It’s not the most pleasant word in modern, enlightened, liberated, autonomous culture.
In that light it’s understandable that some do all manner of contortions to make what Paul outlines in key relationships as fitting with the egalitarian way of thinking. Paul was a product of his times and so we should just appreciate this as we read what he has to say. Mutual respect would be a better way of spinning what Paul has to say.
It may well be better for some palates to taste but it’s not what Paul is serving up.
If we love each other as Christ loved us, we would be in the business of serving others – putting them first, not coming over them, but coming under them. Even as Jesus washed the feet of His disciples taking the form of a servant, if there is anything mutual taking place, it’s mutual submission.
Wives submit to husbands who serve and love like Jesus. Children honour their parents who bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord who serves. Servants follow their masters as they oversee them in the light of the Lord who oversees all. There is no room for preening and putting on any airs and any sense of superiority. There is no room because it’s all taken up in being like Christ to each other. Being like Christ in the intimate family relationships and being like Christ when it comes to that essential working relationship.
This is the new life we are to be walking in. Look at this picture of a husband serving a wife who submits to him. Look at the picture of children who honour parents eager to show them the ways of a loving, king and caring heavenly Father. This is an alien picture to one where each spouse complains about not having their needs met. This is a foreign picture to spoilt children or overbearing parents.
This is a picture of submission that’s even seen among brothers and sisters in Christ who kind, tender-hearted, forgiving, patient people looking for opportunities to serve each other with what God’s given them. These behaviours are ones that can’t be contrived – it would be apparent before long. These are not essential traits of the human experience, but they are fundamental to what the new looks like.
To experience this new we have to submit to God and follow the way of Jesus who submitted to His Father in making a way possible for us to be reconciled to Him and each other.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden