Oh, No! Anything but Submission!

“You can’t make me do that! – “I don’t want to!” — “You’re not in charge!” These were attitudes I heard in the public school where I worked for a short time. Teachers would say to the students, “think about what you’re doing and make a good decision now.” Posters around the school would tell the students to have character, be accepting of others, succeed. What good does a poster do without REASONS for behaving properly? We act according to how we interpret and view the world. That’s called our worldview and in case you’re wondering, mine is the Christian worldview. It’s the only one that can answer life’s questions and give us reasons for behaving properly.

When I went to college, we were in the throes of feminism. You could have a career and a family, do everything, nothing could stop you, you could have it all. This went against my upbringing and it still has a false ring about it. Later, when I repented and believed and became a Christian, I saw that it really went against the teachings of the Bible. Unfortunately, I see a lot of Christian women living more like secular feminists than followers of Christ. For the moment , let’s take the gender part out of the equation and see how a Christian ought to live.

Almost every man out there on the street can describe what a Christian should be. They are loving, kind, understanding, have high standards of dress and behavior, are trustworthy, helpful, generous, honest etc. etc. Where do they get these ideas? From the Bible and more especially the example of the Lord Himself. Herein is the key to how to live. The believer is a fellow heir with Christ, but his life should be lived as the Lord lived. Many times, Jesus said He came to do His Father’s will. He came not to be ministered to but to minister. Although His primary mission was calling sinners to repentance, through the compassion of His heart and His love for others, He healed and helped people all along the way.

Who was this “man” and where did He come from? John 1:1 tells us He is the creator. Things had gone terribly wrong in the garden of Eden when the first woman sinned and helped her husband to sin as well. Now the eternal plan had to proceed so that all mankind had the opportunity to be reconciled to God through the death and resurrection of the only perfect man that was qualified to pay for sin and be our Saviour.

There are a number of passages in the Scripture that tell us how to behave toward one another and toward God. Romans (chapters 12-14) tells us to be subject to the higher powers, put on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh; the kingdom of God is not meat and flesh but righteousness and power and joy in the Holy Ghost; none of us liveth unto himself; a man should not think too highly of himself; be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honour preferring one another; given to hospitality; mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate; let us walk honestly; and finally, put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

In Philippians 2 — having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves; look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others; let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus . . . who made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself , and became OBEDIENT unto death, even the death of the cross.

And Ephesians 5: 1 – Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling savour. The chapter goes on to admonish us to be filled with the Spirit, sing spiritual songs, give thanks for all things and in verse 21 and following: SUBMITTING YOURSELVES ONE TO ANOTHER IN THE FEAR OF GOD. WIVES, SUBMIT YOURSELVES UNTO YOUR OWN HUSBANDS, AS UNTO THE LORD. FOR THE HUSBAND IS THE HEAD OF THE WIFE, EVEN AS CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH: AND HE IS THE SAVIOUR OF THE BODY. THEREFORE AS THE CHURH IS SUBJECT UNTO CHRIST, SO LET THE WIVES BE TO THEIR OWN HUSBANDS IN EVERYTHING. HUSBANDS, LOVE YOUR WIVES, EVEN AS CHRIST ALSO LOVED THE CHURCH, AND GAVE HIMSELF FOR IT.

SHAME on us Christians for not getting things right in our behavior toward one another! SHAME on us for putting our own selfish needs above those of others and the Lord! If we would work on getting the basics down as the Lord prescribed, the other things would take care of themselves. Who was the greatest servant ever known? The creator of the universe! He washed the dirty feet of his disciples and told them that if they wanted to be His they must serve others too. Who made provision for you to be reconciled to God and have eternal life? The only begotten Son of God! He said and showed that if you want to have life you first must lose it. Who is worthy of having our life lock, stock, and barrel and using us for the furtherance of His work? Only Jesus Christ who gave His life for us!

If we would lose ourselves in Him and live the life he showed us, we would not struggle with submission or servanthood which are pretty much one and the same. I am weary of women zeroing in on that one word as if it is the hardest thing in the world to do. If you are truly grateful for what the Lord did for you, it is no sacrifice to support your man, love him, take care of him and honor him because that is what the Lord has asked you to do for Him. Now we can put the gender back into the discussion. The Lord designed things to work in a certain way. The man is under the Lord, the woman is under the man, and the children are under the parents. The positions do not have anything to do with the individual’s worth to God. They do relate to having a godly and proper home as the Lord designed it to be.

Every time there is instruction to the woman, it is followed by instruction to the man and sometimes to the children, servants, and masters. Women act like they are the only ones that have a difficult role. Again, SHAME on us for being so narrow minded. The man submits to authority, too, and he didn’t get a choice. WE CHOSE the man we have and you can see why it is so very important to choose wisely. Okay, if you didn’t, the instruction from the Lord on how to behave is the same. If you obey the Lord’s prescription He will help make things right and you will know that you are properly obeying your Saviour. In many places in Scripture God makes it clear that obeying Him is of utmost importance. In the Old Testament he tells Saul through Samuel that to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken to the words of the Lord is better than the fat of rams (sacrifice).

If God tells a woman to obey, then He will perform what is necessary to make her able to obey. A good case in point here is the story of Abigail in 1 Sam. 25. To be right before God, she gave David and his men provisions . . . against the command of her husband Nabal. The evidence that it was right for her to obey God and go against her husband is that God struck Nabal down and killed him. Moses’ wife knew that he should have circumcised his sons and hadn’t done it, so she told him to do so. She knew it was important for him to obey God.

