Submission is a greatly misunderstood subject to in today’s culture. In a country that emphasizes the free speech of the minority, the equal rights of men and women in marriage, and the openness of interpretation of religion, the concept of voluntary submission is foreign. Yet Scripture clearly teaches that Christians must be submissive to one another, Ephesians 5:21. Submission must be present in many aspects of life: wives to husbands (Colossians 3:18), church members to the elders of a local congregation (Hebrews 13:17), and Christians to worldly government (Romans 13).
One of the reasons why submission is so misunderstood in our culture is the abuse that some have committed in its name. Misunderstanding the concept of authority, some parents have provoked their children to wrath (Ephesians 6:4) by focusing on being in charge rather than training with balance in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Some congregations have had elders who “lorded over the flock” (1 Peter 5:3) rather than serving as an example in love and grace. Some employers have abused their employees not realizing that they will have to answer one day to the Lord concerning their treatment of others (Ephesians 6:9). Submission is not a license for a person to be abused in the family, church, or the world. It is a proclamation of faith in God as we seek ways to serve one another.
So what does submission mean in our modern day society? To submit means that we have a responsibility to serve others. As husbands are commanded to love and serve their wives as Christ does the church, so wives are commanded to submit to their husband’s leadership. This does not mean that they should welcome physical or verbal abuse-it means they should seek to serve in the home in a way that encourages family members to grow closer to God, 1 Peter 3:1-6. Submission in this sense is an opportunity to serve in a way that glorifies God. To submit means that we have a responsibility to lift up others in a way that glorifies God. My role as a Christian is to lift up my church leaders in a way that makes their task easier. To submit means I have a responsibility to show my heart as a Christian man. Even if the government or a person mistreats me, I should live in a way that shows that I trust God’s judgment and providence.
The world looks at submission as weakness that surrenders personal value and opens the door to abuse. God views the principle of submission as a beautiful example of showing our love and faith. Let us glorify our Lord in our eagerness to submit to one another!