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Book Review Series – “The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace – Chapter Thirteen – Submission Provides Protection?

This is a book review series of The Excellent Wife by Martha Peace. If you are just joining us, you may click on previous chapter reviews if you’d like to catch up.

Chapter OneChapter TwoChapter ThreeChapter FourChapter FiveChapter SixChapter SevenChapter EightChapter NineChapter TenChapter ElevenChapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen is titled, Biblical Submission: Basis of the Wife’s Protection. Yes, you read that correctly….biblical submission provides protection.

Peace starts the chapter stating that “many women, even Christian ones, are confused and sometimes hostile about what it means for a wife to be submissive to her husband.” (Really, no one is confused about what she means by submission. But, thanks for projecting that on us.)

She spends time informing us that submission neither means that a wife is a doormat, nor does it mean mutual submission. I contend that Peace is confused about what she considers submission because her descriptions do not provide protection for abused wives. Below are some examples of what she considers submissive, but the reality is that it is abusive behavior.

A husband who forbids his wife from going to church is spiritually abusive. The submissive wife must let her husband know that he is most important to her.

If a husband is an unbeliever and does not want his wife to attend church she must respectfully disobey. However, she should make sure that his resentment is not because she values her Christian friends more than she cares for him. If that is the case, the wife should make the concessions necessary to ensure that her husband knows that he is more important than her other friends. Therefore, if a husband occasionally desires his wife to go fishing or camping with him, then she should go and enjoy the time with him. God is more pleased with her desire to be faithful in all things than He would be with a rigid attitude about church attendance.

A husband who does not think his wife is being submissive has God on his side. A wife must re-evaluate her perspective.

A wife’s responsibility is to change her perspective and view submission through God’s and her husband’s eyes. The husband is the head of the home, and the wife is to submit to even very small and seemingly unimportant requests or directives from him because they are important to him. Unless she is providentially hindered, her failure to comply is not only insubordination to her husband but also disobedience to God.

A husband may be physically or verbally abusive, immoral, threaten leaving, use alcohol or drugs, and lie or deceive his wife. A wife must choose to answer with love.

She (a submissive wife) entrusts herself to God, knowing that in difficulty, God will give her the grace she needs to get through it at the very time she needs it. Not always, but most of the time, when a wife responds by standing up to her husband in the right way, it turns out better than she had anticipated. In the event it does not turn out well, the wife can have the comfort of knowing that she was pleasing to her Lord and whatever suffering she undergoes will be “for doing what is right” 1 Peter 3:17.

A wife who does not submit to her husband does not honor God. Spiritually abusive language keeps wives in their “rightful” place.

When a wife is not submissive to her husband, she brings shame to God’s word because she is not living up to the standard God has clearly laid out for the godly wife. If she is outwardly expressing faith in Christ, but inwardly has not changed in her heart regarding submission to her husband, she is not submitting to the Lord in that area of her life.

A husband can act selfishly toward his wife. It is the wife’s responsibility to change her attitude to be submissive.

If her husband is being selfish or unreasonable and his wife dwells on how he has hurt her, it will likely be very difficult for her to feel like being graciously submissive. She may outwardly do the right thing, but she will struggle with bitterness and will not feel like being submissive.

The chapter ends with a list of examples of unsubmissive behavior by wives toward their husbands. These include: being annoying, not disciplining the children the way he would like, being more loyal to others than her husband, arguing or pouting, not staying within the budget, correcting or interrupting her husband, manipulating her husband to get what she wants, and making important decisions without consulting her husband.

It’s obvious that in Peace’s world of submission, a husband can behave any way he likes without consequence; otherwise, options would be given to wives for how to deal with abusive behaviors. Instead, wives are told to talk kindly and gently to their husbands to win them over, re-evaluate attitude and behavior, and adjust to his perspective. This one-sided power and control by the husband lends to an abusive environment and does not protect Christian wives.

23 thoughts on “Book Review Series – “The Excellent Wife” by Martha Peace – Chapter Thirteen – Submission Provides Protection?”

  1. “She spends time informing us that submission neither means that a wife is a doormat…”

    I wonder what her definition of a doormat is. If the husband can lie to and deceive the wife and is still worthy of unquestioned obedience and trust… she’s a doormat.

    Unfortunately, it’s pretty well known now with PTSD/Complex PTSD that placing these sorts of expectations on any person is simply ridiculous. So, the husband can emotionally, spiritually, financially and perhaps even physically abuse his “Peace-filled” wife and she can suffer perpetually without having severe psychological issues?

