I just want you to pause and think for a minute about how much you love control. Think about how anxious you are when you don’t have control over certain situations in your life. Have you ever been frustrated with someone you love because they didn’t do what you asked? Or you couldn’t control their circumstances or how they responded to them?
Yeah. I love control, you love control. We are all control freaks!
All throughout college I have been torn over this idea of submission. I love most all of the commands in the Bible (you know, when I’m walking by the Spirit and everything;), but THIS. This one is SO DIFFICULT. I never like it. I’m going to be really honest. I saw guys walking around on my Christian campus that wanted to be pastors, but whose personal character was far from that of a person wanting to shepherd God’s people. And I thought to myself, “Why would I ever submit myself to them?!”
As I saw it, I was smarter, more disciplined, more self-controlled, and more compassionate (you guys are really getting a good glimpse of my pride). In fact, I had compassion for everyone BUT those young men training to be pastors. I didn’t understand. I know females who can teach the Bible better than men. I know women who are more well read, more self-controlled…yet this command still remains. As much as you try to do some hermeneutical gymnastics around it, or reinterpret it, there it is. Dreadfully staring at you from the page.
BUT the perfect God of the universe who made me and who made me a specifically a woman says that what is best for me is submission. And so instead of condemning his commandment as “bad”, in all actuality it is probably my attitude towards that commandment that is worthy of condemnation. It is not God that is on the stand to be judged, it is me. Therefore, I keep going back to this command that is so hard to swallow and I keep wrestling with it.
[Eph 5:22 NASB] 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
[1Ti 2:11-15 NASB] 11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. 13 For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. 14 And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. 15 But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.
So then, if you believe God’s word is infallible and inerrant, you have to ask yourself the question; “Why wouldn’t I submit?”
And I think for me, the answer comes swiftly and strongly. Whether it is submission to my pastor, elders, father, or husband, it is the fear of losing control. Is this new? No. I think for women this is a truth as old as time itself.
[Gen 3:16 NASB] 16 To the woman He said, “I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.”
When Eve took the fruit, she was proclaiming that she wanted to be God. She took herself out of the place she belonged in the created order, because she wanted to be on top. She wanted to know good and evil. She wanted control. Now we are plagued by this desire to be God. Specifically women are plagued with a desire to manipulate, a desire to take ourselves out of glad submission to a God who always knows best for us. Because here is the reality: no matter how flawed your husband, father, or pastor is, your issue is not with them. It’s with God.
Everything God created has order. I don’t know why we think that marriage, family, and church wouldn’t have a designated order as well. Meant for our well-being and our good. The question is not; are women able to accomplish the tasks that men are able to accomplish? The question is; Should women accomplish the tasks that men were made to accomplish? It is not a matter of ability or strength but a matter of order.
Elisabeth Elliot talks about the power of restraint in her book Let Me Be A Woman:
“A man’s power over a woman is restrained by love, woman’s power over man is restrained by the command to submit. Any woman knows that she has ways of getting her own way. It is not physical strength that is the most powerful. It is not the ability to deal with high level abstractions. She may be as intelligent or more intelligent than her husband, she may be more gifted than he is. Whether this is the case or not, she also has emotional power, and she has sexual power. These must be restrained. The kind of restraint God asks of her is submission.”
While this quote only deals with submission to your husband (which is mainly what we are discussing here; women are NOT meant to submit to every man on earth. Heavens no!), it illustrates a brilliant point. Submission is woman’s choice to lovingly lay down her ability to control and to trust God through trusting her husband. Wow. Ok. I can dig that.
Women have an immense power to manipulate. We can be sly and subtle at all the right times, to get you to give us exactly what we want, usually without you even knowing it. Submission is the laying down of that sin. Submission is the laying down of that desire to control, and it is opening our hands to ask: “God what do You want for my life?”
We all submit to things everyday so that we can walk into more freedom. We submit to governing authorities and their laws so that we can all be free to live safe lives. We all submit to employers so that we can make money in order to have the freedom to spend it. We all at some point submitted to parents who taught us right from wrong. Sometimes we don’t always recognize the point of a law or a rule made by those in authority, but most of us trust its good nature and obey it anyway. How much more women, should we trust the perfect God of the universe when He gives us a command we don’t fully understand all the time?
[Pro 3:7 NASB] 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and turn away from evil.
Submitting to a perfect loving all merciful God is hard enough. He asks women to also submit to flawed men as part of our obedience to Him. That takes maturity. That takes the grace of God. We are called to encourage our male leaders where they are weak, not holding it against them, and to even more so celebrate and recognize their strengths. That is the beauty of womanhood. Submission. As Jesus, an equal with God, did not regard this a thing to be grasped, and submitted Himself to the will of the Father, so we are a picture of Christ when we graciously submit ourselves under the leadership of men.