Murray Vasser has published a nice sum of the mistaken interpretation made by Wayne Grudem on the notion of submission in marriage. Here’s an excerpt but do read the entire article or download a PDF of the article here.

Grudem … has argued for more than three decades that Ephesians 5:21 could be paraphrased as follows: “Those who are under authority should be subject to others among you who have authority over them.” On Grudem’s reading, this verse requires a wife to submit to her husband, but it does not in any sense require a husband to submit to his wife.

In defense of this interpretation, Grudem appeals to the meaning of hypotassō, the Greek verb translated “to submit” or “to be subject.” Grudem claims that this verb “always means to be subject to someone else’s authority, in all Greek literature, Christian and non-Christian.”

“In every example we can find,” Grudem contends, “when person A is said to ‘be subject to’ person B, person B has a unique authority which person A does not have. In other words, hypotassō always implies a one-directional submission to someone in authority.”

The problem with this argument is that the claims about hypotassō are simply not true.


See also, Marg Mowczko’s article: “Mutual Submission in Early Christian Texts” in which she concludes:

Unlike what some claim, submission is not necessarily to a person in authority. Moreover, several highly regarded bishops and teachers of the Early Church recognised that mutual submission is beneficial for relationships within the church

The Greek verb hypotassō can mean to be subordinate or be subject, but it need not have a harsh sense or a strong force especially when it is describing Christian relationships which are to be founded on love (John 13:34–35Gal. 5:13). Submission between Christians, including submission between Christian husbands and wives, should be characterised by humility, deference, cooperation, loyalty, and of course love.[5]

As with the virtues of humility and meekness, submissiveness should be a normal attitude or disposition for all followers of Jesus.

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