Submission and Control
by Tim Greenwood

For years Marcia and I were members of a religious organization, which, whether by accident or design, was all about control. I could go into great detail sharing many examples, all of their tactics and how they got away with it, but that is not the point here. Just know that we understand control and what it is to be controlled. This experience has helped us recognize the great difference between submission and control, especially as it relates to one's spiritual authority.

In the Book of Genesis, God gave man authority and dominion over everything in and upon the planet Earth's land, sea and air, EXCEPT other men and women. In fact, the only legal authority and dominion, i.e. control, that you have over any other human being is that which has been submitted to you by those individuals. The only exception to this is your children who live in your household and have yet to reach an age of accountability, and individuals who have been legally incarcerated.

Other than this, you should never allow anyone, or anything for that matter, to control you, other than you. Plus, you have the God-given responsibility to control, i.e. exercise authority and dominion over, everything around you.

As an example: Man was given express dominion over the entire plant kingdom, and therefore has the responsibility to control all aspects of the plant kingdom and its derivatives. And none of these plants or derivatives should ever be allowed to control you. Not marijuana form the hemp plant, alcohol from corn, rye, potatoes, cactus, etc, not cocaine from the coca, not caffeine from the coffee bush, not nicotine from the tobacco plant, not morphine or heroin from the poppy and not any plant or anything for that matter.

Now if you should not allow anyone else to control you then that means that you have the responsibility to control yourself. And that means that any person that has reached an age of accountability and, is not in some way mentally diminished is fully accountable, legally, morally, ethically and spiritually, for their own behavior, words and actions. And a Christian's biblical responsibility includes controlling your own vanity, jealousy, lusts, greed and covetousness, since these all constitute acts of bad faith or what the Bible calls sin.

Now God is all for reputable, (righteous), leadership. And for there to be leaders there must be followers, students or disciples. The old covenant implemented this through obligatory obedience to positional authority. However, the New Covenant implements this through various systems of voluntary commitment. (http://www.tgm.org/ObedienceVsCommitment.html for more on this topic.)

Without going into it deeply, every relationship of every kind is in fact a legally binding good faith contract, through which you voluntarily bind yourself, and thereby submit to the fulfillment of whatever you bound yourself to do. And the other party or parties of that contract have mutually bound themselves to do the same. This is in fact what biblical submission is all about. Therefore, the Bible admonishes you to learn submission on many levels, but without allowing yourself to be controlled.

Authority, as demonstrated through the New Covenant, can only be truly effective by that authority being granted by you through some type of mutually beneficial good faith agreement or contract which therefore also requires mutual submission to each other. And if you refuse to submit to that authority, which you yourself granted, then you, through breach of contract, are cutting yourself off from all the benefits of that authority.

For example, if you refuse to submit to your legally elected town Sherriff when he tells you to slow down to the posted speed limit, then you should not expect him to use that authority for your benefit when you call him for help.

The same principal applies to spiritual authority. If you refuse to submit to your spouse's spiritual authority, you should not expect their spiritual authority to be effective when interceding during spiritual warfare on your behalf.

When a young woman gets married, the father of the bride typically walks her down in front of witnesses and officially transfers his spiritual authority concerning her to the groom and immediately thereafter both the bride and groom submit their own spiritual authority to each other. Submission to spiritual authority is not about being controlled, but rather is the transfer of responsibility. That is to say, they become responsible for each other.

You have spiritual authority over yourself, your spouse, your children, your home, your property, the portion of your workplace over which you are responsible and your immediate environment and surroundings, wherever you go, and your spouse's spiritual authority is the same. Your children should not be expected to exercise their own spiritual authority until they reach an age of accountability, which biblically is usually around twelve or thirteen years of age, after which they should take on the primary responsibility of their own spiritual authority and adulthood.

    (ASIDE: Parents, what would life be like if you never had to deal with a teenage child? In Jesus' day, there was no such group as "teenagers". A child upon reaching twelve or thirteen years of age would ceremonially accept the responsibilities of adulthood. Therefore, there were children and adults and nothing in between. A boy became a man and a girl became a woman, mentally and emotionally as well as physically, and were expected to behave as responsible adults.)

So what am I saying? I said all of that to say this:

Every Christian has both the right and the responsibility to exercise all authority and dominion, spiritual or otherwise, over everything and every situation within their environment.

Every Christian parent has the right and the responsibility to exercise all authority and dominion, spiritual or otherwise, over their children, and for family members to submit to one another.

But, with the exception of your own children and persons legally incarcerated and placed under your authority, you have no right to exercise any control over another person which has not in some way submitted that authority and dominion to you.