Thursday, June 11, 2009

Itching Ears, Part 6 (Loving Authority)

The men in some churches, (and they go to Promise Keepers to encourage more men to do the same), show their itching ears--their desire to hear their pastors teach God-approved male privilege, husband control of wife--by interpreting the husband's part in Ephesians 5 this way:

“Husbands, take loving authority over your wives as Christ takes loving authority over the church, that he might rule his household well. That he might be pleased with his wife’s perfect obedience to his will, and happy in his relationship because he is taking his proper role which washes any lack from his wife's character and actions. So ought men to take loving authority over their wives as they take loving authority over their own bodies. (A man’s hand or foot moves immediately when he so directs.) He that controls his wife, controls himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh by allowing it to do its own will, but nourishes and cherishes his flesh by keeping it under tight, but loving control, even as the Lord does the church: for as members of his body, his flesh, and bones, we obey the slightest prompting from Christ, our head."

The major problem with this teaching is that it is a re-writing of scripture and that it is false. Christ does not TAKE authority over the church. Because God is not interested in ruling a bunch of puppets, He gave us free will. We follow the leadership of Christ because we CHOOSE to follow Him, not because we are coerced.

Although many people come to Christ to avoid Hell fire, and thus get a totally skewed view of God’s character and Kingdom, this is NOT what the Bible teaches as a reason to follow Christ. Those who follow Christ because they feel coerced, are not keeping the first commandment—to love God with all one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength. Instead, they see God through glasses of fear of what He will do to them if they don’t, and may never be able to get to loving Him.

This would force a change on several verses. “If ye love me keep my commandments” would be “If ye are terrified of me, keep my commandments.” And “We love him because he first loved us” would be “We are terrified of him, because he first threatened us.”

These verses and their re-writing through doctrinal teaching are important, because they show in neon the “leadership” style and the belief system of the husband authority doctrine. Husband authority completely turns the gospel message on its head through the emphasis on fear and obedience brought about by coercion, instead of on love and free choice brought about by love. "Loving authority" is still coercion, which is abuse, and has no place in a marital relationship that is to be representative of Christ and the Church.

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. Please visit

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