Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Leslie Basham: How can a single woman know if she’s ready for the submission that comes with marriage? Here’s Bunny Wilson.

Bunny Wilson: When you get in the car, check your speed limit. Are you yielding to the government?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Now you’re getting nosy, Bunny.

Bunny: Single women are some of the fastest drivers I have ever met. I’ve driven with a series of them, so check your speed limit. It helps you to know if you’re in a position to even think about getting married.

Leslie: You’re listening to Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Thursday, February 17.

Nancy: I am so excited to have with us in the studio today a guest who has been for several years a dear friend. Bunny Wilson is her name, and we got to know each other a few years ago and have had opportunity to talk and to pray together. She is a conference speaker. She is an author and has written a number of books that are so practical and helpful for our lives as women. Welcome, Bunny, to Revive Our Hearts.

Bunny: Thank you, Nancy. It's a joy for me to be here with you.

Nancy: Bunny, this week we want to talk about your book, Liberated Through Submission. Now, I know there aren't many books out there with submission in the title today. That's quite a title. We don't think of submission, usually, as being liberating. I know a little bit about your background. You were once an atheist and a feminist. Once you became a Christian and you began to hear about the concept of submission, how did you respond to that initially?

Bunny: Well, when I first started studying the Bible, it was so brand-new to me that I started reading it and reading it and eating it and eating it. I couldn't get enough of it. Then one day I ran across the Scripture that said, "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands as unto the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22, ESV). My first thought, Nancy, was, why would God mess up a good book with a Scripture like that? I couldn't understand how I could be called to be submitted to my husband when I had the answer two weeks before he gets the question.

Now some people might take offense at that. I'm not saying that was true; I'm saying that's what I thought, and that's how I felt. I went to God and I said, "God, I will do this principle because it's in Your Word, but I will not stop nagging You until You explain to me how Jesus came that I might have life and have it more abundantly and I be submitted."

Nancy: So you see this principle in God’s Word. You say, "I'm willing to do this, but I've got to know why." As you explored this subject, what did the Lord show you about why this is an important principle?

Bunny: What God showed me through the study of His Word is that submission is a very positive, powerful, and aggressive principle that's been designed by God for every man, every woman, single, and married.

Nancy: Wait a minute, submission for men?

Bunny: Yes.

Nancy: How is that?

Bunny: You see, the problem is that submission has been defined improperly and applied incorrectly. It is not only a biblical principle; it is a universal principle. When we define it properly, it ceases to be controversial and complex and becomes simplistic and applicable.

Nancy: In what sense are men supposed to be submissive?

Bunny: Like I said, it's a universal principle. I'll give you an example. I was doing a secular radio show. The theme music comes up, and he introduces me this way: "We have Bunny Wilson on the air today. She's on the air to tell you wives that you must submit. Isn't that why you're on the air today, Bunny?" This is how he introduces me.

I said, "Well, actually no, Bob. The reason I came on the air today is to tell them that you're a submitted man."

He said, "What do you mean by that?"

I said, "Webster's Dictionary says that submission means to yield. Let me ask you a question. Do own that radio station you're interviewing me from?"

"Well, no."

"Do you have a general manager?"

"Well, yes, and it's a woman."

I said, "That's even better." I said, "Do you always agree with the programming of your general manager?"

He said, "Of course not."

I said, "The very fact that you're still on the air today interviewing me proves to me that there have been times where you've been called to yield to her final decisions, and that makes you a submitted man."

He said, "Well, I guess you're right! Let's open up the phone lines."

The first caller that called in said, "Hello, Bunny, bimbo. We ought to take your book and burn it in a fire."

I said to her, "I won't call you by a derogatory name because I don't know you, and you don't know me. If you knew me, you would know that I'm not a bimbo. If you had read my book, it'd be at the top of your bookshelf, not burning in a fire." I said, "Let me ask you a question, did you know that feminists are submitted women?" Nancy, it sounded like she was gnawing on the phone.

