"Even as the church must fear Christ Jesus, so must the wives also fear their husbands. And this inward fear must be shewed by an outward meekness and lowliness in her speeches and carriage to her husband. . . . For if there be not fear and reverence in the inferior, there can be no sound nor constant honor yielded to the superior." –John Dod: A Plaine and Familiar Exposition of the Ten Commandements, Puritan guidebook first published in 1603 link
For a number of years now, I have said that the complementarian Achilles' Heel is quite clear to everyone but the most devoted of devotees. The only definable practical mores to arise out of this movement are: no women pastors, no women elders and the man gets the tie breaking vote in a marriage.
Leaders claim that men have *authority*and *leadership* in the church and in the home. When asked to define what that means practically, they cannot. What does authority in the church mean in terms of the pastor and elders? Do they get to decide where the coffee pots go? Do they get to dictate a particular interpretation of Genesis 1-3 and broach no disagreement even though conservative theologians have had disagreements for centuries over certain verses? So which one of those church leaders have the *authority* to say what it means?
The current crop of self assured leaders claim that they need to prepare at least 30 hours for a sermon in order to *correctly* exegete the Scripture and speak authoritatively on it. Why? There are tons of theological books that have been written through the centuries that, in essence, tell us what the passages mean. Having sat through a gazillion sermons by astute Bible teachers, I have found that there is nothing new under the sun, no matter what these guys say. We are left, instead, to argue bylaws, covenants/contracts, church discipline and whether to allow the use of the NIV Bible now that the thoroughly *gospel* ESV has been released. (Does anyone know how much the translators earn each time one of the ESV Bibles are sold?)
Here are two example to demonstrate the difficult nature of this so called authority.
As you know, I am an evolutionary creationist (TE). Let's assume the new pastor of my church decides that Young Earth Creationism only will be taught in the church. The elders agree. I ask him to reconsider this position but he is *in authority* and gives me some whacky Ken Ham answer like "Were you there?" I decide to leave the church and join another church in which the pastor allows for all views of creationism in the church.
So, who was *in authority* in reality? It appears that I was. I evaluated the churches and chose one that I could tolerate. Let me assure you if that new pastor decided to become a Calvinista, I would once again search for a church. And I would pull my money and my volunteer time. It sure seems like I am the one who holds the authority to behave autonomously.
This is a true story. Years ago, when I lived in Dallas, my pastor, Pete Briscoe, asked me to head up the fund raising committee for a new building. The church had a crisis. It was a tiny church when it started and was in a really small building. One day, the fire chief came into the building and stopped allowing more people to come in because we were violating the fire code and this was with multiple services.
I hate fund raising with all of my being. I never want people to think I am talking to them so that my cause will financially gain from our relationship. I am not saying fund raising is wrong. I have chosen to take a different path in my life. That is one reason why we do not take ads on this blog. This is not about The Deebs. It is about all of you.
So, I told Pete that I wouldn't do it and the reason why I wouldn't do it. He is a gracious man and did not apply any pressure whatsoever. So, did I sin against God by not *obeying* authority? And, if I did not, then what authority did Pete have over me?
Questions to Ask Your Church Leaders (and then let TWW know the answer):
Authority over what? Some of the time church authority is used to hurt people who make a stand for something important like child sex abuse. Then the so called authorities at 9 Marks UCC Dubai get to discipline a guy who says that selling CJ Mahaney books is against his conscience. So, ask your leaders to answer this question.
Define what you mean by authority and leadership and give examples of what that means in actual practice.
We have written all sorts of posts showing that many of the complementarians disagree with one another on what it means in practice. Not only are they unable to define it, but they are dangerous and ignorant as they attempt to assert their authority in certain situations.Their support of the following two examples clearly show that their understanding is superficial and can be harmful.
1. CBMW's Soap Bubble Lady
In March 2016, CBMW posted Soap Bubbles Submission. I have highlighted a few words.
Sanford and I had many conflicts, but one kept occurring. The conflict was over how I rinsed the dishes that I had washed. When I washed dishes, as always, I was in a hurry. Because of that, I did not always rinse every dish perfectly. For all of our married life, he would sometimes say, “You did not get all the soap bubbles off the dish.” My pre-salvation self would reply, “If you don’t like how I am washing the dishes, you can do it yourself!” My post-salvation self still, at times, did not like to be told what to do. So, the inevitable showdown came.
I was washing dishes and rinsing a glass I had just washed. Sanford walked through the kitchen and was behind me. He noticed that I was about to place the clean glass in the dish drain and he said, “You did not get all the soap bubbles off!” Now to my credit, it was not dripping with soap! But he must have seen something. Well, in my heart I thought, “If you don’t like how I am washing the dishes…” Quickly, though, I thought, “He is telling me to rinse it again and I need to be submissive.” Neither one of us was saying a word but Sanford stopped to see what I was going to do. The water was running and I knew I needed to rinse it again. I did not want to do it but I knew the Lord wanted me to. Meanwhile, as I contemplated what to do, my arm was stuck in an uncomfortable, outstretched position. So, I began in my mind to talk to my arm, ‘Come on, you can do this! Rinse it again.” It took so long for my arm to begin to move back toward the running water, that the muscles began to ache. Finally, I talked my arm into moving towards the water and carefully rinsing the glass again.
