I was discussing the term “phobeo” as it appears in Eph. 5-33, where it tells the wife to revere her husband, the Greek word is “phobeo”. It is generally humorous to see how the “mutual submitters” like to dodge around that word. One even went as far as to cite Gerhard Kittel, the “Nazi” theologian who dances around the word in a very humanistic way. Into the thread I basically “went off” sometimes my best thoughts seem to come when I’m in the thick of the battle. Here is my main thought as it crystalized:
I used to be a “mutual submission” type and I understand full well how it is supposed to work in theory. I have talked to many women who claim to be egalitarian and I see a theme, they conditionally “submit”, they conditionally “obey”, they conditionally “phobeo”. Whatever that condition is points to the place that they haven’t surrendered to Christ.
Nuts and bolts, I want a child but my wife doesn’t. According to mutual submission I should go along with her. According to mutual submission she should go along with me. Deadlock right? Sure, now imagine she accidentally gets pregnant and wants an abortion, you don’t want her to. A deadlock should result in a baby correct? Not if she conditionally “submits” and decides not having a baby is more important than “submitting”. Her condition gets to overrule her submission. Is this mutual submission or just unilateral disobedience? Should the husband leave her or continue to “mutually submit”? He should stay with his wife right? I generally think so (and start getting his mind around what “mutual” really means)
Reverse the rolls, she wants a baby and you don’t. Again this would result in a deadlock (until one or the other changed their minds). Again, what if her submission was conditioned on her pregnancy? What if she decides to sabotage the birth-control? You’re going to have a baby. Should the husband leave or continue to “mutually submit”? He should stay with his wife right? I generally think so, we are supposed to love her like Christ loved the Church, right?
Okay, the husband wants to buy a boat and the wife is against it (as infamously portrayed in “Firepoof”). A deadlock results in no boat. Say he conditionally submits and decides that it is worth the grief to have the boat he has dreamed about since he was a boy. Now what? Is the wife going to submit to the fact that the boat is now bought and payed for? Will she “mutually submit” or does she feel taken advantage of? If she submits to her husbands will doesn’t it just look like he did what he wanted “acted like a child” and ran her will over? Will he hear the end of it? Should the wife leave or continue to “mutually submit” to her husband who she feels is taking advantage of her? She should stay with her husband right, after all she IS called to submit herself as a co-believer? I tell you what why not pose it to the egalitarian women?
I’ll wager that within 5 posts one woman will declare it “financial abuse”, within 9 posts one woman will start suggesting that she start enforcing a budget and taking over the finances, with 15 posts another will suggest giving him an ultimatum and demand that he sell his boat. In theory “mutual submission” seems applicable to marriage, in practice she is running the show.
So say she has a decent car and wants a new one. Deadlock results in no new car right? What if she keeps insisting, and if he loved her like Jesus loves the church he would get it for her, resolving the deadlock right? It’s his job to love her and avoid any potential strife isn’t it? Finances be darned right? The fact that she isn’t submitting at all compiled with the fact that he is obligated to “love” her has the serious potential in leading to their economic ruin doesn’t it?
“Mutual submission” in a church means that when irreconcilable differences are found between brothers and sisters they can simply part company. “Mutual submission” in a marriage inevitably and logically affixes the husband on the horns of a dilemma. If she doesn’t submit, and never had any intention of truly doing so or doing so only conditionally his obedience to the scripture is required, he must love her and submit to her, even if he knows that the submission will result in harm to her, himself or their family. The rebel and tyrant is in control and there is no means by which to remove her, no scripture to point to that results in her unconditional submission, no call to Biblical obedience to prick her conscience, no requirement of her but to lap up his unconditional love. The man as Sisyphus to the woman’s Persephone, trying to make her feel loved enough so that she will conditionally submit. There is an absolute, unchecked power that resides on the woman’s side when you eject the unilateral Biblical requirements that are directed at her. Meanwhile the loving husband is very often seen as nothing more than a failure for the strife in his house.
If a man decides to not love his wife unconditionally, the heel is roundly chastised by the Church, the wife is practically sainted, the Bible is cited and if he is bad enough even the world will join in scorning him. There are a plethora of checks against HIS behavior. Many of them will come to bear and most guys today will wither bolt or bend. The tyrant is condemned (and rightfully so). What check exists for his counterpart? What is likely to wean her from the insecurity she feels that only serves to deepen her discontent and her lack of feeling loved. She may even feel like she is being stalked by her creepy husband who won’t just give her the space she desires, after tiring of toying with his “neediness” she is likely to move on to a greener pasture (if she can find one).