I said, "Let me explain. Feminists have organizations. They have presidents, vice-presidents, directors. When they get into their boardroom, do you think they always agree with a particular direction of that feminist movement? Of course not. You know they're opinionated women, but they know that before they leave that boardroom they're going to be called to yield to the president's final decision because they know a house divided against itself cannot stand."

The point is, Nancy, the real question is not whether or not we are submitted. The only question is: Who and what are we submitted to?

Nancy: You're saying that we really all are submissive people, we just choose in what way we're going to submit and to whom we're going to submit?

Bunny: Exactly right. God has an organizational flowchart that is listed in His Word. If we do not yield to that flowchart, it's like a judge once said, "Ignorance of the law does not excuse you from the penalty of the law."

Nancy: Then why is submission such a negative concept in so many people's minds?

Bunny: We have an archenemy. I think we all know his name—Satan. He has gone out his way to distort this principle because he knows that it was submission that gave us our eternal life. Jesus Christ submitted to death on the cross. When He was in the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed three times, "Father, let this bitter cup pass from Me" (Matthew 26:39, paraphrase).

If we were to put it in today's vernacular, it was as if He was saying, "I don't want to do it. I don't want to do it. I don't want to do it. Is there a Plan B? Is there another way to get these people saved? This thing is going to hurt. But nevertheless, not My will . . ." His will was not to die. "Not My will, but Thy will be done." If Jesus Christ had not submitted to death on the cross, none of us today would have eternal life. That's what makes it a very powerful principle.

It's positive because we are supposed to walk in His footsteps. That's what makes it a positive principle. He was a male. He was single when He walked the face of the earth, but He lived a totally submitted life. It's positive; it's powerful, and it's aggressive because we're going to have to stand against the world, the flesh, and the devil that’s attempting to force-feed us into believing that it means that we will be subservient, inferior, and someone's doormat. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Nancy: Bunny, let me ask you, as you began to understand what God’s Word said about submission —you're a married woman at this point —how did you begin to live that out in marriage? Was this an easy adjustment for you?

Bunny: Oh, absolutely not! I remember the first time Frank and I got into some intense fellowship. Normally, I would have a certain kind of response, but I said to God . . .

Nancy: What would your response have been normally?

Bunny: To straighten him out, to put him in what place I thought he needed to be in, to make sure he clearly understood why I did not agree with him. But I said, "Okay, okay, okay, okay, okay. I'm going to try this submission thing."

You see, submission, Nancy, is like a broken traffic signal. When we learned how to drive, we learned that when you come to a four-way intersection, if the traffic signal is out, we are supposed to stop, and then yield to the person on our right. Then go two by two until such time as the traffic signal is fixed.

What do you think would happen if that rule had never been written into effect and we came to a busy four-way intersection and the signal was down? What do you think it would be like?

Nancy: Of course, it would be chaos.

Bunny: It would be chaos. There would be contention and arguments, and, "I was here first" and "You don't have the right-of-way." Submission is like a broken traffic signal. Why do we even need submission? When we get to heaven there'll be no giving in marriage. Why do we even need the principle of submission in operation in the earth?

Well, I'm going to give a reason I once heard a pastor say. God sees the view, and we see a speck of it—that's why it's called a point of view. From my point of view, God knew He was creating free-thinking individuals, where every man's way is right in his own eyes.

So if we spend any amount of time together in our jobs, in our churches, in our homes, sooner or later the signal of our communication is going to go down. If we don't have an established order, we will be in the intersections of life arguing and contending and fussing and feuding.

One day I decided that I was going to adhere, like that broken traffic signal, to the rules on that broken traffic signal —I was going to do it God's way. When Frank and I got into our intense fellowship, normally I would just fly off the handle. But what I did was, I began to share with him why I did not agree with him.

