The Fallacy and Reality of Submission

“We are leaving the church.”  The comment was made to my husband who is also the pastor of our church.  The reason given for this couple leaving was that his preaching and teaching regarding women was chauvinistic.  When my husband asked them if they would like to see in Scripture where his teaching came from the wife’s reply was, “You can show me, but that will not change my mind.”  After showing her and her husband several passages, their response was that these verses were written thousands of years ago and do not apply to modern society.

Unfortunately, our culture confuses and undermines womanhood and submission with damaging preconceived ideas.  From the moment a young lady is thrust into society she becomes indoctrinated with feministic teachings contrary to Scripture.  Screaming equality, their feminist philosophy holds to the view that “Anything a man can do, I can do better!”  Once more subtle, it has now become blatant. Too often we hear narcissistic phrases such as:  “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle” and “I like to think of ‘men’ as the diminutive of ‘women’”.  Perhaps the worse one of all is, “God is just an abbreviation for goddess.”   These catch phrases and slogans slowly and surely eat away at the foundation of biblical womanhood and seek to destroy society as a whole.

Consider these quotes.

Any intelligent woman who reads the marriage contract, and then goes into it, deserves all the consequences. – Isadora Duncan

Women are the only oppressed group in our society that lives in intimate association with their oppressors. – Evelyn Cunningham

I ask no favors for my sex…. All I ask of our brethren is that they will take their feet from off our necks.-  Sarah Moore Grimké

As the radical feminist movement spreads throughout our country, the marks of distinction are no longer clear.  Once stood the ungodly, man-hating, ferocious feminist on one side and the Bible believing, meek, and quiet woman on the other.  But regrettably over the last couple of generations, as professing Christians continue to embrace the world; these two groups are slowly evolving together into what we see today.   You see, the thought that teaching on submission is chauvinistic and that Paul’s writings are not relevant did not come from the world and those outside the church.  These thoughts were voiced by professing Christians within the church.

These are just a few of the modern fallacies of submission being spouted.  Another misconception is that if a woman submits to her husband she becomes a doormat to be abused and walked all over.  The worldly belief is that submission lowers a woman’s worth and that it makes a woman subordinate to man.  All of these ideals are false.  However, we cannot ignore this philosophy and the agenda that is being pushed upon Christians today.  Because there is no such thing as amoral education, we must address the fact that the majority of children are being educated on the foundation of humanistic and secular teaching.  Even children that are being educated on Christian principles are exposed to secular beliefs about manhood, womanhood, and marriage via music, television, books, and society.  If not correctly taught, these children will grow into adults who continue to pass along their misconceptions.

How do we expose the fallacies?  It begins and ends with truth.  So let’s take a look at the realities of submission.  The first thing to recognize is that submission is for Christians.  We falsely assume that the non-believer should follow the dictates of Scripture.  While perhaps they should follow scripture, in truth they cannot.  “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them…,”1 Corinthians 2:14.  God designed marriage.  We see where He ordained it and the structure of it in Genesis chapter two.  Adam is created and is given a job to do and a law to keep.  God then looks out and for the first time says that something is not good.  “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him,” Genesis 2:18.  Eve is made from the rib of Adam and brought to him by God.   Here is the institution of marriage.  Then in Ephesians 5 we are given the directives for the Christian marriage.   “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. 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,” Ephesians 5:22-26. Submission is “as unto the Lord”.  An unbelieving wife cannot properly submit to her husband because she has not submitted her life to the Lord, just as an unbelieving husband cannot properly love his wife because he has not submitted to the Lord.

Now that the foundation has been laid that submission is only possible for the saved, let’s look at it through the eyes of a believer.  Submission is a beautiful term that we should hold dear.  It is through submission to Christ and as Lord of our life that we are saved.  James 4:7 declares “Submit yourselves therefore to God.”  As we saw in Ephesians 5, a wife’s submission to her husband is “unto the Lord”.  In the same way, a child’s submission to the parent’s is in the Lord (Ephesians 6:1-3).  Likewise, believers are told to submit to those in biblical authority (Hebrews 13:17) and those in authority over us such as our government (Romans 13:1, 1 Peter 2:13).  In general, we are to submit to and prefer one another in a spirit of humility (Romans 12:10, 1 Peter 5:5, Ephesians 5:21).  Submission is a part of the believer’s life.

In addition, submission in the biblical marriage portrays to the world a picture of Christ and His bride. “Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing,” Ephesians 5:24.  Just as the church is subject unto Christ, so is the wife to her own husband.  When the Christian wife is not submissive, she is showing the world a distorted depiction of Christ and the church.

 Submission in no way lowers a woman’s worth and makes her subordinate to man.  Christianity, in fact, raises women to a level of honor.  “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered,”  1Peter 3:7.  The “weaker vessel” implies a more delicate or precious vessel, as in a priceless crystal vase.  She is not common but something rare to be held in high regard.   It is made clear that the husband and wife are “heirs together of the grace of life”.  Man and woman are equal in God’s eyes (Galatians 3:28).  But that does not mean they have the same roles.  Society understands this in every instance until it comes to biblical marriage.  For example, the Governor of your state and his assistant are both created equal as human beings.  However, it would be foolish to assume that because of their equality they should have the same role in government.  As a person, the owner of a corporation and a day laborer are both equal.  But it is easy to see and accept the structure of authority when it comes to the workplace.  Likewise, there is a structure of authority in the home, but the enemy seeks to distort it.

