Thou Shalt Submit!
On Friday, I got stuck in philosophical mud when I tried to write about submission, so here's try number 2. Pandering, as I mentioned on Friday, I understand all too well. I have a Phd in, "who do others want me to be." A degree I eventually recognized as worthless. But when pandering went, submission, a close cousin to the pander bear, got the boot as well, which is why I got stuck in Friday. So last night as I sat at the laundromat, I posed the question on facebook and received some clarifying input. This week I'll be highlighting a few of those comments.
"I think for Christians, submission-talk has to start with talking about the Trinity." -Matt
Every major religion addresses submission in some way, Muslims white-knuckle submit to the commands of Allah, observing a debatable number of pillars and laws, Jews submit in similar fashion to a different set of dietary and ritual laws, while several eastern religions attempt to remove self, submitting personal will and identity to one-ness with the universe. Even most atheists, agnostics, and satanists (which is not the same as worshiping a picture of a guy in a red suit with a pointy tail) would ascribe to some form of submission to the will and wants of others (do as thou wilt, so long as it hurts none.)
Christianity's contribution to the submission mix comes in the supposition that the Godhead (the three in one; the shell, egg-white, yolk analogy; however you'd like to try and describe it) according to Jesus, and later Paul and other apostles, exists within a state of mutual and intentional submission. They know exactly what each other thinks and wants and make it happen in perfect harmony. God is a perfect being, happily submitting to perfect beings.
We too are called to mimic this submission in various roles. God tells us to submit to Him, to submit to other believers, for spouses to submit to each other (Ephesians), for believers to submit to governments, etc. Not that average churchgoer Joe does a good job at this. We idolize the founding of our nation, despite all the talk in the New Testament about paying taxes as a mark of discipleship, as if England was somehow a more oppressive version of the Roman government that Jesus spoke to. And beyond taxes we seem to ignore the call to pray for and honor those in authority. Again, before you try to write off our government as un-Christian or oppressive, I dare you to disprove that Rome was ten times a devil to the Jewish people of Jesus day.
Well great. Only four paragraphs in, I'm already faced with my own hypocrisy. Seriously, I didn't plan this when I started writing, but conviction does not come at convenient times. So digress I shall.
Yesterday on facebook I made a backhanded remark about the congressional/lobbyist system in Washington as a modern day brothel. I write about submission not as one who submits well, but as one who increasingly understands what submission is without having put much intentional effort into it. Please forgive my adolescent clumsiness. I find myself on the butt end of James 1:
"Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do."
I need to let this stew a bit, but I need some feedback before I head further down the rabbit hole.
-What does it mean to submit to those I also deem worthy of critique? -Were my comments violating what (I am claiming) God calls me to?