You see, it's okay to tell a person who God has designated as authority why you don't agree. That's one of the reasons that the principle is aggressive. The Bible says be angry and sin not—which means I can tell Frank how I feel. I can even get angry and tell him how I feel.

But if I'm going to cross the line where I begin to sin, I start talking about his family. I start slamming doors. I give him the silent treatment. I go to bed and play possum. Those who are married know, those ladies who are listening to the show know what possum is all about. If I'm going to violate God’s Word, then I have to stop. Just like at that broken traffic signal, I have to stop because I'm going to sin.

Nancy: So really the starting point on this area of submission is my submission to God, to His authority, and to His Word.

Bunny: Yes. If you don't accept the sovereignty of God and understand that He has a perfect plan with the principle of submission, it'll be very difficult to implement in your life.

Nancy: You're saying that this matter of submission really requires faith?

Bunny: Absolutely. As a matter of fact, faith is what operates submission. We have to believe that God sees all; He cares, and He will intervene on our behalf. Submission means God intervenes.

When you think about that, when God had the Bible written, it could have said Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins, and if we accept Him into our life, we have eternal life—the end. Meaning that God did not have to intervene in the affairs of men. He could have said, "Okay, I gave you a chance to make it right with me by receiving My Son, but in terms of what happens on earth, you're going to have to deal with it. I'll just see you once you get to heaven."

But He didn't say that. "Lo, I am with you always until the ends of the earth" (Matthew 28:20, KJV). "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. Acknowledge Him in all your ways, and He will direct your path" (Proverbs 3:5-6, paraphrased). The very fact that God even cares means I need to understand the principle of submission so that I can get in His will, His way, and His Word, and that He can direct my path.

Nancy: So when you say God intervenes, does that mean that if I'm submissive that God's going to work out the situation the way I think it should work out? What does it mean that God's going to intervene?

Bunny: It means that God is going to make it right. Sometimes that doesn't go along with the way we want things to go, but it means that He will give us the wisdom to go in the way that will bring life to us instead of disappointment, frustration, and pain.

Nancy: It seems, though, that sometimes God doesn't intervene quite on our timetable.

Bunny: That’s because He has all the time in the world.

Nancy: He's not in a hurry!

Bunny: He is not in a hurry, and neither should we be. "Casting all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you" (1 Peter 5:7, NASB).

Nancy: And He's never late.

Bunny: He is never late. Having been an atheist and a feminist, I know what it means to be a "strong woman." I was fired off of three of the first jobs I ever had because it was very important to me that people clearly understood why I didn't agree with them. So I classified myself as a strong woman, but it wasn't until I began to implement properly the principle of submission in my life that I came to understand what real strength means.

Nancy: Bunny, you're hitting on something so important there, and it makes me think of a woman who came to me this weekend. She married in her late 30s. She came and said, "I'm struggling with submission in my marriage." She had been single for so many years.

Then she said something interesting. She said, "I had a difficult boss when I was single, and I never learned to submit to him." Now she's realizing that because she didn't learn submission as a single, she's struggling to know how to apply it in the context of marriage.

Bunny: I understand that. That's why I tell single women, "If you want to know if you're ready to get married, just check your relationship with your boss. Ask your pastor if he thinks that you have a submitted spirit in the church. When you get in the car, check your speed limit —are you yielded to the government?"

Nancy: Now you're getting nosy, Bunny.

Bunny: Single women are some of the fastest drivers I have ever met. I have driven with a series of them, so check your speed limit. It helps you to know if you're in a position to even think about getting married.

Nancy: Wow. But it's not just singles. It's not just marrieds. You've said in your book that all of us are in relationships and responsibilities where we're called to be submissive.

Bunny: We’re supposed to submit to God. First Peter 2:13 says we're supposed to submit to the government. First Peter 2:18 says we're called to submit to our employer. Hebrews 13:17 says our pastor has the right to make the final decision.

