Submit And Subdue, Revisited

Christians must submit, was urged in a recent fulcrum7 article.  Three weeks later it was followed by an exhortation to subdue.  Taken together, the messages seem contradictory, the perception Satan urges, always followed by “and impossible to obey.” 

Authored by a middle-aged and deeply consecrated pastor, the submit appeal reflected an insightful pastorly perspective.  Subdue was actually a sermon by a precociously knowledgeable 17-year-old, with his life and experiences in subduement and submission yet ahead of him.  I’m 90 years old and behind me is personal experience of both submission and subjugation, some of it baleful, some heavenly, some long behind me, some still nibbling.

First off, I’ve learned at long last that the two divine commands are in fact not contradictory.  How could they be, for both are faithful recitals of God’s most crucial instructions to man.  And God is the same now and forever.  His truths cannot be other than truth.  His truths cannot contradict; they complement. 

God— being infinite and omniscient — does not think as mere man — being degraded, deluded, blinded — thinks.  Or as Satan — the father of deception — thinks. 

To those bent on hearing only what they want to hear, God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie (2 Thessalonians 2:11 KJV).  As if for the convenience of those craving to be fed such delusions, His inspired word is contradictory, and not by accident.  

If Paul were writing about this for Romans he might after making that point, strike with this jarring question, “What shall we say then?  Does this mean God deludes?  Why do you ask that question?  Perish the thought!  It is Satan that that deludes.  Ye do so lust after delusion that God giveth you over to it.” 

Those who submit to God and are His sheep, they hear His voice clearly and gratefully submit to it.  They do not recognize Satan’s voice and they turn and flee. 

Hearing His voice, His sheep recognize layer upon layer of truth, truths complementary and supplementary, equal and opposite, necessarily different but equivalent — like electron and proton, matter and antimatter, black sucking holes submitting all things to itself and radiant clouds creating stars.  Male and female. 


 Submission is a stunning word.   Patently because it is so stunningly offensive and frightening, getting us all squirming in our seats, the word is rarely used nowadays, which in turn renders it all the more stunning when a pastor Stewart uses it.  

In recent years the only time I’ve heard “submit” used in church, and then rarely, is not in sermons but Sabbath School, and then not directed toward Christ but at each other, wielded deliberately to provoke fireworks, as a good discussion is suppose to do.  

Let us turn to Ephesians 5:22, and duck! “Wives, submit yourselves unto your husbands.” Geneva Bible 1599. Stunned we aren’t; frowning and raising fists, we are.  Paid marital counsellors, if they turn to Ephesians 5 at all, employ less incendiary synonyms, like adapt.  “Wives, adapt…” Better yet, delete husbands.  Delete even “partners.”  

Rather than submit to being stunned, we dance around it, oblivious to old-time warnings of the danger of the dance.  As escape, we run out and buy a case of deadening drinks and search for soft lulling synonyms. Say “commit” instead of submit.   Better yet, say “respect.”  

Synonyms that are at all compelling are usually archaic and evoke eye-rolling if not simply nostalgia, if heard at all.  Take “humble,” or “surrender.”  I’m so old I remember, with nostalgia and even longing, the hymn, “I Surrender All.  All to Jesus I surrender.”  


And take obedience. Obedience to anything.  Obedience to law, that’s the police state and police are pigs; to God, that’s legalism and forensic theology, pharisaical.  “Love and obey,” that’s a ritual vow with only ceremonial value.  The love part is OK; the obey business, well…  

Love,  as the Beatles proclaimed, is all the world needs, and which, as Project One proclaims, what Jesus radiates as mindlessly and devoid of anything to submit to as Plato’s Form emanates naught but generic emanation. A lead shield is more warranted than obedience. (“Form,” that’s Plato’s amorphic undemanding substitute for the Israelitish God who requires submission.)   Change obedience to obeisance, especially to a political package or to celebrities, and applause, applause!  Awards! Awards!

Christ Himself expressed real submission and obedience as rebirth.   I’m thinking of how  Nicodemus in the dark of night and with aplomb had coyly approached Him with flattery.  Christ cut him off with, “Except ye be born again ye have no part in the Kingdom of heaven.”   Nicodemus was stunned out of his aplomb.


