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Ask Dave

Biblical Submission?

Darcy wants to stay debt-free, but has trouble saying no to her husband's purchases. She asks Dave about the biblical definition of submission.

QUESTION: Darcy and her husband are debt-free except for their house, and they live on a monthly budget. Recently, they began saving for a travel trailer. Her husband decided they needed to buy it quicker by financing it and paying it off quickly. Darcy disagreed, but felt it was her duty as a Christian woman to submit to him in this decision. She calls in from Spokane, WA, to get Dave’s recommendation going forward for a woman who doesn’t want to be in debt but wants to honor her husband.

ANSWER: Christian submission has nothing to do with you honoring misbehavior. Let’s use an extreme example. Christian submission would not demand that you go along with his using cocaine. He’s obviously not doing that, but that would be misbehavior. Borrowing money to buy a trailer you can’t afford is misbehavior. It’s financial misbehavior, and his wife is telling him that.

In Proverbs 31 it says, “Who can find a virtuous wife, for her worth is far above rubies. The heart of her husband safely trusts her; so he will have no lack of gain.” So, submission is support. It is not slavery. You guys have engaged in a toxic version of scripture, in my opinion. I’m not asking you to be a jerk, rebellious or a nagging wife. I wouldn’t want to be married to someone like that, and neither would you. You wouldn’t want a husband who acted that way. But you guys have to work together and learn to have a level of respect for each other’s input and opinions.

You asked me this on biblical grounds, and that’s how I’m answering it. That’s the paradigm by which this whole discussion starts. Submission would never tell you to submit to him doing something that isn’t biblical. So, here’s the trick. Do you believe debt is biblical? I’ve studied it for 25 years, and I can’t find a single time where there’s a positive reference to debt in the bible. Every time it’s mentioned it’s in a negative connotation; God is saying anyone who goes into debt is a slave or a fool. So, biblically speaking I can stand really firm in saying debt is stupid. It’s not a sin or a salvation issue, but I think your husband made a biblically unwise decision. And I am positive, in my understanding of submission, that God doesn’t ask you to submit to biblically unwise decisions.

I would sit down and talk this through with him. The good news is that you didn’t say you were bullied or that your arm was twisted. You, as an act of your spirit, stepped back and said okay. Sometimes this kind of thing takes a lot of work, Darcy. But you make better decisions this way.