Posted by: biblestudyseattle | June 3, 2013

Mutual Submission

“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Ephesians 5:21

Who is this referring to? Christians? Spouses? Children?

It is popular to take this as referring to Spouses. That way we can ignore all those pesky submission verses and have nice, equitable marriages.
I think the verse is referring to Christians in general or it’s possible it is not part of the original scripture. How can two people submit to each other? Think of ballroom dancers. Could they both follow? No. They could take turns submitting. Imagine the man starts by leading. He then signals to his wife midstep that he will follow and she should lead. This might be possible with extremely good dancers, but it seems grossly impractical. Friends do take turns submitting to one another. Some might say a husband will even submit momentarily to a wife’s desires, but I would call that love. The writer could have meant to love one another, but love isn’t always submissive, it is as often proactive. Believers are to submit to Jesus. They are to love one another. That’s why I have a problem with this verse no matter who it applies to. It flies in the face of all other scriptures that denote headship/submission. God is the head of Jesus, who is the head of man, who is the head of woman, who is the head of her children, etc. It really gets hairy if we assume the verse applies to families. Imagine a father submitting to his daughter equally as she submits to him. What a parenting disaster that would be!

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