Submission: It's For Everyone!
Our society does not like to talk about submission. The self-centered nature of our culture encourages us to do what we want to do, and the idea of a wife submitting to her husband is particularly a target of scoffing. However, the fact is that everyone has to submit to someone. It is impossible to refuse to be submissive on some level--just ask people who have failed to submit to the laws and are now in prison for their crimes! You see, despite the negative connotation of the word submit, it is simply a fact of life and a necessary part of any society. The question really is, to whom do I have to submit?
The Bible clearly teaches about submission, which is also referred to as subjection or obedience, and it is not just women who must be submissive at times.
Submit to God (James 4:7) All people were created by God and are expected to submit to Him. We are to recognize Him as the Creator and as having authority to command us. We look to His will first, and whatever He says to do, we do! Of course, we realize that most people do not take this responsibility seriously, and some do not even acknowledge that God exists. That does not change the fact that we will be held accountable for whether we submit to God or refuse to submit to Him.
Submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21, 1 Peter 5:5) Selfishness causes us to always want our way, to never give in to what someone else needs or wants. Submission causes us to think of others before ourselves and do what is best for them--that is the way God expects His people to be.
Submit to the elders of the church (Hebrews 13:17) God has placed elders in a position of authority in the local church, and members are expected to obey them.
Younger people submit to your elders (1 Peter 5:5) In this context, all younger people are told to submit to those who are older than they are. It is proper to show respect for people who have more experience in life than we do.
Submit to government (1 Peter 2:13-14, Romans 13:1-2) God commands us to obey the rulers of men and to follow the laws that they establish.
Servants to masters (1 Peter 2:18, Ephesians 6:5) If you work for a master, that person has the authority to tell you what to do. You are to submit to him and do the work that is expected of you.
Children obey parents (Ephesians 6:1) Parents have authority over their children.
Wives submit to husbands (Ephesians 5:22, Colossians 3:18) Wives are commanded to submit to and respect their husbands. Older women are told to teach younger women to love and obey their husbands (Titus 2:4-5).
From the beginning of our lives we are in submission, both to God and to other people. The scriptures cited here show us some of the people to whom we must submit, and violating those commands because we want to satisfy only our own desires is sinful! It is important to note that many passages that talk about submitting say “submit yourselves.” Our responsibility is to be aware of times that we should be submissive, and to initiate that obedience ourselves. Some people wait until they are forced to obey--like when they are in handcuffs--before they will submit. Christians should not be that way. In any of the areas mentioned, we should willingly submit ourselves and do what is right.
Of course, we realize that the thing our society most hates is the idea of wives being submissive to their husbands. Many people do not want to accept that men and women are given different roles by God. God, though, is the Creator of the universe. That means He is the creator of me, and of you. He made me, so He has the right to tell me what to do. Failing to submit in any of the areas that He commands is really a reflection of failing to submit to God Himself. You may claim to be a Christian, but if you deny that you must be submissive when God says you must be submissive, you are not truly a disciple of Christ. You are in rebellion to Him. Do you demand your way instead of putting the needs of others ahead of your own? Then you are in rebellion against God. Do you ignore the laws of the land that you do not like? Then you are in rebellion against God. Do you show disrespect to your elders? Then you are in rebellion against God. Do you refuse to submit to your husband? Then you are in rebellion against God!
I recommend reading Colossians 3, which discusses submission. It begins by talking about seeking the things of God instead of the things of the world; putting to death earthly traits and putting on holy traits. We are told in verse 17 to do all things in the name of Jesus. Then, in verse 18, begin admonitions about specific roles: wives, submit to your husbands; husbands, love your wives; children, obey your parents; fathers, do not provoke your children; servants, obey your masters. We are reminded in verses 23-24, “whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance...” God will reward those who obey Him, will repay those who do wrong, and “there is no partiality” (verse 25). Whatever roles we have in this life (wife, husband, parent, child, servant, master), we will be judged based on how we fill those roles. He does not show partiality in judgment based on whether we are man or woman, rich or poor, weak or powerful. He does judge whether we obey and submit to His will. Denying our roles does not change God’s expectations for us. If we refuse to submit to others as we have been commanded, we are refusing to submit to God. Let us simply embrace our roles, fully yielding our wills to God’s, and we will be rewarded! (This article is the first in a series about submission.)