Kelly Ladd Bishop

Exploring issues of faith, culture, and spirituality with a focus on women in the church and world

A Guide to Cross-Centered Submission

A Guide to Cross-Centered Submission

This article originally appeared in Mutuality Magazine, the print publication of Christians for Biblical Equality International. 

The word “submission” elicits a strong and often negative reaction in our culture. For many, it provokes images of oppression, slavery, or abuse. Submitting sounds like giving in, or giving up. But submission has always been an important part of Christian theology. After all, salvation flows through Christ’s submission to God on the cross.

When Christian egalitarians argue that God does not intend for women to submit to men in all sit uations at all times, or for wives to always submit to husbands, we are often accused of failing to practice Christian submission of any kind. Egalitarian women just want power, some accuse. We want to be “like men.” We want to avoid all the negatives images that “submission” conjures, so we run from it.

But Christian egalitarians don’t hate submission. We love submission. In fact, our faith is built not only on Christ’s submission on the cross but on our submission to God, to Scripture, and to our sisters and brothers in Christ. We part ways with complementarians over the definition of biblical submission. Let’s start by defining what biblical submission is not.

Biblical submission is not:

Subjecting ourselves to abuse

Each person on earth has infinite value as an image bearer of the almighty God. The Bible does not call anyone, man or woman, to submit to any type of abuse—physical, spiritual, sexual, or emotional. Calls to submit to abuse for a season or to stay in an abusive situation are not biblical, and moreover, are not from the heart of God.

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