Unlike in military where order is order (order ni order) as transliterated to Swahili its commanding language, submission is meant to be mutual in form. In a marriage relationship for example, husbands shouldn’t use submission selfishly to control wives unnecessarily because a home isn’t a military unit. Submission is a requirement in interpersonal relationship and should therefore, be well administered in order to have meaning.
Much as submission roots from subjection (give allegiance or loyalty to), it is not subjugation (inferiority or enslavement). In subjugation, one party is less in form than the other and is the result of inhumane treatment. In society management, submission is a matter of law and order. Where two or more people are, there should be authority vested in one and submission is required from the other. It is deemed mandatory or obligatory.
According to the Bible, there are six principal groups that require submission namely; parents, teachers, husbands, masters (employers), government and God.
Many times, our background influences our personality. Particularly, Israel was a patrilineal nation with pride in male child as seen in enumerations that focused on men and not women. Rome, on the other hand, was so much military. They promoted and exercised conquests, control and subduing territories resulting into authoritarianism. According to an Online Dictionary, submission is “a lowering, letting down; sinking,” noun of action from past participle stem of submittere “to let down, put down, lower, reduce, yield.
On the contrary, ancient Rome used submission from Latin “jugus” meaning to bring the York, enslavement like what farmers do with the oxen plowing. They applied the same method to soldiers arrested in conquest. They would strip off their clothes and subject them to torture. That isn’t the form of submission required in New Testament and era of human rights advocacy.
The biblical submission applies to all husbands, wives, government, masters and even slaves (1 Peter 5:5ff). Still, submission implies character as seen in the Apostle Peter’s words, ‘Cloth yourself…’ (I Peter 5:5) implying that one should be saturated with, overflowing in and known for (submission). The best example can be drawn from the teaching about the deity of Christ regarded as full God and God the father is also full God yet there is no subjugation. In that illustration is mutual respect and true submission.
Submission has two main requirements to direct:
- Vertical requirement- the relation with God (spiritual). It is relationship that forms the yardstick or measure of our moral standard. God is a supreme moral giver and when we break relationship with him, automatically the other with men is also broken. Our submission is to God first in every circumstance.
- The horizontal requirement- The kind of relation with men (social) and visible in everyday life.
Christ taught his disciples the true submission by putting on a towel (clothing) and serving them by washing their feet. Traditionally, washing of the feet was done by the servants (usually slaves) in the master’s house but here, Christ the master is doing it. It is not only a service in practice but also an act of humility. Christ thereafter implored His disciples to emulate him (John 13:14).
Submission is also a call to lowering oneself and a prerequisite to exaltation. Somebody said, ‘the way up is the way down’. Literally meaning, before going up, you must be down. A building gives the best illustration. The height of the house seen up, is supported by nearly half of it buried underground in what is called a foundation. So, the way up of a building begins from down and that is submission is in lives towards one another.
True submission fosters discipline. The moral decadence today is to some extent a result of lack of submission to some authority at family, national or spiritual level. The life in marriage requires submission and failure to realize it, the result is divorce.
Submission also fosters long life to practitioners: Apostle Paul exhorted the children to obey (submit to) their parents and honor them in order to enjoy long life (Eph. 6:1, 2).
In any relationship, submission is expected to be automatic if each party understands its roles. Relationship that is smooth will always attract a following. It shouldn’t be enslavement, autocratic and only ‘yes’ from the subordinates but mutual love, instruction and shared insights with full knowledge of each party’s position and responsibility. Neither a wife nor an employee is a slave but a co- worker. All were equally created in the image of God. Emulate our master, Christ for the best meaning of submission.
The author is a Theologian and Educator
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