Women, especially black women, roll their eyes when they hear the term “submit.” It quickly becomes confused with other words like subservient and silent. Men wield the term like a sword, slicing the hopes of many women who refuse to be “held down” by such a notion. So what does it mean to be submissive?
This idea of submission comes from the Christian tradition. Most people have heard “wives submit to your husbands,” but take it out of context when the bible actually says, “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24). Here we have a simile, which is a comparison. Wives are to submit to their husbands as to the Lord. First of all, the key operative words here are “wives” and “husbands.” Before we can even talk about submission, we have to talk about commitment. True submission can only take place if there is a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman. Second of all, what does submission to the Lord look like? Submission to God looks like faith, trust and diligence, all things that should be part of a long-term commitment. The second part of this verse calls the husband the “head” of the wife. The “head” is the logical part of the body – the part that makes humans conscious. To get even more deep though, we have to understand that the “head” receives it’s cues or it’s messages from the body. It is not a top down approach. It is a symbiotic one and the healthiest relationships are symbiotic. What does submission look like in real life?
1. It looks like listening with an open mind and open heart. We can’t be so quick to think we know it all or have the right answers. Sometimes it’s best to be quiet and listen to what your partner has to say.
2. It looks like asking questions to get a deeper understanding, rather than making assumptions.
3. It looks like seeking, respecting and valuing the input of your partner.
4. It looks like being willing to take (calculated) risks. Perhaps this risk is a relocation, or the opportunity for one to follow one’s dream.
5. It looks like selflessness, compassion (mercy!) and a nurturing attitude.
6. It looks like the motor or the engine. The body is what actually moves, once it receives it’s message from the brain. The submissive woman is usually on the move.
Why do so many women have an issue with being “submissive?”