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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

head and submission poll results - post #3

A high percentage of poll respondents believe that the Bible explicitly states that: "A woman should submit to her husband." I agree. As mentioned in the first post in this series on the poll, the Greek word translated as "submit" in most English versions is hupotasso. It is possible that some respondents question whether the English word "submit" is the best translation for this Greek word. And it is always a reasonable question to ask whether a particular word is the best translation of a biblical language word. The lexicons consistently support "submit" as one of key English glosses for Greek hupotasso.

Many English versions do as well (KJV, ESV, NIV, TNIV, HCSB, NET, GNB/TEV . Some versions translate hupotasso as "be subject to" (RSV, NRSV, NASB, REB) and "yield to" (NCV), both of which I consider to be synonymous with "submit to." The God's Word (GW) translation words the concept as "Wives, place yourselves under your husbands' authority." I'm not sure that authority is in focus in this context since the concept of hupotasso is introduced first as being a mutual relationship in Eph. 5:21, and I do not understand how people could be under mutual authority to each other.

The CEV translates the concept as: "A wife should put her husband first, as she does the Lord." It seems to me that putting someone first quite possibly includes include submission, but I do wonder if the CEV wording is weaker than "submit" or "be subject to." Definitely weaker is the wording in The Message: "Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ."

What does it mean for a wife to submit to her husband? As I discussed in my previous post, to hupotasso means whatever it means for any member of the body of Christ to hupotasso to any other member (Eph. 5:21). It is the relationship of mutual hupotasso (submission) within the church which is explicitly stated in Eph. 5:21. The relationship of wives to their husbands is not explicitly stated in the next verse, but it is linguistically reasonable to assume that that relationship is implicitly submission. Wives are explicitly told to submit to their husbands in Col. 3:18, and by implication, following the complimented actions of "the holy women of the past", Peter expects women to submit to their husbands (1 Pet. 3:5).

From my own point of view, not enough biblical teaching has occurred on what it means for Christians to mutually submit to each other in comparison with how much teaching there has been on wives submitting to their husbands. The larger amount of teaching devoted to wives submitting to their husbands does not align with the fact that the first relationship Paul addresses in this section on submission is that of Christians to each other. That relationship is explicitly stated in Greek. It seems to me that other relationships of submission flow out of the teaching that mutual submission is God's design for his children. I think that much of scripture tells us, in one way or another, how to submit to each other, and such submission would define what a wife's submission to her husband should look like. Mutual submission surely involves love (John 13:35), honor, respect, deference, being like-minded, and being one in spirit (Phil. 2:2). Perhaps you can think of other qualities or actions which submission would likely include, and can mention them in comments to this post.

I will complete this series in the next post.

154 Comments:

At Thu Sep 13, 12:11:00 AM, Blogger Ruud Vermeij said...

The Dutch "De Nieuwe Bijbelvertaling" translates Eph. 5:21 as:
"Aanvaard elkaars gezag uit eerbied voor Christus." which means something like:
"Accepted each other's authority out of reverence for Christ"

I don't know why they "inverted" the meaning of hupotasso to authority.

 
At Thu Sep 13, 03:41:00 AM, Blogger Doug Chaplin said...

You will see that in a trackback to the previous post, I am one of those who strongly questions the appropriateness of the English "submit." I still think it a bad choice, although I must admit that their are few alternatives.

 
At Thu Sep 13, 05:02:00 AM, Blogger Sam said...

The NLT's take here is worth noting:

And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. (Eph 5:21-23)

 
At Thu Sep 13, 05:42:00 AM, Blogger Peter M. Head said...

Isn't this blog now such a one trick pony that it might as well change the name?

 
At Thu Sep 13, 05:55:00 AM, Blogger Beyond Words said...

Thanks for this post-we sorely need more teaching on mutual submission.

I believe I learned something about it earlier this summer caring for my elderly father-in-law. We had the most harmonious week together that it was like a spiritual retreat. Then I realized that the harmony and fellowship had developed because we were submitting to each other.I was using my strength to serve him in his physical needs, and he was using his strength to serve me with his wisdom and character.

It takes humility to use strength to serve others and to acccept another's strength to serve us.

I must add, so you know the context: this "father-in-law" is actually my husband's late wife's father (my husband and I were both widowed before we marrried and all the families involved remain close even if there are no genealogical terms to define the relationships.:)

So the week I sepnt caring for him, learning at his feet and being loved and accepted like a true daughter was an amazing gift. And I believe it's an example of how and why Christians are to submit to each other.

 
At Thu Sep 13, 08:32:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Peter Head asked:

Isn't this blog now such a one trick pony that it might as well change the name?

Stay tuned, Peter. If I do nothing other than comment on poll results, you can see that there are polls remaining on other topics.

As you may know from previous posts, my interests in translation are wide. I will continue posting on translation of figures of speech, idioms, register, naturalness, etc.

I have not enjoyed posting on this topic, but it is a topic which has been discussed so much in recent years, including in relation to Bible translation. I will gladly move on to other topics when this series is completed.

I hope you have enjoyed Suzanne's recent series on Psalm 68, which has nothing to do with headship and submission.

 
At Thu Sep 13, 08:34:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

And let me add that it isn't going to either.

 
At Thu Sep 13, 09:03:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

BeyondWords - that is a beautiful example of mutual submission - we submit to one another in different ways, based on roles.

If submission is based on wants, rather than needs, then it means little.

If I submit to my husband's need for a helpmeet, and he submits to my need for a model of love, shown in our Lord, that is a wonderful "dance".

The poll question was short, and yet leading. "Mutual submission" has been used to eradicate gender roles. "Mutual submission", if used to demonstrate how different roles require different submission to the needs of others, the question becomes quite different.

 
At Thu Sep 13, 09:53:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I am uncomfortable with some of this. What do I tell my friend, who gave up a profession to be a "helpmeet" for her husband and now that he has suffered a stroke she is working as a waitress for minimum wage, and not really able to give the support required.

The notion that there are different roles depends on defining uniquely masculine and feminine roles. However, the Bible certainly demostrates that women were in the provider and protector role.

I think I must be misunderstanding something here, maybe I examples of what a "helpmeet" is. My sense is that it means a companion and that each is a help to the other, mutually. That is, the word was used of war allies, one is allied to the other for mutual advantage, not one in permanent subordination, but taking turns helping each other out.

God gives spiritual and intellectual gifts to both men and women, equally. To foster the gifts of men over women, seems to go against God's purpose.

 
At Thu Sep 13, 09:55:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

What I mean is that beyond bearing children, which I wholeheartedly support, I just don't see gender roles spelled out in scripture.

 
At Thu Sep 13, 10:00:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne, I understand that you don't see it.

;-)

 
At Thu Sep 13, 10:18:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne, let me state that a little more clearly. You are saying that nowhere in Scripture do you see men treated differently than women. Nowhere in Scripture can you read of men being addressed than women and/or given different instruction.

 
At Thu Sep 13, 12:25:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

You are saying that nowhere in Scripture do you see men treated differently than women.

I really need help to stay on track here. I need to be quoted rather than just have people put words in my mouth.

Examples would help enormously. This really has to be made concrete or we can't come to an understanding.

I would be interested in hearing you respond to some of the concrete examples that I gave. I would love to engage in a dialogue.

 
At Thu Sep 13, 05:45:00 PM, Blogger Beyond Words said...

Ellen, I thank you for your kind words, but I was hoping to show an example of how believers should submit to each other, without bringing gender roles into it.

By the way, thanks Suzanne for giving helpmeet the promotion it deserves. My husband is as much a helpmeet for me as I am for him. Although there's no doubt in our marriage about who's masculine and who's feminine (we enjoy those differences immensely) we complement each other in thousands of ways beyond gender roles. :) But we don't think much about who's submitting. We strive each day to serve each other and nobody's keeping score. We enjoy our freedom in Christ to be the unique persons he created us to be and we delight in each other's differences.

 
At Thu Sep 13, 06:04:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

BW

Thanks. I don't think "headship" - whatever that means - is a gender issue at all. Clearly, throughout history, it has not been so treated routinely.

That is, the mistress is head of her servants, and the queen is head of her state, and Adam is head of the human race.

Clearly, "headship" does not always entail authority, Adam had none that I am aware of - nor does it entail maleness. It is a metaphor of representation of some kind, and in no way impinges on masculinity and femininity. Neither does being a "help" since men were a "help" to each other.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 03:57:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne, perhaps we are defining "role" differently? I believe (when I think gender role) of men and women being created differently for different purposes, joining together to be two vital and equal (but different) parts of a whole; each with different responsibilities and expectation.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 04:00:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

BW - when I spoke of your role, in your example, it was the role of the younger taking care of the older - but the poll we are writing about speaks specifically of husbands and wives and we wonder if "equal" means "same", or if husbands and wives submit to the needs of the other in different ways - and in ways defined by God.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 04:23:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

That is, the mistress is head of her servants, and the queen is head of her state, and Adam is head of the human race.

Suzanne, I think here you are mixing the English use of "head" with the disputed biblical concept. The Queen is head of state, but this is not a biblical concept. A mistress or master is head of her servants according to English usage, but I don't think this idea is anywhere in the Bible, at least in the New Testament with the Greek word kephale. I'm not sure where actually the teaching that Adam is head of the human race comes from, as I don't think this is explicit (even in Wayne's terms) in the Bible, but it does seem to be dependent on the New Testament concept of kephale. At this point I think you are unintentionally conceding too much ground to complementarians by allowing their concept, imposed on the Bible from their theology, of a tree structure of headship trickling down through the human race, even if you don't accept that this headship is necessarily male or implies authority.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 06:30:00 AM, Blogger Psalmist said...

Ellen, I'm trying (and failing) to understand what you mean by this statement:

"'Mutual submission' has been used to eradicate gender roles."

Would you mind explaining a little further what you're getting at? Thanks.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 07:04:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Peter,

I meant that these are ways that the church has interpreted the term head. These are interpretations throughout history, not biblical concepts. It is only very recently, with the eradication of class, monarchies, slavery, that "head" is understood in purely gendered terms, as part of ones sexual makeup.

The difficulty is that we need to understand the history of the interpretation of the word to get at the way it is being used today, as a term referring both to gender and relating to authority. This is a complex history, and I see little honest work being done on it. Grudem's study is muddied by his insistence that Adam was the ruler of the human race, when I see Adam as an inadequate parent of his own immediate children.

But these examples are from Grudem. Throughout history it was interpreted sometimes as authority but not necessarily relating to gender. Sometimes, as neither authority nor gender. To now make it a term which implies that there is an intrinsic difference in authority between the genders, based on this term, is to be woefully ignorant of the history of the concept. This is the first time in history that a difference in authority based purely on gender, has been proposed. So we are more retrograde now than ever before.

Ellen, once the childbearing age is past, what are the different purposes, responsibilities and expectations? I just don't have a clear grasp of what you might be referring to. It is the lack of any concrete examples that makes me incapable of interacting with your arguments.

I see that God has given the intellectual and spiritual gifts to both sexes equally and that both should have the same expectations that the use of these gifts is proper and desired by God. Both have equal responsibility to be faithful, provide for each other, protect each other, support each other.

