It’s Time For Americans to Get Over Their Phobia of Feminine Submission

Consider what feminine equality has offered to American couples: series of empty and short relationships comprised of hookups; marriages typified by divorce over even trivial conflicts; a war between the sexes which is becoming more savage and hurtful all the time; and men simply giving up to go their own way. In the face of all this, is the reflexive hate and terror we experience when we hear those dreaded words, “submit to your husbands” really justified? Or is it time to consider that we may have taken a wrong turn and begin looking to God’s design for a better way?

From my latest at The Federalist:

This controversy is about something bigger than the People of Praise or Barrett . Rather, it requires us to defend the most hated Bible verses in America — the very ones that trigger so many of us who grew up indoctrinated with an irrational fear of masculine authority:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. (Eph. 5:22-24)

Contrary to the way some Christians try to dissemble, these verses mean exactly what they say. They are not controversial because they are difficult to understand, but because they are simple. The key is Paul’s comparison to the church’s submission to Christ — a comparison so important that he makes it three distinct times in three sentences.

How then do Christians submit to Christ? Not as mindless automatons, but as people with agency and intellect who align ourselves with our Lord’s purpose. We do not bury our talents, but creatively devote them to his Kingdom, according to his instruction, and with the gifts with which God has equipped us. That is precisely how wives are to submit to husbands.

That profoundly transgresses America’s feminist inclinations, but it’s nothing to be afraid of. These words from God — repeated by Paul in his letter to the Colossians and by Peter in his first epistle — are meant for the good of women and men alike. Controversial or not, the common objections against submission are less compelling than we might think — at least once we pause to consider them instead of reflexively protesting.

Read the whole thing.


About Matt

Software engineer by trade; lay theologian by nature; Lutheran by grace.
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35 Responses to It’s Time For Americans to Get Over Their Phobia of Feminine Submission

  1. Karen says:

    Obviously marriage is a great deal for men if women are never allowed to win an argument and have no other way to eat or live indoors. Your logic is no more than an excuse for wife-beating. Don’t insult my intelligence by any rote and empty statements that of course No True Christian Husband would beat his wife. For one thing, you will always tell her that if she would just submit flatter, grayer, stupider, and quieter, then he wouldn’t hit her. You also think that it isn’t abuse unless she has broken bones or needs more than ten stitches. Shouting, scolding, isolating, and constant criticism are, in your world, perfectly loving ways of treating a human. He’s only doing all that yelling for her own good, after all. As for No True Christian Husband, LOTS of them beat their wives. In my experience most of them hit a few times and every single one of them engages in emotional abuse. Don’t “but she does it too” either. He can leave. He has a job. She’s trapped and helpless.

    • Matt says:

      God bless you, Karen. May He heal the wounds in your soul.

      • Karen says:

        [comment has been removed due to lying]

        • Matt says:

          That’s your second instance of libel on this post. I’ve no interest in platforming open liars, so either quote where I advocate that, or I’ll remove those comments. As they say, put up or shut up.

        • Karen says:

          You think the wife’s adultery is worse than her husband beating her in your May 28, 2020 post about Sheila Gregoire’s discussion of grounds for divorce:

          You also posted this:

          If you’re too much of a coward to debate a woman, please go ahead and ban me. That just shows you to be the weakling I know you are.

        • Matt says:

          A) I didn’t say that adultery is worse than beating in that post.
          B) You know I didn’t, which is why you only posted a link without including a quote.
          C) Even if I did, “Adultery is worse than beating” does not equate to “advocating” beating, anymore than “rape is worse than murder” means “Everybody go and murder someone!”
          D) You still haven’t linked to the fake quote you added in your other comment.

          Honesty is a prerequisite for debate, and you do not possess any.

  2. Karen says:

    Further, you main point is that ‘submission is an erotic necessity’ and your evidence for this is the worst novel a man who didn’t marry until very late in life and had a lifelong problem with women ever made up. Do you know any actual women? Have you ever ventured beyond your tiny little coterie of doormats and the bullies who own them?

  3. gdgm+ says:

    These “Karen” comments are definitely a hilarious parody, LOL!

  4. Caroline says:

    I love how the author assumes that women have to justify our moral right to equal authority in our own homes. If that’s up for debate, maybe questions should be raised as to whether men have such a right.

  5. Martha Zeprun says:

    Are you reincarnated from the 1920s? Honestly, what world do you live in? If you find a woman who believes this, then you should quickly marry her. But otherwise, your sentiments are so out there that they cannot be read with any seriousness. And it is truly scary that a publication like the Federalist would let you publish such an article. It tell you what conservatives really think of woman. I am simply disgusted

    • Matt says:

      It’s sad that so many people take a tiny sliver of history and presume that its most aberrant features are an immutable norm.

