ABUSE & VIOLENCE IN THE CHURCH, CHRISTIAN LEADERS, Christian Marriage, Church Bandwagon, Complementarianism, Egalitarianism, Extra-Biblical Nonsense, God's Design for the Family, Marriage, Marriages Damaged-Destroyed by Sp. Ab., Misuse of Scripture, Patriarchal-Complementarian Movement, Women and the Church

Hey, Who Stuck the Header Between Ephesians 5 Verse 21 and Verse 22? That Shouldn’t be There!!

Submission, Women in the Church, Ephesians 5:22, Wm. Paul Young, Patriarchy

Today, I posted a note and video on my Facebook wall and the SSB Facebook page which has received some attention. In my journey out of the abusive “Christian Patriarchy” movement which has harmed so many women, I like to grapple with Bible verses that put special rules or limitations onto women. One of the things I learned in Restorative Practices training is that it is very healthy to move toward conflict and to wrestle with it. So, I guess that’s what I’m doing as I study these verses that have been proven to be contentious to me personally.

When the subject of women comes up in Evangelical Christianity, there are a few verses that are selected out of the masses of verses that male leaders use to prove that women must submit to their husbands, that husbands are head of wives and rule over them, women must be silent in church, women must never teach men, etc. In essence, all of these verses seem to show a type of power differential and have been used by men to control women. And I believed it to be true because I trusted my church leaders. I even encouraged other women to follow these teachings.

Here is what I posted on Facebook:


The issue of women submitting to husbands (as opposed to mutual submission) is a big one in the Christian church. It is sometimes used by men improperly against their wives to control them.

One of the key passages used to justify male hierarchy is Eph 5:22 (to the neglect of 5:21 which ironically states that we are to submit to each other!!). Which one is it?? Women submit to men, or we all submit to each other? Why is this so confusing?

It’s not confusing when you listen to this and understand what happened when Bible translators improperly inserted a heading right smack in the middle of a sentence!! Everyone knows you can’t do that, but that’s what they did!

I’ve read about this from numerous Biblical scholars, but I love the way Paul Young explains it here. It makes so much sense now!

A side note: on my Facebook wall, someone asked if this is the same person who wrote The Shack. I know there are a lot of conservative Evangelicals who have issues with Wm. Paul Young because of his book, The Shack. Here is my response to her:

a lot of people dismiss him because of a fictional book he wrote to his kids. They read what other people wrote about a fictional book and make an opinion on him. He is a very learned man biblically. By all means listen and then compare with other Biblical scholars. That is what we all should do. But as I said above, it lines up from what I’ve seen in my research.

The video is only 13 minutes long. This might be the video that pulls the rug out from decades of teachings you have heard. Or it might not. But . . . I would like you to consider it, and test it. See if what Paul Young says is true.

93 thoughts on “Hey, Who Stuck the Header Between Ephesians 5 Verse 21 and Verse 22? That Shouldn’t be There!!”

  1. What do the other commentators/theologians say? Reading the verses without the header seems like an incomplete thought, but we know it’s not His word being infallible. It could be read either way. 🙂

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  2. I don’t think you are understanding, B. They stuck a header in the middle of a sentence, changing the whole meaning of the direction Paul was going. Did you watch the video?

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  3. JA – it was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but in this particular instance a verse can be quoted on its own as though it stands alone, rather than being read in its immediate context. Atheists frequently quote the bible as though it were written in ‘verses’ rather than flowing text and flowing logical thought. It’s an easy way of thinking to get into.

    Chapter and verse divisions can be helpful as a reference obviously, but sometimes they lead you to think ‘new chapter, new material’, and that is not always the case.

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  4. And verse 25 often gets left out too: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” I find Paul’s letters pretty well balanced, if you don’t pick and choose verses. Sometimes you have to read a chapter on each side of the topic, sometimes a verse or too, but there are usually two sides of the coin with Paul.

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  5. There’s a version called “Immerse” that is published without chapters and verses. A few years ago, my church challenged us to either read part of the NT, or listen to it online, without the chapters and verses and it is definitely a different experience. As the pastor said, the chapters and verses were added, if I remember correctly, mostly for the purpose of optimizing the book for publishing page-by-page on the printing press, and there are pretty well known examples where the versification leaves incomplete thoughts. That’s where I picked up the difference in tone between, for example, Corinthians and Galatians.

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  6. The word of God says let every man be a liar and his
    Word be true.what ever the word GOD says in the King James version.It is True.Man shall not live by bread alone. But
    By every word Of God.Its says husband and wife
    Submit to each other and The wife submit to her own husband.And husband to be the head of his Wife.And
    Husband to love his wife. And woman not to teach or have authority over a man.And if you don’t believe or follow the Word Of GOD. You are not a follower CHRIST. Acts 2:38.Says Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sin.

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  7. If it truly is inspired, it would be the first-ever instance of a Spirit-inspired committee. I’d be much more amenable to the Tyndall-only or TEV-only argument. Rethinking this, KJV-only seems to be a very racist view. Somehow, God allowed translations into Latin, Spanish, Italian, Japaneses, Ethiopian, but only the white English version is inspired?

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  8. King James, huh, Bernard?

    Goodness I love the language in King James but you can’t treat an English translation with imperfect information and an agenda by parsing a word here and there as people do!

    If they took it as a whole they’d get a better spirit of the thing, but instead they want to make it a bunch of if/then statements. It’s not that.

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  9. I really love this video and he made a very good case. Honestly, it’s pretty obvious.

    It came out recently that the Vatican has been hiding evidence that women served as leaders of the early church. It seems like early on, the organized church decided they needed to twist things to support the oppression of women, probably to please political powers and tradition, and that has been carried on over the centuries ever since, with few even questioning it. It was so ingrained in the early translators that, instead of sincerely following the words where they led, they tweaked the words to fit their predetermined beliefs. (And some are still doing this, re-writing Genesis 3:16, for instance.)

    The original Bible was not the KJV, ha ha! It’s only a translation, and not a very good one at that. Sometimes I wonder if the KJV only people push that viewpoint because it is so archaic that it’s easier to confuse people about what it actually says. God has not given us a spirit of fear.

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  10. I just made an interesting discovery. I was looking up online Bibles, and later I will do that for my Bible Gateway phone app. But, on theirs, there’s the heading on Relationships, and it starts with verse 21. But yes, in the physical Bibles I have, which I got in the 80s and 90s, the heading starts verse 22.
    We studied all of this section in my Bible study group/Life group, and came to conclude that none of us is “off the hook”. We all have a responsibility to each other.
    Thanks for bringing this up.

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  11. It came out recently that the Vatican has been hiding evidence that women served as leaders of the early church.

    I am not at all surprised. It’s clear as day that people like Pheobe were early leaders and Paul rattles off plenty of women in his lists of people he is grateful to for his ministry. I think people have massively misinterpreted Paul for their own ends. Imagine how the church or the world might have been if women had been treated properly all these years.

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  12. Finally got around to reading the whole article, watching the whole video, and reading all the comments. Thank you. I really did like the video. I have a copy of The Shack but haven’t read it. Now I have even more motivation to get to it.

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  13. Mara – I still haven’t read The Shack. My suing pastor had all kinds of negative things to say about the book and painted it as evil. It’s funny now, but when I take another look at what he called evil, I often don’t have the same conclusion now. A lot of times it was because of a secondary doctrinal belief. I just don’t get my panties in a wad over things like that. I mean – if Biblical scholars cannot agree on such things, then why should I make a big deal about them. There are bigger battles and more important things to be doing with my time.

    I’m too lazy to look at the post (I respond to the notification), but I can’t remember if I mentioned that Paul Young was a teacher at my college group in the 80s. I remember him being pretty smart then. But you can tell that he has studied these issues.

    A side note, he gave 3 sermons at Pastor Wade Burleson’s church, which are posted on YouTube. I watched them a year or so ago and found them to be very good. I see why Wade asked him to speak!

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  14. I don’t know every negative thing spoken of concerning The Shack. But I know a huge thing was that there was female representation in the Trinity. That didn’t bother me much. But I was amused by how bent out of shape patriarchal and complementarian men got. It was insane.

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  15. Yes!! That’s right – that was one of the biggest issues that I remember, too! ha! For crying out loud, even the Bible uses feminine ways of describing God and those He loves: like a weaned child in mother’s arms.

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  16. Sorry – he didn’t convince me, and I did give him a fair hearing. I used to believe the submission in Eph 5 : 21 was a general application to everyone – an attitude of deference. Mutual respect certainly.

    The weakness in the argument was precisely what was discussed earlier on – using a single verse and not taking into account its context. Indeed this is the only way you can attempt to make submission mutual.

    It’s true that the word submission is missing from verse 22, but implied from verse 21. I’ve never understood the importance sometimes given this, and there are plenty of NT MSS that do have the verb in v 22, iirc for reading in church in Greek starting at that verse.

    ‘One another’ can either mean everyone to everyone, reciprocal or mutual, or it can mean one or a group to one other or a group. There is an ambiguity. That here it means the latter is shown by reading the rest of the chapter and first half of chapter 6 (another unhelpful chapter division!).

    Read this, and it shows mutual submission is untenable for linguistic reasons, practical reason, and above all theological reasons. It is, I think, ruled out absolutely as an interpretation.

    I once discussed this on an egalitarian blog – quite amicably – and listed about 10 or 11 reasons why I don’t think mutual submission is tenable in this passage. That post never saw the light of day! I gave up after that. I can only assume they did not want to reconsider their existing interpretation.

    To hint at just one reason, have said ‘submitting to one another’ in v21 in the very next verse if you read it in a literal translation Paul already makes sure the ‘everyone to everyone’ is not what he means.

    You could sum up the Eph passage in two sentences: for wives Paul says be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord and for husbands love your wives, and don’t be harsh with them. It’s clear who is being addressed, and there is no mutuality instructed.

    I’m sure in the last judgement before Christ many wives are going to have to explain why the baulked at any idea of submission, and many husbands as to why they didn’t love and honour their wives the way the NT clearly outlines, and that he expects. Whatever our ~ism, we are all going to have to give an account.

    Young’s treatment of the 1 Tim 2 passage was extremely weak. tbh though if I hear another sermon on this I think I shall go start staring mad! My life very definitely does not revolve around complementarianism, or to be more precise endless discussions of it. It can make Jack a very dull boy! If your bible falls open at Eph 5, something is probably wrong!

    I hope I am not too stuck in my ways to change my mind on this, but Young was far from convincing. I’m sure the vehemence with which mutual submission is held stems from factors outside a pure discussion of what the text itself says and how to try to put it into practice.

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  17. “stems from factors outside a pure discussion of what the text itself says”

    Yes, exactly, just like when Jesus calls the Pharisees to look beyond the text when it comes to divorce. “They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?'” (Matt 19:7)

    I can see the parallel today. Jesus says, “husbands must respect their wives”, but KAS says, “Why then did Paul tell only wives to respect their husbands?” By arguing that this is somehow uniquely given to husband and wife, then you are arguing either that man have no problem loving their wives (really?!) or that men do not need to love their wives. In the same way, you are arguing either that wives naturally love their husbands, or do not need to love their husbands. Since both of those are blatantly false, it seems a better reading that Paul is talking mutual love and respect in a way that draws both husband and wife.

    There are many parallel constructions like this. “He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death.” — is it thus okay to strike a woman so that she dies?

    For example, “It will come about after this
    That I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind;
    And your sons and daughters will prophesy,
    Your old men will dream dreams,
    Your young men will see visions.
    “Even on the male and female servants
    I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29)

    Is Joel explaining the differences of how the Spirit will work in mankind, or is he drawing us in to a common work of the Spirit? Will old men not see visions and young men not dream dreams? Will the old and young men not prophesy? Of course not! Joel means this to be inclusive, not exclusive.

    So, why does this love/respect dichotomy have to be forced on Paul, when he just said submit to one another? I think it’s because you are letting your foregone conclusion interpret the text rather than the opposite.

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  18. Hmmm: “A few immediate questions popped into my mind as I read this. If we follow the complementarian hermeneutic above, it appears we must conclude that Peter and Paul were advocating slavery as God’s design for living in a fallen world. Why? Because we’re now required, if we submit to the complementarian explanation, to believe that if slavery is not God’s design, then Peter and Paul were cowards for not openly condemning slavery. I mean, the above argument declares that it is only godly to openly buck the tide, whereas only cowards are quietly subversive, doesn’t it?” http://complegalitarian.blogspot.com/2007/12/considering-roman-household-codes.html

    This was also a good read:
    https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/aristotle-and-the-household-codes/

    Quoting Jesus, “It was for the hardness of your hearts that…” – so, perhaps, also, the Greco-Roman culture was not ready for husbands and wives to be declared equal – as we seem not to be able to hear that today…

    Thanks, Mara!

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  19. @Mark:

    A few years ago, my church challenged us to either read part of the NT, or listen to it online, without the chapters and verses and it is definitely a different experience.

    Because you then see the overall Narrative instead of a list of separate chapter-and-verse Sound Bites. Including Paul’s Epistles taking several chapters to build and present a legal argument to make his point.

    I always figured chapter-and-verse numbers originated as a reference index to particular passages and ended up as Twitter-Tweet-length verbal-component spells.

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  20. KAS, I think you’re right, Ephesians 6 must be considered. Now, when Paul talks about slavery, is he justifying the master/slave relationship, or is he just telling Christians how to act in a culture where the master/slave relationship are legally forced on people? I think after millennia, the church finally had to come to terms that Paul was not condoning slavery, but merely giving instructions for a specific culture where slavery was in force.

    Now, we look at marriage in the established context. We cannot argue that Paul is condoning a specific hierarchical relationship based on his instruction, because in 6, he instructs slaves and masters. All we can do is say that Paul is showing a loving and respectful path within the culture.

    That is, the culture said that the wife must obey the husband’s rule, and it allowed the husband to abuse his wife. Paul is saying, the husband must LOVE his wife and not treat her like a slave, but like himself. In the same way, the wife is called, despite the societal view of her as a slave, to be more of a partner than a slave. As has been said, this was courageous and culturally radical, but not necessarily the end goal of what God wanted to say about marriage.

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  21. Including Paul’s Epistles taking several chapters to build and present a legal argument to make his point.

    HUG, this is the thing we discussed in sunday school that made me really appreciate Paul better. These are letters, and they have structure and Paul generally meanders around until he gets to the final point he’s making.

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  22. Complegalitarian

    Mark, that is a word I haven’t seen in a long time (speaking in internet years).
    I used to comment on that blog. I can’t even remember how long ago.
    They had shut it down because it was hard to keep things civil. I never knew they reopened it.
    I miss those days.

    As far as household codes go, not only do they stick a header in the middle of the sentence, They also start a whole new chapter right in the middle of the flow, separating the children and slave section from the husband and wife section. This completely disrupts the natural flow and directs attention away from how it was meant to be read.
    And yes, it was directed mainly at the existing household codes of the day, setting them on their heads, inserting love and grace in the place of patriarchal authoritarianism. This is why this section is hard to apply today. Evolved societies have done away with slavery and the practice of men owning women.

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  23. Kas: “I’m sure in the last judgement before Christ many wives are going to have to explain why the baulked at any idea of submission, and many husbands as to why they didn’t love and honour their wives the way the NT clearly outlines, ”

    But what about the judgement of all the preachers and husbands that have used this bit of scripture to beat down and abuse women?
    Their sin is far worse because they are taking God’s Word and Name in vain for their own purposes.

    I’ve known women who tried to obey this portions of scripture, only to finally crack and turn away from God due to never being about to submit enough to please a man who had a personality or brain disorder or who listened to the wrong preacher or read the wrong book that made way more out these verses than they should have.
    (Books like Love and Respect https://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2019/01/eggerichs-love-and-respect-and-abuse-womens-stories/ )

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  24. Kas: “I’m sure in the last judgement before Christ many wives are going to have to explain why the baulked at any idea of submission

    I think there is a zero percent chance of this happening, personally.

    Actual Jesus: The first should be last. Stop fighting over who gets to sit at my right hand. Take care of kids. Treats women well. There is no marriage in heaven. Etc.

    Stop making him into something completely different.

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  25. Actually, Lea, what Kas said about wives baulking at any idea of submission reminds me of a commenter on another blog post concerning how respect is such a foreign concept for wives. The sweeping generalization of that commenter was irritating.

    https://frombitterwaterstosweet.blogspot.com/2013/08/is-respect-foreign-concept.html

    I have known women who were so traumatized by the word submit that when they see it used in other situations they have PTSD episodes. One gal said when she read a place on a document concerning where she needed to submit some papers, she had an all out panic attack. She certainly baulked at submission. But I’m pretty sure she won’t be judged for it by God.

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  26. Mara – But what about the judgement of all the preachers and husbands that have used this bit of scripture to beat down and abuse women?

    I’ve already answered this: I’m sure in the last judgement before Christ many husbands [are going to have to explain] as to why they didn’t love and honour their wives the way the NT clearly outlines.

    I fully understand the verb ‘to submit’ has become debased coinage in some evangelical circles, which is why I said ‘baulk at any idea of submission’. In my day, it was shepherding/discipleship Ft Lauderdale submission that was the cause of so many problems of abused authority. There are men who never seem to get beyond it, whilst ignoring everything the apostles direct at husbands or the character qualifications of leaders. Yet the word is still in the NT, and if it is intrinsically a cause of abuse, you wonder why so many argue for it to be mutual. It is something that Jesus requires. I also have no doubt it is intended for blessing.

    Yes, I have heard of the household codes, but Eph 5 and the related parallel material in 1 Peter work against this as being what both apostles based their teaching on when it came to marriage and other relationships within the church. Culture isn’t what it is patterned on. (The egalitarian appeal to culture in Ephesus seems to me anyway to collapse under the weight of its internal contradictions.) I am far from thinking we should ignore the cultural context in which the NT is written, but we also need to be aware of reading our cultural assumptions back into the text.

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  27. KAS, “Culture isn’t what it is patterned on.”

    Then you fall into the trap of Paul legitimizing slavery. If Ephesians 5-6 is God’s pattern for life irrespective of culture, then God is blessing slavery as an institution. If God is NOT blessing slavery as an institution, then it is quite valid to question whether Paul’s instruction to husbands and wives is based on culture, or based on eternal decree.

    Paul didn’t write Ephesians for US. He wrote it for the Christians in Ephesus, so it is again, valid to try and understand what context the Ephesians would have interpreted this from.

    “Yet the word is still in the NT, and if it is intrinsically a cause of abuse, you wonder why so many argue for it to be mutual.”

    As I said, and you have not answered, God clearly gives instruction for a specific time, place and culture. In Acts 15, the Gentile converts are commanded not to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Yet, in Corinthians, Paul says, the idol is nothing, so it’s okay, except for the weaker brother.

    Now, were the Christians unrighteous or was that command for a specific time and place that is no longer relevant?

