FamilyLife Today® Podcast

Liberating Submission, Part 1

with Bunny Wilson | September 6, 2010
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Submission means hope, help, holy and free. So says wife and author Bunny Wilson. Tune in for today's broadcast as Bunny tells how submission helps marriage thrive.

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  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Submission means hope, help, holy and free. So says wife and author Bunny Wilson. Tune in for today's broadcast as Bunny tells how submission helps marriage thrive.

  • Dave and Ann Wilson

    Dave and Ann Wilson are hosts of FamilyLife Today®, FamilyLife’s nationally-syndicated radio program. Dave and Ann have been married for more than 38 years and have spent the last 33 teaching and mentoring couples and parents across the country. They have been featured speakers at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway since 1993 and have also hosted their own marriage conferences across the country. Cofounders of Kensington Church—a national, multicampus church that hosts more than 14,000 visitors every weekend—the Wilsons are the creative force behind DVD teaching series Rock Your Marriage and The Survival Guide To Parenting, as well as authors of the recently released book Vertical Marriage (Zondervan, 2019). Dave is a graduate of the International School of Theology, where he received a Master of Divinity degree. A Ball State University Hall of Fame quarterback, Dave served the Detroit Lions as chaplain for 33 years. Ann attended the University of Kentucky. She has been active alongside Dave in ministry as a speaker, writer, small-group leader, and mentor to countless wives of professional athletes. The Wilsons live in the Detroit area. They have three grown sons, CJ, Austin, and Cody, three daughters-in-law, and a growing number of grandchildren.

Submission means hope, help, holy and free. So says wife and author Bunny Wilson.

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Liberating Submission, Part 1

With Bunny Wilson
September 06, 2010
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Bob:  What is perhaps the most feared word in all of the Bible?  A decade ago Bunny Wilson offered this suggestion.

Bunny:  We are in the year 2000, and I cannot even get up in front of a group of saved women and say the word submission without coming behind it without a full explanation, because even though, they love the Lord, they’re saved, and they’re sanctified, and they’re set apart.  When I say the word submission many women’s faces contort.  A lot of married women, they try to say, “it’s uh, uh – you have to hit ‘em on the back just to get it out.”

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, September 6th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine.  We’ll hear what Bunny Wilson had to say about, you know, that word, more than a decade ago on today’s program.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.  I’ll tell you what – we are so brave that we have decided today to take on a very controversial subject by getting out of here and letting a woman tackle it…


Dennis:  You know, I wish our listeners could see Bob and me right now.  Both of us are dressed in…well, we have the head gear of a catcher on, we have the chest protector and the shin guards.

Bob:  I’ve got my camo on underneath that.


Dennis:  We are ready to stand strong and stand firm as we pass the ball to a woman well known to many of our listeners.  In fact, she’s written a book called Liberated Through Submission.”

Bob:  Yes.

Dennis:  There’s the word.

Bob:  That’s the word.

Dennis:  That’s the word.  Bunny Wilson join us on the broadcast.  Bunny and her husband, Frank, have been married for more than 20 years.  Frank is known by many as a well-known song writer and record producer.  They have two daughters and Bunny spoke at our Building Strong Families in Your Church conference, and spoke about the subject of submission.  This is a really hot topic. 

and truthfully I felt like she was the one to speak on the subject of submission to the men and women who attended, because this is a really hot topic.

Bob:  It is, and obviously it’s one that’s created controversy in the news and in churches all across the country, primarily, we believe, because it’s a misunderstood concept.  I believe that as folks come face to face with what God’s word is saying about submission, and if they don’t go to the extreme side of thinking it means that you’re a door mat, or if they don’t run out the door altogether and say, “I’m not going to have anything to do with that.”  They find a beautiful, glorious truth of scripture when they come to this subject.

Dennis:  Actually, I’d like to say it like this.  The “S” word, submission, is really the “L” word, L meaning life.  If you want to find life, where does the scripture tell you you have to go?  You have to become as a little child, you have to humble yourself, and you have to submit to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Bob:  Well, let’s listen together as Bunny Wilson talks about being liberated through submission.

Bunny:  When I came to Christ, Christianity, I came from being an atheist.  An atheist is a person that does not believe in the existence of God.  So when I finally came to meet Jesus Christ and I fell in love with Jesus, I fell in love with his word, and so I started reading it and eating it and eating it and eating it.  Then one day I ran across a scripture that said, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto to the Lord,” and my first thought was, “Why would God mess up a good book with a scripture like that?”


I had never heard of anything so oppressive in my life, but I said, “Okay, okay, okay, it’s in your word and Jesus, you said, I must deny myself, pick up my cross and follow you, so I’ll do this,” and I dove head-long into the act of submission for six years. See, I wouldn’t have known submission if it would have walked up to me on the street and slapped me in the face, because I didn’t see it when I was growing up.  But I had seen “Leave It To Beaver,” and “Make Room For Daddy,” and I kind of figured out what it was supposed to look like.

Six years later I’m standing in front of a bridal shop window with my six-year-old daughter, Lani, and I said to her…we’re looking at this wedding dress, and I said, “Just think, Lani, one day you’ll walk down the aisle wearing a beautiful dress like this.”  And she looked at me and she said, “I’m never getting married.”  I said, “You’re what?”  I said, “Why not?”  And she said, because Daddy tells you everything to do, you don’t like it, and I won’t either.” 

I went home and I fell on my face before God and I said, “God, this submission thing is not working. My daughter is never going to get married, I’m never going to have grandchildren just because I’m trying to be submissive.  Now, I’ll do this thing, but you have to explain to me how Jesus came that I might have life and have it more abundantly and be submissive.”  I’m so grateful for the scripture that says that if you ask, what’ll happen?

Audience:  You shall receive.

Bunny:  Right, and if you knock, it’ll be answered, and if you seek, you will find.  It wasn’t long after that that God explained to me that submission is a very positive, powerful, and aggressive principle that’s been designed by God for every man.  Say every man.

Audience:  Every man.

Bunny:  Every woman

Audience:  Every woman.

Bunny:  Single and married.  Why is submission a positive principle?  Is Jesus Christ our role model?  You can say amen.

Audience:  Amen.

Bunny:  Are we supposed to be walking in his footsteps?  When Jesus Christ walked the face of the earth he was male and single, but he lived a totally submitted life.  He said, “I always do that which pleases the Father.”  That’s what makes it a positive principle. 

It is a powerful principle because in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus Christ prayed three times in his humanity… “Father, let this bitter cup pass from me.”  If we were to put it in today’s vernacular he would be saying something in the order of “I don’t want to do it.  I don’t want to do it.   Is there a plan B?  Is there another way to get these people saved?  This thing is going to hurt.” 

In his humanity, Jesus did not want to die on the cross, but the scripture goes on to say, “But nevertheless, not my will, but thy will be done.”  If Jesus had not submitted to death on the cross none of us today would have eternal life.  So if we believe that salvation is God’s number one greatest gift, we have to believe that submission is number two because it ushered in our salvation. 

And it’s positive, it’s powerful, and it’s aggressive.  It’s aggressive because we’re going to have to stand against the world, the flesh and the devil that’s attempting to force feed us with the definition that says we’ll be subservient and inferior and someone’s door mat, and nothing could be further from the truth. 

But I have a question to ask you.  If submission is so powerful, positive, and aggressive and it’s throughout the entire word as far as what our attitude is supposed to be and it’s for every man and every woman single and married why is it when I tell a married man, when I tell him I’ve written a book called Liberated Through Submission, he usually says I’d like to buy that book for my…

Audience:  Wife.

Bunny:  Why is it when I say it to a single woman a single woman will many times say “I don’t know if I can get married because I don’t know if I can …

Audience:  Submit.

Bunny:  What she is really saying is that she believes that submission begins at the altar.  I’ve never heard a single man say to me I don’t know if I can get married because I don’t know if I could submit to God’s word in the leadership of my family.  It doesn’t even cross his mind?

