Guest Post: Not My Mother’s Submission

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There is a lot of talk about complementarians and egalitarians these days.  I had no idea what these words meant until last year.  But the roles of husband and wife seem to be very important to some folks.  There are Christian leaders who have devoted a whole website to this topic, including Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood , because they feel the need to tell us our roles and to make sure we are following the “biblical” way. I’m not sure why they don’t think we can’t figure out this thing for ourselves with insight from our own bibles, pastors, and churches.

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A while back I read an article by blogger/reader kbonikowsky on the marriage of her parents. I loved her article and asked permission to share it and she graciously agreed.  The original article can be found on her blog here.  Thanks to Kay for allowing me to post it in its entirety here.  Be sure to check out Kay’s blog:  The Happy Surprise

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Not My Mother’s Submission

kayandmom

Kay and her mother

My mother was a submissive wife. (I say was, because my father passed away 8 years ago.) When my parents were reviewed by their mission board before entering the mission field, the board told her she was “too” submissive.* And this was in the 50′s!  She believed Ephesians 5:22 was her role, and she obeyed. My parent’s marriage was successful, not because she learned to be submissive and my dad was a good leader, but because they both loved and served Jesus.

Today,  her attitude toward wifely submission would not be enough for some pastors. They declare submission defines what it means to be a woman. Leading is what defines a man. They believe that not only does God ask us to behave like His Son, He requires us to behave according to our gender. The modern Complementarianism of the Danver’s Statement places a woman’s place of submitting and the man’s place as leading as the functional hinge of the gospel. If the two places cross or get confused in any way; the Bible, families, churches and even the Good News of Jesus Christ will be warped, lost and ineffective. (Together for the Gospel panel on Complementarianism.)

That is not my mother’s submission.

How do I know, this new submission is not like my mother’s? We had a conversation about the recent trend in churches to focus on men. New ministries are started each day whose goal is to bring men back to church. I think this is fantastic! The gospel is reaching and changing lives through these ministries. Although, I get ruffled when the ministries lay the blame on women, or a feminization at work in the church.

So, I asked her why did she think men didn’t come to church?

She answered without thinking, “Because the Holy Spirit hasn’t led them there!”

You see, there is a subtle shift occurring in the modern wife-submit/men-lead movement. It is not enough to teach what it means for a Christian to love and serve each other, they must tack on gender expectations. What does it means to be a Christian woman? What does it mean to be a Christian man? These questions are tremendously important to a modern Complementarian because they believe the answer affects the gospel.

My  mother does not. Neither do I. I continue to submit. I continue to love. I continue to serve based on the Holy Spirit’s gifts. I leave the power and effectiveness of His Gospel to  the blood of Jesus.

*An explanation from mom: “The board didn’t say I was “too submissive” but that dad should make room for me, alongside of him. He was such an extrovert and strong leader that I tended to step back and not participate in ministry.”

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72 comments on “Guest Post: Not My Mother’s Submission

  1. I find it sad that anyone would even be attracted to a religion that defines roles such as this – what malarky! I thought we were all over this years ago. . open-minded and intelligent PEOPLE (women AND men) don’t think like this anymore; perhaps it’s one of the reasons people dislike fundamentalism???

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  2. This is not meant to be harsh in any way, but probably won’t make it to the post. I wanted to try anyway. We’ll see if it makes it.

    Do you really think ‘they’ don’t think you can figure things out for yourself? If you are sure we can figure things out for ourselves, why even blog about it? You can figure it out, but we can’t? Aren’t you being just like them?

    I noticed that you begin with what the mission board told your mother, but also added your mother’s comment that they didn’t really say that. Why is that?

    What should guide our views on these sorts of things, personal experiences or the Bible?

    I’ve read articles that talk about the connection between the gospel and complementarianism from both sides of the fence and it all depends on how you are defining ‘gospel’ (macro or micro).

    Id I define the ‘gospel’ as Paul did (Christ died for our sins, etc) it cannot be a ‘gospel’ issue. If I say that our behavior/relationships are connected peripherally to as the gospel, as outcomes of the ‘micro’ gospel, I might have a point.

    Having said that, I will also say that men and women were created by God and there is every reason to say that God also defined primary roles for men and women, starting in the account o the creation of Adam and Eve. We might not always get the application part right, but roles are there, in scripture. You can’t just dismiss them, as some do.

    The Christian, because he/she loves God and hopefully God’s design for men and women as different yet complimentary, should endeavor to follow God’s plan.

    I like your mother.

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  3. “Having said that, I will also say that men and women were created by God and there is every reason to say that God also defined primary roles for men and women, starting in the account o the creation of Adam and Eve. We might not always get the application part right, but roles are there, in scripture. You can’t just dismiss them, as some do.”

    Please give some examples.

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  4. The only biblical role that I am aware of is that women have babies and men bring home the bacon…unless you are a Jew, or a Muslim, of course.

    MEN, being wives themselves (Bride of Christ), must submit to Christ, but they are so focused on their own wives submitting to them, that they seem to forget to submit themselves.

    What is meant to submit to Christ? It means to RELAX. But men don’t relax. They ORDER their women around like slaves. Christ set us free from this mentality, and yet, MEN want to REDEFINE what biblical submission is.

    LET GO AND LET GOD is the best phrase that I have ever heard in regards to the real definition of submitting to Christ. That is to RELAX.

