In our culture, the concept of submission cuts across our idea of individuality and freedom. It crowds our conception of ourselves as individuals because we crave control. I am my own person, and so the decisions I make are mine. If there’s anything in the world that I own without any restriction, it’s myself. Or, so the idea goes.
And if I am a true individual, then I must be free. It’s true, much of the bedrock of our existence as Americans is built upon the reality of free individualism. And so much of this is a good thing. So, if you were born in the United States, you were born into a culture that worships at the altar of free individualism. “I am my own person, and if what I do only affects me, then that’s all that matters.”
Enter the local church. Peter writes for wives to “be subject to their own husbands..” (1 Peter 3:1). What on earth could this mean? During Pastor Boyd’s sermon, “Joyfully Sojourning Together, Part 1,” we heard what it doesn’t mean:
- This doesn’t mean that women are inferior to men.
- This doesn’t mean that all women are to be subject to all men.
- Submission is not equal to sexism.
- Submission is not equal to oppression.
Importantly, submission doesn’t only apply to women biblically. All members of a local church are called to submit to their elders, as one example. As Christians, we need to help redefine what biblical submission is. And Peter does this for us. In this passage, Peter shows the beauty of submission in a marriage. Submission has the sound and appearance of a woman who is respectful and acts purely. And she doesn’t parade herself like the world but shows her true colors in a gentle and quiet spirit. This idea of submission doesn’t overlay the world’s concept of submission, such as it being oppressive and sexist. Indeed, God created the idea of submission in a marriage, and so it can’t be those things. Instead, the picture of a woman in submission to her husband is one of beauty, revealing the way God is working in her and showing love to her husband. It’s certainly not meant to crush women, but God’s way of flourishing them, as Christian women are indeed daughters of God.
Of course, this doesn’t leave the husband to gain all the benefit of this. As this submission is happening, he is to lay down his life like Christ. And so, if anything, the bride comes to life in submission as the husband dies to himself—picturing to the world the beauty of the gospel.
*Listen to Pastor Boyd's sermon, Joyfully Sojourning Together, Pt. 1