Observing Subjection in All Realms of Life
SUBJECTION! Ever so many persons rebel at the thought of subjection, but dedicated Christians know that, like it or not, all except God are and must be in subjection to someone. Even Jesus Christ is in subjection to his Father, trinitarian dogma to the contrary notwithstanding.—1 Cor. 11:3; 15:28.a
We cannot escape it. Jehovah God is a God of order. To have order requires organization, and to have organization involves the principle of subjection, which principle applies to every sphere of human activity, to every realm of life. As the apostle Peter expresses it: “Be in subjection . . . But all of you gird yourselves with lowliness of mind toward one another.”—1 Pet. 5:5.
Thus there is no question about slaves being in subjection to their masters, which subjection they are to render uncomplainingly. Not, however, in everything, but only in things to which their masters have a legal right. Masters may not properly interfere with the religion of their slaves, neither may they demand of their slaves criminal acts. This underscores the fact that the subjection of slaves to their masters is a relative, a comparative subjection, not a total one. It does not leave God out of consideration. To the extent that Christians today are beholden to employers so as to provide things honest in the sight of all men, to that extent they may be said to be similarly in subjection.—Titus 2:9-12.
Relative subjection is also required of Christian wives, and that regardless of whether their husbands are Christians or not. While they are to be in subjection “to their husbands in everything,” this subjection must be balanced with a fear of God and a conscientious regard for God’s will. (Eph. 5:24) Proof of its being a relative subjection is seen in the fact that it is to be done that no reproach may fall upon Jehovah’s worship.—Titus 2:3-5.
Then there is the relative subjection of all Christians to the superior authorities, the political rulers that have been set in their relative positions by God. Christians cannot escape this subjection so long as both are upon this earth. Though Christians are free, they may not use this freedom as an excuse to flout the laws that do not conflict with God’s laws nor to indulge in moral badness, arousing the governments to righteous indignation. Rather, Christians will give to all their due, honor and respect according to their station.—Rom. 13:1-7.
Such subjection, however, does not mean making concordats with worldly governments, in which certain favors are gained in exchange for letting the governments pass on appointments to high office, as some have done. Such friendship with the world would mean enmity with God; it being a subjection that makes them part of the world. That the subjection of Christians to Caesar is relative is also seen in the fact that it is a matter of conscience.—Jas. 4:4; John 17:16.
But, above all, Christians must be in subjection to Jehovah God and his visible earthly instrument or channel. Concerning this subjection within the Christian congregation, the apostle Paul writes: “Be obedient to those who are taking the lead among you and be submissive, for they are keeping watch over your souls as those who will render an account; that they may do this with joy and not with sighing, for this would be damaging to you.”—Heb. 13:17.
Subjection within the Christian congregation has many facets, as it were. The young are to be in subjection to the older, the women to the men, the individual members to the appointed servants, the ministerial assistants to the presiding overseer. Such submission or subjection is shown by cooperating with one another, by being punctual, by being dependable, by doing one’s best. In particular does it mean being in subjection to the arrangements for the field ministry, be those instructions given by the governing body directly or through its traveling or local representatives.
By observing subjection in all the realms of life, total subjection to Jehovah God, theocratic subjection within his New World society of witnesses, and relative subjection to those over them as economic masters, husbands or the political superior authorities of this old world, Christians will be keeping integrity, avoid casting reproach upon Jehovah’s pure worship and gain Jehovah’s approval and everlasting life in his new world of righteousness.
a For details see The Watchtower, November 1, 15, December 1, 1962.