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

Posts tagged ‘submission’

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

and

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.)

The popularity of “50 Shades of Grey” does not mean women want to be below men

(Note: This article will use slight generalizations like “women are used to…” and “women constantly get messages that…” There are exceptions to almost every rule. (Is there an exception to the rule that there are exceptions to every rule?) You are free to disagree, if you feel that what I say is not generally true.)

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Where 50 Shades of Grey is discussed on the Internet, people, both believers and unbelievers, often assume that this book is evidence that women actually want subordination. Gender hierarchy Christians™ then add that the activities in these books pervert “natural”, “God-ordained” female subordination. But, so their narrative goes, the popularity of the books proves that women are created with a desire for subordination. The most infamous example is probably this quote from Doug Wilson, that first appeared on the Internet in an article commenting on 50 SoG:

“Because we have forgotten the biblical concepts of true authority and submission, or more accurately, have rebelled against them, we have created a climate in which caricatures of authority and submission intrude upon our lives with violence.

When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us…we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.

But we cannot make gravity disappear just because we dislike it, and in the same way we find that our banished authority and submission comes back to us in pathological forms. This is what lies behind sexual “bondage and submission games,” along with very common rape fantasies… True authority and true submission are therefore an erotic necessity. When authority is honored according to the word of God it serves and protects — and gives enormous pleasure. When it is denied, the result is not “no authority,” but an authority which devours.”

But that conclusion does not fit the facts. (more…)

“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…)

Do Jesus still submit to the Father?

Some Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood bigwigs claim that Jesus submits to God the father not only during his time on earth, but also in heaven from eternity past until eternity future. They resurrected that old idea, rejected by Athanasius in the 4th century as heresy, because they take 1 Cor 11:3 to mean that wives should always submit to husbands, the way Jesus submits to the Father.
I’m not one of the theological bright sparks that could wax eloquent on the Arian heresy, but here is why I think that Jesus cannot, in heaven, submit to the Father. Correct me if you think I am wrong, and ask me questions if my message is unclear.
In order for submission to happen, the submitting person’s will needs to be different from the will of the not-submitting person. For 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…)

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…)

Is this the worst kind of husband in the world?

In his profile on the Internet dating site, he describes himself as a godly man who wants a godly, feminine, pretty, submissive woman. He is a believer himself, albeit one who struggles with a few things like pornography… (more…)

Smoke and mirrors: A review of the Danvers statement (Part 4)

6. Redemption in Christ aims at removing the distortions introduced by the curse.

It does, but the Danvers statement did not biblically back up their assertions on what distortions were caused by the curse, except for one part: The curse caused male domination. (See the discussion under point 4, in part 3.) I do not expect to see a solution in the Bible for “problems” not taught in the Bible, and as such, any solutions offered here for “removing the distortions introduced by the curse” has to be for problems mentioned in the Bible.

·     In the family, husbands should forsake harsh or selfish leadership and grow in love and care for their wives; wives should forsake resistance to their husbands’ authority and grow in willing, joyful submission to their husbands’ leadership (Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; Tit 2:3-5; 1 Pet 3:1-7).

Husbands should forsake harsh leadership. In fact, nothing teaches that they should lead at all. It says they are – not should be – the head of wives. (Eph 5:23; also see 1 Cor 11:3 which the Danvers statement did not handle up to this point.) As such, even the most hen-pecked man is “the head” in some way, but no command is given to men to lead. And even if the two male headship verses and the Genesis prediction is turned to commands, no text would show men should rule families.

As for “wives should forsake resistance to their husbands’ authority”, Eph 5 could be understood that way, if  “head” means authority. Otherwise, she is asked to submit without him having authority. Col 3:18-19; Tit 2:3-5; 1 Pet 3:1-7 do not mention his authority either. The only text in the whole New Testament which speak of the man’s authority is 1 Cor 7:4, which in some translations uses the word authority, and in Greek has the Greek word for authority. That text says that spouses, male and female, both have authority over each other’s bodies.

This wifely submission (and perhaps husbandly lead, if you think that is in the text), if you refrain from adding to scripture – is a marriage role or two. It is not gender roles. It says nothing of the still-single ones, the divorced or the widowed, who make up a very great percentage of adults. It makes no distinction between children, the girls and boys who want to follow God.

Titus 2:3-5 tells older women to teach submission to younger women. It does not command wives to submit.  Having to teach something, and having to keep on doing it is not synonymous. Nor does it give husbands leadership.

1 Peter 3 also speak of wives submitting, but it does not call men leaders either. In fact, the reason for submitting to unbelieving men is so the men could perhaps be led – to God. (:1) And husbands should do “likewise (:7)”. Likewise to what? Likewise, to what was said before to wives, we may presume.

