Monday, February 16, 2015

Submit?!? - Part 2

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picture obtained from
We started, last time, contrasting the world's idea of submission with the Biblical standard.  Today's illustration, an old drawing of a middle eastern slave girl, is how the world sees submission, perhaps with a little bondage thrown in for good measure.  Mostly involuntary, although it can be by choice, with elements of slavery, subservience, and servitude.  That's not how God intended it.  We'll start with several interviews on CBS This Morning, from last Wednesday. The idea of submission may be old one, but it's still practiced and practical today. Let's get to the interviews.

One of the two women interviewed on video was Gabrielle Reece, well known in the volleyball circuit. She married another athlete.  Both are strong willed, both have well formed opinions, both are alphas.  The relationship got close to divorce.  Gabby determined what was happening was too much head butting over things that weren't as important as their marriage.  And that submitting to her husband, instead of conflicting, was a good solution.  She could still be alpha outside the home, while being more feminine (her description) at home.  Gabby said, "Cohabitation is, at best, a dance.".  A give and take.  While it was giving up control to her husband, it was not giving in to oppression and it was voluntary.

The other woman in the interview was Candace Cameron Bure, who played Donna Jo on the series Full House.  In one of her books, she, too, spoke of submission.  In the interview, Candace said she used that word in the Biblical sense.  She said she saw her husband as the leader of the family and herself as the nurturer, both important roles, just different.  

That whole idea of submission had feminists in arms.  But they ignore a very real truth.  You can't have any kind of successful organization with multiple leaders all acting at the same time.  That can be a family, a city, a business, an army, or a country.  At some point, multiple leaders will conflict with each other.  Unless the rest submit to the authority of one leader, the organization will fail from lack of direction, even more than a lack of the right direction.  Look at how many marriages fail for that very reason

In the discussion after the recorded interviews, Gayle King suggested that a successful relationship is a "shift of power back and forth".  I responded to her, on Twitter, with "The intentional power shift is exactly what Colossians 3:18-19 talks about - equality in different roles.".  We discussed the context of those verses, last time.  Along with Romans 12:10-18.  It comes down to sharing God's love with others, submitting out of giving them honor.  The dominant person in that kind of relationship is kind and, perhaps, protective, for the same reasons.  There isn't supposed to be any oppression.

Then there was the live interview with Lucy Liu, when they asked for her thoughts on submission. Her view could be summed up by her final statement that a "powerful person shouldn't have to 'act' at home.".  Maybe that's coming from her being an actress, that home should be a place where everyone can be "real".  That thought may have value, but there also has to be a balance of everyone's rights and feelings at home, not everyone running over everyone else's emotions and rights like a tank going after the enemy.  I forget the source of the quote, but "My rights end where yours begin." definitely applies.

The other thought that strikes me from Miss Liu's response is how much it echoes the world's way of doing things.  There's an underlying thought that we spend so much time putting on a facade for the rest of the world that we need a safe place to "be ourselves".  But that's not really true or necessary if our behavior is "as unto the Lord".  Take a look at the other verse we began this series with, but in its context.

Ephesians 5:21-33 (KJV)  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 church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

What's the unifying factor in that passage?  Being Christ like.  If we take on the Spirit of God and live in the "fear of God", we're not acting.  And remember that the Olde English usage of the word "fear of God" or "fear of the Lord" may have had a small element of what we think of as fear, but it mostly spoke of respect and reverence.  Add the verse that says the husband should consider the wife as part of himself, as much as a hand or foot is.  That thinking is really a two way street in God's economy.  Which is why verse 33 says, "Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.".  The proper relationship is mutual.  And there's one more aspect.

Go back to verses 31 and 32.  The passage reads, "For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.".  Verse 31 is quoting Genesis 2:24.  The thought is important enough to God to have it repeated.  The husband leaves parents for the sake of His Bride. Do you see where my train of thought is going, here?  It's one of those "Wow!" moments!  Jesus left the Father and the Holy Spirit, while He was on the Cross, by becoming sin, for the sake of the Bride.

What we see is the marital relationship reflecting Christ's relationship with the Church.  And the wife's submission is not a matter of law, but rather because the husband engenders faith and trust. And the wife recognizes and honors that.  The husband loves her as himself, as Christ does with us.  He covers, protects, and draws.  The wife submits to the husband out of honor, respect, and reverence, in response.  As we do when we recognize all of what Christ has done for us.

A final thought.  We've said that the marital relationship reflects our relationship with God.  1 John 4:19 tells us that "We love Him because He first loved us.".  We're the Bride, the wife.  And there are lots of verses telling us to love each other.  So, while submission doesn't require love, God intends it to be an essential mutual part of our relationships.  The husband covers, protects, honors, blesses out of love.  The wife submits to, honors, respects, and reverences her husband in love. That makes the husband/wife relationship mutually special.  Just like ours is with God.  How's that for blessing?

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