Thoughts on Submission

1:51 PM

This week's Explore the Bible Study, Living in Relationship will most likely generate a lot of discussion regarding the concept of submission. Here are some additional thoughts on submission that I have provided based on a question posed by one of the teachers in our church.

​Question Posed: ​
"In your notes, and in many other sources, it states that a woman should not submit to her husband if he is physically abusive. I agree that this is a terrible place to be, and do not believe a man should be physically abusive.  Yet, if you take the passages in context, and we jump back to I Peter 2:23. "...when [Jesus] suffered, He made no threats.  Instead, He entrusted Himself to Him who judges justly."  The comparative example shows that Christ suffered physically, yet did not remove Himself from that suffering.  If wives are to be "in the same way" (I Peter 3:1), how can we then say that wives may remove themselves from a physically abusive situation, especially if remaining may result in the husband's salvation (which we cannot know in advance)."

My Thoughts and Additional References:
​We must acknowledge that, first and foremost, the wife should distance herself from the abusive relationship until the husband is dealt with - spiritually, through counseling, and legally. She could still honor the biblical view of submission while still protecting herself and, quite possibly, her children.

I would counsel a woman to remove herself from harm's way, deal with the husband's abuse (legally and through possible counseling if the abuse is physical or sexual in nature; counseling if it is emotional), and encourage her to not grow bitter or develop hatred for her husband (very difficult to do!). The ideal would be that the husband would repent, accept responsibility, and change his behavior but, sadly, this is not always the outcome. There is not an easy solution, for sure!

Christendom is strangely silent on the theological side to a large degree. Everyone agrees that abuse is absolutely unacceptable and that a woman should protect herself and her family. Providing biblical background and guidance to back up what we know to be true in principle is where we seem to fall short. Here are a few references I found to be helpful.
  • Wife Abuse: The Tragic Misconception of Submission. This was published in Charisma magazine but the theological principles outlined seem to be very sound. It is perhaps the most comprehensive article I found that lays out the theological rationale.
  • Six Things Submission is Not.  This is a video clip I found from John Piper. It doesn't deal with abuse but it does explain some of the points related to submission. 
  • What Submission Does and Does Not Mean, HCSB Study Bible for Women, p.1595. See information below:
What Submission Does Not Mean:
  • Subjecting oneself to abusive tyranny.
  • Forced obedience.
  • Inequality in essence and worth.
  • Selective submission, an attitude of “I’ll submit when I want to submit.”
What Submission Does Mean:
  • Willingly choosing to obey.
  • Placing oneself under another’s authority.
  • Equality in essence and personhood but different in role and assignment.
  • Obedience in all situations and circumstances according to God’s Word – not choosing when you will and will not obey.
  • An attitude of the will, void of stubbornness.
  • Voluntary commitment of service to others.
I hope these additional references and thoughts might help you communicate better the truths of 1 Peter 3:1-7.

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