When I was 18 years old I couldn’t wait to move out of my parents’ house. I couldn’t wait to live on my own because I didn’t want to have to listen to anybody telling me when to clean up, when to come home, who I could hang out with and what to do. I couldn’t wait until I didn’t have to listen to anybody. Little did I know in my youth that obedience and submission never ceases in the life of the believer. We are still under the authority of Almighty God.
Ephesians 5:21-24 teaches us how a Christian household should look. Everyone is under authority. Everyone is submitted to someone. Wives are submitted to their husbands and husbands are submitted to the leading of Christ. Verse 21 says that we all should be subject to one another out of reverence to Christ. Romans 13:1 says, “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God” (NRSV). Even Jesus submitted himself. He submitted himself when he allowed John to baptize him and he submitted himself to God even though he was equal to God (Matthew 3:13-17). He never did anything except for what his Heavenly Father told him to do (John 5:19). God expects the same from us. We are to live submitted to the will of the Father.
This is a lesson that God wants us to model for our children. Oftentimes, people complain about the way children and teenagers behave in school and in public. They don’t listen to their teachers. They don’t respect authority. They don’t listen to their parents or the people in charge. Well, my question is have those children and teenagers ever seen anyone living a submitted life? Have their parents or family members modeled to them what it looks like? Our society teaches them that once they grow up, they can do whatever they want to do as long as they’re not hurting anybody. That is not true if you’re Jesus’ disciple. As Christian parents, we should show our little ones that we are under authority—divine authority. Before we make any decision, our children should see us praying and listening for God’s answer. Our children should see husband and wife defer to each other when making decisions. Our children should see us waiting on God for direction. We should also explain to them the different areas in life where we are submitted to authority—at work, church, home, and in the public square. I believe that once they see how Mommy and Daddy are also under submission, they won’t have such a hard time accepting their position under authority.
What are your thoughts? How do you teach your children the art of godly submission?
2 Replies to “Teaching Submission”
The Eph 5 text was written to address the household codes of of real people in real time living in an authority, shame-based culture sanctioned by the culture and state. Paul and other NT writers were giving a Christian ethic to these household codes. His undertaking of this code is remarkable in various ways. For instance, instead of Paul instructing the husband to exercise his authority and control in certain manner, he addresses the wives and elevates their submission (hupotasso-arrange oneself under) by making it as unto the Lord. Though Paul is giving a Christian ethic to an existing condition, he is not sanctioning or prescribing hierarchical relationships.
Submission remains a Christian virtue. Sometimes it may be arranging ourselves under an authority (i.e. governing authority), may change (as from moving state to state or country to country) and even include obedience because the state has the power to enforce it’s authority and laws, generally, are for society’s benefit, or submission as in deferring or yielding to the desires of another, may be mutual between two equal parties i.e. husband and wife, brothers, sisters, friends, colleagues, and may be for harmony, as a act of honor or deference, or because of indifference on an issue. We teach our children that the latter example of deference or yielding to the will of another, especially one who has no effectual authority (i.e. sibling) is a sacrifice (a dying to self) and necessary for shaping the ego and is way of being like Christ who sacrificed for the benefit of others. Deference is a Christ-like virtue and living by the Holy Spirit is necessary for knowing when this is what the Spirit of the Lord is requiring of you at any given moment.
Thanks for your input!