When God Asks for “Too Much”.

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;
(Eph 5:22-25)

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.
(Joh 15:5-7)

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.
(1Pe 3:1-2)

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.
(Luk 14:27-30)

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.
(1Co 10:13)

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).

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19 thoughts on “When God Asks for “Too Much”.

  1. Like it. As a person who is trying to influence his church, friends, and family about living biblically instead of our cultures interpretation of scripture, I thank you. This is so face-palm obvious, but yet I haven’t seen it connected in my two+ years roaming. It is awesome to see God show up and show us all how foolish we are and, in contrast, how immutable His truths are.

  2. GIL, IAL
    I posted a while back about a commentary on Albert Mohlers site where he laid the groundwork for something you mention here. He manages to both come against gay marriage and offer ways to sort of look the other way at the same time.
    This is the effect of the haaaapiness first movement. Recall i would ask at CF how anyone read the gospel and took away primacy of happiness. I then drew the conclusion similarly as you have here that , how then can women say things like “God wants me happy”. This is at the root, accusations of abuse are a tool to shut down anyone bold enough to challenge them. Thats why they recruit. If a woman posted some remarks sharing this and that was happening at home, within 5 posts someone would say “Hey, you do know that you are being abused right?”…then forward one of those goofy checklists.
    How long before select scripture references are added to those lists?

    Also….please write more, good post

  3. A woman that I am soon to be unrelated to because of divorce was never able to connect with or respect me. Here’s why:

    15 or so years ago, while we were in a group setting a passionate debate broke out about food, nutrition, etc. (Yeah, I’ve been on that soapbox a long time). There came a point where SAM told me that I’d said enough. And I took it without making any attempt to save face!

    She thought I was nuts, possibly abused, and certainly not a strong woman. We remained civil but that event was forever a wall between us. I don’t feel it was any great loss, but it just speaks to the thing you wrote above about the wide ranging meaning of “abuse” and how the tendency toward pride, personal happiness, and “God-wants-me-to-be-happy-wealthy-loved-and comfortable-no-matter-what” has permeated the church.

    And real suffering? Forget about that. No one thinks they are supposed to suffer in their personal life. That’s strictly for those areas specifically designated the “mission field.”

  4. I had a rough night last night wrestling with this. I know that there are women in that Church and at least one man that are on their second marriages, and people here reading. I know that their are women that have been abused and are in their second marriages that I count among my sisters. It makes me feel terrible. I still don’t believe we should stop preaching and teaching pure sin convicting word however. It seems that the further we’ve gone from offending the worse and more widespread the offenses have become. I’m for moving heaven and earth to prevent real physical abuse and remove wives and children from situations like that while staging intervention for the fathers/husbands, we as believers are supposed to have those tools. That also isn’t popular. I don’t want people to think I am being flip or smug on this subject. Each case needs to be worked out with prayer until we find the path and the Lord’s peace on the matter, as I said, with our eyes firmly fixed upon his sin convicting word.

  5. Yeah, Empath, I am well aware of those lists and how they are used as a weapon against the Gospel. I was listening to Dave Ramsey talk about “those” churches about a month ago. Where a wife was complaining about her husbands giving to missions and how it wasn’t appropriate if she didn’t have say-so. Dave Ramsey’s “financial” abuse checklist basically.

  6. This may be fodder for a future post:

    https://www.daveramsey.com/index.cfm?event=askdave/&intContentItemId=126797

    “Your son is now learning how to be a man improperly. Your husband is not a man. He’s a scared little boy, but your son is learning how to be a man improperly because he’s going to treat his wife the same way. This is what’s being modeled before him. You have to fix this. This cannot stay this way. You have to get with it. Your husband is obviously a strong, strong personality. I hope that he can learn some humility and agree to work with his spouse because that’s what’s going to be required for your marriage to last and for you to model properly before your 5-year-old the proper way to treat a wife. A wife is a queen. She’s not the slave. She’s not the hired help.

  7. Oh my, yes, that Dave Ramsey thing is terrible. I hadnt thought about it but I guess its expected that this bleed into the finances area as a logical progression.

    Also, I am glad you wrote the disclaimer, but even that is a nod to how nefarious these forces are, that we must overtly as Christians, state that we are not FOR real abuse. The accusation of blame-the-victim trumps everything else and freezes discourse. I feel the urge to disclaim several specific things on certain topics, and I realize that that is a tragedy in and of itself. It means they have re-framed everything successfully so that extremes are the jumping in point for some topics. Its not possible to casually discuss 99% of the population. It must be framed by the small minority….lest the 99% miss out on the benefits.

  8. That Dave Ramsey thing is weird. I shouldn’t be surprised, but I am nonetheless. I suppose this husband is “abusive” too, huh?