    GO FETCH MY SLIPPERS is man’s definition of submit. But they seem to forget that is the job of the family dog.

    Ed

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  5. “Nah….you probably just want to argue about.Besides, didn’t the guest author say that we can figure it out with our Bibles?”

    You’re making incorrect assumptions about me here.

    I just asked a question. I want to better understand where you’re coming from. I want to understand how you came to the conclusion that the Bible proscribes specific gender roles.

    It was merely a discussion point. If you believe the Bible specifically lays out what roles men and women are supposed to have, you need to be able to mention where the Bible actually says this. When you do, I will take a closer look at the scriptures you quote, as well as the context around those scriptures and also try to better understand what was going on in the world at the time those verses were written (this is especially important regarding Paul’s letters).

    I may come to a different understanding on the verses than you. It doesn’t mean either of us are any less dedicated to Christ, and it certainly doesn’t mean I want to argue (I hate arguing, actually). But I do enjoy discussions where we show grace to those we disagree with, rather than trying to beat someone else (figuratively) into a particular point of view.

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  6. Born4Battle states,
    “More hasty generalizations, Ed. Not too helpful for honest discussion. I get my own slippers.”

    My response:
    My generalizations are right on target, honest, and fit for discussion. And in regards to slippers, you should know that is just an idiom. You know exactly what I mean, without me spelling it out.

    Ed

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  7. I don’t know if Julie read the last post on your Blog or not but I just did. And you’re wrong – we DO have men like the ones you are advocating for – they blew up the Twin Towers on September 11/01.

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  8. Methodist Reader asks what happened to B4B’s posts. I suppose I should allow JA to speak for herself, but it sure feels to me like a most judicious application of:

    Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. Rom 16:17, KJV.

    Thank you, again, Julie Anne. Now maybe back to the topic at hand? Here’s my short 2 cents: I can find only one place in the New Testament where it is said that husbands have authority over wives, and the same passage says wives have authority over husbands. 1 Cor. 7:4. Otherwise, husbands are not charged with exercising authority over wives, but with loving them.

    Generally, relationships between Christians are to be founded on love, not authority. The patriarchal and complimentarian views both violate this principle. The substitution of authority for love as an organizing principle in relationships between Christians works great havoc in marriage, as well as in what goes by the name of church.

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  9. First of all, Christians need to factor in that the Bible is an ancient Middle-Eastern text. This is where we must begin. Rachel Held Evans has an article on Household Codes: The Anchor of the Greco-Roman World. When it comes to the topic of submission, her research on this topic can add to the discussion. Though a bit long, I believe that it is pertinent to our discussion:

    “Several years ago, as I was looking at one of the three Bible verses that instruct wives to submit to their husbands—the one from 1 Peter that says, “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands” (3:1)—my inductive Bible study skills kicked in, and I dutifully looked back a few verses to see what Peter meant by “in the same way.” To my surprise, the preceding paragraph had nothing to do with the relationship between men and women, but was instead about the relationship between masters and slaves!

    “Slaves, in reverent fear of God submit yourselves to your masters,” Peter wrote, “not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh . . . Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands” (1 Peter 2:18; 3:1, emphasis mine).

    A little more research revealed that all three of the passages that instruct wives to submit to their husbands are either preceded or followed by instructions for slaves to submit to their masters. Right after the apostle Paul encouraged Ephesian wives to submit to their husbands as they would to Christ, and Ephesian husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, he instructed Ephesian slaves to “obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ” (Ephesians 6:5). The pattern repeats itself again in his letter to the Colossians . . . Col. 3:18–22; 4:1.

    The implications of this pattern are astounding. For if Christians are to use these passages to argue that a hierarchal relationship between man and woman is divinely instituted and inherently holy, then, for consistency’s sake, they must also argue the same for the relationship between master and slave. I kept digging, and as it turns out, Peter and Paul were putting a Christian spin on what their readers would have immediately recognized as the popular Greco-Roman “household codes.”

    As far back as the fourth century BC, philosophers considered the household to be a microcosm, designed to reflect the hierarchal structure of the society, the gods, and ultimately the universe. Aristotle wrote that “the smallest and primary parts of the household are master and slave, husband and wife, father and children.” First-century philosophers Philo and Josephus included the household codes in their writings as well, arguing that a man’s authority over his household was critical to the success of a society. Many Roman officials believed the household codes to be such an important part of Pax Romana that they passed laws ensuring its protection.

    Biblical passages about wives submitting to their husbands are not, as many Christians assume, rooted in a culture epitomized by June Cleaver’s kitchen, but in a culture epitomized by the Greco-Roman household codes, which gave men unilateral authority over their wives, slaves, and adult children. As Sharyn Dowd has observed, the apostles “advocated this system not because God had revealed it as the divine will for Christian homes, but because it was the only stable and respectable system anyone knew about. It was the best the culture had to offer.” (Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe, Women’s Bible Commentary: Expanded Edition. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998, p. 463), And with Roman officials looking for every excuse to imprison Christians, to challenge the codes would bring even more unwanted scrutiny to the early Church.

    The question modern readers have to answer is whether the Greco-Roman household codes reflected upon in Ephesians, Colossians, and 1 Peter are in and of themselves holy and divinely instituted, or if their appearance in Scripture represents the early church’s attempt to blend Christianity and culture in such a way that it would preserve the dignity of adherents while honoring prevailing social and legal norms of the day. The Christian versions of the household codes were clearly progressive for their time (more on that in a minute), but does that mean they have the last word, that Christians in changing places and times cannot progress further?

