FamilyLife Today® Podcast

The Value of Submission

with Voddie Baucham | June 18, 2012
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Is submitting to your husband a blessing? Or a curse? Pastor Voddie Baucham sheds some much needed light on the meaning of this often misunderstood word called submission as it relates to Ephesians 5.

  • Show Notes

  • About the Host

  • About the Guest

  • Is submitting to your husband a blessing? Or a curse? Pastor Voddie Baucham sheds some much needed light on the meaning of this often misunderstood word called submission as it relates to Ephesians 5.

  • 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.

Is submitting to your husband a blessing? Or a curse?

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The Value of Submission

With Voddie Baucham
June 18, 2012
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Bob:  The passage in Ephesians, Chapter 5—the one that talks about wives submitting to their husbands—Voddie Baucham says a lot of people misunderstand what that passage is all about.

Voddie:  It doesn’t say here that men are more valuable than women.  In fact, let me just clear that up very quickly, if I may.  There’s an illustration here of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His church.  Ladies, you get to play the one that was redeemed.  We get to play the guy who got killed!

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, June18th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  The Bible has some strong things to say to wives and to husbands about our responsibilities to each other and to Christ in a marriage relationship.  Stay tuned. 

Bob:  And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us on the Monday edition.  You know, the message we’re going to hear part of today is not the kind of message you’d expect to hear on the high seas aboard a cruise ship where you think everybody’s going to keep everything light, and kind of fun, and friendly.

Dennis:  Yes.  In fact, I’ve gotten some letters back from guests who came on the Love Like You Mean It cruise who said, “You know what?  This was so superior to our honeymoon.  It went way beyond our expectations of what we thought this cruise would be about because we not only had fun”—but they had some serious teaching from the Scripture every day and a challenge, at the end, to really consider your mission as a couple.  I had one guy say, “We’ve been married 17 years and our honeymoon wasn’t all that good.  This topped everything.”

Bob:  Wow!

Dennis:   “This was absolutely the best!”  I think it’s for the very reason you’re talking about, Bob.  It’s that we’re not just talking about entertaining people.  We’re talking bout getting into the Scriptures and talking about becoming a follower of Christ and how that works its way out in a marriage and a family.

Bob:  We had our friend, Voddie Baucham, join us on the Love Like You Mean It cruise, back in February of this year. 

Dennis:  He can break the bread.

Bob:  He can!  In fact, he has signed up again.  He is going to be on the Love Like You Mean It cruise in February of 2013.  I was checking with our team recently to find out—registrations are filling up for the cruise.  We just want to let our listeners know that if you’re interested in joining with us—going to Key West and Cozumel—we leave from Miami on Monday, February 11th, and get back on Friday, February 15th.  It’s a week-long Valentine’s-week cruise.  We’d love to have you join us on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.  Voddie Baucham’s going to be there.  Priscilla Shirer is joining us on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise—

Dennis:  Some folks won’t know who Priscilla is.  She is the daughter of Tony Evans. 

Bob:  She is.

Dennis:  How do they say it?  “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”?  She can open the Scriptures, and she can preach it.

Bob:  —Sara Groves is one of the musical artists, who’s going to be joining us; and Anthony Evans, Tony’s son, is also going to be onboard the ship with us this year.  We’d love to have you join us. 

If you’d like more information about the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, go to and click on the link you see there for the cruise.  By the way, this is something you ought to do fairly quickly because we are really starting to fill up on the cruise.  I went to our team and I said, “Can we do anything special for our FamilyLife Today listeners before we sell out this year?” 

They said, “We’ve got a one-week special we’ll make available between now and Monday, June 25thFamilyLife Today listeners can sign on—and one passenger pays the regular price, and your spouse comes on at half-price.”  So it’s a good offer!  It’s available between now and Monday, June 25th.  Get in touch with us.  Either go, online, at and click the link you see there; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.  Make sure you let folks know that you’re a listener to FamilyLife Today—you heard about this special offer we’re making available, and you want to take advantage of it.  Go online at, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.  Plan to join us next Valentine’s week on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.

Again, Voddie Baucham is going to be back again with us next year.  We’re going to hear Part One of a message from him right now.  Folks better fasten their seat belt for this one.

Dennis:  You’re not going to get seasick, but it could be convicting.

