Jim Daly Christian Blog and Commentary

Gabrielle Reece's Controversial Conviction

  • Jim Daly Jim Daly is president and chief executive officer of Focus on the Family, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping families thrive.
  • 2013 May 23


You've probably heard of Gabrielle "Gabby" Reece, a former Women's Beach Volleyball League star. But you may not be aware that her marriage was headed for divorce, when, as she calls it, “an old fashioned dynamic” mended the relationship. According to this volleyball star’s critics, the dynamic that saved her marriage set back women’s causes 50 years.

What could she have possibly said to provoke such a strong reaction?

All it took was one line from her newest book: “To be truly feminine means being soft, receptive, and – look out, here it comes – submissive.”

After sharing this perspective on national TV in April, Reece swiftly came under fire.

She told the Wall Street Journal that the overwhelming negative reaction was almost enough to keep her hiding in her hotel room the next day. One friend told her she may as well have said she worships the devil.

In today’s culture, gender roles in marriage is a controversial subject and one that’s easily misunderstood. And, regrettably, some men have used the Bible to demean and control their wives in an unbiblical manner. While this is the exception, the perception is damaging to those of us who uphold biblical womanhood.

But I still find the reaction to Reece’s conviction fascinating. She’s a strong, extremely accomplished athlete and businesswoman. When she describes her marriage, it’s clear there’s mutual respect between her and her husband – I don’t see how anyone could conclude she’s a “doormat.”

She says she’s found a lot of strength and happiness in her role. But even the suggestion that a wife should submit to her husband gets her branded an enemy of women’s rights.

Just last week on the Focus on the Family daily broadcast, we interviewed clinical psychologist Dr. Debbie Cherry about biblical submission. It was a great conversation, and she dispelled a number of common myths about the subject. I’d encourage you to listen to it.

What do you think? If you’re a wife who believes strongly in practicing what Reece calls “an old fashioned dynamic” – what many Christians would call a biblical principle – how would you convince a female friend that God’s design is actually best?

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