  6. Malcolm Smith says:

    Let’s take some examples from the real world. The largest fiction genre, which makes up 40% of mass market paperbacks, is love stories. Their readership is almost wholly female. And they ALL deal with alpha males. Typically the covers involve a woman kneeling at the feet, or draped over the arm of some handsome hulk. Feminist editors tried to get authors to write more women’s – lib type novels, but it didn’t work. The authors didn’t want to write them, and the readers didn’t want to buy them.
    And although it represents a perversion of the natural instinct, ask yourself what is the most successful pornographic novel in history? “50 Shades of Grey”. Who would have thought that a book about a woman being beaten, subjugated, and humiliated would be written by a woman, promoted by woman reviewers, read predominantly by women, and sell 100 million copies?
    So don’t imagine that submission is a natural feminine instinct.

    • Malcolm Smith says:

      I meant “isn’t” in the last sentence.

    • Matt says:

      Good point, Malcom. And the mockers know this, even if they can’t bring themselves to admit it openly. They’ve been complaining that its ridiculous to suggest that women desire dominant men, but in the same breath they jeer that anyone who believes such a thing is an incel who is too weak and insecure to attract women. Even their own words give the game away.

    • Caroline says:

      And male members of the British upper crust during the most powerful years of the British empire were famous for their masochistic impulses. Yet no one suggested that a man’s desire to be flogged by a woman dressed as his nanny meant that he ACTUALLY wanted to be dominated by others in real life. Fantasy and play are often ways of COPING with the horror of having been dominated (having been subjected to harsh and humiliating physical punishments as a child or, for women, being raised to cater to dominant men). It doesn’t mean actually wanting to give up authority over the British Empire or in their own homes and lives.

      • Matt says:

        Yeah, I don’t think we’re talking about the same kind of submission anymore.

        • Caroline says:

          You are the one who brought up “50 Shades of Grey” as evidence that women want men to actually dominate them in real life.

        • Caroline says:

          Actually, it was Malcolm. But the point is using romance novels and pornography as evidence of what women want in the real world is absurd. In fact, the evidence is that women do not men to dominate us, since most of us are not allowing that to occur.

    • B. Gordon says:

      The “equalist” beta male (in practice the man often ends up being under submission e.g. “when mama ain’t happy…!, the man’s “better half”, etc.) is the consolation prize for modern women when they lose the 20% or so of men that are the recipients of 80% of female intent* to other women. The thought of submitting to the consolation prize triggers some very negative emotions as you’ve seen here. As you suggest, submission to some men doesn’t trigger negative female emotions – quite the opposite. This knowledge is, of course, a humiliating slap in the face to good husbands who would be loving, benevolent head-of-household types.

      * you can quibble about the exact ratios if you like

      • Caroline says:

        The thought to submitting to ANY man just because he is a man and I’m a woman triggers very negative emotions. I would wager that most men would experience similar emotions if the tables were turned. Human beings, regardless of sex, have an innate sense of pride and dignity, as well as a desire for both community and independence.

        Strenght and confidence are certainly sexy traits in people, but fortunately, the most strongest, most confident men I know believe in equal rights. No consolation prizes here.

        • B. Gordon says:

          Virtually all men by default believe in “equal rights” since that’s the officially mandated belief system post 1960s and you’re a horrible human being if you don’t profess that belief. There’s no obvious connection between post-1960s male “confidence”, “strength” (a very subjective word as it’s being used) and belief in “equal rights.” Except that the most confident men probably don’t care one way or the other.

          The type of nice guy that truly believes in equal rights the most (and thus is “strong”) isn’t what women want. We know that because if that’s what women wanted, they’d be competing over those types of men, particularly from a young age – if you open your eyes you’ll see that women aren’t competing over that type of man -especially when they’re young and have their fullest set of options.

          We can know that the nice guys ARE consolation prizes because that’s not who women choose first. Or second. Third….

        • Caroline says:

          Soooo when I call a man “strong,” it’s my subjective opinion. But you think there is an objective standard as to who is “a nice guy.” I’ve been hearing the whine about women allegedly don’t pick “nice guys” and it’s complete baloney. Those “nice guys” are usually not that nice. Often they tend to think they know better than women, whom they view as silly, or they think God has given them the right to be the boss of their wives. (“God said so” – how convenient). No, thank you.

        • B. Gordon says:

          Your definitions of “strong” and “confident” are a nearly complete inversion of reality. Women do prefer strong and confident men, that’s pretty well established.

