eventually, SOMEONE has to make a decision. It wouldn’t matter whether or not it were the man or the woman who made the final decision. The outcome will be evident and it may work for the better – or it could work for the worse. God’s grace is always sufficient for us. We will learn from our mistakes and will make better decisions the next time around.

      Who ever makes the decision, will have the responsibility of that decision on their shoulders. It is hoped that the Lord has been sought together in advance and that both the husband and the wife were in an attitude of agreement for the best answer. This means that competition in proving who is right and who is wrong, was not a part of the decision making progress. It is the competitive spirit, filled with resentment and judgment that causes us to make decisions unwisely, completely leaving out the Wisdom of God.

      Our challenge is in our heart. Loving one another in an attitude of humility and grace, forgiving one another for our humanness and praying for each other for wisdom. The challenge of ‘right vs. wrong’ is rarely about what is truly right (by God’s standards) but rather, “who is better, or who is wiser, or who is smarter and finally “who wins”.

  2. Santi says:

    For a woman to submit to a man is an expression of her faith in God. It can be compared to our obedience to the moral laws written in the scripture in that we may not see how it works, but we know that God will bless us if we are obedient. It has everything to do with humility and influence and favor more than anything else ‘you must believe that he is a rewarder of those that diligently seek him’. Pleasing him is a great way to seek him (its only then that we receive his conditional promises found in the Torah – such as financial abundance, health, leadership, prosperity (he that mediates on the law shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water…whatever he does will prosper) etc…this is why many in the church are lacking because they don’ t have a true understanding of Gods conditional promises.

    It takes an insightful woman to understand that her power is not in being direct but rather indirect and influential (which is a mark of great leaders).
    Generally speaking women more than their counterparts have the ability to influence and to cause things to be in motion – after all it wasn’t Adam that changed the world but Eve. Adam was simply a product of Eve’s influence. Once this dynamic is understood – then obedience is second nature…

  3. Shannon says:

    Ephesians 5:21 tells us to submit to one another. What you describe above touches on this, as it is natural to be submissive when in a state of respect and honoring worship.

    I would say that the ability to be indirect and influential, in the wrong “hands” so to speak, could imply “to manipulate.” That in itself is not necessarily wrong – it’s the motive behind it that determines the intentions.

    Another way to state that is to respect one another and learn to ask clarifying questions which can lead to wiser choices. Respecting one another and honoring one another makes it a pleasure to submit – as this is in love, not law. Law demands. Love gladly gives.

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