The reverse nuclear option, the submissive Christian wife

Based on the title, you may think I am about to write about how women can mightily influence their husbands with respectful words and faithful actions. You have read that same admonishment in the bible, and know that women are called to that sort of peaceful influence.

If that’s what you expected, you’d be wrong. That would be “the reverse OF the nuclear option”.

This post is about today’s Family Life email, which tells of an incident in the marriage of Bill and Vonette Bright, those Bright’s, the Campus Crusade for Christ Brights. The story says that Dennis Rainy asked them, in an interview, if they had ever experience a pivotal point in their marriage, one that could have changed everything for the worse. Not unexpectedly it was Bill who copped to the deed doing:

Bill’s eyes filled with tears, his head dropped a bit, and he began to nod. There was shame and sorrow in his voice as he began to tell about a disagreement that had momentarily threatened their marriage.

Bill went on to explain the horror he wrought on his wife and family

It began when Bill had begun to make some key ministry decisions without consulting Vonette, even though the choices he was making directly affected her. One day as they argued about one of these issues, Bill declared, “The decision has been made, and it’s too late to change our plans now.”

I want to swerve here for a second and make an unrelated point. Has anyone ever noticed that the things these main stream evangelical leaders point to as problems are always sugar coated things? And, after you read the rest of the story, ask yourself if it seems a bit done up for drama? Would Bill actually instantly recall THIS event and immediately begin to cry? Are stories like this helpful, in the sense that they relate to the everyday struggles of regular Christians?  Are things like this too obviously pat?

Anyway

Bill goes on:

Suddenly, all the resentment building inside Vonette erupted. “Okay, Bill Bright! I’ll just leave! I’m not going to live where I have nothing to say about what goes on.” She whisked the children into the car, got in the driver’s seat, and then slumped. Where would she go?

At this point, their young son Zac made a statement that cut to the core: “Mom, this shows me the kind of person you really are.” As her son’s words stung her, Bill burst through the front door and deliberately got in front of her car. He pleaded, “Don’t go, Vonette.”

He went on to apologize, and she did too. Then Bill backed up his words of apology by changing the decision they had argued about. Later, Vonette wrote, “I stayed because he took the first step toward reconciliation and working out our problems. It took a real man of God to admit he was wrong, and this gave me the courage to confess my poor attitude.”

I’m going to let this speak for itself. I need add nothing.

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67 thoughts on “The reverse nuclear option, the submissive Christian wife

  1. Good find. This is an astonishing view of how deeply the rot of Feminism goes into our culture. Frankly, I’ve always been weary of Campus Crusade, especially in my college days, mainly because they are all about their big, emotional events, rather than discipleship and Bible Study.

    “I stayed because he took the first step toward reconciliation and working out our problems. It took a real man of God to admit he was wrong, and this gave me the courage to confess my poor attitude.”

    She didn’t stay because she was his wife and he was her husband. She gave him the nuclear option and he folded. She only stayed because he supplicated to her. She all but admits to being prepared to leave him if he didn’t supplicate.
    She determines what a man of God is and what is right and wrong.

  2. I can just see this being used as an example in some Bible Study somewhere and all the men are expected to “understand” her feelings.

  3. That’s nauseating. Negative tingles.

    LOL, Velvet. You really have to share some of your unique commentary on my blog. Maybe Monday, 😉 .

    I read this and thought, “Seriously? That’s the biggest challenge they’ve faced?” They were a very fortunate couple. We’ve had what I’d consider a great marriage and have had deeper points of contention and stress than that.”

    And that was a grievous enough offense to make leaving the marriage an option? Wow.

    Don’t get me started on the tearing up and whatnot. Of course, I am very biased and archaic in my views of masculinity so maybe it’s just me.

  4. The tearing up is problematic in several ways.

    I flat do not believe things went as Rainy described. What he described is a poorly acted christian movie script, not real life.
    The only way a man would tear up then and there about this is if his wife had ridden his ass profoundly and for YEARS about that one incident and he was playing up to her showing how sorry he was. Do not discount that as possible.

    The whole thing is too pat. I cant see a guy reacting that way unless he had beaten his wife really badly or gone through a long addiction to drugs or alcohol. I don’t even see an affair having that immediate head dropping and crying effect.

    Im on a tangent, but it reminds me of the awkward efforts these groups put forth towards kids and teens. For little kids they release videos like “BibleMan” and try and catch the kids eye for superheroes. For teens its outright embarrassing the things they do for outreach. Its like a script about a script that is about a lame script. And they are so dang serious about it.

  5. After reading this and the other numerous examples of feminist Christianity I find myself wondering why there aren’t at least a few Christian leaders rebuking this stuff. It seems like all the popular Christian organizations such as FotF are of this ilk. When will a non-feminist meet the market demand for biblical role Christianity?

  6. When will a non-feminist meet the market demand for biblical role Christianity?

    There is no real market demand for Biblical role Christianity.

    In fact, the day there is a market demand for it, I’ll be highly skeptical of the teaching that surfaces to meet it.

  7. That’s right. There is no demand to speak of. But then again, there is no demand for the gospel, there is no demand for Jesus Christ himself!
    And that is tragic, and that is also ok, in that were told and called to be outsiders in this sense and this all makes that more and more evident.

  8. Wait what? He threatened the marriage? By making decisions?

    She was the one who threw out an ultimatum that if she didn’t get her way the marriage was over.

    I agree this whole thing is a ridiculous Joel and Kathy-esque play of husbandly submission.