    My 5-year-old daughter has a very bad habit that I am working diligently to help her break. Whenever someone says something she doesn’t like, she accuses them of being “mean”. Doesn’t matter if it’s true. Doesn’t matter if the correction is warranted.

    It gets between her and her overwhelming desire for positive affirmation, so it’s mean. If it’s mean, it’s wrong, and mama and daddy need to fix that other person (her older sisters).

    This is what we have come to in American culture and in the church. If it doesn’t make us feel good, it’s wrong, sinful, abusive. A husband who doesn’t take his wife’s thoughts into consideration on certain matters may not be optimal, but it’s not abuse, it doesn’t necessitate counseling, and the notion that a husband can’t make a unilateral decision is supremely against Scripture.

    Men with strong personalities are refreshing to me, frankly. Even with the inherent difficulties, it’s better that a man be confident in his ability to make a decision than need to get his wife’s approval for every little thing.

    My husband pointed out to me once that I make dozen of unilateral decisions every day between 8 and 6. The fact that this was lost on me tells you something.

  9. Listen to one episode of Dave Ramsey and you’re sure to get a dose of blue pill bile. It’s oozing out of the man. I suppose that is what national syndication and the pursuit of rating might get you, I also suppose that it isn’t an act at all.

  10. it doesn’t necessitate counseling

    In this case, counseling is Pandora’s box for sure. If one of her friends has not already tried recruiting her into the abuse club, the counselor will for sure.

    And you know what abuse gets you, right?

    EMPATHOGASMS……big ones.

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  12. Shirley Taylor’s last blog at “Dethroning Male Headship” uses the “meanness” strategy specifically described by Elspeth and her daughter. It’s kind of funny to see a elderly woman devolving to the same techniques from so little pressure. (I think I may have posted 5 comments to her site).

  13. Art:
    I’m going to say something even more controversial: I don’t think DV should be an issue at all until the church/society in general addresses the issue of misandry.

    I’ve seen so many cases of women—willingly—going into abusive relationships, with men whom they fully know are unstable (and sometimes putting children at risk as well) that I have NO sympathy at all for women who involve themselves in these dilemmas. The FBI statistics even show that a woman in an ‘abusive’ relationship will leave and return 7 times on average.

    Probably not a day goes by here that I don’t see some otherwise decent girl on the arm of some piece of male vermin, slobbering and gushing over him. And from my own life, too: I don’t know how many stalker ex-boyfriends I’ve fought off of ex-girlfriends and female relatives, just to watch them to turn around and run right back to those rats. Among males I know personally, the ones who never hold jobs, are in and out of jail continually, or have substance/physical abuse problems are the ones who never have problems finding girlfriends and spawning kids out of wedlock with them.

    Sorry if this offends anyone; but I really don’t care about DV anymore. When women start behaving as though they really cared about it for a change, maybe I would then, but not until.

  14. I was told today that the woman in question in my scenario who was getting bent out of shape was on her 4th or 5th marriage, all of them “abusive” no doubt. Apparently pointing out sin is too offensive and “mean” to do in a church gathering any more. Might as well sit around and talk about coffee and scone recipes and call that “Church”.

  15. We need to have the attitude that Isaac’s uncle had towards marriage—test it out. Figure out what the person’s character is. There are lots of attractive people in the world. But the Church teaches us that our sexual desires themselves are evil unless locked into marriage. That is very unhelpful in my opinion and leads Christians to being unwise, thinking that whoever attracts them must be ‘the one’ before they are married. If they were taught that sexuality is a natural thing but that we have to control it that would go a long way towards helping people clear the fog and marry more wisely.

    IAL I think you’re right to be troubled by the problems surrounding this, but i think it’s also very important to point out that we Christians are deceived in the sense that we are generally taught that we SHOULD be living in a Christian society, but we haven’t been for quite a while, and what existed before was very very flawed. We need to start thinking as though we generally live in what Christians have mostly lived in–a society with a thin veneer of Christianity. I think the shock is that even the veneer has peeled to reveal the rot beneath, and we find that nothing has changed since Genesis. If we see it that way, then we can see that the basic root understandings of marriage in the Bible are not taught or understood, save as a veneer because that’s what most Christians are still clinging to, believing that must be the whole. So how CAN there generally be virtuous marriages? If Christianity itself is not really practiced–in the sense of devotion to the Gospel, seeing it as a genuine message of salvation, helping the poor, caring less for our own lives than for the truth and being led by our desire to imitate Christ first–how can marriages be good without these things?

    In short: if Christians aren’t putting their money where their mouths are generally, then everything else is affected. If we are not prepared to see empty seats in Church in order to teach the truth of the Bible, how can we expect that other things will come to good?

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