Submission Isn’t Primarily A Gender Role

More on submission in marriage…

There is a danger in trying to interpret everything we read in the Bible that was written more than 6000 and 2000 years ago using a modern understanding of words. It’s more dangerous when we isolate texts in the Bible from the rest of the other following or preceding texts. This is why so many people end up interpreting things out of context and doing so very comfortably.

For example, when people read “wives submit to your husbands”, they do not want to recognize the fact that this was written more than 2000 years ago and that the meaning of those words would have been both culturally and literary different. So many people are living a lie but that lie seems endorsed with a poor understanding and wrong interpretation of the Bible.

For example, what tablet meant in the Bible is very different from what it means in the world of today. It means a lot of things now. Some words have become enlarged, broadened, or narrowed. It becomes a problem when we visit the dictionary to have an understanding of certain words used in the Bible.

Marriage for example means something different in the Bible days than it does in the dictionary. For example, when Paul asked wives to submit to their husbands, he was simply asking women to recognize the “structure” of the family in which the man is the leader.

Paul had previously asked that we “submit to one another”. Mutual submission here simply entailed serving one another, belonging to one another, honouring one another and being accountable to one another. Many Christians think of these submissions with a modern sense of what the word means.

Paul explained how mutual submission is achieved in the family. The woman acknowledges the role of her husband as the leader of the home and her submission is wilful, not forceful. The man treats his wife with honour and respect. The parents ensure that they do not offend their children and the children ensure that they obey their parents.

The above is how mutual submission is achieved. But because people are reading dictionary meanings into the word, they aren’t seeing service, accountability or honour. What they see is a kind of military submission. As a result, you see men thinking that their wives need to bow at every sound of their feet, they argue that they owe the woman nothing or any explanation for their decisions. After all, the woman was asked to submit! They see themselves as the Lord and Saviour of their wives.

Paul didn’t mean it this way… it’s simply so-called Christians who are so carnal, do not study and want to Lord themselves over their wives that do all they can to convince themselves that they are right about their approach to this subject of submission.

Submission in marriage is not what a man enforces. Paul asked men to serve, to love like Christ loves the Church. I believe that when men begin to truly serve in their families rather than the rule, they’ll earn true loyalty that is born of genuine honour and reverence.

  • Submission is service.
  • Submission is accountability.
  • Submission is honour.
  • Submission is selflessness.

This is mutual in marriage. When one party denies the other service, accountability, honour, and so on, that marriage will crumble. It’s not something you demand and do not give to the other person.

This is why Paul began with “submit to one another”.

The Greek word rendered as submission in Ephesians 5:21 is ” Ὑποτασσόμενοι”. It means to place or rank under, to subject, or to obey. And Paul says “” Ὑποτασσόμενοι to one another”. So, he is saying:

  • Obey each other in marriage.
  • Subject yourselves to one another.
  • Honour one another.
  • Serve one another.

When read in context, we know what Paul was saying. We know that he is simply saying “regard one another highly!”, “listen to one another “.

We can’t argue the next verse without understanding the first verse. The problem is that so many people try interpreting this thing in isolation. The next verses are Paul explaining how a woman can submit to her husband, by “belonging” to her husband and “accepting” his office as the leader. Peter mentions this also by saying:

“In the same way, you wives must accept the authority of your husbands. Then, even if some refuse to obey the Good News, your godly lives will speak to them without any words. They will be won over” 1 Peter 3:1 NLT

Yet, after talking to women about accepting their husband’s authority, he went further to say:

“In the same way, you husbands must give honor to your wives. Treat your wife with understanding as you live together. She may be weaker than you are, but she is your equal partner in God’s gift of new life. Treat her as you should so your prayers will not be hindered.” – 1 Peter 3:7 NLT

Do you know the meaning of honour? The Greek word rendered as honour is “τιμὴν” and of all its meanings, it also means “esteem, respect”. Now, men are also to respect their wives!

Why does it seem that various male Christians are always ready to attack or vehemently oppose the idea of mutual submission in light of what both Paul and Peter taught believers in the early Church? Is it that they capitalize on the false doctrine of submission to flex power and dominate their wives?

I call you blessed.


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