About the author


Jane Gibb

Jane and her husband Steve ministered at Trinity Baptist Church in Cairns, Australia for fourteen years before moving to serve as missionaries in Port Vila, Vanuatu. Jane has a bachelor of education. Jane is active in ministry in Vanuatu as well as being a busy mother of six.


  1. avatar

    Robert Apps

    Jane, the fundamentalist church I belonged to for many years gave the support and help that you suggested for a mother and her children who were victims of abuse.

    Looking back, the church probably copped a lot of flack for doing what it did, but the mother was helped and cared for-had a place to worship and serve and her children flourished.

    So while fundamental churches have their weaknesses and blind spots (like any other church groups) there are still those that exist who will act graciously to those who need it the most.

  2. avatar

    Jane Gibb

    Thanks for pointing that out, Rob. It’s too easy to paint all “fundamentalist” churches with a broad brush, and we certainly want to give credence to the individuality of various independent churches. Unfortunately, some churches and individuals still complicate the issue for abused wives by giving them little or no room to manoeuvre under the word “submit”. I have talked to many who suffered under such false care. I’ve been guilty of offering the same one-dimensional advice myself.

  3. avatar

    Robert Apps

    Jane, I remember preaching at a youth camp a few years ago.

    I was dealing with submission (yes, a regular topic at such gatherings I know). I pointed out that David was right to flee Saul’s unbiblical authority (eg violent pursuit of David).

    Part of the application of that message was ‘If you are suffering abuse then go and get help!’ I put it as directly as that. The message opened up good discussions with some of the young people about abuse-how and when to get help.

    So we just need to keep preaching God’s Word- all of it, and of course, living it.

  4. avatar

    Jane Gibb

    That’s a great illustration of the principle we are talking about. Thank you!

  5. avatar

    Robert Apps

    No worries Jane.

    Hey, there is a NT one as well: Joseph is warned and commanded by the angel in a dream to flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s murderous plans. (Matt 2)

    Interesting that Joseph has to take the responsibility of moving his family out of harms way. A miraculous warning followed by a practical, human response.

    Looking forward to seeing you all in a few weeks.

  6. avatar


    Jane, if I haven’t said it before, I just want to say that I love your posts!!!!! I argued this whole “submission” thing with two people in the last week and both were all for an abused wife going back to her husband and submitting!! It is a concept that I’ve heard taught and argued with complete disregard to the rest of Scripture’s teachings. I think one of the main misuses of submission is many husbands believe it is their RIGHT to have their wife submit to them, but I believe the Bible teaches that a wife’s submission is between her and God. Husbands do not have a right to their wife’s submission. If a wife’s submission isn’t rooted in her relationship with God, then it is wrong submission. IMHO. Thanks for this awesome post!!!

    Rob, great points! Thanks for sharing! :)

  7. avatar

    Jane Gibb

    Kez, you are right about submission being rooted in our relationship with God. That’s why knowing God is so crucial to getting this whole concept of submission and living it out in the fullness of all God’s character and directives.

  8. avatar

    Jeremy Crooks

    Since we are considering the broader context of husbands abusing wives, let me suppose a few observations.

    If the husband abuses his wife, chances are he is abusive other relationships too (e.g. towards other family members, work colleagues, etc) The problem stems from not treating others the way he would like to be treated. Or to put it in Biblical terms, not loving his neighbour as himself. In this situation, telling the wife to submit only fosters the continued abuse in many people’s lives.

    Jane, you correctly identified that the best solution is to see the gospel unfolded in the husband’s life. Only then will the husband treat others as created in the image of God and esteeming them as better than himself. That path can only occur through revelation and repentance. An intervention or escape is often the pre-cursor to that.

  9. avatar


    Proverbs 4:17 points out that “the wicked drink the wine of violence.” Physical/emotional/verbal abuse is an addiction that he gets his high from. Getting victory is involved, time-consuming and cannot be achieved alone. It blinds him so he cannot see it as abuse and therefore denies it (4:19) and he is held by it’s cord (5:22).

    This is an excellent post, Jane! Thank you!

  10. avatar


    It’s such a blessing to see other folk confirming this. I brought this issue up at my local church, and the discussion was pushed aside – under the table. Leaders would not discuss it. Instead, our study on submission focused almost entirely on Paul’s teaching alone.

    The Bible has a whole lot to say and illustrate about submission. By the way, submission is not just for wives, but it’s for the entire church of Christ.

    Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, or to governors as sent by him… For such is the will of God…(I Peter 2:13-16) Also see (Romans 13:1-8) (I Tim. 2:1,2) (Titus 3:1) (I Peter 2:13-16)

    I believe that a husband is head of his wife and the family leader. However, too many men have used the whole male headship concept to abuse their wives. This is when RIGHTLY DIVIDING THE WORD OF TRUTH is necessary. Although the Bible teaches us to submit to those in authority over us, God does not want us to submit or follow sinful, destructive or foolish behavior. Several examples illustrate that for us.

