Let’s talk about submission! (Series & Synchroblog Announcement)

by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

Next week, I’ll be hosting a blog series entitled “Submit One To Another: Christ and the Household Codes.The series will be similar to our Mutuality Week from 2012, but will focus specifically on those frequently-cited passages of Scripture that instruct wives to submit to their husbands, slaves to submit to their masters, children to submit to their parents, and Christians to submit to one another (Ephesians 5:21-6:9, Colossians 3:12-4:6; 1 Peter 2:11-3:22). 

These are some of the most misunderstood and debated parts of the New Testament. (They are also some of the most interesting!) So we’ll be drawing primarily from the perspectives of a variety of biblical scholars and theologians, but also from regular families seeking to apply these texts to their own lives. 

 I’ve been planning this series for ages, so it’s been fun to finally bring it together and invite you to participate. Obviously, I’ll be coming at this from a perspective that emphasizes mutuality in Christ over hierarchal gender relationships (you can get an overview of my own position in this post: “Submission in Context: Christ and the Greco-Roman Household Codes”), but if you see things differently, feel free to weigh in as well. The primary purpose is not to simply deconstruct the hierarchal view but rather to explain and discuss perspectives that emphasizes mutual submission with Christ as the example. 

The series will run from Monday, August 26-Friday, August 30. If you want to participate by contributing to the conversation on your own blog, write a post and share it in the comment section or via social media throughout the week.  

On twitter, we’ll use #onetoanother.  

If you need inspiration, here are some prompts: 

  • How have these passages made an impression on you personally? What is your history with them? How has your understanding of submission changed through the years?

  • Write about the context of the Household Codes. What might we be missing by skipping the verses preceding them and following them? Who were Peter and Paul’s primary audience? What do we need to understand about their world? 

  • Compare the Household Codes of Peter and Paul to those of Aristotle and Philo. How are they different and how are they the same? 

  • What does “submission” mean in your marriage, family, church, or community?  (Might be fun to incorporate some photos or stories into a “This is What Submission Looks Like” post, not unlike  the “This Is What A Feminist Looks Like” meme.) 

  •  Imagine you are a member of one of the house churches in Colossae or Ephesus  (perhaps a woman or a slave) and write from the perspective of the first hearers of these texts. 
  • If you are single, how do you interpret and apply these passages? 

  •  How do you respond to the Household Codes given their historic connection to the defense of slavery in U.S. history? Does that change how you see them?  

  •  Can the word “submission” be redeemed? How? 

  •  What is most misunderstood about the complementarian understanding of these passages? What is most misunderstood about the egalitarian understanding of these passages? 

Or take it in a totally different direction. I love it when folks take a topic like this and run with it – with photos, cartoons, poems, videos, etc. Be creative! 

Whether you plan to participate in the series by simply reading and commenting or by writing a post of your own, I’d encourage you to prayerfully look over the passages mentioned above, in their full context, in preparation for the discussion. Maybe even try reading them in the spirit of Lectio Divina. 

Finally, the books I’ll be citing the most include Discovering Biblical Equality, edited by Ronald Pierce and Rebecca Grootuis, and Gordon Fee; Colossians Remixed by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmat; and Man and Woman, One in Christ by Philip Barton Payne.  So check those out if you want to get a head start. 

The Household Codes used to be a source of serious doubt and frustration for me as a Christian woman, but now, understood in their context, they have become some of my favorite parts of Scripture! Looking forward to discussing them with you. 

Any questions? Ideas?  


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