When you think of a woman who’s a champion athlete, model, and celebrity, you might not use the word "submissive" to describe her. But that’s exactly how Gabrielle Reece describes herself when talking about her marriage.
Gabrielle has made a name for herself as a professional volleyball player, but recently she’s made headlines for something she said off the court. In her new memoir she wrote:
To truly be feminine means being soft, receptive, and—look out, here it comes—submissive.
That little sentence ignited a media firestorm, including a few heated interviews and lots of Internet backlash.
Reece responded by saying that she thinks submission is a "sign of strength."
I’m not telling you all of this to focus on a pro volleyball player and her marriage. I don’t know enough about Gabrielle Reece to know what submission means to her or what it looks like in her marriage. But I do think that such a loud reaction to one woman’s stance that submission is good for her marriage points to the way our culture tends to see the submission thing—for many "submission" has become a dirty word and an idea that makes them fighting mad.
And yet God’s Word says this:
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord (Eph. 5:22).
Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands (Eph. 5:24).
What is submission exactly?
To submit means to lay down your will for the will of someone else, to yield to, to let someone else call the shots. In the context of marriage, this means that it is God’s plan that ultimately the buck will stop with your man and that you won’t always fight for your way. But marriage isn’t the only context that God calls us to submit.
In Hebrews 13:17, He asks us to submit to our spiritual leaders (such as pastors, youth pastors, and Christian mentors).
Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you.
Ephesians 5:21 asks us to approach other Christians with an attitude of submission out of respect for Christ.
All of these situations are just practice for the ultimate relationship where we are called to submit.
James 4:7 states it plainly, "Submit yourselves therefore to God."
As Christians, God asks us to submit. That means instead of constantly fighting for our way, we are to defer to the requests and needs of others. When it comes to our relationship with God, we are to willingly swap our will for His.
Clearly, this is not a popular idea. In fact, it may make people mad if we choose to submit. We are likely to face our own internal fight as well. Submission isn’t easy. Perhaps Gabrielle is right, maybe it is a sign of strength, because it takes a strong woman to defer to others.
From pro volleyball players to average gals like me, we will likely all have to wrestle with the concept of submission at some point. We can choose to join the roar of the crowd, which screams that submission is crazy and outdated, or we can listen to the Word of God and ask Him to show us His plan for how we relate to others.
Does submission seem like a dirty word to you? Why do you think the culture gets so angry about the idea of submission? Do you agree with Gabrielle that submission is a sign of strength?