    The King commanded that there would be no prayer for 30 days, yet Daniel refused to stop praying to God. As a result, he was thrown in the lion’s den. How do we know God was pleased with Daniel’s refusal to submit to sin? God made sure that Daniel was kept from harm while in the lion’s den, and God made Daniel prosperous. (Daniel chapter 6)

    Hebrew boys refused to bow to an idol – king’s golden statue. As a result, they were thrown into the fiery furnace. How do we know God was pleased with their refusal to submit to sin? God didn’t allow the flames to burn them. THEIR REFUSAL TO SUBMIT TO THE KING’S FOOLISH CAUSED THE KING HIMSELF TO ACKNOWLEDGE AND HONOR GOD, and the king gave them promotions (Daniel chapter 3).

    Midwives refused to obey the king’s command and kill baby boys.
    We know God was pleased with their refusal to submit to sin because God was kind to the midwives…because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own (Exodus 1:15-22).

    Peter and John refused to stop teaching and preaching about Jesus. As a result of their refusal, they were jailed and beaten. Their punishment was more severe than those listed in OT because they suffered physical harm. We know God was pleased with their refusal to submit to sin because He allowed their lives to be spared, and they continued to preach the gospel of Christ (Acts 5:17-29).

    These are just a few examples of Godly people who refused to submit to sinful, destructive, or foolish behaviors. There are many others. WIVES ARE NO EXCEPTION!

    Abigail refused to submit to her husband’s foolishness. Her husband’s very name – Nabal – meant FOOL. Although she was not able to save her husband’s life, her wise actions and refusal to submit to his foolishness caused the lives of others in her house to be spared. King David himself recognized her wisdom. After her foolish husband died, David made her his wife( 1 Sam chapter 25).

    Sapphira foolishly submitted to her husband’s lies, and followed him right to the grave. She should have learned from Abigail’s wise example. Sapphira’s poor example teaches wives what not to do. She died a fool’s death (Acts 5:1-11).

    These Biblical examples teach us that God does not want us to submit or follow authority in sinful, destructive, or foolish behavior.

    Partaking in another person’s sin, foolishness, or destructive behavior is counterproductive and has never caused anyone to come to Christ. If anything, it promotes hypocrisy. Godly people in the Bible never committed or followed sin, foolishness or destructive behaviors as a means of soul wining or obedience.

    God does want wives to submit to, follow and help their own husbands. However, he does not want wives or anyone to submit or follow sinful, foolish or destructive behaviors. Submitting to such behaviors is not helpful or Biblical.
    The Bible is more clear and comprehensive on the subject of submission than we actually give it credit for. Unfortunately, many verses and illustrations about submission are not being taught in churches. Most take the few verses from Apostle Paul and run with them without bringing the rest of the Bible into the conversation. Paul has been promoted to a god-like status because his verses can be easily used to oppress and advocate the abuse of women when taken out of context. More often than not, the gospel is preached in such a way as to promote male domination and manipulation rather than the truth and liberty that the Bible actually promotes. That’s why it is very important for everyone (male and female) to study the Bible for themselves (2 Tim 2:15).

  11. avatar

    Jane Gibb

    Joy, thanks for reminding us that victory over abuse cannot be achieved alone. That’s why we as the body of Christ need to understand the fuller picture of Spirit-filled relationships, not just the one-word quasi-solution of submit. God has made us complex beings, and we must recognise that when we are seeking solutions to the problem of sin and its effect on those around us.

    kmb-Wow! That’s quite a list of exceptions to submission. I especially like your reference to Abigail. We do need to have more to offer an abused wife than the negative of not having to submit. That’s why we must carefully define what it means to do good to another, especially an abuser. I need to know not only that I don’t have to obey the submission directive but also that I have a forward-moving plan of action to take in obedience to God.

  12. avatar

    Robert Apps

    These comments have been interesting.

    This might be grist for the mill of another post Jane, but let me throw something out for further discussion.

    While ‘abuse’ may justify (temporary) suspension of cohabitation the marriage still exists (having regard to what the Bible says about marriage in my view).

    So while a spouse may need to ‘flee’ a home where he or she is in danger (I had a situation where the domestic violence went in both directions)- isn’t the question then ‘in what ways can the wife submit or the husband love’ when cohabitation is not possible at this point of time?

    The attitude of submission or love ought to remain and creative ways should be explored to keep ‘doing good’ and pleasing God.

    This is hard and may take time, but part of the cross of our discipleship is loving or submitting in difficult circumstances.

