Regarding Submission

I once wrote an article titled “The Woman’s Place“. I stand by that article today just as I did when it was written. A woman has her “place”, a curse only God himself can erradicate. It’s not a place we force upon her by maintaining a strong-fisted, tough-love stance. It’s a place created by God and handled with humility by women AND men – a way for all of us to remember the fall of Adam & Eve.

I’ve wanted to write a more tempered follow-up to that article and so I’ve finally gotten around to it. I want to address the concept of submission as it pertains to women. While the topic is indeed harsher, I pray the men & women who read it find that it is more even-keeled. It can be difficult to write on such sensitive issues.

The rise of feminism in the modern church era has brought about a whiplash effect: women in the clergy, women leading (or rather dragging) their husbands and/or women who demand an equality that God himself removed with the fall.Submissive Wife I say this not to blame the women because, in truth, we can blame the men for that horrible backlash of radical feminism. While this age is plainly spoken of in scripture, I find it to be a dispensation that was ushered in by the abusive hands of men. The irony! Mans inexorable failures to honor women created what we hoped to prevent.

Submission is a mandate

Every bible-thumping man knows that wives should submit to their husbands. After all, it is written (and continually preached about). Sadly it’s become a passage trodden under foot: Let’s look at some of those verses.

Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. (Eph 5:22-24)

These verses, in addition to Colossians 3:18, are inescapable. There is not any way to water them down. This, none the less, has opened an unfathomable doorway to mischief and harm – a door many a man has opened and walked through. I have probably peered from a distance through those posts myself at one time or another and for that I am deeply regretful. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Submission implies power

While women should submit to their husbands, it is easy to forget that submission implies power. It implies the power of freedom. It implies the power of choice. It fully implies the power of non-submission. In other words, a wife’s submission to her husband is optional by virtue of the free choice that we all have. To acknowledge a woman should submit must also require acknowledging her power to not do so because submission is an act of free choice. Submission robbed of choice is nothing more than slavery.

Still yet the remaining verses of that chapter are ignored:

Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Eph 5:25-30)

Women have all the choices of men and nothing in scripture robs them of that exercise in free will. How can one “cherisheth” his wife if coercion is used instead of exhortation, if cursing is used instead of blessing?

The husband who does not recognize submission when it is granted is blind.He who does not honor it is a fool. Indeed, the man who attempts to force it, manipulate it or coerce submission is kissing the foot evil.

Even the Old Testament is firm on honoring women

While most tend to think of the Old Testament as being harsher towards women, such is not the case. Engraved in the passages of Scripture are protections for women. Rape, for example, is considered a sin equal to murder (Deut 22:26). Such ideas as this present clear opposition to the staunch, religious countries that oppress rape victims.

The Old Testament however extends such protections for women even further. Did you know divorce was justified for a woman if her husband failed in his duty of marriage?

If he take him another wife; her food, her raiment, and her duty of marriage, shall he not diminish. And if he do not these three unto her, then shall she go out free without money. (Exo 21:10-11)

This passage in exodus deals with a husband who has taken a second wife but I think it safe to say that the “duty of marriage” applied regardless of how many wives a man had. Even further, such a doctrine still applies today.

These perspectives must be reinforced in the church. Women deserve the more balanced teaching given to them in the Bible. Teach women to submit to their husbands and tell them consequences in scripture if they don’t. However, the church today should likewise inform women of those rights afforded to them in the Word of God rather than leaving them the impression that they are helpless before abusive hands.

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