So my next question to you is how could a principle so powerful, positive and aggressive become so distorted?  Who do you think would want to distort the principle that ushered in our salvation?  Does he have a name?

Audience:  Satan.

Bunny:  His name is Satan, and you know what?  I don’t like Satan and he doesn’t like me, and it’s a good thing.  But I have to take my hat off the Satan because he has done a tremendous job.  We are in the year 2000, and I cannot even get up in front of a group of saved women and say the word submission without coming behind it without a full explanation, because even though they love the Lord, they’re saved and they’re sanctified, and they’re set apart.  When I say the word submission, many women’s faces contort.  A lot of married women, they try to say, “uh, uh”… you have to hit ‘em on the back just to get it out.


Bunny:  This is the year 2000.  It was 2000 years ago that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the grave for our sins and today it is one of the most controversial subjects in the word of God.  How did Satan do it?  Well, he does it like he always does it.  He divides and he conquers.

So what is the definition of submission?  It means what Webster’s dictionary says it means.  It means to yield.  Biblically, it means to yield to people, precepts, and principles that have been placed in our lives by God as authority. 

When the southern Baptists announced that wives must submit to their husbands a lot of radio and television stations wanted to do interviews.  Since I had written a book on submission they wanted to interview me and I started getting calls.  I was invited to do a station that was a lot like Howard Stern radio station.   I was excited about doing the interview because even though a lot of people listening to the station didn’t agree with what the Bible said it was just a great harvest or field of people that I could talk to. 

So he called me up and said, “we’ve been advertising this show for a week and the people are champing at the bit to get to you.”  It was a live call in radio show.  As soon as he said that he pushed the button and the music came up.  I’ll call him Bob but that wasn’t his real name.  The first thing Bob said was, “we have Bunny Wilson here today and Bunny you’ve come on the air today to tell these wives that they must submit is that why you are on the air today?”

I said, “Well no, actually Bob I came on the air today to tell them that you are a submitted man.  And he said “how do you figure that?”  I said “do you own that radio station?”  He said, “no I don’t.” I said, “Do you have a general manager?”  He said, “Yes, I do and it’s a woman.”  I said, “That’s even better.” 

Audience:  (laughter)

Bunny:  I said, “Do you always agree with the programming of the program manager?”  He said, “Well of course not.”  I said, “Well, the very fact that you are doing the interview today tells me that you are a submitted man.”  We went on to talk and he started laughing.  He said, “Well, I guess you have a point there.” 

We talked about what the definition of submission was and then he said let’s open up the phone lines.  The first lady to call in screamed in the phone and said, “Well, Bunny Bimbo.  We ought take your book and burn it in a fire.”  I said to her, “I’m not going to call you by a derogatory name because I don’t know you and you don’t know me.  If you knew me you’d know I wasn’t a bimbo and if you’d read my book it would be at the top of a bookshelf not burning in a fire.  Let me ask you a question. 

Audience:  Laughter

Bunny:  Did you know that atheists are submitted women?

She said, “what are you talking about?”  I said, Okay let me explain to you.  Feminists women are submitted.  Feminists have organizations.  They have a president, vice president, directors and field representatives.  When they meet in their board rooms do you think they always agree about the direction of their feminist movement?

Of course you know they don’t because they are outspoken, opinionated women.  When they go in that board room they know that no matter what they discuss the president has the right to make the final decision.  They know that before they leave that room they must graciously submit because a house divided against itself cannot stand. 

The question is never are you submitted.  The only question is who and what are you submitted to?  But we all yield to something and when you are a Christian woman you are submitted and yielded, or should be, to God’s flow chart, so who are we called to yield to? 

We’re called to yield or submit to God, James 4 and 7, “Submit yourself, therefore, unto God.”  We’re called to submit to the government, 1 Peter 2 and 13, we’re called to submit to our employers, 1 Peter 2 and 18, we’re called to submit to our pastors, Hebrews 13, 17, so whether you’re male or female, single or married, you are called to submit to God, to the government, to your employer, and to your pastor.