Then concerning marriage, the married man is called to submit to four times as many things as the married woman. He's called

  • to submit to God and love his wife as Christ loved the church
  • to be the spiritual leader
  • to be the final decision maker
  • to live with her according to understanding.

Now that's a tall bill!

The wife is called to yield to his final decisions—which means if you're a single woman, you're going to be called to yield to the final decisions of your husband. What should you be looking at while you're dating him? You should be looking at how he makes his decisions.

I was doing a radio show, and a woman called in and shouted in the phone, "What if you married a fool?" I said to her, "Well, the first thing you have to do is take responsibility for marrying a fool. Then ask God for the wisdom on how to handle your particular situation." Many times a single woman will disregard poor decisions on her fiancé's part, thinking that when she marries him she will change him. So decisions are very important.

Nancy: We were talking about how submission looks in your relationship with Frank, your husband. You were saying that sometimes when you come to an impasse, that submission looks like a broken traffic light. There's a need to stop—everyone come to a stop—and then some yielding has to take place. How does that work in your marriage?

Bunny: In our times of intense fellowship . . . I'll never forget the very first time it happened. I was standing at the kitchen sink, and I was just fuming. I thought about God’s principle of submission, and I said, "Okay, okay, okay! I'm going to do it. I’m going to do it. I understand that I can tell him how I feel." So I told him how I felt.

The Bible says, "Speaking the truth in love," which means I can tell him how I feel. I can even be adamant in how I feel. But if I get to a point where I'm going to begin to sin, violate God's principles by saying something derogatory, or putting him down, or not edifying (as Ephesians 4:29 says to do everything with edification), then I have got to stop just like that broken traffic signal.

If I don't, I will violate Philippians 2:14-15 that says, "Do all things [and we all know what all means] without murmuring or complaining, so that you may be blameless, without fault in a crooked and perverse generation where you shine as a star holding up the Word of Life" (paraphrased).

For years I was getting ticketed by Philippians 2:14-15, but I didn't know where to pay the ticket. It turned into a warrant. I didn't know where to pay the warrant, so I was imprisoned and the bars were my own contentious stubbornness, anger, and frustration. But thank God, God provided a way out through the principle of submission.

So I am able to speak the truth in love, and you see Nancy, that was a tall order for me. I knew how to speak the truth in anger. I knew how to speak the truth in manipulation and control, but I didn't know how to speak the truth in love because God's love is agape love. It's unconditional love.

I remember I said, "Okay, okay, God. Okay. I'm going to tell him the truth in love. I'm going to wait until I can tell him in unconditional love." Well, two months later I go to him and I say, "You know, Frank, I've been thinking about the decision that you're about to make, and I just wanted you to know that I don't agree with you because of a, b, c and d."

But while I was talking to him, Nancy, he had a certain body language where his arms were crossed in front of his chest, and then he gave me "the look." You know, that look—well, you're not married, but husbands have a certain look and that look means, "That's dumb, stupid, crazy, and I'm not going to talk about it."

So my voice just got higher and higher until I just had to explain it to him. When I got finished, the Lord so sweetly called me to the side, and He said, "Now, you didn't speak the truth in love." He kind of replayed back what I had said to Frank and showed me what I was really saying in my soft voice.

I was really saying, "You know what, Frank? If I've taken the time long enough to calm myself down to address this ridiculous decision you're about to make, you ought to be able to sit up in your chair and act like you have sense until I explain to you the way we should go."

And God showed me that I wasn't speaking the truth in love. My soft voice was intended for manipulation. I said, "Okay, God, I'm sorry. I'm sorry! I won't do that again. I'm going to speak the truth in love."

Nancy: What kind of influence has this had on your children?

Bunny: Well, all of my children are extroverts, and they are all very opinionated. I started practicing submission, and I had been doing it for several years. One day I walked into the bedroom and two my daughters, who are now grown were teenagers, and they were yelling at each other at the top of their lungs. I walked in and I calmly said, "You all need to learn to resolve your differences the way your father and I resolve our differences."