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  28. No kidding. There are folks within conservative c’hurches that say we are still commanded NOT to eat pork and shellfish, for we are still under the Law of Moses. They justify this by saying that the New Testament reinforces the Law of Moses, no change necessary……guess Jesus didn’t end the OT Laws! (?)!

    And I have not submitted to wearing a “head covering” to a religious meeting lately, or out picking weeds, although it might come in handy in keeping the mosquitoes out of me hair. 🙂

    And as far as the slavery thing goes, there is many a godly woman who believes she is a slave to man, wedded into complementarian marriage systems……which is NOT of our LORD Jesus Christ.

    All over the board here, just a sayin.

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  29. Yet the word is still in the NT, and if it is intrinsically a cause of abuse, you wonder why so many argue for it to be mutual.

    If you admit that you are called to submit to each other, you have to also admit that ‘submission’ doesn’t mean ‘unilateral obedience’ which is what is pushed at women and clearly abusive. So.

    I’ve heard the concept as ‘preferring one another in love’ or something like that, which doesn’t sound abusive. But mostly the bible is full of contradictions, and you have to learn how to navigate different situations…good advice in circumstance A is terrible advice in circumstance B. This is basic humaning.

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  30. If God is NOT blessing slavery as an institution

    Imagine saying ‘the bible tells servants to submit to masters so how could that possibly be abusive’ with a straight face.

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  31. Kas: “Culture isn’t what it is patterned on.”

    Culture is, absolutely, what this Ephesians chapters 5 & 6 is addressing. Remove the trappings of misguided headers and faulty chapter breaks and it becomes obvious. Paul is answering a cultural situation, very directly.

    The question is, How do you do:

    Matthew 20:25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; ???

    This was a legitimate question that Paul answers as well as is possible in the darkness that existed at that time.
    In a strongly hierarchical, gentile culture, whatever you position may be, whether it be patriarch, wife, child, slave… HOW DO YOU OBEY THE WORDS OF JESUS, when your very culture is directly opposed to it? Paul gave an excellent answer.

    The problem with interpreting Paul’s words the way you do, Kas, is that you reject the Chief Cornerstone, which is Jesus. You should be interpreting what is written in Ephesian through the lens of Jesus Christ rather than assuming Paul’s words can stand on their own without their foundation.

    What Jesus said is counter cultural. What Paul said tries to apply what Jesus said to the cultural household codes that included the existence of slavery and the fact that wives were less than second class citizens. Women weren’t allowed to be citizens at all, but just more property of the patriarch.

    The modern day crime being inflicted on women now, is men using Paul’s words that were meant to elevate Slaves and Women, as tools to reduce them back down to a lower position. Doing this, preachers and men are in direct violation of Matthew 20.

    Kas, think what you like. But in my opinion, disobeying Jesus in order to obey Paul (a faulty understanding of Paul, no less) is a far greater crime before the Judgement Seat than what you mention concerning women above.

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  32. I believe there’s a hermeneutical fallacy applied to the NT that I hear loud and clear in what KAS says – “the way the NT clearly outlines”. The typical approach is that the New Testament is taken as God’s complete and final instruction to be obeyed. The OT is instructive in that way only if reiterated in the NT, and sometimes if not negated.

    So, OT dietary laws + NT negation = no dietary laws
    OT passover + NT redirection = communion
    OT circumcision + NT redirection = baptism
    OT polygamy + NT negation = monogamy
    OT cleanliness + NT negation = no ceremonial cleanliness laws

    It becomes more convoluted when things aren’t as clear:
    OT Sabbath + NT Sabbath = ??? fights over Sabbath and 7th day Adventists
    OT temple worship + NT worship = ??? fights over what is okay in worship
    OT virgin laws + NT silence = ??? fights over courtship/dating
    OT patriarchy + NT submission = ??? fights over patriarchy

    What seems instructive in these cases is to see where and why the OT law was modified or rejected.
    Divorce – Jesus tells the Pharisees that divorce was allowed because of the ‘hardness of their hearts’. There are many ways to go here, but what we see is that divorce wasn’t God’s plan for marriage, but was necessary because of evil. Jesus says divorce causes adultery if the wife remarries, but Paul says a deserted wife is ‘free to remarry’.
    Meat sacrificed to idols or with blood – The Gentile converts are initially commanded to abstain (is this adding to the word of God?) but then there is disagreement between those who see Christian freedom, and those who still see it as evil. Instead of reiterating the command to abstain, Paul first says that Christian freedom is the correct way to view the matter (not inherently evil), but that we should defer to the weaker brother’s conscience (who see it as wrong) lest we lead them to do something they think is wrong. Now, most Christians agree there are no such prohibitions. This argument is entirely cultural.
    Slavery – In the OT, the laws of slavery were clearly articulated. There’s good reason to believe that Paul, in addressing slaves, is addressing them within the cruel Roman system, which was lifelong forced slavery, with a death penalty for escaping. That was not the OT law, which gave freedom after seven years for slaves and allowed slaves to walk away if they were physically abused. Paul doesn’t argue physical abuse with Philemon, but works within the Roman system on behalf of Onesimus.

    So, in the NT we don’t see God’s black and white law. Instead, we see how following God’s heart, the law gets applied to different situations in love. It’s the neo-Pharisees that want to narrowly interpret the NT, where they see fit (e.g. patriarchy), to mask their hatred and desire to abuse, and alternatively to broadly interpret where they want to refuse accountability (e.g. elder qualifications and domineering).

    When Corinthians is juxtaposed with Galatians, we see Paul applying the same law, in love, in completely different, and seemingly contradictory, ways. In Galatians, Paul is pointing to freedom from the law. In Corinthians, Paul is pointing to righteousness in the law. That’s because the Corinthians wanted to be antinomian and the Galatians wanted to be Pharisaical. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the neo-Pharisees want to latch onto Corinthians and explain away Galatians.

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  33. Mark,

    I get aggravated when preachers hold the Bible up as the ‘Instruction Manual’ for life and point to Ephesians 5 & 6 in particular when it comes to the family.

    First off, the Bible was written during a time when there was no such thing as an instruction manual. So right there we see trying to apply modern sensibilities to ancient writings. It simply doesn’t work.

    And I cannot tell you how many women have tried to apply the instruction manual approach to their marriages in crisis. What happens is, they do what the ‘instruction manual’ tells them to do, being told it will fix everything. It doesn’t fix anything and sometimes makes things far worse. So they go back to the one who told them it would fix it. They are then told they are doing it wrong, or not enough or something piling up shame and guilt onto of an already difficult situation.

    I have met women who had to take giant steps back from Ephesians 5 and simply follow, “Love the Lord your God… And love your neighbor as yourself” and “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

    One huge example would be the women who are married to men with ADHD or some other situation. To help the situation they had to stop the useless submitting crap, take the lead, and advocate for their spouse who is unable to advocate for himself. And in taking the lead and following the Golden Rule rather that Ephesians 5, they are able to obey the law of love and be a true sister-in-Christ to their husbands. vastly improve his quality of life and the life of their marriage. All by tossing Ephesians 5 and embracing the words of Jesus concerning the law of love.

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  34. Mara – a wife obeying the command to submit to her husband is simultaneously meeting the requirement not to Lord it over anyone – like her husband. And yes, the command not to lord it over others applies to everyone.

    Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. It is because of reverence for Christ, to the Lord, that a wife does this. This is obeying Jesus.

    A more fruitful discussion would be what exactly does submit mean – not such an easy question to answer. The old ladies in the church are probably best equipped for this one.

    As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. You don’t think that when God wanted an illustration of the relationship of the church to Christ, he looked at the pagan Roman culture and its household codes and thought that would be a good thing to base it on? Paul maps human marriage to Christ and the church. There is an analogy here (and some disanalogy as well.)

    If society has ‘evolved away’ from this first century teaching, has the church evolved away from submitting to Christ? Is such submission now crap? If husband and wife are simply equal in every respect, by parity of reasoning the church is now equal to Christ, and mutually submitted. Mankind and God are equals. Man has finally realised his divinity, New Age style. This is the serpent at work again – … you will be like God knowing good and evil.

    Are the parallel instructions to husbands also culturally based? I don’t think anyone really believes that. If they are, and the culture changes ….

    Eph 5 : 31 – this shows where Paul was getting his revelation from, just as Jesus did when he discussed marriage.

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  35. “Paul maps human marriage to Christ and the church. There is an analogy here (and some disanalogy as well.)”

    “If society has ‘evolved away’ from this first century teaching, has the church evolved away from submitting to Christ? Is such submission now crap?”

    Perhaps you need to more carefully look at what is analogy and what is disanalogy? By making a parallel between wife submitting to husband and church submitting to Christ, you are forcing us into some pretty bad ideas, such as the husband being GOD to the wife… you know.

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  36. But, you haven’t answered Mara’s questions… how does a wife submit to a husband who has mental illness, or traumatic brain injury, or stroke, or is otherwise incompetent? Is it “disrespectful” for a wife to take her mentally ill husband to the psychiatrist when he refuses?

    Sure, it’s fine to submit to Jesus, because he is perfect, without sin and fully capable of being submitted to, but for humans, it doesn’t work like that. For example, I’m cheap when it comes to medical care and I tend to think of my children as overreacting to injuries. If my wife submitted to me when my children were injured, it probably would not go well for them. Instead, she says, “I’m taking the kid to the hospital.” Period.

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  37. Kas: “Man has finally realised his divinity,”

    Looking at things the way you are, Man (as in male humans) HAS realized his divinity in the patriarchal, Christianity style, over his wife, who remains identified with flawed humanity.

    Kas, the way you interpret Ephesians, as Mark mentioned above, makes a lot of room for error and abuse. You put the cart before the horse, again, forgetting that Paul was trying to make sense out of the things Jesus said that directly opposed the power structures of the day.

    What did the Roman Patriarch have to gain by releasing his stranglehold authority over everybody else. Absolutely nothing, in that culture. So how could Paul appeal to the Patriarch concerning the words of Jesus in Matthew 20 and other places. He does so by calling on the highest authority that walked the face of the earth, Jesus. He showed that if the infinite Jesus could do this, then the finite patriarch could follow that example and release his fleshly carnal authority and replace it with the Law of Love that Jesus taught. Instead of being instructed to rule his wife, as his culture teaches him, he is instructed to Love her. In their culture, she owned nothing. Not even herself. He owned everything, including her. But Paul addressed this oppressive authority structure and said the opposite. If you note, nowhere does Paul ever tell the husband to lead. He only instructs him to love.

    So what does the oppressed wife do with all this newfound freedom? Should she go all crazy and become ugly and disrespectful to the patriarch for all the years of bitterness she has been made to endure through the dehumanizing nature of their culture. That would be the temptation. But Paul encourages her to not go that direction. All things are lawful but not all things are profitable. Just because her husband is having to learn what it means to submit, this does not give her license to try to lord over him for a while. They are to submit, one to another.

    Kas, I see that you are steeped in this notion that marriage is supposed to be a reflection of Christ and the Church. But I wish that you could see the utter harm that this cart-before-the-horse twist has caused to so many.

    I firmly believe that Paul was not trying to hold up marriage as a picture of Christ and the Church but was rather holding up Christ as an example to an earthly authority that loving and submitting is not a weak thing to do, but a world transforming mighty thing, as displayed by Jesus.

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  38. Kas: “just as Jesus did when he discussed marriage.”

    This doesn’t make sense to me. The few things that Jesus said about marriage contained no hierarchy or anything remotely close to Ephesians 5. So I don’t know how to respond to comment like this. If you feel like clarifying what you mean, perhaps we could explore this area.

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  39. The few things that Jesus said about marriage contained no hierarchy or anything remotely close to Ephesians 5.

    Hear, hear!

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  40. A more fruitful discussion would be what exactly does submit mean – not such an easy question to answer. The old ladies in the church are probably best equipped for this one.

    Why, what a good idea, KAS. Here’s what one older woman had to say about “submission” in marriage:

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  41. Blech. Sorry about how the link turned into an Amazon advertisement, Julie Anne. Feel free to deal with that however you see fit.

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  42. I think this sounds like something I’ve heard here: ‘“Regardless of historical context, the ideological connections drawn between sexual immorality and national security include several cooperating impulses: evangelical political activism, deep anxiety over gender roles and changing sexual mores, fear of moral decay, apocalyptic anticipation, and American nationalism,” Moslener writes.’ https://sojo.net/interactive/their-generation-was-shamed-purity-culture-heres-what-theyre-building-its-place

    More like drawn between [insert cultural sin here] … where the cultural sin is [lack of submission]

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  43. I was apologizing for the comment I posted at 5:45 PM today. I meant simply to post a link to Dr. Tucker’s book on Amazon. Didn’t realize it would morph into a kind of ad. Sorry.

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  44. Ok, I misunderstood what was going on. I thought you were trying to post a specific Amazon review from Tucker’s book. I’m cool with it 🙂 No worries.

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  45. Mara – The few things that Jesus said about marriage contained no hierarchy or anything remotely close to Ephesians 5. So I don’t know how to respond to comment like this. If you feel like clarifying what you mean, …

    Clarifying what I mean happens a lot … 🙂

    Genesis 1 & 2 contain the accounts of the creation of the inhabitable world for man, and the beginnings of marriage and family. When disputing over any grounds for divorce (a human institution, and, like slavery, regulated by the OT which does not mean endorsed by God) Jesus in say Matt 19 goes back to what God said at the beginning, how he defined marriage. This is God’s idea, and we are invited to embrace it, but are not allowed to amend it. One man, one woman, don’t separate.

    The apostle Paul does the same thing in his discussions in the marriage and ministry ‘women’ passages that engender such lively discussion these days. He has the law, the first couple of chapters of Genesis in mind, either implicitly or actually quoted as in Eph 5. The beginning of Genesis is pre-fall as well.

    In 1 Cor 7 Paul differentiates between quoting the sayings of Jesus on marriage and divorce, and giving his own apostolic teaching on mixed couples. It is no less authoratitive though.

    The aposlte Peter is similar in writing his epistle to Jews who would know the OT – how he refers to Sarah.

    If you believe in the inspiration of both OT and NT, then both have authority, and how Paul interprets the OT is also decisive, that is, it is not just his opinion but Spirit breathed. I always object to anyone putting Jesus against his own apostles. Peter was in the inner circle of Jesus’ disciples, yet his teaching on marriage closely mirror that of Paul, he would have known if this was a teaching in any way contradictory to what Jesus said.

    This OT basis is the background of, for example, Eph 5 rather than the cultural background of those he was writing to. The instructions given are part of Christians’ obedience to the Lord himself. Wives submit and husbands love – the latter being spelt out in considerable detail.

    I said earlier the cultural background is not entirely irrelevant, and regarding both the ‘lord it over’ attitude of husbands and the institution of slavery Paul sows the seeds that would, if allowed to grow, undermine both.

    Unlike you, I’m afraid I don’t think hierarchy is intrinsically bad, and we live in a hierarchical universe. Nor do I follow the secular idea of ‘smashing the patriarchy’. God himself is the ultimate Patriarch, and he identified himself in the OT with the patriarchs, with all their very obvious human failings. That said, I do not live in a country where ‘patriarchy’ as complained about in America (father tyranny rather than benevolent father rule) actually exists as a general rule.

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  46. KAS, where in the Scriptures are you quoting JESUS? I do not see any references where Jesus is telling any human being to “lord it over as the Gentiles do.”

    I too, desire more clarification regarding lord it over teachings by the Apostles, especially since certain individuals twist the Scriptures in presenting evidence of authoritarian Scriptures to condone power structures in marriages. Jesus’ teachings and Ways were and still to this day, ARE the polar opposite of what is being taught within visible c’hristianity, due to the fact that man cannot release himself totally to the Spirit in humbling himself before a Mighty LORD. Thus the “titles” and the “entitlement” elements are alive and well within our religious systems because the Scriptures are not taught in context from Jesus’ Teachings.

    And because JESUS has been lost in the mix of religion, folks are pitting the Teachings and Ways of Jesus “against the Apostles” as you say. We also must remember that our Holy Scriptures were translated by men who also were parcel in part of the hierarchal power structures, thus, incapable of understanding the non-authoritarian ways of our LORD Jesus Christ. There are words and concepts that were added by these powerful men, apart from the Holy Spirit, which we are led to believe that these translators were “filled with the spirit.” Yes, which “spirit,”……..hmmmmmm.

    Hierarchy is the way of the secular world KAS, and yes, we live in it, however Scriptures tell us that we are not of this world when we become born again. Old things are gone and we become new individuals in Christ….”the old man is gone.”

    Mara makes some clear and concise points which are relevant and Scriptural. And also, I read Ruth Tucker’s book “black and white Bible, black and blue wife” shortly after bolting out of that abusive baptist c’hurch system many years ago, amongst a whole host of books lined up in my personal library. Her testimony is powerful and paints a true picture as to the false teaching and failings of the word/concept “complementarianism.” That word, in and of itself, has the name “Nabal” written all over it, for it is the concept of a “fool.” I praise our LORD Jesus for Ruth’s bravery and courageousness in helping many of us “least of these/lessers” to overcome marital abuse and spiritual abuse caused by the comp movement.

    The light and Spirit of Jesus Christ, lives/resides no where in the word nor practice of “complementarianism” or “patriarchy” for that matter, and we, as human beings, still to this day, cannot even begin to grasp the truth of Jesus humbling Himself in freely walking/falling to the Cross on that very day those religious/secular folks murdered Him with a vengeance.

    Jesus and the Cross are made to be irrelevant in a religion of manipulation, power, and control, which visible c’hristianity, worldvide, boasts of. Did not the Spirit embrace Jesus’ Teachings?

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  47. Unlike you, I’m afraid I don’t think hierarchy is intrinsically bad

    This is a lot easier when you have placed yourself at the top of it.

    we are invited to embrace it, but are not allowed to amend it. One man, one woman, don’t separate.

    This is just so foolish. Jesus even talked about why moses allowed divorce, because this ideal that people have doesn’t work in the real world. It’s just so disgusting how something that was meant to protect women in a society where being thrown away could lead to death or prostitution or any number of ills has been used to keep women in bondage. Disgusting.

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  48. “This is God’s idea, and we are invited to embrace it, but are not allowed to amend it. One man, one woman, don’t separate.”

    But, then Paul amends it. Fancy that.

    “Unlike you, I’m afraid I don’t think hierarchy is intrinsically bad, and we live in a hierarchical universe.”

    This is a common patriarchal fallacy. I’ve read Reformed authors claim that no relationship can work without hierarchy, and that is how they argue that egalitarian marriages don’t work. However, psychological studies on marriage show that egalitarian marriages are happier than hierarchical marriages. That is then, why complementarians throw up their hands and say that God never designed marriage to be about happiness. (seriously!) And then we come full circle to the sadistic god of patriarchy. Also note that CBMW claims that most “complementarian” marriages are that in name only, being actually egalitarian, and what they specifically point at is the lack of submission that exists by definition in an egalitarian marriage. Thus, in a complementarian marriage, it seems they are claiming that the husband must have to impose his will and thus give the wife more opportunity to practice submission. If that is the case, isn’t their view of authority best defines as domineering?

    That’s why much of my complementarian worldview had to unravel when I had to come to terms with my history of spiritual and emotional abuse. I believed the lie that God writhes his hands in delight waiting for me to sin so that he can show his perfect wrath on me. I saw “soft comp” as the model for marriage and “gentle domineering” as the model for church leadership.

    Complementarian doctrine can only be held through cognitive dissonance. On one hand, its proponents claim that they are part of the perfect, happy order, but on the other hand, when facts get in the way of that belief, then it’s easier to give up happiness than hierarchy. Proponents love to talk about how nature and theology hold each other up, but when a study like this conflicts with theology… they dump the study and embrace the flawed theology.

    So, for complementarians, God loves seeing his children suffer and God maintains a universe where the natural law conflicts with what he tells us is the way of righteousness, but that’s okay.

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  49. Kas: “I always object to anyone putting Jesus against his own apostles.”

    I hope you aren’t accusing me of this. I tried to make it clear that Paul’s words in Ephesians are all about making the words of Jesus in Matthew 20 workable in the strict hierarchy that existed in that day.

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  50. Kas: “If you believe in the inspiration of both OT and NT, then both have authority, and how Paul interprets the OT is also decisive, that is, it is not just his opinion but Spirit breathed.”

    Nowhere did I ever say that what Paul said was his opinion. I am starting to think that you really aren’t reading and understanding what I have written. I may be wrong, but I am starting to feel like you just have your standard answers that you give that may or may not answer the things that people bring up.

    For one thing, I do believe both OT and NT are inspired. But I see the opposite of hierarchy as the desire of God.

    Here is one major example. It was never God’s intention to have kings rule the Hebrews. He set up a system for Judges. The Hebrews rejected this judge system and Samuel, demanding a king so they could be like the other nations. God finally gave them what they wanted. But it wasn’t what He wanted.

    It is a human drive to push for hierarchy. God will go ahead and try to work with it, but that doesn’t mean He endorses it. He worked with the early patriarchs because that is how things were. This doesn’t mean He endorsed it.

    You never did bring up anything that Jesus said about marriage that contained any hierarchy. You can’t. Because it doesn’t exist. But there is plenty that He said that opposes hierarchy. You keep trying to explain away or cancel out the words of Jesus by reading too much into the words of Paul. From where I stand, it looks like you are the one pitting the words of the Apostles against the words of Jesus.

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  51. Katy KAS, where in the Scriptures are you quoting JESUS? I do not see any references where Jesus is telling any human being to “lord it over as the Gentiles do.”

    No-one is talking about lording it over anyone. Quite the opposite – I said earlier the cultural background is not entirely irrelevant, and regarding both the ‘lord it over’ attitude of husbands and the institution of slavery Paul sows the seeds that would, if allowed to grow, undermine both. You cannot love someone and lord it over them at the same time.

    When Paul maps Christian marriage to Christ and the church, it is Christ as saviour that he emphasises rather than any idea of domination. Submission and love, and I don’t see where anything abusive could ever result from this.

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  52. Mara – I wasn’t accusing you personally of anything, but it is true that some egalitarians I have read say things like ‘we today do not need to be bound by what Paul said in a personal letter 2000 years ago’.

    The context of Jesus’ saying about not lording it over people was the relationships between his own disciples, and in particular who could be the greatest. It is not about marriage, but having said that, marriage is also a good candidate for the saying. For husbands and wives! It does not mean there are no differing levels of responsibility and authority.

    I think we have to take all the bible says about marriage, Genesis, the OT law, Jesus in the gospels, and of course the apostles he sent. That way you get the whole picture. Jesus said nothing really about ‘roles’ of husband and wife, he was more concerned to reintroduce God’s original intention from the beginning. The more nitty-gritty aspects come to us from the apostles. I do think some American evangelicals have built a system on top of Paul and Peter that the text doesn’t necessarily support (for example, the husband ‘leading’ his wife, implying all the decision-making is his responsibility), but the basic framework is clear.

    A husband who thinks that because Jesus is head of the church and he is head of his wife, and Jesus is of course Lord then a husband can likewise ‘rule like a lord’ has lost the plot, because Jesus – who is indeed Lord – said quite plainly that we as believers are not to do that!

    Same is true of wives submitting, which is to the lord. Incidentally, I have often wondered whether there is any other word for submit that doesn’t have the negative baggage that word has acquired, and at least part of the meaning could be expressed ‘wives support your husbands in the Lord’, although this could run into trouble when applied to the church and Christ as though Christ ‘needs’ the support of the church.

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  53. “Paul sows the seeds that would, if allowed to grow, undermine both.”

    I think that’s a great insight. What if Paul is also trying to do the same for the patriarchal marriage. I was a comp, but my marriage was functionally egal because we never made decisions without consensus.

    My wife and I have been talking about evangelical “hooks” – statements that make sense and get you in the door, but once in the door, the message becomes different. For example, complementarians say that there is a need to have a “deciding vote” in a draw, and that seems to make sense, but once people are in the door, the rest of the baggage comes. The stuff that CBMW means when they say that it is ‘sad’ that many comp marriages are functionally egal.

    I think decision-making is a prime example. The churches teach that the husband gets the final say. That this is a biblical mandate. So, the obvious question arises. What if the wife is right and the husband is wrong? Not sinfully wrong, but unwise. The husband wants to play the stock market and the wife wants to buy index funds. (oh, and the wife has a degree in economics while the husband has a degree in sales).

    In order to justify the husband’s “final say”, they have to argue that it is “God’s Will” for the husband to make the final say, which means that the husband’s point of view must be superior to the wife. Now in the situation above, that is clearly not the case.

    So, now, instead of backtracking on the doctrine, the church doubles down and says that somehow, if the husband and wife disagree, then the husband is superior and the wife is inferior, or the husband has been “spiritually gifted to make the right decision”. In this case, they have to convince the wife that, despite her superior understanding of economics, the husband really is “right”. Not to be crass, but the thing between his legs means more than an economics degree?

    That sort of logical gap is I think comp theology is inconsistent and wrong. It’s the same thing I heard all my life with respect to Christians and non-Christians. The Christian organization my father served hired a retired pastor to run a building project, because… “Christians are better than non-Christians.” In other words, a Christian with zero experience in overseeing a construction project will do a better job than a non-Christian with years in the industry, and I guess a pastor is like a Christian’s Christian.

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  54. Submission and love, and I don’t see where anything abusive could ever result from this.

    That depends on how “submission” and “love” are defined, and who’s defining them.

    After all, Driscoll the Despicable preached from the stage that “wifely submission” included submitting herself to sex acts that made her sick or uncomfortable, and that a husband was allowed to “lovingly” demand that she do so. And from what I can tell, none of Driscoll’s gender comp peers called him out for this revolting, abusive nonsense.

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  55. That depends on how “submission” and “love” are defined, and who’s defining them.

    SKIJ, true abusive people define love in very abusive ways.

    ‘Submitting’ to each other in love sounds like it would lead to much less abusive definitions, which is why I believe it is opposed so strongly. Their is no definition of constant obedience to another fallible human in an interpersonal relationship that is not going to be a problem, imo.

    All of this would be less of a problem if women who complained about a serious problem in their marriage weren’t being constantly gaslighted about it by churches or crazy books, in addition to their own husbands.

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  56. Lea, domineering is such a problem because the church thinks it’s much more important to preserve the authority structure than to deal with its abuse.

    That’s why the husband may get the side eye for emotional abuse, but the wife will get excommunicated for not submitting.

    I’ve said this before, in my former church, the elders bemoaned the fact that the #1 reason for excommunication was ‘insubordination’. I have yet to hear of a discipline case in that church involving domineering, and I’ve seen some pretty compelling cases. One was a guy who was given a deadline to either change his doctrinal stance, or ask to be removed from leadership. He was then charged with insubordination for doing neither.

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  57. More mental gymnastics to explain misogyny in soft words?

    “OBEY MALE GOD WAHMEN, OBEY MEN” to “I’ll rule you, but with love”.

    It’s the same thing.

    Christianity is misogynistic. Simple as that.

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  58. Hi Annie94 – thanks for your comment! I wonder if it should be worded: Patriarchy is misogynistic.

    Because I do not see Jesus as misogynistic, and we are supposed to follow Him.

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  59. Kas: “The context of Jesus’ saying about not lording it over people was the relationships between his own disciples,”

    First off, I do want to let you know that I appreciate you maintaining a respectful discourse and clarifying that you were not accusing me of anything, personally.

    Second, I find it strange that you interpret the words of Jesus as being mostly concerning his own disciples and interpret the words of Paul, specifically written to the Ephesians as being intended for all people, all marriages, and for all time.

    Which brings to the conversation the question, Who is it that gets to decide which parts of the Bible apply to all people for all times and which parts are more localized or time sensitive? Who decides this?

    I find the most often, it is very arbitrary and a matter of the opinions of those in control of the narrative and often a matter of what those in control can get out of the situation for themselves.

    It seems to me that a much more honest, pure, and logical thing to do is to go to the words in red, the words of Jesus, to measure our interpretation of what came before (OT)and what comes after.(Acts, Epistles, Revelation)

    Where Jesus says, love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself. Do this and you will keep the law, I take this very seriously. I use it to measure all else.

    Matt 20 falls in line with this. If you love people, you aren’t looking to on up them. You submit and defer to one another. This is true with disciples. This is true in marriage.

    Submit to one another falls directly in line with this.

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  60. Mara, I believe that all the words in the Bible deserve to be red. That said, we need to understand that all the words in the Bible, despite being universally applicable, were written to people with a specific understanding and culture.

    We fail miserably when we try to force the Bible into our lens. For example, the Bible talks about the sun rising, where we know, scientifically, that the Earth rotates. Is the Bible therefore inaccurate? I don’t think so. Despite the fact that God knows the Earth rotates, he explained things in the way people understood. So, part of interpreting the Bible is seeing how those at the time would have interpreted. For example, what is a threshing floor or wine press? What is important about that?

    The second piece that is a corollary is that there is progressive revelation. As people were more and more ready to hear about God, God likewise revealed more about himself. We’re pretty clear on that, but God also revealed more about his desire for us. God told Moses to put a man to death for gathering wood on the Sabbath. By the time Jesus came, there were all sorts of regulations about what was okay or not on the Sabbath, which he violated repeatedly, trying to explain the purpose of the Sabbath.

    But, to your point, how we interpret that path is fraught with error. For example, in the OT, adultery was punishable by death. In the NT, Jesus, when an adulterer is brought to him, refuses to put her to death. So, is Jesus saying that adultery no longer carries the death penalty? That they did not follow the law in bringing both guilty parties? That these men were likewise all guilty of adultery and had no right to judge? I can tell you that the Reformed church says that adultery is still punishable by death, because the “reason” adultery is grounds for divorce is because the unfaithful party should justly have been put to death.

    I don’t think KAS would disagree with anything so far. Where it becomes a point of contention is the question of what and why. So, for example, when Paul says, “there is no male nor female, slave nor free” – why did he say that, and what did he really say. Is he merely saying that we can all come to salvation (as the Reformed would claim), or is he making a very broad statement about spiritual equality? When Paul says “a woman should not teach or have authority over a man”, is he speaking of a specific issue in Ephesus, is he speaking of a type of situation, or is he making a sweeping statement?

    As you rightly say, those who have an authority structure to maintain are going to set the dials on those verses to maintain that hierarchy. Those who are broadly anti-authority will set the dials a different way.

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  61. Mara – Who is it that gets to decide which parts of the Bible apply to all people for all times and which parts are more localized or time sensitive?

    That is an extremely good question. Part of the answer is the bible interprets itself, hence for example we as NT believers are not under the law of Moses. It’s jurisdiction ended 2000 years ago.

    When it comes to the epistles, sometimes they describe the situation giving rise to the instructions given, and we have to thoughtfully apply the same instructions to analogous situations in our own day.

    Most of the time I think it is possible to understand the text without a detailed knowledge of local customs – though of course that may help – but I am always a bit suspicious of controversial passages being ‘neutered’ by references to a cultural background that is not mentioned in the text itself.

    Off the top of my head (no pun intended …. ) the head covering passage in 1 Cor 11 is one of the few where a basic principle is illustrated by a cultural symbol, and could be said to be culture-bound. The principle is reasonably easy to determine, but in today’s culture wearing a headscarf or something is pretty well meaningless. I’ve been in fellowships where this was the enforced practice, and in some cases the outer symbol had been retained but the inner reality had long since been forgotten!

    I am also a great believer in Christian liberty, and that God has not imposed on us hundreds of rules and regulations we are supposed to try to live by. Such legalism is often the bane of much modern evangelicalism.

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  62. KAS, I agree with your interpretation of 1 Cor 11, but I grew up in a church that was split on it, and for seemingly good reason. 1 Cor 11 uses a lot of the same sort of broad generalization, and references to larger realities in the argument. For example, order of creation, headship, nature, and authority.

    Why do I bring it up? Because, like Eph 5-6, people argue that the mention of “Christ and the Church” as making this a broader sweeping generalization and not just something tied to a specific church or culture.

    If headcoverings, despite all of the broad support (e.g. the created order), can be an argument for a specific place in time, then it seems a similar lens on Eph 5-6 would lead to the same conclusion.

    That’s why I say that those in power tend to set the dials on which passages are interpreted one way or the other mostly to suit their desires and their foregone conclusions.

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  63. I also missed an important point, even though the church was split on it. Very few saw it as a specifically cultural argument. Part of the church saw it as a requirement for a cloth head covering, and part of the church saw it as a requirement for a cloth head covering, in lieu of long hair, which was already a head covering. So, believing it is culturally-bound puts you much closer to considering a cultural interpretation of Eph 5-6.

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  64. Then there is the completely ignored doctrine of “The Holy Kiss”.

    Mentioned in five different epistles by two different apostles, these are commands that are given yet completely ignored by the modern church.
    There is no cultural context mentioned. So why do we ignore it?
    Romans 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you.
    1 Corinthians 16:20 All the brethren greet you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.
    2 Corinthians 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.
    1 Thessalonians 5:26 Greet all the brethren with a holy kiss.
    1 Peter 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love. Peace be to you all who are in Christ.

    The powers-that-be arbitrarily decided that scriptures appearing to give men authority over women were to be interpreted rigidly making no room for context, cultural or otherwise. But the doctrine of The Holy Kiss, if addressed at all, is written off as something cultural that we don’t have to teach or follow today. People are applying different rules to these two different topics both of which exist in the Epistles.

    And if you want to split hairs, The Holy Kiss doctrine is mentioned more that wives submit. But because no one can use it to bump up their authority and put someone else down, many don’t even know that we are instructed to greet each other with a holy kiss.

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  65. Mara, have you ever received a “holy kiss” from the brethren?

    Unfortunately, I have. In both instances, they were baptist c’hurch women who love to use words and gestures in coaxing people to follow them……both are involved in c’hurch leadership with “titled positions.” Both love to tell the rest of us how to live from their “theological legalistic standpoint,” concerning our marriages and how to raise our children, as well be being “authorities” on all things spiritual.

    After I received their “holy kisses,” my soul felt dirty and unclean inside and I just wanted to run to the restroom to disinfect their spit off of my face, due to the fact that both of these religious women have lied, slandered, and mocked my character behind my back. I was informed of this by another individual who is involved in c’hurch leadership, so I knew those “holy kisses” represented the “kiss of Judas” in the public arena (in both instances there were several others in our presence watching this fake show of pseudo affection.) What a farce their academy award winning performance was!

    And for the record, to date, I draw healthier boundaries for my personal being in not allowing any c’hurch individual to kiss me on the cheek, except for me spouse, children and grandchildren, whom I love dearly and is usually done in the presence of few…….not for the BIG SHOW of influence and affluence! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Also, when the topic of “submissive” is shoved down people’s throats within any c’hurch system, ye shall know that hidden abuse of every wicked and evil kind, lurks within the atoms of its walls…..and is kept secret until the light of the truth is exposed…….followed by “damage control theological sermons” on forgiveness and restoration……..all the while sin continues in the name of perverse and preserved religious “l’eadership.”

    Appreciate you bringing up the “holy kiss” practice, Mara. “U choose-m and pick-m” scriptural verses are the bread and butter staples of the visible c’hurch used to bind pew sitters in chains…….until Jesus comes along, accompanied by the knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of the Holy Spirit in pointing us to the Words and Ways of Jesus Christ, then true freedom and liberty in Him sets us free…….free indeed!

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  66. Great points. Once the blinders came off concerning the complementarian views I was taught from birth, I started catching myself. I would read a passage or quote a passage and then catch myself thinking, “but, what the Bible is really saying is…”, then enter in this internal struggle of, is this really the truth, or is this some comp template put on the Bible to explain away any contradictions.

    Here’s an example, “Calvinism” teaches double predestination – that God chooses saints for glory (the elect) AND people for destruction (the reprobate). The problem is… there’s a passage: “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

    So, how can God choose/desire people for destruction, and simultaneously desire all people to be saved? — I’ve heard no explanation, but that is one of those passages where I’ve had to stop and think how it really fits what I believe. There are many others like that. Did God harden Pharoah’s heart, or is that just the easiest explanation?

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  67. Mara – I’m afraid I link the holy kiss verses to the headcovering ones – a basic principle with an outward sign that is cultural to a greater of lesser extent.

    Prínciple – Christians should greet each other. Warmly even. They should do this in a way that is holy, pure. Family. The outward sign then was a kiss, and there would be nothing intrinsically wrong with doing this today, but more likely a warm handshake or hug as practiced by many charismatics during the renewal would meet the bill. Jesus was betrayed by an unholy kiss.

    Paul wanted the men to pray lifting holy hands. Most important they pray, then that they are holy in doing so, the lifting up of hands the least important bit, although revived by charismatics in more recent times, and a mode of prayer often found in scripture. It’s ‘religion’ that emphasises the outward sign and forgets the inner reality all too often.

    You cannot make the wives submit verses fit a cultural norm. They relate to the OT and creation. The reason a wife has to submit is because her husband is her ‘head’. That could be cultural, but when Paul maps this to Christ and the church, it makes this untenable. Mutuality is untenable here as well, you cannot have two heads in a marriage!

    Until Paul instructs husbands to love their wives (hardly cultural!) he is addressing wives. He is not telling husbands they have authority over their wives. I am uneasy with American complementarians at this point, as they derive a description to wives of what a husband is (‘head’) and proceed to start stating this is something the husband does – leads, decides etc. I’m not saying it is false, but could be misinterpreted by some husbands to start lording it over their families. Christ’s loving the church that husbands should imitate does not have his lordship as the primary focus.

