It Boils Down to Submission

Written by Drew on July 7th, 2006

A historical marker was set this month for Christendom, as Katharine Jefferts Schori became the head of the U.S. Episcopal Church. Newsweek reports that this makes her “the first woman in American history elected to lead a major Christian denomination.” The article continues,

…only two other American women have reached the pinnacle of a religion’s organizational chart: Mary Baker Eddy, who founded Christian Science in 1879, and Ellen White, who helped to found the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1863.

…Just this month, the U.S. Presbyterian Church elected the Rev. Joan S. Gray as its “moderator,” a one-year position akin to being named ambassador. In recent years, both the Disciples of Christ denomination and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, a major organization of the 1.5 million-member Reform Jewish movement, have elected women leaders. The liberal religious group the Unitarian Universalist Association now has more women clergy than men; 60 percent of its active clergy are female, which is the highest rate in the nation.

The news is being headlined in terms reminicent of Dylan’s anthem, “The Times They Are A-Changing.” The media interpret these signs as positive steps towards removing the oppression that has existed among women in religion for centuries. And, if submission is always equivalent to oppression, then it looks like we may be escaping the demons of our past.

The problem is, that is not at all the way God views submission. Biblically speaking, submission is a voluntary condition that one chooses for his or her own well being. Jesus humbly submitted to His Father’s will, even to the point of death on a cross (Jn. 5:30; 8:29; Mt. 26:39; Phil. 2:6-8). In the book of Ephesians, Paul outlines a set of relationships based on the authority-submission principle: wives are to submit to their own husbands (5:22-33), children are to submit to their parents (6:1-4) and servants are to submit to their masters (6:5-9). However, everyone submits to the Father, the ultimate Master in heaven with whom there is no partiality (6:9). Additionally, there is a sense that we are all to submit to one another (5:21).

Submission does not indicate inferiority or a lack of importance. Although the apostles instructed wives to submit to their husbands, they pointed out that both were equal in the sight of God (Gal. 3:28; 1 Pet. 3:7). In truth, submission, when coupled with the right kind of authority, brings blessings not curses. Is it any wonder that Islam, whose name is interpreted “submission,” is the fastest growing religion in the world?

When it comes to a woman’s role in the organization of the church, the question is not, “Who is smarter? Or who is more qualified?” The question is, “What does God want?” The New Testament makes it clear that He wants men in leadership positions (1 Tim. 2:11-12; 3:1-13). Those who respect the authority of the Scriptures and the competence of an omniscient God comply with these demands.

It all boils down to submission.


14 Comments so far ↓

  1. o2thoughtful says:

    Great post, spot on. Ephesians 5 also has a great challenge for us as husbands to love our wives, just as Christ loved the church – sometimes I guess I’m a bit guilty of looking for v22 (wife submitting) and not willing to give v25 much effort (loving her as Christ loved the church). The press over simplifies the complexity of the issue but it comes from having an incorrect worldview (IMHO)

  2. The Berean Examiner says:

    “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”(Galations 3:28)

    There is a group of people is pushing for “gender justice in the Churches of Christ.”There website is “The purpose of that website is to promote gender justice in the Church of Christ by facilitating communication and mutual support and edification among Churches of Christ that practice or strive toward gender justice and offering resources for those seeking insight into the scriptural, theological, and experiential warrants for gender justice in the church of Christ.”

    To that group of people in the Churches of Christ, “Gender Justice means means recognizing that men and women are created by God, redeemed by Christ, and gifted by the Spirit truly without distinction or partiality. In Christian community, gender justice means encouraging both men and women to exercise their Spirit-given gifts in the church’s work, worship, and leadership, and celebrating the truth that the Spirit grants such gifts without respect to gender. Concretely, gender justice in the Church of Christ includes opening traditionally masculine leadership roles and activities (deacon, elder, minister, worship leader, preacher, teacher, etc.) to women, and encouraging men to discover and cultivate their gifts for activities traditionally performed by women.”

    I do believe that women in the churches of Christ can do more than what they are doing now but, acording to my understanding, those Gal 3:28 people have gone overboard. They remind me of the PETA people, I believe in the concept of PETA but those people also went overboard.

    You think that is strange, check this out. I have heard of another group that went overboard the other way. These people do not want women to sing in the worship service.

    Drew, What about the woman deacon in the NT? What about the qualifications of women found in the same place as the qualifications for elders and male deacons?

  3. Scott says:

    Thanks for the article Drew.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Was that “woman deacon” the “husband of one wife” (1 Tim. 3:12)?