 To subdue is not so stunning.  More in keeping with the instinct of natural man, usually the word is not used as God uses it.  He does not mean it to be a war cry, as it often is.  Much practiced as abuse, fisticuffs and handcuffs; investigations not to uncover truth but to shut up and lock up behind bars.  It means slavery, persecution; legal action, suits, #meToo tweets; one-upmanship; Big Sports or capitalism gone wrong; brass knuckles, hair-pulling or atom bombs, it means damage, destruction. Subjection too often begets subordination with insubordination.  It generates hate which begets ruin.  At best grudging quid pro quo obligation.

Young Kevin Glass, on the other hand, presents the command to subdue as divine, and as God gave it in Genesis and reiterated throughout the Bible. 

To God and our fellow humans to whom we minister, we must submit, in His name.  And in His name, we are to subdue that which He has entrusted to us: God’s creatures and the cattle on a thousand hills. 

God meant us to subdue not wives but the earth, by tilling it, manipulating it, populating it, and enhancing its beauty and fruitfulness.  Go subdue the paper and create upon it poetry and prose, and put there my Word.  Go and create paintings and sculpture but have no other Gods before Me.  Create airplanes and the internet, the better to spread the gospel, as I commanded.  

As to wives and husbands, I suspect, though perhaps a male fantasy, that not infrequently it is the wife who subdues the husband unawares —  by Godly wiles given exclusively to females, and, ahem, by demure submission.  In submitting we subdue, might be a good marital motto. 

By the way, a trans by definition has not submitted to His, yes His, will.  But nobody has submitted to more cruel manipulation — to overdoses of foreign hormones and tons of paint, epilation and wigs, teams of plastic surgeons who excise his most precious assets and implant in their stead jiggly silicon.  If he thinks he has subdued his ordained gender, he’s not merely wrong but pathetic, however forcefully the law is transmogrified and blinkered, to make deniers or orthodox grammarians guilty of hate crimes. 

Be that as it may, to subdue what He has assigned and privileged us to subdue the way He, not Satan, requires that first we submit our all, our very hearts, to Him.  Only by submission may we reconcile with rejoicing what heretofore was, in our human way of thinking, contradictory.   Then we understand that as the Father and the Son are one, so is Godly submission and subduement.  Submitting and subduing, thus, are anything but contradictory.  In God, they interact and they mutually empower.

Only by such submission to God may we subdue what is so much more challenging than acne or the atom or a hostile nation with the bomb — we, with God’s power, must subdue sin.  Our carnal nature, our cravings, our natural tendency to insubordination; our disbelief in Him and His word, we are to subdue.  Yea, we must subdue the sin to which Adam and Eve submitted. 

The question is not whether submission and subjugation are contradictory.  That’s the wrong question, fatally wrong.  The real question is to whom we shall submit and be subjugated by: God through Christ or Satan.  There are only those choices. 

The overwhelmingly popular notion, dangled by Satan to Eve in the Garden and parroted by such as Norman Vincent Peale and his “power of positive thought” and echoed in uplift seminars and a flood of inner-power ebooks, that in the human breast, not God, lies all cosmic power, to which all nature and eventually the universe and everything that in it is must submit, is just plain wrong, amusingly wrong, dead wrong, sinfully wrong. The original delusion.

We can subdue sin or anything else with which we have to do only by submitting totally to God, through Christ, as He submitted to his Father.   That taken together is the message of the two Fulcrum7 articles.

And Christ’s submission to His Father entailed submission to the supreme humility and glory of becoming one of us, and even to being killed by us, thereby unaccountably, astonishingly, incredibly reconciling us to God, thereby obtaining for us God’s sonship and Christ’s kinship.  Only by such submission to Him may we begin to know and to return to Him and to others around us His love, a love that passeth all understanding and fills the soul with subdued, solemn joy.  We must submit to Him who girded Himself with a towel and washed our feet, and Who, girded with all glory and power, is coming again to finally subdue Satan, his delusions, and all sin.   


Dr. Kime was born in 1929, in Los Angeles, California.  

Kime pursued dual careers in art (since childhood) and medicine (physician; specialties in internal medicine and pathology; clinical and academic).  He studied the principles of art, chemistry of paint, and the works of master artists as assiduously as medicine.  After retiring from pathology at Kettering Medical Center in 1994, Dr. Kime has concentrated on his art, producing portraits, seascapes and figural work mainly in oils, and  urbanscapes predominantly in watercolor.  Dr. Kime currently lives in Redlands, CA.