Should I Submit To My Boyfriend?

girl making a heart finger frame“Should I submit to my boyfriend?”

That’s the question that one of the smart readers of this blog submitted recently. To be honest, it’s a bit of a stumper. Since a boyfriend is not the same as a husband, isn’t submission in that relationship a bit misplaced? Part of me thinks yes! But since I see dating as preparation for marriage (as opposed to just having fun), is it reasonable to think a girl could disregard what the Bible teaches about submission while dating then suddenly flip a switch after saying “I do”? Hmmm … that’s a little trickier.

Those same questions may be swirling in your mind as you consider how to act in your own dating relationship (now or in the future). If so, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Your boyfriend is not your husband.

You may really, really like your boyfriend. He may have everything you are looking for in a future husband. The two of you may have even talked about getting married. But none of that is the same as actually being married.

The reality is that break-ups happen. They happen to couples who love each other very much. They happen to couples who were sure they would be together forever. Break-ups can even happen after a couple becomes engaged. (Here are two stories where that’s exactly what happened: “Lessons Learned From a Cancelled Wedding” and “Hope for Broken Hearts.”

As you consider your relationship with your boyfriend, it is critical to keep in mind that he is not your husband. There is no place in Scripture that places a boyfriend as an authority over a girlfriend—likely because there is no guarantee that this is a permanent relationship.

This doesn’t mean that you can disregard everything your boyfriend says or treat him with disrespect. Ephesians 5:21 urges all Christians to submit to each other because of our loyalty to Christ. (By the way, if your boyfriend is not a Christian, please take time to read this post. It is always a good idea to treat others with love, respect, and consideration. However, don’t fall for the temptation to “play house” with your boyfriend and pretend that you are already husband and wife. The guidelines the Bible offers for married couples are just that—for married couples.

God has given you arenas to learn submission.

How’s a girl supposed to learn submission if she doesn’t submit to her boyfriend? God’s Word has that answer covered.

Ephesians 6:2 says, “‘Honor your father and mother’ (this is the first commandment with a promise).”

Hebrews 13:17 says, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.”

Another way to think of submission is to respect, defer to, or honor. Marriage is not the only relationship where we are called to submit. You are clearly called to honor and submit to your parents. In fact, this is really the classroom where God intends for you to learn biblical submission. He also calls you to honor and obey your spiritual authorities. This could include your pastor, youth pastor, or mentor.

Do you find it difficult to submit to your parents? Do you tend to disregard it when your youth pastor calls out your sin or challenges you to live more Christ-like? Don’t be fooled into thinking that submission will be easier when you’re married. It will not. Make a habit of respecting others and deferring to those whom God has placed in authority over you now instead of assuming it will come more naturally later.

Remember what submission is all about.

The Bible clearly calls wives to submit to their husbands in Ephesians 5:22–24:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

This passage gives us a hint about why submission really matters. Marriage is to be a picture of Christ and the church. Paul really hammers this point home a few verses later.

This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32).

Submission isn’t about power trips. It’s about putting the mystery of the gospel on display. When you submit to your husband someday in marriage, you’ll be showing the world what it means for the Church to willingly surrender to the Lordship of Christ. That’s big stuff!

But you don’t have to be married to determine to let your relationships put Jesus on display. Look for ways to honor and glorify God in all of your relationships, including your dating relationships. Speak with kindness. Forgive freely. Run away from sexual sin. These are ways you can showcase Christ without treating your boyfriend like a husband.

“Should I submit to my boyfriend” is a good question. Perhaps an even better question is, “How can I use my relationship with my boyfriend to most honor God?” I’ll let you answer that one. Leave us a comment, and tell us what you think.

About Author

Erin Davis

Erin is passionate about pointing young women toward God's Truth. She is the author of several books and a frequent speaker and blogger to women of all ages. Erin lives on a small farm in the midwest with her husband and kids. When she's not writing, you can find her herding goats, chickens, and children.

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  • cat

    ugh submission is bullshit period why dont husbands submit to women if it is soooooo great

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      Submission, as God designed it, is beautiful. Jesus came
      to earth to die for you and me out of submission to God. It’s sin – our selfish, prideful, me-centered world that has so horribly distorted submission.

      Would you take a few minutes to listen to this broadcast, cat? You might be surprised to hear how Erin has
      struggle with the whole area of submission, as well
      (https://www.reviveourhearts.com/radio/revive-our-hearts/countering-lies-young-women-believe/?flavour=full).

      Grace and peace,

      Carrie

    • Julieq

      It’s very humbling

  • Julieq

    Well where does that put a fiance .???

    • Carrie @ Revive Our Hearts

      Engagement too is preparation for marriage, as Erin mentioned in her post. So treating your fiancé with respect, consideration, and love is a given.

      Submission occurs when two parties ultimately disagree about a given matter. If you and your fiancé reach a point of serious disagreement, it’s a great time for you to consider if you’re willing/ready to submit to his leadership as a married couple.

    • Sarai

      He’s still a “boyfriend” you don’t submit to him until after the I do anything before that is a boyfriend

  • nikki

    hard to hearbc i fear my bf is just a season we been together for ayr.. but this is so spot on

  • Timothy Twing

    Is this really even a question!? A boyfriend and husband they are no different! Marriage makes absolutely no difference! It’s a piece of paper. What realty matters is true love, marriage is just a bonus if you wanna call it such, but it has no affect in whether you are submissive. A girlfriend should not be any less submissive than a wife. You should suit to your lover as I do to my fiance, always have and always will, completely! Lovers should submit, but I feel the woman should submit more, cause I see for one. Most of the time 90% of the time, the husband does more for the wife than she does for him. I know some are going to bash this , and say. Oh no, i do more for my husband than he does for me. That’s just your relationship though. Take a look around and you will see the opposite! Also, so what,maybe you should more for him, than he’s doing for you. He might not notice it and who cares, don’t complain about it. Most guys do more for their lover anyway, so why don’t you women keep doing more for your lover because you love them. You should absolutely submit!