    I’m afraid I part company with egalitarians more strongly when they try to gut the word ‘head’ of any element authority at all. (I think there is some deception going on here.) ‘Submit’ does have within its meaning to come into order, into rank, both in the home and the church, and that a greater responsibility and therefore accountability is laid upon men as head or leader. These ideas collocate together. I am sure this is meant to be a source of blessing to the wife, and these days a wake up call to lazy or irresponsible husbands.

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  68. “They relate to the OT and creation. The reason a wife has to submit is because her husband is her ‘head’.”

    “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ. Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. … For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake.”

    That sure sounds like OT and creation to me…

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  69. The problem is with your hermeneutic, not with the passage. If you are saying “OT/Creation”, then all passages where Paul references OT/Creation as justification must be obeyed today. Yet, you don’t believe headcoverings applies. So, what justification would you like to choose now?

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  70. Kas: “You cannot make the wives submit verses fit a cultural norm. ”

    I am afraid this is very much your opinion.
    My opinion is that Paul is directly addressing the cultural norm. Wives were submitted to their husbands in all cultures of that day. They didn’t know anything else.
    In many/most cultures,the woman could own nothing of her own. Her source for everything came through her husband and that is why he is referred to as her head, meaning ‘source’. Just like God is the source of our supply. We have nothing without Him. So Paul uses this picture as a teaching point. But not to eternally put women/wives under men/husbands.

    Deciding that the verses addressing the cultural norm of women being submissive second class citizens and needing a source as being God’s divine order for the family and dismissing the holy kiss verses is the work of those who have something to gain by the decisions. Every valley was to be filled in and every mountain was to be made low. But certain men love their positions of authority on the mountain tops and want to keep women in the valleys. They want to do this in the synagogues, in the churches, and in the homes. So they pick and choose how rigidly they want to interpret verses.
    .
    I agree, the holy kiss verses are not meant to be how we have to do things today. We can make them more culturally relevant to us.
    But neither are the hierarchy verses.meant to be how we have to do things today. We may also apply them in more culturally relevant way. Choosing to interpret one, one way and the other a different way is just the arbitrary discussions of men. Nothing you have shared shows that one needs more consideration than the other.

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  71. KAS, “I am uneasy with American complementarians at this point, as they derive a description to wives of what a husband is (‘head’) and proceed to start stating this is something the husband does – leads, decides etc. I’m not saying it is false, but could be misinterpreted by some husbands to start lording it over their families.”

    And this is the problem. Whatever the word ‘head’ means in the original, when you combine ‘head’ and ‘submit’, the obvious conclusion is some sort of authoritative relationship, which, to the modern church means lordship. This is what put the nail in the coffin for complementarian theology for me. Christ is our Lord because (1) he is the God who created us, (2) he is a perfect example to follow, and (3) in our imperfection, he sacrificed himself to lead us back to perfection and satisfy the punishment we deserved. But, looking at ‘head’, if God is the ‘head’ of Christ (1 Cor 11:3), what does that mean?

    Some ideas:
    lordship #1 – The Son is eternally subordinate to the Father (ESS). This is heretical because it then implies that God, who is one in essence, in fact, has three different wills, which has been held to contradict the Nicene Creed. This fits the complementarian viewpoint well, because they argue ‘equality in nature, but inequality in role’.
    lordship #2 – Christ, having a human will and a divine will, has God as his head, meaning that his human will, although perfect, was still subordinate to the divine will. This leaves the obvious problem that husband/wife ‘headship’ is the result of some sort of natural superiority of man and inferiority of woman, which is practically where a lot of complementarian theology ends up.
    source – The Son, while equal with the Father, has his source in the Father (eternally begotten). It does not imply authority or submission, but perhaps pre-eminency, being ‘first’.

    There are more reasons why the concept of source are compelling. While Christ is our Lord, he is also called our “older brother”, our “friend” and the “firstborn from the dead”. The complementarian view is that God saved us so that he could have a people to worship him, but that doesn’t seem to match what’s being said. Christ came to wash the disciples’ feet. He came not to be our master – he already was – but came to secure a path for us to be adopted into his family and be joint heirs with him.

    Source also fits well with the Ephesian culture – as has been said, Ephesus was the site of the Temple of Diana, and part of that system was the pre-eminence of women. So, Paul can be arguing against that by saying, no, Biblically, man is the source of the woman.

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  72. Mara – Kas: “You cannot make the wives submit verses fit a cultural norm. ”

    I am afraid this is very much your opinion.
    My opinion is that Paul is directly addressing the cultural norm. Wives were submitted to their husbands in all cultures of that day. They didn’t know anything else.

    I have given a reason why this is my opinion, namely the parallel or analogy between Christian marriage and Christ and the church. If wives ‘submit’ and husbands are ‘head’ simply reflects the culture of the day, then as our culture has decisively moved away from that (on the whole) you would either have to break the connection between marriage and Christ/church, or say we now understand that Christ and the church are equals, since we are now more enlightened.

    If all wives had no choice but to submit, then Paul’s instruction is redundant.

    Talking of culture being enlightened, Paul told the Ephesians not to live like the culture around them: Now this I affirm and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; they are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart; they have become callous and have given themselves up to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of uncleanness. You did not so learn Christ!

    Mark has inadvertantly put his finger on the danger of using Ephesian culture as determining the meaning of the marriage passage or 1 Tim 2: you say Wives were submitted to their husbands in all cultures of that day. They didn’t know anything else. whereas Mark says Source also fits well with the Ephesian culture – as has been said, Ephesus was the site of the Temple of Diana, and part of that system was the pre-eminence of women. They cannot be religiously dominant and simultaneously complelely under their husband’s thumb. At best some were and some weren’t, but you then have the problem of which group was Paul addressing in Eph 5? What about the parallel passage in Collosians, which didn’t have the temple of Diana? And Peter …..

    I think it best to take the OT, Jesus in the gospels, and then his apostles on marriage, work out the relationship based on that, and keep culture as a very secondary element in understanding a particular passage.

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  73. KAS, you haven’t answered why you can arbitrarily choose to use OT/Creation language as your reason to deny that ‘wives submit to your husbands’ is cultural, and yet ignore the OT/Creation language in headcoverings.

    Also, I doubt that the pre-eminence of women extended outside of the religious sphere, which is why it would be important for Paul, out of concern for the culture, to remind Timothy in Ephesus that having women in authority may not speak the same message to their culture – just like meat sacrificed to idols in Corinth.

    Much of the NT is devoted to the changed covenant that Jesus brought in. For the Jews, it was dealing with the fulfillment of the ceremonial law. For Gentiles, it was not having to enter the ceremonial law as a requirement of salvation. For both, it was having to deal with all of the cultural baggage inherent with their secular/religious background, as well as the gulf between pagan and Jewish traditions. Much of that instruction (e.g. meat sacrificed to idols) was not borne out of religious necessity, but threading a multi-cultural needle.

    “and keep culture as a very secondary element in understanding a particular passage”

    This is very wrong. Scripture does not exist in a cultural vacuum. For example, the OT says “put a wall around your roof”. That can only be understood within a culture. If we ignore culture, we then apply our anachronistic interpretation and can miss the point. For example, when Paul says “hymns” does he mean “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”? Again, that can only be understood culturally. Scripture was written to an audience, and we will fail in interpreting it if we don’t understand it through the eyes of our audience.

    We perpetuated slavery because we didn’t understand what Paul was saying, and we are perpetuating patriarchy for the same reason.

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  74. Mark – Whatever the word ‘head’ means in the original, when you combine ‘head’ and ‘submit’, the obvious conclusion is some sort of authoritative relationship, …

    That is precisely the case. I don’t see any way round this, and we shouldn’t be trying to find a way round it. We should ensure it is not misused. Don’t forget the title of this thread was not about wives submitting to husbands being cultural and potentially out of date, but whether such submission is mutual.

    …which, to the modern church means lordship.

    This is where I fundamentally disagree with you. Your experience might be different, but I haven’t as a rule seen this used as an excuse for a man to lord it over his wife. The minute that starts to happen, true submission has been discarded, as it is something the wife alone can decide to do.

    Take elders and the younger in 1 Peter 5. The younger are to ‘submit’ to the elders, and there is no mutuality here – how could there be, it simply wouldn’t make sense. The elders have a job to do, and must be allowed to get on with it. Peter doesn’t actually say they have authority (let alone ‘delegated authority’!) but he implies this when telling them to tend the flock in a way that is not ‘domineering’, in which he is simply echoing Jesus statement not to lord it over each other. You cannot have a functioning church where everyone is simply ‘equal’ and no-one has responsibility for the doctrine and spiritual welfare of its members.

    Some parallel with marriage here, in that a husband is given considerable directions by the apostles, and as I see it the wife must respect that and allow him to take the responsibility God has placed on him. With that comes at least some authority to do so.

    I said above, somewhat tongue-in-cheek about this submit/head dynamic “I am sure this is meant to be a source of blessing to the wife”. Changing the translation of ‘head’ to ‘source’ won’t do, there is no evidence of this usage in Paul’s day (iirc there is some sloppy and even fraudulent scholarship extant on this theme), and although the idea of head as authority (head of department in modern English) is not frequently attested, there are at least several examples of this usage in Greek. There are some verses where source of nourishment, direction or growth does make sense, however.

    KAS, you haven’t answered why you can arbitrarily choose to use OT/Creation language as your reason to deny that ‘wives submit to your husbands’ is cultural, and yet ignore the OT/Creation language in headcoverings.

    The creation/OT concept Paul uses shows the intended relationship between husband and wife for all time, the headcoverings are a cultural symbol of this. They are a symbol of the wife’s authority, not her submission though! If you take long hair here as being ‘instead of a veil’ (or scarf etc.) as I do, it is still true that Paul doesn’t want men with long feminine hair nor women with short masculine hair, although as usual I try not to get hung up on this. Unisex is out, no confusion of male and female, including in appearance. As society gets more ungodly, this distinction becomes ever more blurred.

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  75. KAS, “The minute that starts to happen, true submission has been discarded, as it is something the wife alone can decide to do.”

    I think this a fairy tale you continue to cling to. Taking your view, why would Paul tell wives to ‘submit’ to their husbands, if it’s between the wife and her husband, and only something the wife can decide for herself? As is obvious, it takes nothing more than the husband complaining to the church “my wife is not submissive” and then the church the decides for the couple what submission means. And… that is backed up with the threat of excommunication.

    I don’t see how you can make the claim that 1 Cor 11 is cultural while Eph 5-6 is not. We already have worked out that Paul’s instructions for slaves and masters must be cultural. If you are arguing that “headship” i.e. OT/Creation means that the instruction transcends the culture, then that applies to both passages. Therefore, what distinguishes the two passages is simply your desire as to what must happen.

    As I’ve said before, there is no example of authority in scripture where the ‘authority’ is not given a ‘sword’ to enforce that authority. The state can compel with force, the church can compel with excommunication, parents con compel with discipline. But, husbands are not given the right to compel their wives.

    The Westminster Standards are specifically English in origin, so the view of authority meaning lordship is not somehow “American”. Here is an example of the English view of authority:

    Q124: Who are meant by father and mother in the fifth commandment?
    A124: By father and mother, in the fifth commandment, are meant, not only natural parents, but all superiors in age and gifts; and especially such as, by God’s ordinance, are over us in place of authority, whether in family, church, or commonwealth.

    Q127: What is the honor that inferiors owe to their superiors.?
    A127: The honor which inferiors owe to their superiors is, all due reverence in heart, word, and behavior; prayer and thanksgiving for them; imitation of their virtues and graces; willing obedience to their lawful commands and counsels; due submission to their corrections; fidelity to, defense and maintenance of their persons and authority, according to their several ranks, and the nature of their places; bearing with their infirmities, and covering them in love, that so they may be an honor to them and to their government.

    Q129: What is required of superiors towards their inferiors?
    A129: It is required of superiors, according to that power they receive from God, and that relation wherein they stand, to love, pray for, and bless their inferiors; to instruct, counsel, and admonish them; countenancing, commending, and rewarding such as do well; and discountenancing, reproving, and chastising such as do ill; protecting, and providing for them all things necessary for soul and body: and by grave, wise, holy, and exemplary carriage, to procure glory to God, honor to themselves, and so to preserve that authority which God hath put upon them.

    vs.

    Q131: What are the duties of equals?
    A131: The duties of equals are, to regard the dignity and worth of each other, in giving honor to go one before another; and to rejoice in each other’s gifts and advancement, as their own.

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  76. Your experience might be different, but I haven’t as a rule seen this used as an excuse for a man to lord it over his wife.

    Brah. laughs in woman

    KAS hasn’t read a thing on this website if he can say this with a straight face.

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  77. Mark – Taking your view, why would Paul tell wives to ‘submit’ to their husbands, if it’s between the wife and her husband, and only something the wife can decide for herself? As is obvious, it takes nothing more than the husband complaining to the church “my wife is not submissive” and then the church the decides for the couple what submission means. And… that is backed up with the threat of excommunication.

    In Eph 5 21 the verb ‘submit’ is in the middle voice (recently discussed this with my eldest’s boyfriend who knows Greek amongst other things), meaning it is best translated using a reflexive verb. Very literal translations into English do this – submitting yourselves one to another …. and also the German Luther bible as well (sich unterordnen, place yourselves under). This little bit of grammar carries with it the essential truth that the wife has to decide to do this out of obedience to Christ. Any external coercion, such as you cite in your quote, renders this null and void. It is done in the Lord, as is fitting in the Lord, not culture, not forced by her husband, nor demanded by a church, evangelical or otherwise. If this is attempted, you end up with husbands or churches subjugating wives, which is something completely different, and imo abhorrent. In fact elders interfering in marriages without being asked is pretty dodgy.

    It’s true there is a simple imperative in the parallel passage in Collosians, but I would read the shorter version in the light of the expanded Eph version.

    I would be most surprised if more than 1% of British evangelicals are familiar with the Westminster Standards! These confessions are useful as a summary and attempt at explaining the faith, but are only valid to the extent they are faithful to the NT text. You almost seem to be equating any exercise of authority with lordship.

    I think some people put far too much weight on them as though they are almost a supplement to the bible. Supplementarianism!

    I don’t see 1 Cor 11ff nor Eph 5 as culturally determined, the concept of ‘head’ and ‘submission’ is common to both, clear inferences back to the OT. What does differ is in 1 Cor 11 the symbol of this does not carry over into our culture very well, if at all. And, it has to be said, God can see right through a headscarf to a rebellious heart!

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  78. “Any external coercion, such as you cite in your quote, renders this null and void.”

    This is not tenable – we are also told to submit to the governing authorities. Maybe that act of willfully submitting in and of itself is null and void in the face of coercion, but submission to the state is most certainly coerced. Also, I don’t see how you can claim that a weaker form is not encompassed by a stronger form. If I say children must heed their parents, then I say children must obey their parents, then certainly ‘heeding’ is taken as a subset of ‘obedience’, rather than ‘obedience’ being softened by ‘heeding’. So, if a stronger version of submit is used vs. a weaker, then the weaker submission would be a subset of the stronger, rather than being modified.

    “In fact elders interfering in marriages without being asked is pretty dodgy.”

    This is changing the goalposts. I specifically said the husband complains to the church. That is the husband asking the church to interfere. I think it’s a “dodgy” stand to take that the church cannot pass judgment on something the Bible commands.

    Imagine. Two kids fighting in church and the elders say, “we cannot interfere because ‘be at peace with one another’ is null and void if coerced!”

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  79. I was thinking about 1 Cor 11. If the command is permanent, but the symbol is cultural, then what symbol should the church impose on women to acknowledge their ‘heads’? It’s a cop out to say that because ‘headcoverings’ have gone out of fashion the symbol is no longer required.

    I think, based on your argument that ‘submission’ has gone out of fashion, wouldn’t it be parallel to say that while ‘headship’ is permanent, ‘submission’ is cultural?

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  80. Mark – before this one goes the way of all flesh. The submission to authorities, government, is clearly enjoined on believers because govt is an institution ordained by God, and given the
    ‘sword’ to enforce justice.

    Marriage is something else. The head and submit parts are non-cultural and likewise ordained by God. But the husband, unlike govt, is not given any kind of ‘sword’ whether physical force or intimidation using words to coerce a wife to submit. She alone can do this. Middle voice, reflexive verb. Submit yourself. The church may explain what scripture says on this, but at that point their ministry is done. You can explain repentance to someone, but in the end they have to repent, and such repentance is not authentic if resulting from being put under duress.

    As for a current symbol women should have when praying of prophesying – good question. At the very least dress and look like women or men – maintain a distinction and avoid unisex. I once visited a church of ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union, and all the women there wore dresses. I don’t think they all had headscarves on, but they certainly maintained a clear distinction between the sexes. And the children were very well behaved, too! Goodness knows what suffering some of the older ones there must have been through in their time.

    Although I some misgivings about the particular verb, include ‘obey’ in wedding vows to keep them distinctively Christian.

    At least with wives submitting themselves to their own husbands, if an interfering mother-in-law happens to be in the same fellowship the wife is freed of having to ‘submit’ to her mother-in-law’s intrusions into the family. Not the case if everyone submits to everyone – yet if that were the intended meaning, who gives way to whom where two equals have to mutually submit to each other?! Doesn’t make sense.

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  81. “You can explain repentance to someone, but in the end they have to repent, and such repentance is not authentic if resulting from being put under duress.”

    I think this is an interesting parallel you chose. While the church may not have a compelling view of what repentance looks like, and they can’t force it, they DO know what a lack of repentance looks like and they do feel compelled to recognize that. Whether or not you specifically agree with each and every instance of church involvement, the church tends to believe that they have the right to investigate and judge anything they deem to be sin. Thus, while you can claim that submission is something that cannot be compelled, the church would say that a lack of submission is sin, and thus the church can investigate and judge a lack of submission.

    Also, remember that 5:22 does not have a verb. The middle voice, reflexive verb ‘submit’ first conveys ‘to one another’, which you have already claimed is not exclusive to husband and wife, and is not ‘mutual’ but is a submission due to the various and several authorities. (remember that argument?). So you cannot argue that this submission is somehow unique to the husband/wife relationship, but is also slave/master citizen/state and so on. Interestingly, the exact form of that word ‘submit’ (middle voice, reflexive) appears in 1 Peter 2:18 “Servants submit to your masters” – I don’t think you can make a case that the submission of servant to master is an exact parallel, as the Roman master would be expected to keep his slaves under control through superior intellect and physical violence.

    And, perhaps that is a good reason to believe that this is, indeed, a cultural argument, because the Romans taught that both wives and slaves were the property of the husband/master, and using a softer “submit” for slaves vs. “obey” for children would have been the exact opposite of what Rome would have taught. Children’s (male, that is) submission to fathers was a temporary submission due to age, where the submission of wife and slave was a permanent submission driven by the inherent inferiority of women and slaves…

    You also didn’t mention that the word “submit” is masculine, while the subject you claim is feminine (wives).

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