Now keep in mind submission never has anything to do with immorality or abuse.  In other words, a person…your boss cannot ask you to sign false documents.  Your husband cannot ask you to sign a false tax return and you have to.  You do not have to submit to anything abusive or immoral. 

Now, if you are married, the husband is called to submit to four times as many things as the wife.  He is called to submit to God in loving his wife as Christ loved the church, to being the final decision maker, the spiritual leader, and to living with her according to understanding.  And trust me, he has to be submitted to God in order to pull all of that off. 

The wife is called to submit to her husband’s final decision.  It is not conditional.  A wife cannot say, “I don’t have to submit to your final authority if you don’t love me as Christ loved the church.”  God’s word is not conditional.  You yield to your husband’s final decision because that’s what God’s word teaches and that is the flow chart, and you’ll learn how the power is released in that when you do that. 

Submission is like a broken traffic signal.  When you learned how to drive, you learned in the rule book that if you come to a four-way intersection and the traffic signal is broken, what are you supposed to do?  You’re supposed to stop and then you are supposed to yield to the person on the right and go two by two until the traffic signal is fixed.  As a matter of fact, I’ve come to busy four-way intersections and have gotten through the intersection faster because the traffic signal was broken than if it would have stayed up, because they’ve got so many turns and so many lights.

Now what do you think would happen if that rule had never been written into our driver’s book?  In other words, that rule was not in place.  What do you think would happen at intersections…four-way intersections…where the traffic signal was out, and there were no rules?  What do you think would be happening in the intersections of our streets?  Chaos, confusion, accidents, arguments.

You have to ask yourself why do we even need submission? When we get to heaven there will be no giving in marriage, we’ll have the mind of Christ.  So why is it even established on the earth?  There was a pastor that said, “God sees the view, we see a speck of it, that’s why it’s called our point of view.” 

From my point of view it’s clear to me that God created some free-thinking individuals, where the Bible says every man’s way is right in his own eyes, which means if we spent any amount of time together, in our churches, on our jobs, in our homes, sooner or later the signal of our communication is going to go down.  There’s going to come a time when we simply do not agree with one another.  If an order has not been established in our lives, we will be in the intersection of our lives, on our jobs, churches, home, with chaos, confusion, arguments, contention.

It is so amazing to me the number of Christian couples who don’t understand this principle and you follow them home…yes, they love the Lord, yes, they read the scriptures, yes, they pay their tithes, but if you were to follow them home, there is so much argument and divisiveness and contention in their marriage relationship.  Why?  Because a judge once said, “the ignorance of the law does not excuse you from the penalty of the law.”  Just because you don’t understand how it works doesn’t mean that you don’t have to suffer the consequences. 

So what does submission look like?  Well, let’s take a single person as an example, because we usually always use married people.  But let’s use a single person.  A single person…it’s April 15th …wakes up, finishes filling out their tax form, hates to pay taxes, but in submission to the government writes the check and puts it in there…his suit pocket…let’s say it’s a man.  He gets in the car, and in submission to the government he fastens his seat belt, although he hates to fasten his seat belt, it wrinkles his suit, but in submission to the government he does that.  On the way to work he pulls his speed limit down to the flow of traffic or to the speed limit in submission to the government.  He gets to his job, he goes in his boss’s office. 

Her name is Sally.  He says, “Sally, have you thought about we discussed?”  She said, “I have but I’d like for you to do it my way.”  According to the word of God, he yields to the final decision of his employer, he goes to church that night, his weekly Bible study.  He’s just gotten paid, he can think of so much he could do with that 10 percent that belongs to God, but in submission to God’s word and submission to God, he pays his tithes, goes to see the pastor after church and says, “Pastor, have you thought about what we talked about?” 

The pastor says, “Yes, I prayed about it.  I think we need to do it the way I said.”  And on one given day this single man has submitted to God, to the government, to his pastor, and to his employer.  We do it all the time.  We just don’t identify it by the right word, which is submission.

