Thursday, September 3, 2009

Part 2, Who or What is Responsible for the Destruction of the Family, The Lies

I am discussing the rhetoric of many church leaders who declare that the break down of families began with the rise of feminism, specifically when women started going to work outside the home. Is this claim valid? In part one I pointed out that when a wife is held accountable for her husband’s sin, this leads to the destruction of their family because it frees the husband to sin without consequences.

There is another cause of the break down of the family, and that is the collection of lies mixed with scripture-twisting that is told to both husbands and wives by pastors and faith leaders. Both spouses are told that a husband feels like less of a man if he is not in control, and urge wives to yield all control to their husbands. Husbands are told that a home (wife) controlled by the husband is a godly home. Wives are told they will be happier if they submit IN EVERYTHING and that husbands will respond with a deep and abiding love for their wives. Furthermore, wives are directed to expend energy in thinking of ways to please their husbands, whether it is to cook his favorite foods or to be an exciting bed partner, and that these behaviors will entice husbands to love their wives even more.

The problem with these lies is that they teach husbands to sin, by claiming both he and his wife should consider his “natural” desire to control her as something other than sin. Each of us has our hands full controlling ourselves. Each of us must grow to control our tongues, for example, which no man can tame, and to bring our actions under the control of the Holy Spirit. No one can do it for another. It is a full time job for each individual. So how can we expect a wife who is being chewed out by her husband, who obviously cannot control his own tongue, to give herself over to his evil control?

These lies also urge wives to sin by committing “husbandolatry,” a term coined by Jocelyn Andersen. A wife should be putting her energies into serving and pleasing God. A portion of that does go to her husband, but serving her husband (and children) should not be her entire focus.

The lies also offer false hope to women and a false sense of Godliness to men. Indeed, the home (wife) controlled by the husband IS a godly home, with the husband being its god. Scripture teaches husbands to love their wives like Christ loved the church, self-sacrificially, laying down their lives for their wives. No scripture commands husbands to rule their wives, with the exception of King Xerxes’s edict before Esther became queen. (Are Christians really going to obey the edict of a Gentile, drunk, and ungodly king?) Yet pastors and churches make a big deal about husband AUTHORITY, which is not scriptural. In fact, the same verses in I Timothy that say a bishop or deacon should be a husband who rules his household well, also prohibits him from violence and commands him to be gentle and peaceable. This suggests the very first person he needs to take authority over is himself.

Wives have been grabbing onto the “Submit no matter what” doctrine as if it is a lifeline. Wives whose husbands are indifferent or abusive toward them have been taught that if they submit, their husbands will love them. But they do not realize that a husband who chooses to verbally assault his wife, hates her. When she submits to his “This is a crisis; we have to do something immediately” speech, (sounds Obama-esque) when the situation is neither a crises, nor is his solution the answer, he ends up hating her even more. The result is that his contempt and abuse of her will increase. Her submission to his stupidity ends up completely killing off any love for her he may have left. And the husband’s belief that his selfish demands make him more Godly, destroys his love for anyone but himself.

So who or what is responsible for the break down of marriages? Whoever is teaching these lies. A wife’s submission is to be a response to her husband’s love. His demands carry with them an unspoken (sometimes spoken) “You are garbage if you do not do what I say,” that insists that she sin by adopting her husband’s false assessment of her, rather than adopting Christ’s assessment of her. (You are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Therefore, being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. And etc.) Sin begets more sin, and “sin when it is finished, bringeth forth death,” including the death of the couple’s marriage.

The over-submission may appear to work—for awhile. But in the long run, a husband cannot respect a wife who does not respect herself enough to refuse to submit to him when he insists she jump into the manure lagoon.

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


  1. By blaming the woman whenever anything goes wrong, the real message to women is that her submission controls him. Therefore, it's SHE who is really in control. A complete internal contradiction within the authority/submission paradigm.

  2. Well said, Kristen. What irony! Those big strong men require a mere slip of a woman to control them. Bruce Ware's statement last year--that a husband would not abuse his wife if she submitted, puts the wife in the power seat. Those poor husbands! They are too weak to control themselves and to take responsibility for controlling themselves. How powerless they must feel!