Submit to Your Pastor... Or go to Hell?

Has a pastor ever confronted you about submitting to their authority?

Or has one ever told you that you were in rebellion to them?

Have you been told that you (or somebody else) has a Jezebel spirit?

Have you ever been asked to leave a church because you did not fully support a particular vision or mission of that particular church?

Is the teaching and behavior of your pastor considered unquestionable?

Is questioning met with defensive behavior?

Is access to the pastor only possible by going through one of many delegates?

Over the past few decades, there has been a growing and disturbing trend within the church in regard to issues surrounding submission.  This is especially true in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles, where this issue tends to be magnified 100 fold.

In some churches the issue, when it is present, is rather subtle.  It'll result in a few people being banned from leadership positions because they don't act as the pastor's cheerleaders.  In other churches, it is more extreme, resulting in pastors limiting marriage opportunities to those only within your particular church, and deciding who your next spouse can or cannot be.  And in a lot of cases, those who are viewed as being "in rebellion" are subject to being socially marginalized inside and outside of the church.  Some might even get threatened with damnation.

A lot of this teaching and behavior heavily relies on distorted teachings surrounding Bible passage such as Romans 13:1-7, Hebrews 13:7-17, and other such verses.  However, ALL of it is based on blatantly ignoring the actual clear teaching and example of Christ on the issue, such as in Matthew 20:24-28, Matthew 23:8-12, Luke 22:24-27, and many other passages.  Please look at these passages and study them in detail as time permits, as I don't have the time or space to dissect them at the present moment.

In the New Testament, Jesus and the apostles never looked at leadership in the church as existing in a vertical, top-down, military styled chain of command.  The early church had one Chief, one Pope, one King, one Senior Pastor, and one CEO, and that is Jesus Christ, both locally and universally.  It knew nothing of men holding a hierarchy of differing levels of delegated authority over other believers.  According to Jesus, such a concept was entirely pagan, and foreign to the kingdom of God.  It may be that way out in the world, "but it's not to be this way among you."  (Matthew 20:26)

All "authority" that existed between believers was horizontal, mutual, relational, and predicated on Jesus Christ being viewed as the head over all by all.  Nobody but Jesus Christ is ultimately in charge of the church.

A good pastor who is rightly related to God and properly understands his calling and purpose within the body of Christ will openly encourage you to question their teaching.  And why not?  Jesus Christ welcomed such questioning of Him in His earthly ministry.  The Pharisees questioned Him.  His disciples questioned Him.  Heck, even John the Baptist questioned Him.  And even after miraculously raising from the dead and standing before the apostles, they continued to question Jesus.  And Jesus was always patiently willing to take the time to explain whatever was asked of Him.

Even after the cross, though Jesus had already been crucified and resurrected from the dead, Jesus still took time to sit down with the Bible and prove to His disciples that this event was no accident, and that such had to happen to Him according to the teachings of the Law of Moses and the Prophets... never mind the fact that He was standing before them alive in front of their very eyes!.

And the last I checked, Jesus Christ still welcomes you asking questions regarding His teachings today, as He carries out His heavenly ministry.

So is there a place in the Bible for submission?  Yes!

Don't get me wrong, there is a godly form of submission taught in the Bible.  But even as there is a godly form of submission, there is also an ungodly form.  The godly form involves seeing ministers who live such godly lives that mimic Jesus, that you allow them to come alongside you and to speak into your life and to minister to you in order to help you become like them, which is ultimately to help you become like Jesus.

In the church, you should only submit to another believer to the degree that they submit themselves to the following and expounding the teachings of Jesus Christ.  Anything outside of that... like deciding who you are to specifically marry, such things have nothing to do with godly and Biblical submission.

Those, however, who demand you "submit" to their "authority" as "the man of God," who is "over" you as your "leader"... don't conform to the desires of such men.  Such would require ungodly levels of submission from you to men that have no business being in charge over you.  Indeed, Jesus said don't even greet such men as "Rabbi."  Far from being able to school others, such men need to be schooled themselves.  I would dare say that the next time such a person tells you to submit to them, gently question them, and ask them if it shouldn't be the other way around.

There is an alarming number of pastors who would strongly disagree with what I just said. And that's because they are full of an abusive and religious spirit, that has inflated their ego, and makes them think they are a king or CEO like figure, who must remain unquestioned at all times. They have yet to see Jesus as the head over anything.

Make no mistake, such a teaching is not from Jesus.

It's a teaching from insecure men and women who have little to no actual authority from God in their lives or ministries.  It's the teaching of bullies, who having no idea of how to actually encourage you to come along with them and to follow their example.  Instead, they prefer to thump you like a drill Sargent that is telling you to drop and give them fifty. Don't question their teaching. Don't question their vision. Just do what they say, and go along with the program, otherwise, you'll go to hell... or at least, be encouraged to go to another church.


Such is the theology of lite-weights.  It's of men who don't know the Lord nor the Bible very well.

Sadly, many such people who practice this form of leadership and submission learned it from those who taught it to them.  They may have good intentions and mean well. But ultimately they are victims of spiritual abuse themselves. And sadly, as so often happens in this world, victims often make more victims.  The abused end up abusing, and a vicious cycle is created.

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