Justice and Submission – two words with appeal that couldn’t be further apart. We firmly believe the wrong doer should get their just deserts but few of us would be prepared to submit to anybody for anything. Justice implies wisdom, action, strength, decision. Submission implies weakness, inaction, waiting and unknowing.
But we are clearly called to both by God. What is it that reconciles these two? We could say that to deliver true justice we have to give up our intention to serve ourselves. If what we want is to make as much money as we can, get as much fame as we can, live as comfortable a life as we can, be as safe as we can how do we react when we come up against a situation that is plainly wrong? Maybe we ignore it, because we have other priorities, because we haven’t submitted our desires to what God wants.
Submission is counter cultural. There aren’t many self-help books out there entitled ‘Just getting on with it’ or ‘Being average for God’. And there are some people who would argue that Submission puts you in very dangerous situations particularly as a woman. There is no doubt that there are a lot of people out there who would try and force submission on others, stating that it is the will of God and almost always erroneously quoting the Bible – no great surprise here, that’s just how we humans roll: see something spiritual, pervert it – but let’s be clear, this is not about being submissive to others. This is about submitting to God’s will and when you do you often find that a by-product is a move towards a more active understanding of justice.
Alban Books sell a series of study guides on every spirituality for women which includes the guide Justice and Submission, The guides are short and can be used in groups or on your own and I found this one particularly thought provoking.
If you are struggling with what can be done to face the challenges of the world, if you are looking for guidance on how to vote in the upcoming election, if you are wondering whether you really are called on to squash your own desires and serve in a way that makes you uncomfortable, or you feel that God is calling you to something you are running from then instinctively you will find guidance in this book. It has a Catholic bent to it, but you don’t have to be Catholic to appreciate it (I’m not).
Finally, I found this next section the most thought provoking in the whole book and I will simply quote it:
…musician Sara Groves had championed charitable ministries for many years. But she didn’t really “get it” until she visited a young widow in Rwanda who was raising five children in a one-room structure that measured about ten by twelve feet. I had a dirt floor and a small fire pit inside for cooking, and all six family members slept in that small room on straw mats. When she realised that this family’s entire house was close to the size of her own bathroom in the States…Groves said that this taught her a huge lesson on the difference between charity and justice: “It was a vivid lesson in justice. I thought, This is not acceptable. This is an injustice and this is where we begin.’