    Don’t forget that these same household codes were used by many Americans during the Civil War era to justify their owning of slaves. I’ve honestly never encountered a complementarian response to this question that I find satisfactory. This, to me, is one of the greatest ironies of the complementarian/egalitarian debate. Complementarians often accuse egalitarians of allowing cultural norms to shape their views of gender roles. But in this case, it is the complementarians who have given culture—that of the Greco-Roman familial structure—the final word.”

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  10. Julie Ann:

    The Council for Biblical Man and Womanhood surely IMO has produced a system where men are the rulers and women are their servants. People misuse the Bible everyday for their own purposes and this group IMO has done just that.

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  11. After considering whether the Law was to be imposed on them, the Council of Jerusalem determined to lay on gentile believers “no greater burden than these requirements: that you abstain from what has been sacrificed to idols, and from blood, and from what has been strangled, and from sexual immorality.” The Law given through Moses was specifically NOT imposed on gentiles.

    Nevertheless, the position is taken by fundamentalist and conservative/legalistic evangelicals that Paul’s instructions to the churches are binding as Law. Paul is substituted for Moses. The determination of the council of Jerusalem and, therefore, the Bible itself, is totally disregarded in this respect.

    I submit that Paul’s instructions to the Churches were wise at the time, but that they represented a concession to social realities over which he had no influence. “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1). I reject the notion that any form of slavery is or ever was within the perfect will of God. This includes but is not limited to any smallest hint of enslavement of wives by husbands, or of women by men generally.

    Barb, thank you very much for pointing out the manner in which wives in Paul’s time were treated as slaves. Paul accepted and even enabled slavery. You have shown how Paul did also accept and enable the moral equivalent of the enslavement of women by men.

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  12. Ephesians 5:22-33
    22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

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  13. Finally, something we can discuss. However, I wonder why you left out verse 21:
    “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”

    For now, I’m just going to quote what Barb said above:

    “A little more research revealed that all three of the passages that instruct wives to submit to their husbands are either preceded or followed by instructions for slaves to submit to their masters. Right after the apostle Paul encouraged Ephesian wives to submit to their husbands as they would to Christ, and Ephesian husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church, he instructed Ephesian slaves to “obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ” (Ephesians 6:5). The pattern repeats itself again in his letter to the Colossians . . . Col. 3:18–22; 4:1.”

    “The implications of this pattern are astounding. For if Christians are to use these passages to argue that a hierarchical relationship between man and woman is divinely instituted and inherently holy, then, for consistency’s sake, they must also argue the same for the relationship between master and slave. I kept digging, and as it turns out, Peter and Paul were putting a Christian spin on what their readers would have immediately recognized as the popular Greco-Roman “household codes.”

    ….

    “Biblical passages about wives submitting to their husbands are not, as many Christians assume, rooted in a culture epitomized by June Cleaver’s kitchen, but in a culture epitomized by the Greco-Roman household codes, which gave men unilateral authority over their wives, slaves, and adult children. As Sharyn Dowd has observed, the apostles “advocated this system not because God had revealed it as the divine will for Christian homes, but because it was the only stable and respectable system anyone knew about. It was the best the culture had to offer.” (Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe, Women’s Bible Commentary: Expanded Edition. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 1998, p. 463), And with Roman officials looking for every excuse to imprison Christians, to challenge the codes would bring even more unwanted scrutiny to the early Church.”

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  14. Many Christian scholars have given us insights into the world of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments. There is a wealth of information available for those who really seek truth about these issues.

    Here are just a few more pertinent thought’s from Rachel’s article:
    “Where typical Greco-Roman household codes required nothing of the head of household regarding fair treatment of subordinates, Peter and Paul encouraged men to be kind to their slaves, to be gentle with their children, and, shockingly, to love their wives as they love themselves. Furthermore, the Christian versions of the household codes are the only ones that speak directly to the less powerful members of the household—the slaves, wives, and children—probably because the church at the time consisted of just such powerless people. . . .

    “When addressing those without power,” notes Peter H. Davids, the apostle Peter “does not call for revolution, but upholds the values of the culture insofar as they do not conflict with commitment to Christ. He then reframes their behavior by removing it from the realm of necessity and giving it a dignity, either that of identification with Christ or of identification with the ‘holy women’ of Jewish antiquity.” (Peter H. Davids, “A Silent Witness in Marriage” in Discovering Biblical Equality, eds. Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis. Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2005. p, 238.)

    I cannot overstate the degree to which this remix—in which masters are reminded that they too have a heavenly master—would have been radical in the ancient world. And this is important: Peter and Paul’s use of metaphor (the husband is like Christ, the wife is like the Church, suffering slaves are like the suffering Christ) is not meant to universalize or glorify the household codes themselves but rather the *attitudes* of those functioning within the hierarchal systems of the day. Again, we cannot argue that the Greco-Roman hierarchal relationship between husbands and wives is divinely instituted without arguing the same about the Greco-Roman hierarchal relationship between slaves and masters. (See especially 1 Peter 2:18-23, where Peter provides an extended metaphor comparing slaves to Christ.) . . .

    It is hard for us to recognize it now, but Peter and Paul were introducing the first Christian family to an entirely new community, a community that transcends the rigid hierarchy of human institutions, a community in which submission is mutual and all are free. . . .

