Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

Archive for the ‘Submit? How?’ Category

Perhaps this is what “submitting as to Christ” means

How would “Submit(ting) to one another” (Eph 5:21) look in real life? Should pastor Jim and elder Pete and saved 10-year old Eric obey Sunday School teacher Jane, while Sunday school teacher Jane obey pastor Jim, and Pete and Eric too, while Pete also obeys Jim and Eric and they obey him, while Eric and pastor Jim obey one another? And what if Pete and Jane give conflicting messages – who should pastor Jim submit to then?

It is obvious that submitting, in Bible language, does not mean obeying everything that other people say. Submission is for all believers towards one another, and all believers cannot obey all others. It could not mean putting the other one in a hierarchy where he has the right to lord it over you, because Jesus said that those who want to be great in his kingdom has to be servants, and his followers should not be like the worldly kings who “exercise authority”.

As such, submitting as to Christ (Eph 5:22) simply cannot mean “obeying every order as you obey the orders of Christ.” If it did, Paul would have contradicted both Jesus, and his own train of thought, in Eph 5.

Here is what I think it could mean.

What submission to Jesus is like:

Jesus came to earth as a human, and people (some of them, at least), submitted and followed him when they saw that Jesus

a) is superior in power and wisdom


b) had their best interest at heart/ loved them and gave His life to save them.

What male/ female relations in the ANE was like:

In the world the New Testament was written to, women had fewer opportunities to learn, and fewer opportunities to earn money, than men. Men married at about age 25 to 30 after they were established financially, women as teens. As such, men were richer and knew more than their wives.

What submitting as to Christ would mean, to such a wife:

When your husband knows better and asks something out of love, co-operate. It is sensible to co-operate with love, wisdom and power, and foolish to go against it.

After such a statement to wives, the passage seems to be written from the assumption that the husband already has knowledge and power (two things Jesus have more of than us). The passage tells husbands to have the other thing Jesus has in abundance, love. The husband should love his wife as much as his own body, that places her needs as highly as those of himself.

The start of submitting to Christ is seeing what Christ is. The start of submitting as to Christ should then be seeing Christ in who she is asked to submit to.

(In today’s Western world, of course, the situation is not as unequal, and women are as likely as men to have more knowledge and not that unlikely to have power or money. Which means that husbands, too, will often be wise to submit as to Christ.)

“Wives (submit) to husbands” – could this be what Paul meant?


This blog post is not a teaching, but a question. Feel free to comment if you have an idea what the answer is.


“Eph. 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 Wives, (submit yourselves) to your own husbands as to the Lord.”


All believers should submit (mutually) to one another (which proves that submission is not about being lower in an authority hierarchy). And wives should do it (submit? submit mutually) to their own husbands.

I wonder if Paul could have meant: (more…)

Christian culture does not understand intimate partner abuse – what can we do about it?

I wish it wasn’t true. I already know from sites like A Cry for Justice that the church often gives terrible advice to abuse victims. I don’t want to believe Samantha Field is entirely right when claiming that purity culture(1) Christians don’t care about or teach the importance of consent. I’ve read stories of “Christian” leaders telling women to repent for being raped. I already mentioned some abuse-condoning statements by Paige Patterson and Bruce Ware on this blog.

But evidence keeps on mounting:

Dannah K. Gresh (also the writer of “And the Bride Wore White”, who has sold more than 470,000 books, leaders guides, and curriculum pulling-back-the-shadesbearing the message of sexual purity) and Dr. Juli Slattery (a psychologist formerly from Focus on the Family) wrote a new book to give a Christian response to “50 Shades of Grey” and erotica like it, and talk about how to be sexual and spiritual at the same time. The topic of “Pulling Back the Shades: Erotica, Intimacy, and the Longings of a Woman’s Heart”certainly has merit. But their book also gives evidence of followers of Jesus not caring or thinking about intimate partner abuse – while touching on topics which certainly relates to it. (more…)

What “Biblical” patriarchy think – and why we don’t care what they think of us

Blogger Sunshinemary recently wrote a blog entry that defends Doug Phillips and calls his critics wrong on the topic of authority. But there are simple reasons why their calls to us to “repent” falls on deaf ears: The things they call us to repent for is right and true – not sin – to the best of our knowledge. And they do nothing to challenge our knowledge, to tell us things we do not know and that would change our view of right and wrong.

water off a duck's back

Some messages are like water off a duck’s back to us…

Her words will be in red, and mine in black. People she quotes will be in blue and in quotes.

Submitting to corrupted authority

Easy. We should, as far as is possible for us, not support corruption, or submit to it. Does your boss give bribes to get big government contracts? Never help him with that, but you could still treat him with respect in other areas.

In Modernity reframes all authority as “abuse”, Zippy Catholic writes:

Abuse of authority is pretty pervasive in human societies, because human beings are fallen creatures and we frequently abuse the things over which we are stewards…Liberalism has always used the fallenness of actual human beings in authority as a rhetorical means of attacking authority in general.

rather than expressing outrage at actual abuse and attempting to get actual abuse corrected, distinguishing between legitimate authority/hierarchy and its abuse, authority/hierarchy in general is treated by liberalism as intrinsically abusive.

This nicely explains the gleeful reaction I’ve seen among a segment of rebellious Christian female bloggers to the recent resignation of Doug Phillips from Vision Forum Ministries after revealing that he had an affair with a woman not his wife.

No. We do not hate all authority, we hate usurping authority that is not yours to begin with. A simple example: (more…)

Submitting to authorities and husbands: Beware of those who change the meaning of words half-way through

Can you see the word that changes its meaning in this Martha Peace quote? Try to spot it:

Question  asked to Martha Peace: I know the Bible teaches women to be submissive to their husbands, but what about a wife whose husband screams, cusses, and hits her?

