Adj. Pertaining to complementarianism and egalitarianism.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

submission and subordination

Maybe I do a better job of asking questions than answering them. In any case, I have tried to follow the arguments for and against eternal subordination of the Jesus Christ the Son to God the Father. I believe I have also heard it taught that wives are to be subordinate to their husbands.

But I'm thinking that the Bible teaches that Christ submitted himself to the will of his Father. And the Bible teaches that wives are to submit to their husbands, as well as that within the Body of Christ we are to submit to each other. We are taught to submit ourselves to governmental authorities. But I can't recall any biblical teaching about subordination.

Am I forgetting some biblical teaching? Or does subordination mean the same thing as submission to some people?

It would seem to me that subordination has to do with rank, such as a lieutenant being subordinate to a general in the military. Those who have subordinates have authority over those subordinates, in my understanding. Submission, on the other hand, seems to me, to be an act. Submission, as far as I know, does not imply that one is submitting to someone who has authority over them, although it is possible for someone to submit to someone who has authority over them. It seems to me that subordination and submission are different things. One can be subordinate to another but not submit to that person (technically called a superordinate, in some disciplines). That lack of submission to do what an authority figures commands can be a serious matter of disobedience, a breach of protocol. A parent can submit to the wishes of their children, while not being subordinate to their children.

I'm not convinced that the Bible teaches anything about Christ being subordinate to his heavenly Father or that women are subordinate to their husbands. But Phil. 2 beautifully describes the willing submission of Christ to a process in which he was born as a human to be a servant.

If you'll allow (hmm, do you have any choice?!) this punster the following: perhaps thinking about submission in terms of subordination is rank!