    For Christians, the presence of the Household Codes in Scripture must be considered in light of Jesus, who made a habit of turning hierarchy on its head. When his disciples argued amongst themselves about who would be greatest in the kingdom, Jesus told them that “anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all” (Mark 9:35). . . .

    In the biblical narrative, hierarchy enters human relationship as part of the curse, and begins with man’s oppression of women—“your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you” (Genesis 3:16). But with Christ, hierarchal relationships are exposed for the sham that they are, as the last are made first, the first are made last, the poor are blessed, the meek inherit the earth, and the God of the universe takes the form of a slave. . . .

    If wives submit to their husbands as the Church submits to Christ (Ephesians 5:24), and if husbands love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her (Ephesians 5:25), and if both husbands and wives submit one to another (Ephesians 5:21)—who’s really “in charge” here? No one.”

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  15. Glad to see Born4Battle is recognizing my existence again. Trouble with his 11:46 post, however, is that it is conveniently selective, having omitted verse 21 in which we are admonished to be in submission to one another–no exemption regarding the submission of husbands to wives.

    Further, there is nothing in B4B’s quoted Scripture giving men/husbands authority over women/wives. The word authority just doesn’t appear in any form in the Ephesians 5 text. Far from being given some sort of compulsory authority over wives, men are instructed to love their wives. Husbandly love demands more than wifely submission. Love demands death, submission to such love demands only consenting to be served.

    Further, the call to love absolutely precludes the exercise of compulsory authority or power. Love does not insist on its own way. 1 Cor 13:5.

    We don’t even get to questions regarding the application of the Ephesians 5 passage to cultural and historical circumstances. Inasmuch as husbands are specifically and unambiguously instructed to love their wives, Patriarchical and complimentarian notions of the domination of women/wives by men/husbands are precluded by the very passage B4B cites. And that isn’t just my interpretation. It is what the Bible says.

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  16. RMR,

    Nothing intentinal. Just the way it broke out as a section in the translation I used. (ESV)

    If you can read the comparison of Christ and the Church with husbands and wives and come away with the husband/wife part was ONLY a cultural thing you probably don’t believe scripture is the inspired word of God. faced with what the Bible says in plain words and the theorizing of a few ladies, I’m going with the Bible.

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  17. “Nothing intentional. Just the way it broke out as a section in the translation I used. (ESV)”

    Ephesians 5:21 is kinda important to the passage as a whole…

    “If you can read the comparison of Christ and the Church with husbands and wives and come away with the husband/wife part was ONLY a cultural thing you probably don’t believe scripture is the inspired word of God.”

    Those ideas are not mutually exclusive. The Bible is the inspired word of God, but that doesn’t automatically mean every verse is a standing order for all people for all time. Paul was writing his letters in response to what was going on around him. When we read it now, we’re almost 2,000 years removed from the context in which he wrote Ephesians 5:21-33. In order to understand what God is saying, we have to understand the context in which a verse or a passage in the Bible is referring to.

    “faced with what the Bible says in plain words and the theorizing of a few ladies, I’m going with the Bible.”

    This isn’t “theorizing of a few ladies”; the above comments were the result of serious study of the passage in question.

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  18. “In order to understand what God is saying, we have to understand the context in which a verse or a passage in the Bible is referring to.”

    I will amend this. This isn’t always necessary to discern what God may be telling you personally, but I would strongly recommend understanding historical/literal context before attempting to declare any doctrine to be God’s unchanging law.

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  19. RMR, Just for you, since you think you can read my mind and that I intentionally left something out that just had to be included:

    Eph 5:18-21, without the man added verse numbers:

    And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

    Pay attention to the punctuation. Commas or semi-colons appear in the ESV, KJV, NKJV, Young’s Literal Translation, the NET, and the NASB exactly where they are in the above. V 21 is an integral part of the description of being filled with the Spirit.

    Not to mention that the mutual submission reflected in v 21 is also reflected in vv 22-33, meaning that not including v21 in the 22-33 set of verses takes nothing away from the latter.

    Not to be harsh, of course, but to demonstrate sound scholarship.

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  20. “RMR, Just for you, since you think you can read my mind and that I intentionally left something out that just had to be included”

    Where did I say you intentionally left it out? You’re assuming things I didn’t say.

    My statement was based on the NIV translation. It states Ephesians 5:18-21 as follows:

    “18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Instructions for Christian Households

    21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior….”

    This was what I based my statement on.

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  21. sometimes I get the feeling that some choose to interpret scripture by scripture, but in a way that nullifies the very scripture being studied. this is not good. wouldn’t it be better to sometimes say, “we don’t know exactly, but this is what Paul wrote?” (within the context of clear understanding). I don’t think that should mean we create a system that dements women, or men.

    also, I feel the need to sate, scripture isn’t written to the American church either. It’s written to believers. I think it’s important to understand that our societal norms, today, should do little to interpret scripture, for or against, a “popular” position, or one that is currently being demagogued due to extreme practice or abuse. What I’m not supposing, that we forget about the times and seasons surrounding scripture writings, which adds much clarity and depth to our Lord’s Word. But, we understand those, and as well, understand that God wasn’t too small to forecast that a 21st century First World Country would need to hear his Word too.

