When you hear “The original Greek text say…” what do you think?
A saying like that makes many listeners think that someone is trying to torture the scripture into saying what they prefer to believe. And then the listeners shut off. So, for this discussion of what the Bible means when it asks wives to submit, I promise there will be no “the original Greek word mean…” With that promise, please bear with me while I mention the original Greek once only, and in a different context:
The Greek word Paul and Peter used for submit (they wrote in Greek, but we read English translations), used in all the wives- submit-passages (and Titus 2:5, which some translations write as obey) is hupotasso. Several other groups are also taught in the Bible to hupotasso (submit) to someone. We have to find a way of reading scripture in which wives’ hupotasso (submitting) to husbands is consistent with how other groups had to hupotasso (submit).
Okay, that is all the Greek for this discussion.
One group that Christians are asked to submit to, with that same Greek word, is authorities/ powers/ principalities/ordinances of man.(Rom 13:1, Tit 3:1,1 Pet. 2:13) Whatever submit (hupotasso) mean when refering to authorities, powers and ordinances, it means the same thing when referring to husbands.
Who were the Bible writers who asked us to submit to authorities? Paul and Peter.
How did Paul and Peter live out that submission? Well, they did not live it out as obedience. When authorities asked them to stop proclaiming the gospel, they kept on proclaiming. Note, dear reader, that the authorities were not asking them to commit any blatant sin. Peter and Paul knew God wanted them to proclaim Him, and authorities wanted to curb their actions. Submission never meant allowing the authorities to curb any of their good actions. Paul and Peter were led by the Spirit, not by the authorities.
Whatever submission mean in “submit to authorities” – it means the same thing in “submit to your husbands.” (And Christian submission is something mutual.) Submit is not synonymous with obey. Submission to a husband could never meant allowing a husband to curb any of the wife’s good actions. Wives should be led by the Spirit, not by what husbands say.
(Some complementarians/patriarchs should really consider correlating their views on submission to the goverment, with those they hold on wifely submission.)
This, I agree, does not answer the question of exactly what submission means. But it rules out a wrong answer or two. If you want to know what submission really means, perhaps you could seek out some of those “the original Greek say” scholars.
Or perhaps you could consider all the Bible passages containing submission: Everything from the 12 year old Jesus going away for days without telling his parents, but submitting to them(Luk 2:51); through the creation being subject to vanity(Rom 8:20 also use that same Greek word); to submitting to authorities. What meanings to the word submission will fit all of that?