I don’t claim to be the authority on the Bible’s instruction for wives to submit to their husbands, but after spending considerable time studying God’s Word, here’s what I have come to believe on this controversial subject. God definitely plans for all of us to live under authority. I would imagine He knows this prevents chaos from breaking loose! So, in a family unit, God has placed the man as the authority, and the wife and children are under his authority. If we used a business analogy, it’s rather like your husband is the general manager who must make the major decisions on the policy and ground rules for how the business will operate.
So what does this look like for a wife? This means choosing to treat your husband respectfully and allowing your husband to lead you and your family. Instead of you jumping into to take over leadership, and instead of you deciding how everything should go, you allow your husband to lead. However, just as in a business, a wise husband will value the input and sage counsel of the wife who is usually more intimately involved with handling family matters each day.
Now, where “submitting” to your husband can go haywire is when the husband veers off course morally or Biblically. When the husband starts leading the family (or requesting the family) to engage or support wrong behavior, then the wife need not submit to such decisions. Her first allegiance is to God and His commands. God is the ultimate authority. I believe that is why the Bible includes a “qualifier” in one of the instructions for the wife to submit to her husband. It is found in Colossians 3:18, which says “the wife must submit to her husband, as is fitting in the Lord“.
If your husband is asking you to do something that is not “fitting in the Lord”, I don’t believe you must submit to such leadership. I believe a wife can respectfully draw the line. In addition, it’s my belief, from studying all of God’s Word, that “submission” does not mean the wife must be a doormat who tolerates disrespectful or even abusive behavior by her husband. Such behavior by the husband is not “fitting in the Lord” either. Submission is not being a doormat.