Women, Church, and Submission

Dear Reader,

I think I have probably blogged on this before, but I have had reason to think about “women’s issues” again recently, and I thought that it could always use more airtime.

Our society is largely based on rights. In fact, we have been studying the time of the American revolution in our homeschool and it is right there ion the Declaration of Independence: “our inalienable rights” . . . “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” We Americans are very big on protecting our own dignity from infringement. And this often boils down to yelling at the guy who cut us off in traffic, taking some “me” time, and the like.

But Christianity calls us to just the opposite. It calls us to submission. There are certain relationships which the Bible tells us require submission — wives to husbands, children to parents, slaves to masters (today we might say employees to bosses). But we are also told that we must all submit to one another. Submission, in fact, should characterize the Christian life. Submission means not claiming what is ours but allowing ourselves to be less, to have less, to seem less in others’ eyes. And our example in this is no less than Christ Himself who, we are told, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped (though He was equal to the Father and could have asserted Himself) but humbled Himself and not only became such a lowly thing as a man but even died a very shameful death for our sakes. So we are called to do likewise, not to think of what we deserve but to be willing to appear less and to put others and their needs and wants before our own.

I blogged recently on abortion and this was really my point in that post as well. It is not that a woman does not have rights over her own body; she does, and I am very glad I live in a society that recognizes that as so many around the world do not. But we are called to set aside our own rights when another life is involved. (There was an excellent article on cnn.com recently, by the way, about a mom who did just this, chose not to have an abortion though it could have saved her own life. If anyone can find it, please let me know.)

I met a very nice female minister recently. I don’t know her well but she seems energetic and enthusiastic and creative. Other women might be more educated than their husbands. They might have a better understanding of theology. Why should these women not be pastors? Well, the simple answer is that the Bible tells us so. In marriage too women are told to submit to their husbands. It is not that women are in any way inferior to men in God’s eyes. It is not that they, individually or as a group, are stupider or less spiritual. Submission is not about being less; it is about being willing to take a back seat. Remember that Christ too submitted though He was equal with the Father. In fact, when God calls us to submit (and all of us are called at one time or another to do so; it just seems to fall more on women), He is saying, “I want you to be more Christ-like. I want you to have s small taste of what I did for you.”

A really important point here, I think, is that for submission to be genuine, it must be voluntary. If someone else is forcing you to submit, that is not what the Bible is talking about. And especially in marriage, that is not what we should be looking for.

It is tough to not claim our rights, to not have others acknowledge that we have the power or brains or whatever it takes to get the job done, especially when our society is always telling us that we deserve everything and that we can’t let others intrude upon us. But Christianity tells us that it is not all about us and that our value is not found in others’ opinions anyway. Nor is it found in our own intelligence or abilities. God gave us those anyway and we have no reason to boast in them. Our value is found in the fact that Christ submitted Himself and died for us. It is in the price He paid for us. When we understand that, it should be much easier to take a back seat and not always assert our own rights.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Patti on October 27, 2014 at 10:56 am

    Beautifully written – thanks for sharing your thoughts!


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