A husband does not have the right to demand or extract submission from his wife. Submission is HER choice—her responsibility… it is NOT his right!! Not ever. She is to “submit herself”— deciding when and how to submit is her call. In a Christian marriage, the focus is never on rights, but on personal responsibility. It’s his responsibility to be affectionate. It’s her responsibility to be agreeable. The husband’s responsibility is to sacrificially love as Christ loved the Church—not to make his wife submit.
Note that she is describing the new family model created by Complementarians after being enlightened by the 1960s; it is not to be mistaken for biblical headship and submission. Under headship and submission the wife is to win a sinning husband without a word, and a husband is to wash his wife in the water of the word.
In the new model of servant leadership it is the exact opposite. Husbands are forbidden to call out the sin of their wives, and wives have the obligation to wash their husbands in the water of the word and avoid the newly defined feminist sin of lacking moxie. While husbands are forbidden from attempting to even encourage their wives to follow the instruction of the Bible, wives must closely monitor their husbands for any and all possible error and punish them if they transgress (emphasis mine):
No brain-dead doormats or spineless bowls of Jello here! Submission is neither mindless nor formulaic nor simplistic. Submitting to the Lord sometimes involves drawing clear boundaries and enacting consequences when a husband sins.
Again, only wives are to take on this new cross dressing version of headship in the Complementarian view (this is what distinguishes Complementarians from Egalitarians). Husbands must not try to encourage or coerce their wives in any way into following the instructions of the Bible. Most importantly, husbands must never encourage their wives to honor their roles as wives and submit to their husbands. This is core to the Complementarian new theology of marriage, as Kathy Keller explained at FamilyLife:
If there are husbands out there that are saying, “Yes, I’m the head. This is good teaching. I like this head stuff.” It’s respectful submission between equals. Submission is something that a wife gives. It’s not something that a husband can demand. Christ emptied Himself. He didn’t grasp equality with God. It was a voluntary submission. This proves that headship does not imply superiority, nor does submission imply inferiority.
One of the commenters on Kassian’s blog pointed out the problem with Kassian’s insistence that submission is optional on the part of the wife:
Regarding the answer to so-called myth #4: (“Submission is HER choice—her responsibility… it is NOT his right!!”):
Immature screaming caps and exclamations aside, this is patently unbiblical. The Bible does not say that “For a husband is the head of his wife if he asks and she gives her consent to lead.” Biblically, she consents to submit, and he consents to lead, when they consent to marriage. So yes, submission is “granted” but at the alter, but it is not revokable (except by death or divorce) and is not situational.
This enraged Kassian, who replied with an emotional rant that otherwise husbands will force their wives to watch porn!
The fact that you are even questioning this misconception indicates to me how emphatically it must be stated. The Bible says that a wife is to “submit herself.” Furthermore, the relationship between husband and wife is correlated to the relationship between God the Father and Son. The fact that the Son willingly submitted himself to the Father is paradigmatic and highly important. It was Christ’s perogative to refuse; the Father did not force Him to obey. Christ willingly submitted Himself. I have counselled with far too many women whose husbands demanded submission as their right, and forced their wives to watch porn, or participate in other ungodliness. Women need to know that according to the Bible, submission is their choice and responsibility, and NOT their husband’s right.
This is as Cane Caldo explains the problem with nearly all women teaching submission today. Instead of teaching submission, they focus on teaching caveats (not submitting). The irony is that obedience to husbands is one of the few things women are instructed to teach, and instead of teaching it women like Kassian and Keller teach everything but obedience.