In my last post, we talked about the fact that submission is for anyone and everyone who desires harmonious relationships. Submission is a cooperative attitude of love and respect for others. When a husband or employer or parent or neighbor sins, asks us to sin, or desires to cause someone else to sin, we don’t “submit” to that. We respectfully decline. So we maintain an honoring attitude as we refuse to give them what they want.
The reason submission is so unpalatable to people, especially women, is because of all the “Christian” lies that swirl around it. Submission itself is a beautiful thing that enhances human relationships. But here are some examples of how people take it, twist it into a lie, and fling it around like a weapon that can (and does) encourage and perpetuate abuse of women and children. In these examples, the person in “authority” is not asking the “underling” to disobey God or to sin, but they are using the concept of submission to manipulate women while catering to their own selfish desires.
When you are reading these examples, have in the back of your mind these words from Scripture while asking yourself, “Who is sinning in this example?” Many would point to the woman placed in the underling position and say she was sinning for refusing to say “Yes Maam” or “Yes Sir” to the one who has placed themselves in the authority position. When we see the examples juxtaposed to Scripture, the truth becomes a little more clear.
“And Jesus called them to him and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant,and whoever would be first among you must be slaveof all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:42-45)
“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. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:3-5)
“Love is patient, love is kind, love is not jealous, it does not boast, it does not become conceited, it does not behave dishonorably, it is not selfish, it does not become angry, it does not keep a record of wrongs, it does not rejoice at unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth, bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (I Cor. 13)
A Hairy Armpit Loving Man
1. A man likes his women with hairy armpits and long fingernails painted pink. He tells his wife she must refrain from shaving while making sure to keep her nails long. And remember the pink. If she fails to do this, he has a fit and tells her she’s a loser (and some other things).
The “Submit Lie” tells her she is a rebel practicing witchcraft (rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, remember) if she doesn’t do all her persnickety husband desires. As she paints her nails pink, she feels guilty, unloved, and unseen.
Is this man obeying the Word of God?
A Very Important and Concerned Pastor’s Wife
2. A young woman blogs about why she does or doesn’t let her kids watch Disney movies. (It doesn’t really matter which way she goes on this one, the story is the same.) The pastor’s wife sits down with her and tells her she shouldn’t be blogging. She’s too young to have any kind of influence on anyone. She might say something that dishonors
their church, er, God. She might write about something that the pastor’s wife disagrees with. “Basically, quit blogging. You are an insignificant blot on the face of the planet with nothing to say to anyone, unlike me, a Very Important Pastor Wife Person.”
The Submit Lie tells her that since the Pastor Wife Person is older (automatically makes you wiser, duh), and also married to a Pastor Person, she is an automatic authority. Especially if the Pastor Person gave her orders to gag the Blogger Woman. Therefore it’s a no-brainer. Time to close down the blog and take up rock painting. She feels a loss of joy and purpose.
Is this Pastor-Wife-Person exhibiting the love and grace of Jesus?
A Principal Who Always Believes the Best
3. A teen-aged girl goes to her private school’s principal to report that she thinks one of the teachers might be sexually involved with one of the girls in her class. He firmly warns her about gossip and slander as well as dirty thinking. She has no proof. Only something she’s heard that is now being denied and covered up. Is she trying to bring down an entire ministry to families in her community? To sully the good name of a godly teacher? He tells her she is to quit thinking—and most certainly talking—about such depraved things and focus on whatsoever things are pure and holy, as all nice girls who want to please God do.
The Submit Lie tells her she needs to go to class and shut up. She feels guilty and dirty, for some odd reason.
Is this principle demonstrating love and compassion for the young women attending his school?
What Submission is Not
Submission is not hiding the sins of others in authority. Submission is not catering to the selfish whims of selfish spouses. Submission is not doing everything any Very Important Person tells you to do. If that were the case, then yes, submission would definitely be a weak, spineless, disgusting, degrading, demeaning thing.
But it isn’t submission. It’s cowardice and confusion; the result of abuse and shaming.
Do you see that the only one being unsubmissive in the above examples is the authority figure? They are refusing to submit to God. But many women put in those situations would automatically feel like they were the sinful one.
What Submission Can Look Like
Let’s look at those examples again and see how the women could relate to the fools and Pharisees in their lives while having a submissive attitude of cooperation and respect.
1. The wife with the hairy-armpit, pink-fingernail loving man could say, “Honey, I know you like those things, but I don’t. I prefer to shave and keep my nails short so I can change diapers and mix meatloaf without getting poop and raw beef stuck in them. I trust you married me for me. Not for my hairy armpits and long nails. I so appreciate your understanding why I can’t do that right now. I would be fine with painting my nails pink though whenever you’d like to plan a date night for us. How about that?”
If the husband proceeds to give her a black eye for that OR calls her names OR tells her she is a rebellious, unsubmissive woman wearing the pants of the family, then she needs to wonder if she is in an abusive relationship. He’s obviously not doing his part to love her the way Christ loves the Church. If these kinds of behaviors are his habit , she needs to get help. Sometimes her church will help, and sometimes, incredibly, they’ll side with the abuser and tell her the same things he’s telling her. Now she’s got an abusive husband AND an abusive church to deal with.
In cases of physical abuse, she can (and should) call 911 or go to the nearest woman’s shelter and report her husband. This may be seen as “unsubmissive” to some, but I say it’s tough love. Letting someone stay stuck in their sin is unloving if we see sin for what it really is: separation from an intimate relationship with God. The Bible says He disciplines those HE LOVES. If we love one another, we will be truthful about sin instead of covering it up and pretending it isn’t there. If a husband sows hate and violence, he ought to reap jail time and therapy. Period.
2. The blogger could say to the Concerned Pastor Person’s Wife, “I appreciate your concern about these things, but I’ve talked this over with my husband, and he has encouraged me to develop my writing skills in this way. I want to honor God and my husband by becoming all that God wants me to be in this area. If you find out that someone in our church is uncomfortable with something I’ve written, feel free to have them talk to either my husband or myself about it directly.” (I got this example from a real life situation – hat tip to my friend. You know who you are.)
3. The student could say, “I realize how this appears on the outside, but I’m only trying to help both the teacher and this girl. I do not take pleasure in bringing this to your attention, and I would not have spoken up if I didn’t believe there was something to what I heard and what I’ve observed in class between the two of them. I trust that you will take me seriously, but if you will not investigate this, I will involve other adults who will. I certainly hope I’m wrong about all of this, but please remember that if I’m right, and it comes out some other way while you had prior warning but refused to investigate, that will create even more problems for this ministry and this community.”
Sometimes we need to be courageous and submit to God instead of humans. But in order to have courage, we have to be able to see the situation clearly from God’s perspective. And we have to know that God is bigger than people.
Guess What? There’s a Part Three!
What if you are a wife, and your husband is not asking you to sin; he just doesn’t agree with you on things? How do you come to a final decision on something when you’ve reached an impasse? That’s Part Three.