  13. avatar

    Elizabeth Quinn

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comment Robert. The issue of mutual abuse is often not well explored, and wife husband neglect by wife is a real issue. Any separation for safety period should certainly not be the end of the matter. Counselling bith parties for reconciliation, and love for one another ought to continue. When i think of the word submission, the idea of putting the needs of my husband first, is what comes to my mind. Then there is mutual submission before God: Gods honour
    First. Love and submission arent always easy, but Gods grace is the enabling, and it allows us to have a good testimony before the world wheth we have been a victim or a perpetrator or both.

    is in l

  14. avatar


    Liz, if separation is needed for safety, it’s downright ridiculous to advise someone to reconcile with their abuser (who is clearly borderline criminal if safety is being threatened). Abuse is an addiction and the more abusers abuse, the more often and severe the abuse will get. We’re not talking hurtful words or a little physical abuse or neglect here, but actual safety threatening abuse. Abuse is a very serious crime and I believe that once it becomes a threat to safety, it is grounds for not only seperation but prosecution and very possibly divorce. Its often quoted how divorce is only in the case of adultery, but can you really claim that having an affair with another woman is worse and more damaging to a marriage than repeatedly raping and bashing your wife? I think marital abuse (be it the man or the woman)  is so completely outside of God’s intended picture for marriage that it is at the very least equal to adultery. 

    And either way, it is punishable by law – anything from a DVO to several years in prison. Why are we as Christians so afraid of calling the police when a safety issue is raised in a marriage or family? Abuse is a crime. And when the abuse is proven to be legitimate, is submission even a issue to be raised? 

    If someone has to up and leave for their protection, it is clear a great deal of emotional, mental and possibly physical and sexual damage has been done and no amount of “encouraging to reconcile” is going to do a jot of good until the victim has time to heal and the abuser not only repents but over time (which only the victim can legitimately decide how much time is needed – be it months, years or never) rebuilds the trust that was shattered in such an intimate relationship. But as I said, for an abuser the marriage partner often becomes the drug of choice and by the time it reaches the point of threatening safety, it can be as hard or harder to break free from as a pattern of drug addiction.

    Maybe its time to dob in and/or prosecute abusers through Australian law instead of counseling reconciliation or submission… Maybe it’s time to stop being abuse enablers and actually be active in preventing abuse and protecting victims. And while we’re at it, maybe we should be focusing a little more on the wounded hearts of those who’ve been abused instead of trying to “encourage” a victim to reconcile with her abuser which is nothing but a quick fix at best.

    And for what it’s worth, the world sees a heck of a lot more of God and his grace through our weakness and failings then it ever does through our “good testimonies”.

  15. avatar


    Kez, very well said. I agree wholeheartedly. The tendency is to give more care and consideration to the abuser than the victim. This happens in both the church and legal arenas. Laws are often designed to protect the criminal element and not the victim.

    Someone fraudulently claimed my niece’s child on their income taxes. It was not her husband because they file jointly. IRS sent her a letter stating that they will investigate, but they can’t legally reveal the person’s name. Why not? Why protect the identity of an identity thief? Wow!

    The Bible tells us that King Solomon was very wise. He had a few things to say about abuse.

    Do not associate with a man given to anger; Or go with a hot-tempered man, Or you will learn his ways and find a snare for yourself (Pro 22:24-25).

    A hot-tempered man must pay the penalty; if you rescue him, you will have to do it again ( Pro 19:19).

    Putting confidence in an unreliable person in times of trouble is like chewing with a broken tooth or walking on a lame foot (Pro 25:19).

    A mocker resents correction (Pro 15:12).

    Drive out the mocker, and out goes strife; quarrels and insults are ended (Pro 22:10).

    The proud and arrogant man–“Mocker” is his name; he behaves with overweening pride (Pro 21:24).

    Of course, these principles can apply to both genders.

    We understand the God cares for all his children – even abusers – and desires that they will repent. However, that’s not always the case. Sometimes, people embark on a pattern of abuse, and they destroy many when allowed.

    Abusers should not be allowed to feel like they are the victims. That’s a part of the manipulation. They should be encouraged to take responsibility for their own actions. They are not helpless. They have access to the same loving God and Biblical guidance as everyone else.

    The Bible tells us that God disciplines those who he loves. (Pro3:12). When we love someone, we will forgive them and hold them accountable. ENABLING people only encourages pride and hypocrisy rather than repentance.

  16. avatar


    Thank you Jane for this encouragement. Growing up in an abusive household often the only word we heard from churches was ‘submit’, said to both my mother and the children. It is encouraging and a blessing to see that this is not the only answer we should have for those who find themselves in just such a situation. As a young Christian questions have often crossed my mind as to what the actions of a godly wife should do if ever they found themselves in an abusive household. Your discussion brings me great relief and i thank you again for your contribution to this page.

  17. avatar


    Hey! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow yoou if that would be ok.
    I’m absolutely enjoying your blog and look forward to new updates.


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