By Kathy Smith
Who likes a little time to relax and enjoy the family? Get away with a spouse on a romantic retreat? Or take the kids to their favorite theme park or even a good movie? Spending time with family and with a spouse is crucial for bonding and creating healthy relationships. Having the opportunity to unwind and relax is crucial to our personal well-being. Working seven days a week, non-stop, is not healthy for anyone. Anything done in excess can be harmful; in all things we must maintain a healthy balance. Without balance, even those things that are good for us can become harmful. A little cake and ice cream is a delight … but in excess it adds needless pounds and can be harmful to our teeth.
So, the topic of the day is submission. What is submission and what is God’s plan for respecting those in positions of authority? Giving honor and being submitted is not a blank check for misuse. Remember we must maintain a healthy balance in all things. We are not to become doormats to those who wish to abuse their power. We want to honor God’s word and fulfill his commandments, but we do not need to become the victims of abuse in the process. So where do we draw the line? Where does submission end and abuse begin?
The best source of wisdom for all of life’s issues is God’s word. So what is the truth? Who are we to be submitted to and in what manner? This is what we want to find in God’s word….
The First Commandment with a Promise…
“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you.” Exodus 20:12
Respect for one’s parents is highly important to our personal well-being and God promises that our days will be prolonged as a result. There again, it is not a ticket for parental abuse. Paul gives us the measuring stick for application in Ephesians 6:4.
“Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.”
So while children are to honor and respect their parents, the parents are not to carry it to extremes so to provoke the children. Paul reiterates this concept in Colossians 3:2,
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.”
Respect Those in Authority
“Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves” Romans 13:1-2
We are to honor and respect those in positions of authority such as government officials, police officers, employers, even pastors and those in positions of church leadership. But Paul warns them to not threaten those they rule, but to remember that all serve the same Lord. Those under authority are responsible for showing honor where honor is due… but those in authority are responsible to use their authority appropriately.
Wives Be Subject To Your Husbands, Husbands Love Your Wives
Love is the equalizing agent leveling the authority/submission relationship and maintaining a just balance. We are to do all things in love. Those who exercise their authority through the eyes of love will be patient, kind, and understanding, not overbearing and cruel.
We know that Jesus loved us so much that he gave his life for us. Therefore, if husbands love their wives in the same manner, they will not be tempted to overpower their spouses with their authority. We are to be equal partners in the marriage relationship. However, God made man the responsible party. He made man the head over the wife, but he made Christ the head over the man. Authority bears with it responsibility, so man must use the authority in an appropriate manner… in love. They are to love their wives even as they do their own bodies. They are to protect and provide for their wives, and the wives are to respect their husbands. All is to be done through the bond of peace through love.
Submission, Myth or Fact
The fact is… we are to be submitted to one another in love. We are to show preference to others.
“Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;” Romans 12:10
Submission does not give anyone the right to misuse or abuse another. We each have a responsibility to reverence our own body as the temple of God. Therefore we need to respect ourselves and insist that others respect us as well. If someone treats you or talks to you in a disrespectful manner, you are to be first forgiving and patient, but repeated offenses need to be addressed. No one has the right to mistreat another. We are to show respect to all that we meet, but most importantly to ourselves. If we do not respect ourselves enough to say no to abuse, it will simply continue.
Submission to authority is a godly act, and needs to be exercised. However you must never allow someone to deceive you into thinking you must tolerate inappropriate behavior and language in the name of submission… that would be the myth.
What must you do if someone is treating you disrespectfully? Go to them in love and explain how you feel when the behavior is exercised by the other person. Hopefully, they will understand and try to treat you in a more appropriate manner. If not, take another godly brother or sister in the Lord and try again. If they still do not listen, separate yourself and seek counsel from a professional.
For more information on this topic read “Marriage and Family” by Dr. Stan DeKoven www.booksbyvision.com
Kathy Smith is also the author of, “Treasures of the Heart” The Gifts of the Trinity just republished in June of 2013.