    The wife husband relationship is just one area where I see these concerns played out (not just on this blog). Also, and one the Sounding Board may want to consider, is believers being submissive to their spiritual leaders. On a lighter note, maybe even believers being submissive to their governing authorities (we all like to bash our government). 🙂

    headed back to soothe my migraine… appreciate your prayers tonight.

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  22. Wait, wait! Maybe all he is doing is defending his failure to quote verses in full context, but is it possible that Born4Battle is somehow claiming that the admonition to submit to one another does NOT include husbands submitting to wives? Does this mean the Bible means what it says only when it says what Born4Battle says it says? Whatever happened to B4B’s appeal to “what the Bible says,” or his boast that “I’m going with the Bible”? Methinks B4B doesn’t really know the Bible all that well. All he seems to only know about the Bible is what the literalist-only-when-it’s-handy pseudo-intellectuals in his faith sub-culture have told him it. I hereby demand some exegetical consistency! C’mon B4B, demonstrate some sound scholarship, and I don’t mean borrowed scholarship. I’m beginning to think the reason you so arrogantly and condescendingly will not respond to reasonable questions is that you don’t have the intellectual firepower to do so. Prove me wrong if you can.

    Do you or do you not accept that husbands and wives are to mutually submit to one another?

    And by the way, B4B’s “sound scholarship” in appealing to punctuation in the English translations is laughable. There was no punctuation in the original Greek texts. In the Greek text I’m looking at, contrary to the punctuation in the English translations, the phrase “submitting yourselves to one another” is firmly attached as an introductory clause to Eph. 5:22. What’s more, the word “submit” doesn’t even appear in verse 22 in the Greek text. I strongly suspect we have stumbled on yet another theologizing of the English translations, which we should perhaps begin to call interpretations rather than translations.

    Well, maybe B4B will at least concede that Husbands are to love their wives, and that love does not demand its own way.

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  23. Y’all, please listen to what Barb is posting. I hold a degree in Classical Studies (emphasis on Ancient Rome/Latin) and I have studied under the world’s preeminent scholar on the lives on women in Ancient Greece and Rome. Everything Barb has posted here is 100% correct. I can remember Dr. K. talking about why the early church was mostly comprised of women – they were the ones sharing the gospel most actively because they had absolutely nothing to lose in the Roman society. They were already the equivalent of property. Did you know that women in Ancient Rome were not even given individual names? They were given the feminized version of their father’s name. For instance, if a man named Julius had five daughters, they would all carry the name of Julia. For historians, we have to add adjectives to the names of women (like Julia the older) to keep track of them. To even require the male head of the household to treat women with kindness or love was absurd. Men frequently had two women in their lives – a wife to bear his legitimate children and carry the family name and a prostitute to have lively dinner conversations and other forms of entertainment with. The most dangerous woman in Ancient Rome would have been an independent woman who owned property because that meant she had power.

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  24. Born4Battle,
    You quoted Ephesians 5:22-33

    But you don’t explain it…anyone can quote scripture. But how we COMPREHEND it is much different than your, how u say, private interpretation?

    You miss so much out of that. MEN are to submit to Christ. They are not submitting to Christ. MEN are women, the bride!!

    Does Christ treat his wife as you would treat yours? NO WAY.

    YOUR God is NOT my God. Your God subscribes to Calvin, mine subscribes to Jesus.

    DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU. If you treat your wife like a slave, then YOU SHOULD BE TREATED LIKE A SLAVE, whipped, beat down, and branded.

    Ed

    PS. Go fetch my slippers, slave!

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  25. “18 Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit, 19 speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, 20 always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    Instructions for Christian Households

    21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior….”

    Maybe if we take out the man made heading of “Instructions for Christian Households” and continue on to verse 21 and further, we will find that the verses tell us what “being filled with the spirit” will look like in different relationships? The entire section is about being filled with the spirit!

    I believe Ephisians was a city that worshipped female dieties, with females playing an important role in the temples. Maybe women did need be encouraged to respect their husbands, and men needed to be encouraged to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. After all, love usually had little to do with the arranged marriages of the day. Most women (and children) were thought of as property.

    Ephesians was written to a certain group of believers in a certain city, for a specific purpose. Paul was often responding to questions that had been sent to him and/or specific issues in that town. There is much we can learn from these texts, but we also have to be careful how we apply them today. There is much we don’t know about what Paul was responding to or what he was intending.

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  26. Bridget,
    You bring up a very very very good point, and it reminds me of when Paul was talking to the people of Corinth in regards to wearing head coverings.

    And if that be the case, we know that it is in regards to the LOCAL CUSTOMS.

    As a matter of fact, he also said that to win people to Christ, he became them.

    1 Cor 9:20-22
    20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law;

    21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law.

    22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

    Notice Verse 20…Paul was already a Jew, but to gain the Jews, he became a Jew. In other words, followed the CUSTOMS of a Jew to gain a Jew.

    He became a Gentile to win the Gentiles.

    He became weak to win the weak.

    LOCAL CUSTOMS is an important part of how Paul did things, and your explanation is fantastic in regards to the Ephesians worshiping female deities, i.e. Artimus, or Dianna, and women (UNCONVERTED) were not listening to their CONVERTED husbands. It was a different concept for women, when they had been raised to worship a woman, and taught that women were far more superior to men. There is much to read about this all over the internet.

