With Joel and Kathy nearer the front of our minds, me having seen their billboard and Dalrock mentioning them in his most recent post on abuse, it was not surprising to see Jimmy Evans’ email in my box this morning regarding the topic of submission. J and K are the dystopian end game of backwards marriage teaching. Evans and Dobson and Rainey and the crowd are skid greasing towards that dystopian apocalypse.
I read the email with zero expectation of it having any content worth parsing. I mean how many times can you cover the same tripe where Christian leaders apologize for headship scripture, explain it really means that men are draft horses and ought to therefore be easy to respect in a sort of cute huggable work animal way? Mother to child, “honey those bears at the zoo look very cute but they need to be respected because they can kill you”. That sort of attitude may be an improvement to what exists now, but abuse allegations stand ready to cap that line of thinking.
Evan’s take was bolder, by a degree or two.
In Paul’s model of marriage, women are told to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ. This passage makes today’s women uncomfortable.
When I teach it, many wives recoil at the thought of submission.
Why? Because we’ve misconstrued what it means to submit.
Then he walks into the stream of pedestrians:
As Christians, we submit ourselves to Jesus because we don’t fear being dominated, controlled, or abused by Him. We give Him a position of honor, respect, and leadership because we know His character. We trust Him.
This pay to play performance related submission is a farce. We may not fear being dominated or abused by God (though a smidgen of those feelings would not be wrong) but we indeed ought to consider being controlled. Not in the sense of a marionette, but in the sense that obedience is in effect control. Here Evans implies the extreme in order to rebuke the good.
He isn’t telling them to become doormats or accept abuse.
This is beyond annoying. Is there an analog that is spoken to men when the whole servant leader issue comes up? Is there a cliche that mitigates the words to men? Do we tell men, “yes you are to serve your wife and family….but….that does not mean you are to literally serve their each and every whim no matter what”? Nope, that is left unsaid. And it would actually be closer to prescriptive adjustment than the ubiquitous “she is not a doormat”.
More apologies to the women
He is saying “Treat your husbands with admiration and esteem.”
I’m aware that this isn’t easy, especially with husbands who have done little to earn that kind of respect. One wife once told me, “If he ever starts acting like Jesus, I’ll be happy to treat him like Jesus!”
Women know that giving respect to a man who doesn’t deserve it will often make his irresponsible behavior worse.
He tries to offer some modicum of fear that a man may experience when he confronts what scripture calls him to do, but he goes badly wrong
I knew Scripture said I should serve her like Jesus served the church, but I thought she would take advantage of me if I did that.
Scripture does not say that. Period.
He touches on a good point, and it informs the major point I wish to make here.
But I eventually realized something about this passage in Ephesians: It doesn’t come with a disclaimer. It doesn’t say, “wives, submit to your husbands…but only if they deserve it.” It doesn’t tell husbands to be loving and sacrificial but not until they get the respect they need.
The Christian life isn’t about reacting to others based on how others behave. It’s about responding to others according to the principles of Scripture—regardless of how we are treated.
Good words. No conditionality. True.
Many preachers make it this far in their explanations. Then they start to get into what makes the whole thing easier for them to speak from the pulpit. They add sugar to the medicine. And here, I take exception.
When a husband begins loving and nurturing his wife the way God intended, she begins to soften. She treats him more respectfully. She trusts him.
When a wife takes the initiative and treats her husband with respect and honor, he begins living up to her expectations. He leads with integrity.
A commenter, Bobbye at Dalrock made an observation that is useful here:
All desire the freedom to do that which is right in their own eyes. Men hate the word ‘submit’ applied to them as much as women do. The church is full of worldly men and women who will not submit to God. the Word teaches that everyone is to submit to everyone. Men are to esteem everyone above themselves. Women are to esteem everyone above themselves. The only way to be able to do that is for everyone to be submitted to God.
Seems very “balanced”, like Evans does. So, if a man loves and leads sacrificially, its easier for a woman to trust and follow. Perhaps it is true. It is certainly irrelevant though because the teaching around it is dangerously flawed.
The problem is that there is a natural order of operations to things. No matter how pleasing to the ears it is, this natural order of operations, if adhered to, will make alignment in proper structure much more likely to function as intended.
The churchians would assign equal weight to each direction in terms of someone going first. If he servant leads, she will more likely and more easily respectfully submit, or, if she respectfully submits he will more likely servant lead.
Sorry, it does not work equally, bi-directionally, not in marriage, and not in any other hierarchy be it military, employment, parental, or even coming under the authority of Christ. It would seem perfect if both parties could switch on simultaneously. We know that is absurd. So where would we go to find the model we should follow for marriage? Exactly where the scripture says to go. The relationship between Christ and His people follows a certain order of operations. He stands ready to lead us, knocking on the door so to speak, but while he could foist His leadership on us, he doesn’t. he awaits our volitional surrender. We sing about this.
If the example of The Lord is insufficient, look to the examples of military or employment. Do we come under the authority of those charged with it by waiting to see how they are doing? Or do we, because it is expected, begin under said authority, and outside of extreme cases, remain there regardless whether the leader rises to the occasion or flails helplessly in his attempt?
The leadership dynamic cannot begin completely until the woman submits of her volition. At this point, and ONLY at this point can rational admonishment of the man kick into high gear, pressuring him , not to lead…he is already doing that because of her volitional surrender, but to lead better.
How many spoon fulls of sugar would get this medicine down?