    Obviously, we are all to be servants and “deacons” in that sense of the word. That’s not what 1 Tim. 3:8-13 is talking about.

  5. The Berean Examiner says:

    Drew, Do you respect the authority of the Scriptures and the competence of an omniscient God? Yes, Drew, “What does God Want?”. The New Testament ALSO makes it clear that a woman’s head should be covered while she prayed (1 Cor. 11:4-10) and the forbidding of women braiding their hair and wearing certain types of jewelry (1 Tim 2:9). Those who respect the authority of the Scriptures and the competence of an omniscient God comply with these demands.

    If you say that 1 Cor. 11:4-10 and 1 Tim 2:9 is cultural in nature, then why is Eph 5:22-33, 1 Tim 2:11-12. 3:1-13 are not also cultural in nature? Do you get decide what is cultural in nature and what is not, just because you have a degree in Bible? Are you inspiried by the Holy Spirit? Do you have the “Gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:28)? I have the “Gift of the Holy Spirit”.

    Drew, Do you not believe in the so called “pattern”? Did you not say that “The churches of Christ operate under the restoration principle. Simply put, this principle advocates restoring the first century church using the Bible as its sole guide”? Then why 1 Cor 11:4-10 and 1 Tim 2:9 were not restored in the so called “Church of Christ”(the one true church) denomination?

    Drew, you said “The Bible says nothing about the one who administers the baptismal rite.” Then why do you not have women “who administer the baptismal rite”?

    Drew, I could go on and on with this but as you said, “Comments are welcome, as long as they remain BRIEF.

  6. Drew Kizer says:

    BE, I didn’t bring up culture, but if you want to talk about it, we can.

    Study carefully Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16. Paul drew his advice on head coverings for women from what his society deemed as “proper” (v. 13), by what is “natural” (v. 14) and by the common “practice” in the churches of God at that time (v. 16).

    I do not believe the force of 1 Timothy 2:9 has been diminished by cultural shifts. I just think you misinterpreted it. Consider the parallel passage, 1 Peter 3:3-4: “Do not let your adorning be external–the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing–but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” Reading Peter’s words literally, one would have to ban not only braided hair and jewelry, but clothing as well! Obviously Paul and Peter are speaking figuratively to drive home the point that a godly woman is known for her character, not her clothes.

    Besides that, what does modesty have to do with a woman’s role in the organization of the church?

    Bible degrees do not place one in a position to decide what is to be interpreted along cultural lines and what is not. One need only read the passage objectively.

    When Paul discusses the submissive role of women to men, he is careful to remove cultural considerations by pointing back to the beginning (1 Cor. 11:8-9; 1 Tim. 2:11-14).

    It is almost as if he knew he would have to face the Berean Examiner.

  7. The Berean Examiner says:

    You didn’t bring culture help but Al Maxey did. In his Reflections #113 “Women in the Church
    Reflecting on the Nature of their Role”.

    Quotes from Al Maxey:
    “I am convicted that God has established a clear order of authority in our relationships, both in the home and in the church, and that chain of authority, in descending order, is: God – Christ – Man – Woman – Child. “Now I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:3). “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church” (Eph. 5:22-23). “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right” (Ephesians 6:1). Does this mean men are superior to women? Of course not. Paul even hastens to dispel such a notion from their minds — “In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God” (1 Cor. 11:11-12). This is not even remotely about superiority, it is all about authority. When people dwell together as communities, whether family, church, organization, city, state or nation, there must be clear understanding among all as to the “chain of authority.” Otherwise, there is chaos and anarchy. God has established that authority in both family and church. To set it aside, or to alter it, invites disorder in both institutions. Thus, I oppose the setting aside of this divine chain of authority, both in the family and the church. When women assert authority and assume leadership over men, I find this just as abhorrent as when children do the same over parents and adults. It is in violation of God’s design, and we will suffer for it every time!”
    “Some of the restrictions placed on women in the NT writings are cultural in nature, and were merely reflective of current societal norms with respect to evidencing God’s chain of authority. This would include matters such as a covering for a woman’s head while she prayed (1 Cor. 11:4-10) and the forbidding of women braiding their hair and wearing certain types of jewelry (1 Tim. 2:9). These are purely cultural restrictions, and were never intended to be universally and eternally binding LAW.”

    Al never did say why one was law and the other cultural. When it is about the Bible, I trust no one. Not even Al Maxey. If the Bereans did not “trust” Paul, who was an inspiried apostle, then why on earth should I trust you or Al Maxey? Just because you and Al Maxey are Church of Christ preachers with a Bible degree? No way.

