Saturday, July 4, 2009

Itching Ears, part 10 (Children and Wives be Subject)

From childhood, some verses in the Bible really bothered me. Today I realize it is because of how they were interpreted by those in power, and that it is more of the Itching Ears teaching that leads to domestic abuse. I Tim 3:4 & 5 bother me. "One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (for if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)" Rereading these verses, I realize it is because of what the combination of "rule" and "gravity" mean to me--or shall I say it is the impression I got growing up of the weight that those words combined carry, giving all power to dads, and usually that power is extremely painful to children and to wives. Note that the itching ears crowd usually considers the wife as a part of the house the husband is to rule.

Daily injustice and neglect are a normal part of their lives. The combination in my mind is "absolute domination" that is obtained with a glare and without regard for the needs, wants, abilities of the children or of the wife. It is an absolute domination that is focused on what the dad/husband desires, at the expense and neglect of the wife and children. I know this has to be false, because that kind of rulership would "provoke children to wrath," and is bitter instead of loving toward the wife, both of which are prohibitted in Col 3 and other places.

I stop to look up "grave" in the dictionary. "Solumn, serious, important, momentous, critical or threatening." To me when a dad/husband is a grave ruler, he is the absolute authority who is looking at the child and wife with a solumn, critical and threatening attitude. It doesn't matter to him that the child’s or wife’s actions were a result of dad's neglect, devaluing, demeaning, over-reactionary demands etc. The child and wife must behave better than his/her own husband or father, or pay the consequences from that same critical, cruel, selfish, unjust, and inadequate man

So I decided to look up "gravity. #4587 Why am I not surprised? Again and again, these scriptures end up meaning the opposite of what I was taught. "From 4586; venerableness, ie. probity:--gravity, honesty" The dictionary meaning of "probity" is from the Latin, meaning worthy, honest, good. "Demonstrated virtue or integrity; strict honesty; rectitude; uprightness."
Rectitude: besides that already mentioned, includes "rightness of principle or practice; correct judgment." All of these limit the rulership of the husband/father. Here again, the itching ears crowd saw the word "rule" and "ruleth" and ran with it, as a horse grabs the bit in its teeth and runs without regard to the direction of its driver/rider. These verses do not give unbridled authority to men. Instead, the men must have strict honesty and integrity so that they can make right, yet compassionate decisions. They themselves must be upright and have control of themselves. There is no way self-centered, power-hungry men can meet these criteria.

In the same way, Ephesians 6:1, “Children obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.” is interpreted as “Children obey your parents no matter what, for this is right.” As such, it is false doctrine, pushed by the itching ears crowd. A similar verse, Colossians 3:20 “Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord,” would suggest that a child IS to obey in everything. Yet the phrase “for this is well pleasing unto the Lord,” suggests there are limits, since to obey parents but disobey God’s teaching in other areas would not please God. Oh, they do teach that if the parent requires the child to steal or to kill, a child should not do that. (After all, no Christian parent would require THOSE things. Therefore, children and wives are to obey in everything. Don’t they realize if a parent/husband required those things, it would not be safe for the child or wife to refuse?) But what if the parent/husband requires the child or wife to lie, or to lie by believing he or she is worthless, to believe she is not worthy of kindness and encouragement, to believe she or he will never measure up, that their family is more righteous/godly than other Christians based on superficial or legalistic criteria? What if the parent/husband requires the child or wife to believe she is only worthy of abuse and neglect? What if the parent/husband requires children or wife to believe they do not count? What if the parent/husband requires the child or wife to believe men have the right to dominate women and children in whatever way best serves the men’s desires?

These things have been taught for years. Because of submission requirements, moms often join in with the teaching, trying to do everything they know to circumvent or at least delay the alpha male’s next temper tantrum, lecture, or ridiculous punishment. But pastors never mention these things, or how a wife or child is supposed to handle them. Instead, wives and children are taught to obey and honor their husbands/dads in everything, so it will be well with them and they’ll have a long life. But what part of growing up with the trauma of abuse will make things well for them? Perhaps that they are not killed by their parent, so that they can live to find healing. But the stress could easily shorten their lives.

When is the church going to start addressing how women and children are to handle abuse? At what point are they to NOT obey their dictator? How can wives and children be given the help and resources to counteract messages from hateful, legalistic rulers? Yet, how can these things be taught without also teaching children to disobey legitimate and Christ-like parenting, like "Donald, please set the table?"

I welcome discussion on this—but not of the itching ears variety.

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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