Submission & empathy

  • Sumo

Submission is not a dirty word. (With nod towards fans of Skyhooks.)

For Christians, submission is woven through all of God’s work and word.

Jesus himself submits, or did submit. To his parents (Luke 2:51), when he was a young ‘un. To God the Father (1 Corinthians 15:28).

Since Jesus is Lord, all things are subject to (= in submission towards) Jesus (Hebrews 2:8-9). Pointedly, this includes the church (Ephesians 5:24). All who believe are called to submit to God (James 4:7), while the mind of the flesh is one that refuses to submit (Romans 8:7).

Of course, the shadow hovering behind any modern discussion of ‘submit’ is how the Bible applies this imperative to wives. There’s no denying that this is so, check out the number of verses (1 Corinthians 14:34; Ephesians 5:24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1, 5).

Right now, what I want to do is note what Christian men husbands should make of this instruction.

In short, husbands should have complete empathy and understanding of their wives, to be able to support them in their role as wives.

Why? Because what Christian men and women have in common is submission. All submit to Christ.

As the church submits to Christ … (Eph 5:24)
Submit yourselves therefore to God (Jas 4:7)

If you are Christian, you know right submission. That includes knowing its difficulties. There are times we know to submit to Christ, but don’t want to because we doubt his way is best. Or times we desire to submit to Christ, but fear the cost.

We know submission is good. We also know it’s not always easy. And we know that our Lord constantly lovingly invites us to submit to him.

When our wives look to us, there are all these doubts. And more! Husbands, let’s show we understand these difficulties, because they are our difficulties too.

So yep, it’s the bloke’s job to be empathetic.

On the other hand – and this is my opinion now – if a wife doesn’t really ‘get’ all the tough bits of being the family leader, that’s not a disaster. If it’s not her role, then it’s unfair for blokes to insist she empathise. She has enough to do without also taking on the role of the man.

Sometimes I put it more directly: if she doesn’t get all the difficulty that comes with being head of a family, then suck it up. It’s not her job to have empathy, it’s his.