Wives, follow your husband’s leadership. This is fitting in the Lord. This is really controversial in modern Western society. So let me first make clear what IS NOT being said or implied. First, the call to submit does not mean that husbands are perfect. My wife would assure you that I am not. I’ve had some dumb ideas and done some stupid things. I’m thankful for God’s grace in my life!

Second, the call to submit does not mean wives are weak and silent. I’ve called my wife “Little One” since we were in high school. She’s 5 feet tall and absolutely adorable so the nickname fits. But don’t be fooled by it. Little One has opinions! She has opinions about money, vacations, my work, each of the boys, and on I could go. Some of her opinions are quite strong! But she also knows how to share her opinions. She doesn’t yell or manipulate. I wouldn’t respond well to either. No, she is wise and careful, clever and persuasive. In fact, she reminds me of Esther. You remember the biblical story of Esther? She humbly comes uninvited to see her husband the king, which was taking her life into her hands in that culture. But he’s happy to see her and asks what he can do for her. Esther, that clever woman, says, “I just want you to come and dine with me. Let’s spend the night together.”

At dinner that night, the king (who is no fool; he knows she wants something) asks again what he can do for her. Esther asks for a second evening with him—another late dinner and evening spent together. So on the second night, the king wonders again what Esther wants. This time, the queen tells him, “There is this guy who wants to kill me and my people. He works for you. Can you do something about him?” And by dawn the man planning a genocide is hanged. Don’t mess with Esther!

Esther is applauded for her courage, and rightly so. Hers is not a story of manipulation, but of cautiously navigating marriage (especially to such a powerful guy). She studies the situation and considers what is best for her husband and herself, when it wise to speak, and what is best to say. This is no weak, passive woman.

In marriage, someone needs to lead. Let me be strong here for a moment. We cannot dismiss outright the idea of a wife submitting to the leadership of her husband. (This is neither “outdated” nor “cultural.” The claim that having a leader in the home is cultural is itself cultural. It’s very Western and very recent.) We rely on head coaches, head chefs, and heads of state, but we balk at the idea of someone being the head of a household. And this is undermining marriages in the West.

It is fitting for woman who is in the Lord to respect her husband’s leadership. Please do share your opinions. Please do give your advice (especially when we are getting ready to do something dumb). Please do be strong and tell us what we might not want to hear. And then help us and support us as we try our very best to be the leaders God wants us to be. Being a leader isn’t easy. We all know it. So let him lead, and help him do it well. Be strong and wise and help your man become a good leader!