Through all the studying and reading on women's roles in the church, trying to figure out where I stand, or believe, on the subject, I missed a very crucial and important point. That no matter what I may believe or where I may stand on a subject means nothing in light of God's call on my life. There will be times that He will call me places I may not want to go, to reach out to people from very different social (even societal) circles. If I give up my rights to the plans I have for my life, to my social circles, and am obedient to God's call I will have life to the fullest.
The issue of submission is not so controversial as people might think, if they have the right perspective on it. Submission is not subjection, degradation, or completely ignoring my gifts or desires for those of someone else - not as society or even feminists would tell us. It is not a giving up of one's will, but an exercise of will. The most common relationship this is seen in is that of a husband and wife. Dr. Sarah Sumner, author of Men and Women in the Church, puts it like this, "When a wife submits to her husband, she does not give up her will. On the contrary, she exercises her will to be guided by him. That doesn't mean she becomes a child who obeys him. It means, rather, that she conforms her will to his as a means of uniting with him. (emphasis added)" It took me re-reading this book, and that passage, along with discussions with a friend, to realize a very important truth about submission, particularly as described above.
This is precisely what we do in our relationship with God!! Do you see it? When we submit ourselves to God we don't give up our will, but we exercise our will, we CHOOSE to give over our will so that God's will can guide us, so that ultimately we can be united with Him. God's plan for us is always better than our own. This fact always becomes apparent at some point in our Christian walk.
God is so good, and He doesn't leave this sacrificing of will strictly to wives. Oh no, husbands are called to sacrifice themselves for their wives too. This sacrifice is similar to submitting. Dr. Sumner puts it this way, "Something very similar happens when a husband takes the initiative to sacrifice himself for his wife. He doesn't become henpecked or lose his will to hers; on the contrary, he conforms his will to hers as a means of uniting with her. (emphasis added)" This sacrifice is what headship means. It's not leading as much of the church today would describe it, or as society views it. Instead, it is a means for a husband to lift up his wife as an equal partner, just as her submission lifts him up.
At it's core, submission is a mutual occurrence, and not one that can be forced on another. God does not force us into submitting to His will, we are responsible for the act of submitting. The relationship between God and the Body is a beautiful example of what a relationship between a husband and wife looks like. If more people would view submission and headship in this manner, in relation to God, perhaps there would be less of a power struggle between men and women, and more lifting each other up.