The dark side of submission

The dark side of submission

The Dark Side of Submission

The following is a very eye opening article by Lee Grady.  From Fire in My Bones online, November, 2009. Copyright 2009 Strang Communications; all rights reserved. Used with permission.

Submission and abuse on Women in Ministry blog

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Christian teaching on male headship is often used as a weapon against women. This abuse must be confronted.

Last week during a ministry trip to Hungary I heard a painfully familiar story. Through a translator, a tearful young woman living near Budapest explained that her Christian husband was angrily demanding her absolute submission. This included, among other things, that she clean their house according to his strict standards and that she engage in sexual acts with him that made her feel uncomfortable and dirty.

This lady was not demanding her rights or trying to be disrespectful. She was a godly, humble woman who obviously wanted to please the Lord. But she had been beaten to a pulp emotionally, and she was receiving little help from her pastor—who was either unwilling or unprepared to confront wife abuse.

“Traditionalists assume that a Christian marriage is defined as a dominant husband who makes all family decisions while the wife graciously obeys without input. Yet Scripture actually portrays marriage as a loving partnership.”

I’ve heard so many sickening versions of this scenario. In Kenya recently, several women told me their AIDS-infected husbands often raped them—and then their pastors told them they must submit to this treatment. In some parts of India, even some pastors believe it is acceptable to beat their wives if they argue with them or show any form of disrespect. And in some conservative churches in the United States, women are told that obedience to God is measured by their wifely submission—even if their husbands are addicted to alcohol or pornography, or if they are involved in adulterous affairs.

This distortion of biblical teaching has plunged countless Christian women into depression and emotional trauma. I’m not sure which is worse: The harsh words they hear from their husbands, or the perverse way the Bible is wielded as a leather belt to justify domestic abuse. Here are three truths we must uncover in order to solve this problem:

1.  Marriage is not a hierarchy. Traditionalists assume that a Christian marriage is defined as a dominant husband who makes all family decisions while the wife graciously obeys without input. Yet Scripture actually portrays marriage as a loving partnership and refers to the wife as a “fellow heir of the grace of life” (1 Peter 3:7, NASB). And the apostle Paul taught that in the realm of sexuality, husbands and wives share equal authority over each other’s bodies (see 1 Cor. 7:4). In other words, submission in this most intimate part of a marriage covenant is mutual, and this same mutuality is the key to any happy marriage; it fosters respect, communication and an enduring bond.

2.  Headship is not a license to control. Traditionalists also cite Ephesians 5:23 to remind wives that their husbands are their “heads”—and they believe this term requires some type of dictatorial control in marriage. Yet the Greek word used in this passage, kephale, does not have anything to do with heavy-handed authority and it cannot be used to enforce male domination. Neither does it imply male superiority. The word can either mean “source” (as in the source of a river) or “one who leads into battle” (as a protector).

Neither original definition of this word gives room for abuse. Headship, in its essence, is not about “who’s the boss.” Rather it refers to the Genesis account of Eve being taken from Adam’s side. The husband is the “source” of the wife because she originated from him, and she is intimately connected to him in a mystical union that is unlike any other human relationship.

Men who abuse their wives are out of fellowship with God. 1 Peter 3:7 is clear: “You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so your prayers will not be hindered.” Wife abuse is no trivial sin. Any man who berates his wife, treats her as inferior or engages in abusive behavior (including hitting, kicking, raping, cursing at or threatening punishment) will jeopardize his fellowship with the Lord. He will feel frustrated and convicted until he repents.

(And in the same way, I believe, pastors who silently support abusive husbands by refusing to confront the behavior—or by telling women to submit to the pain—participate in this sin and could find their own prayers hindered.)

Truly Christian marriages, according to the apostle Paul, involve a tender, servant-hearted and unselfish husband who (1) loves his wife “just as Christ also loved the church;” (2) loves her as his own body; and (3) loves her as himself (see Eph. 5:25, 28 33). He stands alongside his wife in faithfulness, and she joyfully respects her husband because he can be trusted. And the two become one.

If we are to uphold this golden standard, we must confront abuse, shelter its victims and provide the tough love and counseling necessary to heal troubled relationships. And we have no business telling women to stay in marriages that actually could put them or their children in danger.

66 thoughts on “The dark side of submission

  1. I wish to give a hardy AMEN!

    They have registries for sexual predator’s. They need to make a list for ‘enables domestic violence’ so families know which church to stay clear of.

    I speak with enough of these women that come from this background, and I don’t think people realize how much damage is done … and how long it takes to deprogram them.

  2. One only enables sin when we cower and submit to a bully. It will only continue to get worse. Even for a ‘season’. (John Piper suggested women submit to bullying for a ‘season’. I would like to see him do it first. Would he put up with that everyday at work being bullied by an authority? Or would he rebuke him and get away?)

  3. I think that the “dark side” of submission has been hidden and swept under the carpet so that many believe it shouldn’t be talked about openly. I disagree. When we openly discuss these things, those who are in the place to offer counsel and spiritual guidance may have their eyes opened to the danger of telling a woman that the answer is always submission.

  4. It seems like the traditionalists want it both ways. They want the wife’s submission, and they want the husbands to be able to get away with anything just short of murder. The two things can’t exist in the same space, and it’s sickening how traditionalists like Piper try to force them to. It simply does not make sense, and it goes back to the old double standards that have existed for men and women since the dawn of time.

    Enough. We as Christians aren’t called to be like the world, and this includes the way we treat each other, especially in the most intimate of our relationships. Grady’s reading of the Ephesians passage in question is dead-on, Cheryl. Thanks for sharing it. I plan to print this article and show it to some of my “submit-no-matter-what” sisters at church. Even though they are well-intentioned, they are complicit in situations of abuse, and should be held accountable for enabling it to continue. Let’s continue pulling back the carpet and exposing this line of thought, until all of our marriages in the church give glory to God, without putting either partner in jeopardy. I don’t think God is glorified by that.

  5. The other side to this is that men are not being saved. One cannot continually be abusive and be saved. There, I said it. GASP.

    So, these pastors like Piper, Grudem, Ware, Patterson and others who teach women to stay and take it (even for a season) are putting these bullies eternal life in jeporady. I fear they love preeminance so much they will never see this.

    By suggesting that women endure such things so that her submission will bring him to repentance, makes her responsble for his salvation. She becomes responsible and therefore it becomes her fault: She did not pray enough or submit enough.

    But this does not work with bullies. They do not verbally or physically abuse their boss everyday. They would not keep a job. So, they abuse the weakest one they can get by with. It only enables more abuse to stay and take it. And the teaching on authority tells the abuser he gets to decide what is abuse and what isn’t. He has it made. Why change? He believes he can stay in sin and be saved by the teaching of these comp pastors. Using all the adjectives in the world like Piper uses won’t change this. The bully defines ‘love’ differently than Piper defines it.

    Why don’t these same comps teach the government to submit to Osama bin Laden? If we pray hard enough and submit to him, I am sure it will change him, right? Wrong. Osama himself said that they attacked the towers because they were sure America was too weak to fight back.

    You have to understand the mind of a bully.

  6. “By suggesting that women endure such things so that her submission will bring him to repentance, makes her responsble for his salvation.”

    Yeah Lin – and it just goes hand in hand with men being the spiritual ‘head’ – kind of short circuits the Holy Spirit. Like He needs our assistance to change hearts.

  7. Lin – Although I see your point on submission hindering male salvation, that is what 1 Peter 3 seems to be suggesting. Of course, patriarchalists take it too far. Or more correctly, they fail to recoginze the sinful state of the husband (Abraham) and focus on the total submission of the wife (Sarah). So their application of 1 Peter 3 is indeed polluted. But that doesn’t mean 1 Peter 3 has not applicability.

  8. gengwall,
    My understanding of 1 Peter 3 would be that it coincides with the admonitions not to be a stumbling block and the usual ways, like dressing to impress, are not to be the emphasis, but your godly attitude is.

  9. I agree, but believe there is more. Peter’s use of Abraham and Sarah has significance in the type of relationship being addressed. Abraham was behaving badly. If it refers to his prostituting Sarah to avoid harm to himself, as I believe it does, he was behaving abusively. Peter’s point is that Sarah’s “godly attitude” which included voluntary humility, submission, and respectfullness toward Abraham in the midst of his sin was insrtumental in turning him from his sinful, abusive ways. The important point is that the context for Sarah’s “godly attitude” is the marriage relationship and the effect of her “godly attitude” is to stem a pattern of abuse by her husband. This is exactly what complimentarians claim is the purpose for submission “for a season” to abuse. This parallel can’t be ignored, nor can we twist the context of Peter’s teaching into something that it isn’t.

    Now, where they fail in their application is the complete lack of recognition of the husbands abuse, and the complete lack of application to the husband of the remainder of the passage. They also fail to take into consideration Paul’s advice on abusive situations and the fact that he does not call for wives to submit to abuse for a second, let alone “a season”. Complimentarians, in essense, don’t recognize the abuse component of the relationship at all. They only recognize an apparent lack of “godly attitude” on the part of the wife. Without addressing the abusive husband and without applying Peter’s corrective action to his sin, they present only half a solution to abusive situations. That is a flawed and demonstrably failed position, not to mention an ungodly one.

  10. These things are truly disturbing. BUt rather than labeling it under the banner of ‘traditionalists’ perhaps egalitarians should be more careful with their terminology between those who support biblical headship of a man and those who openly accept abuse which is evidently sinful and should in no way be accepted.

    Such poor lack of terminology is seen as…

    “1. Marriage is not a hierarchy. Traditionalists assume that a Christian marriage is defined as a dominant husband who makes all family decisions while the wife graciously obeys without input”

    This is a gross overstatement. Not all who believe in the male headship define is a ‘dominant’ husband. How many times do people need to be told that comp theology is not about domination whether in relation to marriage, church or the Trinity.

    I honestly see it as a misrepresentation. Too often egals link ‘domination’ with our theology. Either they are blinded to the actual teaching and or choose to ignore it.

    None the less we definately should protest against those who foster abuse under the name of ‘submission’.

  11. Oh yes – one more thing. Complimentarians also engage in blatant error when dealing with 1 Peter 3 because they envision the husband’s abuse as a byproduct of his wife’s unsubmissiveness. This clearly and absolutely was not the case with Abraham and Sarah. Abraham engaged in his sinful activities completely on his own. Sarah had nothing to do with it. Nor do wives “cause” their husband’s abuse. Because complimentarians refuse to make husband’s take responsibility for their own actions, they completely abuse Peter’s teaching, twisting it into both a cause and prescription for abuse that clearly is in error.

  12. I agree Mark. I know many marriages that work wonderfully with two happy and loving partners that claim the complimentarian banner. But, as many have said before, these marriages are more egalitarian in function, regardless of how they define the structure. Never-the-less, no one should assume that every marriage that contains some hierarchy, or an authoritarian head, or any other terminology one wants to use, is invariably an abusive one.

    On the other hand, understand where many people here are coming from. They have seen much the opposite. They have seen many relationships that truly are abusive mislabeled, misdiagnosed, and mishandled. It is understandable that they are sensitive to any assertions that abuse doesn’t exist, or any attempts to misplace blame for abuse, or any attempts to resolve abuse in ungodly ways. They have seen it over and over.

  13. And in light of the prior comment, I should ammend comment 11 to read in all places – “some complimentarians” – lest I be guilty of the same all inclusive labelling I object to.

  14. Mark,

    Not all who believe in the male headship define is a ‘dominant’ husband. How many times do people need to be told that comp theology is not about domination whether in relation to marriage, church or the Trinity.

    I wish all comp pastors understood that true complementarity is partnership. In counseling a marriage when the wife is a strong character the husband is usually told by the pastor to exercise his authority i.e. to be the dominant one as that is what is believed is what God made him to be. Some as pushed into it and others come by it naturally. Those who claim to believe in the comp position but who talk things over and work on their marriage as a partnership are living the egalitarian lifestyle in action even though it may not be in name. Comps and egals should join together to bring healing to marriages where bad advice is given by comp pastors. It is never helpful for one partner to take authority over the other. It is not God’s way.

  15. What is really interesting is to see pastors from complimentarian traditions or denominations who never-the-less believe essentially in egalitarian marriages try to walk this tightrope. They try to preach the “party line” but have to include all kinds of caveats. Some times it is almost comical. (I have heard a particular pastor literally try to preach and dismiss submission all in the same sermon).

  16. Mark: “This is a gross overstatement. Not all who believe in the male headship define is a ‘dominant’ husband. How many times do people need to be told that comp theology is not about domination whether in relation to marriage, church or the Trinity.

    I honestly see it as a misrepresentation. Too often egals link ‘domination’ with our theology. Either they are blinded to the actual teaching and or choose to ignore it.”

    Or….
    Egals have seen or experienced it carried out to this degree, as children or adults, or whatever.

    Please, Mark, understand. I know there is a difference between patriarchy/hard comp and soft comp. I’ve posted on other blogs that I can co-exist with most soft comps.
    I know it’s not right to sweep soft-comps off into the patriarch camp anymore than it’s right for some comps to say that egals hate their husbands and want to kill their children.

    But also understand that there is a creeping going on. Perhaps not directly in your neck of compism. But is occurring nonetheless. Harder comp is becoming more mainstream. There are places like focus on the family that are embracing harder and harder versions of comp than what they did.

    Many of us feel and see the creep. You can call it a gross overstatement. Perhaps you are right. But from my point-of-view, it looks more like a prophecy or foretelling of things to come. And it is frightful to behold.

    In a nutshell, the reason I lean egal is because I see egals as having a firmer foundation. Their foundation rests squarely on the words of Christ. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you and if you would be great in God’s kingdom, then learn to be servant of all.”

    Paul’s words in Ephesians are awesome. But they have been too easily twisted too long for me to see them as foundational as the words of Jesus Himself. Paul’s words are building blocks to the house of faith and marriage more than they are the foundation. But too many try to make his words the foundation to the exclusion of the word of Christ.
    Too many put too much stock in Paul’s words and not enough stock in the words of Jesus. And this is where we get most of our trouble. Too many men are straining to obey their understanding of Paul’s words without realizing how they trample the words of Jesus in the process.

    Darn this got long. And I’m not even done. But am going to stop anyway.

  17. LOL – Mara thinks she writes too long of a post. Must now ROTFL. Mara, you just keep writing and don’t worry about the length. I could read your heartfelt and balanced comments all day.

  18. Mark,
    I wonder if perhaps our perceptions on this differ because many of us (commentors) are in the US and Canada dealing with teachers, ministers and denominations that you may not deal with much in Australia.

  19. I wonder if it would appease everyone if it was put: “The dark side of submission, while not a universal phenomenon amongst complimentarians, is a very significant problem in some complimentarian congregations”

  20. I think that the article is well written. While I may not have said it the same way, remember it was written by someone else so while we can give suggestions to a change of words, it is not in our ability to change it unless someone wants to comment over at Lee Grady’s post.

  21. “Paul’s words in Ephesians are awesome. But they have been too easily twisted too long for me to see them as foundational as the words of Jesus Himself. Paul’s words are building blocks to the house of faith and marriage more than they are the foundation. But too many try to make his words the foundation to the exclusion of the word of Christ.”
    Mara,
    Couldn’t agree more! I think it is very telling that none of these discussions center around the words of Jesus. If what we think Paul meant does not line up with what Jesus said and did – then perhaps one should take a second look. Jesus didn’t rebuke the woman at the well for telling her whole city about Him and made Mary Magdalene the first preacher of the Gospel.

  22. Agreement between Paul and Jesus a necessity? What a novel concept. Of course, the lack of agreement between Paul and Jesus when Paul is viewed through a complimentarian filter is evidence enough that that filter is defective. When one discovers that there are alternative views of Paul which do in fact agree universally with Jesus (and all the other biblical authors, for that matter), it should be a no brainer to abandon the complimentarian teaching. Still, old traditions die hard, especially when those traditions put you “in charge”. This is the same dilema that the Pharisees ran into; and why almost none came over to Jesus.

  23. Thank you Kay and gengwall.
    I’m glad there are people who understand what I’m trying to say through all my fumbling around. And I appreciate you all.
    I’ve been accused of not believing the whole counsel of scripture for suggesting that the Words of Jesus just might carry a bit more weight than Paul’s.
    Jesus is our chief cornerstone. He is the stone that the builders rejected. And I hate to say it. But Patriarchs in totality and some comps have rejected His words to embrace their private interpretation of Paul’s words.
    I’m not accusing our friend Mark, here. He may have that foundation fully in place in his relationship with his wife. So, Mark, I don’t want you to feel what I’m about to say applies to you or is directed toward you.
    But I’ve met plenty a man who felt justified in demanding submission from his wife because that’s what the Bible said. And if he didn’t know any other verse in the Bible, he sure as heck knew where Ephesians 5:22 was because it defended his percieved, divine right as head/boss over his wife. In other words, his foundation for understanding who he was as a husband was askew.

  24. “Lin – Although I see your point on submission hindering male salvation, that is what 1 Peter 3 seems to be suggesting. Of course, patriarchalists take it too far. Or more correctly, they fail to recoginze the sinful state of the husband (Abraham) and focus on the total submission of the wife (Sarah). So their application of 1 Peter 3 is indeed polluted. But that doesn’t mean 1 Peter 3 has not applicability.”

    gengwell, 1 Peter 3 is about living with unbelievers in the world and even in marriage, slave/master relationships, etc. The admonition really starts in chapter 2 starting about verse 13. Interesting how the translators chose to make chapter breaks, huh?

    So, If we are discussing abuse from husbands who profess to follow Christ, that makes it a whole other problem. A sin problem with one who professes Christ.

    And I always keep in mind for those women who were married to unbelievers in the 1st century, they could not exactly go down the Ephesus women’s shelter. Are you suggesting that women married to those who do NOT profess Christ but are abusive should stay in abuse?

    By the way, how do comps deal with the ‘head’ issue when the husband is abusive? Is he her “head” (authority) when he is beating her up?

  25. “And I appreciate you all.
    I’ve been accused of not believing the whole counsel of scripture for suggesting that the Words of Jesus just might carry a bit more weight than Paul’s.”

    All of Paul’s words agree with Jesus and His actions on earth. It is the translators who twisted them. So, we look to Jesus to translate Paul.

  26. “This is a gross overstatement. Not all who believe in the male headship define is a ‘dominant’ husband. How many times do people need to be told that comp theology is not about domination whether in relation to marriage, church or the Trinity.”

    Then what is it? Is there no authority involved at all?

    If “headship” (not in scripture) is not authority then what is it to you? Authority can be dominant or benevolent. But either one is dominant. Leadership is authority whether positional or influential. You just cannot escape this no matter how many nice adjectives Piper uses to soften the blow.

    There is no such animal as ‘servant leader’. It is an oxymoron and everyone knows it. It was coined by Ken Blanchard years ago for mega church pastors to soften the authoritarian chain of command structure during the rise of the mega in the US. So many were used to congregational polity and ‘servant leader’ helped make the transition to a special class of leadership running the church.

    What you are trying to pass it off is as a “benevolent dictator”. You just do not use those words because it does not go over so good.

    The bottomline is you believe men over women. The man has to be in charge of the adult woman. (she remains a perpetual child spiritually because she can never outgrow her ‘authority’)

    But Jesus Christ preached and modeled SERVANT. Not as glamorous, I admit, but the truth.

  27. I also have no issue with what some coin soft comps either.

    I was reading an article today:
    http://www.abpnews.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4535&Itemid=5

    I found the sermon that it was referring to, and uploaded it to internet archive like I do most things before they disappear for good! lol! http://www.archive.org/details/WorseCaseScenarios

    This man took so much time trying to tip toe though the tulips regarding the message he was trying to get across. He claims he was talking about ‘worse case scenarios’ as far as marriage goes. How the abuse wouldn’t be the worse part, but the part about the spouse refusing to reconcile and work on issues as the worse part. That’s fine – okay then. He feels if all help from the church falls on deaf ears with him? He feels she needs to live the Sarah Principal – the scripture you mentioned earlier. He also feels that you need to make sure your sin didn’t influence his. YET before you claim yourself innocent he wants to remind his audience that has never never met a victimized spouse who responded perfectly to their spouse’s sin against them. In other words – look for your sin because its IN THERE somewhere!

    Sigh. He is right I have never met a perfect person either here on earth, and I doubt anyone will any time SOON! When you play these games to avoid acknowledging that abuse exists? Its damaging to the people involved. When you wish to use scripture as your spiritual pixie dust to wave around, and avoid it all together? Do they not realize they are in sin as well? I mean with their advice they have handed her burden back to her, because it was to much for them to handle. YOU deal with it, and learn to suffer as Christ did! He never told you that your life will be pain free after all!

    His whole production was ‘take the plank out of your eye’, and hinted around about submission in ways as well. He gave this huge case for the plank. How silly it looks for one with a huge plank to go to someone with a speck and say something. So now the plank is her influence to make him sin, and his speck is the abuse?

    Its downright exhausting at times to listen to these games they play with scripture, and NOT deal with, expose, and help the oppressed if the oppressor refuses any help at all. Tell her to live the Sarah principal, because we did our part – WE ARE DONE!

    Its like where is the backbone in these men that preach this junk? Did it break during the acrobats they played during the sermons? Ugh.

  28. I think we need to realise the full context of 1 Peter. IMHO Peter is suggesting Christians submit to the authorities (emperor and governors), slaves to masters and wives to husbands. This is so that unbelievers might become believers and so Christians will not be accused of doing the wrong thing.

    The one thing in common with all three relationships is that they WERE legal. Slavery was legal, husbands essentially ‘owning’ wives (and being able to beat them) was legal, and of course submitting to the authorities was legal!

    Today, however, slavery AND wife beating are both illegal! In fact according to the authorities husbands who beat their wives MUST be reported to the relevant authorities.

    Peter encourages the believers to not be seen as stirring up trouble, but rather undermine relationships such as slavery and husband hierarchy through choosing to submit. After all, you cannot take from someone what they have freely given.

    When the Church lives out hierarchy in a away that even society has rejected, then we have failed to do what Peter is encouraging the Church to do in his letter. We will not win people over in society today by suggesting that wives should put up with any amount of physical abuse.

  29. Lin, I agree. The softest comp marriage out there may be the safest-amongst comp and patriarchal marriages, but it is still comp and it is comp strictly by virtue of believing that men outrank women-always. That is why I can’t even endorse the softest comp marriages in principle no matter how soft and nice they are. Does that mean I disfellowship with my soft and not so soft comp friends? Not at all. It just means I cannot endorse even the ‘softest’ compism on principle.

    Soft comp marriages and theology provide a spiritual glass ceiling for women that is not really so soft and nice after all. The disclaimer I need to make here is that if a marriage is absolutely egal in practice then it is not soft comp and shouldn’t be entered into the discussion as such. However, the danger lies in having those who are in marriages which are practically egal and theoretically comp supporting comp theology nonetheless. They think they have a wonderful comp marriage when they actually may have a wonderfully egal marriage, but the credit goes incorrectly to compism.

    The dangers of genuine soft compism have been discussed elsewhere so I won’t go into them here. They are very real, however.

  30. “That is why I can’t even endorse the softest comp marriages in principle no matter how soft and nice they are. Does that mean I disfellowship with my soft and not so soft comp friends? Not at all. It just means I cannot endorse even the ’softest’ compism on principle. ”

    This is my position, too. It is based on the scripture. I also keep in mind that places like Southern Baptist Theological Seminary started out as soft comp and are now teaching Patriarchy. This is why you see so many soft comp pastors doing hermeneutical gymnastics in their sermons and being downright illogical.

    “However, the danger lies in having those who are in marriages which are practically egal and theoretically comp supporting comp theology nonetheless. They think they have a wonderful comp marriage when they actually may have a wonderfully egal marriage, but the credit goes incorrectly to compism. ”

    This was a particular problem with me. I saw so many egal type marriages that put on a comp mask at church. I also saw many comp authors, conference speakers who had wives who were like Patton charging up Italy back stage (very competent and in control of the comp business) and then went on stage and played the submissive comp wife. It got old. the whole comp industry started seeming fake to me. I think I have seen too much. :o(

    BTW: Dave is right. What was legal in the 1st Century is now illegal. Since they are good laws we should obey the civil authorities. (Too bad many pastors will not adivse women to report the abuse. What does that say about them and obeying the civil authorities? )

  31. So, going back to Lin and Gengwall, part of the problem for comps is they give Paul precedence over Jesus. As a preacher I heard a couple of weeks ago put it, “we have to let the epistles inform the narrative.” Huh? Oh, yeah, that means that if there’s confusion, the epistles decide what the narrative means. Does that make the Epistles the Head of the Narrative? Hm.

  32. Lin #30, 4th paragraph-isn’t that interesting in light of the conspicuous absence of any teaching in the bible about ‘the neck turning the head’?! I can understand why you became disenchanted with what you saw.

    Dave, #28, very good point! This recently happened to a family very close to me, and thank goodness the parents had the good sense to risk losing fellowship to report a hideous string of sexual abuses against several in their church and sadly, one in their own family, when they learned of it. It was only when they appealed to the legal or illegal aspect of not reporting the incidents that their church finally ‘approved’ them reporting it. They had already reported it, so the ‘approval’ was retrospective, but it was appalling that even the wife of the accused wanted to simply have him ‘forgiven’. Since it turned out that he had done this over the years numerous times, and all the forgiveness over the years had not at all changed his ways, it baffled the family who finally reported it that so many in the church still promoted ‘forgiveness’ and some counseling to ‘turn him from his error’. Hadn’t worked before, lives lay in ruin along his path, WHAT were they thinking?!!

    Lin, that is also very interesting that you point out the fact that in the past, the SBTS used to be soft comp. A little bit of false teaching can absolutely spoil a huge and growing batch!

  33. “So, going back to Lin and Gengwall, part of the problem for comps is they give Paul precedence over Jesus. As a preacher I heard a couple of weeks ago put it, “we have to let the epistles inform the narrative.” Huh? Oh, yeah, that means that if there’s confusion, the epistles decide what the narrative means. Does that make the Epistles the Head of the Narrative? Hm.”

    Right. I heard a preacher say recently that the NT interprets the OT. Ok. But then he gave what he thought was the most important example of this: that 1 Tim 2 interprets Genesis for us and the importance of creation order for male/female relationships in church and marriage.

    So this view of allowing other scripture to interpret other scripture does not help too much when the premise is wrong to begin with!

  34. “Lin, that is also very interesting that you point out the fact that in the past, the SBTS used to be soft comp. A little bit of false teaching can absolutely spoil a huge and growing batch!”

    Personally, I find the Patriarchs more consistent in their teaching even if they are dead wrong and even sinful in their beliefs

    Soft and hard comps end up being illogical and their position on Sarah Palin was one very confusing example of the hoops they had to jump through. Itnever did make total sense. But, I can certainly fellowship and worship with them. Many of my friends are soft comps who have never really studied the issue in depth scripturally. Just gone along with the party line.

    SBTS at one time had a woman dean and several women professors teaching men. No more. Since Al could not get rid of the woman dean right away, he worked to get rid of the Carver School within SBTS which got rid of the dean. But not before she was accused of being a feminist/liberal, etc.

    It is now housed at another University. It was started by the Women’s Missionary Union in 1907 for SBTS. So much for the work of those women who went before us to train missionaries.

    Mohler started the Billy Graham school of Evangelism to replace it.
    There has been a lot of ugliness toward women for the last 20 years in the SBC. It started as soft comp and is now going into full blown Patriarchy.

    For the steady rise to patriarchy at SBTS, read this white paper:

    http://www.baptisttheology.org/documents/NeanderthalsChasingBigfoot.pdf

    How Al Mohler became a comp:

    http://coffeetradernews.blogspot.com/2008/01/how-al-mohler-became-complementarian.html

  35. SBTS also had a woman professor of Theology, Molly Marshall, who saw the handwriting on the wall after Mohler came and resigned.

  36. Let me just say a few things,

    Kay, i think your probably right, Australia and the US are different in may ways so it probably does effect our perceptions.

    I understand people may be hurt or hurting by abuse but we should be careful we do not let sin creep into our lives with this hurt. Sin is a disease and and will harbour bitterness if we are not quick to recognise it. Jesus commanded us to forgive- are people doing this?

    I agree that we must condemn false teaching or those who promote abuse, but all i want to warn is don’t do it under a banner of sin in your own lives. For example linkning John Piper as a man who does such things is a serious charge. Beware lest you be judged yourself!

  37. Lin: “There has been a lot of ugliness toward women for the last 20 years in the SBC. It started as soft comp and is now going into full blown Patriarchy.”

    I told you, Mark. It has been creeping in bit by bit. It started off comp-light, phased through comp-heavy, and is now blatantly patriarchal.
    None of this is your fault. But I hope it helps you to see why we are so resistant to the comp way of thinking.
    Our fears are not based on rumor and false evidence. It’s based on watching the creep take more and more freedoms away from women all in the name of God. And the SBC is not the only place this is happening.

  38. “I agree that we must condemn false teaching or those who promote abuse, but all i want to warn is don’t do it under a banner of sin in your own lives. For example linkning John Piper as a man who does such things is a serious charge. Beware lest you be judged yourself!”

    Here are Pipers own words. To a woman who has endured abuse whether ongoing verbal, emotional or physical from a PROFESSING Christian husband, his words are like a knife in the back. And you want us to worry about the victim’s sin? We hear about that all the time ad nauseum. What we are less likely to hear is a full blown admonition of abuse by those who are given earthly authority by comp teaching.

    http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2009/08/21/john-piper-on-submission-in-abuse/

    But I would like to hear what you think is sin by the abusee? Or those who want to protect those abused. Is it daring to talk about it? Is it pointing out teaching that keeps women in abusive situations? Exactly what sins are you warning us against?

    I agree with Lydia. I would like to see if Piper would live with this day in and out with a perceived authority over him. Taking personal abuse daily whether emotional or physical. See, I don’t think he would. He would recognize it was a deep rooted sin problem and rebuke that person, maybe even try to change jobs or go over this person’s head. Espcially if this person was a professing Christian. Piper would know that submitting to this is only enabling sin and affirming sin. If he worked in the secular world, there are laws protecting employees from this sort of abuse.

    Now Mark, I beg you not to do what most comps do and tell us that is not what Piper was really saying. Comps do this all the time with their favorite teachers. They keep telling me that Ware does not mean what Ware teaches, either. :o)

  39. “Jesus commanded us to forgive- are people doing this?”

    There is a great book called ‘Unpacking Forgiveness” that I recommend to folks. The teaching on forgiveness is one of the most misunderstood of all doctrines. Forgiveness does not always mean reconcilliation or even fellowship. There are many unrepentant sinners out there professing Christ.

    And repentance is a requirement for our salvation. Jesus’ first sermon was ‘Repent and believe’.

    An unrepentent abuser who says ‘sorry’ after each episode is not repentant and is still dangerous. Saying sorry is not repentance. Repentance is turning from that sin.

    One can forgive the abuser….at a distance. It does not mean you have to fellowship or reconcile. As Jonathan Edwards taught, it takes time to know if real repentance occured. Would you put an embezzler in charge of the tithes because he said sorry for the last episode? Would you put a pedophile in the nursery because he
    “said” he was repentant? Is that what you mean by forgiveness?

  40. Mark: “I understand people may be hurt or hurting by abuse but we should be careful we do not let sin creep into our lives with this hurt. Sin is a disease and and will harbour bitterness if we are not quick to recognise it. Jesus commanded us to forgive- are people doing this?”

    Mark, we cross posted. I didn’t see yours that is right above mine until after I posted.

    Let me tell you something. My real name is not Mara. It’s my internet name I use for the sake of protecting my family, yet being able to be real.
    Mara means bitterness. I’m an expert. At both being bitter and getting out of it. My blog is me helping others find healing from bitterness.
    My last name, for internet use, is Reid, which is symbolic of Jesus being the Bruised Reed, and also in reference to the story of Moses throwing the branch into the bitter waters at Marah and the waters being made sweet.

    The point of me telling you all this is so that you know that I am very aware of bitterness, a root of bitterness, and what can be done to make the bitter waters sweet.

    Patriarchy and some forms of comp (if not all) are bitter waters men (and some women) give women to drink. The pushers of Patriarchy
    declare that the bitter waters they present are sweet and that if a woman refuses to drink these bitter waters but rather spits them out, she is guilty of rejecting Christ.
    But women who hold their noses and drink the bitter waters anyway are no better off. Do you know why? Because drinking bitter waters make you bitter.

    There is most definitly a time for forgiveness. But just about before the forgiveness process can even begin, women have had to wake up, realize the bitter waters people were giving them were, indeed, bitter, and they had to stop drinking it. They needed to find the real, true, sweet water that Jesus offers that has nothing to do with who is the head of whom. Then once they start drinking it straight from the Master’s hand rather from the bitter hands of the bitter teachers obsessing over who gets to be the boss, the healing, forgiveness and escape from bitterness can begin in earnest.

    You can forgive and forgive and forgive for years and still be bitter, if you keep taking in bitter waters and never get to the freedom Christ really has for you.

    If I sound angry, I’m not. If I sound like I’m judging you, I really am not. All I’m trying to do is help you to see that there is more to bitterness than not forgiving those who have wronged you. And many women are bitter, not just because they don’t forgive (many try and fail and try some more), but because all the water they are offered by the church is bitter.

    I thought my anti-spam word was ‘love’ (out of the corner of my eye) but it is actually ‘live’. I like them both. I’m not telling you this because I don’t love you or think you don’t love me. You have always been gracious on this blog and I have no reason to not love you by your words. But I want to live, wild and free, in the grace and love God gives me freely. I don’t want it tainted by the doctrines or traditions of men. God’s grace, tempered by the restrictions men place on it threaten to make people bitter.
    The church is full of those people, men and women. And sometimes the bitterness comes from a bad root in a doctrine rather than a root of unforgiveness.

    Blessings Mark.
    If I’ve not made myself clear, may God give you an understanding of what I’m trying to say, even if you don’t care to agree with it.

  41. Lin and Mara: right on! In the post above, I referred to a tragic situation. One of the women who was horribly abused in that circumstance dutifully told her male church officials-when they came asking about it-that she had forgiven the man. Later, when the couple whom I personally know extremely well visited her, she confessed that she still suffered severe nightmares, fears, phobias, etc. from the abuse. She knew she had to say she had ‘forgiven’ the man, yet the damage was severe, and what did the forgiveness really accomplish? The abuser didn’t even ask for forgiveness.

    It is NOT enough to just go up and say to someone, “I am sorry, please forgive me” when the offense has been hideous. True repentance as well as appropriate reparation MUST be demonstrated, and sometimes it takes time to tell if it is indeed true.

    Piper’s comments are frankly appalling. Would this be the advice he would give to his own daughter-if he has one-if she married and then discovered the hard way that she had married an abusive husband? I think not, or at least I hope not. His response sickens me. I received a similar one once from a pastor and elder. It didn’t work, I can assure you of that, and two persons were on the receiving end of the brutal violence.

  42. Lin,
    You have made a good point about forgiveness. Many misunderstand the process and think that forgiveness without repentance means that we must let the person back into our lives. True forgiveness on our part means that everything is clear between us and God so that the root of bitterness will not spring up. But walking in fellowship with another person requires repentance.

    Mara,
    I am so glad that you shared a little bit about yourself. I think it brings up a good point that we should be kind and compassionate and not judge because we do not always know what the other person has been through. Until we walk a mile in their shoes, we need to be sympathetic to the pain that we may not understand.

    I posted this on one of my other posts and I think it is good to see it again.

    It is a grave disservice to the spirit of a woman when she is given the subtle message that the truth of her own pain is not as important as the reputation of the ones who inflicted it.

    – from quiveringdaughters.blogspot.com

    I do understand that some people will always have a hard time relating because they have never experienced this kind of abuse. What I have seen in many situations is a double abuse on the “one who has been violated. Recently I saw a pastor come down hard on one who had been abused instead of his focusing on the real troublemaker. If those who should be protecting us subtly blame us either for the abuse or for our reaction to the abuse, it is like salt rubbed into the wound. There is certainly wisdom in all of us understanding that bitterness can destroy us. But when one has been wounded and the attacker has gone scot-free, one becomes very sensitive and it may take a long time before the person is open to even a gentle reprimand. The thing that I have learned, and I hope that I practice it, is to always acknowledge the pain and the wrong-doing. And I understand the value of letting people talk it through. I have experienced spiritual abuse myself and so I understand how harmful it is to be abused by those who should love and care for us. I also know what it is like to have those who should have been knowledgeable about spiritual abuse, do all the wrong things and actually add insult to injury. I trust that God is using my own experiences to help me be far more tolerant of those who have been abused in the body of Christ. It is a betrayal that can wound people so deeply that the only way that they can survive is to walk away from the church. This is not the way that it should be, but sadly it is the way it is with many who don’t understand the dynamics of betrayal.

  43. I guess my comments were more based on spiritual abuse, but I should add that abuse by one who is in a one-flesh union is akin to spiritual abuse. It is devastating.

  44. The minister of my former church came from Australia and brought the eternal subordination of Christ and women with him. There are no longer any women in the pulpit of our church. Preaching on submission and zero resources or thought of abused women.

    The diocese of Sydney is one of the strongest generators of the teaching of the submission of women.

    The last I heard of my minister he was preaching beside Bruce Ware at a local pastoral training conference which was to ensure that all the pastors in our local area taught correctly the fact that God never submits and Jesus always submits and all human relationships ought to reflect this truth.

  45. Sue, Dave is apologizing for Sydney.

    And I’m rejoicing that you have spewed out those bitter waters from Sydney and have found freedom and joy and rest in the arms of you Savior, the Lover of your soul, the Chief Cornerstone that the builders have rejected.

    Sorry for spouting. It is just good to fear God rather than men.

    May more women come out of that darkness, that bitterness, and walk into the freedom and Light God offers.

  46. There’s that anti-spam word ‘live’ again.

    Feeling that strong urge to praise God for coming in and giving us life more abundantly even while the thief tries to steal, kill, and destroy.

    Ezekial 16:6b …I said to you while you were in your blood, “Live!”

  47. “And I’m rejoicing that you have spewed out those bitter waters from Sydney and have found freedom and joy and rest in the arms of you Savior, the Lover of your soul, the Chief Cornerstone that the builders have rejected.”

    Many truths are negative. That does not mean they are ‘bitter or sinful’ to speak. They are simply negative truths. Jesus spoke of negative truths when He taught that we are all sinners and we must repent to be saved. And, if saved, that repentance is ongoing as we mature in Him.

    Dave, it means quite a bit you apologize. I cannot imagine what guys like Kevin Giles deal with. I have read both his books.

  48. “The last I heard of my minister he was preaching beside Bruce Ware at a local pastoral training conference which was to ensure that all the pastors in our local area taught correctly the fact that God never submits and Jesus always submits and all human relationships ought to reflect this truth.”

    How sad. All that damage these men are doing to the body of Christ bringing unspiritual fleshly legalism into it. The personal gains of phariseeism to those who benefit by it, are just terrible.

    There are so many people in the world hurting and in need of the true comfort of the Lord by His Holy Spirit. And these guys, for their own gain, are spreading legalism. 🙁

  49. In fact, the guy from Sydney is a nice enough bloke and it appears that he lets his wife be the head of the house in his own home. But he is careful to preach the sucmission of women. Perhaps he thinks he won’t get to heaven otherwise.

  50. Some time back on another post, there was objection by some to the “Love and Respect” ministry of Emerson Eggerichs. Seeing that this post is on submission, I found Eggerich’s most recent post on his blog both interesting and applicable.

    We don’t hear too much about submission anymore. And if we do, it’s usually a command to the wife, to submit to her husband. Still, this is considered a bit archaic in today’s modern culture.

    But what does the Bible say? Before the section on marriage in Ephesians 5, we read in verse 21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Should a husband submit to his wife? Yes. He submits to his wife’s need to feel loved. I take this position by combining God’s command in Ephesians 5:21 to mutually submit, with God’s command in Ephesians 5:25-31 to a husband to love his wife.

    Juxtaposition, a wife submits to her husband’s need to feel respected. I take this position by combining God’s command in Ephesians 5:22-24 to a wife submitting to her husband, with God’s command in Ephesians 5:33 to a wife to respect her husband.

    and at the end of the post:

    Peter tells us that God favors such husbands. Peter instructs, “be submissive” for “when you do what is right and suffer for it” and “you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God” (1 Peter 2:18-20). However, does this passage really apply to a husband? Does God really call a husband to submit to his wife?

    Yes. In 1 Peter 2:13–3:7, Peter makes his main point about submission and then applies submission to citizens, slaves, wives and husbands. He says to citizens in 1 Peter 2:13, “submit yourselves.” He writes to slaves in 2:18, “be submissive.” He says in 3:1, “In the same way, you wives, be submissive.” Then, and this is the clincher, he writes in 3:7, “You husbands in the same way.” To what does he refer when writing “you husbands in the same way?” In the same way that citizens submit, slaves submit and wives submit, you husbands submit. Specifically, in this text a husband submits to his wife’s need to be understood and honored. When a husband submits this way, God answers the man’s prayers (3:7)!

    Now, I don’t present this as a defense for Eggerichs so much as a demonstration that even those who some here would say are an enemy of egalitarianism undertand that submission in the marital context is to be mutual.

  51. Thanks, gengwall. This brings up the $64,000 question for me: If submission in a marriage is mutual, then why does there seem to be a need for a “leader” (usually the man) in the home? This is a question I have never gotten a satisfactory answer to, as even the softest comps usually mumble something about how the headship of the husband is a reflection of Christ’s headship of the Church, and how in that relationship, He is the leader and the Church, out of necessity, follows Him.

    But whenever I read the relevant passages (in this case, Ephesians 5:21-33), the word “leader” is never found in any of the translations I’m reading. Unless that’s in the original Greek and I’m just missing it, I still stumble over that. The comps I’ve talked to tell me it’s about having an unsubmissive/unteachable spirit, that there’s probably some pride in my life that needs to be broken. That’s true, but it doesn’t answer my dang question! If anyone has any info, and can point me into some more resources, I’d love it.

  52. gengwall,
    I’m glad to see that Eggerich has addressed that on his blog…his book really didn’t lead one to think he viewed it that way.

  53. I don’t have an answer for you personally but I can give you the standard response: “rule by committee doesn’t work”. What “soft” complimentarians will say is that somebody has to make the final “call” on issues. Since it has to be somebody, God has ordained it to be the husband.

    I find a couple flaws in this. Kay points out the first. The bible never says this. The second is that there is no provision in our design that makes the male (or the female) qualified to make “the call” on every decision. We are all differently gifted and have different experiences which make us suited to be the expert on certain issues. In our house, my wife and I each defer to whoever is the most qualified to make a decision. And if the issue is contentious or there is no persuasive argument, we postpone making a decision until we can pray about the issue and gain more clarity (or better arguments).

    A final argument in favor of male leadership is that “men are built to be leaders”. As if we have some leadership gene. Now, being a man, I can certainly agree that we males want to be in charge. But that doesn’t necessarily ever make us better leaders. Put any 5 males and 5 females in a room and, given the situation, there are multiple hierarchies that make sense, some with a man at the top and some with a woman. So, the “leader by design” argument not only is not very persuasive biblically, but it fails in practical application too.

    Having said that, I do believe there are some inherent differences in males and females that make us better suited to certain tasks. But I don’t believe we are unilaterally gender differentiated. If for example, I believe that women generally make better nurturers because of their different brain structure and hormonal make up, that doesn’t mean that men can’t be good nurtureres and it certainly does not absolve men of the responsibility to nurture. It also doesn’t mean that there isn’t some overlap between genders on the nurturing spectrum, although I might argue that such overlaps have more to do with our own “nurturing” as opposed to our “nature”.

    None of that isneither here nor there. I find nothing in our makeup or in our shared experience that would indicate to me that men are better leaders or designed to lead. Nor does the bible ever say that men are to lead there wives. My wife and I are co-leaders of our family, each “taking chrage” where we are better gifted or experienced.

  54. Kay – I would disagree in general about the book, but understand that there are certain passages in the book that raise some eyebrows. As I said in a previous discussion, I don’t agree with absolutely everything he says. But the general principals of love and respect that are the main theme in the book I believe are biblically sound and positively applicable to marriages.

  55. I should add…by co-leaders, I do not mean that my wife and I take turns exercising authority over each other. Neither of us ever has the right to exercise authority over the other. The only authority in our marriage is God. The co-leader arrangement pertains to who “makes the call” on decisions, and, to a certain extent, who takes the “lead” on certain activities of daily living. What this involves on an individual level is mutual submission, or deference, to the giftedness and experience of the other partner. Neither of us “lord” our giftedness and experience over the other, but instead, the less gifted or experienced partner “submits” to the other. Co-leadership in marriage coexists with, or maybe better put, is exemplified by, mutual submission.

  56. Exactly, gengwall. Didn’t Jesus say on multiple occasions that whoever wants to be a leader is to be the servant? That’s a needed reminder since sometimes my ego goes nuts and those words help me come back down to a more realistic perspective.

    Thanks, Kay. I was afraid that for as many times I’ve read those passages, I had completely missed something. I’ve read NRSV, TNIV, NIV, and the NKJV, and nothing’s been in any of those translating the original Greek as “leader”. Quite honestly, I think that’s an attempt to hold on to the world’s ideas of the man as the dominant one, and the woman as the meek follower, and attach submission to fleshly notion of power and authority.

    However, I think the best definition of submission in general is found, not in any of the marriage passages, but in Philippians 2:3-4, where Paul tells us, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others” (NIV). Working from that, then, I define submission as a willingness to put the other before myself, and let go of my agenda in order that the mutual agenda (such as building a God-glorifying marriage) is fulfilled. From that perspective, then, submission doesn’t have anything to do with authority whatever, but rather is an outworking of Christ’s nature as Servant in me. I don’t know if that makes any sense, but it’s what’s bouncing around in my brain right now.

  57. Alison,
    I agree – good analysis. Any time I hear or read teaching on ‘authority’ or ‘leadership,’ I weigh whatever is put forth against Jesus teaching on the matter:
    “Jesus said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves.” Luke 22:24-26

  58. “Should a husband submit to his wife? Yes. He submits to his wife’s need to feel loved. I take this position by combining God’s command in Ephesians 5:21 to mutually submit, with God’s command in Ephesians 5:25-31 to a husband to love his wife. ”

    But I would rather be respected than loved. :o)

    Eggerich is assuming this passage is for all time and not cultural. A husband actually loving a wife in an arranged marriage where she is basically to breed sons was a big deal. Eggerich is assuming that men have some gene that means they need respect more than women do.

    I know that he has said women can be respected, too. I really appreciate that. (shaking head)

    But, he sure knows how to make a good living off comp doctrine. he even charges to be in his internet ‘community’.

  59. I have a question. Quite honestly, I’ve been rather irritated at God for a long time about this too. I personally don’t believe that ANYONE, either the wife OR the husband, should have to remain married to their spouse if their spouse abuses them, and CERTAINLY not if their lives and safety and/or the lives and safety of their children are in danger. However, to my knowledge, it doesn’t say anywhere in the Bible that God approves of a divorce in an abusive situation. As a matter of fact, I am rather hurt and upset at Jesus that when He did discuss divorce, He said it was alright in cases of marital unfaithfulness but He doesn’t say that it’s alright for one spouse to get out of an abusive marriage, especially if they are unsafe in their marriage. It seems to me that while the subject was being discussed, it would have been MORE than an ideal opportunity for Jesus to say, “And ladies, please, for Heaven’s sake, if you’re being beaten to a pulp, GET OUT!” And from what all research I’ve done on the subject, Jesus’s silence on the subject of domestic violence only seems to add fuel to the fire of those who preach male supremacy and claim that a woman being abused by her husband must stay in that relationship. His silence on the subject only seems to confirm what they say, as a matter of fact, that if a woman is being abused, God will not support her if she leaves the abusive marriage. God makes an allowance for divorce in the cases of adultery and abandonment, and it hurts me that (to my knowledge anyway) He doesn’t seem to make a clear allowance for it in the case of abuse. I mean, what is God trying to do about abuse, here? Endorse it?? I know that can’t be the case so I definitely seem to be missing something.

  60. Rose,

    God does not biblicaly require any woman to remain in an abusive marriage. There is someone who posts here by the name of Don who could explain everything better than I could, and he’s posted on this very subject over at http://www.equalitycentral.com/forum/ if you want to learn more about it.
    From what I’ve learned through the years though, God definately does not require it, in fact an abused spouse has Biblical grounds to divorce, if that were what they wanted to.

  61. Rose,
    Don Johnson is the ‘Don’ mentioned above, and he is the person from whom I first learned of the groundbreaking work by David Instone Brewer on divorce. He wrote a book about divorce from the Christian/biblical perspective that leaves all others in the dust as far as I am concerned, and explains things very well. David Instone Brewer has a website and I emailed him several questions a couple of years ago and he responded quickly and very helpfully. You won’t be disappointed.

    I have learned that so much of what the bible says that seems hurtful or puzzling clears up when I finally learn more about what it really meant ‘back then.’ This is true of so many issues that I no longer worry about the tough ones: I know there is a good explanation out there though I may not learn of it in my lifetime. So I just hand those unknowns to God, set them on the shelf, and wait until I get clarification that brings peace. I don’t feel obligated to accept any person’s interpretation until there is a clear explanation that makes sense. Literal readings of the bible can often be puzzling when we don’t have all the contextual and linguistic information. I believe the Holy Spirit can give us a quiet peaceful assurance that God has reasons that are truly good and just and loving for things; we may simply not have the proper understanding. I don’t say that as an advocate of women being subjugated subordinate, or having to put up with abuse or anything like that because I don’t believe God teaches any of that. I am convinced, but each person has to come to their own convincement about these issues and the way and journey is usually a bit trying and not short.

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