The Bible and Submission

All Are to Submit to Someone

There are some topics in the Bible that, when brought up, often lead to a heated debate. One of those topics is submission. This is especially true when it comes to wives submitting to their husbands. Pastors who teach this are sometimes seen as chauvinistic and living in the past. People who speak against submission will tell others that the church is trying to take away a woman's rights and dignity and keep them from competing with men. They will point back to the past when, in many cases, the woman was no more than a slave in a man-centered patriarchal society.

Well, the biblical view of submission is far from chauvinistic. In fact, God's Word sees the woman as created in the image of God, just as the man is, and therefore of great value. To put it more succinctly, she is of equal value with her male counterpart. And the idea of the wife's submission is seen in the light of a whole order of submission, ultimately leading to God the Holy Spirit being in submission to God the Son, and the Son, being in submission the Father.

I. Submission is Voluntary and Orderly

Based upon that truth, Paul tells the Ephesian believers to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:2). You might notice in this verse that no one is forcing you to submit. It is done voluntarily out of love for God and the order that He has established.

Our God is a God of order and not chaos. And each person who is being submitted to in Scripture has someone else to which he is accountable, excluding the one final authority, God the Father. For instance the wife is to submit herself to her husband as the Church submits to Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:24). But at the same time the husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her.

Jesus' ultimate gift to the Church was the fact that He gave His life for her(5:25-33). Therefore, the husband should be willing to sacrifice his very life, if necessary, to protect his wife. He is also responsible to nourish and care for her as he would his own flesh. The husband has a heavy responsibility to see that she becomes all that God intended her to become. And he does all this out of his ultimate submission to Jesus Christ.

II. Submission In All of Life

Because of feminism a big deal is usually made about the submission of the wife to the husband. However, in Scripture, there is submission in all of human society (Ephesians 5:21). For instance, children are to obey and honor their parents (Ephesians 6:1). And slaves are to obey their masters as they would the Lord (Ephesians 6:5). In today's world this is equivalent to an employee obeying his boss. And we all must be in submission to the government. For all government is ordained by God (Romans 13:1-6). This order is for the good of all because If there is no order there will be chaos and society will ultimately fall apart.

The only time a Christian is not obligated to obey an authority is when that authority would have you do something against the will of God. In that case we should obey God rather than man (Acts 5:27-32).

None of us is an island. We all answer to God and to those God has put in authority. In this way we are more like God Himself, for there is an order within the Trinity.

III. Submission within the Trinity

A. Jesus' Submission

In looking at Jesus' submission, it is clear that the Bible doesn't see Him as in any way inferior to the Father. In fact Scripture highly exalts Him. He is seen as no less God than the Father, or the Holy Spirit is God. The word that theologians have given to this biblical truth is Trinity. There is one God eternally existing in three persons- Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Yet, even though Jesus is equal to God the Father in every way (Colossians 2:9, John 10:30, John 14:9), He subordinated Himself to the Father (John 5:43. John 5:19. John 10:25, 29. John 12:49).

B. The Submission of the Holy Spirit

In the same way the Holy Spirit is seen as fully Divine (Acts 5:3,4) but is also in subordination to Jesus Christ. In John 14:26 Jesus says:

"But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remember everything I said to you."

And in John 16:13 our Lord says:

"But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. For he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak whatever he hears, and will tell you what is to come."


The Holy Spirit was sent by request of God the Son (John 14:16. John 15:26. Acts 2:33). And He seeks only to glorify the Son. This is seen by what Jesus tells us in John 16:14,15:

"He will glorify me, because he will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; that is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what is mine and will tell it to you."

Ultimately, both the Son and the Holy Spirit are in submission to the Father. The Apostle Paul says that one day the Son, who has placed all things under His feet, will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father. In speaking about the order of the resurrection in I Corinthians 15, Paul has this to say:

"23But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, 24then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.…"

Conclusion

So we see from all of this that submission does not in any way make the one submitting inferior to the one to whom he is submitted. All three persons within the Trinity are coequal, for instance. In the same way, there are no second class citizens within the Body of Christ. All are created in His image and are of equal value to God.

