Saturday, February 14, 2015

Submit?!? - Part 1

image used under Creative Commons license,
courtesy of openclipart.org, uploaded by pixabella
Happy Valentine's Day!  We were going to post a sermon video, today, preached by the Missions Director of our church about Grace.  We will share that.  Just not today.  A couple of things came together that made this post more appropriate for today.

Ephesians 5:22 (KJV) Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

That verse (and Colossians 3:18) seems to give people hissy fits, both Christians and those in the world alike. Either verse is quoted out of context more often than relating to the verses surrounding it.  Whether it's a non-Christian or a believer, many women take issue with the idea of submitting.  That hesitance is with good reason, but based on misconceptions.  Let's take a look.

This post became essential because "that movie" is opening to the public today.  You know.  The one whose title speaks of multiple variations of a very neutral color, British spelling.  The one I refuse to publicize by mentioning the title.  Anyway, the underlying theme is the erotic "benefits" of submission, courtesy of S & M.  With the exclusion of the physical pain, that is the basis of the general world view of submission.  Some level of usually involuntary slavery and subservience.  

There's a subconscious mental image of a person, an army, a community, a nation vanquished by the other side of a military like confrontation.  That image has us seeing the men on the losing side kneeling in deference to members of the winning army, like in the Dark Ages and before.  The women on the losing side seen as offering themselves up for whatever menial tasks that were required and to sensually please the victors, with no consideration of their own thoughts, feelings, and well being.  Servitude and sex, again hearkening back to the Dark Ages.  But is a winner/loser relationship what God intended when He allowed that verse?

Colossians 3:18-24 (KJV)  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.  Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.  Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.  Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.

Instead of slavery or servitude, we see a very different picture.  Yes, wives are to submit, but "as it is fit".  Men are to love their wives and not be bitter (at where they "fall short").  Children are to be obedient, but fathers ought not to provoke anger in their children.  Servants are to work as unto the Lord, not just perform lip service to their position.  Verse 24 seems like it applies to the servant, but I think it effects husbands, wives, children, whoever.

As we can see, there's balance in each of these.  The husband's love brings on attitudes and behavior that creates equal, but opposite positions in the relationship.,  The child is to obey, but the parent is to make that a pleasure for them.  The servant is to do his job, not just pleasing his employer, but as a calling from God.  This is not Sharia law.  Romans expresses it this way:

Romans 12:10-18 (NKJV)  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality.  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.  Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.

We switched to the new King James for that one, only because a long discussion of some of the words in older English would distract from the topic.  What we see in this passage is submission based on love, honor, and humility.  But there are a couple of interesting highlights.  Do you see any mention of wives?  And do you see anywhere in this passage where some are lesser than others? The answer to both questions is "No".  The reality of Godly submission is not one party being lesser than the other, but one party honoring the other.  That points to something really exciting that we'll discuss in the next installment.

I said there were a couple of things that came together.  One of my favorite talk/news programs is CBS This Morning.  At several different points, there was discussion on Wednesday about "that movie" and submission.  Once when they were reporting about several women who were famous, at least in their fields, and chose to submit to their husbands, and once when the idea of submission came up in conversation with actress Lucy Liu.  There were some interesting thoughts on the topic. We still need to look at those and what I think is the quintessential passage about submission. We'll continue with all of that on Monday.  In the meantime, how are you loving and honoring your spouse, this Valentine's Day weekend?

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