    Liked by 4 people

  2. Kathi – I sometimes think if I here the word ‘submission’ one more time, I will explode! I don’t know how you do it.

    At the risk of stating the obvious, her scheme doesn’t work (or is not intended to work) where the husband doesn’t meet the requirements laid down on him. This is indeed mutual – a husband cannot say he doesn’t have to love, nourish and cherish … his wife if she is bolshy or an imperfect housewife.

    The picture of a husband she paints here going by your quotations does seem to me to be a bit of a daffodil.

    Where a husband forbids her to go to church, I would have thought the response would be to get the church to pray in the expectation that God, who answers prayer, will intervene, rather than insist on attending. Find someone in the fellowship with mountain moving faith. I’ve had some experience of this. Use wisdom for each case where this arises. The only caveat I would add to this would be if she rejects the NT wives submit teaching as not for her or not for today, she will in all likelihood find God does not answer such prayer until in her heart she does.

    Not staying within the budget – my bank account was never overdrawn until I got married. We still laugh about it. 🙂


  3. Mark – “So, the husband can emotionally, spiritually, financially and perhaps even physically abuse his “Peace-filled” wife and she can suffer perpetually without having severe psychological issues?”

    Well stated! This is why I keep hearing how dangerous and damaging this book is.

    I noticed that it currently has 4.3 stars on Amazon. When I’m done with this series I’ll post a very lengthy review with several quotes.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. KAS – When it comes to the word submission, I quote the famous Inigo Montoya,

    “You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “If I Submit enough and Praise and Adore him enough, maybe he won’t beat me…”?

    (Which I have also seen in too many Christians where “him” is God, which might explain a lot.)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This does not make marriage sound worth doing for women. What on earth is she getting out of it? i can’t imagine taking this nicey nice approach to bad behavior or treatment all. The. Time. Sounds exhausting.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. KAS: “The only caveat I would add to this would be if she rejects the NT wives submit teaching as not for her or not for today, she will in all likelihood find God does not answer such prayer until in her heart she does.”

    Pretty sure you can’t support this one with scripture.

    As I continue to work my way through the Bible, Old AND New Testament, I see far more concerning the equality of all believers and the turning away from hierarchy in human institutions than the small smattering of scriptures that Comps continually air-lift out of context and grind into the faces of women.


  8. Mara – fair question, so I suggest read the whole of 1 Peter 3 for context. In particular (to keep this short) for husbands Peter says:

    “Likewise you husbands, live considerately with your wives, bestowing honour on the woman as the weaker sex, since you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered.”

    I would have thought by parity of reasoning that wives rejecting what Peter says to them would find the same problem. A damaged prayer life; either can’t pray of God doesn’t listen. On the basis of this I would absolutely guarantee that men who regularly abuse and mistreat their wives don’t know the meaning of answered prayer. You cannot have fellowship with God and walk in darkness at the same time.

    He goes on to say:

    “He that would love life
    and see good days,
    let him keep his tongue from evil
    and his lips from speaking guile;
    let him turn away from evil and do right;
    let him seek peace and pursue it.
    For the eyes of the Lord are upon the righteous,
    and his ears are open to their prayer.

    But the face of the Lord is against those that do evil.”

    This is an OT quotation carried over to the NT. We cannot pray in faith or fight the spiritual warfare from a place of disobedience.

    Now I’m sure you would agree we should always base our doctrine on scripture rather than experience, but my comment about the rejection of this teaching leading to unanswered prayer was also occasioned by the (admittedly anecdotal) witnesses I have encountered in books or sermons – several times over the years – that this has very much been the case.


  9. KAS, you should be pretty hesitant about crafting an entire theological system from a couple of verses.

    The second verse may be applicable to your claim, but the first verse… well, let’s say that a lot of the c’hurch and a lot of p’astors don’t really understand the concept of adoption, and if they do, they definitely don’t preach it. At the moment of salvation, we are judicially declared “righteous” and we are adopted into God’s family. We become sheep and not goats.

    So, when we talk about God’s eyes on “the Righteous” we need to be careful to not make this a legalistic reading. God doesn’t look at Christendom at the end of each day and say, “what works did you do for me today?” God is not the cosmic Santa Claus who weighs naughty vs. nice deeds. That’s the heart of legalism. Instead, God hears the prayers of HIS CHILDREN, whether they fell in the mud that day, or whether the got a gold star.

