Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Shades of Submission
Some people who talk about submission identify the Bible as the source of their views on the subject. I totally recommend scripture as the best place for such guidance with the main source being Ephesians 5 & 6. In the 1973 New International Version the heading for the “submission” scriptures—Wives and Husbands—is placed before verse 21, while in the 1979 printing the “Wives and Husbands” heading comes after verse 21. This change distorts the meaning of the scripture! It was right (if they want to put in headings) in the first place and should have remained where it was—before verse twenty-one! As my friend Cliff Black says, “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it!” The original manuscript didn’t have these headings, but I usually find them helpful so I’m not opposed to them. This placement however, creates a distortion I do oppose.
The heading really should be “Mutual Submission in Marriage”, because mutual submission doesn’t work everywhere. In chapter six Paul writes about children and parents, slaves and masters (no endorsement of slavery, but recognition of how things were and guidelines for godly living in those situations). There the Bible does not teach mutual submission, probably because it doesn’t work with parents and children and it isn’t possible with slaves and masters. The slave/master principle is just as valid for employers and employees because mutual love and respect is required in either of these situations if we want to be Christ-like persons.
The main source of the current debate about submission is the movie “50 Shades of Grey”, which, if I understand what I’ve heard, is about non-biblical submission, or sexual slavery and abuse. I have not seen the movie, will not see the movie, and, based on what I have read including some actual quotes, I do not recommend it for anyone who doesn’t want to degrade themselves.
Biblical submission in marriage is a beautiful thing. It makes good marriages and happy lives for both husband and wife. However if we remove verse 21, although the true meaning doesn’t change, it isn’t as clear that the passage is about mutual submission rather than male dominance as some people (I believe mistakenly) view this scripture.
I could be wrong, but I think verse twenty-one is about mutual submission with the following twelve verses being a guide as to how to carry out this admonition. One misunderstanding in this portion of scripture is in verse 24. If we read this as a stand-alone verse, it appears to be obvious that wives must submit to their husbands in everything. This is how “obey” became a part of some marriage vows. But if you read this as an explanation of the mutual submission concept taught in verse twenty-one, then the meaning of verse 24 is vastly different.
“21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ….24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her”
When we read these three verses together it becomes clear that mutual submission of husbands and wives should be according to the pattern of Christ and the church. The church follows Christ out of love for him rather than a slavish type of forced submission and that is how the wife should submit—out of love for her husband. On the other side, the husband loves his wife so totally he would willingly die for her just as Christ died for the church. This is a submission that could not be more complete. Put the two together and you have a mutuality with Divine origins.
I’m Rick Blumenberg and that’s
My View from Tanner Creek”.