In Donal’s post reality versus reason there is a discussion going on about submission. Part of this post is a comment I made, but I’m making this its own post because it is important to understand the theological concept of submission and its importance.
Mrs. C writes:
The thing that concerns me around these parts is phrases like “willing to practice it” (submission) and “demonstrates submission to her father.” The reason it concerns me is because if she has to “practice” submission or “demonstrate” it, it implies that one is looking for signs of obedience from an otherwise willful child. Submission in marriage to another Christian who holds the same values as you, isn’t like that. You won’t have to manage your wife or request obedience unless you marry unwisely by choosing a shrew. I’m not saying this is you, but I’ve read some supposedly Christian “red-pill’ sites run by men that look like, by what they say, that they might have an underlying domination-submission fetish that they try to give a Christan veneer to so they can convince themselves it’s ok. If you are courting or engaged, that is the time to ask the questions about her values, her views on family life and to see if she can give you basic, decent courtesy that all Christians give to each other. If you are having long talks about the really important things like faith and family life and she believes the same thing you believe and seems really firm and solid in that belief, then you have a keeper. There will be submission because there is agreement. You won’t have to ask for it. This will be the biggest indicator. If a guy’s test for submission is seeing if she gives 100% compliance in things that fall under the 5% small stuff rule, then he doesn’t have a grasp on what true submission is.
Sounds good in theory right? You agree on most things, but don’t sweat the small disagreements even if she doesn’t comply 100% of the time.
I respond with the following comment.
Quite frankly, this tells me you don’t know what “true submission” is.
It’s clear in Ephesians 5 is that marriage — the husband and wife relationship — is analogized to Christ and the Church. Christ should expect 100% compliance from Christians especially in areas where they don’t like it or disagree with it. Don’t like loving your enemies? You do it anyway because it honors God.
Imagine if Christ said, “well, DS, I think you should love your enemies 100% of the time but because you disagree here and don’t want to do it that’s OK.” That is the absurdity of what you’re saying by “If a guy’s test for submission is seeing if she gives 100% compliance in things that fall under the 5% small stuff rule, then he doesn’t have a grasp on what true submission is.”
TRUE submission is only shown in disagreements. Why? Because submission is not about “compliance” or “agreement” but it is about respecting and honoring the decision of the one in the authority or headship position. It’s easy to do something when you want to do it. But it is mighty hard to honor and respect headship and authority when you don’t want to do it.
The reason why people divorce is because they don’t respect and honor God’s laws when they are “unhappy.” I don’t like the government but I honor the laws of the land and respect the president and our leaders. I don’t have to like it. I don’t have to enjoy it. But I do it because God states that in His Word, and I want to honor Him. A Christian unwilling to submit to Christ in *all things* is no Christian. A wife unwilling to submit to her husband in *all things* (even if she doesn’t like it) is in for a very unhappy marriage and likely divorce.
This is why many of the Christian men here RIGHTLY take this view.
Let me drive this point home to any Christian men out there.
Compliance and agreement are a half truth and half lie of submission. Submission is honoring and respecting the decision of those in headship and authority, even when you don’t agree or don’t like it.
Compliance is the half truth of submission. While this is right, it can be done with a poor attitude. You don’t have to like it, but you still honor and respect the decision. However, it’s always better to do the right thing with the wrong attitude, and pray that God change your attitude while you do it.
Agreement is the half lie of submission. I can be submissive to my parents 100% of the time and NEVER agree with any of the decisions that they made. I can obey the laws of the government 100% of the time, and NEVER agree with any decisions they make. Yet, I’m doing the right thing. Agreement is unnecessary for submission.
There are very few Christian women who are going to be willing to submit to their husband in all things. When you are married to a woman who will not submit 100% of the time in all decisions what she is telling you through her actions is this:
She is unwilling to submit to you — a fallible human — in this decision because she is unhappy or emotional. Do you think she is going to be willing to submit to God — who is perfect — and you in honoring her marriage vows when she becomes unhappy at other times in marriage?
Fat chance. Those unwilling to submit to fallible humans in relationships or organizations are not going to submit to a perfect God when they don’t like it. It should not surprise you that the divorce rate if 40-50% among “Christians.”
Rebellion only grows. Feelings trump submission to fallible husbands, and this leads to rebellion bad enough that feelings trump submission to a perfect God.
Malachi 2:16 For [a]I hate [b]divorce,” says the Lord, the God of Israel, “and [c]him who covers his garment with [d]wrong,” says the Lord of hosts. “So take heed to your spirit, that you do not deal treacherously.”
That is the hard question you need to ask about yourself as a man when deciding to marry a woman. A woman unwilling to submit to a fallible human whether you, her father/family, or the government or other headship or authority structure, shows a lack of honor and disrespect worthy of ejecting her as potential wife material.
Women are not obligated to respect and submit to a man prior to marriage. However, I would very strongly suggest to Christian women who want to be married to consider the implications of not honoring a man’s request or decision prior to marriage: Are you putting your happiness over the relationship? Is it an inconvenience to you or something you disagree with? Is it worth making a fuss over?
In making these types of decisions you are giving him information whether you will be a respectful and submissive wife or not. Do it too many times without a reasonable explanation and you have established a pattern of behavior that will continue when you are married. This will make or break if he is willing to move forward with the relationship.
If he thinks you’re being disrespectful to him then he may eject you as a potential marriage candidate.
Men: it is important to examine a woman’s relationship with her father. Additionally, how she respect other headship or authority structures in church, at her job, or other areas is important is determining is she asserts her own happiness above a relationship.
Like I said earlier, if a woman is unwilling to submit to other fallible human relationships or headship and authority structures, what makes you think she is magically going to start doing that when she marries you?
Other related thoughts
Note that I am not saying men and women should not be reasonable. There are places and times to choose what matters and what doesn’t. I would say to most men that you shouldn’t sweat the small things and be willing to compromise. However, beware the woman who is unwilling to submit to your decision when you make one.
Granted, she may be unhappy with the decision. She may get emotional over the decision. But at the end of the day she should submit to the decision because that is what honors and respects you and God. We are allowed to express our emotions and be unhappy, but that doesn’t excuse us from doing the right thing.
It goes without saying that I am not advocating being domineering. Submission is not being a doormat and not voicing your opinion. Etc. I know I’m probably going to get some troll comments about that given the topic title, haha.