          If women preferred men who fit your definition of “strong and confident”, the way for pickup artists to get girls would be to loudly proclaim how much they believe in “equal rights” as you call it. Heck that would be easy! Hint: this doesn’t work in the real world.

          So, forget the comment on subjectivity, your definition is completely wrong. In practical terms, your definition of strong and confident is designed to flatter, and thus further pacify already weak men. Funny but feminism has a way of creating weak men, that women don’t really want very much.

          So from a couple of generations ago back to the dawn of man, the men weren’t strong and confident (they didn’t believe in equal rights). None of our great-grandfathers were strong and confident.

          According to you women don’t want fake nice guys (i.e. Church guys who think they “know better” than women or who think God calls them to lead the relationship*) and I’m sure you won’t say women prefer confident, outright jerks (the types that probably don’t give a rat’s toenail about equality). So you’d have us think that women prefer progressive men who signal their confidence and strength through displaying their belief in equality. Hahahahaha! WHY DON’T YOU TELL THAT TO WOMEN!!! What matters is what women do, not what women say.

          Your saying “no thank you” is very encouraging and refreshing. I appreciate your honesty and your not trying to lie about the Christian faith.

          * Pretty funny if you think about it – men who profess Biblical headship must represent about 1 in 10,000 men, how many of these men have you met in the real world? I don’t believe this represents any noticeable fraction of “nice guys.”

        • Caroline says:

          You are setting up a straw woman. I never said the definition of being strong and confident is believing in equal rights. I am quite sure there are men with these traits who are sexist as hell (I’ve met them!), as well as feminist men with these traits. What I said was that some of the strongest and most confident men I know are very feminist. They don’t need to proclaim it from the rooftops; it’s baked into the egalitarianism with which they approach relationships. The point is that you are wrong when you equate a belief in feminism with weakness. It is sad that you seem to believe that an egalitarian man must necessarily allow himself to be led around by the nose.

          You are also claiming victory with your point that merely proclaiming a belief in feminism is not sufficient to get women. No kidding, Sherlock! No one said otherwise. It’s not as if you get rewarded with women just for having the bare minimum of respect for women. That’s not how relationships work.

          I agree with you that, certainly in my world, men who literally believe in Biblical headship are virtually non-existent. But there are LOTS of men, even in my world, who have pretty backwards ideas about women, try to take control of relationships with women, are condescending, whine about how women don’t pick the correct men by THEIR estimation, and are generally unpleasant, yet label themselves “nice guys.”

          Seriously, though – I am not here to try to convert you as a dyed-in-the-wool believer in what you believe. But I would suggest considering – just considering – that you are seeing in the world only what you expect to see based on your pre-conceived notions of how women act. Are there women who like rough-around-the-edges machismo men who have no respect for women and then are upset when those men treat them badly? Sure, and you can focus on those women as THE example of how women behave (while ignoring all the men who also choose partners who treat them badly). But even those women don’t WANT to be treated badly and like second class citizens in their own relationship. The reality out there if you momentarily shed your preconceptions and look around is much more diverse and complex.

        • B. Gordon says:

          At this point I guess we’re just relating our experiences. My experience is different. The feminist men I know are extremely placating and submissive to their wives.

          E.g. one publicly announces how he urinates sitting down so that his wife doesn’t get angry at him for peeing on the toilet.

          Another one I know tolerates and even encourages his wife publicly announcing (on social media-in front of the whole world) HOW SHE DILDOS HERSELF TO PICTURES OF JASON MAMOA. It’s definitely my experience that this sort of thing wouldn’t be tolerated if men did it and publicly announced it (“men are such pigs!”). But somehow tolerance/encouragement of this sort of thing is called out as “confidence” by the female friends of this man’s wife. Somehow if the roles were reversed, I don’t think a tolerant (of this sort of thing) wife would be described as “confident” (with the implication that women intolerant of this sort of thing lack confidence). This is an example of how in my experience feminists invert the meaning of “confidence” and “strong.”

          The feminist men I know of internalize submission to their wives’ emotional happiness. “Happy wife, happy life”, “when mama ain’t happy”, “she’s my better half.” These types of attitudes are extremely prevalent among American men. Equality my foot.

          I’d say virtually all Western men believe in feminism. I say the ones who believe in it the most enthusiastically don’t strike me as particularly confident or strong. Again, my experience.

          I am saying that I see no evidence that women have visceral attraction for feminist men (on the whole – we are making generalizations here which is both useful and necessary). Also I do not equate belief in post 1960’s feminism with a bare minimum of respect.

