The definition of hierarchy according to Oxford Dictionaries is: “a system or organization in which people or groups are ranked one above the other according to status or authority.” Synonyms listed are: pecking order, order, ranking, chain of command. Hierarchy is the holy grail of how things are generally run on planet Earth; whether it’s a country or any organized group for that matter, someone has to be the boss. It is our understanding that the absence of one constitutes anarchy.
So there’s either hierarchy or anarchy – right?
What about the Trinity? Is the Trinity a hierarchy as we know it? Paul wrote about submission in his letter to the Ephesians. He makes an interesting statement that does not fit the scheme of chain of command as we know it (Ephesians 5:21): “Submit to one another”, is what Paul wrote before he went into further details illustrating spirit-guided relationships among husbands and wives and among believers.
Does submitting to one another mean we submit to a person regardless of gender and race – or does submitting to one another mean that one particular race submits to another particular race or one particular gender submits to another particular gender? Of course this is a loaded question, but it has to be asked, because when we continue reading Paul’s letter we will run into what I call a minefield of assumptions, and I quote (Ephesians 5:22-24):
“For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything.”
When it comes to submission, we are supposed to learn from the Best, Christ. That is why Paul wrote in the same letter (Ephesians 5:1-2):
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ.”
So how does a Christ-like submission look like? Is there a boss among the Trinity where two submit to the ultimate One or does Trinity stand for the rule of Three and none of the Three would rule without each other’s input and consent? It seems to me that by asking such questions we could potentially learn from the Trinity how divine hierarchy operates.
Submit-to-one-another hierarchy – is the type of hierarchy not typically found in any civil government, and according to popular interpretations of the Bible not even in a family if the husband is supposed to be the boss, the wife the second in command with the last link in the chain of command being the next generation submitting to both parents.
If we submit to one another as the Trinity submits to one another how could this look like? This realization may come as a shock: Ever noticed that Almighty God submits to His own creation by respecting and working with decisions His independent creatures make? We wouldn’t be here if this wasn’t the case. God is not interested in dictatorship, He is not even interested in democracy where the majority rules; God is interested in submission to one another, by receiving each other’s input, respecting each other, delighting in each other, enjoying each other, and not wanting to live and operate without the other.
This is the rule that operates the universe. And ultimately, this is the rule that never ends.