New post up at Desiring God on women and submission to the world. If you’re weighed down by all the rules the world throws at you or if you’re a little proud because you manage to keep so many of them, then this is for you. Be free in Christ, friends!
I am convinced that many of us women have a submission problem. A giant submission problem. But it isn’t mainly that we won’t submit to our husbands — it’s that we won’t stop submitting to the world. The biggest problem with women and submission is too much of it in the wrong places. We willingly submit to the world’s rules.
In Colossians 3:18, Paul tells Christian wives to “submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.” Along with passages like Ephesians 5:22–24 and 1 Peter 3:1–6, this verse tends toward the infamous. But there is another perhaps less-known passage on “submission,” also from Colossians.
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations — “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” . . . — according to human precepts and teachings? These have indeed an appearance of wisdom . . . but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. (Colossians 2:20–23)
Women are awash in the teaching and dogma of the world. And the great tragedy is that they are voluntarily placing themselves under its authority. Some don’t even know they’re doing it.
Drowning in a Flood of Rules
Does any of this sound familiar? We compel ourselves to wear certain styles, even painful shoes, to keep up with what the stores have told us is fashionable. We clean our homes in a particular way with only particular products. We follow every rule and suggestion given to us by the ubiquitous “they” on how to parent our children and keep them safe from every wisp of risk. We stress and strain our muscles, three times a week minimum, because we believe it’s the “right” thing to do and maybe, just maybe, we’ll keep death at bay (or at least have a flat stomach until it comes for us). We’re religious about the kind of candle that can burn in our houses, and the smell of essential oils floats through the air whenever we’re around because we’re convinced they’re the “right” remedy to use.
Rules, rules, rules. Eat this; don’t eat that. “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch.” These are not God’s rules, but they are rules nevertheless. Who could ever keep up with the always-changing and ever-increasing rules the world (and our own self-made religion) throws at us?
Am I saying it’s wrong to follow a certain diet? Or work out? Or clean a particular way? Or use certain health remedies? No. Absolutely not. But it iswrong to believe that doing any of those things is “right.” It’s wrong to do them because you trust the world (or yourself) more than Christ.
Christ has given us plenty of work to do until he comes again. The last thing we need is to start working on the to-do list the world has assigned to us. We’re to “seek the things that are above” (Colossians 3:1). That means we’re to “put on . . . compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (Colossians 3:12); to bear with one another, forgive each other, and above all, to love (Colossians 3:13–14).