A good bit of the struggle for obedience is because of our own selfish desire to be in control of situations and indeed of our own life. Perhaps in this, the American ideal of personal liberty has contributed to the idea that no one should tell us how to run our own lives. When we become Christians that personal liberty is subject to the instruction of the Lord. We voluntarily desire to please Him and that pleasing is not a burden. Did you hear that, ladies? If we are right with the Lord, it is not a burden to live the way He asks us to live.

Control often hides a great deal of insecurity. If one is in control, they feel released from worry and tension and think that things will turn out pretty much okay. Control is a poor substitute for trust. Trust is the way to allow a loved one freedom and to have security in the relationship. One of the much used sayings around our house is “people do what they want” and another is “I can’t MAKE people do what I want.” We should all have a practical understanding of these principles. We are responsible for our own behavior but we are not to dictate someone else’s. (Raising children is another issue not applicable to this article.)

Dr. Connell Cowan and Dr. Melvyn Kinder, secular authors of “Women Men Love/Women Men Leave”, have some additional insight that is useful. The ideal union both provides the continuity of a secure and predictable partnership and protects individual freedom. Women don’t really want ultimate control no matter how hard they may fight for it. Women who are controlling invariably insist they want the man to fight back, not to yield totally, because if he does, he appears weak in their eyes. If he gives in too easily, she thinks he fears her (of losing her love) and this makes her anxious and afraid for herself.

So if you are a controlling wife, how do you change? Look honestly at yourself and see if you are feeling insecure. Are you nervous or unsure of your own lovability? The Lord says you are fearfully and wonderfully made. All of us are worthy of love but we are not to focus on RECEIVING but rather on GIVING love and dying to self. If we would stop thinking about ourselves more and “look on the things of others” as the scripture says, we would not have to worry about insecurity. The only security we have is in the Lord anyway, so stop focusing on yourself.

Men are achievers, doers, providers, leaders, protectors, advisors, guides, and builders. Someone needs to provide the secure and loving base for them to go out into the world and do what they must. That someone is the wife. She is the helpmeet. She is the encourager and cheerleader. She is his refuge from the world. Women are to be keepers at home, love their husbands, love their children and serve God in this manner. It’s a winning pattern that the Lord established and that alone should be enough to make us want to do it His way.

In the day to day operation of a home and a relationship, the stakes are not as high as the examples of Agibail and Moses’ wife. I recall that after more than 20 years of marriage, Dr. Dave used a story to illustrate kindness. When we were first married, he noticed that the way I placed the toilet paper on the holder was different from the way they did it in his home. I like it coming off the top. They had it coming off the bottom. He never said a word about it. He just changed and did it my way to be peaceful and accommodating. I never knew a thing about it until much later. Surprisingly, these little decisions can become big bones of contention in the marriage if the individuals insist on having their own way in everything.

Does it really matter if we buy the blue car or the red car? The used car or the new one? Should I insist on doing the shopping on Wednesday if he thinks it would be better to wait until Friday? Why should there be bickering about such silly things? Are you willing to waste your life on trifles? Be flexible in making small decisions. And trust means you don’t always need the long explanation of why the decision was made. Just go with his instructions. Maybe God gave him some special insight to make the decision in the first place.

We were in the military. We knew reassignments would come regularly. I never complained about where it might be but looked forward to exploring each new place. When it came to retirement, we actually considered Hawaii. In fact, Dr. Dave was rather in favor of it and all ready to go. He asked me to do some fact finding about it though and among other things, I discovered that it would be very expensive and taxes were high. I actually advised against it and after hearing my case, he concurred. We believe it was the right decision and he credits me for having the proper insight.

I have had to make many adjustments in our married life as has he. I do these things like learning to be neat and keep an orderly house, or putting the shed key back on the hook immediately after use, or putting the dishes away right after washing them because it pleases him and keeps our home a happier place. Fighting is wearisome. A dear friend of mine grew up in a home where the parents bickered and she vowed her home would not be like that when she married. It never was and I never saw a woman more dedicated to her husband. He in turn was devoted to her and both were an excellent example of a godly home and marriage. It was very pleasant to visit in their home and spend time with them. They thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company and it really showed. Because of this harmony and unity of mind they were the most hospitable people I ever knew. The table was always ready to be shared and the conversation was wonderful.

Once the discussion of an issue has been done and there is still disagreement, the bottom line is that he is the head of the home and his decision will stand. If it turns out to be the poorer choice, it is on his head, not yours. It is not a time to say, “I told you so,” either. Such petty behavior may be tolerated on the kindergarten playground but this is real adult life. It’s not the case of I’m sitting down on the outside but on the inside I’m still standing up.

True love and care is genuine. As Paul says in 1 Cor. 13, it is the more excellent way to live. Love is kind, bears all things, endures all things, never fails, suffers long, and doesn’t envy. Love does not behave unseemly or seek its own, is not easily provoked, does not think evil. Check it out for yourself.

Let’s conclude with these thoughts from Christ Himself:

(John 12:25…) he that loveth his life shall lose it, and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. If any man [woman]serve me, let him follow me; and where I am , there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor. (John 13:14…) If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, the servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them. (John 14:15,21) If ye love me, keep my commandments. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. (1 John 5:3) For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

If you are struggling with submission, you are not obeying the Lord with all of your heart. Get right with Him and get a handle on these principles of living life in a sacrificial servant mentality. If the God of the universe saw fit to live His life that way, how can we even begin to challenge His instruction? When you are obedient to Him there is no more safe, fulfilling, and contented place to be!


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