  9. @Empath

    I flat do not believe things went as Rainy described.

    Neither do I.

    I stayed because he took the first step toward reconciliation and working out our problems. It took a real man of God to admit he was wrong, and this gave me the courage to confess my poor attitude.”

    This statement (and regardless of who said it, it was from her) one of those things that CC would fight. To. The. Death.

    She gets mad, packs, and leaves? I will discuss it calmly, and pursue her to stay. She changes the version of events in retelling to make it look like it was my fault? Take it back and apologize, or GTFO.

    Good post.

  10. Wow.

    “Bill’s eyes filled with tears, his head dropped a bit…”
    “Bill had begun to make some key ministry decisions without consulting Vonette, even though the choices he was making directly affected her.”
    Oh the horror! Good grief man save the shame for such a time as this:

    “A shot rang out
    Across the land
    The horse, he kept running
    The rider was dead
    I hung my head
    I hung my head

    I felt the power
    Of death and life
    I orphaned his children
    I widowed his wife
    I begged their forgiveness
    I wish I was dead
    I hung my head
    I hung my head”

    When Johnny Cash sings this Sting song I believe him. Bill’s story of regret is empty of any need for repentance and redemption. Why would that bring real shame unless the wife forces it on him?

    Seems to me this story is about the submissive christian HUSBAND. Can’t see where the wife submitted at all!

    “At this point, their young son Zac made a statement that cut to the core: “Mom, this shows me the kind of person you really are.”

    It would appear the son is the only one who has eyes to see. I hope he remembers this truth.

  11. I need to start subscribing to emails like this because, at times, it’s really hard to believe that this garbage is the norm among Christian “ministry leaders”.

    So, she flipped out about a decision he made, almost left him, and almost kidnapped the children (at least that’s what it would have been called if he left with the kids) and it’s all his fault?

    Don’t get me wrong. I believe it. I guess I’m still at a point where my jaw still drops and I still hold my head to keep it from exploding. How long before I get used to it?

    Anyway, thanks for sharing.

  12. I agree there’s more to this story – if they’d collaborated on prior decisions, did he start making unilateral decisions because he’d turned into a tin-pot dictator, because she’d been disrespectful of his prior decisions, or something else?

    It took a real man of God to admit he was wrong, and this gave me the courage to confess my poor attitude.

    This is a good point – a husband sets the tone of the relationship by his example, and regardless of whether she admitted being wrong or not, if he was wrong he should admit it and apologize because it’s the right thing to do.

    However, she is also responsible for her own indiscretions and needs to apologize where she’s wrong – irrespective of whether or not he apologizes.

    I would note that she took their kid – who was an innocent by-stander – and threatened to kidnap him over her outrage. Can you say “hostage”?

  13. @ ANO,

    I’m not saying I am disagreeing with you but:

    did he start making unilateral decisions because he’d turned into a tin-pot dictator

    Exactly how does one become a tin-pot dictator? Do we suppose that is something like a tyrant? That seems like a very feminist meme, the idea that one category of leadership on the part of the husband is “tyrannical”, or in other words that it has been usurped. God gave the husband headship, how can he “usurp” or steal what was given to him and that he is responsible for?

    If he were making abusive or harmful decisions that God gave him the authority to make and that he is ultimately going to be held accountable for what should the wife do? What is THE Biblical answer?

    “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”
    (1Pe 3:1-2)

    And feminists everywhere wail and gnash their teeth and claim “taken out of context” and try to redefine “subjection”, “obey”, “chaste”, and “fear”. Really what they are doing is rejecting the Word, and demonstrating a lack of faith. Instead of letting God deal with their “tin-pot” husband they are go affect change by packing their bags (while claiming faith in Christ). What a joke.

  14. Exactly how does one become a tin-pot dictator?

    Someone gets authority / power that they’re not ready for, they assume the power is about them and not that it’s a responsibility that’s supposed to be used for a particular purpose in a particular way, so they get all puffed up, insolent, and are a royal pain to be around.

    Rightly discerned, power is joined to the responsibility to use it in a particular way. It is not an discretionary tool to be used in an arbitrary manner.

    Where it comes to an erring husband (or mother in a parent / child dyad) abusing their power, the best way for it to be handled would be for another man to apply the corrective screws to the erring husband. Failing that, I can’t see a woman submitting to such abuse and “wait for God to straighten him out.”

    As such, what should a godly woman do in such circumstances? While I don’t have a clear answer, I don’t think “sit there and take it” is the right one though.

  15. @ A Northern Observer:

    If you don’t mind hearing my thoughts on this matter, I believe a godly woman should endeavour to behave as instructed here:

    “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
    While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
    Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
    But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
    For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands:
    Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”
    1 Peter 3

    @ A Northern Observer:
    ” authority / power that they’re not ready for”

    It would seem to me that a husband is given his sphere of authority by God the moment he marries his wife.
    He doesn’t have to earn his power nor fear it’s removal. It’s God-given. God doesn’t withdraw the husband’s leadership due to circumstances. So then why should the wife?
    A man might be a poor leader and he will be answerable to God for this. But a wife is answerable to God for her attitude. She is called to obey, submit, respect, and honour her man regardless of his leadership skills or lack thereof 🙂 That’s between him and God.

  16. What Hannah said.

    I gave you the Scripture verse that was pertinent, you completely ignored it. Hannah gave it to you again. How many times does clearly worded instruction have to be in the Bible before people start to take it seriously? If you prefer feminism to obedience and adherence to God why pretend that you are doing both?

