We Need It: A Submissive Heart

5 Areas where Christians are commanded to submit to others. By honoring others we honor God.

One of the greatest barriers to growing in our faith is the anti-authority mindset so prevalent in modern culture. If you want to get into an argument with other Christians, bring up honoring parents, submission in marriage, or respect for elders and government leaders.

Sadly, if we reject God's commands for earthly authority, we undermine our relationship with God Himself.

Many Christians act as if the Bible says:

“Honor your father and mother, if they measure up to your standards.”   
“Wives submit to your husbands, as long as they also submit to you.
“Don’t rebuke an older man harshly, unless he deserves it.” 
“Be subject to the governing authorities, if you feel like it.” 

We’ve become skilled at creating “exceptions” to God’s commands. 

But Scripture commands submission and/or respect in all of these situations unless we are asked to do something against God’s commands. 

This doesn't mean we lose our voice: we can respectfully disagree and appeal decisions of those in authority. But in the end, we honor God by honoring those He commands us to honor. 

I hope you will take time this week to thoughtfully read through the Scriptures and explanations below.

💙Beyond 1-minute for those who want more:

5 Areas where Christians are commanded to submit to others. By honoring others we honor God.

Details, Scriptures, and Resources

Don't get confused by Ephesians 5:21 which says: "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." 

This verse addresses a general attitude of submission to those in authority and an attitude of consideration similar to the commands of Philippians 2:1-5

Sadly, this verse is often taken out of context to discredit the submission of wives. But it does not mean a husband must submit to his wife any more than it means that parents must obey their children. Governments, churches, organizations, businesses, and families need leadership to be effective.

See A Man Who Amazed Jesus for an excellent example of a man who fully understood "the chain of command" for authority. 

1. Honor for parents throughout life 

Adults do not need to “obey” their parents. We are commanded to honor them. See Let's Grow Up, Underestimated Command, and  Ruth Respected Bitter Naomi

Ephesians 6:2-3: “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 

See also 1 Timothy 5:4. Note also these passages where disrespect for parents is mentioned as a serious problem: Proverbs 20:20, Proverbs 30:11-14, Matthew 15:3-9, 2 Timothy 3:1-5.    

2. Wives submit to your husbands

This is a solid biblical principle. Read my testimony in An Army Wife's View of Submission, and get a brief overview of what submission is in Why Mutual Submission is Impossible. If you want to read a review of bad (but popular) teaching on submission, see Denying Submission.

Colossians 3:18: "Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord." 

Note: “as is fitting in the Lord” – God is our highest authority. 

3. Elderly people 

1 Timothy 5:1-2: "Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity."  

4. Government authorities

We can change citizenship and/or location, but we are responsible to obey the laws of the land where we reside or visit unless those laws violate Scripture. To read about a time when I obeyed a bad Communist law, see God Wins All Wrestling Matches. To see when I disobeyed an ungodly Communist law, see It's the Law

Titus 3:1: "Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good…" 

5. We are also commanded to be respectful to church authorities.

This is a limited authority. A church leader must not usurp the role of the husband or parents, nor should he manipulate or control church members. These articles and the Scripture below can give us wisdom about this subject: How much authority should a pastor have over a church? and  What is heavy shepherding?

Hebrews 13:17: Have confidence in your leaders and submit to their authority, because they keep watch over you as those who must give an account. Do this so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no benefit to you.  

See also 1 Peter 5:5.

Bible Love Notes

1 comment:

  1. Because of so much distortion in the modern day teachings, I have a preference for older expositions. One I have found on Romans 13:1-7 was written by James M. Wilson in 1853. It's titled: The establishment & Limits of Civil Government, a good read.