There is so much hurt and confusion and misunderstanding as to what is meant by the call to submit to God (James 4:7) and by the call for wives to submit to their husbands (Ephesians 5:21-33). But the call to submission is not meant to suggest that God is an oppressive God, and it was never intended to justify the abuse of power, the oppression of women or the bullying of those unable to defend themselves.
When we submit to someone we place ourselves under their mission (sub-mission), in other words we allow that person to fulfil their mission in life without offering any resistance to that mission. The mission we all share in, the mission we are all called to imitate is the mission of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ came to love us by serving us and by laying down His life for us (Matthew 20:28). We are all given this mission to love one another by serving one another and by laying down our life for one another. As Jesus said, "Love one another as i have loved you" (John 15:12).
And therefore when we submit to someone, when a wife submits to her husband and when a husband submits to his wife (Ephesians 5:21), we allow that person to fulfil their mission in life. In other words we allow that person to love us and to serve us and to lay down their life for us. And when we submit to God we allow God to love us and to serve us and we recognise that in Jesus Christ God has already laid down His life for us.
This article seeks to explain in more detail this understanding of submission by looking at the words of Saint Paul in his letter to the Ephesians and by looking at Mary as the greatest example of openness and submission to the Word of God.