    But in the case of the Calvin “movement (which will one day end)”, men are taught that men are far more superior, a false teaching. We are all the same, except for our body parts. Both men and women prophesied on the day of Pentecost. Obviously, the women were not hindered to be silent, as some wish to assert.

    There is a SPECIFIC reason that scripture states for WIVES (NOT WOMEN IN GENERAL) to be silent. If we read the whole bible, there are certain situations that MEN are to be silent in church themselves, and that is when someone in the church is prophesying (man or woman), in which the woman is NOT SILENT in church.

    Ed

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  27. This whole thread is a valuable lesson in what happens when people take Bible verses literally – which is precisely why I don’t!!

    Like

  28. Julie Anne, I’m glad you allow people like B4B on your site so we can see their real character. If you go to his site, as he suggested, there are very few comments. At least he gets the attention he craves over here. He certainly doesn’t get much from his friends.

    Like

  29. Here is another one for b4b:

    The Jehovah’s Witnesses truly believe that the Bible states for them to not get blood transfusions. Why is that?

    In the same way, the Calvinists truly believe that men have “authority” over women.

    Both are wrong, but they truly believe that they are right.

    When little girls are growing up, they want a prince charming to sweep them off of their feet. When a man makes a woman happy, then the woman VOLUNTARILY submits…in other words, the woman loves Prince Charming so much, that she WANTS to reciprocate that happiness back to her husband. Love is what drives the action, not “authority” of the man, or subordination of the woman.

    If you really think that a girl dreams of submitting (your Calvinist interpretation) to a husband, you have redefined the biblical submission, which is to RELAX.

    I don’t see Jesus (the groom) in your scenario, b4b. I see the devil.

    Ed

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  30. Quoting Ed:

    ” Love is what drives the action, not “authority” of the man, or subordination of the woman,” and

    “I don’t see Jesus (the groom) in your scenario, b4b. I see the devil.”

    Gary W’s response:

    STAND UP AND CHEER!

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  31. If you really think that a girl dreams of submitting (your Calvinist interpretation) to a husband,
    you have reduced marriage to Power Struggle. His boot on her neck, or her boot on his.

    Like

  32. DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU. If you treat your wife like a slave, then YOU SHOULD BE TREATED LIKE A SLAVE, whipped, beat down, and branded. — Chapmane24 replying to B4B

    During my days in-country with splinter churches, I got messed up by a presumably-Calvinist booklet called “The Calvary Road”. I remember one quote from it; when complemented on your achievement, a Christian’s only response should be “I AM A WORTHLESS SLAVE.” Worm Theology all the way.

    And in a slave-based society, there are only those who hold The Whip and those who feel The Whip. Since God is the one holding The Whip, all of us exist only to be whipped, beat down, and branded. Glory to God.

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  33. Did you know that women in Ancient Rome were not even given individual names? They were given the feminized version of their father’s name. For instance, if a man named Julius had five daughters, they would all carry the name of Julia. — Mandy

    Just like Medieval Korea, whose female “naming” conventions were identical to those in The Handmaid’s Tale. A woman’s “name” in that time and place was actually a phrase. One of three, depending on ownership:
    1) “Nth Daughter of (father’s name)”
    2) “Nth Wife of (husband’s name)”
    3) “Nth Concubine of (owner’s name)”

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  34. And by the way, B4B’s “sound scholarship” in appealing to punctuation in the English translations is laughable. There was no punctuation in the original Greek texts.

    Ever heard of “double inspiration”? i.e. how the Bible was dropped out of Heaven into the hands of Kynge Jaymes in 1611?

    Like

  35. ‘Tis a wonderful thing to be moderated. It means you’re dangerous.

    “I’M SUCH AN A-HOLE I GET MODERATED! I’M REALLY IMPORTANT! I MUST REALLY BE GODLY TRUTH! REALLY RIGHTEOUS AND GODLY! ALL WHO LIVE GODLY IN JESUS CHRIST SHALL SUFFER PERSECUTION!” (polishes halo polishes halo polishes halo)

    Like

  36. if and when someone is declared 100% right, does that then stop the conversation contrary to their comments? While adding depth to the discussion, I doubt there is 100% accuracy for the entire Roman world… but GREAT information regarding the culture just the same.

    Like

  37. b4b likes to use the word “ad hominem”. I don’t speak Latin, so please speak English. Save the Latin for the Catholics, please. Latin is their territory. Besides, I have “ad” block on my browser, and I hate hominy grits….get it?…ad hominy? Ha!!!!

    Like

  38. While on the topic of Latin, and with apologies to Ed, I would submit that the advocates of patriarchy and complimentarianism can be guilty of ad feminam tactics:

    Ad feminam, ad fem·i·nam [ad fem-uh-nam, -nuhm, ahd]: appealing to one’s personal considerations or feelings about women, especially one’s prejudices against them. (from dictionary.com).

    Actually, I would suggest that the very foundations of patriarchy and complimentarianism are ad feminam in nature.

    Like

  39. Gary, and JA,

    I told JA this a while back, but when my ex-wife and I would fight on yahoo messenger, and she would use a big word, or word that I didn’t normally use, as for bashing me, I would have to tell her, “Hold on…dictionary.com”, and that would break the ice, so to speak, and we would both get a laugh out of that, and it helped us to be a “little” more civil to each other, for a short while.

    So, I got a great lesson in Latin, today, learning that the Calvinists FEAR women, so they have prejudices against them.