    The word eisegesis was used recently. It feels a lot to me like this is the cornerstone of your defense of complementarian marriages. It’s like, yeah, don’t worry about the potential for abuse, submit to every command, because… God is going to reject your husband’s prayers if he disrespects you. I think you’re reading so much into this passage because it somehow makes you feel better about all the men who are abusing their wives in all forms, because they somehow get justice in this life through God’s intervention.

    Why is it, then, that the same Psalm writer says in Psalm 73:
    “But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling, My steps had almost slipped.
    For I was envious of the arrogant As I saw the prosperity of the wicked.
    For there are no pains in their death, And their body is fat.
    They are not in trouble as other men, Nor are they plagued like mankind.”

    Seems like they are not receiving judgment in this life… what then?

    “When I pondered to understand this, It was troublesome in my sight
    Until I came into the sanctuary of God; Then I perceived their end.
    Surely You set them in slippery places; You cast them down to destruction. How they are destroyed in a moment!”

    What about the Rich Man and Lazarus?

    “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony.”


  10. I have not read the comment thread here as of my comment towards this particular article.

    So how do complementarians and complementarian sympathizers/believers, address the situation in which Abigail, wedded to Nabal (whose name literally means “foolish”), has to defy his “lording it over household authority” in the Book of Samuel (OT) in order to save lives? Is she condemned to hell for being that proverbial “jezebel spirit” that wicked and evil p’astor men to this day, use as a “spiritual anvil” to squash the questioning of believing women who love and respect the teachings of Jesus Christ.


  11. Katy, I agree that God honored Abigail for going against her husband’s wishes. He also told Abraham to obey Sarah in regards to Hagar. It would appear that Sapphira “submitted” to her husband’s plan to tell a lie and God obviously expected her to make her own choices. If a woman’s only choice is to say “yes” to her husband, then she would no longer have a free will… to choose to accept Christ as her Savior or to choose to serve and obey God. There are many examples of God dealing directly with women about their choices and their service to Him (Mary the mother of Jesus, Mary & Martha, the woman at the well, etc.).


  12. As I’ve said a few times, I think the comps narrowly focus on a few prooftexts that seem to most clearly answer the question, but then fail to apply their “system” to, most profoundly, their view of God, but also, other scripture such as what you mentioned.

    Again, the comp view of God becomes bifurcated – loving men while hating women – to be precise. So, men and women are spiritually equal, and comps seem to believe that means they get the same spiritual gifts. However, for men, God says, “I love you! Here is a spiritual gift from me, use it to glorify me, serve your church and be edified”. For women, God says, “I love you! Here is a spiritual gift from me, but DON’T OPEN IT! If you open it and use it, you are usurping man’s rightful place in the church, sinning against me, and are going to rightly suffer.”

    Now, my comp church tradition would say that women do not get those gifts from God, but that raises a few questions… How are women and men spiritually equal if women cannot receive certain spiritual gifts? Why do we believe men who say, “God has gifted me to be an elder”, but disbelieve women who say, “God has gifted me to be an elder”? – That is, why are men assumed to be spiritually discerning and women not? And… last of all, what do we do when we see that women so clearly HAVE these gifts?


  13. @Mary 27,
    Tears and joy here. YES! It is good of you to mention those wise and godly examples of women in Scriptures for they all “chose” to worship our LORD instead of the overlords. To date, I have not heard a “sermon on their mount/man-made pulpit system” regarding any of these women from p’astors of both genders. Were not women loved, valued, and held in high regard to Jesus? Does His Gospel focus on only one gender, or is the foot of the Cross equal to all who choose to receive His Free Salvation?

    My childhood did not focus on “complementarian” theology or the subjective term entitled “submission.” Jesus gave both Mom and Dad a brain with critical thinking skills which were used and still are being used for His/Jesus Glory. I cannot imagine my Mother purchasing a bread making machine needing the authority and permission of my Dad. He trusts her in making logical decisions regarding the family unit and is confident in his own being in knowing that lording it over the woman does not honor Christ.

    Side note: My spouse became un-righteously angry and yelled and yelled (bawled me out royally) for purchasing a home making bread machine on sale, half price, with the money I earned using me own two hands. He said that I wasn’t capable of purchasing me own machine as I did not spend months researching which machine was “the best”….in his own eyes. Funny thing…..that bread machine was used many days a week and made “better bread” that the more expensive (three times the cost of my bread machine listed at full price) he chose to buy, for it is “improper” for the complementarian man to regard his own wife any the “wiser.”

