The word “submission” comes with a lot of baggage. In our day and culture, everyone tends to view the term exclusively negatively.
And so, when they encounter the term in the Bible, they assign all that baggage and negativity to their reading of scripture.
But biblical submission is far more nuanced and beautiful than our modern concepts of it are. So I am always on the look out for analogies or images that capture the biblical concept better.
I came across a helpful one recently in a podcast. One of the hosts alluded to how a dancer submits to the rhythm of the music in order to dance. The speaker was talking about the need to submit to the spiritual rhythms of Christ, but I was struck by the imagery and what it said about submission in general.
To me, the dancer submitting to the beat is a good picture of what biblical submission means…
When a dancer submits to the beat, they still retain great freedom. Submitting to the beat does not mean your style or every move is dictated. An infinite amount of dancers could dance to the same beat for an infinite amount of time and yet never repeat the same exact dance. Submitting to a beat is not overly restrictive.
Submitting to a beat actually enhances a dance and dancer. To dance offbeat is ugly and awkward and often humorous. The offbeat dancer is perhaps freer in some sense, but they are not freer in the best sense. There is such a thing as bad freedom, like a train off the tracks or a fish out of water. The dancer who submits to the beat has good freedom.
Biblical submission is like submitting to the beat.
It is not about losing your identity or individuality. Christians are always pictured as a diverse lot consisting of a wide swath of gifts and skills, and they are encouraged to use that diversity in partnership, not to squash it. You are free to dance your dance, even as you submit to the rhythm of Christ.
Biblical submission enhances life. The result is freer freedom, safer freedom. The result of biblical submission is greater beauty as churches and communities enjoy the pleasant movement of synchronization and alignment, with no toes stepped on.
So, what say you? Is “submitting to the beat” a helpful analogy to you?