Submission is way out of vogue in our day and age. It carries the idea of forced obedience, tyrannical abuse, and a general air of door-mattidness. But, we all have to submit. We all have authorities over us. Just try keeping your job without submitting to your boss or to the company’s culture. Try not submitting next time a police officer pulls you over – just don’t call me when you get your one phone call. We all submit to some form of authority. Not only is authority a Biblical mandate, it’s the foundation of a peaceful, safe, and free society. True freedom doesn’t mean getting to do what you want, whenever you want. That’s slavery to your desires and not freedom. Believe you me, I don’t want that kind of freedom and neither does anyone else. I believe in giving people a lot of freedom, but that freedom demands that we are all self-sacrificing, respectful, and responsible, not mean, gross, and lazy.
But, I digress, this isn’t an article about government and the governed….or not on a political level. This is about something I noticed the other day when I was reading 1 Peter. As a child, I often read very short sections of my Bible, sometimes less than a whole chapter. I could never figure out why I never understood what the Bible was teaching – I mean I read it just about every day. (This is why I’m thankful preaching is a Means of Grace and not personal Bible study!) My husband suggested I try reading bigger chunks of the Bible, even whole books at a time. He said it would make things easier to understand. Not really believing him, I gave it a shot. As you would expect….he was right.
Reading 1 Peter 2-3, I noticed something I’d never noticed before about submission. Submission’s context is freedom. In v. 2:13 Peter starts teaching about submission to authority. He says “Live as people who are free”. Then, he mentions the two specific groups who are most often trampled under the foot of those who are mighty – servants and women. Who has more to fear from submission than slaves and women? How many horror stories still echo through history of the abuse of these two sub-sets of our cultures? In some places of the world it is legal to physically abuse, rape, and murder women without a thought or any fear of criminal charges. Story after story reverberates through the world with terror and horror. What does the Bible say? “Live as people who are free”.
It struck me. It brought tears to my eyes. I’m in this line of women. I’m in this sisterhood, and I’m told to live as if I’m free. How beautiful!!
But wait, there’s more!
What am I to do with this freedom? First, I’m to know in what sense I’m free. I’m not free to do whatever I want. I’m still a slave, but a slave to whom??? I’m not the slave of a man. And though I love my man very much, I’m not his slave, maid, or any of that. I’m his wife working at his side. There is only one to whom I’m a slave – Christ and Him Crucified. I’m owned by no man. My wings spread, my heart sores, and a great burden lifts from my shoulders. No man owns me. I’m free. I’m a free agent and owned only by the Man who died willingly for me and rose again. The one who is the Standing Lamb, faithful and true, is my only master. Oh, the sense of empowerment that freedom brings.
Now, I read further, what am I to do with this freedom from the manacles of man? 1 Peter 3: 1 -6: “be subject to your own husbands”. Wait, what? Christ calls me, as a wife, to take my freedom, and by my own choice, set it under my husband’s authority. He commands me to take all the joy of being free, of being a woman, of being softly strong, courageous, smart, dedicated, practical, and beautiful and use it to serve the man given to me by Him. Not for that man’s sake, not because my husband makes me, or because he’s just so wonderful I want to do every little thing he ever says, but because Christ says to. Think about it. You are not submitting because of your husband, but because of Christ! Christ who loves you, is preparing a place for you, holds you gently in His hands, commands you. How motivating is that? How much more willing are you to grow and mold yourself into the helper your husband needs when you know you’re doing it for Christ sake? If you have a husband who is abusive or even just unthankful, how much easier is it to be his helper when it’s not about him? How much more passion will you put into your service when it’s about Christ?
As a young wife, who thought she had this submission thing down, I found it surprisingly hard. I felt like I was losing myself – my Identity – and, honestly, my husband wasn’t worth that. I felt unappreciated – don’t you see the sacrifices I’m making for you! Then I grew bitter and unloving. How thankful I am that Christ doesn’t abandon his sheep, ever. How thankful I am that even when I’m not holding tight to Him, He never let’s go of me. He never stops sanctifying me. My submission has nothing to do with my husband and everything to do with my love for Christ. He died for me! He died! Wrap your head around that one???
Do you like to watch romantic movies? Do you like to watch romantic tragedies where just when they admit they love each other the man dies to save the woman he loves? Christ died for you! Someone willingly laid their life down to save you! But, and always remember this, He did not stay in that grave. Oh no! He rose again and rules even now! How much more should you live for Him? Dear sister, this is what He calls us to do —> take your freedom in Christ and submit it to the authority of your husband. Not because he’s worth it, but because Christ is. Christ came, conquered, submitted, died, and rose for you, oh sinner. He rose and returned to heaven to pray for you, oh sinner. LIVE for Him! Make yourself a slave for Christ’s sake. Trust your safety, your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing, your significance to Him. He is a mighty warrior with a bright blade. He is The King and He is our Standing Lamb. He is more than able to tend to your soul if you will but trust it to Him. This is the beauty of Biblical Submission.