[Recorded Message]

Voddie:  Now, we’re going to cover a lot of ground tonight; but mainly, we’re going to be looking at familiar passages in Ephesians, Chapter 5.  In Ephesians, Chapter 5—we know Ephesians, Chapter 5.  We know verses 22-24—wives and their responsibilities toward their husbands.  We know verses 25 and following—the husband and his responsibility toward his wife, but what we don’t know is how that fits within the context of the book of Ephesians.

You see, if we don’t know the purpose of Ephesians, Chapter 5, we will abuse it because if you don’t know the purpose of a thing, you will eventually abuse it.  So, this book of Ephesians—let me first give you an overview and then explain.  The book of Ephesians has two halves—the first three chapters and the last three chapters.  I don’t just say that because there are six chapters and you sort of divide it in the middle.  The first three chapters of the book are about orthodoxy—or right believing.  The last three chapters are about orthopraxy—or right behaving.  The first three chapters are about our calling.  The last three chapters are about our conduct.  The first three chapters are about indicatives; the last three chapters are about imperatives. 

The first half of the book is about what Christ has done, on our behalf, for the Father’s glory, through the cross.  It’s about who we are in Christ.  Those are the indicatives—they indicate who we are.  The last three chapters are the imperatives.  In the last three chapters, we get a picture of proper living, in light of and because of what Christ has accomplished on our behalf.  Those are the imperatives.  “Indicative—” [holding up Bible]   “This is the Bible.”  I am indicating what it is.  “Imperative”—“Pick up the Bible,”—okay, telling me to do something with it.

In the first three chapters, we get those indicatives that tell us who we are because of what Christ has accomplished.  In the last three chapters, we get the commands that are born out of those indicatives.  It’s important that we get this because we don’t want to confuse what the Gospel requires with what the Gospel produces.  What does the Gospel require?  The Gospel requires repentance and faith.  That’s it.  That’s all the Gospel requires.  People get uncomfortable when you talk like that.  The Gospel just requires repentance and faith.  “No, brother, there’s got to be some obedience in there, too.”  No!  That’s what the Gospel produces.

The Gospel requires repentance and faith.  The Gospel produces obedience.  If you confuse those things—if you confuse what the Gospel requires and what the Gospel produces—then you will be calling people to obey out of their flesh when the fact of the matter is that obedience is born of the Spirit.  In other words, you lead people to works righteousness and pervert the very Gospel to which you were trying to call them.

A second thing I want you to understand is that there are major overarching indicatives in the book of Ephesians.  Paul gives them to us at the end of each of the first three chapters.  It’s those three overarching indicatives that help us understand the rest of the book of Ephesians.  Let me give them to you.

The first comes at the end of Chapter 1.  Listen to this, beginning in verse 22:  “And He put all things under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.”  Here’s the first major indicative if you want to understand the book of Ephesians—this is first and foremost about Christ’s headship over His church.  Can you say that with me?  “Christ’s headship over His church.”  One more time:  What’s this book about?  “Christ’s headship over His church.” 

If you want to understand all of the imperatives in the second half of the book, understand that they’re rooted in this—Christ’s headship over His church.  That’s the message that Paul is trying to communicate:  “This is what God has accomplished through the person and work of Christ, in order to establish Christ’s headship over His church.”  That’s the point!  That’s the emphasis!  That’s what matters!  You’ll get this in a moment.

Here’s the second one—at the end of Chapter 2.  Go with me to verse 19:  “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together” [emphasis added]—You think he’s trying to say something here—all these building terms?!—the whole structure being joined together—“grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in Him you are also being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit. ” [emphasis added]

So, first major indicative—Christ’s headship over His body.  Here is the second one—unity in Christ’s body.  Can we say that together?—“Unity in Christ’s body.”  The first one is Christ’s headship over His body; the second one is unity in Christ’s body.  Again, if you want to understand the second half and the imperatives, you have got to understand this:  Number one—Christ’s headship over His body.   Number two—is unity in Christ’s body.  

Voddie:  The third one comes at the end of Chapter 3.  Now, at the end of Chapter 3, we have a doxology, which usually comes at the end of a letter; right?  Paul, however, is letting you know that he has reached the end of the first half and the end of the indicative section. 