What submission does show is that God is a God of order and not chaos. Each person, though equally valuable, is given different roles and responsibilities. And all have been given specific gifts which make them uniquely qualified for wherever the Lord has placed them.

This evil world in which we live has taken a good concept and made it into something demeaning and undignified. We need to recover the biblical understanding of submission and see it as God does.

Without order, a society falls apart. When all are in charge, then essentially no one is in charge. It makes for a many headed monster, with all the heads wanting to go in different directions. So let us each be in submission to one another, and in this way show our submission to the God who created us.





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12 comments

GodTalk profile image

GodTalk 2 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan Author

God, as the giver of life, is the only person who can take it. We as individuals are told not to kill for man is created in the image of God. The government is not an individual but an institution set up by God in order to bring order out of chaos. At times it is here to bring justice on those who do evil (Romans 13:1-6). If it is a good government it acts, not on its own authority, but on God's authority as an instrument to bring judgment (Romans 13:4).

The Caananites, whom Joshua was sent to destroy, were an evil people that did horrible things. They were not some innocent people that God was picking on just to give the Israelites a place to stay. God was judging that group of people for their sins.


Jay C OBrien profile image

Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

Thank you for your explanation. You wrote," The only time Scripture teaches us to go against governmental authority is when it is clear that they are asking us to go against the revealed will of God."

Joshua was the leader of the Hebrews in the Book of Joshua. Joshua ordered his people to invade the land of Canaan and kill the people therein and take their land. Joshua claimed The Lord told him to do it. Joshua kill the men who did not want to do this. Joshua & Co. then killed men women and children.

Prior to this, Moses said, Thou shalt not kill. Jesus said, love your enemies, be kind to those who hurt you.

To whom should we submit; Joshua or Moses & Jesus. There is a conflict.


GodTalk profile image

GodTalk 2 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan Author

I don't believe Allah is God. That is the god of Islam and not the God of Christianity. However, we are all to submit to the ultimate authority of the one true God.

I think that I covered the areas of spousal and child abuse in the Hub when I said that if someone is sinning, we ought to obey God rather than man. A spouse or a parent who is abusing someone has given up his right to have a say in the person's life. The spouse or parent is given authority by God for good, to help the person submitting to become all that they can be in the Lord and to give order to society. None of this is happening when abuse is taking place.

As far as such things as the Vietnam war is concerned, the government is given the responsibility to protect and defend the society that it is over. Any war that has ever been done has been controversial. There were people during the time of the Revolutionary War, for instance, that did not believe we should have rebelled against Great Britain. But because they did, our country was born.

Paul, in Romans 13, was referring to the Roman empire when he said to submit to those who have the rule over you. Rome was clearly not a Christian empire. The only time Scripture teaches us to go against governmental authority is when it is clear that they are asking us to go against the revealed will of God. God's law trumps man's law every time.


Jay C OBrien profile image

Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

You wrote, "II. Submission In All of Life

Because of feminism a big deal is usually made about the submission of the wife to the husband. However, in Scripture, there is submission in all of human society (Ephesians 5:21). For instance, children are to obey and honor their parents (Ephesians 6:1). And slaves are to obey their masters as they would the Lord (Ephesians 6:5). In today's world this is equivalent to an employee obeying his boss. And we all must be in submission to the government. For all government is ordained by God (Romans 13:1-6). This order is for the good of all because If there is no order there will be chaos and society will ultimately fall apart."

Did you know "Islam" means submission to God?

Is that what you are suggesting?

What do you do when you think the decisions of the government are wrong? Example the Vietnam War?

What do children do in cases of spousal abuse or child abuse?

In the end we must use the common sense God gave us and act to save ourselves. Each person is an individual and is responsible for themselves (except children). As we join groups we should match our personal goals with the goals of the group. If the goals do not match, leave the group.


GodTalk profile image

GodTalk 2 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan Author

Someonewhoknows, thank you for your comments. You are certainly right. Women have and continue to play a vital role in society.

Jay C OBrian, I don't want to open up a discussion on the topics you are bringing up about this Hub because I believe they are way off topic. If you want to open up a forum on the subjects, I will be glad to tell you my views on what you have brought up. Thanks for your interest.


someonewhoknows profile image

someonewhoknows 2 years ago from south and west of canada,north of ohio

Lest we forget the important and superior role a woman plays in sustaining a civil society with respect for women and men as well as for their neighbors roles in a civilized society.Women traditionally took care of their children from birth and taught them everything they needed in order to become members of a civilized world.At,least in their own part of the world.


Jay C OBrien profile image

Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

OK, why are you protestant and not Roman Catholic or Orthodox?

Who is your minister or group or church?

Did you know the word, "Trinity" is not in the Bible?

Was it OK for the protestants to remove several books of the Bible after it had been canonized for 1,000 years?


GodTalk profile image

GodTalk 2 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan Author

Thank you lambservant for your kind remarks. And Jay C O Brian, I am protestant but am a non-denominational believer. I do my best to submit to the Word of God as my authority for what I teach and preach. I don't think that I am the perfect example of this, but by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I strive to not only teach it but live it out in my own life. Thanks for asking. God bless.


Jay C OBrien profile image

Jay C OBrien 2 years ago from Houston, TX USA

All Are to Submit to Someone

To what group do you submit?

Catholic?

Protestant (denomination please)?

Orthodox?


lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

I so appreciate your explaining this as so many women struggle with it and many husbands misuse submission to abuse or lord over the wife. You are a good Bible expositor for sure. Blessings friend.


GodTalk profile image

GodTalk 2 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan Author

Thanks lambservant for your comments. And you are right. Biblical submission does not mean that the wife is a doormat or is to blindly follow her husband no matter what. For example, if he is leading her into sin, she should refuse to do it.

Also, it doesn't mean that the wife doesn't have a say in the relationship. With any decision, both partners should pray about what they should do, and come to a mutual decision if possible. In the case where they just cannot agree, someone has to decide. The Lord has given the husband the responsibility to lead in that situation in the way he feels that God wants them to go.

Also, if submission is done in a biblical way, the husband is to cherish and nurture his wife as he would his own body (Ephesians 5:28-33). If he is doing this, he is allowing his wife the freedom to become all that she was created to become. Rather than being stifled, she can explore the gifts and talents that God has given her and use them to build up her family and the Body of Christ. Rather than enslaving, this is empowering.

Finally, the biblical word used for the wife in Genesis in the KJV is the word help meet, or helper. The Hebrew word is ezer and is always used of someone stronger or in some way superior to the one being helped. It is a word commonly used of God. He is our helper. In the case of Eve she was a helper that was stronger by helping Adam overcome his aloneness (Genesis 2:18).

The Bible nowhere sees the woman in any way inferior to the man. As a matter of fact both were special creations of God, created in His image. Anyone created in His image is not inferior.


lambservant profile image

lambservant 2 years ago from Pacific Northwest

Excellent, God Talk. You put it very well.

Let me play devil's advocate for a second because I can see where many women would still fuss (and these are likely those who just don't want to hear it) about certain ideas on submission. You use examples of submission of slaves to masters, children to parents, and citizens to government. These have to do with obedience. So some would ask "Are you saying women should obey their husbands?" Some of the older Bibles like KJV use the word obedience.

Then feminists would say "Are you kidding? The husband protect the wife? We are not weaklings, we can protect ourselves." These women harden their heart to God's order and the role he's placed on the husband. They fail to realize that the husband being protector is a role he's given to men, and is not based on women being inferior or less than.

Nice job on this.

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