Of course, submission is not exactly a character trait I am known for. People who know me well are amen'ing that. With that said, I am much improved in this area. It helped me alot to learn what submission is and what it isn't. I truly believe that no one in the world could ever have a problem with the submission defined in the Bible. However, the submission defined by some churches can raise the hackles of well, everyone who thinks for themselves.
I am reflecting on this topic because someone from camp told me that a young man she knew told her he did not want to marry someone loud and opinionated like she was, he wanted a submissive wife. She told him that quiet does not mean submissive and when a loud opinionated woman is submissive, everyone notices the man she submits to. This caused me to reflect on submission which is something I have struggled with, rejected and now, honestly attempt to have in my life.
So for starters, let's begin at the beginning of one of my favorite books of the Bible, John.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The Word became flesh and that Word was Jesus. We must learn to use the vast amount of information in the Bible as our measuring stick. Not the words of man. This is our first mistake. I believe that the most important part of submission is knowing what you are submitting to. Blind submission is not submission at all. In order to know what I am supposed to submit to, I must study the Bible myself. I must be prayerful about this study and it should be very personal.
Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV) 12 For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. 13 Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.
So now, with those two caveats in place: obeying the word of God and having informed submission, we can now look at the command for submission.
Ephesians 5: 21-24 21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
This is so often taken out of context as a way to give man ultimate authority. There is only one ultimate authority-on this scripture is VERY CLEAR and it is not man, not the preacher, not husbands-it is God and God alone. This scripture actually gives a man the ultimate responsibility for his wife-to love and protect her and guide her through his own submission to Christ. His role is as the protector is further mapped out in the following scriptures:
Ephesians 5:25-33 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Do not miss that last little nugget of truth. Chew on it. Digest it. The wife must respect her husband. Why is this so often overlooked? The recipe for that respect is spelled out in that cluster of verses. What must a husband do to be respected by his wife? Dissection:
- Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (be a believer)
- Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
- present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless (emphasis on to himself-it matters most what he tells HIMSELF about her...that is a very tall order. It is easy to talk someone up to others, but presenting them to yourself without blemish is much harder!)
- love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church.
- leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh (I am very lucky to have the best in-laws in the world...some men and their wives really struggle with giving up mom and dad's approval/money/opinions/guidance to become one with their spouse)
The bad rap that submission gets is from the things submission is NOT:
- Your husband is the king, the boss, the maker of all decisions.
- Submission allows no room for opinions beyond the husband's.
- Submissive women are quiet and passive.
- Submission means you obey your husband like a child is to obey his parents.
- Submission means never speaking for yourself.
- Submission is inequality. Woman is for the man.
Most importantly, I cannot demand submission from anyone. Submission is like respect, it is given. A gift-not a requirement. AND? Accepting the gift of submission is like accepting the gift of salvation, it carries the responsibility of a personal relationship with our loving Savior. And with that?
Philippians 4:13 (NIV) 13 I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.
THROUGH HIM...not apart from Him.
John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
This blog post is brought to you by a very strong, opinionated, loud wife that seeks daily to submit to her strong, opinionated, much more reserved husband...made possible through God, who has been making persuasive, strong women since Eve. ( :