    “No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
    (Luk 16:13)

    So the question that seems relevant to me is which are we going to serve here? God or the feminists?

  17. Also, ANO. I’m not disagreeing that men who are abusive of the authority that God has given them are not a problem. That is not at all what I’m saying, and if I had a brother in Christ doing so I would be praying and wrestling with the burden of what (if anything) the Lord wanted me to do to help. There are many avenues God may have a brother (especially an older one) that He hasn’t made clear for wives. Feminists don’t like women being dependent on God, or older brothers, or anything male, it’s too “patriarchal”. That’s why they persist in trying to rewire our faith into “Churchianity” and why I say their cause is diametrically opposed to the message of the Cross.

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  19. flat do not believe things went as Rainy described. What he described is a poorly acted christian movie script, not real life.

    The whole story is probably pure fiction (if it’s not, and Vonette Bright really did do what is described here and if her husband really reacted the way he did, then the Brights are unfit to serve in the roles in which they’ve served for so many years). While I doubt that it ever happened, or if it did, it did not even remotely unfold in the embellished way described, it does comport nicely with the evangelichurchian “Husband, Submit To Thy Wife” doctrine that prevails nowadays, one which the FotF crowd is dedicated to spreading far and wide.

  20. Exactly how does one become a tin-pot dictator?

    Someone gets authority / power that they’re not ready for, they assume the power is about them and not that it’s a responsibility that’s supposed to be used for a particular purpose in a particular way, so they get all puffed up, insolent, and are a royal pain to be around.

    This, to me, points to the utter failure of most (all?) churches today to school the men of their congregations before their marriages in the precepts of biblical headship. Of course given the fact that very few churches these days bother with even so much as pre-marital counseling of any type, this is to be expected. I don’t suppose its possible in most churches for any such training to take place when its been neglected for a couple of generations or more. Once you’ve passed the point of no return (i.e., there are no longer any “leaders” in the church who themselves have any clue about what biblical headship of a family involves), it’s difficult to (but not impossible – just pick up and read the Bible fer cryin’ out loud) to find one’s way back.

  21. I can only see one escape, but it is from a different violation. Paul would not suffer a woman to teach (I’m slightly more liberal, but not much more – Catherine of Sienna, Theresa of Avila, and Therese of Liseaux are Doctors of the Church, St. Faustina might soon be). If they had a “co-ministry”, then they had to make the decisions together as any other “partnership”. But that means Vonette was equally a minister. Which error, violation, breech is to be preferred?

    That does not merely excuse Vonette’s threat to MURDER – and I would use a stronger word if possible – her family. Like Medea, slaughtering the children (removing them from the father is not much different), then riding off in the chariot to parts unknown. (When I find a wife I will make it clear it is “till death till us part” and that she should not tempt me to enforce it, for “that can be arranged”). He should have called the kids to get out – choose – and let her drive off while doing what he could to make the divorce thermonuclear for her.

    Elsewhere when there was a discussion whether submission to the husband was absolute, or subject to Christ/Church/Bible/righteousness (or only if the wife thought the husband was right or nothing at all), I pointed out that many of the wimpy effeminate (gamma) husbands have often specifically commanded their wives to be the dominant partner, even to the point of being a bitchy feminist. Does it make their (parody of or worse) marriage Biblical?

    I did that in order to show the contradiction. For there to be submission, the marriage has to be Biblical, but that implies things about the form and relation between the husband and the wife. The submission must derive from obedience to Christ and whatever earthly authority the couple accepts as his representative. Submission itself comes from obedience to that, so a command to “not submit” to the husband, the Bible/Church/Tradition/etc., or to Christ has to be void. How can you submit by doing the exact contradictory thing?

    But I keep finding my observation to be more profound than I would desire. (mainline) Christian Men seem to think that self-contradicting headship is what they should aim for. That they should command their wives to not submit. To be partners and not help-meets. To assert themselves. To confront them even when it is not sin. To take dominant roles. To teach and lord over him and even other men.

  22. It would actually be great if the general result was mutual responsibility and partnership. What’s of concern is that in these supposed wonderful examples, it’s the opposite. But it’s like how in “Nineteen Eighty-Four” two plus two is made to equal five–because the Party says so. If “balance” and “fairness” mean “domination” and “control” then it’s simply changing the words around to mean different things so that it sounds good and is difficult to argue against. So we can imagine in this case a high heeled shoe stamping on a male face forever.

  23. @ Hannah on September 5, 2013 at 3:29 am said nothing that I disagree with – as far as it goes…

    WRT 1 Peter 3, if the husband is acting in a responsible manner towards his wife, is providing leadership and making (mostly) reasonable decisions, then submission is a no-brainer. Where it gets hard to draw the line is when the husband is is abusing his position – and by extension her – as in he’s doing her physical or mental harm.

    It would seem to me that a husband is given his sphere of authority by God the moment he marries his wife. He doesn’t have to earn his power nor fear it’s removal.

    “Tinpot dictators” don’t see things that way – they’re working from a position of insecurity, and one of the way this maladjustment shows itself is in how they treat people under their authority.

    God doesn’t withdraw the husband’s leadership due to circumstances. So then why should the wife?

    So if a wife found herself in an abusive marriage, you’d tell her to go back and submit?

    Just to be clear here, I’m not referring to questionable or even bad decisions / leadership on the part of the husband, I’m referring to where he’s clearly abusing his position.

  24. I Art Laughing on September 5, 2013 at 4:35 am said:
    I gave you the Scripture verse that was pertinent, you completely ignored it.

    Not at all – you’re clearly abusing scripture and advocating that the guy can do whatever he wants, and his wife has to sit there and take it meekly in the name of “submission.”

    In doing so, you’re leaving out the rest of that passage:

    Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life…
    1 Pe 3:7

    As I wrote to Hannah – submission to such a man is a no-brainer. The caveat is, this isn’t a one-way, unconditional mandate – the guy has a role to play as well, and you both would do well to remember that before putting a burden on women and leaving the man’s side of the load un-addressed.

  25. ANO, saying that I’m abusing scripture is quite a claim, I don’t think that you can back it up. First of all what I quoted was the responsibility of the wife, yes she in fact has her very own responsibility. Read the charge of Peter closely and explain how you are not precisely ignoring the prescribed course of action please.

    First:

    Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives;
    (1Pe 3:1)

    What is the condition of that husband?
    How does a husband behave when they “obey not the word”? Maybe like a tin-pot dictator? Like a sinner? Like a man who is unpleasant to live with? Seeing as how this man is not obeying the word, would it be a safe assumption that he, like you so readily accused me of doing, is not paying heed to “the rest of the passage” (1 Peter 3:7)? Please describe this husband for me.

    What is the course of action that Peter gives for amending this situation? Clearly, without abusing scripture he tells wives to win their husbands by being in subjection to them. That is for the wives to place themselves under the headship of their disobedient husbands and win them without words. Not arguing and kicking and packing and driving away like Vonette. By suggesting that Bill may have earned this treatment by Vonette by being a tin-pot dictator you have stripped her of her very own personal need to be obedient to the Word and the Holy Spirit that inspired it. You reduce women to children who can only do what the Lord requires when everything goes as they wish with regards to their marriages.

    That is feminism. The need to strip God of convicting that husband through her quiet submission that 1 Pe 3:7 applies to him and take matter into her own hands. This is what is eviscerating marriage in Christianity. A total lack of faith in the working of the Holy Spirit and at total dependence on the diabolic machinations of secular humanism in the form of feminists. Try as you might to find it there is NO condition for submission placed on the man in verses 1 and 2, what’s more is that the woman is told to submit in a negative condition, to a disobedient (to God) husband. Where do you go from there ANO?

    As I said in another post (that you also ignored) this doesn’t mean I support abusive husbands, I don’t. This doesn’t mean I haven’t read 1 Peter 3:7 and I would be having it very much in mind if I were counseling a husband I suspected of abuse or neglect of his wife. Taking the Godly man’s obligation to 1 Peter 3:7 and applying it to the disobedient husband as a condition of his Godly wife’s obedient submission IS ABUSING THE SCRIPTURE. It is categorically contrary to what is being said.

    Do you support wives who rebel against God ANO? Do you think it better that they take their chances with the courts, the lawyers, the feminists and all the other people who scoff at the responsibilities that God Himself has placed on her? Because her husband makes a ministry decision without her? Sure sounds like it

  26. Second:

    While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.
    (1Pe 3:2)

    The husband is going to see her “chaste” conversation:

    chaste
    hag-nos’
    From the same as G40; properly clean, that is, (figuratively) innocent, modest, perfect: – chaste, clean, pure.

    Would you call a woman piling her bags in the car in a rage “chaste”?

    And what does that husband also see in his wife? “Fear”:

    Fear
    fob’-os
    From a primary φέβομαι phebomai (to be put in fear); alarm or fright: – be afraid, + exceedingly, fear, terror.

    Not fear of him, but the fear a Godly wife has towards God. A fear that convinces her that without that loving God she would be a total loss, her faith shipwrecked (as described in 1 Tim 1:19). That she would be obedient to her Lord and Savior despite the temporal expense to herself. A fear that lines up with:

    “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
    (Mat 10:28)

    That she would demonstrate so much faith in her Savior that she would throw herself upon her Saviors mercy and grace and depend on Him to change her husband rather than human wisdom? This faith has nothing to do with the disobedience or condition of her husband, it resides solely in the wife’s heart. Why ANO are you so swift to take that away from wives?

  27. ANO

    Just to be clear here, I’m not referring to questionable or even bad decisions / leadership on the part of the husband, I’m referring to where he’s clearly abusing his position.

    If a man is so abusing his position that its “clear” then the church should intervene. But this is not an easy question and requires a bigger threshold than you imply. The imperatives on men and women ARE NOT conditional one to another. Period. They are direct from God, between God and the individual. Reading on to -the-rest-of-the-verse- in Eph 25 is simply not an If/Then set up. I understand the urge to remind men about this, but you are doing it in the wrong way. You do not remind a man of his role when the wife is stepping out of hers. You remind HER. Period. This tendency is at the root of the ruination of gender ordered marriage.

    IAL

    Absolutely, do the post.

  28. What empath said. The wife can appeal to another authority. She is not one on her own anymore than a child can “decide” not to listen to her. He can appeal to dad, but he can’t decide what a valid order is independently. What ANO is writing is nonsensical.

  29. What ANO is writing is nonsensical.

    What’s patently evident is none of my opponents have ever dealt with domestic abuse. It’s easy to take a legalistic approach to Scripture and say a passage like this applies to all situations regardless of circumstances, and if he husband’s abusing her she has to sit there and take it. It’s yet another to have to deal with it directly.

    Find out where Christ talks about “breaking the sabbath” prohibition against working in order to rescue an animal that’s fallen into a well, or how David took the show-bread to feed his men, and I’d submit that the same “there’s no law against doing good” principal applies here as well.

  30. What’s patently evident is that you are wrong. I have. As a pastor.

    And to accuse your opponents of legalism when you are really the one not dealing with the organic nature of the situation is absurd. You have been presented with a firm case. The case includes no abusive elements per the OP. You are creating a counter case abstraction (that is a _legalistic_ case) to make your point. Your citation of Jesus on the Sabbath and David is irrelevant.

  31. Mr. Bright died 10 years ago; this was not a recent interview. I believe his son is the Zac Bright employed as a presbyterian minister in Irwindale, Ca. and appears to have had full-time employment on congregational staffs as early as 1978, so would be north of 50. I would wager the incident in question happened ca. 1975, perhaps around the time of EXPLO ’74.

    Just a gut call, but my guess would be they are out of one or another sort of embarrassment leaving obscure certain details which would leave one, the other, or both rather more abashed than they would care to be in front of this particular interviewer. I had a conversation with an in-law some years ago about an impending divorce among her proximate relations and her conversation ran to “Jim just was not seeing Nancy’s side of it”. I was later told her ‘side’ of it was her dismay over his avid consumption of internet pornography and correspondence with others concerning it.

    Unless I misread the vignette, Vonette Bright realized she had nowhere to go, which is a humiliation that keeps some of us together through bad patches.

    It might also be noted that Campus Crusade for Christ was evidently founded by the two of them as a couple. She may have conceived of herself as a proprietor more than would ordinarily be the case.

    I suspect that the stories they might tell of this type would not dovetail very well with others’ common-and-garden problems because they themselves are not common-and-garden.

    ==

    Zac Bright’s infrequently updated blog is here
    http://divinesaviorpresbyterian.wordpress.com/category/pastors-post/

    His idiom and sensibility is very recognizably evangelical, but his vocation is something much more conventional than his father’s: he is a mundane local pastor in a mainline protestant congregation. I would wager there is a story there. Campus Crusade for Christ changed its name to “Cru” a couple of years back (evidently for marketing reasons). I seem to recall Focus on the Family has gone soft and repudiated its founder. I do not think these are happy times for contemporary evangelicalism.

  32. I had a lengthy discussion about this very thing today. What is there is abuse ANO? What do you say then? That it is too much to bear? That other means must be taken? That the Lord cannot possibly want a woman to reside in an abusive situation? That some human mechanism must be used to stop any and all injustice?

    Tell the martyrs. Is it too much for them to die for the testimony of Jesus Christ? Should they suggest that our husband (if we are the Church) is requiring too much if He asks for our lives? Is that “abusive”? Does that not demonstrate that He doesn’t love us? Isn’t this a reason enough that if we are asked to renounce our faith that we should pull the pin and bail on Jesus Christ for being a deadbeat who cannot protect us and nurture us? Should He not consult us before throwing our lives away? After all, it is our life, and our ministry too, right?

  33. And that is precisely what you are telling women. That if they are in an abusive marriage that it is too much, that God cannot be asking that much of them. That it is too much to bear.

    There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.
    (1Co 10:13-14)

  34. @ANorthernObserver:
    “So if a wife found herself in an abusive marriage, you’d tell her to go back and submit?
    Just to be clear here, I’m not referring to questionable or even bad decisions / leadership on the part of the husband, I’m referring to where he’s clearly abusing his position.”

    Thanks for your response to my comment…. I’m in agreement with I Art Laughing who’s explaining the viewpoint I hold much better than I could!

    But I will respond to your specific question above.
    I happen to believe wholeheartedly that people most often get the idea of submission muddled up with relenting. To me, letting the husband have the ‘last say’ isn’t really submission at all.
    Submission is in the BEGINNING!
    Most often, the husband doesn’t even need to be aware of the wife’s choice to submit – he will perhaps only be aware that she isn’t so much of a punish as she used to be! Perhaps later on he will realise he is enjoying his wife’s company so much more than he used to – he will notice they don’t fight half so much – that she is a pleasure to be with.
    None of this needs to be verbalised by the wife calling attention to herself and her wonderful Submission… seems to me this would lead to pride and possibly spiritual ‘superiority’ far too easily.

    So I would say to such a wife that has ‘found’ (?) herself in an abusive marriage that she is to love her husband with a meek and quiet spirit.

    The outworking of this will look different depending on the level of abuse.
    If he is treating her unkindly in anger I would give her specific advice on how to treat him lovingly while deflecting volatile situations. Oftentimes women actually escalate the ‘fight or flight’ tendency in her husband.
    Who knows that in the same situation if she uttered silent prayers and held her tongue that perhaps her husband’s wrath might not be turned away by her kindness?

    If he is breaking the laws of the land for example and winds up imprisoned for his actions, then I would encourage her to faithfully visit her husband in prison – pray for him – and continue to treat him with kindness. Perhaps he will be won over, perhaps other prisoners will also be won over for the Lord on account of questioning the wife’s sweetness towards an unkind man?
    Who knows, but it allows God to move mightily in the situation when we humans resist the temptation to meddle!

    So many of the verses and promises in the Bible don’t come into play until we move into the seemingly impossible. Yet NOTHING is impossible for God!

    Oh and I would counsel such a wife to only speak well of her husband! To anybody, including or perhaps especially to her own parents….. If there truly is nothing good to speak of, then she’ll get lots of quiet practice in developing the fruits of the spirit….

    Meanwhile, this is a rare situation though isn’t it? A man abusing a good wife? It’s going straight to the most heart-wrenching rabbi-worthy conundrum in a similar way to arguing about abortions and going straight to the rape pregnancy scenario.. (to which I still hold that life is precious and not to be destroyed)

  35. I was on a first name basis with Martin Jonassen, he sat behind me in Church. He stalked my family.I have experience with abuse. If it would have been at all possible to have separated him from his family I would have done it (unfortunately I was a child). I know exactly how bad it can get. (Search: “Martin Jonassen” if you doubt me.)

  36. The whole abuse debate muddies the waters. For the record, I say that if a husband is physically abusing his wife and children, then physical separation is necessary but divorce is still not permitted, which means she’s not free to get herself the kind of love she “deserves.”

    I think the whole abuse, tin pot dictator discussion has gotten the point of this post lost. I didn’t know Bill Bright. But Family Life was born under his watch. I highly doubt this was a man given to abuse or tin pot dictatorships in his home.

    I could be wrong, of course, but…

  37. ANO
    What’s patently evident is none of my opponents have ever dealt with domestic abuse.

    I have deep and dreadful experience with domestic abuse. The type of blood and broken bone. When the word abuse is tossed in this topic I am willing to wager that, if experience is what makes credibility, very very few would be as credible as I am. I also know that my co-writer here IAL has a powerful license for his words.
    You are arguing about one thing while another is being discussed. here is the question, why frame the topic of submission using abuse as something one need keep in front of the mind? This has been a clever evangelical feminist trick to get past objections to frivorce and to submission.

    ArtDeco
    Vonette Bright realized she had nowhere to go, which is a humiliation that keeps some of us together through bad patches
    This is the trick. She, as the wife of Bill and the co-founder of Cru, and generally all round big ministry type would have had nearly unlimited options where to go. If anything her asking where meant she was overloaded with possibilities and could not decide which choice would be the least humiliating for her in the sense that no one would dream the Brights split up.

    IAL
    I’m going to post your post right now. I was wrong about the suggestions I made on email.

  38. Pingback: Nuke Your Family or Sit There and Take It? | Feminism is Empathological

  39. Hannah
    Oftentimes women actually escalate the ‘fight or flight’ tendency in her husband.

    This is correct, and has finally been studied and shown empirically. There exists, indeed, brutish men who simply are violent, no provocation, just mean and evil. In spousal abuse these do exist, but its absurd that that even enter into discourse about the other 99.9% plus of people.
    I believe most use of the word abuse is incorrect and overdone, used as a power changer. Abuse is either mutual, she slaps he shoves, or she nattered and badgered so long that as you say fight or flight, Ive seen a woman follow a man down the street as he was trying to just drive away, berating him seething that he was leaving, and finally i watched my mother who as tough as it is to say was very much responsible in some way for the terrible abuses she suffered. She isn’t the cause as much as, she COULD have eliminated most of it by just changing her behavior when things felt like escalation. Time and again as a child I remember laying in my room whimpering “please mom, just shut up” until finally the crashes and thumps began. Folks are mostly unable to process this kind of thing objectively because the evident horror is bad. Its bloody, it involves police and ambulance, etc. So its really wrong to even dissect the dynamic and see the INTERaction.

    Much of what Christians call abuse is “verbal”, and what that means vast majority of time is….she lost several arguments and cried…therefore he abused…..or…..she nagged him, even yelling, and unrelenting and he stayed silent until he attempts to engage at which point she presents a meandering illogical set of arguments that is irrelevant and he cannot follow anyway, and he realizes he is stuck….right there…..and so often 2+2=4 IS simply true and he knows it no matter all the absurd reasons she refutes it. So, he explodes and yells, she cries, hence he abused her.

    Its nothing more than another tool for the church to use to twist the order of marriage and the scriptures around same. It promotes female spiritual supremacy because after all, she never looses her cool. She can just push and push and ask the same thing over and again and go silent the n she can yell, deny sex, yak to friends about him……no prob. He reacts…abuse.

    ANO
    You are really stuck in an artificial reality

  40. “He went on to apologize, and she did too. Then Bill backed up his words of apology by changing the decision they had argued about. Later, Vonette wrote, “I stayed because he took the first step toward reconciliation and working out our problems. It took a real man of God to admit he was wrong, and this gave me the courage to confess my poor attitude.” ”

    Lots of apologizing here, but only one displayed true repentance. And here (Luke 17:3) is the Biblical example for taking the first step toward reconciliation. Did that happen in the example of the Brights? How, then, is/was this story a proper example for true Biblical-Christian behavior?

    If thy brother trespass against thee, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him.
    Luke 17:3 (kjv) (Compare to Matthew 5:23-24)

    I think the following link contains an excellent discussion of the Biblical concept of rebuke first, forgive only when repentance is given. Maybe not all will agree with everything that is said, but it is still a good discussion.

    http://www.crcsa.org/SJul19.pdf

    “The doctrine of repentance as taught in the Bible is a call to persons to make a radical turn from one way of life to another. The repentance called for throughout the Bible is a summons to a personal, absolute and ultimate unconditional surrender to God as Sovereign. Though it includes sorrow and regret, it is more than that. It is a call to conversion from self-love, self-trust, and self-assertion to obedient trust and self- commitment to God. It is a change of mind that involves a conscious turning away from wrong actions, attitudes and thoughts that conflict with a Godly lifestyle and biblical commands, and an intentional turning toward doing that which the Bible says pleases God. In repenting, one makes a complete change of direction (180° turn) toward God.” (Wikipedia)

    Repentance = to turn from doing that which is causing offense. Dr. Bright repented, in that he rescinded the decision that had caused offense. How did Mrs. Bright repent? How did she turn from that behavior which was causing offense? The “behavior that was causing offense” was her rebelling against the manner in which Dr. Bright had made a decision. The only way that Mrs. Bright could have truely repented, could have truely turned from doing that which caused offense, would have been for Dr. Bright to have reinstated his decision and for her to have properly and obediently accepted that decision. Apparently Dr. Bright did not reinstate his decision, so Mrs. Bright never had the opportunity to repent, to turn away from doing that which caused offense (threatening to blow up the marriage because of the way Dr. Bright made his decision).

    Even if we grant that Dr. Bright should have included Mrs. Bright in the decision-making process, the linked article above makes it clear, as does Luke 17:3, that the proper reponse from Mrs. Bright would have been a rebuke to Dr. Bright. Threatening to blow up the marriage is something different from a rebuke. A rebuke is Biblical; what Mrs. Bright did was not. And I believe that a rebuke can be delivered by a wife in the submissive manner described by Hannah here and elsewhere. As described elswhere, submission does not equal doormat. There has to be real discussion between husband and wife if they are to help each other grow.

  41. As I talked about in “The Whole Abuse Thing” (I may put up another version of that) the problem is not that abuse could be considered a reason to separate or even divorce. The problem is that the definition of abuse has widened to become “I’m not happy.” Feminists deny this, but when things like name calling are given the same concern that beatings or threats are? That’s a problem. I think that there needs to be a clear level because it’s too important for it not to be.

    Example: name calling. Why not just call it rudeness? Rudeness is offensive and is indicative of disrespect, so call a spade a spade, as in “My husband is often rude to me.” See, there you have a problem that can be fixed.

    In this particular case, no detail is gone into WHY Bill Bright was making decisions on his own. What caused this dynamic? Why did he have to apologize? Did he think her ideas were crap? Was he just doing what had to be done? Could she have spoken up more clearly? Was he actually being a jerk? We have no idea! This is a bunch of murky muck, there’s no understanding of what the problems really were. It’s a bunch of feeling gobbledegook. But what I do know is that there sure as heck is no reason to walk out the door just because you’re displeased. Abuse–absolutely yes! Even if it’s purely on the more emotional scale, but let’s be honest–real actual emotional abuse gives you no options and the threat of the physical is always just around the corner. We need to somehow define things so that what is defined as abuse is clear and makes our options more clear.

  42. name calling. Why not just call it rudeness? Rudeness is offensive and is indicative of disrespect, so call a spade a spade, as in “My husband is often rude to me.” See, there you have a problem that can be fixed.

    Remember the debates at CF were endless, and this point you raise was always one of my central arguments. Call things what they are, stop up-defining things to abuse.
    I would use examples of violent crimes, assault, assault w/ deadly weapon, assault with intent to kill, etc. I’d ask, do the victims of the lesser some how miss out? Should they be clamoring to get up-defined?

    The responses were usually along the lines of “why not call abuse abuse?”

    They could not relinquish the inherent power of that word and I saw too many times where, over time some woman who had posted about being horribly abused, or having an abusive husband (which interestingly on CF it would have been over 90% of the women who ever posted about marriage issues, 90% claimed abuse) ,which it seems everyone has one now days.

    You cannot properly address something for which the chosen term could mean anything ranging from dominating the remote control to punctured lungs and broken limbs.

    Oy, so is it abuse that Bill was making decisions without her? Could it be that over the decades he had seen certain patterns when they discussed things. This is true in EVERY marriage. The man learns certain things and ways of thinking that he will come against if he talks a certain topic. Its a lose lose. Best just face her wrath. This example was most assuredly something that they HAD discussed in the past to no satisfactory end. I highly doubt he went off half cocked on new territory.
    Women crave micromanagement and over analyzing. The better women are able to suppress the urge to do so. Few women never feel the urge to speak into things.
    Imagine Mrs Bright, decades of church pandering to women, admonishing men to SERVE SERVE SERVE, seeing men weeping contrite on Fathers Days and other days…of course she had deep expectations, she is the holy spirit in the marriage and therefore not asking her was like not praying.

    Aside, something really unique came up this past week. I have a business friend, a guy who is an exec at one of my companies vendors, tell me he is in a divorce. I assumed frivorce. But no. This guy actually went and did what supposedly creates all divorces. he took up with a younger woman at the office. Just dont hear that as much as you hear the preachers admonishing about it….as if

  43. A few thoughts:

    1. Name calling: there are a LOT of degrees of name calling. My friends and I called each other names, and I remember more than once a woman who was not familiar with standard male culture would be almost in tears, thinking “They must be so angry” when in fact we were just hanging out or doing a job of some kind. But there are lines: you generally don’t do that outside of certain contexts. You don’t call a perfect stranger in a grey situation a douchebag unless you’re prepared to defend yourself, for example. Or there’s anger–things said in anger can be regrettable, but they are often just that–knee jerk reactions. So when is name calling abuse? Only when someone is actually BEING abused. Then saying “Wow, you’re such a jerk” has a tone of menace. But ANYTHING is menacing in an abusive situation!

    One really good stark example is in “Schindler’s List”. The polite friendly things the Nazis say don’t convey genuine friendliness–they convey the iron fist in the silk glove. If you look at the profanity and swagger in the movie “Patton” by contrast, Patton is rough and tumble but not abusive–why? Because when reprimanded, he accepts the reprimands. He acts within the law. The Nazis only used the law when it suited their purpose. So to me–abuse is abuse. It means you intend to harm. Outside of that, it is various degrees of offense.

    2. I think that when we consider Church morals, we need to remember that the Church has always taken in other ideological thoughts by spiritual osmosis. Whether it’s the Imperial Bureaucratic worship of the Emperor in Imperial times, barbarian war ethics after the collapse of the Western Empire, slaveholding, the Crusades—and good and bad, in it goes. It takes ruthless self examination to root it out. So in this case, we are still dealing with Victorian era chivalry.

    At one time, chivalry made sense–it was a kind of social compromise, even if it was only for the Middle Classes and up. It was a way of dividing the roles. Now however it’s completely meaningless in a society where women can do whatever work they’re qualified for, have their own bank accounts and where this means that they are legally supposed to be accountable for their own behavior, where at one time the HUSBAND was accountable except in the case of extreme crimes.

    So this is why the Church still tends to whitewash women, even though they do not need defending.

    3. You really hit the nail on the head with “she is the holy spirit in the marriage and therefore not asking her is like not praying”. That’s absolutely how it is presented.

    4. Yeah that is an unusual example, the guy leaving his wife for his lover. I know a similar case where a relative did that, but I’d agree it is unusual.

  44. Pingback: When God Asks for “Too Much”. | Feminism is Empathological

  45. She, as the wife of Bill and the co-founder of Cru, and generally all round big ministry type would have had nearly unlimited options where to go.

    Well, I suppose Aimee Semple MacPherson had an audience….

  46. This crap goes on all the time in “Christian households.” I’d probably still be married if I threw my now ex out on her ass the first time she threatened divorce. And… It was over something trivial. Things did not settle down until I caved. Guess what. Threats of divorce happened with increasing frequency. The frequency of the threats went all Y-axis asymptotic after I said, “Hon, I wish you would not threaten divorce. It really hurts.” Then I knew it was a game and I had lost.

  47. Pingback: Lightning Round – 2013/09/11 | Free Northerner

  48. Y-axis asymptotic is absolutely right. It is the system trying to reassert balance. Where the wife tests and the test fails (husband gammas out) and where she escalates the test (unfairly demanding more of an already failing system) things can go amazingly bad. I have to admit that understanding what a fitness test was and how it was related in form to my unconscious desire to check out “hot chicks” made life so much easier.

    If it helps ANO there was a story by a gal who ran a crisis center in (I believe) South Africa. I know she was famous in such circles. One of my very gradual awakenings to the red pill way of viewing things was her description of her relationships with battered women and how she came to discover that many of them were massively emotionally abusive to their children and to their abusive husbands. She related that to her own early family life and her alcoholic mother. She understood what her dads response as wrong, but at least she was also able to understand how it was motivated by her mother’s amazingly bad behavior.

  49. Some truly light-giving, cobweb-dusting comments here. Especial thanks to IAL and Hannah for dusting out some of my very own misunderstandings of the submission/headship passages. Particularly the comments in answer to ANO’s strawman (not deliberate though, I’m sure; just error on his part) of the abusive husband. The reality is, of course, than any truly Biblical Christian marriage will be devoid of abuse anyway, so it’s not an issue. It wasn’t even an issue in the OP. Sure, the marriage will have its problems, but abuse won’t be one of them, if it is a truly Biblical marriage between a Christian man and woman. Simple, really! Many thanks from Andy! God bless you all.

  50. Holy Crap! I skimmed over this post and missed the part where you say this really happened! What a tragedy! So not even the “godly” Mrs. Bright is above DESTROYING her marriage to get the RESPECT she deserves!

    But it’s WORSE than that! Much worse!

    Think about what was motivating Dr. Bright when he decided to knuckle under to his wife’s ultimatum. Vonette is not just threatening to blow up the family, but his entire LIFE! Bill Bright did his work through the (possibly 50s) 60, 70s and 80s. At that time, divorce for a minister was still anathema! If she had divorced him it is most likely he would have lost his entire ministry (no comments on how that wouldn’t have been a bad thing, O.K.?). All the good that he did do (and I don’t care how snarky anyone is, I think CCfC does do some good), His degree and his credentials would have been good for nothing more than a job teaching in a Christian college (and we all know what a ghetto that can be!).

    This is the problem I have with the “no divorce, ever” position. I’m not saying it’s not a valid interpretation of Christ’s words (although there are other interpretations which would allow divorce), however, in this modern age it gives one partner, the partner without integrity, the absolute power to DESTROY the other’s life. Not just the marriage.

    Sadly, I say this from experience. I believe Bill in this story was motivated primarily to save his ministry and his standing before the international church he was desperately trying to serve. I’m sure he knew he could survive the loss of his wife if she chose to divorce him, but his entire ministry? His raison d’etre? I know I didn’t. And as a result, I had not ministry to speak of during the next 19 years of marriage, before the kids were finally old enough and she divorced me, scaring our children irreparably in the process. Perhaps if I hadn’t been so afraid of the Big ‘D’, I might have let her divorce me the first time she threatened (because she would have. It wasn’t an idle threat). But the thought of my responsibility to my children compelled me to do as Bill did.

    There’s more to the story, of course. Thank God for the Red Pill.

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