He does the same thing in Romans.  When he gets to the end of the indicative section, there’s a doxology.  In Romans, however, that comes in Chapter 11.  Here, it comes at Chapter 3.  Look with me, if you will, beginning in verse 20:  “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work in us,”  You might want to underline that!—“according to the power at work in us,”  The imperatives are about what we have been commanded and empowered to do because of the work that Christ has accomplished.  “to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus, throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen.”

What is that about?—the glory that the body gives to its head.  The first overarching indicative—Christ’s headship over His body.  The second one—is unity in Christ’s body.  The third—is about the glory that the body gives to its head.  When we get to the second half of the book of Ephesians, Paul is reiterating these truths.  He is calling us to obedience, based on these realities.  We’re almost ready to get to our text; but before we do, let me show you what happens in the second half. 

Now, in the first half, there are all of these indicatives; and you don’t find imperatives.  You just find indicatives, all over the first half.  You would think, in the second half, you would find all these imperatives and no indicatives—not the case.  In the second half, you find imperatives and indicatives.  In the first half, you’ve just got indicatives.  In the second half, you have imperatives and indicatives.  What do you think is more important—indicatives or imperatives?

The indicatives are more important.  They’re way more important!  Why?—because you can only do the imperatives because of the indicatives.  Look, for example, at what he does when he gets to Chapter 4:  “I, therefore,”—Therefore?  What’s that there for?  It’s there for Chapters 1 through 3:  “Here are all of these things that I’ve told you about what Christ has done in you and for you.  Now, therefore, in light of all those indicatives—therefore”—

“I, therefore, a prisoner of the Lord, urge you to”—now he’s telling you to do something—“walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit and the bond of peace”.  By the way, lest you forget that these imperatives are rooted and grounded in the indicatives, look at what he does in the next verse: “There is [emphasis added] one body”—he didn’t say, “Go, be one body.” 

“There is one body, one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all, through all, and in all.  Grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.”  He says, by the way, “I call you to unity.”  Why?  Remember the major indicative—unity in Christ’s body?   “I call you to walk in unity because He made you one.” 

Now, in light of that, come with me, now, to the familiar passage in Ephesians, Chapter 5.  Let us begin here at verse 22 and put this together:  “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, His body, and is Himself its Savior.  Now, as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their own husbands.”

Notice, “as to the Lord,” “even as Christ,” “as the church submits to Christ.”  A wife’s submission to her husband is about Christ’s headship over His body, unity in Christ’s body, and the glory that the body gives to its head.  That’s what your submission is about.  Your submission is not about how you feel about your husband.  You’re not submitting to your husband because he’s worthy of your submission.  You’re submitting to your husband, in spite of the fact that he will never be worthy of your submission. 

Show me a woman who is waiting for her husband to be worthy of her submission, and I’ll show you a woman who has no intention to submit.  You submit to your husband “as to the Lord.”  Your submission to your husband is a picture of your submission to Christ.  If you are not submissive to your husband, you are not submissive to Christ!  You don’t have a man problem; you have a worship problem!

“Yes, but you just don’t know my husband.”  No, but God does and He commanded you to submit to him.  This is not about value; it’s about order. It doesn’t say here that men are more valuable than women.  In fact, let me just clear that up very quickly, if I may.  There’s an illustration here of the relationship between Jesus Christ and His church.  Ladies, you get to play the one that was redeemed.  We get to play the guy who got killed!  [Laughter]

A wife’s submission to her husband is also an act of faith.  “I’m just worried that if I submit to my husband—” Time out!  I really don’t need to hear what comes after that.  Let me rephrase it for you.  What you just said is, “I’m just worried that if I obey God, things will not go well for me.  Therefore, I am disobeying God in hopes that my disobedience will bear the fruit of blessing in my life.”  I don’t know what universe you live in; but in the one that I live in, that’s messed up!

“Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit”—in things that are comfortable— [Laughter]—in things that might not end badly—“in everything.”  Are there limits to this?  Of course!  Your husband cannot command what God forbids or forbid what God commands.  Sure!  Now, that we’ve got that out of the way—in everything.  [Laughter]  “Yes, but my husband is not leading the way he’s supposed to lead.”  Welcome to real life!  “If my husband were leading in the way that he was supposed to lead, then I wouldn’t have a problem following him.”  Right!—and there wouldn’t need to be a command.  [Laughter]

But here’s what else I know—even if your husband led perfectly, you would rebel against it because that was the curse in the Garden.  “Yes, well, what if my husband is not even being obedient to God?”  Isn’t it great that there’s a Bible verse for that?  First Peter, Chapter 3, “Likewise, wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the Word—”   Yes, it’s in there! 

