Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Huge Complementarian Arsenal of Weaponry

Some argue that the complementarian view does not promote domestic violence, that it is the individual who misuses the doctrine who is choosing domestic violence. They point out that egalitarians can be just as abusive as complementarians. On the surface, this is true. A man can claim to be egalitarian and still abuse his wife. However, because he is not using God and scripture to justify and enforce his authority, the abuse he uses is more likely to lack a wall of support that is as thick and imprisoning as the Great Wall of China. Without the “God says wife submit” argument, it is much easier for women to recognize the behavior as abuse, rather than as God-given authority to husbands and as a non-negotiable commandment to wives to submit to their husbands.

Having said that, I want to point out that wives who do not have Ephesians 5 rammed down their throats, still have a difficult time recognizing domestic abuse and dealing with it. In other words, domestic abuse is difficult enough for women to get a handle on, without adding teaching that demands the absolute subjection of wives to their husbands.

Christian doctrine, itself, makes recognizing abuse and dealing with it wisely very difficult to achieve. Even without the husband authority and wife submit no matter what doctrines, the love unconditionally and forgive and forget and turn the other cheek doctrines all work to prevent a Christian woman from confronting the domestic abuse early enough to both save her marriage and make it a loving one that symbolizes Christ and the Church. (The no-matter-what part is denied, of course. But who gets blamed for abuse? The wife, who they claim failed to submit. So even though they SAY the doctrine is NOT no-matter-what, in reality, it is exactly that.)

Those who teach marriage, for example, tell wives to be loyal to their husbands and not talk to others about their husband’s failures. This rule aids husbands in their quest to control their wives and does nothing to help a woman figure out how to deal with her marriage difficulties. Wives who stay silent, are more likely to try to perfect their own behavior, are less likely to recognize their husband’s behavior as abuse, and are more likely to stay in their abusive marriage longer, harming themselves and their children. This rule also harms husbands by allowing the abusive behavior and beliefs to become more and more entrenched in the minds of the husbands as well as in the minds of everyone in the family.

Christian wives whose husbands are abusive, constantly turn the other cheek and forgive and forget, but it does not make their marriages better. Instead, it makes them progressively worse. Abusive men see Christian behaviors as weaknesses, and tend to “go for the kill” or to “kick a person when she is down.” Thus, the Christian behavior of the abused wife tends to make her husband MORE abusive.

On top of that, Christians add the authority/submission doctrine. It is so pervasive, that some women who read my novel, “Behind the Hedge,” had a difficult time comprehending that the husband’s behavior in the beginning was abusive. The doctrine is so entrenched, that abuse is often seen as the husband’s right because he is the “authority.”

When a husband demands that his wife submit because God commanded it, no matter how idiotic and hurtful his demands, it is so difficult for wives to think through the mass of confusing messages, to be able to differentiate whether his demand is contrary to scripture, to know who to believe, that many wives have to literally throw out the submission doctrine in order to make sense of what is happening in their marriages. Even then, a church-house full of finger-pointing people makes it very difficult for a woman to deal wisely with the reality of her own broken marriage.

For those who do acknowledge the abuse and act redemptively to deal with it, they frequently face rejection from their whole church, while their abuser is accepted with open and welcoming arms. This drives many of them away from their churches and away from their primary support. This fact, makes wives think long and hard before taking steps to hold the abuser accountable.

So although egalitarian husbands can also abuse, they lack a huge arsenal of weaponry that complementarian husbands have at their disposal: their own beliefs, church doctrine, church pressure, church discipline of the wives, their twisting of scripture, the wife’s own belief that she is required to submit, along with her guilt if she fails to submit, or even the self-blame if she submits but her husband is still not happy.

It is my contention that the church would have much less domestic abuse and domestic violence among her people if she taught egalitarian, submit to one another and husbands love your wives as a living sacrifice, doctrine.

