Wifely Submission

Dulce de Leche has a series on Wifely Submission

Part 1 Intro
Part 2 Before The Fall
Part 3 The Fall
Part 4 What God Has Joined Together
Part 5 Wives, Submit Yourselves to Your Husbands
Part 6 Spiritual Leadership
Part 7 Who Makes the Final Decision?

Also Eric Pazdziora explores The Myth of the Weaker Vessel.

Submission and Children

MamaPsalmist has some thoughts about Submission which I thought you might find interesting.

Spanking Infants???

Elizabeth Esther posted about the 20/20 exposé of abuse in some IBF churches and interprets Pastor Brian Fuller’s remarks.  She explains the teaching of first time obedience  and how common the spanking of infants really in these churches. By the way, some of the comments of this blog post seem to have inside information in them.

Also, I want to make it clear that  not all Independent Fundamental Baptist Churches have abusive teachings.  I am a member of an Independent Fundamental Baptist Church which does not.  The pastor often reminds us that salvation is by faith in Jesus and what He did alone and you cannot add anything to that.  He reminds us that saying a prayer or baptism or anything else will not save you, you are saved by believing that what Jesus said and did is true.  They do believe in corporal punishment but I have never heard of anyone there spanking an infant or using an implement.  While they might say that they believe in wifely submission, what I see looks more like mutual submission.   I see no signs of the patriarchal movement, most of the women in that church wear pants.  They also cut and dye their hair and nobody says a word about it.  Women work outside the home and girls are expected to go to college.  On top of that, many in  the congregation uses public schools.  So, I don’t know how extensive the abuse in IFB churches is but I believe that churches need to be considered on a church by church basis.  After all, they are independent.

Wife Only Submission vs Mutual Submission

I have noticed a confusion about the difference between WOS (Wife Only Submission) and MS (Mutual Submission) so I would like to clarify the difference and add some thoughts.

WOS is the belief that, in marriage, husbands are not obligated/called to submit to their wives out of reverence for Christ.

MS is the believe that husbands and wives are both obligated/called to submit to their spouse (and others) out of reverence for Christ.

WOS is often tied with patriarchy — which is the philosophy that, in marriage, the male has authority over his wife due to his gender.

In my opinion, patriarchy can be mostly-healthy, when the man is choosing sacrificial love towards his wife and/or when he uses his perceived authority in wise and godly ways — which would generally include trust, respect some ‘delegation’ of that perceived authority, etc.

In that ‘mostly-healthy patriarchy’ case, WOS is not what is truly going on — because ‘sacrificial love’ fits the Biblical definition of ‘submission’, even if neither spouse would use that word for it, and even though it depends on the (in my opinion, inaccurate) perception of inherent male authority. If the husband is submitting to his wife (by loving her sacrificially) that is a MS scenario, and anything else is just semantics.

The reason WOS (the idea that males are not obligated/called to submit to their wives out of reverence for Christ) is a bigger problem than ‘mostly-healthy patriarchy’ is because if men do not submit to their wives (no matter what vocabulary they prefer to use about it) they are not obeying God’s commands to them, and that’s a problem — often a problem that has effects on many others (the wife, children, children’s spouses, grandchildren). It’s hard for me to see people ‘normalizing’ the disobedience of one gender, while twisting the obedience of the other gender to compensate for it.

Now I believe that the NT describes a situation in which a husband had legal and civic responsibility over his wife, who was, by law his property. He had the full authority granted to him by the Roman government, and he could not ignore it. No one could.

Therefore I find it quite understandable that, in reading the New Testament some readers would draw the conclusion that because that hierarchy is described in the Bible, it is to be understood as ‘the right thing’ for Christians. I hold nothing against people who have honestly come to this conclusion — it’s easy to come by!

Patriarchy was the building block of Roman society. Equality between men and women would have been illegal. Therefore the New Testament gives commands as-to how a man with legal/civic authority is still capable of submitting to his wife, and is not exempt from the command to do so.

Therefore I consider marriages that involve ‘presumed authority’ of the male, ONLY WHEN combined with proper Christian submission (to each other) — to be within the Bible’s definition of a godly way to live.

Patriarchy-with-mutual-submission worked for the 1st Century Roman Christians, and it can work for our brothers and sisters if they want it to. We have no place to stand against them as if their conclusions and choices were sin.

What can’t work (as far as I can possibly see) is patriarchy-without-mutual-submission… because the belief that some Christians are free not to submit to other Christians (for reasons of gender and marital status) is completely out of step with the Bible — encouraging disobedience to direct commandments as well as disregarding the very core of the character of the Christlife.

Patriarchy can hurt people — and does — but it does not always hurt people, and it can be done ‘well’ according to the New Testament.

WOS (the belief that husbands are free to behave unsubmissively towards their wives) is the real poison. Living with someone who claims Christ but lives with a me-before-you attitude, and believes and preaches that it is right and proper to do so… that’s just not right… and people are definitely going to get hurt.

Testing the Spirit of Quiverfull

Kristen Rosser has started a series over at NLQ called, Testing the Spirit of Quiverfull. I think this checklist of sorts actually pertains to all Patriarchy teachings. This is good reading for someone who is dabbling with Quiverfull/Patriarchy and thinking that they can separate the “meat from the bones.”  These posts are written specifically for those  “who have chosen to accept the Bible as authoritative for faith and practice. ”

Here are the posts so far:
Testing the Spirit of Quiverfull: Isolation
Testing the Spirit of Quiverfull: Hierarchy & Control
Testing the Spirit of Quiverfull: Perfectionism & Elitism

The Root Problem

Dulce de Leche uncovers the root problem with the punitive mindset in her post, Authority, Submission, Control and Discipline.

Yes, the root problem is control. Now that you have seen why we should not try to control our children, Lucy explains why she cannot control her children and what that looks like in her house.

My Thoughts on Submission

Ever since my good friend, GreenGem, posted her Thoughts On Leadership I have been pondering my own thoughts on submission. When someone actually emailed me to ask me whether I believed in Wife Only Submission (WOS) or Mutual Submission (MS) I pondered even harder.  Now I am feeling led to solidify my thoughts.

MS starts with Eph 5:21 which says, “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.”  WOS starts with Eph 5:22-24 which says, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so [let] the wives [be] to their own husbands in every thing.” (Note that the words in brackets are not in the original Greek but were added by the translators.) Crystal Lutton has very good explanations of what the word, “submit” means, and what the word, “head” means.  You might also  want to read this explanation for more information.  I’m very thankful for theses explanations because I knew that I did not agree with the patriarchy explanation which leads to so much abuse. I have seen many healthy marriages which claim to believe in WOS yet they are really following MS. This is not to say that a WOS marriage cannot be healthy, I just have not met any.

Now, I’d like to note that both those verses are followed by Eph 5:25 which says, “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.”  It occurs to me that I have never seen anyone teaching Husband Only Love (HOL.)  It seems obvious to everyone that the wife is still supposed to love her husband.  The fact that this passage tells the man to love  his wife and does not tell the woman to love her husband seems to suggest  if the man is loving his wife, she will naturally love him in return.  So, maybe if the wife is submitting to her husband’s will while he is loving her, his natural reaction is to want to please her and so will naturally submit his will to what she wants.  So, as they love each other and submit to each other, they work together to try to meet each other’s needs.  Which is exactly how I understand MS.

Note, someone commented below that the Bible says that women should love their husbands in Titus 2:4.  I would like to point out that while Eph 5:25 uses the word agape (perfect and sacrificial love), Titus 2:4 uses a variation of phileo (brotherly/family love).  Also, the Bible teaches in many places that we should love everyone.