Surrendering versus submitting
Colossians 3:18-19 NIV
 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.  Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
I’ve recently been reading about the differences in surrendering versus submitting to your spouse in sex. The article read:
“Submissive is a duty from the mind. Surrender is from the heart, an emotional attitude that gives all to your beloved as you have each other.” —A married woman
“My lover told me he loved me, but he was only invested in the controlled sexual encounters he could orchestrate. In the end, that is what is was . . . no reciprocation!” —A married woman
In romantic surrender, yielding is brief and limited to the romantic (often sexual) circumstances. Such yielding can be part of the behavior of both partners. The basic emotional attitude here is that of enhancing the experience of the surrendering partner, thereby promoting both partners’ well-being.
In romantic submission, yielding is an enduring and built-in aspect of the general relation between the partners, and it also slides into the romantic realm. The activity here aims at increasing the pleasure of the superior partner, while damaging the autonomy of the submissive partner, thereby preventing this partner’s flourishing. In romantic surrender, we trust and nurture the other; in submission, we exploit and humiliate the other. Romantic surrender is a thriving experience for both partners, who thereby expand their horizons and self-knowledge. Romantic submission is humiliating for the inferior party, whose perspective is contracted to that of the superior partner (Hale, 2016).
What are the proper attitudes for husband and wife in their unique marriage bed?
I have to say that my read through of the quotes, gave me a negative feeling as well, especially this part from the last paragraph:
“The activity here aims at increasing the pleasure of the superior partner, while damaging the autonomy of the submissive partner, thereby preventing this partner’s flourishing. In romantic surrender, we trust and nurture the other; in submission, we exploit and humiliate the other. Romantic surrender is a thriving experience for both partners, who thereby expand their horizons and self-knowledge. Romantic submission is humiliating for the inferior party, whose perspective is contracted to that of the superior partner “
But reading @Angler’s intent and interpretation of the message, helps soften the overall feel, but that part above still rubs me wrong, because I believe that author (which I don’t know if they are a Christian or not), has a skewed and wrong view of what God’s intention of submission is, and therefor to build on a faulty and wrong premise, makes all he/she believes off, IMO. I can see where submission can fall under “duty” as Angler describes, and if you have read TMB for any length of time, it is obvious that no one desires to have a spouse who only feels duty-bound. But in no way does Scriptural submission, even when carried into the sexual relationship, entail a “superior” or “inferior” partner, or being “exploit[ed] and humiliate[d]”.
As Angler describes what he believes “surrendered sex” looks like, I see where the spouses are trusting the other with their complete nakedness (body, mind, soul and spirit.) It’s a picture of where “perfect love casts out fear”. There are no walls or barriers between the two. It is a picture of the oneness I believe God desires in marriage.
How I see “submission sex”, more under the light of Angler’s interpretation and more aligned with Scripture, rather than the author of the quotes, I understand that “duty” doesn’t necessarily feel good on the receiving end. It doesn’t necessarily feel good on the giving end either. But I very personally know the fight, and the surrender, it takes to sacrifice and to die to ourselves, and to willingly lay one’s self down as a living sacrifice, whether it’s to my own wants and desires, or hopes and dreams. I know how humbling it is, to lay aside one’s pride and the desire it is “to stand up for oneself” and defend our “rights”, and to rather choose to love instead, and maybe not fully trust, but trust enough, to open oneself in such a vulnerable way…. that personal sacrifice, and that act of love, that is not of ourselves but because of Christ in us, for it, in essence, to be spit upon, to be rejected, and to be told “it’s not good enough”…. does more damage to the heart than the accuser will ever know. Maybe it’s not an act of surrender to our husbands, but it is an act of surrender to our Lord.
I know that this experience is not even close to the suffering that Christ faced upon the cross, but I believe it can be paralleled. “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I praise God that I have a husband who has rarely, if ever, rejected my gift of love, no matter how meager it is. I praise God he sees and praised the giver of the mite, one who is giving out of her poverty/need, as greater than the one who is giving out of their abundance. I am coming from the perspective of a wife, speaking of giving sexually. But I also know that many brothers, could apply these same concepts in how they are striving to love their wives even in the midst of ways they are being rejected by her. This isn’t man against woman, or husband against wife. This isn’t high drive against low drive. This is, if we all look close enough, especially if we are in Christ, we can relate to being a loving, living, and even “submissive” and “surrendered” sacrifice.
I haven’t viewed submission as negatively as (it seems to me) those quotes connote. I recognize forced submission is the same as subordination – not a healthy thing. But for me, when I submit, I feel I am doing it willfully and willingly, as well as voluntarily and sincerely, etc. For me, it is more than a duty of the mind but a devotion of the heart. But I might have my definitions all mixed up. (Maybe I need to be less submissive and more surrendered;))
I’m not going to get into the vocabulary aspect, but to answer your question: the proper attitude in the marriage bed should be the same as outside of the marriage bed: lots of mutual compromise. Don’t push things that are an obvious turn off to the other person, yet be willing to step outside your comfort zone on occasion. Don’t think of sex as all about your own pleasure, but more about ‘our’ pleasure. Don’t turn the marriage bed into a chore; have fun with it!
@desertwalker, thank you for your response. I apologize if my question cast a negative light on the scripture. That wasn’t my intent as I believe God’s word is far superior to any thoughts of man. I was hoping to stimulate some thoughts and discussion about the attitudes God intends for husbands and wives and how those may or may not correlate to contemporary cultural thinking.
Personally, I believe Ephesians 5 paints a beautiful picture about how God intends husbands to act within their marriage. We should love our wives as Christ loved the church and gave His life for it.
It starts with me. I should be willing to sacrifice all of myself in my marriage, including the marriage bed, for my wife. She is worth sacrificing it all for. When I get that right, my wife is VERY willing to surrender herself to me in every way, especially romantically.
Is it always this way? No. There are times we’ve had sex out of “duty” to the other. I would call that submissive sex. Submissive sex can still be good but not as connecting and deep as surrendering sex is.
I believe it’s dangerous to routinely expect our spouses to give us sex because it is “owed” to us or as if sex is a marital “right.” That type of sex is, in my opinion, selfish and all about fulfilling MY desires. Once again submissive sex.
My brain must be tired today because I’m having trouble getting down to where this thread is swimming, but I wonder if the author of the quotes was trying to get at the topic that has been brought out into such open discussion lately because of 50 Shades and others. I know little to nothing about the sub/dom culture, but I can certainly see why many people would find it distasteful and write against it. It’s my understanding some people who are into it see it as an expression of deep love and trust and they say it is the sub who has the power, not the dom. I would be interested to learn more about how they arrive at that belief, even though I have no interest in experimenting with the practice myself.