“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord.”
“Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord”
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ”
When I finally find the time, I love searching this site to see what others are saying about some of the topics I’ve posted on. My most recent search was “Complementarianism” and I was quite surprised by the blogs I found – some by Christians! Christians who are constantly missing the point of submission.
It is not about oppression. It is not about condoning slavery. It is not about women’s rights. It is about love and God’s glory. The “rules for Christian households”, outlined in chapters 5 and 6 of Ephesians, are not about the idea that “some people are more equal than others”. It’s not even about us, or our feelings as human beings! It’s about the glory of God!
I stress this notion that everything is for God’s glory, because people get caught up in this idea that they deserve so much more than the eternal death that they were supposed to get because of sin. Be thankful for the gift of grace and stay humble, people. We deserve nothing!
These passages are meant to represent the sacrificial – agape – love that Christ had, and still has!, for His Church. So it’s not just about the submission or being a helpmate. These relationships go both ways!
I’ve noticed many people have been quick to point out (complain!) about this false idea of oppression put on the one doing the submitting, while forgetting the most important point of it all….”as to the Lord”! And further forgetting to read the role of the one they are to submit to AND who that person, the leader, is called to submit to – God!
We cannot merely look at how a wife is supposed to submit to her husband as to the Lord without looking at how her husband is to love her as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25). If the husband is not doing His job by 1) Loving his wife as he loves himself (Matthew 22:39 & Ephesians 5:28) and 2) Loving her as Christ loved the church by first, submitting himself to God, his role to be a leader in that home is going to be based on what He wants, as opposed to what God wants for their relationship.
The husband, slave master, or parent – in this particular passage – that fails to lead, love sacrificially, and submit themselves to Christ is going to have a harder time taking on the burden of responsibility.
In regards to the slave master, we have to take into consideration the historical context this was written in. This is not to say that the Bible condones slavery, but it was a law during that time and this would have been a way to bring about order – the slave respecting their master and the master loving the slave as they would love themselves! Of course, there are many instances in history (when slavery was still legal – not referring to the epidemic of human trafficking) where we see this command ignored and slaves endure abuse and mistreatment. We also see this in the instance of relationship violence, some roles are emphasized (submission) while others are ignored (sacrificial love and care).
This is not a result of biblical submission, but rather the result of sin! Any Christian put in leadership first has a responsibility to submit themselves to Christ.
True biblical submission and leadership does not produce any type of abuse or the mistreatment of others – that contradicts the command to “Love your neighbor as yourself”. I think people often view submission as being this one-sided, doormat, not-having-an-opinion, “seen not heard” type of deal. No! Because the husband who bears the burden of responsibility should practice humility and be very much aware that he cannot even fulfill the purpose God has for his life without the help and support of his wife. In Genesis 2, before Eve was made, the man being alone was the only time God said something was not right. So, biblical submission and leadership is, indeed, a partnership – both spouses are needed, equally. One cannot abuse the command of submission from his wife by ruling with an iron fist – doing so, he’ll miss the point of it all (the mystery of Christ and His Church) and fail at his duty to love sacrificially and lead with a servant’s heart. He will fail at his duty to represent Christ through such a beautiful relationship.
I pray we begin looking at scripture in its proper context and not just running with the bits and pieces that make us uncomfortable. Until we do, we will continue to miss the beauty of humility and servant leadership. There’s more to it than meets the eye.
This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:32-33)