In today’s modern society, submission may be seen as a bad thing; it may be seen as an act of weakness. The world tells you to question authority, to stand up for yourself, to take charge of your life, and to do your own thing. Perhaps the concept of democracy encourages you to speak your mind and not let others “control” you. Maybe it is just the attitude of pleasing your own self. Or maybe it is pride that you know better than others what should be done. But as Christians, submission is not a bad thing – it is a good and necessary attitude to have. God has established an order of authority and it is very important for you to recognize your position and submit to your authority as appropriate.
When you submit to someone, it is not necessarily saying that the one to whom you submit is better or wiser or more talented or even correct in their decisions. Their decisions may be poor and not the best. That is not the point. The point is that you submit to your authority because they are your authority. You may, in humility, seek to influence your authority to make a good decision. Even Moses reasoned with God to change His decision to destroy the Israelites after they built the golden calf (Exodus 32:7-14). But you should not rebel against your authority just because you disagree with them. The only time you would not obey your authority is when they ask you to do something which is contrary to God’s will. Acts 5:29b “We ought to obey God rather than men.” God is a higher authority than any human authority.
A well-functioning society requires a structure of authority and appropriate submission. You are to submit to the governing authorities. Romans 13:1 “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. 1 Peter 2:13-14 “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good.” In the first century, slavery was common. 1 Peter 2:18 “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.” Notice that submission was still required even when the authority was harsh. Today we don’t have slavery, but the same principle of submission would be required of employees – submit to your boss, even if he is not good and gentle.
God has also established a structure of authority within the family. The husband is the head of the family and the wife is to submit to the husband. Ephesians 5:22-24 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.” Notice the emphasis that the apostle Paul provides here. Just as we, the church, submit to Christ, so the wives should submit to their own husbands in everything. In many families, the wife does not submit to the husband. It could be that the husband is lazy or timid and does not assume the leadership. Or it could be that the wife does not respect her husband and takes over the authority. Whatever the reason, the Christian wife should not assume the leadership in the family over her husband because it is contrary to God’s order. 1 Peter 3:1 “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives.” A godly wife can have a tremendous influence over her husband. If the husband is not godly, her chaste, godly conduct may win him to Christ. Even in a Christian home, if the wife refuses to take the leadership, it forces her husband into the leadership role; out of necessity, he learns how to be the leader in the home that God wants him to be. Finally, children are to be submissive to their parents. Ephesians 6:1 “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.” When the husband learns how to be the proper leader in the home, he has been trained to meet one of the qualifications of an elder or bishop as given in 1 Timothy 3:4-5 “One who rules his own house well, having his children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?).”
In God’s kingdom there is also a structure of authority. 1 Corinthians 11:3 “But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” It should be obvious that Christ submitted to His Father; He did everything His Father asked Him to do, even giving up his life to be crucified. Christ is the head of the church; the church is subject to Christ (Ephesians 5:23-24). Within the local church, the elders should be the leaders of the church and function as pastors and overseers (Acts 20:17-35). We should be submissive to our church leaders. Hebrews 13:17 “Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account.” A woman is to be submissive in the church. 1 Timothy 2:11 “Let a woman learn in silence with all submission.” 1 Corinthians 14:34 “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.”
Appropriate submission is not a bad thing. It is a good thing because it is from God and fulfills God’s purpose. I encourage you to be submissive to the authorities God has placed over you. In truth, we should all be submissive to each other with a humble spirit. God gives you His grace when you are humble. 1 Peter 5:5 “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’”