What Do You Mean By Submission? by Elisabeth Elliot
What Do You Mean By Submission?
This appeared in an Elisabeth Elliot Newsletter March/April 1983
People are always asking me this. What is this business of “submission” you’re always talking about? We’re not really very comfortable with this. Seems kinds of negative. Sounds as though women are not worth as much as men. Aren’t women supposed to exercise their gifts? Can’t they ever open their mouths?
I wouldn’t be very comfortable with that kind of submission either. As a matter of fact, I’m not particularly comfortable with any kind, but since it was God’s idea and not mine, I had better come to terms with what the Bible says about it and stop rejecting the whole thing just because it is so often misunderstood and wrongly defined. I came across a lucid example of what it means in 1 Chronicles 11:10, NEB: “Of David’s heroes these were the chief, men who lent their full strength to his government and, with all Israel, joined in making him king.” There it is. The recognition, first of all, of God-given authority. Recognizing it, accepting it, they then lent their full strength to it, and did everything in their power to make him–not them–king.
Christians–both men and women–recognize first the authority of Christ. They pray “Thy will be done.” They set about making an honest effort to cooperate with what He is doing, straightening out the kinks in their own lives according to His wishes. A Christian woman, then, in submission to God, recognizes the divinely assigned authority of her husband (he didn’t earn it, remember, he received it by appointment!. She then sets about lending her full strength to helping him do what he’s supposed to do, be what he’s supposed to be–her head. She’s not always trying to get her own way. She’s trying to make it easier for him to do his job. She seeks to contribute to his purpose, not to scheme how to accomplish her own.
If this sounds suspiciously like some worn-out traditionalist view, or (worse) like a typical Elisabeth Elliot opinion, test it with the straightedge of Scripture. What does submission to Christ mean? “Wives, submit yourself to your husbands, as to the Lord.”