Perfect Submission

Marriage. Submission. Authority. Biblical. Anyone triggered yet? 

Across my facebook feed, in this day alone, I have seen memes in support of “biblical gender roles,” honest questions about how to heal from trauma without having a victim mentality, and further into the fray… What does marital submission look like from a grace perspective? 

O. My. 

Can. Of. Worms. 

I was asked by my pastor, shortly after I left my husband, when I thought submission ought to end. In my churched mind, after a few years of mulling that over from the relative safety of my locked bedroom prior to abandoning marriage for safety, and subsequently arriving in his office, newly separated, I formed an answer. “When one can no longer submit and be holy.” I wasn’t wrong then. But I understand better now what I was saying. Holiness is not a clear conscience, state of sinless, I am living above reproach, publicly confessable reality. Holiness, is life, lived under the influence of Love. It is being in a state of perpetually agreeing with the Maker on your intrinsic worth, value, design and Source. It is embracing one’s oneness and wholeness, and beauty. It is being oneself entirely unhindered. Being Holy, is embracing with Bliss, one’s own unique abilities and gifts, and enjoying, with the Source of All, All. It is I Am, set apart to BE. 

Submission in any relationship is creating a mutually safe space in which both parties are perpetually reminded, not of their shortcomings, but of their long-goings. It is not about who bows to whom, but rather about how one might nurture the beautiful being they have been entrusted with into who their Maker designed them to be. It calls one up… much like God did with Adam and Eve, and reminds them that they HAVE been given all they need, and they must embrace it. It is sacrificial, but it is not languishing. It is Love that seeks to know and understand, and to become known, not accommodated. 

When I submit to God (Father, or Mother of All) it is not out of fear, but trust. I rest in that relationship, because I am confident I am known, and will not be asked to do, anything by them that I could not do as them. I trust them to nurture me in safety and abundance, open my eyes to way in which my needs are met, help me to see where I fit within the all. I am asked repeatedly what I want, and my wounds are healed by the experience of living out of them and underestimating my worth and value, not liking the result, and my own heart turning to hear what is true. It is not a relationship in which I am to anticipate harsh discipline, hard experiences, and a lack of peace, or any other thing. I am increasingly revealed as the relationship deepens, I become kinder to myself. As I submit to their view of me I experience the fruit of the spirit… the love and joy and clarity that comes with being in a state of being. 

So, what does marital submission look like? Is it a gender role hierarchy? A chain of command? No. We submit to one another out of reverence for [the] Christ [within]. As in any component of community, practically speaking, we learn the other’s personality, giftings, strengths, weaknesses. We work as a team, as equals. We function as the living beings we are and be equally courageous in our vulnerability, and allow the love we share, from the Source we share, to call the I am we are in the I am to the surface. Anything less, anything that caters to the ego of one over the value of the other, is what causes trauma. It crosses the line into the land of abuse and creates a victim. Stewardship of the heart of another human being is never about authority, its goal is always freedom. 

Marital submission, in a world where the finished work of a Maker who never stopped loving us and being with us is allowed free reign (grace life), is nothing short of Love. It doesn’t need a system, it needs communication, and a desire to manifest wholeness. It seeks healing, not accountability, unity, not uniformity. It is Christ in me, revering Christ in you, and because of this, cherishing one another.  We have all seen a bee with a flower. It always pollenates it, and the flower gives what she has to the bee. It is mutually beneficial. 

Level the playing field. Let’s begin the conversation of submission with Love and see where it takes us. I guarantee, gracious submission reveals in glorious beautiful detail, who we are, and sets us free to be that person. Within this context, no one ever gives up who they are for the sake of someone else’s ego. It is unthinkable. If it isn’t a compassionate love, it isn’t submission in the way of grace. 

So when does submission end? Never. Because it isn’t about authority. It’s about wholeness, oneness, and Love. And dang it, if Love doesn’t think we’re amazing. “Perfect Submission, all is at rest…” I know, I lifted that from a very out of context place, but you know, I think Phoebe Palmer Knapp has a better understanding of that line at present then she ever did on earth.

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