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Submission is Like Kissing

Here is my latest article from the Sisters in Christ Jesus web site:

Some things are meant to be shared. Have you ever waved at someone who didn’t wave back? Your hand hovers awkwardly, then you put it down with a little feeling of emptiness. “He probably didn’t see me . . .”

Kissing is like that. It’s a beautiful thing when it’s mutual, an awful thing if it’s not. If the other person limply allows it but doesn’t return it, you feel foolish. If it’s forced on you unwillingly, it’s an affront or even assault. Remember the kiss of death by the Godfather? A brotherly kiss turns to murder. Or Judas kissing Jesus. Not mutual, not beautiful.

Submission, as a Christian virtue, is better two by two as well. Paul urges the Ephesians in Chapter 5, Verse 21 to be “submitting yourselves to one another.” Missionary and Theologian Bruce C.E. Fleming explains that Paul carefully uses a reflexive verb here, adding a reciprocal pronoun to spell out his meaning clearly in this verse. He then goes on to describe what that looks like for Christian wives, husbands, parents, children, and so on.

The Greek word for submission is a reflexive, modified tense of a verb that is very strong in its active tense. The Septuagint, the Greek Bible quoted by Jesus, uses this word in the Old Testament for ideas such as pledging allegiance to kings and subduing one’s enemy. In fact, God thunders to Israel through Jeremiah about slavery using this word: “But now you have turned around and profaned my name; each of you has taken back the male and female slaves you had set free to go where they wished. You have forced them to become your slaves again.” Jeremiah 34:16

Fortunately for us, God uses this word in a gentler way towards us, his beloved, in Psalm 62. “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him.” Here again the word is in the reflexive tense, and like Ephesians, the context is of hope, love, provision and salvation.

“Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves,” Philippians 2:3. When done mutually, submission is a beautiful thing. Let no one experience the humiliation of having submission unreturned by their loved ones, especially beloved brothers or sisters in Christ.

“Greet one another with a holy kiss,” Romans 16:16.

© Copyright 2007 Becky Virta


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