It seems that "love your neighbour as yourself" might just as well not be in the Bible at all, for all it is ever mentioned.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 07:43:00 AM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Peter commented:

I'm not sure where actually the teaching that Adam is head of the human race comes from, as I don't think this is explicit (even in Wayne's terms) in the Bible, but it does seem to be dependent on the New Testament concept of kephale.

You assumed correctly about how I would approach this, Peter. There is no explicit teaching in the Bible that Adam is the kephale of the human race. So I would say that the Bible does not teach explicitly that Adam is the head of the human race.

As far as I know, there are only three headship relationships explicitly taught in the Bible (1 Cor. 11:3ff):

1. Christ: man
2. man (husband): wife
3. God: Christ

 
At Fri Sep 14, 08:21:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

From a biblical perspective, the teaching of the church as the one body, with Christ as its head, is much more in evidence than the teaching of man as head of woman.

However, when that is held as a literal belief, all Christians must belong to the one body, the same church, or else Christ is divided. This was the literal understanding and was at one time held to. Since Luther redefined the church as an invisible entity, it can be as divided as many times as there are disagreements and separate opinions, there is no restriction.

So the reality of the head - body teaching as it applies to Christ and the church has been redefined as an invisible reality, and conveniently metaphorical, (except for a few hopefuls, maybe +Rowan.)

But, the notion of every husband being the head of his wife the body is taken to mean something that is practiced every day, and practiced as an "authority concept".

There is no indication with regards to the church, that it applies to authority rather than unity, and people don't even care to abide by it at all in any case. But within marriage, when it is to the advantage to the one partner, then it is held to as a reality and used for one person to have authority and the power advantage over another. It is serious hypocrisy and a complete misunderstanding of the purpose of teaching that the church is the body of Christ. That was for unity which no one really cares about. It is just like humans to redefine the gospel as a legitimization of personal power.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 01:35:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Psalmist, see Suzanne's last comment.

In mutual submission between a husband and wife, there are a couple 9f thoughts.

The husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the church. He is to submit to her needs over his own. She is to submit to his leadership as unto the Lord.

or...

There is only mutual submission, no headship, no leadership of one partner over the other.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 02:06:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

I did not connect head - body with submission and leadership. I said,


There is no indication with regards to the church, that it applies to authority rather than unity

I do not believe there is any justification whatsoever for an adult male to make decisions for an adult female, just because one is male and the other is female.

Nor do men have any natural ability to make better decisions than women, in the department of finances especially. If I were planning for old age, I would be very careful before I allowed anyone who was not a professional make any kind of decision whatsoever for me. A woman needs to realize that she has to live out her life with all the consequences of decisions made for her by someone else.

Men, however, have arranged a democratic gov.t for themselves, since the time when the Bible was written, and in direct contradiction to the scriptures.

For men to want to live in a counter scriptural demoncracy for themselves, and slot women into the bottom of a hierarchy is a hypocrisy and selfishness which boggles the mind, and counters every teaching of Christ in the gospels.

This desire for power over other is not to the glory of God.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 02:08:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ps

Ellen,

I have worked for years in a team of two at school without hierarchy, is there something wrong with that? I just fail to see the problem of an egalitarian marriage. Those I know are stable and long lasting.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 02:21:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Psalmist, any more questions about "mutual submission"?

Suzanne, do you have any secular writings of New Testament time (or earlier) where kaphale (as a metaphor) clearly meant head/body?

Suzanne, if it were proven that women are to submit to an authority called "husband", would you accept it?

 
At Fri Sep 14, 02:48:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

Kephale always means "head" in some way or other. There is no indication whatsoever that this meant "decision maker".

Kephale could mean the head of a tribe or family, as in Adam, but that seems fairly tangential to authority. It also means a raiding party or the right hand phalanx of the Greek army. It most certainly does not mean general or leader.

There is one later case, in a metaphor, where the general of an army is compared to the "head", but we all know that metaphors lead to multiple and overlapping associations. This doesn't prove anything.

Most certainly, in the Greek scriptures, that Christ is head of the church, refers to the necessary unity of the members of the church.

But, of course, I know of no one now who thinks that people can't decide which church they attend.

I am not sure what your question is.

If Cromwell had been convinced that the king was the servant of God and his anointed, as the Bible clearly says, we might not have representative government. If those who believe in male authority first resubmit themselves to a non-democratic foreign government, because we can prove that Elizabeth is God's anointed, then I will consider your question further.

It is the level at which this is resolved, freedom for men but not for women that is so hypocritical.

The Bible does not call the king or queen "head" but "authority" and the "servant" and "anointed" of God. There is no debate about obeying a monarch, it is ordered outright. There is no justification whatever for revolution or demoncracy. The US gov't. is a rogue government in Biblical terms.

Ellen,

Would you ask a slave to go back to slavery if it could be proven that it was God's will. I assume you would. Then let those who accept real live slavery to another human being ask me if I would accept it. Only as an evil

 
At Fri Sep 14, 02:56:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Any man who thinks that he is good enough to be an authority over some other adult human being, by virtue of an accident of birth, is like the pharisee in Luke 18.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 02:57:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne, I asked a "yes or no" question - I take it that's a no.

That said, no discussion is worthwhile.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 03:11:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

1 Peter 2:19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.

Christians should submit to injustice (an evil) if it is God's will.

What this conversation has shown to me is that there are people who deliberately misquote others and discuss an abstract concept without any reference whatever to the scriptural context.

Were you not aware that I was referring to 1 Peter 2?

Can you discuss with reference to scripture, Ellen?

 
At Fri Sep 14, 03:26:00 PM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

1 Peter 2:19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.

What kind of translation is this, Suzanne? There is nothing in this verse about "a man", no aner or anthropos, just tis "someone". And you seem to be applying it to yourself as a woman anyway, although in context it is of course about slaves.

Suzanne didn't answer Ellen's question:

if it were proven that women are to submit to an authority called "husband", would you accept it?

So I will answer it with another question: if it were proven that 2 + 2 = 5, would you accept it?

 
At Fri Sep 14, 03:26:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

I had first asked a "yes or no" question, Suzanne.

Yes, I'm perfectly aware that you were referring to Scripture.

In today's atmosphere, with slavery being what it is today, I oppose slavery as an unjust and evil institution.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 03:27:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

This is really Wayne's point.

That arguments for male authority are not based on scripture, and arguments for suffering injustice are based on scripture and most people are not familiar emough with scripture to tell when something is in scripture and when it is not.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 03:28:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thank you, Ellen, I appreciate that.

What are your thoughts on democracy?

 
At Fri Sep 14, 03:31:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Peter, I'm merely clarifying - are you saying that any interpretation other than the one you have already come to is the same as 2+2=5?

What about 2 + 2 = 100?

 
At Fri Sep 14, 03:35:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne, I realize you're asking questions without answering mine.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 03:52:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

There is a serious miscommunication here. You asked a question.

I answered with an allusion to scripture. You then said,

Suzanne, I asked a "yes or no" question - I take it that's a no.

That said, no discussion is worthwhile.


First, I did not say "no". Next I alluded to scripture, then you say "no discussion is worthwhile."

Do you rule out scriptural allusions as answers to questions?

What question have I not answered?

 
At Fri Sep 14, 04:09:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Yes or no - if the text leads to a woman having an authority called "husband", will you accept it?

 
At Fri Sep 14, 06:01:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Peter,

I was in a hurry. I took the NIV, the default in the Biblegateway. Hence "men". I can't believe that translation is still popular.


I have answered Ellen's question twice already.

1. only as an evil
2. Christians should submit to injustice (an evil) if it is God's will.

Now you ask,

if the text leads to a woman having an authority called "husband", will you accept it?

No more than I would accept slavery or a totalitarian government.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 06:13:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

That's pretty much what I suspected.

I've addressed the subject a couple of times on my blog, but as I said, pretty much what I suspected.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 06:24:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

You oppose slavery, and I suppose totalitarian government. Christians are clearly taught to submit to both. On what basis do you resist the clear teaching of the scripture?

 
At Fri Sep 14, 06:31:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

I read your post and I agree with you. There are times when women should just submit to unjust suffering as Jesus did on the cross.

There are also Christians who suffer from totalitarian governments. They accept it as God's will.

However, it is an evil to promote totalitarian governments and slavery and a woman surrendering her right to vote as she chooses when she marries. These things should be opposed strongly. We should fight all injustice.

 
At Fri Sep 14, 06:38:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

Ellen, I understand mutual submission quite well. What I asked you was what you were meant about mutual submission supposedly being used to "eradicate gender roles." I'll be more specific in what I'm not understanding (and which Suzanne's comment did not address):

Who is supposedly eradicating gender roles?

What are these gender roles supposedly being eradicated, and what biblical basis is there for such roles?

How is mutual submission being used to supposedly eradicate these things?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 06:43:00 AM, Blogger Peter Kirk said...

... What about 2 + 2 = 100?

Ellen, let's put it this way. First prove your point, then Suzanne and I will decide if I will accept it. But since theologians and biblical scholars far better known than you have failed to prove it, I will not speculate about what we might do if it were to be proved.

Note that something being unproveable is not the same as it being false. There are in fact mathematical statements of which it has been proved that it is impossible to prove them true or false. Obviously 2 + 2 = 100 is not one of them. If this is true in mathematics, how much more in theology!

 
At Sat Sep 15, 09:13:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne, as a logical argument, the comparison marriage/slavery/totalitarian government is a red herring.

all marriage / all slavery / all government would be a better comparison.

If you oppose the abolition of all slavery, would you oppose the abolition all governments and all marriage? I've responded on my blog, not because I would not comment here, but because it's ending up just to be too long for a combox.

The next question is who was Paul writing to? Was he speaking of the institutions, or those subject to the institutions? Does the idea that we are told to submit to authorities prohibit us working for justice when those authorities go bad?

Does the fact that there are Christians submitting to slavery mean that we (in a free society) should not be working to abolish slavery?

Psalmist, for right or wrong, there ARE gender roles. The argument is whether or not they are biblical. Where there gender roles in Scripture? Yes, it's unavoidable. Do they continue today? Since Scripture does not say, it is dependent on those who would change the meaning of Scripture to prove it.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 09:40:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

The fact that some women are in unilateral submission to their husbands does not prevent me from fighting against those who teach that equality leads away from the Bible.

I identify with Christian reformers who made governments responsible to the people, a form of mutual submission.

Since it is so easy to abuse power, since this is so rampant, there must be some way to work against abuse. There are two approaches. One is to reduce the power of the institution and make it responsible and answerable to those it serves. The second is to define when it is a lawful government and should be obeyed and when it is not. I am sure you can imagine how difficult it is to outline exactly what is lawful and what is not in a marriage. For example, does a submissive wife have the right to vote for whoever she chooses. I don't think so. This means that a man with a submissive wife has two votes.

Marriages with male authority should be registered by gvernment and the right to vote be removed from the wife, unless the husband signs a document guaranteeing her the right to free vote.

To prevent abuse male authority marriages should be written up as contracts. So many decibels equates abuse, a certain kind of language is abuse, if used once because of a stubbed toe it is not abuse, but if used twice it is abuse. How about three times.

Then the contract could be reviewed every two or three months by a special court to prevent abuse.

It is much easier to just state that both partners have the same rights to choose to vote, to choose to work, to choose to eat peas - or not.

Some reformers wanted to maintain the notion that the ruler was the Lord's anointed and responsible to no one but God. Eventually reformers got it. Make rulers responsible to the people.

That is what I am saying, let us go with the reformers, a non-totalitarian church, a non-totalitarian government and non-totalitarian marriages. A reduction in the conglomeration of power to one class of persons.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 09:58:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

To prevent abuse male authority marriages should be written up as contracts. So many decibels equates abuse, a certain kind of language is abuse, if used once because of a stubbed toe it is not abuse, but if used twice it is abuse. How about three times.

Can you give me any Scripture on that?

(especially give the fact that women are just as likely as men to exceed the decibel level.)

 
At Sat Sep 15, 10:09:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I missed your link earlier. However, you made it clear before, submission in marriage is an unjust suffering which some have to endure. I agree.

All slavery is wrong, belonging to someone else and being in an unlimited obedience to another human being is wrong, even if the owner tries to be righteous. I agree with you. Its wrong, and unilateral submission is just that - a very wrong thing.

God created man and woman. He did not set up hierarchy within marriage, although many try to read this into scripture.

It is clear that Abraham and Sarah did as each other asked. The seed was promised to both of them. Women are Sarah's daugthers. Rebekah spoke of her mother's house. Hagar named God. Rebekah acted independently so that Jacob would inherit the birthright. There is no example of Sarah obeying Abraham.

We are called on to fight injustice. World Vision has pointed to the denial of decision-making power as the reason that so many women around theoworld suffer violence, poverty, disease. If we know to do right and do not do it we sin. If we know that denial of decision-making power causes injustice we are responsible to fight against it just as we fight against totalitarian govenrments. We need to model and set an example before the whole world that denial of decision-making for women is an evil and will not be excused. We are responsible before God to fight for justice.

There were many churches, particularly in the south that fought to keep slavery. Now churches are fighting to prevent women from making their won decisions. These are deeply wrong and disturbing things.

There were churches who fought to keep a powerful monarchy. We need to thank God that rulers have been made responsible, that employers are made responsible to law and unions.

If you really want to fight injustice here and elsewhere, you would fight for the equal dignity here on earth for women - the dignity for them to make their own decisions on an equal basis with men.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 10:10:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Actually Suzanne, I walked away from the computer and realized that 1) perhaps you cannot address my actual points, and thus resort to inanities and 2) you have a partial point.

What if submission to authority is a good thing. There is a case to be made to keep governments out of marriage, except to keep track of the contracts (David Instone Brewer had a book that shares Old Testament era marriage contracts - very fascinating)

Since we cannot expect unbelievers to act in a Godly way, who can believers register their marriages with? The church - in fact, it was done that way for centuries; there are marriage certificates that came from the church, not from the state in my mother's family tree book.

If a husband is abusive? Another outdated notion is "church discipline".

This could work.

A woman who is submissive to her husband, who is submissive to their church, who is submissive to Christ. Yes. This could work.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 10:10:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Just caught your last comment, Ellen. Um, where is the scripture on speed limits. We still need them.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 10:13:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

A false dichotomy is one that sets up an "either/or" where none is inherent.

Submission to authority is not necessarily inequality.

Are you saying that submission to authority in necessarily inequality?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 10:15:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Again, Suzanne, you're not addressing my actual points, merely enforcing them.

The authority is not the speed limit - the authority is the government that puts the speed limit in place.

If you advocate for non-submission in marriage, do you also advocate for non-submission to government?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 10:17:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Got to go, but you admit the need for regulation. But what man, or woman, can keep the law. None.

Think of the pharisee and the publican. We are all publicans. That is the point. C. S. Lewis got it when he said that he supports demoncracy because he himself is not fit to have share in ruling the hen roost. That is the point. No human is good enough to be in charge. No human could keep the rules. There must be gracious mutual submission. Unilateral submission is suffering.

Yes, unless the authority is responsible to the people. We submit to government because is represents the good of the plural, of every individual. We submit to a governement that is return dependent on approval by the majority. It is the best we have. We believe that we are represented. In a twosome, if one has any power over the other, then that person has full control. I have to go for now.

I support mutual and reciprocal submission as with governments.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 10:24:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

I don't see Scripture in there...

Of course I admit the need for regulation - regulation requires submission to an authority, which inside of a marriage, you reject (other than, I'm assuming, God).

I don't have a problem with regulation, submission or authority.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 11:10:00 AM, Blogger Maggie Graham said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 11:36:00 AM, Blogger Psalmist said...

Ellen, I'd still like to see some substantiation for your claim that unnamed people are "eradicating gender roles" by using mutual submission, specifically: where specifically do you find these gender roles in Scripture, how is the eradication of them being carried out through mutual submission, and who is doing the eradication? All the substantiation I got from you was that gender roles are in Scripture. Just about everything you can think of is "in Scripture." Whether it's commanded by God, however, is an entirely different matter and how universally such things apply is yet another. You really would have to give some concrete examples for me to know just what you're getting at with your claim.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 11:46:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Let's take it piece by piece.

What I'm saying is that gender roles exist in Scripture.

Do you deny or agree that only men were priests in the Old Testament?

Do you deny or agree that (for whatever reason) Paul said, "I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 11:52:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I don't see Scripture in there...

You see Oliver Cromwell and Martin Luther. You see Catherine Booth and Elizabeth Fry, You see every Christian that has ever fought for equal rights and dignity for every human being.

Of course I admit the need for regulation

Are you going to set up marriage police in every church? Women who are abused do not tell for many years. Maybe hidden cameras?

- regulation requires submission to an authority, which inside of a marriage, you reject (other than, I'm assuming, God).

A wife should submit to exactly the same authorities the husband submits to. The law, that each person in the marriage can work, vote, drive a car, go in and out of the house on their own decision. That each are equally responsible for the welfare of the children and for each other, equally by mutual agreement. I am not antinomian, but believe in mutuality.

I don't have a problem with regulation,

Are you prepared to write up regulations to ensure that the wife has the right to vote for the candidate of her choice, to have a job, to save her own money, to have her own bank account? Can you regulate the spending habits of the husband so he doesn't die leaving his wife in debt. Maybe you could set up an allowance system so that money was deposited and doled out to the husband and wife by the elders.

Can you regulate every situation in which a man may be tempted to behave out of personal interest? Better just pin up on the wall,

"Love your next on as yourself" It is in the Bible to be used after all.

submission or authority.

But regulated submission and authority, I assume. Authority that is responsible to the people, to regulations, to law, to the unions even, I daresay.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 11:53:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Psalmist, I'm going to rephrase the questions, since "in Scripture" isn't the standard.

Do you agree or deny that the way God set up the temple system included only men as priests?

Do you agree or deny that the apostle Paul, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote, "I do not allow a woman to teach or have authority over a man"? (for whatever reason)

 
At Sat Sep 15, 11:54:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

I see that we've left the bounds of the text.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:02:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

Ellen, is it a problem for you to answer my thrice-asked questions? It's starting to appear to be.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:06:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

where specifically do you find these gender roles in Scripture

In the Old Testament temple system (do you agree or deny?)

In Paul's writing about women teachers (do you agree or deny?)

If I can get your agreement that gender roles did (and were prescribed), then we can go to the next question. Let's agree on the first premise before we go to the next.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

My agreement or disagreement with a partial answer should be no impediment to your providing a complete answer, if your claim is a valid one.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:08:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

If we can agree that there were gender roles, we can discuss the "claim that unnamed people are "eradicating gender roles" by using mutual submission, specifically.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:11:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

It appears you are not willing to substantiate your claim that "mutual submission is being used to eradicate gender roles" without first debating what you're interpreting to be gender roles.

The questions meanwhile go unanswered, and your claim therefore unsubstantiated.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:14:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

Ellen, I will concede that you interpret the OT priestly system and an out-of-context Pauline prohibition against a woman (singular) teaching men to be something you're identifying as "gender roles."

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:16:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

For the sake of argument, let's say I do agree with you that these two disparate examples constitute gender roles. So who is seeking to eradicate gender roles and using mutual submission to do it?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

sigh...

substantiate a claim that something that you will not even admit exists, is no longer in play?

I'm going to work on the assumption that there are gender roles prescribed in Scripture.

Are there people working to tell us that there are no gender roles (or authority structure) within marriage?

He did not set up hierarchy within marriage, although many try to read this into scripture.

Here we have a quote saying that there is no hierarchy in marriage.

I just don't see gender roles spelled out in scripture.

Eradicate or deny? When women are told (2 Peter 3-4) to submit to their husbands, is it eradication or denial that the words say what they say?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:18:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Do you deny or agree that only men were priests in the Old Testament?

Christ is the only priest in the New Testament. We don't sacrifice animals and we don't have priests.

Do you deny or agree that (for whatever reason) Paul said, "I do not permit a woman to teach or have authority over a man?

Can a women be university president to God's glory? Can she be Sunday School superintendent if there are male Sunday school teachers? Can a woman be a traffic cop. Dr.Grudem has real difficulties with this.

God does not have the dichotomous vision that we have - that there is a secular reality for Christians where they can do what they want, and a church reality. If women can't teach men, they can't teach men - period.

Ellen,

We left the bounds of the text just by being born into a later century. There are communities that reject electricity and modern surgery. There might be communities which reject democracy. There might be some way to join a group that has an ungodly emperor and slavery. I don't think members would get to choose whether they got to be the emperor or a slave.

Ps. I hope you are well.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:20:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

I can't explain it, Ellen; you're the one who made the claim that someone (unnamed) is eradicating gender roles with mutual submission. Will you, or won't you, substantiate your claim?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:24:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

Not all men were priests in the OT. You had to be much more than male. It was hereditary and then it was set aside.

1 Tim. 2:12 is in meaning much disputed but it is not followed. If it were truly an essential gender role then women should not teach anything at all to a man in any circumstance.

I disagree that these are gender roles.

I agree only that a godly women would submit as suffering unjustice. That is not a gender role.

There is no need to have a hierarchic marriage that has to be regulated by a detailed contract to prevent abuse.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:27:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

So who is seeking to eradicate gender roles and using mutual submission to do it?

My point has been that gender roles (hierarchy in marriage) is compatible with mutual submission (he submits to her needs, she submits to his, within the authority structure).

Suzanne says there is no such authority structure.

I suppose you could call that "denial", not eradication, except that there are gender roles/hierarchy defined in Scripture - if you prefer, I can use hierarchy rather than gender roles, to me, they are pretty much interchangeable.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:29:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne, there were no female priests under God's system.

We are then down to "that was then, this is now." Correct?

And we are no longer going where the text is going, but rather where we want the text to be going.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:32:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Psalmist, I choose to believe that you understand what I am saying. If I am using terms that are awkward for you, give me some that might be easier for. My background may be different than yours and we may be using the different terms to mean the same thing, or same terms to mean different things. Thanks.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:33:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

So let me be sure I understand you then, Ellen.

You're saying that it is Suzanne who is denying/eradicating gender roles/hierarchy, because she disagrees with your assertion that there is a scripturally mandated hierarchical structure in marriage?

So is she or is she not, in your singular opinion, using mutual submission to deny/eradicate gender roles/hierarchy?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:36:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

No, Ellen, at this point I still do not understand what you're saying, and it is wrong of you to claim otherwise. If you would not like for someone else to put words in your mouth and attribute thoughts to your head, do not do it to others.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:38:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

You have not answered any of my questions. I would like to take a break and listen to your comments on the regulation of marriage and living without a democracy.

But I have more questions ... Do you think we should make it illegal to have anesthetics for childbirth, so that even for a C section, a woman could experience pain. That was at one time required by the church so that women could remain within the text.

I suppose now you would also check to make sure that each male was circumcised.

However, the text actually says that there is now only one high priest, Christ, and that in Christ we are ALL kings and priests. It is worth knowing that kings and queens was the same word in Greek with different endings but meant either male or female in the plural, like brothers and sisters.

Women are priests on the same basis as men, in Christ. Do you deny this?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:43:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

I will be taking a break for several hours; I'll check back in later. (Lest I be considered slothful in replying to comments I'm not here to read.) ;)

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:50:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne is teaching that there are no gender roles hierarchy.

If you cannot see women ever having different roles in Scripture then you will not be able to see that there is a difference between then and now, what was and what is being taught.

Suzanne, can you give me the questions that I have not answered in list form (not buried in comments - I do the same thing so it's not an accusation, merely a request for clarity)

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:51:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I have no idea why gender roles and hierarchy should be interchangeable. I can see that for some they are but this would be a first in history, not biblical.

In ancient times, men and women both could be monarchs. Men and women both could own slaves. Women could be leaders. Paul especially preached to the leading women among the Greeks.

I have to go out again too, but it is a lot of fun to have a hen wag. Thanks both and I'll check in later.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 12:54:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Messages crossed, I am on the run - pick any question, Ellen, just one maybe two. I have to go.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 01:16:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

going through, searching for "?"

once the childbearing age is past, what are the different purposes, responsibilities and expectations?

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

I have worked for years in a team of two at school without hierarchy, is there something wrong with that?

I believe that most of us here would recognize that there was a hierarchy - you were working under a professor. I can't see any Scripture that says students must work under any other hierarchy

Can you discuss with reference to scripture, Ellen?

Sure.

What are your thoughts on democracy?

We don't have one. We have a constitutional republic.

Do you rule out scriptural allusions as answers to questions?

If a general question is asked, yes. If the question was a simple "yes or no", that would be nice. ;-)

You oppose slavery, and I suppose totalitarian government. Christians are clearly taught to submit to both. On what basis do you resist the clear teaching of the scripture?

I wrote a rather lengthy piece addressing this.

Are you going to set up marriage police in every church? Women who are abused do not tell for many years. Maybe hidden cameras?

I believe that Matthew addresses this rather nicely in directions on how to work with somebody who sins against you.

Then there are a whole lot of questions that "feel" largely inflammatory and issues that can be avoided by choosing a man wisely.

Can a women be university president to God's glory? Can she be Sunday School superintendent if there are male Sunday school teachers?

Since Paul was writing spiritual instruction, I think we can safely limit our discussion to spiritual things.

No, I will not be in a church with a woman superintendent.

Women are priests on the same basis as men, in Christ. Do you deny this?

The statement about Old Testament priests was an illustration to the fact that there are gender roles prescribed in the Bible.

We are equal in Christ.

Are there any that I missed (other than those that I assume are rhetorical?

I asked earlier if you are saying that submission to authority in necessarily inequality?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 03:34:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

Everything here should apply to the husband as well. I don't think not slandering and being kind are gender roles. I don't believe that being submissive to one's partner is a gender role.

Every woman works at home. Should she work exclusively at home. Where does the scripture say this?

I believe that most of us here would recognize that there was a hierarchy - you were working under a professor.

I don't remember ever working under a professor. I am a school teacher, I work in a team and for the last several years a close-knit team of two, with completely equal status. I have no idea what you are referring to here.

We don't have one. We have a constitutional republic.

If the US government is not a democracy then its website is disseminating false information.

"In the dictionary definition, democracy "is government by the people in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system." In the phrase of Abraham Lincoln, democracy is a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people." "

Are you telling me that the president of the United States, Lincoln, did not know what kind of government he was president of?


I wrote a rather lengthy piece addressing this.[slavery and marriage]

It is your opinion that God instituted a hierarchical marriage. You depart from the text. You reject slavery and not hierarchy in marriage for no scriptural reason.

Then there are a whole lot of questions that "feel" largely inflammatory and issues that can be avoided by choosing a man wisely.

Most of it can be avoided by choosing a man who does not believe in a hierarchical marriage. I agree with that! Nothing at all can be done to predict whether a husband will become disabled and a wife has to support him on a waitress salary because she stayed home.

I believe that Matthew addresses this rather nicely in directions on how to work with somebody who sins against you.

A woman under submission would not be allowed to go friends or the the church to discuss every failing of her husband. It would be much better if the husband knew to treat her as an equal than for her to go to friends and family and complain about her husband every time he sinned. That sounds rather nasty - sort of tattle tale. And if it were agreed that she should do this, she would wield tremendous power. I can't see any man wanting that kind of marriage.

Since Paul was writing spiritual instruction, I think we can safely limit our discussion to spiritual things.

I have a more wholistic view of our spiritual life, that it applies to our behaviour all the time.

The statement about Old Testament priests was an illustration to the fact that there are gender roles prescribed in the Bible.

The priesthood was for a few men. Circumcision was prescribed for all men. This was the true gender role in the Bible.

Do you think that males should still be circumcised? Does the fact that this is a gender role, mean that hierarchy is a gender role? I really cannot connect the dots here.

We are equal in Christ.

And so we should behave towards each other.

I asked earlier if you are saying that submission to authority in necessarily inequality?

No it is not inequality. But it is either a good thing or a bad thing.

1. Sometimes we should submit to authority because it is good.

2. Sometimes we submit to authority even though it is bad.

3. We seek to limit authority because it can be bad. We strive to make authority submit to the people. This is a worthy goal for a Christian.

We should all have the courage and insight of Luther, Cromwell, Lincoln and all the founding fathers and mothers of American (dare I say) democracy.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 03:39:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

OK, Ellen, so you're NOT saying that Suzanne was your unnamed eradicator/deny-er of gender roles by means of mutual submission.

I still don't see any substantiation of your claim that someone--anyone--is using mutual submission to eradicate gender roles, as you claimed earlier, nor have you explained in any way how this eradication by using mutual submission is being done.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 04:13:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

Let me offer this observation that made a big difference to me in understanding submission.

According to Eph. 5:21, all of us Christians are to submit/subject ourselves to one another out of our reverence for Christ.

This means chosen submission to one another. Not to an institution, not to a situation, not to a perception, but to a person. And it's a blanket commandment; no one is exempt; as Eph. 5:22ff makes it clear, wives aren't exempt, husbands aren't exempt, slaves and masters aren't exempt, children and fathers aren't exempt. The larger context of the Epistle makes it clear that all believers must reflect the self-sacrificing love of the Savior. The full context of Scripture supports this understanding.

So if we are to willingly place ourselves in the servant's posture to one another, we can hardly afford to stint on that measure based on whether the other may have some higher degree of earthly power over us. As Jesus clearly taught, his disciples were not to lord power/earthly authority over one another. The greatest is the one who served most fully, and rank/power/authority/position is of no significance within the body of Christ.

So I can see how this kind of radical, anti-worldly teaching would be a threat to hierarchies, even those that are taught by Christians as though they're biblical. Hierarchies in the church and marriage are not commanded by God, but submission (by all of us) certainly is.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 04:21:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

oh...sorry on the "democracy" thing...I was going by the Constitution.

# Democracy — Government by the people; government in which the supreme power is retained by the people and exercised either directly (Ablsolute, or pure), or indirectly (representative).

# Republic — A state in which the sovereign power resides in a certain body of the people (the electorate), and is exercised by representatives elected by, and responsible to, them.

We (strictly speaking) do not have a pure democracy, because we do not have (strictly speaking) majority rule. Even if the majority votes one way, the Supreme Court can overrule the majority.


Every woman works at home. Should she work exclusively at home. Where does the scripture say this?


I didn't say that. In fact, "oikouros" has interesting and rather beautiful secular uses, especially when Paul's writing is taken into consideration. I like to it in my post yesterday.

A woman under submission would not be allowed to go friends or the the church to discuss every failing of her husband.

1) Why should she want to? This is what I don't understand about women - their desire to air everything. So much for love covering a multitude of sins.

2) If there is SIN (not whining), there is a structure in place that DOES allow a spouse to go to 2 or 3 others, take them with him or her to confront the offender and I'm sure you know what comes after that.

If people complained about their spouses knowing that the spouse would hear about it, there would be a lot less complaining.

Psalmist - I've explained to the best of my ability - perhaps you can tell me where the communications barrier is? If you cannot articulate the barrier, I'm truly at a loss.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 04:24:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

A woman under submission would not be allowed to go friends or the the church to discuss every failing of her husband. It would be much better if the husband knew to treat her as an equal

I'm asking again (for clarification) if you believe that submission means inequality. Here you seem to be saying that a wife under submission is not equal.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 04:25:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Psalmist,

I respect what you are saying but I hope you will remember that abuse is insidious, not always physical,s sometimes manipulative and subtle, extremely damaging and difficult to withdraw from.

It should be noted that the majority of women do not ever get out of abusive relationships. They live in them until they die.

It should also be recognized that submissive behaviour reinforces and rewards the abuser. These are sad facts. I am thinking of people I know.

So abuse - not always physical, rewarded and encouraged by submission, a lifelong condition for many.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 04:37:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne, are you saying that women have no choice, or are you saying that they choose not to take the choice to get out of an abusive relationship?

Seriously, knowing about an abusive relationship where the abused one wants to get out (and I'm not limiting the sexes here), and not doing something to stop it (and I'm not saying that you are, this is a blanket statement) is bad. Real bad.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 04:53:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I have missed your point about "oikouros" - sorry. As I see it both men and women work in and out of the home, then and now. This is not a gender role. I am missing your point.

If there is SIN (not whining), there is a structure in place that DOES allow a spouse to go to 2 or 3 others, take them with him or her to confront the offender and I'm sure you know what comes after that.

Who is without sin? Is there SIN and sin? How do we know which is which? I just can't see it.

No, I don't think we really can imagine what it would look like if wives had to depend on the church to arbitrate whether every disagreement was a sin.

Here is an example. The wife is driving but the husband is in the car. He tells her to pass the car in front. She can see another car coming in their direction. She refuses.

Now, take that and put it into every situation where the wife sees something that the husband does not. How does the husband know what information the wife is processing in those few seconds. This happens regularly as part of every day. One person sees one thing and the other something else. So, two different individuals processing different sets of information.

Now, another problem is that when people get divorced, the law divides the assets and debts between the two. But if the husband had authority, he would have arranged the finances and spent money without his wife's permission.

Our law is set up so that the wife is equally responsible. She cannot tell the court that her husband spent the money without her permission and get out of debt. She bears responsibility, but, in your system, no authority.

Catching your last point, Ellen, just now, I can say that if denial of decision-making power for women was not such a huge problem, World Vision would not have put it at the top of their agenda.

What damage is done by treating a wife as an equal? None that I know of. Divorce and abuse rates do not go down in communities with traditional marriages.

What damage is done by treating a wife as one who is under submission? Quite a lot.

The image of the church is tarnished in the world by abuse. I do not know how treating a wife as an equal damages the church and the glory of God.

In a recent book on abuse, the finger was put on a sense of male entitlement as a huge factor in abuse.

Since secular statistics show that 70% of women in abusive relationships do not get out, it is probably worth looking at this problem seriously.

I know a woman who was told by a church elder to bake her husband a pie, after he had raped her. He needed a little TLC, right? Unfortunately, the elder was a judge. Fortunately, the woman's doctor pressed the case.

This story is repeated all over this continent and all over the world. The church can only stem the tide by teaching that male entitlement is wrong. Then the wife knows from the moment the husband starts telling her what to do, that she needs to get out. This needs to happen long before there is violence, long before there are children.

If a husband treats his wife as if she is in unilateral submission to him she needs to leave - right away. And every preacher who teaches anything else is responsible for damage.

I believe that it should be against the law to preach unilateral submission and hierarchy in marriage. It should be treated just like slavery and totalitarian government. America needs to model how to treat women as equals. Right now, some Christians in America are moving backwards on this.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 04:56:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

I didn't answer your last question very well. Women need to be taught what abuse is before they are entangled in deeper abuse. They need to be taught that being in a hierarchical intimate relationship is abuse. Then they can make the right choice - to get out.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 05:08:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne, your appeal in your last (big) comment is called "an appeal to fear".

They need to be taught that being in a hierarchical intimate relationship is abuse.

I understand that is your interpretation. You have yet to prove that to me Scripturally.

I believe that it should be against the law to preach unilateral submission and hierarchy in marriage.

Um...wow. Abuse is against the law. Freedom of religion tells me that if I have a firmly held religious conviction that I should be looking for a husband who will be a Godly leader (notice this does not mean I can look for a slave-owner, this involves a plan for my life and the life of my spouse), then you are suggesting there should be a law prohibiting me from exercising my belief that affect me and my spouse (not the ownership of another person so we don't need to go there).

Yes - I would and I have turned away prospective mates because of their egalitarian stance. Would you want a law against that also? (question meaning, how far would you go with that legality thing)

 
At Sat Sep 15, 05:11:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Who is without sin? Is there SIN and sin? How do we know which is which? I just can't see it.

Sorry, another question I missed.

Sin: if it's in the Bible that I should do this and I don't, that's sin. If it's in the Bible that I shouldn't do this and I do, that's sin.

Forgetting to put the seat down is not sin.

I would not want to be married to a person (I wouldn't want to be in any sort of relationship with a person) who complained about every little thing.

If it's not big enough to want to seek church discipline, it's not big enough to complain to your friends about.

Wouldn't you want the same treatment?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 05:45:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

The problem is that you don't quote me, you make things up. You make things up about your own government, also. I really can't deal with it all.

However ... I said that it should be against the law to PREACH that God wants people in a hierarchical marriage. This is spiritual abuse. I am with the reformers on this. It took great courage for Luther to say that the church leaders had to submit themselves to secular authority. It took great courage for him to redefine the church as the "invisible" body of Christ. It took great courage to change the laws against absolute monarchy and slavery because both are supported in scripture.

It took great courage for some to fight against slavery when the Southern Baptist church in particular taught that fighting slavery was against scripture.

People need to move outside of their comfort zone if they want to serve God.

I have nowhere said anything about complaining about every little thing. It is not in the Bible that a husband should not spend money behind his wife's back, ergo, that is not sin. Is that what you mean? It is not sin for a husband to rape his wife either. In fact, that was the interpretation of scripture right up until very recently. Not in the text, not a sin. I would not want to live a life regulated by the notion that if it wasn't spelled out in the Bible then it is not sin.

It used to be that it was not a sin to beat your wife. It was only a sin if the beating was harsh. Living by the text could be a very violent thing.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 09:23:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

It used to be that it was not a sin to beat your wife. It was only a sin if the beating was harsh. Living by the text could be a very violent thing.

That's Islam. In Christianity, a husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church - He doesn't beat her.

The problem is that you don't quote me, you make things up. You make things up about your own government, also. I really can't deal with it all.

I do see the difference and I apologize for the bad leap in logic.

What you are saying is that you believe that I can believe that there is a creation order in marriage, but a pastor should not be able to preach that belief from Scripture.

Question: Should I be prohibited from teaching to other women?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 09:35:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

That's Islam.

No, that was British law.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 09:46:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

I believe strongly that hierarchy in marriage does damage to both parties. However, I do not believe that all complementarians have a hierarchic marriage. I suspect many do not.

I believe that public and authoritative affirmation from the pulpit that marriage should be a hierarchy is especially dangerous if people are lead to believe that they are less than Bible believing Christians if they don't accept it. This is spiritual abuse.

Sadly it is the husbands who do not treat their wives as equals who suffer the most in the end. The idea that a man should have authority divides men up into two groups, those who are good enough to be the authority in a marriage and those who aren't. The truth is that some manage to look better than others and they encourage the belief. Those men who fail, are then held up as "no longer worthy to be head over the wife." It is a judgmental and hypocritical system. We are all sinners. The sooner that is acknowledged the better.

It is all a very sad thing and leads to division, hypocrisy, lack of love and acceptance. How I wish people would not have to suffer the consequences of this very wrong teaching.

You did not answer when I asked what damage would be done if a man treats his wife as an equal. I know what damage is done if he does not.

Believe me, I talk about this with sadness for those who distort the teaching of Christ that we be in submission to each other and serve one another.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 10:03:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

That's Islam.

No, that was British law.


Is it Bible?

You did not answer when I asked what damage would be done if a man treats his wife as an equal. I know what damage is done if he does not.

That's because it is not my interpretation that submission means unequal.

I've asked for clarification and you bring up equality (or lack thereof) yet again.

Do you believe that to be submissive means inequality? I keep asking because you keep referring to inequality.

I do not believe that a submissive wife is unequal. The role is different, but the value of the partners are the same.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 10:40:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Is it Bible?

The Bible does not say "do not hit your wife." So I have to assume that you do not think this is a sin. Clearly by your reckoning it is not sin.

I do not believe that a submissive wife is unequal. The role is different, but the value of the partners are the same.

I do not believe that a submissive wife is unequal. I believe she is being treated in an unequal manner. She has less ability to make decisions. Her position is unequal. This is called ontological equality and functional inequality. She functions in an unequal manner. the wife has less power, she is in an unequal position. It is different and unequal. No one says that it is not an unequal position. This is fundamental to the belief.

Do you think treating women as unequal honours Christ?

Men live in a democratic country and they treat those they have power over in an undemocratic fashion. Talk about having your cake and eating it too. It is so shameful that when a Focus on the Family guy was asked on CNN recently if the Southern baptist homemaking course taught submission he actually answered "I don't know." But it is in the syllabus that the Biblical model of marriage is taught! I suggest that he did not want to say that the course taught submission because he knew that it was shameful.

Once again, I believe that an unequal marriage brings the gospel into disrepute. How do you think that a non-hierarchical marriage damages the gospel?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 10:43:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Oops, I meant that I believe a "hierarchical" marriage brings the gospel into disrepute. How do you see that a non-hierarchical marriage would do that?

Hierarchy and inequality are usually considered synonyms.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 10:47:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

The Bible does not say "do not hit your wife." So I have to assume that you do not think this is a sin. Clearly by your reckoning it is not sin.

I don't suppose that a mandate to "do unto others" has a bearing?

How do you feel about the Trinity? There are parallels.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 10:51:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I don't suppose that a mandate to "do unto others" has a bearing?

Ellen,

We have fallen into complete agreement. That is exactly what should govern behaviour in a marriage. A husband does not want to be "under authority" in marriage and he should not treat his wife as if it would be a nice thing for her.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 11:18:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne, you are so sure that everybody wants what you want, there are no women who want to be honored as the weaker vessel? (that is a question, not putting words in your mouth).

How do you feel about the inequality in the Trinity?

 
At Sat Sep 15, 11:30:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

We are definitely the weaker vessel in a physical sense. Giving the one who is physically weaker the same intellectual rights, since she is intellectually equal, is the grace that men should give a wife. They should not use their greater physical strength to their own advantage.

Would I want to be treated as weaker in any sense other than physical, no.

Christ gave up power and made himself equal to mortal humans. This is what men should do. They should surrender their ability to use their greater physical strength against their wife.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 11:36:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

They should surrender their ability to use their greater physical strength against their wife.

Do you see that in every marriage where the wife is submissive and the husband leads?

Trying to find out where you're coming from.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 11:44:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Do you see that in every marriage where the wife is submissive and the husband leads?

As I said, I believe that being submissive rewards and reinforces abuse. I don't think I quite get your question. I don't see men treating women the way they want to be treated in male lead marriages.

I have listened to two very sad stories on complementarian blogs. One is a theologian who after 40 years of marriage, ends up in marriage counselling and his wife says that she felt like she had no voice for the entire 40 years.

Another is about a woman who walks by a bridal shop with her 6 year old. The mother says to her daughter, don't you love those dresses? The girl says, "I don't want to ever get married if my husband is going to talk to me the way Daddy talks to you."

These are stories by those who support the male lead marriages.

 
At Sat Sep 15, 11:54:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

I can ask it a different way and I'm not trying to be snippy but this is a yes or no question. You have referenced abuse, "no voice", men "using their strength" against their wives. You've already stated that the teaching of male-led marriage (I'm using your term for what I think you mean) is spiritual abuse.

Do you see this (abuse) in every male-led marriage?

 
At Sun Sep 16, 12:00:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Do you see this (abuse) in every male-led marriage?

I don't think so, but I am never really sure who leads a marriage. I see it in some. Isn't that enough?

 
At Sun Sep 16, 12:02:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I see both intentional abuse and accidental, such as the woman whose husband is disabled and she can only get a job as a waitress. She let her husband support and lead, and now what?

 
At Sun Sep 16, 12:05:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

Physical and psychological abuse is very common but people don't like to talk about it. It is a sad thing.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 12:07:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne, can we please appeal to Scripture, not to fear?

 
At Sun Sep 16, 12:08:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

As far a psychological abuse, I see just as much of it in women as abusers as I do men. That is not an appeal to logic or to egalitarianism.

It points to the need for church discipline.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 12:11:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Another is about a woman who walks by a bridal shop with her 6 year old. The mother says to her daughter, don't you love those dresses? The girl says, "I don't want to ever get married if my husband is going to talk to me the way Daddy talks to you."

Can we start the war of horror stories?

I was present at a get together with a couple who is in an egalitarian marriage. She was on a rampage at their son. I asked him, can't you say something? He said, "um...no. You don't have to live with her."

 
At Sun Sep 16, 12:17:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Ellen,

I give up. If you simply refuse to believe that physical abuse is a fear and not a reality, then you will never do anything about it. Although both partners may abuse, the teaching that a woman should be in submission means that when she is treated unequally, but without violence and it hurts she is taught that this is what God wants for her. Women are deprived of careers, freedom, phycial safety and more.

Church discipline has not stopped abuse yet. Shall we wait another 2000 years and see?

I thought somehow that we agreed that "Do unto others as you would nave them do unto you" was a good verse to base a marriage on. Why should Christian brothers and sisters be held to a higher standard than husbands and wives?

 
At Sun Sep 16, 12:18:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

The "horror" stories were because you asked for them. You have a very odd notion of how to carry on a conversation.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 12:29:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne, if you simply refuse to believe (using your words) that a husband can love his wife as Christ loves the church and a wife can submit to her husband as unto the Lord, well...never mind.

I asked if you saw abuse in every male led marriage - examples? there are plenty of bad examples on both sides.

As far as being deprived of careers, freedom, phycial safety and more, that is another appeal to fear. Deprivation is a function of abuse, not of godly leadership.

Church discipline has not stopped abuse yet. Shall we wait another 2000 years and see?

Are you making the assertion that egalitarian marriages are free from abuse?

I thought somehow that we agreed that "Do unto others as you would nave them do unto you" was a good verse to base a marriage on.

I thought somehow that I asked you if you truly believed that every woman wants what you want? I see that it was truly only somehow, I used "weaker vessel" and you answered the weaker vessel part, not the "do you believe" part.

Suzanne, do you truly believe that every woman wants what you want? Do you believe that for every woman, to be treated as she would like to be treated includes having an egaliterian marriage?

 
At Sun Sep 16, 12:34:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Here's a question that I struggle to understand the answer to in an egalitarian relationship:

How does the metaphor of "head" (as in head to the body) in the case of "man is the head of the wife / Christ is the head of the church" passage?

 
At Sun Sep 16, 12:48:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Suzanne, if you simply refuse to believe (using your words) that a husband can love his wife as Christ loves the church and a wife can submit to her husband as unto the Lord, well...never mind.

We are all human, we all make mistakes. Limit someone's power, you limit their power to do harm.

As far as being deprived of careers, freedom, physical safety and more, that is another appeal to fear. Deprivation is a function of abuse, not of godly leadership.

Yes, that is the problem, abuse great or small will always happen, but at least it doesn't have to come with the idea that God wants the husband to make decisions for the wife about her career. Believe me this is being taught, that a man should make decisions for the wife about how, when, where and how much she works, and what she does at work if she has a problem. Just let the man make the decision, whether he has the expertise or not.

Are you making the assertion that egalitarian marriages are free from abuse?

Some statistics say they are less so. Certainly the recent book by Lundy Bancroft puts the finger on male entitlement as a necessary component to abuse. Certainly World Vision believes denial of decison-making power is costing the life and health of millions of women. This is not fear, this is the present reality of real live people and no one seems to care. Barna research shows that they are less so.

I thought somehow that we agreed that "Do unto others as you would nave them do unto you" was

Suzanne, do you truly believe that every woman wants what you want?

Every woman wants to have a say in how she is treated. If that is honoured then it they are truly being treated as they would treat someone else. However, a male lead marriage is not supposed to work like that. The husband is the authority and he decides. Does the wife like interior decorating, then lets live in a furnished apartment because it is cheaper, better for his career, whatever.

Anyway, what does this have to do with what I want or you want? this has to do with what is right. There is a way that Jesus taught people to treat each other, and marriage should not be second to that, a lesser arrangement where the man gets do decide.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 01:11:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Here's a question that I struggle to understand the answer to in an egalitarian relationship:

How does the metaphor of "head" (as in head to the body) in the case of "man is the head of the wife / Christ is the head of the church" passage?


The stronger one supplies what is needed to the weaker if she is bearing children, and as Christ did, humbles himself to come down to the level of the weaker. He does not use any superior power for himself to act as the authority, he only uses power to build up and support. Both wife and husband help each other. They may both have important careers that demand the sacrifice of either. The wife does not have to have a career, but she might need one or want one. She might or she might not.

If you live in a society where the wife cannot do her own legal and banking functions, such as ancient Greece, the husband supplies that for the wife, he acts for her, and she respects this.

If a woman is a widow then she does not need a male head, unless she needs it legally, then she tells her son to do her banking for her and he does what she asks. Conditions were different then - it is difficult to know what Paul meant but it did not have to do with leading. In Greek the "will" lead, it was called the βουλη. Aristotle did not think that women had as developed a will as men. This is why women had to be under authority, because they were ακυριος, without authority. He thought that this was the nature of women. The Bible does not teach this.

A woman can function intellectually entirely on her own as a single woman. She does not need a man to relieve her of full adult responsibility. She may wish to be reoeved of responsibility but this is not good for her Christian character.

Since all women can function as adults and can make their own decisions, and be leaders themselves, they were created by God to function fully normally as single people. This is the full adult function of a woman, as a real person.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 04:15:00 AM, Blogger Psalmist said...

Whoa, Suzanne...I don't recall getting into the abuse issue at all. In fact, submission as I understand it does NOT mean accepting another's sin without objection, or staying for further abuse. I believe true biblical submission involves acting for the other's benefit, and permitting the other to continue abusing doesn't do that.

I understand that it can be difficult or sometimes even impossible for someone who's being abused to leave immediately. It's a complex and individual situation for which there are no easy answers. I do believe this, however: anyone who tells another who is being abused that they must flat-out take that abuse, without protest, without leaving, is not advocating submission, but subjugation. There is a profound difference that far too many in the church don't bother to make.

I'm sorry I wasn't clearer about what I meant by submission.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 04:32:00 AM, Blogger Psalmist said...

Ellen, the barrier is that you have refused to answer the question in full.

You have said that gender roles involve the OT priesthood and an out-of-context Pauline prohibition against a (singular) woman teaching or usurping the authority of a man. You have not given any other explanation of what you consider gender roles. When I pressed about who was eradicating gender roles, you said "denying" might be a better word and you seemed to be saying that Suzanne was doing that. When I asked if that was correct, you didn't actually answer, but seemed to be saying that wasn't correct. So I still don't know who you're claiming was supposedly eradicating the gender roles you haven't really specified, nor anything at all about how the unnamed individual(s) are supposedly using mutual submission to do it.

That is the barrier, which is why I repeatedly asked you to answer clarifying questions. You've chosen not to do so. I'm certainly willing to let it go unanswered, as mutual submission is a clear scriptural commandment, and binding "gender roles" are a social construct imposed upon the biblical text through the use of proof-texting. Now if you have some compelling evidence to the contrary, I would read it carefully. So far, all you've given is zero substantiation for what appears to be a personal opinion.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 04:42:00 AM, Blogger Psalmist said...

The head:body analogy isn't all that difficult, Ellen. Christ is the head of his body, the church. They are one. A husband is the head of his body, his wife. They are one. A husband and wife can be one. A husband, however, cannot and should not try to be all that Christ is to his wife. A husband is not savior, priest, king, leader, atoning sacrifice, etc. to his wife. He is one flesh with her. The imposition of these other roles onto husbands is not biblically warranted. As in other passages of Scripture, Eph. 5 includes the command for a husband to love his wife--as his own body. Loving her is not unique to him. All Christians are commanded, by the Lord himself, to love one another as he has loved us. Likewise submission of the wife. She is not commanded to do something for her hasband that we're not all commanded to do for one another. All are to love, submit to, honor, and respect one another. Emphasis of one aspect of generally-commanded behavior in no way negates all the others or requires "more" of it from one than another. That's not possible, if we rightly understand that our love, respect, honor, submission, etc. are to be fully and freely given.

So I think you're presenting an incomplete obedience to the commands of God by saying a husband loves as Christ loves and a wife submits as to the Lord. Both are to do both, by virtue of being Christ's disciples. Anything less is half-measures.

Maybe you could point to an explicit command for husbands to lead their wives. I doubt it, for there isn't one, but I'd like to see you appeal to Scripture only to substantiate that mode for marriage.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 07:44:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Psalmist, I'll go back to gender roles once again. There are example of (some) men having God-given jobs that no woman could have. That is Old Testament, to be sure, but it is sex-driven.

There are several places in the New Testament where women are specifically instructed to submit to their husbands - how many places are men (specifically) instructed to (specifically) submit to their wives?

Is it taught that men and women have exactly the same jobs and each submit to the others' needs with no difference in how they relate to one another based on sex? I believe not.

Throughout the centuries, the teaching of the church has been the husband as leader, submitting to the needs of his wife in his leadership role, and the wife created as helpmeet, submitting to his needs in that helpmeet role.

Today (in general) egalitarians would like to change that teaching. Suzanne would like to make it illegal for a church to teach that.

Throughout the centuries, the teaching of the church has been male headship based. What would you call it (I'm truly searching for word that you will accept while remaining true to my own beliefs), when a segment of the Christian community wants to change the centuries old teachings of the leadership of the husband?

I am trying to answer as best I can (Biblical instruction for husbands to not treat their wives harshly - how can you do that unless you are in a position to do so?

- the Biblical qualification for bishops is that they are the husband of one wife - the word for husband can be generic, but the word for wife/woman is feminine - so unless you are prepared to teach that women can be husbands to women, the qualification is written to men. This would make it a qualification based on sex.

Another qualification is that bishops must rule over their households well. It is hard to imagine having an instruction to rule your household without the authority to do so.

I suspect that you will not accept this - these are Biblical instructions and qualifications based on sex. Egalitarians do not teach these being based on sex. There are more, but it would be a very large comment and at this point, it is not that I have not answered, it is that you do not see the answer.

Suzanne, I was in an egalitarian marriage and I can intimately tell you that they are not immune from abuse and neglect. It may take a different form, but in the long run, I would rather have had physical abuse - you can point to it and say, "he did this". With emotional abuse, there are no marks.

With your repeated reference to abuse in male-led marriages, I'm going to use a different terminology for a Christian marriage - "complementarian". Equal in worth, status, and love, but with different roles of leadership and helpmeet, as I believe are taught in Scripture.

Many marriages are "male-led" and are not Christian. I do not expect those men who are not Christians to treat their wives as Christians should treat their husbands.

Question: wss the instruction for wives to submit to their husbands a "cultural" thing? Was it a good or bad part of the culture?

 
At Sun Sep 16, 08:18:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Question: Are overseers the only ones that should strive for those qualifications, or should they serve as an example?

 
At Sun Sep 16, 08:31:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

The head:body analogy isn't all that difficult, Ellen. Christ is the head of his body, the church. They are one. A husband is the head of his body, his wife. They are one. A husband and wife can be one.

Actually, the husband and wife ARE one flesh. Not "can be" - they are.

Does the head of a body have jobs that the rest of the body does not have? What might those jobs be (if in fact you believe they exist)?

 
At Sun Sep 16, 09:00:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

To answer Psalmist, the passage in question, 1 Peter 2, is clearly an example of a woman submitting to abuse. I think in those days women did stay in abusive relationships, there weren't all that many options. So, remaining in the text, submission, if it is not mutual, is abuse, and yes, slaves, wives, citizens did submit to it as part of their suffering in life.

Ellen blogged about this chapter on her blog so I kept the discussion relevant to that. Maybe that led to a misunderstanding.

Suzanne, I was in an egalitarian marriage and I can intimately tell you that they are not immune from abuse and neglect. It may take a different form, but in the long run, I would rather have had physical abuse - you can point to it and say, "he did this". With emotional abuse, there are no marks.

Ellen,

I'm sorry. I accept this. However, you say that you would rather have the physical abuse but you have not experienced that. We all speak out of turn here. The grass is always greener.

But physical abuse is very demeaning and deprives people of human dignity.

Another difference between abuse in an egalitarian marriage and in a male led marriage is that in a male led marriage, resistance to having the husband make bad decisions for you, or mistreat you, is styled as rebellion against God.

I have had people tell me that I will go to hell, I no longer believe the Bible, that I have joined the liberals (a real insult for that person). A wife, in this paradigm, is given the choice of submitting to crap or being told she is not a Christian. Then the moment people discover that abuse is physical, the husband is ostracized and told he is not a Christian.

The male led paradigm is full of hypocrisy and drawing lines in the sand. As far as I am concerned everyone is abused.

So the male led paradigm leads to spiritual abuse of both husband and wife, and deep scars. Just because you have not experienced it, you must not say that it would be preferable to what you suffered.

That is why I proposed the concept of hesed in marriage, mutual kindness and fidelity. It has a strong appeal to both the traditional and egalitarian camp.

Psalmist, I started to write what you did about head and body, and erased it. Too late last night to pull it together. So thanks.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 09:06:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

So, remaining in the text, submission, if it is not mutual, is abuse, and yes, slaves, wives, citizens did submit to it as part of their suffering in life.

Suzanne, it truly sounds as if you are saying that a complentarian marriage is abuse, since there is a leader and a helpmeet, with different roles.

Are you saying that emotional abuse and neglect is NOT demeaning? Or somehow less damaging than physical?

 
At Sun Sep 16, 09:08:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

That is why I proposed the concept of hesed in marriage, mutual kindness and fidelity. It has a strong appeal to both the traditional and egalitarian camp.

Suzanne, "mutual kindness and fidelity" and complementarianism are not mutually exclusive. You are setting up a false dichotomy. Just so you know.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 09:10:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

So the male led paradigm leads to spiritual abuse of both husband and wife, and deep scars.

Can you please make that statement a little less sweeping and all-inclusive?

Something like, "in any relationship, the possibility for abuse exists?"

On a side note, the studies that say male-led marriages are more likely to experience abuse, do you have studies that break that down in Christian and not? And whether those Christians are in churches with church discipline?

 
At Sun Sep 16, 09:18:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

The male led paradigm is full of hypocrisy and drawing lines in the sand. As far as I am concerned everyone is abused.

They need to be taught that being in a hierarchical intimate relationship is abuse.

So, remaining in the text, submission, if it is not mutual, is abuse,

(Ellen asked)Do you see this (abuse) in every male-led marriage?

(Suzanne answered) I don't think so...


Is complentarianism abuse or not? Is it "is" or it is "I don't think so"

 
At Sun Sep 16, 09:19:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Sorry, I know that I'm writing numerous comments, but it's way easier for me to sort out comments if they are in different comments.

It's how I sometimes miss questions.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 09:28:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Are you saying that emotional abuse and neglect is NOT demeaning?

No.

Or somehow less damaging than physical?

Yes.

Suzanne, "mutual kindness and fidelity" and complementarianism are not mutually exclusive. You are setting up a false dichotomy.

Clearly I was not, that is why I said hesed appeals to both camps. It is a way for both complementarians and egalitarians to have a common vision of marriage.

So the male led paradigm leads to spiritual abuse of both husband and wife, and deep scars.

I should have said "can lead to spiritual abuse". I meant that, in addition to the physical and emotional abuse, the abuse becomes spiritual as well. It is a very bad scene.

All studies about abuse are flawed. The book by Lundy Bancroft is good. It is called Why Does He Do That? He puts the blame for physical abuse on lack of belief in the full equality of women, hierarchy, and male entitlement. He has long experience working with the courts.

The World Vision report is also worth reading.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 10:11:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Is complentarianism abuse or not? Is it "is" or it is "I don't think so"

I do not think that men who believe in complementarianism are abusive. If a man is not abusive he will not tell his wife, who has a career and a lot to contribute, that she should quit her job to help him with his. But the paradigm says that he should do that. So, the thing is, that the person himself has to be abusive for abuse to happen. if the husband is not abusive he will not require all the submissions that the male authority group recommend. Some of them are pretty bad. For example, the wife has to review her to do list with her husband every morning to see how she can serve him better. Then he tells her how to clean out her fridge, and clean the house and buy vegetables. Treats her like a moron. These examples are from major blogs which preach the "how to" of the complementarian marriage.

It is interesting that Russ Moore blogged about how most Christians are really in "same sex marriages". He said,

"I wonder aloud here whether most evangelical Christians are living in same-sex marriages."

That is, the complementarians aren't being hierarchical enough for his liking.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 10:32:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

But the paradigm says that he should do that.

Really? The majority of happy marriages I know are complementarian and most of the wives have careers.

Because there are sinful extremes, does not mean the concept is unbiblical.

Some of them are pretty bad.

Some are. Some take their role as leader and the admonition to love as Christ loves very seriously.

There are those who sin on both sides. Because some sin, does not mean the concept is unbibical.

For example, the wife has to review her to do list with her husband every morning to see how she can serve him better.

Is taking the worst case scenario really the best way to win the case?

Consider Proverbs 31 - this woman does not need the micro-management you are describing.

Most complementarian men don't desire it.

I sincerely hope that you are not trying to portray it as the norm.

It is interesting that Russ Moore blogged about how most Christians are really in "same sex marriages". He said,

In context, what is he trying to tell us?

That we are moving away toward "gender-free roles" in marriage?

I have heard the concept called "unisex" marriage - one size/role fits both. I don't think I disagree with the concept, although his wording is not helpful.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 10:54:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure

1 Peter 2, is clearly an example of a woman submitting to abuse. I think in those days women did stay in abusive relationships, there weren't all that many options. So, remaining in the text, submission, if it is not mutual, is abuse, and yes, slaves, wives, citizens did submit to it as part of their suffering in life.

???It *sounds* as if you are saying that some women are abused, therefore all submission, if not mutual, is abuse??? I do not see this in the text.

Suzanne, are you reading if you do good and suffer as because and suffer?

It is not so clear. In this passage, wives are told to submit because even -if- their husbands do not obey the word...

I don't see an imperative that men do.

It is unfortunate that you see a need to read it there.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 11:02:00 AM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Some are. Some take their role as leader and the admonition to love as Christ loves very seriously.

There are those who sin on both sides. Because some sin, does not mean the concept is unbibical.


All humans are fallible. The problem is that in the male lead paradigm, there is the teaching that this fallible male is supposed to be the spiritual leader. It is spritiual abuse.

I am blogging some quotes from Lundy Bancroft. Here is what he says about attitudes towards the woman that lead to abuse,

Her top responsibility will be to provide love and nurturing, while his key contribution will be to fill the role of "the brains of the operation,"using his wisdom and strength to guide the family.

He puts the finger on this as leading to abuse.

Is taking the worst case scenario really the best way to win the case?

These are nowhere near the worst case scenarios. I haven't mentioned those. These are on the "how to have a complementarian marriage" blogs.

I am blogging some quotes from Bancroft's book. He is very experienced.

Besides the greater likelihood and degree of abuse, there is the fact that not treating women as equals is diametrically opposed to the teaching of Christ about how to treat people. Love your neighbour as yourself, but have a hierarchical relationship with your wife.

I believe that the complementarian marriage, if practised as taught by the major books that support it, is wrong, and damages the reputation of Christ in the world. However, anyone by right behavour, regardless of their so called belief, may be kind and loving.

But, overall, to keep women from careers in Biblical languages is definitely disgusting to me. Why should a woman be penalized who studied Greek and Hebrew, and the woman who teaches Spanish and German is good to go. It is gross discrimination in every way, and makes Christianity look bad. It is also a bad example for women in Africa and other Third World counties. Do we really want to ecourage women to be led by their husbands if they are going to get AIDS that way. The Christian community has to take a stand that woman is equal and deserves to be treated that way.

I have to quit soon. I believe as strongly in my view as being biblical as any complementarian thinks their view is biblical. Bt complementarians are drawing the line in the sand and excluding egalitarians. On top of that I believe in true equality as well and the reputaion of Christ.

I just picked up your last comment. I can't discuss abuse any further. I work every day with immigrant women who are abused. It is with us always. The goal should be to prevent it.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 11:13:00 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Suzanne, I can see that you are strong in your beliefs. Some of the language used would indicate that you may feel very much the same toward complimentarians as some of them feel toward you.

How can a man be a Christian AND a leader of the home? Christians do not abuse others (a case can be made for that) and one-sided submission is abuse (in your words) Can you at least see how that inference can be made?

I can see how it can be seen that certain patriarchalists (I see a difference between patriarchy and complementarian teachings) are excluding egalitarians.

Can you see the same in the other direction. As far as backing away from the abuse piece, it is you that brought abuse into a complentarian discussion.

But I understand your desire to back away from it.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 02:11:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

The way I see it is that someone who is unemployed or suffers injustice in the workplace may say that being the slave of a kind Christian master who is under church discipline is better than starving to death. However, someone else might say that being a slave is categorically wrong even though it is in scripture. That is how I feel.

I do hope at least that you can see that my beliefs are deeply anchored in scripture, in the understanding of how Luther, Cromwell, and others interpreted scripture. We live in the world they molded so don't talk about me departing from the text or I will hold you to a belief in slavery. It is in the text.

I believe in equality and the scripture as these men did. It takes courage to believe something when you know that others will exclude you and say that you are unscriptural. But I am firm in my belief that treating others as equal honours God.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 02:50:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

I see no recognition that you see that I also believe that my beliefs are grounded in Scripture, as well as being consistent with twenty centuries of church understanding.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 03:01:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

Oh, I see what you're writing about - I questioned where you see the imperative in the text.

Sorry.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 03:17:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

I see no recognition that you see that I also believe that my beliefs are grounded in Scripture, as well as being consistent with twenty centuries of church understanding.

I do recognize this Ellen. You do see this in the text and in the history of the church. I thoroughly accept that.

I do not see what you see in the Bible. I study church history, the words of Erasmus, Luther, Cromwell, the Puritans, the Quakers, this has always been my interest. I see a constant move towards bringing into practice the teaching of Jesus, as found in the scripture, dealing with one injustice after another.

I see the need presented by World Vision and others for women to have equal decision-making power. For some this is the difference between life and death. For some, their condition is piteous. For pity sake, I would entreat those who teach that women should be under male authority to change their position as they did with slavery.

It is one thing to want a kind master and another to come to full adulthood in Christ.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 06:28:00 PM, Blogger Ellen said...

We live in the world they molded so don't talk about me departing from the text or I will hold you to a belief in slavery. It is in the text.

That's quite a threat. I merely don't see how you get an imperative out of "if". If you need to threaten me with holding me to a belief that I have denied (you might want to reconsider that), that's your deal.

Don't worry about responding. With the threat, I'm done and you certainly have not done your cause any good with me (I spent some time with a friend last night, discussion "what if they're right"?)

 
At Sun Sep 16, 06:36:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks for the talk, Ellen.

I was uncomfortable with the fact that you remarked several times that I had departed from the text. I felt quite uncomfortable with the way you spoke to me about that and I reacted. Sorry.

As I said, I have been told I could go to hell for my beliefs so I often react unhappily.

I do wish you all the best.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 08:07:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

Ellen, you said:

"...how many places are men (specifically) instructed to (specifically) submit to their wives?"

They are told, along with all other Christians, to submit to other believers--INCLUDING their wives--out of their respect/reverence for Christ. No exclusions. You cannot demand that there be a specific "for husbands only" command for husbands to submit to their wives, for a general commandment to submit to fellow believers to be valid, unless you are willing to exempt people in every specific life situation who are not told specifically to obey a general commandment. How often, for example, are wives told to love their husbands? It's ludicrous to single out submission as for wives only simply because only wives, slaves, and children are singled out as specific classes of those among whom the general commandment applies.

Similarly, should women and non-leader men consider themselves free to take multiple spouses, since only men are singled out as obligated to have only one spouse? Hardly!

I say once again: a general commandment given to all believers (of which submission, sacrificial love--agape--respect, and honor are examples) is never negated for some classes (example here is husbands) simply because they're not told elsewhere that it specifically applies to them.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 08:10:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

Ellen said:

"Actually, the husband and wife ARE one flesh. Not 'can be' - they are."

You pulled that out of context. I said that husband and wife can be one flesh, but a husband cannot be all the things to his wife that Christ is. Can vs. cannot.

And I would observe that the one flesh of husband and wife as an inseparable head+body organism, when divided into a leader and a follower (or leader and unilateral submitter), is less than fully one flesh.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 08:29:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

Ellen also said:

"Does the head of a body have jobs that the rest of the body does not have? What might those jobs be (if in fact you believe they exist)?"

That's more of the division of head from body. One flesh works together. The organism/living being that is a healthy marriage in Christ is unlike any other healthy Christian marriage. One head is not interchangeable with every other head, nor one body the same as any other body. Each marriage is the union of two unique individuals, with individual gifts and graces, strengths and weaknesses. God did not create two molds, male and female, but extremely wide variety within both male and female. At some point every analogy breaks down, even biblical ones. You're attempting to push head:body past its analogical limits. And if you do some reading on what the ancients thought the function of the head was and what the brain did, for example, you will probably be a bit shocked. (Hint: they didn't believe thinking took place with it; that was the function, as they believed, of the heart.) And when you get right down to it, where does the head end and the body begin? In a healthy, living body, that's an academic point. Both need to be inseparable for there to be life. That much, the ancients had down pat, even if their knowledge of anatomy and physiology was wanting.

Honestly, beyond the potential for reproductive process and lactation, there are no hard and fast, applies-to-everyone "gender roles" that we can point to, scriptural or otherwise, without finding significant exception among healthy, faithful Christians. And we who have never borne children, those who have never married, and the live-long celibate are living witnesses to the fact that reproductive potential does not constitute a valid "role" for all healthy, faithful Christians. We cannot use marriage and family as mandated roles to which all men and all women are commanded to conform themselves. Conformation to the image of Christ, however, IS a mandate. I do not understand why there is so much insistence from some Christians on requiring non-biblically mandated "gender roles" as a litmus test of Christian faith, when we DO have such a clear test that applies to us all. As I see it, it's a means of pressuring people to accept patriarchy as a requirement and continue the status quo. It's safe (for those who are not in abusive relationships, at any rate). It's comfy (again, for those not being abused). Everybody knows "their place." Sadly, there's little or no room for the Spirit of God to move people into unsafe, unknown, world-changing places when mere human beings define the roles and call all the shots. God isn't bound by such restrictions and seldom intrudes upon them. That leaves relationships and churches powerless but predictable.

CAN God work in marriages and churches bound up in patriarchal hierarchies. Yes. I've seen it happen. But it's not through those hierarchies, it's in spite of them.

And no, this doesn't mean that Christian egalitarian marriages and churches are perfect, either. I've never seen a perfect marriage or a perfect church. But such churches and marriages at least have the advantage of the acknowledgment that Jesus Christ is their leader, not mere human beings usurping his place.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 08:53:00 PM, Blogger Psalmist said...

Suzanne, you said:

"To answer Psalmist, the passage in question, 1 Peter 2, is clearly an example of a woman submitting to abuse. I think in those days women did stay in abusive relationships, there weren't all that many options. So, remaining in the text, submission, if it is not mutual, is abuse, and yes, slaves, wives, citizens did submit to it as part of their suffering in life."

I agree with you here, Suzanne, for the most part. I might quibble about non-mutual submission automatically being abuse, because not all non-mutually submissive relationships have the non-submissive party demanding submission from the submissive party. It is the expectation or the demand, in my opinion, that is de facto abuse. There can be a very strong cultural condition to this, as was certainly the case in the first-century Greco-Roman world. Very few women could leave or divorce abusive husbands. You touched on this, and rightly.

The problem, as I see it, is that too many Christians are trying to impose aspects of first-century Greco-Roman culture that are absolutely not mandated or commended in any way in Scripture. Though we have to this day received the Scriptures, they were nonetheless written to those living at the time they were living. Their cultures are completely foreign to our own. Yet as we see with unilateral submission, however, the general commandment for submission among believers gets set aside in favor of adopting the ancient de facto, worldly pattern of the paterfamilias (which of course, like today's pattern of "stay-at-home wives" pertained only to those households affluent enough to afford to follow such a pattern), with the entire entourage of wife, children, household servants, and slaves all subject to his rule. (Except that most Christians accept today that we oughtn't own slaves, so the pattern gets rewritten to suit the current religiously popular climate.)

To get unilateral submission in modern Western culture, we have to impose a former culture's extrabiblical pattern onto our equally extrabiblical pattern of society. God does not require this of us. We're in a situation in the conservative church in which the culture recognizes women as full, intelligent human beings with the same rights as men, yet the church abridges various of those rights for women even while trying to maintain that women are full, intelligent human beings, all in the name of being "biblical." Yet Scripture mandates none of these abridgments of human rights for women!

I find it tragic that so much energy is expended on demonizing egalitarian Christians for not accepting the world's pattern of patriarchy as godly. I have seen, over and over again, patriarchy shielding that minority of men who are unquestionably abusive to their wives, particularly when the abuse carries no physical scars or signs, because of the wives' basic human rights being denied by both their husbands and their churches. There are degress of this, of course, but the common factor in all non-egalitarian Christian schools of thought (for lack of a better term) is that some rights/privileges/perks enjoyed by men are denied to women simply because they are women, and the Bible is (mis)used to do so.

So all that to say, Suzanne, that if abridging rights or privileges for women is abusive--and I think that can be argued, though I agree that it's at least an institutional abuse--then any form of non-egalitarian marriage is abusive on some level. Yes, abuse CAN occur in Christian egalitarian marriage, but not because there's a religiously-sanctioned imbalance of power in the relationship.

 
At Sun Sep 16, 09:14:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks, Psalmist, I am grateful for your understanding my strong words.

I appreciate how much you have elaborated on my thoughts and it clarifies things which I said only in a muddled way.

 
At Tue Sep 18, 05:43:00 AM, Blogger Psalmist said...

The assertion that there is a scriptural command for men to lead their wives, simply isn't true. If someone is going to make such a claim, they really must provide substantiation if they ever hope to convince anyone not already of that opinion, that such an opinion is warranted by the scriptural text.

Simply because first-century Greco-Roman men had unquestioned authority and their marriages and households reflected that worldly hierarchy, is no excuse to impose upon all marriages for all time such a pattern. The Scriptures do not automatically command all, or even most, of what is described within them.

 
At Wed Sep 19, 05:33:00 PM, Blogger Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks Psalmist.

I am of the same opinion as you.

 
At Thu Sep 20, 08:48:00 PM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

Wayne, your mutual authority argument is interesting. It's possible, however, for two people both to be in authority over each other. The pastor of the church I grew up in worked in the human resources department of a local factory. His boss was a member of the congregation. Each was in authority over the other with respect to a different fact about their lives. When it came to their employment, the human resources manager was in authority over the pastor. When it came to the congregation, the pastor was in authority over the human resources managed. When it came to watching a football game, neither was necessarily in authority.

Similarly, mutual submission involves people submitting to others according to their authority. I submit to the elders of my congregation and to my governing authorities in the workplace and in civil life in general. My wife submits to me. I do not submit to my wife even if I love her as Christ loved the church, because Christ doesn't submit to the church. We submit to him. I think your argument does nicely apply to that case, since there's no sense in which the church is in authority over Christ.

I don't see anywhere in scripture that clearly refers to anyone submitting to anyone else when there isn't an issue of authority. I know you don't accept this view of what submitting to each other means, but you should recognize that this is a common complementarian view, and if this view is correct there's an easy way to make sense of submitting to each other when submitting is only done to those in authority, yet without violating your restriction that you can't have two people in authority over each other. I think even that's wrong, as my example above shows, but you need not have any pair of people both in authority over each other to explain submitting to each other in this sort of way, where it doesn't involve every Christian submitting to every other Christian but just every Christian submitting to those in authority over them.

 
At Thu Sep 20, 10:47:00 PM, Blogger Wayne Leman said...

Jeremy, thanks, as always, for your careful and irenic comments.

I have been in process on this whole issue for a number of years, and probably still am.

I don't think that submission requires authority but I think that often there is an authority.

The mutual submission wording of Eph. 5:21 is one of the several mutuality commands of the Bible (others include "love one another," "forgive one another," etc.). I don't see any reason for the mutual submission command not to be in that same list.

I would think that even complementarian husbands could experience the grace and beauty of mutual submission, if we view submission along the lines of what I wrote about in my series, where submission consists of putting the other person first, deferring to their needs, serving them with love and humility, etc. I would think that Christian masters could submit, in this sense, to needs of their servants. I would think that a government could even be so sensitive to the needs of those it is governing that in a real sense it could be considered to be in submission to the governed (idealistic, yes, of course!).

This is where I am at in my thinking at the current time. But, as I said, I'm in process, so as I attempt to submit myself to the commands of the written Word, I may find that I need to shift my thinking some more.

 
At Fri Sep 21, 05:02:00 AM, Blogger Jeremy Pierce said...

I agree that loving each other is a command for all to all. I don't think forgiving is. We aren't to forgive people who don't wrong us. We're to forgive those who have sinned against us. If they haven't done anything wrong, and we get angry, we ought to change our attitude, but it's not forgiveness. If we aren't even angry, there's no reason to forgive at all. So that does seem to be a restricted command of the same form, even if it's not restricted in quite the same way.

You are right that even complementarian husbands should think that they should submit to their wives in the more general meaning you're taking submission to have. It's just that they won't be calling it submission if they take the more restricted view of what counts as submission. The same is true of masters and governing authorities. We now have the sense that public leaders are civil servants, i.e. they are there to serve others. This was the reverse of the normal, expected order in the ancient world, even a few hundred years later when Augustine contrasted this view with the typical Greco-Roman view of authority. But I'm not sure complementarians want to call that submission, and I know some complementarians won't take the submission-terms in the NT to have such a wide semantic range. (See O'Brien's commentaries on Ephesians and Colossians, for an example.)

 
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