Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

…”The biblical ideal is loving, humble headship and joyful, intelligent submission.” – Wayne Grudem

When submission has the meaning Grudem defines, what is the difference between stupid submission and intelligent submission? Is it:

  Stupid submission – “Hubby said it, so I do it.”

Intelligent submission – “Hubby said it, I know it is stupid, but I do it.”

For that matter, what is the difference, if headship mean what Grudem say it does, between humble headship and proud headship? Is it:

Proud headship – “Because I said so. That is why.”

Humble headship – “God made me no smarter than you, and I don’t even know if my way is God’s way in this. But he made me the head. That’s why.”

Comments on: "Humble headship and intelligent submission – what does it mean?" (12)

  1. LOL! Love it.
    I am repeating something I posted on Shirley Taylor’s blog:
    I would like to ask Grudem: is his “wisdom” a personal preference? what he and his wife decided on doing in their marriage? or is this a DOCTRINE?
    If it is a DOCTRINE, let me ask him:
    What happens when the husband has mental issues? Is he telling us that God never allows husbands to have mental issues? depression? bipolar? addiction? He makes the final decision?
    What happens when the husband is an abuser? physical ? emotional? who decides what constitutes abuse? John Piper believes wives are not given the right to defend themselves, they are to “go to the church” for help. So who decides the husband is an abuser? the husband?
    “There should be mutual respect”, how much respect is there when one side ALWAYS gets to make the final decision?
    “The responsibility is always with the husband”, even though they are “not wiser” or “more gifted”. So, God gives the wife more wisdom, and more gifting, only to tell her to obey someone God chose NOT TO give more wisdom and more gifting? God is a sexist? I am not trying to be mean, I am trying to analyze what this is.
    “It brings peace and joy to our marriage”, so it should bring peace and joy to every marriage? and if it does not? can you imagine the burden and the guilt on the wife ( most likely)? Why am I not having joy and peace when my husband always has the last say?

    My take on Grudem’s interpretation of God’s will: he is very sincere about what he is saying, but sincerity does not necessarily lead to truth. In fact, very often, sincerity can lead to delusion.


  2. krwordgazer said:

    Love it. Still laughing!


  3. I ‘ve heard this preached most of my life. I never questioned it, until I married a man who loved to talk about a wife’s duty to submit, but he was very remiss in his leadership ability and refused to submit to God or the other authorities in his life: boss, church, government.
    Long story short, I started to re-evaluate wifely submission. I discovered that the Bible has a whole lot to say and illustrate about submission.

    Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him… For such is the will of God…(I Peter 2:13-16) Also see (Romans 13:1-8) (I Tim. 2:1,2) (Titus 3:1)
    (I Peter 2:13-16)

    Although the Bible teaches us to submit to those in authority over us, God does not want us to submit to sinful, destructive or foolish behavior. Several examples illustrate that.

    Daniel refused to stop praying and disobeyed king. (Daniel chapter 6)

    Hebrew boys refused to bow to an idol – king’s golden statue. (Daniel chapter 3)

    Midwives refused to obey the king’s command and kill baby boys. (Exodus 1:15-22)

    Peter and John refused to stop teaching and preaching about Jesus. (Acts 5:17-29)

    Mordecai refused to bow. (Esther 3:2)

    These are just a few examples of Godly people who refused to submit to sinful, destructive, or foolish behaviors. Wives are no exception.

    Abigail refused to submit to her husband’s foolish and destructive behavior. ( 1 Sam chapter 25).

    As some have pointed out, there is no particular verse that states that Ananias told or asked Sapphira to lie. However, the setting, culture, and time is very relevant. Throughout history, wives have been socialized, admonished and downright peer pressured to be subject to their husband’s leadership and plans. Therefore, Sapphira’s complicity and agreement were a manifestation of her respect and subjection to his leadership. They likely weren’t equal partners because equality between the sexes or spouses was not encouraged, taught or condoned during that era. Bottom line, Sapphira complied and lied, yet her act of wifely submission didn’t earn her favor from God or the church. She should have learned from Abigail’s wise example (Acts 5).

    These examples teach us that God does not want us to submit to authority in sinful, destructive or foolish behavior.

    The “submit to any and everything” doctrine also denies a wife’s role as Ezer (Helper). Aiding one’s husbands in sin or destruction is not very helpful. On the contrary, it promotes bitterness, idolatry and pride. This doctrine is cultist and destructive because it pushes an agenda that the Bible doesn’t support.


    • Thank you, KMB, for a wise Bible study on the topic. I pray that more people will understand what you explained here.

      Mabel, your questions are a very good analysis too.

      In my definition, intelligent submission is to submit when the other person know better, when submission is wise, when the other person could lose or gain more than you from the situation. But that mean there are some situations (when you yourself know better, when submission is unwise, when you could lose or gain more than the other person) when submission is wrong.

      Likewise, humble headship is to lead where and when you know better. And to let the other person choose whether to follow or not. As soon as we say husbands must always lead, they also have to lead when they do not know better.


  4. Those guys just keep adding sugary, little adjectives to the word “Submission” in hope that it will make their bitter medicine/doctrine get past our gag reflex so that we swallow their poison.
    The good news is this:
    The fact that they feel compelled to keep adding adjectives means that fewer women are just swallowing their poison without question.


  5. This comment was by Sophie, on the topic of “joyful, intelligent submission. I copy it from

    If I intelligently submit to something, that means I’ve thought through the issues involved in the submission and reched the conclusion that I will submit. But complementarianism commands submission for no other reason than you happen to female. You HAVE to submit. And if you always have to reach the same conclusion, there is no need to think things through. Where’s the intelligence in that?

    I know the idea of ‘joyful’ submission is just window-dressing to make submission sound more appealing, but as far as I’m concerned, the whole ‘joyful’ thing is just another burden. You aren’t even allowed to feel begrudging or angry while you practice the submission that you feel bound to comply with because of your gender; now you apparently have to be HAPPY about it, too.


  6. […] *This post by Retha at Biblical Personhood shows the humorous side of the concept of gender-specific roles… “humble headship” and “intelligent submission”.   Share this:TwitterFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this. Filed under Uncategorized | Leave a comment […]


  7. gabrielle said:

    Slavery is alive and well in the good old USA


  8. Hi Retha,
    I love this post! Would you mind if I shared it on my blog when I write about submission? My blog is


  9. […] Now for humorous view on submission from Retha at Biblical Personhood ~ […]


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