This post comes a bit delayed, but if you were able to watch the Iowa Republican debate you most certainly saw the exchange where Bachmann answered a question about submission to her husband. The question caused an immediate negative reaction from the crowd, yet Bachmann graciously and clearly answered it anyway.
I should tell you that I am otherwise not a fan of Bachmann, and (at this point) I will not vote for her in the primary. But her answer to this question impressed me. But Stephen Prothero disagrees. In an opinion piece on CNN.com, Prothero quotes Colossians 3:18 and writes:
"As it should be obvious to anyone who saw this portion of the debate, Bachmann did not answer this question. She said she respected her husband. She said he respected her. But the question was about submission, not respect."
But it is Prothero who misunderstands. The companion passage to Col 3:18 is Ephesians 5:22, which is more well known and most likely serves as the basis for Bachmann's earlier comments about submitting to her husband. In Ephesians 5:21 Paul commands all believers to "submit to one another", and then he gives several ways that submission should take place. Verses 22-33 are specifically about the mutual submission within the marriage relationship. Verses 22-24 deal with the wife's submission to her husband, and verse 25-32 deal with the husband's submission to his wife. He then offers a summary of his entire argument in verse 33.
Bachmann turned the conversation to the issue of "respect", thus earning Prothero's charge that she dodged the issue. Was this simply political manipulation? Honestly, I won't attempt to discern any politicians motivation, but here Bachmann is clearly equating the word "submission" with the concept of "respect", which is exactly the point of the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5. In verse 33 Paul gives a brief summary of everything he has just said in verses 22-32. For the men, he sums up his earlier statements (vv25-32):
"Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband."
The first part of that verse is Paul's summary of verses 25-32, which Paul aptly states is about loving your wife as yourself. This seems clear and straightforward enough. But notice how Paul summarizes and describes his earlier discussion (vv22-24) about the submission of wives: "and and let the wife see that she respects her husband". Paul now defines what he means by "submission"--it is "respect".
Submission, biblically defined, is seeing the value of the other and placing that person in a respected and honored status. Because of that status, you willingly defer to the one respected. For Paul, it was always about respect. Bachmann seems to understand this, even if Prothero doesn't.