    So exactly “who” has the last “word” at the end of these days? 🙂

    Clue: It is not the complementarian “man.”

    Great examples Mary27.


  14. Mark – KAS, you should be pretty hesitant about crafting an entire theological system from a couple of verses.

    I agree, which is why I would never do this. And, O egalitarians, I would include quoting part of Gal 3 : 28 and part of Eph 5 : 21 to establish a doctrine in this as well!

    I agree with you that on conversion we are put right with God, justified by faith, Christ’s righteousness is imputed to us, we are reckoned righteous. That’s not the issue. When Peter or Paul give their instructions about marriage, obeying them is not with a view to justification, it is with a view to doing right. Peter uses the phrase if/when you do right when referring to bondservants and wives. He addresses wives’ behaviour over against an unbelieving husband. Specifically hypotasso/submission is doing right. And the love, cherish, honour, consider etc directed at husbands is ‘doing right’ for them.

    Obedience isn’t legalism. When we stop doing what is right, or worse start doing what is wrong, we lose our fellowship with God (wilderness experience) until we confess our sin, are forgiven and cleansed from all if it. Then we resume. God is on our side, and not against us, in requiring this of us and bringing us to the point where we do this.

    To me it is very obvious we cannot expect blessing from a place of disobedience, and shouldn’t presume on the grace and kindness of God. Husbands and wives are ‘joint heirs of the grace of life’, but this doesn’t prevent an inconsiderate husband having trouble with prayer, and indeed God not hearing it until he puts it right.

    Discussing what this all means and how to put it into effect is perfectly legitimate, but God is God and we are not, and doing it is not up for negotiation.


  15. Muff Potter – I read that they are doing a blog upgrade or transition – something to do with WordPress. I’m sure it will be back up soon, if not already.


  16. KAS, my theology does not make Paul’s instructions to a specific church instructions for all places and times.

    I understand that “eating meat sacrificed to idols” was needed to be instruction for a limited time, just like much of the modern church.
    I understand that “greeting one another with a holy kiss” is instruction for a limited time.
    I understand that going to the elders when I’m sick and having them “anoint [me] with oil” is instruction for a limited time.
    I don’t plan on providing my daughters clean linens for consummating their marriages so I can “prove their virginity”

    I believe that many things in the Bible were meant for people in a specific place and time, and were Godly wisdom for that place time and culture, but not instruction for all people.

    As many have said, Ephesus was the center of religion for the goddess Artemis, and I am guessing that people coming out of that pagan religion (just like people struggling with meat sacrificed to idols) would have similar issues with women preaching.

    You have to understand this instruction in terms of “we can’t handle the truth”. Moses allowed essentially no-fault divorce because patriarchal Israelites couldn’t handle the truth that marriage was meant to be one man one woman till death do they part. We still can’t handle that truth – abuse still happens – so we still need divorce. In the same way, patriarchal Judaism, prevalent in the first century, was not capable of handling equality, therefore Paul allowed for continued patriarchy where it was a stumbling block (just like meat sacrificed to idols).

    I think another telling passage is: “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.
    Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.
    Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” (Joel 2:28-29)

    Again, did God proclaim this equal vision of spiritual gifting, only to then tell half of those gifted that they must hide them under a bushel? Or did he intend to gift people so that their light could shine. Paul talks about prophecy edifying the church (1 Cor. 14). So, if prophecy is given to women equally for the edification of the church, then how could a prohibition of women speaking in church be instruction for all time, and not due to some cultural sensitivities?


  17. Mark – my theology does not make Paul’s instructions to a specific church instructions for all places and times.

    Interpret scripture by scripture. I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling; Doesn’t mean in other places holy hands or not quarrelling are optional. Then he goes on Also [or likewise] the women, so in every place they also should dress modestly … and do good works. Then follows – still addressing the women – the learning and not teaching or having authority over men verses. Why is that not for every place? Why would Paul suddenly have changed tack to something temporary and/or local without indicating this? And then grounds this, as he consistently does, with the OT, specifically pre-fall Genesis. I don’t see how you can then make this cultural. It couldn’t be less cultural!

