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Submission: What is it Really?

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

"You're not the boss of me!" That's how many of us may feel particularly in marriage on the subject of submission. The word submit has gotten a bad rap because so many women have been abused, mistreated, and taken advantage of under the name of being submitted to their spouses and even those in dating relationships.

Submit in the biblical context has nothing to do with being domineering, forceful, aggressive nor abusive. Ephesian 5:21 says " Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Here, as in relationship to others in general, such as a working relationship or friendships, we are to serve one another, respecting authority and in the spirit of love. We do for one another as we would do unto the Lord. If asked to do those things that are against civil laws or the Word of God, this is outside of biblical meaning of submission.

In the context of marriage, Ephesians 5:22-24 says, "Wives, be subject to your own husbands as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything." Let me clear something up right now. This is not in regard to those in a dating relationship. It is pertinent for them to know this if marriage is in their future, but this scripture applies to those who are in a biblical marital union.

Submission does not mean that a wife denies who she is. Keith E. Eggert, a commentator for Bible Expositor and Illuminator, says it this way, " A wife's submission to her husband is a voluntary one, just as his submission to Christ is...Her submission to her husband is also a submission to the Lord, whom both should desire to please. This is a matter of leadership, not dictatorial authority. When a husband loves his wife in the same way that Christ loves His church, the wife never needs to be in fear of submission. Christ gave His life for the sake of the church. Any husband who has that kind of self-sacrificing devotion to his wife is going to be the husband he ought to be. A husband with this kind of love for his wife will dedicate himself to her physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being. If he fulfills his role in this way, she will find it easy to fulfill hers.

Sadly, the roles are reversed in many marriages today, even those who are Christians. Many women today are misinformed by taking advice from ungodly or spiritually immature women. Some even follow marital advice from secular talk show host or "real" tv shows. Dr. Tony Evans says, "Whenever a believer operates outside of God's standard God does not respond to that person because he will not participate in or endorse rebellion."

We can only imagine what would happen if every husband chose to love his wife as Christ loved the church and every wife respected her husband the way God requires. The divorce rate would take a downturn, and the family would have true peace as a way of life. Oh, what joy that would be!

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