Although it’s a cultural taboo—people in other parts of the world where it’s not considered a “bad” word use it routinely—you’ve probably instructed your children not to use a certain “S” word. Why? Because you don’t want your child’s teacher or other parents knowing that (1) you use the word yourself in times of frustration or pain, or (2) allow your children to watch television where it pops up frequently. Kids don’t usually say things they never hear!
And not even horrendous side-effects and possible arrest dissuades amateur and professional athletes from taking “Vitamin S” (steroids) to enhance their look or performance.
There is another S word that carries negative connotations even among Christians, although it comes straight off the pages of the Bible and straight from the heart of God: Submission. Because the idea of submission to authority has been used to manipulate and control others, it’s no wonder some people roll their eyes at the mere mention.
For example, Paul’s directive in Ephesians 5, and Peter’s in 1 Peter 2 are two of the verses historically pulled out whenever there is conflict within a marriage:
22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything (Ephesians 5, NIV).
1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any [of them] are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior…
6 Thus Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, and you have become her children if you do what is right without being frightened by any fear (1 Peter 3, NIV).
The implication is sometimes that if a woman will submit, everything will be hunky-dory. Wrong…husbands have instructions as well - to love their wives as Christ loved the Church (in my opinion, a much more difficult concept).
However, the Bible doesn’t make one party’s obedience to God conditional on the other party’s. It doesn’t say, “Husbands, love your wives when they are submissive” or “Wives, submit to your husbands if they are loving.” Each one has a specific command from God, and we are to submit to him first.
Early in our marriage I remember asking my husband to pray about whether or not I should help with the youth group at our church. “Pray about it yourself,” he said. “You can hear from God.” This was important because as a teenager I was part of a church that walked through a very strong submission teaching—strong in a worldly, carnal way, not a spiritual one. A group of people who sincerely wanted to submit to God and honor him was led down a path of error. Trust was abused to an alarming degree, yet God protected his people because of their hearts; I would venture to guess that the majority of that congregation is still serving God today.
My husband knew instinctively that I might have a tendency to blindly revere his authority, even as I had been taught to blindly follow church leadership. He made it clear that although he took his role as my husband seriously, he would not become a substitute for God himself.
Submission is God’s idea, and his ideas are always loving, and best. Just because Satan is constantly trying to twist God’s ideas and use them for harm doesn’t mean that the idea itself is anything but pure and holy.
Submission is about more than marriage, obviously. And there will always be challenges—our government is not perfect. Our church leaders are not perfect. Our husbands are not perfect. Our parents are not perfect. The world systems which we must obey (or suffer the consequences) on a daily basis are not perfect. God, however, is perfect. His ways are higher than our ways, we see in Isaiah 55. His thoughts are not our thoughts. He uses his government to teach things like humility, honor, respect, love, compassion…
Not a bad word in the bunch.
Permission to reprint with acknowledgment of source.