Why Submission Isn’t a Bad Word

The resistance to submission starts early. How many of us have heard a child say, “You’re not the boss of me!”

Every parent understands, well, parenting and that ongoing shaping, molding, teaching, and instructing of a child.

Children need to learn early to submit to their parent’s authority. As they grow into adolescence and even adulthood that submission takes a different shape and form.

For each of us, learning how to submit to others as we grow into the independence of adulthood often defines the kind of person we will be.

Let’s think for a bit about why submission isn’t a bad word.

We started a spiritual journey last month, spending the weeks thinking about a specific aspect of our spiritual lives. Each week, I look at a spiritual practice in some detail here, then explore it more fully in daily “Three-Minute Bible Studies” on my Facebook page.

Be sure to “Like” my page so you can follow along on the bible studies.

So far, we have looked at these disciplines: meditationprayerfastingbible studysimplicity, and silence.

This week, we look at the discipline of submission.

The discipline of submission gets a bad reputation because of all the people who misuse it. There are too many people who twist biblical principles of submission to give them the authority to have dominance over another person.

Usually, the conversation about submission focuses on whether or not women should submit to men or, more specifically, whether a wife should submit to her husband.

Like many discussions about the way biblical ideas are applied, much of the discussion boils down to interpretation. It is unfortunate, no matter the interpretation, when someone uses a biblical text to demean another person or to keep that person from becoming all she believe God has called her to be.

Any application of the biblical notion of submission that keeps a woman, or even a man, from following God’s call on his or her life is a restricted and misapplied understanding of Scripture.

Submission in the Bible has its roots in two principles.

Submission is about self-sacrifice.

Jesus tells us that the heart of life is to set aside our own desires and follow him (Luke 9.23). He modeled a life of putting other people first, even to the point of his own death. Submission should always be about our putting other people first in our lives.

Submission is about love. 

If we love someone, truly love them, imitating the love of Christ in the way we relate to them, then we will never do anything to harm them or demean them. When there is no mutual love in a relationship, then there is no place for true submission.

Submission in and of itself is not a bad word. We short ourselves in our Christian experience when we seek to dominate other people.

We should seek lives of self-sacrifice and love as we submit to others. If we can discover the discipline of submission in our lives, then we will come closer to the life God envisions for us in Christ.

I am interested to know your understanding of submission. Do you find it challenging to submit to others? Why? Why not?