Submission – 1 Peter 2 & 3

25 Oct

The word “submission” has once again brought the Sydney Anglican church to the front pages of the Herald. In an August article journalist Julia Baird says:

“And does it matter, in a broader cultural context, that there is a deep strain of misogyny in Anglicanism, and women are still described as subordinates? Is it just a private matter of belief? Or just arcane, irrelevant and even risible? The reason it does matter is because there has been a slow, intense creep of anti-women sentiment in Sydney since 1992…”

I had to do some searching of the dictionary to understand some of those words!  Misogyny means “a hatred of women, as a sexually defined group.”  Arcane means obscure and risible means ludicrous.  Is that us?

Altogether it’s a pretty offensive comment on who we are and how we live!

Some of the comments which followed the article show that our society believes that if you serve someone else then you are a fool and a door-mat, and if you expect others to serve you (especially a woman) then you are a despicable tyrant.  They demonstrate that Christianity has largely been rejected without a genuine attempt to understand it.

But is it also possible that we are just a little uncomfortable with the idea of submission ourselves?  When we read in the Bible that we should submit to those God has placed in authority over us, do we baulk at the supposed implication that we are not equal to them?  Do we resent the impotence it imposes?

Whether or not you think it is right, submission is naturally hard for us for two reasons:

  • Those in authority are sinful people.  At the worst end of the spectrum they are self-serving and abusive. Even at the best end of the spectrum they will never lead in a totally considerate and caring manner.
  • We are by nature rebellious. We want to control our own destinies and don’t want God or anyone else telling us how to run our lives.

However, it is also hard because we have bought the lie that those who serve are of less worth than those who lead. We have forgotten that we are all God’s precious, chosen people with an eternal destiny that will be glorious for people of every age, gender and culture.  We may also have forgotten that the eternal Son of God left us an example when he became a man, “made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,” … “humbled himself and became obedient to death —  even death on a cross!” (Philippians 2:7,8, see also 1 Peter 2:21)

There is so much more to Biblical submission than the caricature in the Sydney Morning Herald!

This is exactly what we are planning to get our teeth into at “Girltalk 2012”.  We will be exploring what Peter meant when he said to the dispersed Christians: “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority.” (1 Peter 2:13)  This isn’t just a topic for women so that they will know how to relate to the men in their lives.  We all have to submit to authorities in different areas of life, and how we do it determines how well our churches, our work-places, our marriages, and even our society function.  And even more important – it determines whether God is glorified in and through us, by the way we live and by the way we defend our Christian stance. Peter told his readers: 

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you.” (1 Peter 3:16)

I found the SMH article and the responses that followed offensive and bigoted and was ready to answer back with equal venom and spite. However, hopefully “Girltalk” will prepare all of us to defend this important part of the gospel message in a better way – the way Peter urged on his readers

“However, do this with gentleness and respect, keeping your conscience clear, so that when you are accused, those who denounce your Christian life will be put to shame,” (1 Peter 3:17) and ultimately, “they may, by observing your good works, glorify God in the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12)

Terry Blowes

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