By Cindy Koch –
An element of our heritage has been assumed to be false and therefore lost among women. As I observe other cultures where this is not lost, but kept as part of the daily flow of everyday life, I wonder what that means for us who have forgotten this identity. We don’t speak this way about ourselves, and therefore are not taught how to understand who we are in relation to others. Especially if this relationship is so very complex, that is can be commonly misunderstood. It can be so very distasteful, that we have sought to eliminate this from our culture all together.
We have forgotten the joy of submission.
I don’t have to remind you of the misunderstandings of this created reality. You just utter the word “submit” and women everywhere kill you with dirty looks. It is one of the nastiest slanders you can offer a girl, as it compares her to a lowly dog, broken and beaten down by her master. You have, no doubt, seen the backlash of women crying out from the decades past that they will not be held down by such an oppressive identity.
The problem (or the solution) of our predicament is that no matter how liberated women become, we still feel the pain of inequality. We feel the power struggle between a male and female voice, no matter how we’ve been taught to dismiss it. We notice the lack of leadership, and even mourn it, as men step to the side. We wonder about other cultures and our God as the distinctions between man and woman are drawn in the sand. Even if we’ve never seen what it looks like, we long for a peaceful relationship between God’s creations.
But we don’t even recognize that there is joy in submission.
I can’t speak for men, and if they even see unrest between the genders. But being a woman who loves theology (a little too much) I can first-hand expose the card that men play when they feel threatened in an argument. Even my beloved male friends show these colors when it gets too rough, and they probably don’t even know they have done it. Sure they don’t say the same words, it may just be a gesture that turns to the truly learned men of the group. It may be a subtle change of conversation to only include a male pastoral opinion (because I happen to hang around a lot of pastors). Perhaps one might even be as blatant (yet honest) to call it out in the midst of a discussion. Submit, woman… and like it.
Submission is such a painful idea for men and women because it has been so badly abused in our life of sin together. Along with a submissive woman comes a loving and honorable man. Both sexes are sharply reminded that they do not care for each other nor respect each other as they were created to do. God shows us his perfectly created law when strong men gently lead and quiet women decisively follow. We certainly feel the shame when our own lives and our own experiences are less than what God created to be “good”.
But I hear there is joy in submission.
I can read the Old Testament where the Israelites follow their God, YHWH. He leads them, loves them and forgives them. But they are truly a blessed people created to submit to God. In the New Testament Jesus is the great teacher, healer, and ultimately Savior. His followers do not get to create a new relationship; they are truly a blessed people created to submit to Jesus, who also submits to God. In the early church, Jesus is the head of the church as He is the only way to eternal life. The church and all believers are truly a blessed people created to submit to her head, Christ the Lord. There is joy in submission, not only for a woman but for a chosen nation, chosen followers, and the bride of Christ.
The question remains: why do we want something other than to submit? God’s creatures have been in this beautiful relationship with their Creator since before the fall! Ah yes, the fall of humanity has disfigured the blessings of God, especially in regard to submission. To the woman He said…”Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.” What a bleak and familiar description of our battle of the sexes. After sin entered into the nicely created relationship, our world has never looked the same. Our feelings for each other have never been the same. Our conversations one on one have never been the same. A gal will sinfully seek to step into man’s created position. A guy will sinfully take the reins and forcefully lord it over her. (Although, I think today we see the direct opposite of this curse based on a pendulum swing reaction to the heavy-handed men of the previous generations. Don’t worry too much, the pendulum is swinging back and will pass the reasonable middle shortly…) Bottom line: NONE of this is good – none of this reflects the blessed man and woman God created.
But Jesus restored joy in submission.
When Christ walked the earth, God’s most prized and lovely son, Christ fully submitted to the will of His Father. Even if He did not want to follow, He did. If He did not want to listen, He heard. When He was tempted NOT to submit, Christ walked lovingly to His death. We should expect that the world and our sinful hearts would hate submission. Thank God our Christ did not.
It’s not as shallow as “what would Christ do?” now just go and do that. Rather Christ was submissive until death, for you. You are a free creature, despite the chains of this world. You can toss it all in the trash, and you are still His. But like it or not, you are a creation of God. You are no longer fallen, ashamed and separate, but a creature who is clothed in the blood of Christ. Just as His works now pour out of your hands, His will and purpose again pours out of your life. You have been made a new creation, joyfully living as God’s beloved once more.
Guess what? You are probably submitting to your head right this very minute – and I know you like it.