    Gary said:
    “Ad feminam, ad fem·i·nam [ad fem-uh-nam, -nuhm, ahd]: appealing to one’s personal considerations or feelings about women, especially one’s prejudices against them. (from dictionary.com).”

    My response:

    “At the heart of prejudice lies two concepts: ignorance and fear.”

    Quote taken from Department of Urban Studies
    Eastern University
    Philadelphia, PA

    Ed

    Like

  40. Thank you Julie Anne for including me. I admire your tenacity and resilience, and am honored to be a guest.

    BRB:
    I like my mother too. 

    “I noticed that you begin with what the mission board told your mother, but also added your mother’s comment that they didn’t really say that. Why is that?” Hah, good point! Sometimes I get so wrapped up in what is in my own head, it doesn’t come out right. I’d like to explain… the mission board might not have specifically said she was too submissive, but that is the way she always told me the story. When she vetted this article, she wanted to explain it as it actually happened. She took them to mean she was “too submissive,” and that is the way she re-told it for many years.

    “What should guide our views on these sorts of things, personal experiences or the Bible?” Up until the last few years, I would say unequivocally, the Bible. But, I’ve come to believe that that is not a clear enough answer. I still believe the answer is the Bible, but it is naïve to believe we can understand the Bible in a vacuum. Personal experience is what separates my understanding of the Bible from your understanding of the Bible.

    The impetus behind this article is my annoyance over being blamed for why men don’t go to church. Are you familiar with this argument? When my mother responded to my question, I realized how much this recent emphasis on gender roles is NOT what those who grew up during a time when gender roles were status quo (mom was born in 1935) believed was foundational to the gospel. The modern Complementarianism of the Danver’s Statement places a woman’s place of submitting and the man’s place as leading as the functional hinge of the gospel. My mother believes this idea is absurd. I welcome any more thoughts on this transformation.

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  41. “I still believe the answer is the Bible, but it is naïve to believe we can understand the Bible in a vacuum. Personal experience is what separates my understanding of the Bible from your understanding of the Bible.”

    This is very important. Great words.

    Like

  42. Ed,

    I really like what you say about ignorance and fear being at the heart of prejudice. I almost objected that insecurity should be added to the list, but that’s just a form of fear. I suppose feelings of inferiority come into play somehow.

    Like

  43. Gary W,

    The more that I learn about this complementarity stuff, I am in agreement with the feelings of inferiority thing, and I believe that even has it’s roots in some form of abuse.

    Like

  44. If you read up on the Danvers Statement, you will quickly find that the very purpose of it was to “respond to” the feminism of the 70’s. It was a “reactionary posture” to what the Danver’s signers projected was going to happen if feminism infiltrated the Church. I believe it was born from a fearful reaction to cultural changes (many of which were actually good).

    Like

  45. Bridget, I recently read an article written by the daughter of Alice Walker that educated me a bit on the radical feminism of the 70s. I didn’t realize how anti-mother and family the extreme branch of feminism was. I don’t think this was mainstream thought, but it does give me a little insight into how scary Christians must have viewed these anti-mother feminists. I think the title says it all: Fanatical. You can find them in every camp.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1021293/How-mothers-fanatical-feminist-views-tore-apart-daughter-The-Color-Purple-author.html

    Like

  46. Kay, I have yet to read through these new comments, but wanted to thank you again for allowing me to share your article and also for responding to the comments here. I’ll catch up soon 🙂

    Like

  47. Kay said:

    “The modern Complementarianism of the Danver’s Statement places a woman’s place of submitting and the man’s place as leading as the functional hinge of the gospel. My mother believes this idea is absurd. I welcome any more thoughts on this transformation.”

    Kay – – Can you describe more of this “functional hinge of the gospel” and what you perceive the Danvers statement to mean regarding this? I think I have an idea, but want to make sure. I, too, would love to discuss this further.

    Like

  48. Kay said:

    I didn’t realize how anti-mother and family the extreme branch of feminism was.

    What I think is quite interesting is that many church leaders in my engagements with them on Twitter/blogs/correspondence have asked me if I’m a feminist when I challenge them. I want to say, “For real? I’m a SAHM with 7 kiddos and homeschool. How feminist is that?” LOL

    Perhaps it’s in their mindset that women are not supposed to challenge a man spiritually and if they find one that does, they label her a feminist.

    I find that pretty weak.

    Like

  49. I see the link changed for the T4G link I had in the article. Here is the updated link to the audio/video of the 2012 panel on Complemenatianism. http://t4g.org/media/2012/05/complementarianism-essential-or-expendable-2/?format=audio

    At the 9:00 mark the panel discusses why they chose to highlight Complementarianism at the 2012 T4G. Piper explains he doesn’t think you have to be a Complementarian to be saved, but there are some serious ramifications to the gospel if you do not believe men are born to lead and women are born to complete them. Then he details what he believes those implications are.
    1) The hermeneutical “gymnastics” required to interpret Ephesians 5 differently than Comps will inevitably lead to “getting the gospel wrong.”
    2) Marriage IS the gospel in portrayal.” Denying husband leadership and wifely submission is a cancelation of the visible gospel.
    3) The message of the gospel will malfunction unless the church is being led by strong male leaders.

    Following gender roles (the job or “function” of all Christians) according to Comp interpretations, opens or closes the door (the hinge) of the gospel in our marriages, families, churches and in the world.