How does it work in my married life?  Well, submission is not an ominous, oppressive force that hangs over my marriage relationship with Frank.  As a matter of fact, we can go for days, sometimes even weeks, just giving and exchanging ideas and opinions, but every now and then we come to a place where we simply do not agree.  It is at that point that I am able to tell him why I don’t agree with him.  As a matter of fact, I can even be very definite.  The Bible says, “Be angry and sin not.”  But if I get to a place that I want to stop talking about his family, slamming doors, silent treatment, playing know what playing possum is, don’t you ladies?  That’s when you go to bed and act like you’re asleep?

Audience:  Laughter 

Bunny:  But when you get to that point you’re in a place where you’re about to sin, and just like that broken traffic signal I have to stop.  Now, does that mean that Frank just gets to walk all over me, I’m just a door mat.  I just have to go along with all he says?  No, I stop because if I don’t stop I run into Philippians 2:14-15, which is going to give me a ticket if I don’t stop. 

Philippians 2:14-15 says, “Do all things without murmuring or complaining.”  Do all things…how much is all?  Some of the scriptures say do everything.  Do everything without murmuring or complaining.  Some of your Bibles says arguing or disputing.  In the life of a believer there should never be a murmur, a complaint, an argument, or a dispute, according to Philippians 2:14.  Do everything without murmuring and complaining, arguing and disputing.  And it goes on in verse 15 to tell you why.  It says so that you may be blameless and harmless children of God which shines as a light as you uphold the word of God, as you shine into this crooked and perverse generation.

God is saying it is the world.  It is in the intersections of life…murmuring and complaining, arguing and disputing, and they ought to be able to look up and see us standing on the sidelines.  They know we have challenges and problems in our lives, but we don’t have that kind of spirit because we don’t have to have it.  Why do I have to defend myself if God is my defense?  Why should I complain and murmur when God opens doors that no man can shut, and shuts doors that no man can open? 

He’s my stronghold, he’s my refuge, he’s my strength.  Trust in the Lord with all of your heart.  Trust in the Lord with all of your heart.  That’s where you make your decisions.  And lean not to your own understanding.  A murmuring spirit comes from you trying to figure out why things are happening the way they…we don’t lean to our understanding.  We acknowledge Him in all of Thy ways and He shall direct our steps.

The reason that submission is such a powerful principle is because it operates on pure faith.  It says, “I believe that God sees all, hears all, knows all, and He will intervene on my behalf.”  And how powerful is that?  I mean, the Bible could have said Jesus Christ died on the cross and if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, thou shall be saved and you shall go to heaven, The End. 

That’s the way the Bible could have ended.  I mean, God could have said, “You’re down here on earth, I’m not going to get involved with earthly affairs.  There’s demons and devils and imps and all kinds of hatred and cruelties on the earth, but you’ll just have to deal with it, but when you die I’ll accept you into heaven and that’ll be your rest.”  He could have done that.  He said, “But, lo, I am with you always, even into the ends of the earth.”  He said that if you tell me everything, if you commit all of your ways to me, I will direct your steps.  I care about every single thing that is involved in your life.

What kind of God do we have that would serve us to that kind of capacity?  That not only would He die on the cross for our sins, but He would be willing to intervene in our affairs?  Submission means God intervenes, and when we have the faith to do it right and get out of God’s way, God has a clear shot at fixing whatever needs to be fixed. 

So when Frank and I don’t agree, if I get to a point where I’m about to sin, argue, contend, murmur, complain, have an attitude.  I have to stop because I don’t want Philippians 2:14 to write me a ticket, because for a long time I was getting tickets, I didn’t know where to pay the tickets and they turned into warrants.  I didn’t know where to pay the warrants and they threw me in jail and I was imprisoned by my own stubbornness, contention, rebellion, and anger. 

But, thank God, God made a way for me to escape.  So do I just stop and then don’t say anything?  No.  Remember I told you submission is aggressive.  God wants us to speak, but He wants us to speak the truth in love.  Now, what is God’s love?  What kind of love is God’s love?  Agape love, unconditional love, which means you go with no strings attached and, ladies, you tell him the truth.  The Bible says the heart studies to answer, so when you go and talk to him you go to him and you speak to him in the right spirit.  You go to him and you speak to him, having thought it through.

