Submission Is Not A Dirty Word: A Conservative Take On Complementarian Relationships


Candace Cameron Bure, perhaps best known for her role as DJ Tanner on ABC’s Full House, has been an actress for over thirty years. A wife and mother of three, Candace has been married to former NHL player Val Bure for seventeen years. Recently, Bure penned a book, Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose, in which she shares lessons learned on how to balance being a wife, raising children, and maintaining her professional career outside the home. Despite the fact that her book covers a multitude of topics, the media has latched on to one aspect with laser-like focus: Bure’s relationship with her husband.

The Huffington Post recently interviewed Bure, discussing her Full House past among other things, but the issue they called “controversial” was the way Bure speaks of her marriage relationship.   The interviewer felt many women may take issue with a quote from the book: My husband is a natural born leader.   I quickly learned that I had to find a way of honoring his take-charge personality and not get frustrated about his desire to have the final decision on just about everything.   I am not a passive person but I chose to fall into a more submissive role in my relationship because I wanted to do everything in my power to make my marriage and family work.

You can check out another recent interview here:


When asked to explain herself further, Bure stated that she is speaking of the Biblical definition of submission. She states that she and her husband want to have a marriage that honors God, and that the Bible calls wives to submit to their husbands, and the Bible also calls men to love their wives. It is, as she says, “meekness, not weakness”.   It is a choice and a decision that within the family there should be one leader, just as any major organization has one main leader–our nation has a President, companies have CEOs, sports teams have coaches, etc. It isn’t that she never has an opinion, never shares a thought, never contributes anything to discussions; it is simply that when the time comes to make a final decision, she trusts her husband’s judgment. As she puts it, “Listen, I love that my man is a leader. I want him to lead and be the head of our family and those major decisions do fall on him. It doesn't mean I don't voice my opinion and it doesn't mean I don't have an opinion - I absolutely do but it is very difficult to have two heads of authority. It doesn't work. ... and when you're competing with two heads that can pose a lot of problems or issues. So within my marriage we are equal in our importance, but we are just different in our performances within our marriage."

There is a name for this kind of Biblically-rooted relationship dynamic: complementarianism.   For a full description of complementarianism, see here. Generally speaking? “While being absolutely equal in personhood and dignity, man and woman are distinct in their roles in the home and church. This position is to be distinguished from both ancient patriarchy that often neglects the equality of the sexes and egalitarianism which neglects the clear Scriptural role distinctions.” In other words, men and women are both equally important and valuable in marriage; they just have different roles, with neither being more important than the other.

While some adamantly see complementarian relationships as misogynistic or oppressive, they are missing the point. Relationships of that nature twist the purpose and design of truly complementary relationships. The Bible calls for men to love, honor, and cherish their wives. If a husband truly loves, honors and cherishes his wife, he will not abuse her physically or emotionally; he will not belittle her or boss her or try to force her into anything. Rather, he will look forward, be proactive and have a plan for their lives together. When these couples make decisions about their future, he will take her best interests to heart, not just his. I hear women complain endlessly about men without drive, without commitment, without passion. Truly complementarian men possess all of these qualities, and they do not want their partners to be mindless ninnies who dote on them 24/7 and rely on them to make each and every decision while they nod and smile vapidly. No, complementarian women are strong and passionate, too. They understand that in supporting their husbands they are actually strengthening their marriage relationship and growing in intimacy. As Candace Bure stated, she trusts her husband’s judgment. They’ve had nearly twenty years together in which to understand what each of them wants from life. She doesn’t fear allowing (notice I said allowing, because she chooses this)her husband to make decisions because she knows he honors her and loves her and will not make a decision that is not good for the both of them and for their family.

Photo courtesy of  taberandrew

Photo courtesy of taberandrew

I realize there will always be haters of the complementarian relationship. I maintain that they truly do not understand it, but so be it. I don’t understand many relationship dynamics in which others choose to engage. Aren’t we encouraged as free-thinkers to be open-minded to all types of relationships? If it works for Bure and her husband, then hooray for them. As one commenter stated, “It's not how my marriage works, but that isn't to say it doesn't work for others. 17 years and 3 kids tell me Candace Bure is succeeding.”