Ephesians 5:22-24 -- Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
If you want to stir people's attention at church, there are a couple of topics you can speak about. One is tithes, because most people do not want to talk about their money. Another is the role of women in the household and the church. You will get a wide range of responses, and they will certainly be strong and vocal.
The problem most people have is with the word "submit". Our society looks at submissive people as being weak. If you are submissive, you are giving up your power and control. You'll be pushed around and walked all over. You no longer have self-worth or standing and are at the mercy of someone else. This perception has formed because of the reality that people in positions of power used their authority to hurt those they were supposed to be caring for. This is unfortunate, because they were not placed in their position to be tyrants or to be waited on hand and foot or to be put on a pedestal. They were put there to be leaders and to provide for others. If you continue reading in Ephesians, you read that husbands are supposed to love their wives the way that Christ loved the Church and gave Himself for her. "So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church." (Ephesians 5:28-29)
1 Peter 2:13-17 -- Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men- as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.
Submit does mean to give over or yield to the power or authority of another. We submit to others every day when we stop at red lights, wait in line at the grocery store, pay our taxes, drive the speed limit, etc. Otherwise, chaos would ensue. Yet we struggle with the idea of being submissive. The American spirit is one rooted in independence and self-reliance. Our forefathers fought to gain freedom from the tyranny of England's rulers. The pioneers forged a new life in untamed and often dangerous territory. We are made of hearty stuff; we are not weak and submissive. We have been programmed to believe that we don't need anyone and we can do it all on our own. This mindset has to change, because the truth is that we are not weak when we submit to another's authority. Instead, we are positioning ourselves to be strengthened and supported. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, "And He said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness." Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."
Romans 8:7 (NIV) -- The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so.
The opposite of submit is fight. It is a choice we have to make either we submit or we fight. In order to serve the Lord, we must submit ourselves to Him wholeheartedly. If we don't submit to God then we are fighting Him. I think this is one of the biggest barriers people encounter as they are coming to Christ and even during their Christian walk. It is difficult giving up control and yielding to someone bigger than ourselves. It's a tough thing admitting that you can't get through life on your own and that you need the love and the power of Christ to take over your life. Being submissive is not about being weak or allowing yourself to be treated badly. It is about trusting in something bigger. We know that we can trust Christ when we submit ourselves to Him. He gave His life so that we may live eternally with Him. He provides for all of our need and He knows the desires of our heart. He loves us and cares for us. You are not weak when you submit yourself to God, because you now are in His strength. Being submissive to God actually puts you in a position to receive His blessings.
Sadly, we cannot always be so trusting of people. We should honor and respect the position and the authority that goes with it, but we do not have to continue submitting ourselves to those who abuse their power and position and do not have our best interests at heart. Wives, submitting to your husband doesn't mean you become a doormat. Husbands, having a submissive wife doesn't mean you get to boss her around and micromanage her life. Marriage is representative of the relationship between the Church (the Bride) and Christ (the Bridegroom). If we are not careful, we can allow worldly thinking to prevent us from having the relationships that we are supposed to have with our spouse, our children, our friends, our co-workers and most importantly with our God. If you do not submit to God, then you will inevitably submit to something else. The idea that we are totally self-reliant is a lie and we will eventually find ourselves in need. Without God, we could find ourselves allowing other things to take over and control our lives.
James 4:1-3, 7 -- What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. . . . Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
When we overstep the lines of authority, we have chaos. If everyone on a job site tries to supervise, nothing will get done. If every soldier in a unit tries to command the mission, it will fail. If everybody in the church tries to be the pastor, we have no unity. On an airline flight, do you want the trained pilot at the wheel or other untrained members of the flight crew? Do you want the surgeon or the orderly wielding the scalpel during your operation? There are positions and powers and authority in place for a reason. There are leaders and followers and we need both. It doesn't mean that one is better than another. In one situation, you may be the leader, while in another you must be a follower and submit to another authority.
Regardless, we all must submit ourselves to God. When Solomon dedicated the temple that he had built for God, he didn't beat his chest in triumph or look to the people for applause. He knelt down before the assembly of Israel, humbly raised his hands to heaven and prayed. No one would ever describe Solomon as weak. He was a man who loved and submitted himself to God and as a result he was the wisest, wealthiest, most knowledgeable earthly king who ever was. While it's true that he faltered later in life because of his desire for foreign women, it serves as a reminder that to submit or fight is choice we have to make every day.