Wait, no not THAT s-word! I'm talking about Submission. You probably like that word even less. :-)
I've been thinking about submission lately. In part, that's because we've been looking at various epistles during Bible study, and the topic came up at least twice. God really taught me a lesson on submission through one week's study, but you'll have to wait for my next instalment for that story. :-)
I am in no way trying to write a treatise on submission. There are far better articles and books on that for you to read if you are interested. I would, however, like to touch on some ways that God has called me to submission lately, and helped me understand it better.
When this subject comes up, we tend to camp out on marital submission. In some sense, that is understandable, firstly because personal relationships tend to be closest to our hearts and take up a lot of our attention, and secondly because the issue tends to grate on us (see Genesis 3!) so we like to discuss it just as we like to discuss other topics that get us engaged. However, marital submission is only part of the Bible's overall teaching on submission. We are all called to submit to God, to our church leaders, to our employers (or masters if we are slaves), to our governments, and to each other.
What I find interesting, is that while I and other women can get quite offended about having to submit to a husband, I am – cheerfully or not – living out submission all the time in my daily life. Practically every time I go out of my house, I am subject to the authorities of my city, province, and country. When I drive on the road, I submit by obeying the laws (er, most of the time...) and when I buy something in a store, I submit by using legal tender and by paying tax. I may grumble at times, but I do accept these things as a given. Of course, you could argue that I submit because of possible punishment (see Romans 13); however, not to go into too much John Locke, most of the time we submit as part of a mutually beneficial relationship. I obey traffic laws because if everyone does, it keeps us all safer on the roads. I pay taxes, but I am okay with that because sometimes I profit from them personally (like getting tax returns), while other times I reap the benefit of living in a stable country with modern infrastructure.
I could go on and on about how we also submit to church authorities, our parents, our employers, etc., but I won't, because the main thing to remember is that all of this submission is part of our overall submission to God. God is our authority, so we submit to the authorities He has set up (Romans 13:1). Every day, even people who do not believe in God live somewhat in submission to Him, because He created the world and the conditions in which we live. He created time and the laws of physics, so really even my existence at this moment is in submission to His will. He decided when and where we should be born, which determines a lot of the factors of our lives, and He sets up government authorities.
As a Christian, of course, I am called to live a life of deeper submission. I am called to show my love for God through my obedience to His Word (e.g., John 14:23). I also show this submission by talking to Him in prayer and asking guidance. While God does not have to reward me for doing this (because it's what I should be doing regardless), He does so in the ever-increasing blessing of knowing Him better. Of course, one of the areas He asks me to obey is in the area of marital submission, which I will cover in my next post.