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Biblical Submission: Interpretive Study
Is this possible? Is it Biblical?
I want to talk about a topic that unfortunately has been taken out of context frequently in Christian circles. The idea of mutual submission, not only in the marriage relationship, but also in the work world. and with the parents and children. I will be examining this misconstrued aspect with a biblical perspective through the eyes of Paul as he wrote to the church of Ephesus. Is this idea of mutual submission possible and Biblical?
Lets take a look at Ephesians and find out.
When Christian circles discuss the idea of submission in Biblical terminology, they will usually go to the passage in Ephesians 5:22-30. This is a great pasage of scripture, and I will also be analyzing this passage. However, verse 21 is oftentimes missed or if touched upon, not touched upon in any depth. In introduction I will be looking at this verse and how it plays a big role in this idea of mutual submission not only in the marriage relationship.
"submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."
Ephesians 5:21 shows the believer how these three roles of submission(marriage, work world, and family) are carried out.
- How does the wife submit to the husband?
- How does the husband love the wife?
- How does the employee submit to his/her employer?
- How does the employer treat his./her employee?
- How does the child submit to his/her parents?
- How does the parent submit to his/her child?
These questions can all be answered with a proper understanding of this verse.
" submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ."
By submitting one to another. Everyone is called to be submissive; it is just worked out in different ways.
Now before I go on it is crucial to note that this submission will be utterly impossible if submission to God first is nonexistent.
Ephesians 5:21 calls for the aspect of mutual submission, where each party considers others better than his/her self. Whatever role we have been given, whether it be the husband, the wife, employer, employee, parent. or child, we must learn to accept out of a love and respect for the Lord.
Mutual Submission in a Power-Hungry World
Everyone has a little bit of a pride issue; it just depends on how open and honest we our with ourselves and whether or not we want to admit it. It is embedded in our human nature, the desire to be in control, to have power. So how do we balance this yearn for power in our everyday relationships? It is by learning the ability to be mutually submissive.
How is this idea of submission carried out in the marriage relationship?
Let's analyze Ephesians 5:22-30 briefly.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body."
Why is mutual submission so vital in the marriage relationship. Because a society that does not love, protect, and cherish this relationship will inadvertently be threatening its existence. Think about it? Is not one of the goals of a maariage to teach your children how a husband and wife are to treat each other with sacrifial love? When marriage fails, the family falls apart, and when the family falls apart, the society follow right behind it.
So, now that we see the importance behind this aspect, let us take a glance at the passage and see what it says.
The wife is supposed to submit to the husband in everything, according to verse 24. Oftentimes, this word submission in context of marriage is misconstrued. It does not mean inferiority, but rather in refers to a willing submission. The submission of the wife ought to flow out as a voluntary response to God's will. It is the idea of being willing to give up one's own rights, in this case giving up rights to the God-ordained authority, the husband.
So if the wife is supposed to submit to the husband, what is the husbands duty/obligation to the wife?
Ephesians 5:25 states, " Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." The husband is supposed to love his wife with a sacrificial love. Just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up. Now we al know that in most situations the husband will not have to literally give up his own life. But, in reality, the lesser sacrifices are more dificult because of the human nature to be prideful. John MacArthur puts it this way,
"Husbands, when you put aside your own likes, desires, opinions, preferences, and welfare to please your wife and meet her needs, then you are truly dying to self to live for your wife. And that is what Christ's love demands"
Now that is sacrifical love. When the husband loves his wife this way, it will make it ten times easier for the wife to be in submission to him. It is this idea of working together or submitting to one another according to Eohesians 5:21.
The passage in Philippians 2 sums this idea up when it states,
"complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others"
The main idea for this hub was to convey the importance of mutual submission in the marriage relationship, so I will be briefly discussing the same idea in the work world and in the family.
Ephesians 6:5-7 states,
"Bondservants, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man"
How does the employee submit to his boss? He submits with a sincere heart. What this means is that he does not pretend to obey or pretend to respect, but instead completely obeys. He also works unto the Lord and not unto man. How do you actr when your boss is not around? You should act the same when your boss is not around and when he is looking over your shoulder. There should be no middle ground.
How does the employer treat his employees? Ephesians 6:9 states,
"Masters, do the same to them, and stop your threatening, knowing that he who is both their Master and yours is in heaven, and that there is no partiality with him."
The employer should not be opverbearing, tyrannical, and even partial, but instead caring and loving. It is dificult for the employee to respect an employer who is overbearing and who has no care for his employees. So it goes both aways. Again, it is this idea of mutual submission. Both parties have a role to play.
Parents and Children
I am sure we are all familiar with Ephesians 6:1-3, but sometimes the following verse is not preached or lived out, so I will highlighting that in bold print.
" Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord."
The child's role in this mutual submission idea is to simply love his/her parents. SImply said but rather dificult to live out. No matter what, the child is to love his.her parent. The parents know best, and although at the time, it may seem "dumb" or "not fair", it is in the child's best interest to obey. But, if this submission is mutual, what is the parents role? The answer to this question can be found in the bold print.
The parent must not provoke his children to wrath. What does that mean? How often does a parent make a rule, just because they can? The parent should be patient with his children and avoid unreasonable harshness. And when the child goes against his/her parent in disobedience, the parent must correct out of love and compassion, not of anger. When the parent acts in this way, it DOES make it simple for the child to obey!
Forgive me for being brief in my last two points; they could be separate hubs, but at this time I thought it relevant to put them all together. I may separate the three categories at a later time.
Before I conclude, I would like to refer back to the questions I posed in the beginning.
Is this idea of mutual submission Biblical and possible? Yes, of course it is, if we are carefully applying Ephesians 5:21 to our lives.
HOW DO WE BECOME MUTUALLY SUBMISSIVE IN A POWER HUNGRY WORLD?
well, are we submitting to one another in reverence to Christ? Like I all ready made clear, we must first be in submission to Christ for this work out in these other areas of our lives.
No matter what stage of life you are currently in , whether it be a marriage relationship, the work world, or family, there is a universal call to mutually submissiver; it is just carried out in different ways.
What are your thoughts on this idea? Do you agree? Please share your thoughts!