Bob:  Well, that’s Bunny Wilson talking about submission and how it liberates us.  I’ll tell you what, Dennis, I love hearing women like Bunny speak on this subject, because you listen to them and, you know, this is a woman who does not easily submit.  She’s a strong woman.

Dennis:  Yeah, you can tell there’s some…there’s some fire in those eyes.  I’ve met Bunny and she’s not a door mat.

Bob:  But when it comes to obedience to God’s word, that’s when you have to step up and say, “you know what?  Even if it goes against the grain of who I am, I’ve got to submit.”

Dennis:  You know, when you come to this subject of submission, I always think back to 1 Peter…no, not chapter 3…that’s where a lot of people go, but I go to chapter 2 in a little section that reads like this:  “When they hurled their insults at him”…speaking of Jesus…“he did not retaliate.  When he suffered he made no threats.  Instead, he entrusted himself.”  Another way of saying that would be He submitted himself.  Jesus Christ gave himself to him who judges righteously.  He, himself, bore our sins in his body on the tree so that we might die to sin and live for righteousness.  By his wounds, you have been healed.

It’s interesting that through Christ’s submission. We find life.  We find healing.  We find wholeness.  The flesh doesn’t like to submit, whether you’re a man or a woman, and it’s not just the woman who’s called to submit.  Yes, she’s called to submit to her husband, but both the husband and the wife are both called to submit to Jesus Christ and to the truth of scripture. 

And, Bob, therein lies the real rub, I think, when you come to this word called submission.  Mankind, from the beginning of time, has been rebelling against any kind of accountability, any kind of submission to divine authority.  We don’t like it because we want to be our own god.  I look at my own life, Bob, and I’ve had to learn this lesson of submission the hard way.  I’ve had to make my own mistakes of realizing that there is only one who offers life, and there is only one who is going to give it, and that’s when I’m submitted to Jesus Christ and the truth of his word.

Bob:  I think the point you make there is a good one.  We all live in submission.  Whether it’s submission to ruling authorities and the government, whether it’s to your boss at work, whether it’s submission at home, or in a church setting we come under the authority of others and we need to learn all of us how to do that in a way that is liberating.

Bunny is talking about it for wives in the context of what the scriptures teach and she talks about it in her book which is called Liberated Through Submission and we have copies of it in our FamilyLife resource center.  We also have copies of the audio of the message that we have heard a portion of here on today’s program. 

Go to for more information on how you can get Bunny Wilson’s book, Liberated Through Submission or if you are interested in getting this message there is information there on how you can get a CD. 

Our website is  You can also get in touch with us by phone.  Our toll free number is 1-800-358-6329.  1-800-F, as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. 

Now for a quick update.  Many of you have heard us mention the FamilyLife Love Like You Mean It cruise that we are going to be going on in February.  Actually we leave from Port Canaveral on Valentine’s Day and it is a five day cruise. 

Dennis and Barbara Rainey are going to be there.  My wife and I will be along.  Crawford and Karen Loritts, Kirk Cameron, Shelti Feldhahn.  Music from Sela.  Point of Grace.  Big Daddy Weave. 

It’s going to be a weeklong getaway for you and your spouse.  If you sign up this week for the Love Like You Mean It Cruise that FamilyLife is putting together it’s available on a buy-one get-one free basis.  In other words you are getting your state room and everything for half price. 

Go to for more information.  If you register there is a line that says promo code put my name “BOB” in the promo code and you will qualify this buy-one get-one free offer for FamilyLife Today listeners.  The dates for the Love Like You Mean It Cruise are February 14-18 leaving from Port Canaveral in Florida. 

Well, tomorrow we are going to hear Part Two of Bunny Wilson’s message on what it means to be liberated through submission, and I hope you can be back with us for that. 

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine.  Join us again tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

Help for today.  Hope for tomorrow.

Copyright 2010


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