          “….,whine about how women don’t pick the correct men by THEIR estimation”

          My experience is that women choose men (their initial and often second, third…. choices) who are not nice guys BY ANY DEFINITION OF “NICE GUY.” The nice guys are picked after women have had their fill of jerks/cheaters. When the nice guys are later taken, then the women whine about their being “no good men.” At least women’s whining and complaints receive acknowledgement in the mainstream.

          Anyone who attended college (or high school for that matter) can tell you that IN GENERAL women do not have a preference for nice guys (BY ANY DEFINITION OF “NICE GUY.”). I hear the same story over and over again: “he cheated on me!! He dumped me!!” A nice guy does not cheat on his wife or girlfriend. Jerks get lots of girls because so many women reward jerks.

          If women wanted nice guys then they would be competing with each other over the nice guys. Women don’t compete over the nice guys (again, by anyone’s definition of nice guy)– certainly not when they’re young. Again, we’re making generalization – necessary when discussing social phenomena – realize there are plenty of exceptions.

          Thank you for the respectful tone of your last comment – I will try to do the same. I regret my sarcasm in previous comment which doesn’t foster discussion and understanding.

        • Caroline says:

          Sooo I thought the reasoning for the man being the head of the house, besides “God said so,” was that someone has to be the head and that women prefer dominant men/jerks so it is actually women’s preference that men be the ones in charge. But you are describing situations where men have chosen dominant women/jerks. (Side note: Actually it is tough for me to see how it is unreasonable to not want your husband to pee on the toilet???) So I am back to wondering, if someone must be in charge of the couple’s life (an assumption I am accepting only for argument’s sake), why it has to be the man. And even if women DO prefer men who dominate them, why do you thinks women like me who HATE that have to be subject to the same rule?

          I also notice quite a double standard in your thinking. It seems as if when men are married to women who are jerks, your conclusion is that women are terrible. When women partner with men who are jerks, your conclusion is that it is women’s fault for preferring jerks.

          In any case, this is all moot because the vast majority of women in the US will never voluntarily accept the principle that they should occupy a subordinate position in their relationships merely because they are women. I think the only way to get women to sign on to that is extremely conservative religious belief, often inculcated from childhood.

        • B. Gordon says:

          For a Christian, the main reason is God said so. The woman is to submit, the man is to love the wife. The man should love the wife whether she submits or not i.e love is not her “reward” for obeying.
          RE: the women men choose. Generally, women are the ones that choose, men pursue. Men’s main criteria is physical attraction – we are not as complex as women – we are simple brutes. Many men will marry women they find attractive regardless of her having the perfect personality or not.
          IMO, all too often, when women fail to obtain a permanent relationship with an attractive jerk, the nice beta male is her consolation prize. When she doesn’t land the type of guy she is viscerally attracted to, a man she can have authority over (mostly through emotion not physical dominance) is the consolation prize. Everyone? No, of course not but very common. This is not a dominant/jerk woman.
          The types of men that contemporary women prefer aren’t “dominant” leaders, committed to women and family life. THey are jerks that cheat on women, have defacto harems of women (see Tomi Lahren’s recent rant against men – “men are trash” – on Facebook) and/or use and dump women for better women/variety. Do ALL women show signs of preferring these men? Of course not – but it’s incredibly common. My experience is it’s more common in the lower classes (working, lower-middle) than the upper middle and upper classes. It’s also been a theme in popular culture (movies, pop songs) our whole lives. Do they want to be treated bad? No. But they seem attracted to this type of man nonetheless.
          “It seems as if when men are married to women who are jerks, your conclusion is that women are terrible. When women partner with men who are jerks, your conclusion is that it is women’s fault for preferring jerks”
          Women are not terrible – women are the most beautiful creatures in God’s creation. Just like men though they have a fallen nature. I also accept the evolutionary psychology behind these things. Do I think women are terrible because they are deceived by jerks? No. Attracted to jerks? No – they can’t help that any more than I can help being attracted to pretty women.
          Who knows about the future. It may belong to religious fundamentalists (fundie Christians, Muslims and Orthodox Jews) since they have many more children than secularists and lukewarm Christians. Some of these personality traits are moderately heritable and as you say that’s what they teach their children.

  7. Bemused says:

    I find it funny and sad at the same time that you believe two people can’t figure out how to manage their disagreements in a relationship without giving one de facto decision power.

    • Matt says:

      Couples figure that out all the time–but not at all by means of equality.

    • B. Gordon says:

      In practice, there’s never equal authority (who breaks the tie?) between two people. Someone has authority, God says it should be the man. We also think low rates of marriage, high rates of divorce, high male suicide rates, high female depression/use of psychiatric drugs, large numbers of single moms and grandparents raising grandchildren (this is extremely common in my area) etc. is proof that equal authority is bad.

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