Friday, October 26, 2007

Submission to whom?

Recently at church, we've been talking about marriage in our Bible classes. This past Wednesday night was particularly interesting to me, because we were talking about practically relating the submission of wives and the headship of husbands to our real life. The leader of the class asked for specific examples of how this would look in real life, and most of the class was very quiet. Finally, one man commented that the reason why we weren't getting very specific examples was not that we couldn't think of them, but because in today's society it's so taboo and uncomfortable to speak of women being in submission. I think that many people in class were relieved to have that thought spoken out loud, because I'm sure it was what many people were thinking.

The truth is that in the United States - and probably more so in Europe - it is not 'politically correct' to talk about the Biblical roles that men and women are given. This is sad. It should never be uncomfortable or awkward for Christians to talk about obeying Christ, especially not to other Christians.

So let's talk about the husband's 'authority' in the marriage. What authority does a husband have that he earned, or deserved? Does not all authority on Heaven and on Earth belong to Christ? Therefore, it seems to me that any 'authority' that a human has while on Earth is given to them by God, and not something that should be gloated over. Moreover, there is no one who is not under authority. Even the highest ranking official on Earth is still ultimately under the authority of God.

Conversely, anyone who is in subjection to authority was placed in that subjection by God. Rebellion against that authority is the same as rebellion against God:

"Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves." Romans 13:1-2
In most passages that deal with husbands and wives, God also addresses the relationship between slaves and masters. According to the Bible, slaves are to obey their masters, whether kind or harsh. Why are they obligated to obey them? Not because their masters are better than them, or because they owe their masters anything, but because they are ultimately not serving their masters, but Christ. In Ephesians 6, Paul tells slaves they are to serve their masters,
"not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free."
Likewise, the masters were reminded that God doesn't care if you are master or slave:
"And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him."
This sentiment is echoed in Galatians 3:28, when Paul says that, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." So we see that God does not see masters as better than their slaves, or husbands as better than their wives. In either case, what God wants from both parties is obedience and submission to Him.

What can we say then about a wife who refuses to submit to her husband? Ultimately, her refusal to submit to her husband is much more than a slight on her husband - it is a refusal to submit to God. How can you say that you obey God, when you outright refuse to do something He asks of you? Personally, I think that any woman who refuses to submit to her husband has much bigger problems than marital issues. She has issues with God.

The idea of social anarchism eschews any authority other than 'self'. Feminism has taken hold of this ideology and run with it. But the truth is that no one can run forever from the Ultimate Authority. It is foolish to believe otherwise, and especially foolish for those who claim to be Christian and yet refuse to submit to the authority that the God they serve has placed in their lives.

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7 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Alan

    I must admit that I reached the end of your post and suddenly was surprised that it was written by Harmony rather than Junkmale!

    Of course if Junkmale had written it, he would have included the passages about husbands loving their wives as Christ loved the church. That's what makes the whole picture healthy. And it's at least as rare to see that kind of husband, as to see the kind of wife you talked about.

  • Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks

    AMEN, Sister! Very well said! Have you read Created to be His Help Meet by Debi Pearl? It is excellent.

  • Harmony

    Connie, no, I haven't read Debi Pearl's book, although I've heard good things about it. :)

    Daddy, I know it's just as rare to see a Biblical husband these days -- but society (and especially churches) feel free to talk about it. That's the difference. They were all over the husbands Wednesday night, but no one felt brave enough to speak up about women needing to submit. That's just sad. I mean, as a woman, I feel slighted that I'm not getting my equal time, ya know? ;-)

  • Michelle

    I have to tell the kids on a fairly regular basis that we all have to submit to someone. They need to obey us, I need to obey Pappa and he needs to obey God. We all need to obey the government. It just makes sense.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Michelle

    Ok, I just realized that the way I wrote it, it looks like only my husband needs to obey God. I didn't mean that!

  • Valerie

    This is a great related thought from the GirlTalk web site
    ( http://girltalk.blogs.com/ )
    A Wifely Appeal

    They are giving an excerpt from an article by John Piper on submission---

    One point Dr. Piper makes in his article is that "there will be times in a Christian marriage when the most submissive wife, with good reason, will hesitate at a husband’s decision. It may look unwise to her." He goes on to encourage wives to express their misgivings in a manner that endorses her husband’s leadership and affirms him in his role as head.

    How do we share a concern with our husband in a God-honoring way? John Ensor explains in his new book, Doing Things Right in Matters of the Heart:
    "[A husband] will be far more apt to give [consideration to his wife’s appeal] when it is heard as an appeal or a suggestion rather than a directive. Think of it as the difference between casting a flashlight down the path versus pointing it in his face. Direct light causes us to close our eyes. Indirect light, pointed away from them, cause us to strain to see."

    Let’s purpose as wives to wisely use our flashlights! If we think our husband has made an unwise decision, we aren’t to simply keep our mouths shut and hope things will turn out alright. Rather, we should put our trust in God and lovingly and humbly appeal—in a manner that makes it easy for our husbands to see.


    Another wonderfully Biblical book about being a wife (and learning the blessing of submission is Martha Peace's book The Excellent Wife. It has taught me SO much! When we learn to submist AS UNTO THE LORD, we can trust that everything will work out for our benefit, because we are trusting God--not our authority!

  • Myfriendconnie@SmockityFrocks

    Since this conversation is still going, I have to say, Harmony, that I have experienced the same thing as you did in Bible class. I have even heard older women, elder's wives, joke about who wears the pants in the family. It didn't seem funny at all to me. I remain silent in Bible class because of personal conviction, and when my husband speaks up about the wife submitting, he feels like people must think that he beats me every night, forces me to bear his many children and homeschool them, and doesn't allow me to speak! (None of which is true, of course.) I wish I could address the group of ladies at church about this, but I have never been asked. I do think, though, that it is evidence of feminism creeping into the church that the topic of a submissive wife is regarded with rolled eyes, sighs, and joking. Or as you said, the focus is on what the husband should be doing to make it easy for the wife to submit. Funny, I have never found the "easy" part in scripture.