After I rinsed it again and put the glass in the dish drain, I began to wash the next dish. Sanford said in astonishment, “You did it!” I replied, “Yes, you told me to.” And he countered with, “But you did it!” That moment was a turning point in my walk with the Lord. The Lord was testing me and teaching me to be faithful even in the very least of things. Submission was beginning to be my joy.
God, in His kindness, had prepared me to love thinking about His sovereign control over my life; and when I learned about His sovereign plan for me in my role as a wife, He gave me grace to obey Him.
Here are the things that jumped out at me.
- First, the assumption from the beginning was that this was all her fault for refusing to submit.
- This "soap opera" had been going on all of their married life.
- There was no attempt to evaluate if something else was at play.
- There were many conflicts in this marriage.
- It was obvious in the example that the soap was not even apparent on the plate even though "he must have seen something." Did he?
- He was standing in back of her to watch what she was doing.These were dishes, not brain surgery yet he was observing and directing.
- She was often in a hurry. My guess is she has many responsibilities and he will not bend to do this "woman's task."
- She believed that this was a test from the Lord about her problem, never once considering that it might not be her problem.
If I were her friend, I would be concerned about her well being. Here is what I would try to discuss with her.
- Why did you bring up this long term problem? Could it be that your frustration is not the problem, merely the warning sign of a far deeper problem? Could it be that your frustration stems from the possibility that your husband is not acting normally? Do you think that most husbands stand behind their wives, commanding them to rinse off some soap that is not even plainly observable?
- Have you ever considered the possibility that your husband is controlling or has a psychological condition such as OCD? Has he ever become so angry that you were afraid? Does he often remind you that it is your duty to submit and to do what he tells you? Does your church?
- Have you considered that now you have *obeyed* him in the soap opera, he will ratchet up his expectations of you? Do you find there are many areas in which he is not satisfied with your performance?
- If your friend is not ready to hear you, gracefully bow out and say that you will be there for her when, and if, she needs you. Do not be surprised when she returns to talk with you. Be aware that this is a situation that is potentially volatile. Watch for signs of abuse. Also, beware of the expectations that this man could have on his children as well. They could well need intervention.
Agree or disagree?
2. John Piper's Dangerous and Naive Views on Submission
In the last year, I have become more and more concerned about Piper's tweets. I am not sure he thinks through how his words might sound to others. One thing is apparent as I read the replies. The folks out there don't believe he understands the pain of others. Here is one such tweet. One day, we shall do a post showing a bunch of tweets like this.
What is submission not, according to 1 Peter 3:1–6? When I preached on this passage probably twenty years ago, women in my church found this question really helpful because we bring to the text presuppositions from our experience.
His position has not changed in spite of a number of discussions on other blogs about the concerning nature of his advice. What gives me pause is that women in his church found this advice helpful. Perhaps they are trained not to carefully consider the situation.
4. Submission is not putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ.
Submission is not putting the will of the husband before the will of Christ. Christ is her Lord now, and for the Lord’s sake, she will submit to the husband, but he is not her Lord. Therefore, wherever she must choose between the two, she chooses Jesus. If her husband says, “Let’s get involved in a scam,” or “Let’s have group sex,” her choice is clear. I go with Jesus on this. She would say it not with a haughty or arrogant attitude, but rather with a winsome, submissive, longing one. He will be able to discern in her a longing that he not do that so that she could enjoy him as her leader. Do you feel that? “I will not follow your lead on this, and I am not following you with a demeanor that tells you I want to follow your leadership but cannot in this moment, in this way.”
Let's take a look at two husbands.
He is not a Christian and also does not have a set of values that would cause him to try to live a decent lifestyle. Any man who proposes scamming people is leading his family into criminal behavior that will have long term consequences for all them. Group sex is an activity that is hazardous, leading to STDs and exposure to dangerous people who could cause harm to the family. Does Piper mean she should just say "Sugar Bear, I love you to pieces. I don't want to share you with anyone else. Let's go cuddle? "
Does Piper actually think this guy understands what he means by *leadership* in the family? Good night! Even the comp crowd can't agree with one another on this matter. This woman should ditch the ridiculous advice to be *winsome* (!) and tell him to go jump in a lake. Then she should pack her bags, grab the kids and get the heck out of there before he does any harm to her or their children with his high risk behavior. She needs to immediately consult an attorney and a counselor.
He is a Christian man who, until recently, was living a decent life and was in synch with his family in the values department. Suddenly, there is a change in behavior and he suggests group sex or getting involved in criminal activity. Folks, when something like this happens, this man needs the help of professionals right away. He could be experiencing a mental breakdown or he could have cancer in the front lobe of his brain which is causing a serious personality change. This has nothing to do with *winsomely* suggesting they go get an ice cream instead of having group sex. This involves getting a professional medical evaluation immediately and I do not mean making an appointment with the assistant pastor.
Women need to take charge in these situations.
There is nothing in the Bible that says a woman should not assume leadership. To pretend she should try to be submissive in such scenarios is naive and potentially dangerous. It is concerning to me that people believe that Piper or CBMW are offering sound advice.
When some ridiculous, ill thought out view of male leadership in the home causes Christian pastors to suggest naive or dangerous responses like are exhibited in these two articles, then something is terribly wrong in their theology.
Not only that, but it seems to me that we are being told to blame the women for everything from a guy OCDing over soap bubbles to women who do not sweetly tell their husbands that they really don't want to do group sex.
Women should take charge of these situations and get the help that they need. Any man who suggests anything less is either gullible or easily deceived.