The Buzzword Shared By 50 Shades and the Bible

With the rise in popularity of the book turned film, 50 Shades of Grey, the word “submission” has suddenly risen from taboo, to chic for many avid fans. Ironically, a hipster-minded Catholic might venture to explain that we’ve been embracing a teaching on submission long before it was riddling the pages the pop culture phenomena… just in a very different context. I would dare to even say, that Scripture’s definition is more attractive, romantic, and passionate than any romance novel could ever portray.

The word, submission shows up most notably in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians where he says, “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord.For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body.As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything” (v.22-24). For many, these few sentences fell like battery acid poured their eye. In order to appreciate the true meaning of this, let’s look more closely at what the word submission really means.

We all know that the word “sub” means under. We could say therefore that “sub-mission” is equivalent to being “under the mission of.” What is this mission of the husband? Well, in the words of Saint John Paul the Great, “It is the duty of every man, to uphold the dignity if every woman.” When Saint Paul speaks of wives being submissive to their husbands, he is speaking of this very thing. In fact, he goes on, in this same passage, to boldly say that husbands should “love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her” (v. 25). Wow. Our all-powerful God makes Himself the subordinate One in order to lay down His life for His bride (the Church). Saint Paul invites all married men to do the same: live their lives ordered to the holiness of their wife and children.

Ultimately, the fulfillment of our dignity is understood in Heaven. All human relationships, romantic or platonic, have one purpose: to bring another to holiness. In the garden, this became the desire of Adam’s heart, to share the Paradise of God with another. In the vocation of marriage, a husband stands before God promising to do this very thing—to make it his mission to bring his wife to the Paradise of Heaven.

What woman in love with Christ wouldn’t want to be under that mission? I can almost hear all the Catholic single ladies across America shout “Amen!!” Our response as women isn’t to blindly do whatever our husband says, however, we do what God asks when He commissioned Eve to be the “helpmate” for Adam. We share in the mission and collaborate to create an environment to encounter God in our homes, relationships and daily lives. The teaching on submission doesn’t repress women; on the contrary, it honors them.

Now, in regards to the sudden enthusiasm regarding sexual submission, could it be true that the devil is up to his same old strategy? So often, the devil takes something that is good, true, beautiful and also the longing of our heart and twists it just enough to make us believe his version will satisfy. Perhaps this is the root of the intrigue of the type of sexual domination and submission in 50 Shades of Grey. Physical harm, misogyny, and degrading sexual acts may sell books, but it won’t satisfy in the way that real, selfless, sacrificial love was designed to do.

katieKatie Hartfiel is an author and speaker dedicated to sharing the intense love of God. She graduated Franciscan University of Steubenville, where she received a degree in Theology. She served as a youth minister for seven years in Houston, where she now resides with her husband, Mark, and two daughters. In 2012, Katie released her first book, Woman in Love (available at


  1. Absolutely right on, but I feel compelled to mention that there are some typos, several times the word “of” is keyed in as “if”, particularly within the quotes in this article. So if the flow of reading is interrupted those typos are a possible reason.

    May we reconciled to our natural greatness and submit to God who is Love; God love you all. Amen.

    By Andrew | 7 years ago Reply
    • “It is the duty Of every man, to uphold the dignity Of every woman.” +

      By Andrew | 7 years ago Reply
  2. Great point! Loved the article..

    By Erin Naylor | 7 years ago Reply
  3. Excellent article! Thank you!

    By Sarah | 7 years ago Reply
  4. Content of article is excellent! Great points made! For ease in reading (flow), the article could have benefited from closer proof-reading for misspelled words,.omitted words, & improper spacing.

    By Karen | 7 years ago Reply
  5. Amen! 🙂

    By Eric | 7 years ago Reply
  6. AMEN!!! ^_^

    By Karla | 7 years ago Reply
  7. My husband and I are Catholic. I practice being a submissive wife in the Christian sense, and my husband does encourage me to be very vocal and let him know my feelings, wishes, opinions and desires at all times. Accept in the bedroom. At that time, I am a “50 shades” wife. Yes, a submissive. He honors me in every way, and I honor him. It’s about love, trust and respect. And amazing sex, for both of us. Don’t judge what you don’t understand. There are sickos everywhere. Some have no sex and beat their kids, wives, dogs, or are mentally abusive. My husband is the most loving man I know. I willingly submit to him, in all ways, as he has my best interests at heart.

    By Cara Jentzen | 7 years ago Reply
  8. submission (n.)
    late 14c., “act of referring to a third party for judgment or decision,” from Old French submission or directly from Latin submissionem (nominative submissio) “a lowering, letting down; sinking,” noun of action from past participle stem of submittere “to let down, put down, lower, reduce, yield” (see submit).

    Sense of “humble obedience” is first recorded mid-15c. Modern French submission has been replaced by doublet soumission. English in 16c.-17c. also had an adjective submiss “humble, submissive.” Submissionist in various political historical contexts is from 1828.

    By Mai | 7 years ago Reply
  9. I’m sorry, but “being under the mission of” is not a definition of submission I’ve seen in any dictionary before. It’s cute how you came up with that, but if it’s not in a dictionary, I don’t see how it can be a valid definition of the word for spouses to apply to the Bible.

    By A | 7 years ago Reply

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