The Meaning Of Submission
From My Notes by Pastor Ron Campbell
Submitting to another person is an often misunderstood concept. It does not mean becoming a doormat. Christ submitted his will to the Father, and we honor Christ by following his example. When we submit to God, we become more willing to obey his command to submit to others, that is, to subordinate our rights to theirs. In a marriage relationship, both husband and wife are called to submit. For the wife, this means willingly following her husband’s leadership in Christ. For the husband, it means putting aside his own interests in order to care for his wife. Submission is rarely a problem in homes where both partners have a strong relationship with Christ and where each is concerned for the happiness of the other.
As believers, we are all equal in Christ and as believers we need to submit to one another by choice, wives to husbands and also husbands to wives; employees to employers and also employers to employees; children to parents and also parents to children. This kind of mutual submission brings order and harmony into the family, while it increases love and respect among family members.
In a marriage, some people have distorted the meaning of submission by giving unlimited authority to husbands. After all, Paul in Ephesians 5:22, tells wives to submit to their husbands and just because a teaching is not popular is no reason to discard it. Remember a wife gets to submit and the husband gets to die. A man is the spiritual head of the family, and his wife should acknowledge his leadership. However, real spiritual leadership involves loving sacrificially (a form of dying). Christ served the disciples, even to the point of washing their feet, this is how a husband is to serve his wife. A Christ-honoring husband will not take advantage of his leadership role, and a Christ-honoring wife will not try to undermine her husband’s leadership. Either approach causes disunity and friction in marriage.
Marriage is a picture of the relationship between Christ and his church. A holy union, a living symbol, a precious relationship that needs tender, self-sacrificing care.
Paul uses twice as many words to tell husbands to love their wives as he does telling wives to submit to their husbands. So… How should a man love his wife? He should be willing to sacrifice everything for her, make her well-being a primary importance, and care for her as he cares for his own body. A wife should never fear submitting to a man who treats her in this way.
A union of husband and wife merges two persons in such a way that little can affect one without also affecting the other. This merging of two people in marriage does not mean losing your personality into the personality of the other. Really, it means caring for your spouse as you care for yourself, learning to anticipate his or her needs, helping the other person become all he or she can be. Loving one another as Christ loves His church.
Remember, the main message here is not just about marriage; it is about Christ and the Church. It’s about how Jesus wants to sanctify the Church and present to himself the Church in all her glory. “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” Ephesians 5:25-27
Don’t lose this glorious message by persistently focusing on the obligations of wives and husbands and interpret this passage only through the lens of pre-supposed gender roles.
So… Make your marriage a testimony to the relationship between Christ and His bride, the church. Walk in the power of the Spirit, yield to His Word, and be mutually submissive, and God will bless you abundantly and glorify His Son through your marriage.