Monday, June 1, 2009

Itching Ears, Part 1 (Submission Abuse)

Many of today’s churches are full of men with itching ears. They choose pastors who say what the men want to hear, pastors who use their power to maintain the status quo—absolute male supremacy. The number one requirement of these men with itching ears is to preserve their “right” to exercise authority at the expense of their wives and children. They expect pastors to emphasize that wives are to yield, to submit, in everything, no matter how the husband treats his wife. Some are content to leave it at that. Others use that teaching to demand absolute power and control over their wives. I call it submission abuse.

It isn’t enough that their wives are already submitting to every whim of their husbands—often even to the nonsensical and demeaning demands. These men also are not satisfied with the full submission of their wives unless they also reduce their wives to confusion, hurt, fear, and sometimes even terror, to feeling as if they have been beaten black and blue inside and out—whether they’ve endured physical abuse, sexual abuse, or verbal/emotional/spiritual abuse. These husbands treat their wives as property to brag about, as commodities to be owned and used as nastily as the owner chooses, and/or they refer to and treat their wives as loathsome rubbish.

II Timothy 4:3-4 NIV “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”

One of those myths is absolute male/husband authority/leadership. They set aside Ephesians 5:25-30 that specifically tells husbands to love their wives self-sacrificially, and instead they replace the word “head” in the 3 verses that are written to the wives, with “authority” or “leader” or “guide,” and use the new word to change the meaning of the whole passage so that they can establish and maintain power over their wives.

Note that the words “authority,” “leader,” and “guide,” do not fit into the passage to the husbands. Instead “caretaker” or “servant” would be a better description. The passage suggests someone who is so selfless, that his entire focus is serving and caring for his wife and her needs and growth.

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body.”

This passage is all about husbands choosing self-sacrificial love toward their wives, not about leadership or lording it over her.

The male authority doctrine is not in the Bible, but men with itching ears have rewritten the scripture to permit them to obtain what they desire, to have their way, and even to control their wives.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel," a story about a woman who grapples with her husband's demands that she submit--no matter what.
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