They stopped for a moment and this small smile broke across their faces, and they said, "Let's do that." So the first one said, "You know, the way I think about this . . ." and she began to list her points. The second one sat there and nodded her head, then the second one said, "Are you through?" And she said, "Yes, I'm through." Then the second one said, "Well, I understand what you're saying. . . .” And before the second one could get it out, they fell across the bed rolling in laughter.

When I walked out of the room, the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me and said, "They may not be doing it now, but they know what it looks like." As parents we have to accept the fact and take the responsibility that we either influence them positively or negatively in the way they communicate with their spouse. When I watch my children on their jobs, when they disagree with their employer, how they handle it—all of this came as a result of teaching them the principle of submission.

Nancy: How did it affect the way that they responded to your authority as parents?

Bunny: Well, it became different in our house. First of all, when I began to practice the principle of submission, our house suddenly became full of peace. I was walking in faith believing that God would fix everything that needed to be fixed and that He would show Frank and me what His will was in a particular situation, even if I didn't agree.

Once you learn to live like that, Nancy, you never want to go back to being rebellious and stubborn. As a matter of fact, it was 1 Samuel 15:23, and you know what that scripture is, that's the Scripture that broke me and caused me to want to submit.

Nancy: First Samuel 15:23, tell us what that verse says.

Bunny: It says, "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as the sin of idolatry" (NKJV).

Nancy: "Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." What do those two have to do with each other?

Bunny: Let's think about what witchcraft is intended to do. Of course, if you're a Christian, you're covered by the shed blood of Jesus Christ, so witchcraft doesn't work on you, unless you think it works on you. It's designed to make a person do what you want them to do.

When I am rebellious against God's established order, I'm attempting to make that person do what I want them to do. Frank can look at me, and in my rebellious state, basically what I'm saying to him is, "If you will agree with me, I will return to the wonderful person that you always knew. Instead of pouting and murmuring and giving you the silent treatment, I'll be wonderful and kind and loving. But first, you must agree with me." God didn't say it is witchcraft; He said it's like witchcraft.

Nancy: And the interesting thing is that witchcraft opens us up to the realm and the influence of Satan. When we are rebellious, when we come out from under the protection of God's authority or the human authorities that God has placed in our lives, we really are becoming fair game, in a sense, for the deception and the wiles, the strategies, of the devil.

Bunny: Yes, and I think it is exemplified in our high percentage points in terms of the number of divorces that are going on in this country. I'm not saying it's all the woman's fault because she's not submitted, but it does play into the percents for sure.

Leslie: When you have something important to say, how does it come across? Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been talking with Bunny Wilson about gentle communication and about the power of biblical submission.

If today’s program has intrigued you, I hope you’ll get a copy of Bunny Wilson’s book Liberated Through Submission. We’ll send you a copy when you make a donation of any amount to the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. Make that donation at, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Well, it’s our 10th year of ministry. We’re revisiting some of the series that have had the biggest impact on our listeners. This series, Liberated Through Submission, was near the top of the list. We’re not going to be able to bring you the entire conversation this week, but when you order on CD, you’ll hear all the additional content. Just order “Liberated Through Submission” when you visit, or call 1-800-569-5959.

Toward the end of today’s broadcast, Bunny Wilson talked about what she called the sin of guile. Tomorrow we’ll hear exactly what she means by that. We hope you can be here for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries. 


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About the Teacher

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love for Christ and His Word is infectious, and permeates her online outreaches, conference messages, books, and two daily nationally syndicated radio programs—Revive Our Hearts and Seeking Him.

She has authored twenty-two books, including Lies Women Believe and the Truth That Sets Them Free, Seeking Him (coauthored), Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together, and You Can Trust God to Write Your Story (coauthored with her husband). Her books have sold more than five million copies and are reaching the hearts of women around the world. Nancy and her husband, Robert, live in Michigan.