    This is what I mean when I say … The modern Complementarianism of the Danver’s Statement places a woman’s place of submitting and the man’s place as leading as the functional hinge of the gospel. If the two places cross or get confused in any way; the Bible, families, churches and even the Good News of Jesus Christ will be warped, lost and ineffective.

    Absurd. Gender roles, to Comps, have replaced the Spirit. Which is why they blame women for running men out of the churches. My mother does not agree. Neither do I. “I asked her why did she think men didn’t come to church? She answered without thinking, “Because the Holy Spirit hasn’t led them there!””

    @ feminism
    As a dabbler in history, I find the western evolution of feminism fascinating. I always ask, “What do YOU mean by feminist?” before I confirm or deny being one. 🙂

    Like

  50. Kay –

    “kbonikowsky on July 2, 2013 at 5:40 PM
    Bridget, I recently read an article written by the daughter of Alice Walker that educated me a bit on the radical feminism of the 70s. I didn’t realize how anti-mother and family the extreme branch of feminism was. I don’t think this was mainstream thought, but it does give me a little insight into how scary Christians must have viewed these anti-mother feminists. I think the title says it all: Fanatical. You can find them in every camp.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1021293/How-mothers-fanatical-feminist-views-tore-apart-daughter-The-Color-Purple-author.html

    Wow! Thanks for that article. AW’a thinking may have been more widespread than one might think. It was frightening how similar my upbringing was to AW’s daughter, except I was from a very large family and didn’t find myself in a place of getting an abortion, though I could have been in this place just as easily as anyone. But, as far as AW’s daughter’s interactions with her mother and the resulting impressions left on a teenage girl were very similar. The main difference between my mother and AW might be that AW almost seems like a narcissist combined with her radical feminist ideals.

    I agree that it is a good idea to define what one means by “feminist.” I would not find myself, nor most women who are feminists, in the AW camp. But much of what has come about from the earlier waves of feminism are good and appropriate. Such things as the right to vote, equal opportunity, equal pay, a right to inherit, basically “equal as human beings” is a good outcome from the feminism movements. I do think the “radical” feminism ideas are not good. Wanting children or not is simply a personal decision. Hating children or feeling like having children is some sort of enslavement is the result of something else altogether. Taking into consideration AW’s experience and growing up (who knows what she saw her mother experience) may well explain some of her reasoning and actions. But after reading her daughter’s experience, AW seems very self centered and maybe even a narcissist.

    I agree with much of what you and your mother observe about the Danver’s Statement. I think that most of the proponents of complementarianism are actually decimating the real meaning and beauty of the Gospel by trying to tie the importance of the marriage relationship to the proclomation of the Gospel. I do believe that husbands and wives can compliment each other. I don’t believe this relationship needs to be defined by specific roles that the comps teach, nor by any type of hierarchy in the relationship, by the husband OR wife 😉

    Like

  51. I just dug out my notes from college. They weren’t “notes” so much as observations, my personal observations. After learning how women were treated in Ancient Rome, I was so much more in awe of the New Testament. I devoured it on a daily basis. I cried when I read Galatians 3:26-29: So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

    Imagine being a woman in Ancient Rome. You have no rights. You don’t even have an individual name. You aren’t allowed to own property or vote or even live without a male guardian. If by chance all of your male guardians die and you inherit land, you are a despised woman who is supposed to marry right away and surrender everything to your new husband. Then you hear the Gospel. You hear about a man/God named Jesus who loves women equally to men. You have value for the very first time – for nothing you did but simply because you exist. Imagine learning that this Savior loved you – only you- enough to die on a cross, conquer death and come back. Isn’t this amazing? The unlovable, invaluable, used only for breeding, of society were LOVED. Knowing that one is loved is an incredibly powerful feeling. The first few hundred years following the death and resurrection of Jesus, the good news primarily spread through women. They had nothing to lose through persecution and everything to gain. They were responsible for teaching young children and could share this miraculous story with their children. By being polite to their husbands and loving them (instead of lording this newfound freedom over their male guardians), they could live out the sacrificial love of Christ. And wonders of wonders, men were commanded to actually love their wives and treat them accordingly. They were supposed to treat all humans as fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. What a miracle. Talk about social norms being turned upside down – they weren’t just turned upside, they were reinvented in Jesus. Everything is made new.

    The paragraph above is what I took away from lectures. That is taken almost word for word from my observations while in class. We have gotten so hung up on the English translations of a couple of verses written by Paul that we have forgotten to focus on Jesus and the true miracle of the Gospel.

    I do not know Greek, only Latin. But I do know that the translation from Greek to Latin is much much more accurate than any English translation available so that is what I am working from. While in college, I asked several professors if Ephesians 5:22 was translated correctly as “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as to the Lord” (King James Version). Every single professor said “No!”. In Latin, the verb used in Ephesians 5:22 is “subditae sint” – the perfect passive plural form of the verb subdere, meaning to place under, apply, supply. If “submit” was the desired meaning, then the verb parere would have been used, meaning “to obey, be subject/obedient to; submit/yield/comply; pay attention; yield to”. That is what I love about the Ancient Latin language – it is so precise that misunderstandings are hard to come by. Oh, and Latin insults are much more creative and colorful than English insults. 🙂

    Like

  52. Wow, thanks Mandy ~ I’m learning so much 🙂
    And thanks to Barb O for that reminder from RHE blog ~ so helpful 🙂

    Like

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