Duty of Submission versus Response to Love

There are three main areas of submission to human authority laid out for the church, and in each case submission is described as a duty: women are to submit to their husbands, children are to submit to their parents, church members are to submit to pastors and leaders. Submission is not voluntary in these cases: God expects us to be submissive and will not accept our excuses for rebelliousness.

However, the counsel of God to husbands, fathers, and pastors is that they can compel submission if they exhibit self-sacrificing love and are nurturing to their charges. Delinquent husbands, domineering fathers and unloving pastors are still due respect and submission for the sake of their "offices"—but they will only receive it as the Holy Spirit ministers forbearance and grace to their neglected wives, frustrated children and abused congregations. On the contrary, any husband, father, or pastor who takes the initiative to love as Christ loved will draw submission out of his charges naturally and responsively. This is the biblical model: if you sow into your mate or child or congregation the good seed of love, you will reap the harvest of submission. All affected toughness and willfulness will dissipate… your wife or child, or congregation will humbly follow the man that has demonstrated his care and selflessness.

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