Should You Submit To Your Husband If He Isn’t A Believer?

Have you ever searched “marriage” in the Bible? If you have you probably came across several verses that said you should “submit to your husband.”

Many people today look at these teachings as outdated, unfair, or degrading. Feminists will even argue that the idea of submitting to your husband is chauvinistic.

So what does God mean when He says that “wives should submit to their husbands?” Should you still submit to your husband if he isn’t a believer? Let’s take a look at Biblical submission!

submit to your husband

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What is Submission In Marriage?

When people hear the term submit, used in the Bible, they often get the wrong idea about its meaning. Many women see it as being less than their husbands, or beneath them. However, that is not true.

“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”

EPhesians 5:22 NIV

How Do I Submit Myself To My Husband?

The Bible is speaking about a wife yielding her will to her husband’s, but it’s not saying to do this because a husband is better than his wife. It should be done as a way for a wife to show respect for her husband, not because her husband is more important than her.

The best explanation I have ever heard on this topic was given in the book “Kingdom Marriage.” by Dr. Tony Evans. Dr. Evans uses the example of Jesus submitting to God to show how a wife should submit to her husband.

He explains that although God and Jesus are equal, they have different roles. To fulfill what God planned, Jesus, although equal to God even while He was on earth, had to submit His will and authority to God.

In the same way, husbands and wives, though equal, have different functions and roles within their relationship. To have God’s design for marriage work properly, the wife should respect her husband and submit to him.

What Biblical Submission Is Not:

  • a husband controlling his wife
  • a man abusing his wife
  • doing everything your husband says without question
  • never having an opinion or an opportunity to express your feelings
  • being less important than your husband
Biblical submission is about respect, not control. Share on X

Do Husbands Have To Submit?

If you continue to read Ephesians 5, it goes on to say that husbands are to love their wives “as Christ loved the church and gave himself us for her.” So although the passage doesn’t specifically say “a husband must submit to his wife” it is clear that God also wants a husband to be devoted to his wife and love her.

Submitting to my husband doesn’t sound nearly as intimidating as trying to love my spouse like Jesus loved the church!

While women have an important calling to submit to their husbands, men also have a calling to love and care for their wives. Share on X

Should You Submit To Your Husband If He Isn’t A Believer?

While the Bible is very clear about not being unequally yoked and making sure you marry a believer, there are many situations where a believing wife may have an unbelieving husband.

Perhaps she became a Christian after they were married, or he walked away from God. Whatever the case may be, women in this situation may find themselves thinking “ok all this talk about submission in a Christian marriage sounds great, but do you still submit to your husband if he isn’t a believer?”

Why You Should Still Be a Wife Who Submits to Her Husband

A few weeks ago I shared about the time in my life when my husband turned away from God. In that post, I wrote the importance of letting your husband see your actions, and how you can be a witness to him by continuing to support him and submitting to him.

“Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives…”

1 peter 3:1 NIV

This verse from 1 Peter makes it clear that God intends for wives to submit to their husbands even if they are not Christians. While it makes things more challenging to submit to a man who doesn’t believe the same things, it is what God calls us to do.

If you find yourself in this situation, be sure to pray about it often and let God help you in this, because I know firsthand how difficult it can be!

When You Should Not Submit To Your Husband

There are certain times when it may be dangerous or destructive to submit to a non-Christian husband.

I am not talking about simply disagreeing with your husband on a topic.

I mean a situation where your husband is asking you to do something that is directly disobeying God’s word or harmful to yourself or others.

If you are unsure if you should submit to your husband on something, it is best to ask a pastor or trusted Christian friend.

In addition, it is always important to search God’s word and pray for direction if you are unsure about whether you should choose to submit to your unbelieving husband on something, or not.

Final Thoughts On Submission

As important as it is for a wife to submit to her husband, it is more important that both, a husband and wife, submit to God.

Following God's design for marriage doesn't mean that you will never have hardships, but it is the best way to ensure that you and your spouse will have a marriage that is strong enough to withstand any challenges you may face. Share on X

Did you enjoy this post? One of the numerous topics in our new course, “Marriage Masterclass for Christian Couples” is Biblical Submission. Be sure to learn more here.

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I'm Meghan, a Christian Marriage Coach, Speaker, and Writer. I am passionate about helping others restore and revive their marriages.


Sharon Hazel · September 14, 2020 at 4:34 am

Good teaching on a big subject – well done!

Mary Armand · September 14, 2020 at 7:44 pm

Great post! What an important and difficult subject to write about. I love how you broke down many of the questions that come with the word submission. Thanks for sharing

Teresa · September 14, 2020 at 8:16 pm

Submission is a touchy subject for many, but I agree with you that it is God’s plan and, as such, a good thing for both husband and wife. Great job pointing out what submission is NOT!
Blessings! 💗

Kristin · September 14, 2020 at 10:11 pm

Great post!! I was just reading this in 1 Peter and discussing this with some women the other day. This is such an important topic and you did a great job breaking it down! Thanks for sharing!

Kudabo Victory · September 15, 2020 at 2:36 am

This is a balanced post, the issue of submission raises quite a lot of controversy, especially in this century. Yet, the word of God is ever our guide. I’m not married yet, but I have watched my parents live, and I can say; submission makes the home peaceful. If the husband is an unbeliever, I read that, showing love and praying for him goes a long way.

Thanks for sharing, always. I will subscribe to your blog, amazing contents here.

Teresa · September 15, 2020 at 7:22 am

I’ve always questioned what this teaching means, specifically. I’m a very detailed person so I think this is a passage that has always concerned me in one way or another. Thank you for taking on a complicated topic and outlining it in a way that resonated with me and many others!

Evangeline Samuel · September 15, 2020 at 9:26 am

Such a great post! And how fitting – in times like this! This is a rather sensitive topic in many circles and you approached it with wisdom and truth. Beautiful! 🙂

Barbara Laman · September 15, 2020 at 10:34 am

A thought provoking post asking if one should submit to an unbelieving husband. I agree with the biblical answers you provided that encourages women in these situations. God bless you!

Haley Cooper · September 15, 2020 at 10:47 pm

Thank you for the illustration of what it means for wives to submit to their husbands. As Christian wives, we are called to submit as Jesus submitted to the Father.

Sheryl · September 16, 2020 at 2:47 am

Thank you so much for sharing this! God bless also your marriage with so much love and healing! 😍

Collene · September 16, 2020 at 2:25 pm

Great teaching on a touchy subject! You did a great job of explaining how to submit to a husband who isn’t godly. I really enjoyed this.

Betty Rojugbokan · September 16, 2020 at 7:17 pm

Good job, I love how you tried to balance both sides of the expectation, to love and to submit. I also love how you clearly stated instances when submission may not be practicable, such as when a wife is being directed to soon against God.
At the end of the day, maturity of both spouses matter.

Alice · September 17, 2020 at 8:30 am

You make some really great points here. I wish I really understood this when I was married but I was more of a doormat to a husband who didn’t love the way Christ loves the church. I’ve learned a lot about marriage since my divorce 14 years ago. If I ever marry again I want to be a submissive wife who is equal to my husband.

Donna Miller · September 17, 2020 at 9:27 am

Absolutely awesome teaching on a very touchy and tender subject. Thank you for this … 🙏❤

Karen · September 22, 2020 at 8:00 am

This is a fabulous post! You have explained it well and it is encouraging. This is a very touchy topic and you handled it with such care and continuously point to God. Thank you❤️

When Your Husband Has Turned Away From God - Restore Amor · April 9, 2021 at 11:32 pm

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