    The parallel passage in 1 Cor 14 states As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silence in the churches …. Again Paul invokes the law on this. At the very least this was universal in the early church, he taught the same things everywhere. And as women could pray and prophesy, the ‘silence’ here was not absolute, but targeted. He wasn’t contradicting himself within such a short space of time whilst writing to Corinth.

    I have long thought this wasn’t popular in the early church, as in 1 Cor 14 he specifically states what he is writing is a command of the Lord, demanding recognition – both the regulation of spiritual gifts and the ‘silent women’ passage. All gifts are given at God’s discretion, and he can restrict their use and appoint whomever he thinks fit, this is not in our remit. The very definition of grace means we are in no position to complain of anything being ‘unfair’ when it comes to God’s dealings with us in gifts ministries or anything else.

    I don’t particularly rejoice that these chapters and verses are in the NT, but they are and that settles it for me. It’s for our good.

    James 5 is still for today. Why shouldn’t it be? I can think of a couple of cases where God supernaturally healed when this was carried out.

    Commands given under the law of Moses no longer apply unless carried over into the NT. So we don’t have to worry about mixed fibres or shellfish!

    Some cultures still greet with a kiss, some have other customs. You can transfer the holy kiss to the relevant custom. Arguably with head coverings too. The equivalent custom for marriage as described in the bible today is: marriage! The main difference is that modernity has watered this down from the original institution whereas the church maintains it as one man and one woman for life – and should in no circumstances start following the increasingly godless culture around it. I would include egalitarianism in this, which is a modern idea the NT writers are not really interested in.


  18. KAS, “You can transfer the holy kiss to the relevant custom. … Arguably with head coverings too.”

    Paul, “But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head … Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.” (1 Cor 11:5)

    So, again, you are completely and utterly speaking out of both sides of your mouth. When it suits your purposes, you claim every means one thing – that is a permanent injunction, and when you want to ignore it… well, you just ignore it.

    I claim that Paul’s use of every does not necessarily imply a permanent injunction. So, again, why are you claiming permanent injunction? Eisegesis, of course! You have already decided what you want the Bible to say, you just need to twist it the right way to make it happen.


  19. And why I say eisegesis. You make a hermeneutical argument for interpreting Paul’s instructions as binding for all time:
    1) Use of absolute terms, e.g. “every” and “all”
    2) Use of OT/Creation language

    By your own hermeneutical principle, you CANNOT say that head coverings are cultural.

    Absolute terms: “But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head”

    OT language: “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. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.”

    The fact that you can defiantly hold male authority and silencing women, while ignoring head coverings says plainly that this, to you, isn’t about interpreting scripture by scripture, but is plainly forcing your own interpretation on scripture.

    Also, “All gifts are given at God’s discretion, and he can restrict their use and appoint whomever he thinks fit, this is not in our remit.”

    What does scripture say about this?

    “Then Joshua the son of Nun, the attendant of Moses from his youth, said, “Moses, my lord, restrain them.” But Moses said to him, “Are you jealous for my sake? Would that all the Lord’s people were prophets, that the Lord would put His Spirit upon them!” (Num 11:28)

    Joel 2, after talking about judgment (1-17) talks about physical deliverance and restoration (18-27) and then goes further into a new spiritual age: “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.” (28-29)

    Now to 1 Cor 11. “Every woman who prays and prophesies…”

    Let scripture interpret scripture: WHERE are these women praying in prophesying? Are they doing it in their own homes with their children, or are they doing it in PUBLIC WORSHIP? So, if Paul’s consistent instruction everywhere is that women be silent in the church, then why does he need to give instruction for women praying and prophesying? Doesn’t that require women to speak?

    So, here we have an apparent contradiction. First we see women speaking with conditions and elsewhere we have women being told to be silent. Here and elsewhere, we see women having authority – Phillip’s daughters were prophets as well and Paul clearly lists prophets second in the church hierarchy, directly after Apostles and before Pastors (showing preeminence).

    So again, instead of interpreting scripture by scripture, we see complementarians, like you, throwing scripture in the trash an insisting on extra-Biblical arguments, like distinguishing between male and female prophets. The Bible doesn’t!


  20. KAS,

    The only caveat I would add to this would be if she rejects the NT wives submit teaching as not for her or not for today, she will in all likelihood find God does not answer such prayer until in her heart she does.

    So, if a woman is married to an abusive spouse, what “unsubmissive” actions or attitudes do you think would cause her to fall out of God’s favour?

    Or to put it the other way around: In your view, how can she protect herself and still be “submissive” to an abusive man?


  21. KAS, I missed this: “I would include egalitarianism in this, which is a modern idea the NT writers are not really interested in.”

    Yes, you’re probably right. That’s one of the odd things about scripture. It’s inerrant yet delivered through fallible men. So, for example, Jonah delivers God’s message to Nineveh of grace and forgiveness and is the instrument used by God to bring salvation to the city, despite the fact that Jonah himself did not want Nineveh to repent.

    That is probably why some of the most compelling messages of scripture are so thickly veiled. For example, what Israelite prophet is going to write… “when the Messiah comes, all of the nations we hate get equal footing in the kingdom!” It’s no surprise that Paul was so hated by the Jews proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles.

    So, in the same way, I’m sure the NT writers were so blinded by their traditional cultural patriarchy that the Holy Spirit had to veil the message of equality, and not only that, but to bring that same message through a restraint on the patriarchy.

    This is exactly what we see in the OT law, too. Polygamy was allowed due to the hardness of the Israelites hearts, but there were restrictions. Husbands could not financially or emotionally abandon their first wives. Jesus showed them that their own sin prevented them from receiving a perfect law. Why do we assume that somehow the prophetic economy changed in the NT, and instantly God was able to transcend the same human fallibility when it came to scripture? No, we see God explicitly saying that the teaching has to be dumbed down through Hebrews: “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”

    Often, this dumbing down is teaching an application and not the underlying principle. For example, we may tell our children not to “play in the street”. Yet, this is not an absolute command for all time, but a prohibition that recognizes their limited situational awareness. We tell kids “don’t talk to strangers” which, again, is not an absolute command for all time, but balancing awareness and potential danger. When they become older, we can instruct them more about the awareness and potential danger and expect them to more maturely approach play and interactions. But, the readers of the Bible then, and seemingly now, have the same lack of maturity.

    That’s why the Westminster Confession says that we understand the OT case law, not as absolute commands for all time, but as expressions of “general equity” – applications of God’s law to the unique circumstances (including the hardness of their hearts) of the Israelites. In the same way, Paul’s instructions to various churches also represent this sort of case law approach. Not an absolute binding command, but a recognition of the hardness of their hearts, cultural awareness but a hint at a deeper principle.

    The Pharisees of Jesus interpreted divorce law as “divorce for any reason the husband chooses!”, and likewise Evangelicals interpret Paul’s instruction as “no woman may be in a leadership position nohow, nowhere”


  22. SKIJ So, if a woman is married to an abusive spouse, what “unsubmissive” actions or attitudes do you think would cause her to fall out of God’s favour?

    Going by the anecdotal accounts I referred to earlier, I think if when asked the question ‘is your husband your head’ a woman replies ‘no’, or else in any way is in clear rebellion against apostolic teaching on submission, (sorry, but I include in this gutting all meaning out of it by making it mutual) she will likely find prayer unanswered. She may pray for years for God to intervene and change her husband and circumstances, and this may be the blockage. Sometimes it is only revealed by word of knowledge. The minute she repents of her attitude – and in one or two cases I recall has – with the greatest reluctance – prayed ‘It’s your word that teaches this so I suppose I have to accept it’, she then finds God answers in a direct and wonderful way. Slow to chide and swift to bless!

    This in no way means she has to pretend her husband is anything less than an incompetent pain in the neck (or worse) if that’s the case. Respect the ‘office’ of husband if you like rather than the person as such. Neither does wives submitting to husbands imply or state she is expected to ‘submit’ to his bullying or any other kind of abuse. That is a complete travesty of the teaching. 1 Peter 3 comes fairly close to this situation, and Peter still tells wives to do what is right.

    Wisdom is needed with individual cases, and the best policy if a wife is in imminent danger would be physical separation. These are very difficult issues to deal with, who’d want to be a pastor having to do so unless genuinely called to it.

    For the sake of fairness, if a man has a bolshy wife who rebells against all this, this does not let him off the hook on fullfilling the duties laid down on him as husband.

    Finally, I’d add that apostolic teaching on marriage and family is addressed to ‘saints’, a structure for believers to seek to live up to, and in most cases with all their human imperfections they can do so if they are willing. This is the norm if you like. Abuse is abnormal, a deviation, and requires a different approach perhaps, but does not allow us to negate the norm, if you see what I mean.

    (Mark I’ll try replying to you later, but I want to ration the time on this.)


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