Monday, September 17, 2012

On Submission, Entitlement and Love

Lately I've been listening to a CD series by Kris Vallotton entitled "God's most Beautiful Creation." It's a sermon series on women. It's been fascinating. Some thoughts it has stirred up are eager to get out, so I thought I might try to put them down in writing. Bear with me.

Let's start in Ephesians 5, where it tells men and women to submit to each other. Then it goes on to describe what that submission looks like for each. For women, as I understand it, this Godly submission is a call to respect her husband and willingly give in to his authority. For men, as I understand it, this Godly submission is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and willingly lay down his life for her. We are both invited to willingly surrender things that are within our power to give up, in order to be in Godly relationship with each other.

This passage describes some connections. Man is the head of his wife, just like Christ is the head of the Church, just like God is the head of Christ. So the question jumps out at us - How does God use his authority over Christ? How does Christ use His authority over the church? Therefore, how ought men to use their authority over their wives? God lifted up Jesus and put all things under His feet. He used His authority to empower Jesus and set Him up to rule. Jesus lifted up the church and seated it with Him in heavenly places. He used His authority to empower believers to rule with Him. He said, "All authority is mine, now YOU go and use it to make disciples" (Matt 28:18 paraphrase mine) Authority as demonstrated in God and Christ does not appear to be about dominating others, but about empowering others and inviting others to join them.

They way I've grown to see it, Godly authority is demonstrated when the man empowers His wife, shares His authority with her, and invites her to rule with him. That's Godly authority. It's only when a sense of entitlement creeps in that we see men using this authority to set themselves up as the boss of their household, rather than as a servant of their household.

So when a woman is called to willingly offer submission to her husband, to give in to his leadership, she is being invited to surrender to thriving. If her husband shares his authority and invites her to lead with him, she is set up, empowered, to thrive and use her strength to bless others. In that place of thriving, she is called to give her husband the same gift. To respect him and share in his life with out being critical and demanding of him. Unfortunately, women can also be deceived by a sense of entitlement. They can read the Bible and think that they have the right to demand that their husband be a certain type of leader for the family. Rather than walking side by side, complementing each other's weaknesses, and being allies on the same team - poor theology has left thousands of Christian households locked in a negative cycle of entitlement, resentment and demanding.

Here's the simple bottom line - maybe I should have started with this - love calls us to willingly give a sacrificial gift to one another. For women, that is submission. For men, that is love. Yet when either of those is demanded, through entitlement, they completely lose their power. Submission, by definition, is voluntarily given. Once it is demanded, it is no longer submission, it is slavery, or servitude. At the least it is obligation. On the same token, love, when demanded, becomes obligation and entrapment. When husbands and wives sit around resentfully demanding that their spouse obey God's Biblical calling for men and women, the marriage loses it's capacity to function in the brilliant beauty that God designed. But when the men voluntarily lay themselves down, and the women voluntarily surrender to their husband - a divine beauty is birthed that is called by the name of LOVE.

1 comment: