Candace Cameron Bure is the younger sister of actor Kirk Cameron and a well-known actress and evangelical Christian. The Full House star made headlines this week when she described her relationship to her husband as “submissive.” She has written a new book in which she explains her 17-year marriage to NHL player Val Bure: “I am not a passive person, but I chose to fall into a more submissive role in our relationship because I wanted to do everything in my power to make my marriage and family work.”
She elaborated on HuffPost Live: “The definition I’m using with the word ‘submissive’ is the biblical definition of that. So, it is meekness, it is not weakness. It is strength under control, it is bridled strength.” Later in the interview she explained: “We are equal in our importance, but we are different in our performances.”
Her decision to be “submissive” to her husband has apparently shocked society. Readers responded: “So remind me again… what century are we living in?” “To say that you’re submissive according to the Bible is mind boggling. The Bible is one of the most misogynist books ever written.” Reporting on the story, Good Morning America anchor Robin Roberts put her hands in the air and said, “Not gonna judge.” Fellow anchor George Stephanopoulos laughingly told his wife on-air, “Hey Ali, I’m all for submissive.”
You would think Bible-believing Christians are living in the caveman era. But the biblical definition of “submission” is not what our culture thinks it is. When Paul teaches wives to “submit to your own husbands” (Ephesians 5:22), he uses the Greek word hypotasso, which means “the voluntary decision to serve and respect another.” The verb is in the Greek middle voice, literally translated “place yourself in submission.” It shows that the wife is to choose this role.
She is not in any sense inferior to her husband: “There is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Rather, she chooses to give her husband that respect and support which he needs from her more than from any other person. And note: all believers are to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).
Husbands, in turn, are to “love your wives” (Ephesians 5:25). “Love” translates agape, the voluntary decision to place the other first. The husband chooses to give his wife that affection and commitment which she needs from him more than from any other person. One expert summarizes: “Men are motivated and empowered when they feel needed. Women are motivated and empowered when they feel cherished.”
The God who designed us knows that encouraging respect and committed love are essential to marriage. Imagine their impact on adultery, pornography, spousal abuse and divorce in our culture. Should these values be ridiculed, or emulated?