    Okay, That is enough for now. “Additionally, there is a sense that we are all to submit to one another” (Ephesians 5:21).

  8. The Berean Examiner says:

    One more thing that I forgot to say. I also must say that your blog is very interesting and informative.

  9. The Berean Examiner says:

    So, Does this mean that you no longer believe in the “restoration principle”, the “NT pattern” or “CENI”?

    Anyway, Thank you for your comments on “culture”.

  10. The Berean Examiner says:

    You said, “Additionally, there is a sense that we are all to submit to one another (5:21)”

    Now, How did you get that from this?

    God said, “Be willing to serve each other out of respect for Christ. (Eph 5:21)

    For some reason, I am not hearing God say, “You are all to submit to one another out of respect for Christ”

    Anyway, The above is beside the point. In other words, I will follow instructions like I am doing now.

  11. Drew Kizer says:

    I got the instruction to “submit” to one another from a reputable translation on Ephesians 5:21. Try reading the NKJV, ESV or NASB and you’ll get closer to what the original writers were saying.

  12. The Berean Examiner says:

    Here is an idea for your blog. “Why is the NKJV, ESV or NASB reputable translations?”

  13. The Berean Examiner says:

    Anonymous, you need to read the whole thing, not just 1 Tim 3:12. You are taking 1 Tim 3:12 out of context.

    1 Tim 3:1-13:
    1) It is a true statement that anyone whose goal is to serve as an elder has his heart set on a good work. 2) An elder must be such a good man that no one can rightly criticize him. He must be faithful to his wife. He must have self-control and be wise. He must be respected by others. He must be ready to help people by welcoming them into his home. He must be a good teacher. 3) **He must not drink too much**, and he must not be someone who likes to fight. He must be gentle and peaceful. He must not be someone who loves money. 4) He must be a good leader of his own family. This means that his children obey him with full respect. 5) If a man does not know how to lead his own family, he will not be able to take care of God’s church. 6) An elder must not be a new believer. It might make him too proud of himself. Then he would be condemned for his pride the same as the devil was. 7) An elder must also have the respect of people who are not part of the church. Then he will not be criticized by others and be caught in the devil’s trap. 8) In the same way, the men who are chosen to be deacons must have the respect of others. They must not be men who say things they don’t mean or **who spend their time drinking too much**. They must not be men who will do almost anything for money. 9) They must follow the true faith that God has now made known to us and always do what they know is right. 10) You should test them first. Then, if you find that they have done nothing wrong, they can be deacons. 11) In the same way, the women must have the respect of others. They must not be women who speak evil about other people. They must have self-control and be women who can be trusted in everything. 12) The men who are deacons must be faithful in marriage. They must be good leaders of children and their own families. 13) Those who do well as deacons are making an honorable place for themselves. And they will feel very sure of their faith in Christ Jesus. (1 Tim 3:1-13)

    I hope this helps.

  14. The Berean Examiner says:

    Anonymous, 1 Tim 3:12 give the qualifications for men who are deacons. 1 Tim 3:11 give the qualifications for women who are deacons. How do we know that 1 Tim 3:11 is talking about women who are deacons and the wives of elders and men who are elders, by letting scripture interpret scripture. Romans 16:1 proves that 1 Tim 3:11 is talking about women who are deacons.

    What about 2 Tim 2:12? The office of Deacon is a serving position, not a teaching or leading position.

    1. The Bible teach that the office of deacon involves:
    1. Administering the resources of the church to the needy (Acts 6:1-6; also Justin Martyr).
    2. Handling the collection of money (Philippians 1:1,5; 4:10-19).
    3. Contacting people from house to house and ministering to their needs (requirements of deacons from 1 Timothy 3; 3rd century Syrian Didascalia).

    None of these functions involves teaching males or having authority over males. So yes, women can be deacons. There is nothing inherent in the activities or position of deacons that precludes women. It violates no other command in Scripture for women to handle money or to serve others in the church.

    What about early Church history? We have a reference to “women in Ecclesiastical orders” from AD 196 (Tertullian, ON EXHORTATION TO CHASTITY, chapter 13), an early 3rd century church record of women holding an official position of deacon with an actual list of their duties (Didascalia), and late fourth century church manual with a section concerning women deacons (Apostolic Constitutions). In the Christian document called the Syrian Didascalia (from the late 3rd century) deaconesses are specifically mentioned as an office of the church. The functions of women deacons are summarized as: “assisting at the baptism of women, going into the houses of the heathen where there are believing women, and to visit those who are sick, and to minister to them in the area of their need, and to bathe those who have begun to recover from sickness.”

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