Here’s my challenge to those Christians who promote a traditional view of women’s submission: If you would please point me to a place in human history when humanity has done a good job with women’s submission, then I can take what you have to say seriously. But no such example exists. Never has, never will as long as we’re trying to do it the same ways we did it in the past.
True submission is something that cannot be enforced from without. For submission to be Godly, a person must be submitting of their own free will, lovingly and with happiness to be doing it. Well, being willing is another one of those things which must rise up from within rather than being imposed from without. You can’t force someone to be willing. You can make it worth their while, but it’s got to be their choice made lovingly and with joy at doing it – not under the threat of condemnation or shunning or other’s expectations.
Along with being unbiblically one-sided, the versions of submission man has tried up to now have always had to rely on coercion and pressure – sometimes even violence – of one form or another to exist – because none of them were Godly! Godly submission cannot be forced. We have spent the last upteen-thousand years trying to make submission work according to the way men (who are the teachers, the leaders, the rule makers) think its supposed to work. Well guess what? It doesn’t work. I has never worked and aint never gonna work.
So, how do you get a person to willingly submit out of love and with joy? You let them do it in the way that expresses their love while bringing them joy. A woman has to be the one to show her husband what submission from her looks like. And because God made each woman different, its going to look different for each women. But the meaning behind it is the same: “I’m never going to agree to stop being who God created me to be. And only I know that secret. You don’t get to tell me what it is. Whatever I give to you, I give willingly and without violating who I am created to be.”
I read an essay once that pointed out that the Hebrew word ezer – the “help” from “helpmeet” – is only ever used elsewhere in the bible to describe God or a more powerful army coming to the aid of God’s people in times of extreme need. It’s the hero role. And it’s used to describe woman’s role at the start of creation. So yes, man was created first. But woman was created to be the portion of God’s help that men should look to in their most desperate times of need. And men are in desperate need today. And one of the things men need to learn (and are learning) is what it means to submit yourself. You can’t love God who you can’t see if you don’t love your brother who you do see. And submission – the willingly, loving, joyful kind – is part of loving God. Men need to listen to their ezer kenegdo – womankind – when we tell them that their version of submission doesn’t work because it isn’t Godly. It’s like God says: “As far as the heavens are above the earth, so high are my ways above the ways of man.” We’ve been doing it man’s way long enough. It’s time to give God’s way a go. We women are hard at work finding the way. It’s not easy, but we know it’s worth it because God’s ways are always good and they will always win in the end.
So here’s what both the bible and womankind say Godly submission looks like: “I’m not going to Lord over you. I don’t always have to be in charge. I’ll always be willing to give you whatever I am able to give. But I’m never going to agree to stop being who God created me to be. And only I know that secret. You don’t get to tell me what it is. Whatever I give to you, I give willingly and without violating who I am created to be.” So, don’t Lord over us. Don’t be so weak that we have to always be in charge. Don’t try and tell women what submission looks like. You don’t know what you’re talking about. This is women’s lesson to teach, and yours to learn.