Obviously, submission has its merits in the realms of reason. If I am submissive to my supervisor, then I keep my job. But, is there a point in which submission is no longer the reasonable course of action?
In 1961, Stanley Milgram started a series of controversial experiments. Participants were informed in advance that no permanent physical damage would happen as a result of their actions. They were asked to set down at a desk and take on the role of a “teacher”. On their desk was a device that administered shocks in varying degrees to a “learner” in the other room. The shocks ranged from a mild 15 volt shock all the way to a fatal 450 volt shock. An evaluator sat in the room and guided the teacher through when to administer the shock. If at any point the teacher felt uncomfortable, participants were given a succession of verbal prods in this order:
- Please continue.
- The experiment requires that you continue.
- It is absolutely essential that you continue.
- You have no other choice, you must go on.
In the other room, the “learner” was actually an actor who would respond to the shocks verbally through yelling in accordance to the level of the shock. Participants did not know that the “learner” was an actor and in the end, an astonishing 65% of all the participants administered the 450 volt shock!
Submission should never be blindly given or it will lead to disaster. When the focus is kept on God’s desire, submission is kept within a healthy perspective. Our role in submission to a biblical perspective keeps us from crossing from self-denial into a perverted self-deprecation.
Self-denial is simply denying yourself to have its own way when it doesn’t matter. By yielding, you make progress. For example, you might be part of a team at work. Opinions are asked and several disagree with you, even though you clearly have had more experience. Or maybe you wanted to sit down and relax, but your kids want to go to the park. Your spouse asks you to take them, because she’s tired. These are all situations where you have the opportunity to submit in a healthy frame. (Reminds me of Right vs Righteous)
Self-deprecation on the other hand is perverted. It says that you are worthless and you don’t have a right to an opinion. People who fall victim to this thinking will find themselves in places or participating in activities they never imagined: staying in an abusive relationship, keeping your mouth shut about unethical matters because you are afraid you will lose your job, allowing yourself to be the source of ridicule just to keep them as “friends”.
- Spiritual Discipline: Submission
- Submission: Lens of Tradition
- Submission: Lens of Reason
- Submission: Lens of Experience