What about the ideal that Paul was a chauvinist?  What about the statement that these verses were written thousands of years ago and not relevant to modern society?  First, as believers we must accept that “all scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,” 2 Timothy 3:16.  It is an error to pick and choose which verses we want to apply.  If we are going to throw out scripture based on when it was written we would have to disregard the entire Bible.  That would include cherished verses like John 3:16.  So the age of Paul’s writings is an invalid point.  Secondly, Paul’s teaching is not based on cultural customs but on God’s design.  The example Paul gives in I Timothy for women’s role is not a cultural one.  He goes all the way back to creation and the structure of authority in the marriage (I Timothy 2:13-14).  In Ephesians we see the mystery of marriage revealed.  “This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church,” Ephesians 5:32.  Again, it is all by God’s design.

Now that the fallacies have been exposed and the realities declared, where will you stand?  Will you stand on God’s Word and the beauty of His plan for marriage or will you stand on the emotions and opinions of the world?  Here is the amazing reality of absolute truth.  You can accept the truth or reject the truth, but you cannot change the truth.  As a Christian woman, you have an awesome opportunity to illustrate the truths of biblical womanhood and submission.  It is a beautiful thing.  It is God ordained.  And it makes for a great, God-honoring marriage.

7 thoughts on “The Fallacy and Reality of Submission

  1. amyleebell says:

    I’m almost embarrassed to admit it, but I’ve never thought about a godly marriage being a picture of Christ and the church. How could I have missed that? It seems so obvious now that you mention it. It makes me just that more determined to be a good example. Loved the post, by the way!

    • Kimberly says:

      Amy, it is just not taught a lot. But you are right. How much more should we strive to have a godly, biblical marriage as an example to the world. Blessings!

  2. Becky Honey says:

    My hats off to your husband for preaching the word. So many times the pastor will not preach that because we have so many women in the churches today that are the bread winners in the home. They wear the pants and their husbands let them. If the pastor preached about the husband being the leader and the women submitting to their husbands in the home it would step on toes so they don’t go there. So if a few got their toes stepped on and left I’m sorry but they are looking for a feel good church and not a church where the word is being taught. Tell your husband great job!
    Blessings to you,
    Becky

    • Kimberly says:

      Thanks Becky! Dana did not grow up in the faith, so when he came to the Lord at 19 he really wanted to know God’s Word. As a pastor he teaches verse by verse through the books of the Bible even when he gets to those hard passages. His heart is to be as biblical as possible. Thanks for the encouragement!

  3. kmb says:

    Starting from the 5th paragraph on down, I agree.
    However, I disagree with the statements or sentiments that precede.

    Many times, Christian women are simply searching for a more comprehensive and inclusive teaching of scripture.
    Scripture is frequently taught from a male centered perspective. Teachings concerning the Bible’s lessons for and about men are often very comprehensive and full bodied, while teachings about women are often one dimensional and flat. Women are primarily mentioned as wives or mothers. While women’s roles as wives and mothers are very significant, so are their roles and contributions in other areas: financial stewardship, leadership, government, prophecy, health, ministry, church planting, heroism and etc. All of which are illustrated in scripture, but rarely addressed in church. For the most part, women’s other roles and contributions are largely ignored and trivialized in church. In fact, women are often discouraged, criticized and accused of being feminists, man haters and narcissistic for searching for a more comprehensive and inclusive study of scripture, so women leave in search of ministries that teach in more comprehensive and inclusive way. I’m been blessed enough to attend that kind of church.

    My response to your post is an effort to bridge a gap, narrow a disparity and engender understanding among Christian women. More often than not, the enemy will use our differing needs or quests to create division and confusion. Unfortunately, there is far too much division and confusion among Christians already.

    The next time a Christian woman says that the Bible is chauvinistic, please consider sharing with her some of the wonderful things God has done for and through women throughout the history of the Bible, rather than dismissing her as a feminist, narcissist or man hater. Please don’t simply teach her about wifely submission. She has probably heard that one a million times already, but share with her some of those juicy morsels that don’t get shared very often. I’ve done this several times, and I’ve found it to be very edifying for me and them.

    I believe that this is in the spirit of what Paul said in 1 Cor 9:19-23:

    Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized – whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ – but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it! (Message Bible)

    May God continue to bless you and your family!

    • Kimberly says:

      Thank you for your comment!

      I agree that many teachings get “ignored and trivialized in church.” That is a big part of why our society is more biblically illiterate than ever before. On one end some men will preach messages that are easy to preach, that tickle peoples ears, and that gives them the accolades of their fellow man. On the other end some will preach in a way that lords the Scriptures over people in a very legalistic way, ignoring grace, mercy, and love.

      James 3:1 warns, “My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.” Teaching others the precious Word of God is a serious matter. I fear for anyone who will not teach the whole counsel of God (even the harder truths of Scripture). That is why my husband teaches and preaches verse by verse in an expositional fashion. But….people must have ears to hear what God’s Word says. Unfortunately, many times they don’t.

      Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them. (Psa 119:165 KJV)

      Blessings!

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