Women’s Freedom or Submission?

By Cindy Koch

We live in a place and time where an ancient story of truth is hushed and ridiculed. The characters have been hidden; the vocabulary has been censored. The world attacks this story by shaming and confusing us with shadows of freedom. Our society mangles this simple story that breathes in the background.

Even though we rejoice in our modern American freedom, our ancient story begins with submission. Yes, it is a dirty little word in our culture today, but it was not always the case. God created His people, His whole creation in fact, to love and trust Him. He created all of it to submit to His word. Imagine this relationship of submission through God’s perfect eyes. He will give His people everything, fill their every need, protect them, and love them. To show their love back, His people would trust His word, cherish His beautiful creation, live as His people – in submission. This lovely relationship was established before any sin entered the world. God was the head and gifted His creation to submit. 

The Garden of Eden proved to be the first battlefield between God and his submissive people. Instead of trust, Eve doubted. Instead of love, she looked to another. Instead of submitting to her loving God, she ignored God’s good creation and handed Him a broken relationship. But sadly, the attack on God’s story of headship and submission did not stop there. The simple communication between Adam and Eve fell victim to a selfish re-ordering of creation. Instead of man acting and speaking as the head of his family as he was created to be, his wife became the shameful spokesperson for the first couple. Where he should have stood strong and rebuked the snake for his lies, she appeared to make the decisions of death for the both of them. God’s good order quickly crumbled in the twisted game of sin.

As people increased on the earth, there was clearly something wrong. They did not submit to their God, so much that there was more evil than there was good. God was so very angry about the terrible state of His creatures that He wiped out the entire earth in a great flood. Man, woman, and child died, except for a family of eight whom God chose. Noah was chosen to remember the loving relationship between a God and His people. He submitted to God’s call, even if it looked a little crazy to build that giant ark thing.

Our story continues, and God fought for His beloved people. He chose Israel to be a great nation, a beautiful bride. He led them out of slavery. He provided food and water for them in a desert wasteland. He protected and loved His creatures. Israel continually forgot what it meant to love her God. Instead of trust, she tested God to perform. Instead of love, she took other gods. Instead of submitting to her loving God, she threw His gifts back in his face again and again.

Strangely enough, when God descended on the earth one quiet night as a baby, we all expected to find a God to submit to. We looked for a great and powerful king that had the leadership to overthrow. We looked for the impressive prophet who could cast out demons and heal the sick. We looked for a leader to guide us through our dark and shameful world. Little did we know that Jesus Christ was the one who came to submit.

We watched Him take comfort in the arms of a dirty teenage girl, wallowing in an animal’s trough. We saw Him walk with sinners and prostitutes, eat with tax collectors, and wash filthy feet. We heard Him say nothing when accused by the authorities. We winced when He allowed Himself to be beaten and mocked. We cried when he gave up His life by a torturous death on a cross. Christ submitted completely to this evil generation and to the will of God.

This gift of Christ’s perfect submission now flows into our lives and our relationships. He reversed the unloving autonomy of Eve. He rewrote the ending to the penalty of death. Our story tells us that everywhere we don’t submit in our sin-struck world, our confidence lies in Him who did. He has done it, He has submitted, and it is done.

But here we are. We are torn by friends who scream freedom but truly seek to gather support for their own life choices. We are pulled by mentors who preach submission, but we must live in a particularly prescribed way. Experience shows us we can be hurt by depending on another. Every side of the passionate spectrum binds our conscience to do it the right way. Worse than that, for a Christian woman, God’s Word speaks of a relationship with men that we have almost never seen. This biblical truth about headship and submission is not displayed, understood, nor desired.

But I am here to remind you of the forgotten gift God gave to women. He daily cares for you, protects you, forgives you, and loves you through one who is your head.

This ancient story is our honored place in creation, in our faith, and in our home. I am bound to another, and he is bound to me. This amazing story is told as Christ stoops down before His bride to wash her feet. It is told when He steps into a baptism of repentance for her sin. It is told when He extends his arms and dies so that she can live. He submits His honor, His life, His individuality to be united to the Church. In turn, she lovingly trusts Him as her head.

The proper understanding of our freedom is in a story where we are bound to another.

So where our lives meet in relationships- relationship between God and man, between head of church and submitting hearer, between husband and wife, between parent and child – we meet in Christ. Our relationships are made right because Christ stepped in and submitted for Eve. He substituted his own submission for all of Israel. He carried the burden of the wayward child and restored him to a loving Father. He submitted so that you are free to be God’s creation once again.

So it’s not really a question of what to do now. You will just do what God created you to do. No checklist or report card. You are free to be in a relationship with your Creator. It doesn’t depend on you and your choices. But right in the middle of this story, you will find that you love what He loves. You will notice that His good is your good. You will find a community of men and women, slaves and free, Jews and Greeks, that believe in His work alone. You will recognize what a blessing it is to be His beloved creation, and you will desire it more and more. We are truly free from death and fear, in the loving arms of our bridegroom, Christ. You are free to submit once again.