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  • Elizabeth Billingsley

Mutual Submission vs Compliance and Servitude in Marriage


Hello everyone!

Today's blog is about one of those subjects that I believe is not get explained well in many Christian circles or otherwise. I am not an expert by any means but I hope my words can shed some additional light on this subject. I also want my words to help people be free from things that should not be in their relationships. I have walked through some of these things and if I can keep someone else from doing so, I've done my job.

I'll start with some definitions.

Mutual submission in marriage is the coming together of two people for a common goal and submitting themselves to each other to accomplish those goals. In other words, one person's needs to not mean more than the other nor do one person's wants mean more than the other. They each give and take and they work together to solve problems. Mutual submission also includes mutual respect where two people value each other for who they are and their differences of opinion without fear or intimidation of one another. This type of relationship is a partnership not a dictatorship and not what I like to call a "lazyship." A "lazyship" is a relationship where one person does all the work for the relationship and to the relationship while the other person reaps all the rewards and sets their cruise control and coasts along.

Allow me at this point to also define what submission is not so there is no confusion. Submission not servitude or being under someone's thumb. It is not about never having or voicing an opinion. It is not synonomous with never having a say in anything in the relationship. If someone is telling you a different definition of submission than what I have described, they are lying. Run away, run fast! Run far away!

Compliance is simply doing what you ar told out of duty. There is no mutual respect or mutual submission. With compliance, you are simply going through the motions and trying to keep the peace. Respect can be "expected" by one or both parties. I've been there and done this, it accomplishes nothing but to keep the relationship one-sided. Compliance generates a lot of bitterness for the partner who has to comply all the time.

Servitude is the act of being a servant to someone else. I person may want to be a servant but is compelled to be or is doing so through compliance. When I think of servitude I think of domestic servitude - someone who is there to clean up after you and take care of your every need. This is also very one-sided. There is no advantage for the servant, only the "master" in this relationship. There is no mutual respect or submission. In fact, there can be alot of disrespect and contempt toward the one partner.

After reading those definitions, which marriage do you think you would like? I know I want mutual submission and mutual respect in my next marriage or no marriage at all.

Only with mutual respect and mutual submission can love grow. Compliance and servitude do not grow love, they starve it. They also set a person up for a potentially abusive situation because one person has most of the say and most of the power. I have lived in an abusive situation where compliance and servitude where the norm. Never again! I have lived in a "lazyship" where I did everything. Never again!

Here are a few verses from the Apostle Paul's letter to the Ephesians pertaining to these very things:

Ephesians 5:22, 25-28 and 33 NIV

"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washingwith water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wivesas their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband."

No where in these passages does Paul call for servitude, compliance or a "lazyship" in a marriage. He calls for respect and submission on the part of both partners. He also calls for love.

I want to leave your with Paul's words about what real love is:

1 Corinthians 13:4-8

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails."

Where there is much love, there is mutual respect and mutual submission. Where there is not love, there is compliance, servitude and above all misery.

Pursue love!

Until next time,

Elizabeth


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