In Defense of Submission

Julie Ann Ponzi

June 15, 1998

Southern Baptists are decried this week for (horror of horrors!) professing a basic tenet of Christianity. Feminists are outraged because these Christians did not think to consider their feelings before professing it. Reporters and commentators are mystified in the face of what appears to be a controversy but is really little more than a run of the mill Bible study.

A wife should “submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband?” What kind of nonsense is this, anyway?

It seems that there are a lot of people (Christians included) who need to be reminded that it is the Christian kind. Check out Ephesians 5: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands, as unto the Lord;” and 1 Peter 3:1: “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives.” Much can be said about these passages by way of explanation and interpretation, but the appearance of the words in the text of the New Testament is impossible to deny. So why the incredulity in the press? What is so surprising about Christians taking the Bible seriously? How is it “news”?

The pundits and prophets of the media tell us that we should be shocked because all of this is very outdated. No one takes that Bible stuff seriously anymore, do they? And why should women, who today obviously are just as intelligent and accomplished as men, submit to anyone—least of all a husband?

Did I miss something here? Women may be catching up with men in workplace accomplishments, but let me tell you that it is no compliment to this woman to say that she is “as intelligent” as any man. I have always known that I am much better than that!

The Southern Baptists do not put it in these terms because to do so is to let the cat out of the bag. But here, perhaps, we can safely stuff him in again. Here, ladies, is the shocking revelation in all its glory: generally speaking, men are inclined to be vain and stupid. That’s right, I have uttered the only generalization that unites all women-feminists and non-feminists alike. But this is not about man-hating. It’s about reality. The vanity and stupidity of men is only the flip-side of their ambition and bravery. A good woman knows how to minimize the former and cultivate the latter. So, if you want peace and not discord; if you want happiness and not surliness; if you want a lasting not a transitory marriage; in short, if you really want to rule your roost—do it gently. Let him think he is the king. Great statesmen and great philosophers have always imitated women in using this bit of wisdom. Lincoln knew it when he said that one could attract more bees with honey than with bile. Reagan knew it when he commented that it was amazing what one could accomplish if one didn’t mind who got the credit. Peter said it (see above) when in one breath he tells women to submit themselves to their husbands, and in the next he tells them how to rule them. Is this deception? Sure, of a sort. But where did we ever get this crazy notion that every kind of deception is bad?

Ladies, take a look at your husbands for a moment. Do they walk with pride? Do they hold their heads up in a crowd? Do they look at you with the kind of adoration and respect that you demand and deserve? On the flip side: Do they sulk? Do they whine? Do they instigate countless petty arguments? If you long for the first scenario, you might consider heeding the advice of the Southern Baptists. Try it for seven days and, if you’re not completely satisfied, your “liberation” back.

Machiavelli knew that there was much more power in being an advisor to a prince than in being a prince oneself. Women used to know it too. For all of our “advancements” in business, education and politics, it’s amazing how stupid we’ve become. But then, that’s what happens when you imitate men.

Julie Ann Ponzi is an Adjunct Fellow at the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University.