The God like us – stunning. Descending from majesty. Grappling with the confines of flesh, with skin and hands. Hearing others’ voices through two ears and having blood pump through a heart roughly the same size as mine. He knew the onslaught of grief, with all looming darkness, at Gethsemane. And he endured punishment for sin after sin—the number seems endless from my perspective, though he must have known each one. He was seen, known, heard, and touched.
I have come to know him through his being the Lamb; so the nearness of God inhabits an exclusive warmth of truth within me. I can find myself stunned that God came, and he came to be flesh. He came to be obedient flesh. He came submitting at Calvary, being subject in the garden.
Women Seeking Nobility
Any one Sunday morning, I’m greeted outside by a fellow human whose sins were paid for at the cross. Opening the door to foyer and sanctuary, I see many more of the same men and women—and there is no Greek or Jew, male or female (Galatians 3:28). Yet, as a woman, I also walk through that door differently from men, and with a distinct privilege in how I show honor to others and the Lord.
I walk amidst sanctuary, nursery, foyer, Sunday school classrooms with a role that runs parallel to Christ’s in a specific way. We can be Scripturally assured that any man might nobly aspire to be an elder (1 Timothy 3:1-2). Yet, church eldership and church-derived authority over men are not noble aspirations for a woman (2:12).
Where does this leave women? I have not yet found myself disproven in the thought that practical advice not fully grounded in biblical theology will, at best, be one-sided and incomplete. How well-meaning the advice—“Women, when you think about submission in the church, think about all you can do, like women’s ministry, children’s ministry, etc. That’s leading more than half of the church!”
Yet, that’s not enough.
When Women Are Robbed
Jesus’ submission to the Father – in a life of obedience, in the garden, and on the cross – we praise him for this.
We women are robbed by our hearts if we succumb to feeling any defeat or deflation about submitting, or if we regard God’s truth as less than ideal. For devaluing a woman’s submission inadvertently devalues the work of Christ that women, in principle, reflect.
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. (1 Corinthians 11:3)
Reflecting the Lord is as noble as I could imagine—“and the head of Christ is God.” His unmatched beauty in submitting to the Father when incarnate, securing the way of salvation is somehow by grace similar in principle to my role of submission, whether in marriage or church. The nobility of living by this exceeds the practical advice I wrote of above—this is the “more” we need to know.
Adorned in Uniqueness and Equity
Noble Sarah beautified herself, being subject to her husband.
For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands. (1 Peter 3:5)
What did she know of Christ? She knew of God’s order in creation; yet, the fraction of what she held dear in terms of knowledge of the Messiah means this adornment could not be any less accessible to the holy women of today.
The question to you, sister in Christ—Do you esteem womanly submission?—is best preceded by the question, Do you treasure that Christ submitted? In that light, how can we not perceive the immense privilege here? Defining what submission entails and what it looks like – and what it doesn’t – is beyond the scope of this article. But the right adornment is well to be sought.
So if you, sister, have been asked by God – by virtue of your submission – to relinquish a desire along the natural course of your adult life in marriage and church, this has been your honor. And where we have yet to receive this experience as an honor, it’s not too late to start adorning ourselves accordingly.
Submission in View of Christ
We can live in view of Christ’s cross and unparalleled expense, for he has been gracious to first take us into his view – though we are but dust. We may live our submission in view of him, who – despite any possible circumstance of ours – has always sacrificed the more. This way, we will innately come to treasure him in our hearts and actions.
Before the cross, there is no male or female—all are equally called to the feet of the King and raised to unfading inheritance with him. Further, who could say that the Father is honored above the Son—is there any lack of equity in their honor? Of course not. Thus, it is in equity we women are adorned with the unique role of submission—the humble honor of female Christian submission matching the humble honor of male Christian servant-leadership.
Both men and women, uniquely and together, have the equal joy and privilege of showcasing the riches of our incomparably sacrificial God by showing one another biblically-described forms of honor. For our God-given honor in roles pours itself out in honoring one another: “Outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:10b).