(Editor's Note: Part 1 of this series may be found by using "Author Archives.")

Respecting God's Assignments
God demands respect for every position He's created.

There must be respect for the head of a relationship whether that relationship is with Jesus, in the local church or in the home. The head is due respect because of the role he's been given. That respect is required independent of how we feel. It is independent of who holds the position. It is independent of their behavior.

One headship position that the Bible specifically commands us to respect and honor is the Presidency. That respect is due no matter whom holds the position. I had the privilege of attending a White House reception where two dignitaries were present - the head of the West German government and the President of the United States. While I was there, President Carter passed within six feet of me. As he did, I could feel the power of his position. I wouldn't dare curse that man; I respect him because of his position.

God has established the role of headship and He demands respect for it. Whether the people in those positions are Democrat, Republican, or whatever, doesn't matter. They are due respect because of the position they hold.

In the church, there needs to be respect for the position of pastor. You must respect whoever has been given that role. If you have no respect for God, you get none of His blessings. If you don't respect your pastor, you'll get none of the spiritual blessings his gift has to offer you.

In the home, the husband should be respected as the head. Children and wives must respect that position.

God does not demand respect only for the headship. He demands respect for the submitted role as well, whether it's as wife, congregation, or employee. Does God respect us, the ones in submission to Him? Yes! God doesn't despise humanity He loves us. He loves human beings so much that Jesus became one, and will eternally be bound in human flesh. He respects the position of the submitted one in His church.

Honor and dignity belong to every position that God has created. First Timothy 6:1-2 instructs us: "Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed. And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort."

What about respecting a position independent of behavior? Are there any Bible examples where God expected honor for a position when the person holding that position wasn't honorable? Yes!

Saul was anointed king over Israel, but he sinned and turned to false gods. Yet he wasn't removed from his position as head of that nation. While Saul was still on the throne, David was anointed king. David had the anointing of God upon him. He could have said, "I'm king now. Let's get this old guy out of the way." But he didn't.

Saul became so tormented in his mind that he tried to murder David. But when David had Saul at his feet, and could have killed him in a moment, he said, "I'll not touch God's anointed."

The Bible tells us that at the time David said this, the spirit of God had already departed from Saul. But David wasn't talking about Saul himself, he was referring to the position that Saul had as king. David wasn't considering Saul's behavior. He had respect for the position of the king, independent of Saul's actions. God expects that respect for position.

What should you do if your pastor starts getting flaky? You may be afraid that if you submit to him, he will lead you down the road to hell. Let me assure you that if you do your part and respect that position, God will do His. If He has to, He will remove your pastor from the headship. But if you have no respect for the position that God has established, you'll have trouble on every side.

There must be mutual respect between the head and the submitted one. God has established both positions. In marriage, the male has been given one role, and the female the other. We just fulfill what He wants done. He's given us a standard for fulfilling these roles - it's even as Christ and His church. That standard is the same for both the headship and the submitted position.

Roles Vary with Relationship
As individuals, each of us fulfills various roles. Men, you may be the head of your home, but you are also a believer who is in submission to the Lord Jesus Christ, and a member of a local church body where the members submit one to another. You may be in a submitted position at work.

Women, even though you are the submitted one in the marriage relationship, you are the head of your personal relationship with Jesus. You determine how much time you spend in the Word; you decide when and how to pray. You, as a parent, are in authority over your children; you are an example of headship to them. You may be an employer, fulfilling a headship position at work.

Different relationships require us to "wear different hats" and we need to get them straight.

Our behavior in and toward specific roles varies with relationship. If a general in the Army walks through the barracks, all the lower-ranking soldiers come to attention and salute. But that general is an ordinary human being; he doesn't always wear his stripes. He might be married. Every time he enters the room, does his wife stand up, salute, and say "Good morning, sir!" I doubt it, because ranks and roles vary with relationship.

If you see your pastor at the church picnic, with no tie on, throwing softball around, should your respect for him be diminished? No, because in that setting, your relationship with him is different. He is one of the believers who submit themselves one to another. But when a situation concerning the church comes up, he automatically assumes his headship position, no matter what clothes he's wearing.

We need to discern the difference between a church picnic and the church service. If members of my church start a Bible study without checking with me or begin ministering strange doctrines to the flock, they'll hear from me, and it won't be the shortstop on the softball team that's talking. The role we are standing in determines the acceptable behavior in a relationship.

Single Women and Women in General
Ephesians 5:22 says "Wives, submit yourself unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord." It does not say, "Women, submit yourselves to all males." Verse 22 is not a male/female instruction. It is a husband/wife instruction. When it comes to the marriage covenant, the man and the woman both marry into a role, an assignment. They must understand that when they decide to marry, and accept the responsibility of the role they are stepping into.

Where does the single woman fit in? We just assume that single men are on their own - just them and Jesus. Past teaching and society itself have given us the idea that single women don't belong by themselves. But what does the Bible say?

Single women, along with single men, are addressed in verse 21: "Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God." God is the overseer of the body. Male and female, we all submit to Him. We all submit to one another. The single woman's assignment is the same as the single man's: submitting one to another in the fear of God.

We all go to other believers for prayer and counsel, but if you are a woman and the "other" one happens to be a male, he is not necessarily the head over you. Scripture does not teach that all women must submit to all men.

Married women are not even required to submit to their husbands if he commands them to do sinful acts. The assignment is given "even as Christ." Teachings a few years ago would have had a wife do anything her husband asked her, even if it was contrary to God's law. That is not submission it is sin. We do not submit to sin; we submit to Godly authority, "even as" Jesus and His church.

Women are not second-class citizens in God's eyes. He's created men and women differently for a purpose - His purposes, not ours. God has assigned these roles, not for your degradation, but for your protection and His glory. He has purposes far beyond our understanding. If you have trouble with the assignment He's given you, go before Him in prayer and commune with Him to find understanding.

Submission and Love in Marriage
The Bible commands all of us to submit to one another. So why, in dealing with the marriage relationship, did God emphasize submission to the wives?

Men understand lines of authority. They work within them all the time. Because men encounter headship in the work place, they easily fit into the submitted role. Women, however, have not been taught submission. We see a scriptural example of this from the very beginning, in the Garden of Eden. Eve ate the forbidden fruit because she didn't know where the line of authority was. Adam sinned in that he knew where the line was but he crossed it.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul had to emphasize, "Wives, submit," because they hadn't been taught principles of submission.

Now, in speaking to husbands, God commands them to love. That's something men know very little about. We haven't been taught how to love as Christ loves. We've been exposed to what the world calls "love", but that's not love at all. It is selfishness gone to seed. Our example, Jesus, didn't do one thing on His own behalf. There isn't one thread of selfishness in His relationship with the church. Men, we are commanded to love our wives that way.

Headship is an easy role for men to fulfill, but without love it becomes destructive. If our headship isn't tempered with love, we become tyrants, dictators, and abusers of our families.

Men, love your wives and families; confront the selfishness in your lives. Women, submit yourselves to your husbands; confront the rebellion inside of you. This is what Jesus commands.

(Editor's Note: Please search archives for the other parts of this series.)

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