Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Scared of Submission?

I heard an interesting sermon the other day. It was good except for the part where the speaker choked.

He hit the part in Ephesians 5 that deals with submission. His comments began with Ephesians 5:21, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. He explained that it means that we are to out-serve one another. I agree that service is a good thing and probably most of us could do quite a bit more.

So then on to verse 22, Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. Almost apologetically, he reiterated that it means that the couple is to out-serve one another. He then went on to say that if a wife is having a problem submitting it may be that the husband is not loving her as Christ loved the church. I agree that sometimes that is the problem but not always. Christ loves us perfectly but many refuse to submit to Him.

As an aside, he said that it really bothered him when in a wedding ceremony he is requested to leave the wife submitting to her husband part out. Last week I heard another preacher comment that if he is requested to leave that part of the ceremony out, he tells the couple to find someone else to marry them.

There is a lot being written lately about the feminization of the church and how women are viewed as being more spiritual and men are viewed as the root of most problems. If we can just get men and boys to act more like women, everything will be better. It’s some of this thinking that has preachers walking on eggshells when it comes telling the truth about certain subjects.

Yes, there are many men who are far from perfect – actually all of them. Yes, many times we have not loved our wives as we should. Still, men need to be men and Scripture has a lot to say about how that plays out.

What bothered me about the sermon is that a quick look in any Bible reference gives the proper definition of submission. We know that to submit to Christ means that He is the Lord of all. We don’t argue or debate with Him, we do what He says. We know that a soldier who submit’s to his superior can’t spin it to mean that we are to mutually serve one another. He knows that he does what he is told.

Here is a definition of submit from Thayer’s Greek Lexicon:
1) to arrange under, to subordinate
2) to subject, put in subjection
3) to subject one’s self, obey
4) to submit to one’s control
5) to yield to one’s admonition or advice
6) to obey, be subject

So we see that Paul had a lot more in mind than that we should just serve each other. I think that verse 21 wraps a context around it. There is a place for submitting to each other. A wise leader gets input from many sources, his wife included. We consult and consider and seek advice but in marriage there is an order that God has established. It’s really the same order that is in all of society. We are to submit to God and to church authorities. Children are to submit to their parents. Employees submit to their bosses. It keeps order and has nothing to do with who is smarter, more spiritual or more pretty.

As the message went on, he skipped the rest of the admonition from verses 23 and 24: 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. That further clarifies what God wanted us to know about this relationship.

Yes I know what Ephesians 5 says next. It’s a strong exhortation of how husbands should treat their wives. It’s something that many husbands, me included, don’t do very well. I agree completely with it and willingly receive rebuke and correction where I fail.

The question I have though is why is it becoming so hard for many pastors to properly speak of things like submission to women? I think it’s a good question to ponder.


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