Joyful submission? None of the texts tells women to submit “willing(ly)” or “joyful(ly).” Joyful submission to husbands, which is certainly not commanded in the Bible, is even harder than submission. Submission goes like this:

Husband: I won’t spend money on the heating for the home where you and the eight children live full time this winter, nor on our youngest who suffers from failure to thrive. I want to spend money on my tractor collection instead.”

Wife: Yes, dear. I won’t protest your decision.

Joyful submission goes like this:

Wife: Yahoo! My husband is getting an extra tractor for his collection! Rather than crying about my children who are suffering, I will rejoice in my non-farming husband’s extra tractor!

This example is not fictitious. There really is an ex-very-submissive wife whose non-farming husband bought an extra tractor while her house had no heating and her baby failed to thrive. Joyful submission is not only unbiblical, but a crazy requirement.

·     In the church, redemption in Christ gives men and women an equal share in the blessings of salvation; nevertheless, some governing and teaching roles within the church are restricted to men (Gal 3:28; 1 Cor 11:2-16; 1 Tim 2:11-15).

Something is strange about the Danvers wording here: If men and women have an equal share in the blessings of salvation, but some governing and teaching roles are restricted to men, are those roles not part of the blessings of salvation? Is having a teaching/ governing role in the church not a blessing, or not for the saved?

If some governing and teaching gifts at church is a blessing for only males among the saved, then females do not share equally in the blessings of salvation.

Gal 3:28

Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

Gal 3:28 say men and women have an equal share in “the blessings of salvation.” I believe we should not define these blessings too narrowly.

There is neither male nor female, and then the Bible gives a reason why this is so: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. The plain meaning is that in some sense there is no male or female, and “for ye are one” gives the reason why this is true. “One in Jesus” does not limit the prior part. It does not give us the only way in which this is true.

1 Cor 11:2-16 limits no teaching or governing roles to men. Read for yourself: The one task reserved for men is the role of not having anything on the head while praying. Two verses probably weakly defend the notion of men and women having an equal share in the blessings of salvation: verses 11 and 12. But the rest of 1 Cor 11:2-16 seemingly has no relevance to this point.

If you take 1 Timothy 2:11-15 on face value, it does say that a woman (singular, in the Greek and in at least one translations) should not teach or usurp authority over a man. Since Jesus said clearly that believers should not exercise authority over other believers (Mat 20:25, Mar 10:42, Luk 22:25), you do not have to read that as a gender role. Still, it is possible, if you ignore or explain away a myriad of other things in the Bible, to get to the conclusion that this verse limits some church roles of teaching and authority to men.

Note that this will not be a gender role either: The majority of men at church are not leaders or teachers. Is following the leaders a female gender role? No. Everyone in the church – leaders and teachers and men and women – should be eager to learn and to follow good church leading, so that is no gender role either.

7. In all of life Christ is the supreme authority and guide for men and women, so that no earthly submission-domestic, religious, or civil-ever implies a mandate to follow a human authority into sin (Dan 3:10-18; Acts 4:19-20, 5:27-29; 1 Pet 3:1-2).

True, but not a defence of BMaW (different gender roles). This is also a lot vaguer than it sounds at first glance. To show one problem, here are two quick examples of opposite situations:

Cindy came to God from an unbelieving background, shortly prior to marrying a church-going man. Their church, like the Danvers statement and the Council of Biblical manhood and womanhood, emphasizes female submission and never emphasize how each woman and man have the responsibility to read the Bible for themselves. Her husband says she should sleep with his friends too. She has heard at church that she should not commit sexual sin, without sexual sin being specified, but she believe her husband is her authority, and he commands this. She can easily conclude that the real sin is the one directly preached against – disobeying her husband.

If some kinds of authority and teaching only belong to men, then the authority from men to do [x] will obviously count more than the idea, unconfirmed by men, that [x] is a sin.

2. On the other hand, there is also a way of reasoning which could use this idea – submit short of sin – to negate submission almost completely, unless you know your husband just spoke the will of God. But an egalitarian wife who knows that her husband has just spoken the will of God will also submit, and a Christian husband also has to submit when he knows his wife just spoken God’s will. This way of thinking probably makes complementarianism in marriage meaningless.

And submitting, without following into sin, could also leave women like this out in the cold:

Annie has an abusive husband who spends his money on alcohol rather than food for his family. Annie say she submits short of sin – if he abuse their children, she does not join in doing so. She would not take money from him on payday to ensure her children gets fed – he is the head of the family and his choices for the family is law. She does not protect her children from abuse by him, for the same reason.

Of course, the way of understanding that I link to (in point two of the two opposite examples) would solve that. But how much room would that leave for complementarian submission?

[To be continued in part 5]

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