By the way, when he says, “Likewise, wives,” do you ever wonder, “Like what?”  If you go back to the previous chapter, and the previous paragraph, he’s talking about slaves who have evil masters and how a slave, with an evil master, should submit, even to the evil master.  It’s after that that he says, “Likewise, wives.”  I don’t write the mail; I just deliver it.  [Laughter]

This is a faith issue.  This is about the Gospel.  How important is it to you that you see that picture of Christ’s headship over His body, unity in Christ’s body, and the glory that the body gives to its head?  How much does that matter to you?  Does it matter to you more than the comfort and ease you seek through your disobedience?


Bob:  Well, we have been listening to Part One of a message from Voddie Baucham, presented on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise in 2012.  It was kind of quiet, there in the ship’s ballroom as we were listening— 

Dennis:  I’ve got a feeling it’s probably pretty quiet in some cars and, maybe, on some headsets, listening to this broadcast.

Bob:  Let me just say that we still have Part Two to come.  That is where Voddie is going to talk to men about loving their wives as Christ loves the church.  This message has some balance to it, but—pretty strong stuff.

Dennis:  It is strong stuff.  As I was sitting there listening to Voddie give that message, I thought, “You know, this would be a tough message for a woman, in this culture, to hear, if it was given by a woman. 

Bob:  Yes.

Dennis:  But hearing it from a man—it is interesting.  I think for some women—that makes it tough to hear.  I would just say to the wife or the young lady who is listening to that and says, “I don’t like that!”—you know what?  He didn’t write it.  He does deliver the mail.  He’s just trying to share with you what the Scriptures teach, in terms of how a marriage relationship between a husband and a wife—how they’re to complement each other and not compete with each other.  There’s a lot about the Bible that causes the hair on the back of my neck to stand up.

Bob:  [Laughing]    You go, “I don’t like that part either!”

Dennis:  As a man, absolutely!  And yet, in this culture, Bob, I feel like we poisoned the stream about—I don’t know—four decades ago and really made it almost objectionable for a message like this to be preached by a pastor—by a man—to a mixed audience, at this point.  I don’t want you to hear me apologizing that we did it—that’s not my point.  I want to recognize that, in this culture, we understand that it does go against the grain of what a lot of women are taught.  All I would say is, “If you can find a better way for a marriage to work, I’d like to see it.”  This passage, here—along with the rest of Scripture—really points out how two imperfect people can go the distance and how they can glorify God in the process. 

Bob:  Again, Part Two of the message is still ahead.  We’re going to hear what Voddie had to say to husbands, before we’re all done.

A quick reminder that Voddie’s going to be joining us, again, Valentine’s week 2013, onboard the Carnival Imagination as we head to Key West and to Cozumel.  Along with Voddie Baucham, and Dennis and Barbara Rainey, my wife Mary Ann and me—Priscilla Shirer is going to be joining us, Dr. Eric Mason is going to be onboard with us, Sara Groves, Denver & the Mile High Orchestra, Anthony Evans.  We’ve got a great lineup.  We’d love to have you be a part of this year’s Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise. 

Once again, for FamilyLife Today listeners, this week, between now and Monday,

June 25th, we have a special offer available to you.  If you will go to and click the link for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and identify yourself as a FamilyLife Today listener, when you pay the regular price for your registration, your spouse comes at half-price.  The offer is good this week only.  This is the last time we’ll be making any kind of a special offer for this cruise.

If you’d like to join us and start planning now for 2013, go to; or call, toll-free, 1-800-FL-TODAY.  Be with us for the 2013 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.  We’d love to have you join us.  Who knows, maybe this is a landmark anniversary year for you, as a couple, or just a great opportunity to rededicate yourself to your marriage relationship.  Go to for more information about the special offer for FamilyLife Today listeners; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and say, “I’m interested in finding out more about the cruise.”  We’ll give you all the details when you get in touch with us.

Now, tomorrow, we are going to hear Part Two of Voddie Baucham’s message from Ephesians, Chapter 5.  Husbands, he’s got some strong words for us tomorrow.  So, we better plan to tune in; alright?  I hope you can be with us.

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.  We will see you back tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today

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

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