- Only a strong person can be submissive.
- Submissiveness is not timidity, it is not servility, it is not subservience, it is not docility, it is not degrading, it is not a sign of weakness.
- Submission is a sign of strength, not of weakness and a greater degree of submission requires a greater degree of strength of personal character.
The key text concerning the submission of wives to their husbands
Submission in the Yisraelite world
We don't really like the idea though ...
The meanings of the words "submit" and "obey"
Trying to wriggle out of the obligation to obey
A passage to consider: Acts 5, v1-10
“But with his wife's agreement he kept part of the money for himself ...” Verse 2 as presented in the Good News Bible.
“And with his wife's knowledge and connivance he kept back and wrongfully appropriated some of the proceeds ...” Verse 2 as presented in the Amplified Bible
A second passage to consider: Acts 4 verse 19
“You yourselves judge which is right in יהוה's sight — to obey you or to obey יהוה.”
The third passage to consider: Ephesians 5:21
Very important side note: The inequality of role and function for a husband and a wife are biologically obvious but this does not imply inequality in value. The desire and tendency to award a value to everything is itself a symptom of our very fallen nature. Personally I would rate a wife as one of the most valuable assets in the universe and the scriptures lend much support to the notion that having a wife is something that a man ought to treasure and value highly.
The nature of sin
A very unkind “No-win” situation
An obedient wife does right even when she does wrong...
So Sarah, the woman who obeyed her husband even when what he told her to do was morally wrong, is held up as an example of how Yisraelite wives should be. Yisraelite women married to non-Yisraelite men (a situation that can only occur when there is conversion after marriage) are told to submit to them and, by implication, obey them. It is almost inconceivable (to me at least) that Kepha should be incapable of imagining the possible conflicts of morality between a believing wife and an unbelieving husband but nonetheless Kepha doesn't make any special provision for such a situation. Yet even in the same passage Kepha tells wives that they are to “do good”. At first glance this seems grossly unfair; the wife is to obey her husband even when what he tells her to do is wrong, yet she is also to “do good”. This apparent paradox is easily removed if we remember that a person can only be held responsible for sin when they have a free choice in the matter. If Kepha is assuming that the wife has no choice except to obey her husband then he is also assuming that she cannot sin in what she obediently does. In such circumstances, her only possible sin is that of disobeying her husband. Notice also that Kepha describes this sort of conduct as being of “the greatest value in יהוה's sight”. In other words, this is what יהוה expects and desires from a married woman and it is not the same as what he expects and desires from a married man.
A couple of examples of men obeying יהוה by submitting to sinful men
Where did love go?
A summary reminder: What is submission?
- Misconception: A submissive person is weak.
- This is very wrong. In fact a very weak person cannot submit. Only a very strong person can submit fully. Remember, submission is a gift that must be given freely. It is impossible to force a person to submit because that is a contradiction in terms. A weak person can be manipulated and forced to obey but then that is no longer submission but oppression.
- Misconception: A submissive person has no control.
- Actually nobody is ever fully in control of their own lives because nobody can control all of their circumstances. Submission is an act of the will; a submissive person makes a positive choice to submit to another person. Consequently a submissive person has at least as much in control as any other person, possibly more since many people never make definite positive choices but merely drift from one excuse to another.
- Misconception: Submission is degrading.
- In fact submission is a very beautiful and enormously valuable gift that only a strong person can give. Nobody is degraded by giving, or wanting to give, beautiful and valuable gifts to another person. Submission is a gift that benefits the giver even if the receiver is incapable of treating the gift and the giver with the appropriate respect and care.
- Misconception: A submissive person is abused.
- Well, it is true that a submissive person could be abused by a stupid person who does not appreciate the value of the gift. However, anybody can be abused, submissive or not, so this irrelevant.
|1.||A husband and wife are bound together until separated by death; they are not free to separate from one another. The husband and one wife are made one in a fashion that does not exist between any other two of יהוה's people. The dispute between the talmidim and the Sanhedrin is also a dispute between "equals" to the extent that all the parties to the conflict are men. A different situation arises between a married couple simply because "the husband is the head of the wife as Messiah is the head of the assembly" (cf Ephesians 5:23 and 1 Corinthians 11:3) — in other words the husband is responsible for, and will be held accountable before יהוה for, his wife. By itself this is no easier than the original situation and it certainly does not allow the wife to act according to her own will. She now has a choice between doing what she believes her husband wants her to do and doing what she believes יהוה wants her to do. Her own desires don't get much chance to surface. יהוה in his written word has told her to submit to, and hence to obey, her husband. It follows therefore that by obeying her husband she is obeying יהוה . Nonetheless it might be that after prayerful consideration she will conclude that she must disobey her husband and if she really believes that this is יהוה's will then she must do it.|
|4.||The previous passage should also be read — it discusses the idea of doing what is right by submitting even though it might lead to unpleasantness and suffering.|
|5.||Mishle, chapter 20, verse 24: יהוה has determined our path; how then can anyone understand the direction his own life is taking?|