Answer from Martha Peace: The Bible clearly teaches that wife is to submit herself to the authority of her husband (Ephesians 5:22; Titus 2:5; Colossians 3:18; I Peter 3:1). The Greek word for “be submissive to” is hupotasso. It is a military term that means to be ranked under in military order. Hupotasso in no way implies that the wife is inferior, but it does clearly mean that she has a different role. Her role has been given to her by God… the Lord expects us to be faithful to obey in the small things as well as the large. So, wives are to be submissive to their husbands with one exception – if he asks her to sin. In a case such as her husband asking her to sin, she would then have to obey God (who is the higher authority)… A wife whose husband is sinning should appeal to her husband. And if he does not repent, she should tell him what he is doing is not right (based on Scripture if he is a Christian). Either way, she would give a gentle, loving reproof (Galatians 6:1)… If he is a Christian, she should follow the steps of church discipline in Matthew 18:15-18 and if necessary call the police based on Romans 13:1. If he is an unbeliever, the church has no authority over him, but, of course, the police and courts do. (more…)

Paul envisioned complementarian marriages in Ephesians 5 (Part 2)

Part 1 showed how a 1st Century husband could picture Christ, and a possible reason why the Bible asked Christ-like behaviour of husbands in particular here, while elsewhere all Christians are called to act Christ-like.

The same way the Bible calls everyone to be Christ-like but repeats it to the one who is, like Jesus, in the stronger position, the Bible asks all believers to submit to one another, but in Ephesians 5 repeats it to the wife: “Submit as to the Lord.”

How do we submit to the Lord? We love Him (and submit to Him) because He loved us first. Submitting to the Lord is never about fulfilling Jesus’ selfish desires or ego trips, because Jesus is not selfish. It is about learning from the one who knows best, and living by that knowledge. It is about accepting the glorious riches of heaven that Jesus shares freely. It is about doing the same things Jesus did, and even greater things. (John 14:12) “The same things Jesus did and even greater things” doesn’t sound like gender roles at all!

We saw how the red and blue lines do pretty much the same thing in the second picture as in the Gospel picture. The difference is that the start of the male/ female picture was equality (we do not have that with God), and a total restoration to what God created us to be would also be equality.

Can complementarians today fulfil the gospel picture? Here is a picture of what happens when you impose complementarianism on today’s society:

Does this spell gospel 3

1) Eve was made as an equal to Adam, and the first picture is of equality. 2) In modern Western society, men and women have basically equal rights before the law and equal opportunities. (There are still problems, reasons why feminists rightly complain, but the big picture is one of roundabout equal rights.) (3) Complementarians impose hierarchy and gendered responsibilities on two people with equal opportunities and gifts. Instead of moving them closer together, it moves one person who don’t have more rights (thus no more ability to get legal protection for them both) or wisdom or perhaps even money above another, and turns him into the leader seemingly simply because he has the right genitalia.

Does this look at all like the gospel? To me, it doesn’t. I think modern day Christians can learn from Jesus and the church in Ephesians 5:

When one party has way more of the good stuff (opportunities/ property/rights) than the other party, it seems the Bible suggests a “complementarian” relationship whereby the one with more helps to lift up the one with less, and the lower has the responsibility to learn to use good things wisely (submit to the teaching and discipline needed to handle the good things). But this complementarian relationship does not suggest eternally separate roles, but the lower one becoming more like the higher one.

Of course, this passage does have applications for modern cultures, where a woman can be as likely as the man to be the one with more (knowledge, education, wisdom, opportunity or whatever good thing): Use whatever  you have more of for the benefit of both you and your spouse, lifting him/ her out of their bad situation.  When your spouse is the one who has more, work along with him/her, learning to use the good thing wisely.

Paul envisioned complementarian marriages in Ephesians 5 (Part 1)

My egal friends may shoot me for this, but I am 100% sure Paul envisioned complementarian marriages in Ephesians 5.

But, please do not quote- or argue with – that statement without the rest of this article. (more…)

I agree, Mary Kassian

I tend not to quote Mary Kassian approvingly on this blog, but today I will.

Because complementarianism could have unhealthy influences* on relationships, Christians who cannot embrace egalitarianism should be taught to live complementarianism in a way that avoid certain traps. Traps like, for example, wives encouraging selfish (selfishness is sinful) attitudes in husbands by their willingness to comply with whatever his way of thinking in a matter is . And who better to teach that than gender hierarchy supporters (complementarians)?  The people who need this message are not that likely to believe us non-endorsers of gender hierarchy. (more…)

When soft complementarianism is too hard: Part two

(Continued from part one)

Dave’s first defence (“but complementarians actually envision two sidedness”) is inadequate, as they will certainly be willing to teach submission to a wife whose husband is not present in the class, (or present and not doing his part of the “system”) and tell a woman to do her submit part regardless of what the man does. If the complementarian message was that this is only to be done mutually, and no woman should try it alone, the defence would have had merit.

As for the second part, (more…)

When soft complementarianism is too hard: Part one

Let’s face it: Most complementarians are not bad people. They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. They want Christian husbands to treat their wives well, and Christian wives to treat their husbands well. Much like we egalitarians do, actually.

They want to be faithful to God and the Bible, like us. If they proclaim that men should treat women well and women should treat men well, if many a soft complementarian marriage looks functionally egalitarian, where is the big difference? Isn’t marriage complementarianism and marriage egalitarianism just semantics? (more…)

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