Sam Storms has written two “10 Things” posts about the Bible’s teaching on headship and submission within marriage. Even though these are well-known biblical concepts (e.g., Eph. 5:22; 1 Cor. 11:3), they are often misunderstood, and Sam does a really good job describing what headship and submission are and what they are not. Here’s a short excerpt from the post on submission:
(1) Submission (Gk., hupotasso) carries the implication of voluntary yieldedness to a recognized authority. Biblical submission is appropriate in several relational spheres: the wife to her husband (Eph. 5:22-24); children to their parents (Eph. 6:1); believers to the elders of the church (Heb. 13:17; 1 Thess. 5:12); citizens to the state (Rom. 13); servants (employees) to their masters (employers) (1 Pt. 2:18); and each believer to every other believer in humble service (Eph. 5:21).
(2) Submission is not grounded in any supposed superiority of the husband or inferiority of the wife (see Gal. 3:28; 1 Pet. 3:7). The concept of the wife being the “helper” (Gen. 2:18-22) of the husband in no way implies her inferiority. In fact, the Hebrew word translated “helper” is often used in the OT to refer to God as the “helper” of mankind. Surely he is not inferior to us! Rather, this passage means that the husband, even before the fall into sin, was incomplete without his wife and that the husband will never reach his full potential apart from the input of his wife.
(3) Submission does not mean a wife is obligated to follow should her husband lead her into sin. The biblical principle that we owe obedience to God first and foremost applies to Christian wives as well. If there must be a choice between obedience to God and obedience to the state, God is to be obeyed (Acts 5:29). The same would apply in a marriage.
These two posts really are helpful explainers of controversial biblical concepts. Read them both at the following links: