For the past several months I have been considering something quite controversial. An issue of equality between the sexes. We see commenters in the “Manosphere” discussing how the problem of divorce and family disintegration cannot be laid at the feet of women alone, and I have to agree. Very often men do not so much as raise a whisper when they see women encouraged to disintegrate their families over trivialities as in the case of Dennis Rainey in Empath’s recent post. We see in Rainey a man who will not challenge and exhort a woman like Vonette Bright.
Yesterday, in mixed company I was discussing Empath’s post and was challenged first by a man I consider a close friend and then by the Pastor, coming to the defense of another former DV victim in the group. The discussion of “submission” specifically my addressing the topic of 1 Peter 3:1-2 was to be off limits. Exhorting women in this way always seems like too much, too far, unreasonable. My application of the verse was too “legalistic” and the Pastor despite knowing my history suggested that he could not speak to the issue since he had never been in that situation (and by implication that I hadn’t either). I did not rise to the bait, but as I sat their praying something crystallized in my mind. I asked a simple question that stopped everyone in the room cold: “What of the martyrs?”
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
There is a slow poison leaching into the Body of Christ, it is this: God can ask us for “too much”. God can ask us to do things that require too much of us. God can require us to go into dangerous situations. Dangerous mission fields. Proclaim the name of Jesus Christ even when it will most assuredly result in our deaths. Our flesh balks at this, how can God require my whole life? It is unfair and unjust and unloving of Him to do so. In this transaction Jesus, who gave His life for his bride does warn us:
And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul? (Mar 8:34-37)
We are His bride at the cost of our submission. He want’s all of us. We partake of His life at the loss of our own. Nothing in this world is better than submission to our Lord Jesus. Jesus, loving us, does not have any reservations about exhorting us and warning us to count the cost of our submission. He knows that the only way for us to abide in Him is this. So asking us for it is an act of love. If we do not obey, we do not abide in Him.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
I have no trouble exhorting men and women to this. Most pastors do this all the time, as well as itinerant missionaries calling our children into dangerous missionary fields and we don’t bat an eye. That is our faith and we accept it.
Now back to 1 Peter 3:1-2:
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.
Is that not a call to a “mission field”? However, preach that. Just suggest it. God has gone TOO FAR! Even recommending this verse is tantamount to being an abuser. What does God want? Our lives?
Looking at Ephesians 5:22-25 again most preachers will be quick to point out that the husband is required to give his life and then they call it a day. What is the wife required to give? Her submission, her life? If not to her husband than assuredly to her God. Is it too much even to exhort women so? Are we too polluted by our culture to have faith and allow God to work? It seems so.This is the source of the slow poison. We would rather accuse God then man.
It seems to me that we cannot exhort women to give their lives, to categorically preach “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” to them. In so doing we are losing this truth. These missed exhortations are what are showing men in the Church to be cowards, too unloving to preach submission to wives, too cowardly to admit that they owe their own lives completely to a God that requires ALL. Our church gatherings our filling up with Cross-less “Christians” being preached to by cowards who haven’t counted the cost and don’t want to even consider that there is one:
And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Martyrdom is always the tricky question as is domestic abuse. I don’t want to die or see people die because of presumption, martyrdom is a result of obedience. Marching into North Korea with a back-pack full of Bibles without the Lord’s direction seems like a bad plan to me, as does not separating wives from potentially fatal situations. These situations require prayer and direction with a steady eye on the exhortation of the word. The cessation of exhorting women to submit is a sure way to miss the mark as much as the cessation of the message of the cross. It’s hard for me not to see a correlation between the two.
Both Jesus and husbands are being lumped together as tyrannical and unjust abusers. Exhortation is being added to the list of “signs of abuse”. If we follow along with the secular feminists the message of the Gospel will have been eviscerated. What do we say to the sinner, the unrepentant adulterer, fornicator, homosexual, addict? That exhorting them is also abusive, that it is hateful? That surely God cannot require their submission? This seems to be more and more the case as we cast aside the Cross in favor of our own reason.
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.
Remember, the Father asked Jesus to go to the Cross, He asks us to count the cost when He calls us to follow Him there (both men and women).