In the middle of the service listening to Mez preach she turns round to me and exclaimed, “What?!” She’s absolutely mortified by what he was saying. “There’s no way, no way I’m submitting to ma man. I’m no dain wit he tells me!” There you have in a nut shell one of the biggest struggles facing many of the women we come across in housing schemes. The concept of submission is anathema to them and, to be honest, it’s not just a scheme problem. One of my friends recently reminded me that it’s her duty not to submit so that she can teach her husband that he’s wrong.
Now, I am a strong willed, articulate, capable and intelligent women who has survived on her own for over a decade and yet I absolutely believe in the biblical principle of submission. I submit to the God given authority over me even when I don’t like what they say or are doing. I do so because I truly believe it’s the key to real unity in homes and churches. Yet, in our culture, God’s truth has been twisted into the lie that it’s weak to submit, or that if we submit we will be over-ruled, down trodden and/or abused.
Unfortunately, there are a few planks out there who, as with all Gods good things, abuse what He has given us. Thankfully, however, that hasn’t been my experience when it comes to this issue. Admittedly, it does take strength and humility to submit, particularly if you’re anti-authoritarian to start with!
Listen to Christ who humbled himself and submitted to the Fathers will, even to the point of his own death. We are reminded in John 6:38: “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me”. Ponder on the glories of Philippians 2 when we learn that the God man, being in very nature God, did not count equality with God as something to be grasped and instead submitted to the Father’s will. Jesus submitted and yet we struggle. We think it beneath us. Why? Quite simply, biblical submission is not being taught (out of fear of the prevailing culture?), nor modelled, in many of our churches. Consider the following:
- Submission is not subjection as if one will overpowers the other. We aren’t enslaved by our submission or dominated by authority over us. Men, you are to lead like Christ. In other words, Christian headship should not be oppressive, tyrannical or cruel. Ladies you are to be lead like Christ who went to the cross willingly.
- Submission is not weakness or never having to work or make another decision. We don’t leave our brains at the submission door. Take a wee look at Proverbs 31 where we meet an intelligent, capable, industrious and impressive woman. We retain worth and value in our submission.
- Submission is not all women to all men. A women must primarily submit to the Lord. As a church member to the leadership. As a wife to the husband as the head of the house. But the Bible nowhere suggests that all men have authority over all women.
- Submission is also for men. Men have the tremendous responsibility to submit, firstly, to the Lord and, secondly, to the God given authority of the elders.
- Submission is not passive obedience. We should not follow sinful men who encourage us in sinful practices. I don’t believe we are asked to blindly follow without engaging our biblical brains. Think of Rahab, for example, who hid the spies and by breaking the law of her own elders was in fact submitting to the will of God. Consider the Israelite midwives who didn’t kill all the male babies. We aren’t to discard Gods perfect will in our submission.
- Submission is not silent. We can have influence for good. We can be heard and influence those in authority when it’s done well and with respect. Think of Abigail when she challenged David in 1 Samuel 25. She made her voice count. It’s not rebellious to disagree if it is done well and respectfully.
For many of us, our lack of submission comes down to a lack of trust. Do we trust the God given headship in our homes (our husbands) and Churches (our elders)? Or, are we Proverbs 7:11 women “…unruly and defiant?” Are we simply giving into a prideful and rebellious nature? Is our home a constant struggle for leadership, a power struggle pit and full of arguments? In Proverbs 25:4 we read that it is, “Better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” Why do so many of us struggle to submit? It’s a massive question with a very personal response. A question that needs to be answered honestly before God. If we don’t deal with the root of our struggle to submit it will continue to affect our relationships and it will affect our relationship with the Lord.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Titus 2: 3-5
On the schemes many women have justifiable reasons, judging by the past experience of the men in their lives, for not wanting to submit. To be honest it would be very easy to excuse their behaviour. Many have been horrendously abused and dominated by men. On top of this, biblical submission is so counter-cultural that it just goes against the matriarchal grain. This is why we desperately need mature and Godly women to model Christ-like submission in the home and in the church. We also need Godly men to model biblical leadership in a Christ like manner in order to paint the beautiful, God ordained picture of life under His rule. Godly submission can be such a powerful tool in the right hands.
But, all of us need to submit to God first! Trust and obey His lead and pray for help to be a Christ like example to others, male and female.