The term "submission" usually provokes a strong emotive response with some linking it to such negative words as "inferior," "door mat," or "controlled." But Christian counselor Christina Fox insists that biblical submission does not imply any of the above and is in fact "beautiful."
Fox, who has been married 17 years, did not initially come to that conclusion. For a long time, the term "submission" denoted fear. But after a long journey, Fox has come to associate the biblical command with "beauty and grace," as she writes in a newly released ebook, Good: The Joy of Christian Manhood and Womanhood.
Fox, who is among 14 writers who contributed to the ebook Good, published by Desiring God ministry and endorsed by theologian John Piper, goes on the state what submission is and what it isn't.
"Submission," she says, "is not about forced control."
"When a man leads his wife, he is leading her to depend on Christ, not on himself," she explains. "The kind of leadership a husband provides his wife is to encourage her growth in grace and prepare her to be a co-heir in the coming kingdom."
Also, submission is not about belittlement, inferiority or worthlessness, she adds.
"Scripture teaches that we are to 'encourage one another and build each other up' (1 Thessalonians 5:11)."
Fox borrows Piper's definition to describe what submission is – "the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband's leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. It's the disposition to follow a husband's authority and an inclination to yield to his leadership."
To illustrate this further, Fox points to the apostle Paul who shows that the purpose of marriage is to reflect the Gospel.
"A husband's call to lead and a wife's call to submit is a reflection of the relationship between Christ and the church," the Florida mother of two writes. "The unique roles that men and women have in marriage serve as a living message of the gospel."
She continues, "As a wife yields to her husband's leadership in their marriage, she reflects the heart of faith that characterizes Jesus's people. The church follows Jesus as her head and uses her gifts to carry out his mission in this world. Likewise, the wife respects and yields to her husband's leadership as she uses her gifts to complement his good purposes for their marriage and family."
The only way for biblical submission to play out correctly is when the married couple relies on the gospel, Fox says.
"It is only through the power of Jesus and his gospel at work in our lives that the beauty of submission can blossom in our marriages," she writes.
The ebook was released by Desiring God ministry and the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Some of the other topics addressed include "Being a Man and Acting Like One," "The Nature of a Woman's Nurture," "Training Our Kids in a Transgender World," "My Recovery From Feminism" and "Purity We Can Count On."
Other contributors include Owen Strachan, president of CBMW; Jonathan Parnell, writer and content strategist at desiringGod.org; and Denny Burk, associate professor of Biblical Studies and Ethics at Boyce College, among others.