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. Why is complementarian equated only with wifely submission ? As I understand it, and as I've always seen it taught, it also means sacrificial love on the husband's part (modeling Christ in the Church/Christ relationship). Sacrificial love will never abuse authority, but rather lay down ones life for the loved one.
    For example, when my husband gets up in the night to get the crying baby, when he prepares dinner for the family because I'm coming home late from taking the kids to music lessons after a long day, when he does the dishes for me or gives a bath to the kids, etc he is doing it out of love for me, not bacause of some 50/50 rule that says we should equally share all domestic work. I don't expect him to do all that, and yet he does it, and I feel so loved and thankful for such a humble servant-leader. And when he gives direction to our family, it is not to serve his own interest as an egocentric tyrant, but to serve his family, taking into account his wife's desires and insight, and trying to do what seems best for the whole family. My job is to joyfully embrace his goals and dreams, and to encourage his leadership in our family. That, to me, is biblical complementariasm. Men who use complementarism to justify abuse are sinning against God and will have to answer to Him for it.

  2. Thank-you for your comments, Rebecca. I really appreciate your description of the loving behaviors of your husband. You are right, that is what a husband is supposed to do/be. I have no bone to pick with your husband.

    The problem I have with comps is that they freqently refuse to deal with domestic abusers, and instead heap confrontations and shaming on the abused wives. They often leave the wives with no recourse but to endure their husband's abuse against them and their children, or to suffer the condemnation of their church when they refuse to stay with their abusers, or to leave their church along with their husbands.

    I have never heard of non-complementarians demanding a 50-50 arrangement. Instead, they do not force one another into roles that do not fit the individual. They do not ascribe superiority/decision making rights to one spouse just because he is male, and inferiority/subjection to the husbands will just because she is female.

    I realize those who claim to follow complementarian doctrine, deny that women are viewed as inferior. Yet, the reality for many women whose husbands ascribe to comp thinking, is that they have been demeaned and forced to become slaves for their husbands. The claim of comps and the reality of their women are not in agreement.

    Furthermore, the comp view is unscriptural. Nowhere are husbands commanded to take authority over their wives, with the exception of the book of Esther. And that command came from a Gentile king who had just exiled and divorced his wife for refusing to display herself to a crowd of drunken men. In other words, she had done what was right.

    The biggest problem with the comp view is that although they do MENTION the husband's sacrificial love, they do NOT place nearly as much emphasis on it as they do on wife submission. Considering that so many men do not seem to hear the self-sacrificial love that is their part, and that they focus on the authority side of comp teaching, which isn't even in the Bible, it is irresponsible of church leaders to push the comp view. It fosters sin.

    In addition, those church leaders tend to put the blame on the wife for her supposed lack of submission. Ironically, again and again I hear from abused women that the couple wasn't even fighting at the time he chose to beat her up. He just had an issue that was bugging him and decided to beat her up, put her down, or whatever.

    The way the comp view is currently taught is leading husbands to sin against their wives and children. That makes those who teach such things responsible before God, too. In other words, when they misrepresent the word of God, they are sinning, too.

    It is very important that leaders and lay people alike take a fresh look at scripture and stop projecting their preconceived notions or traditions onto it.

  3. I'm so sorry to hear about husbands twisting the Scriptures to justify abuse. I don't think the Bible ever says that men should make their wives obey them (not even in the book of Esther, as it tells us what a pagan king did, not what God commanded him to do. On a side note, it is a wonderful book to encourage women living under a selfish sinful authority and to show them how they can, by faith, win the heart of their unbelieving husband). And complementarians don't claim it does (as an exemple of the complementarian teaching, you can listen to ). Can you tell me how this example of complementarianism is teaching husbands to sin to sin against their wives and children ?

  4. I found a copy of one of the books that Piper/Gruden (spelling) have out there presently. In the beginning they admit that how most men view their role within the family is sinful. They use their role as a license to Lord it over their family. Its strange how they can admit this, and yet rail against feminism the way they do.

    To me? You have to wonder if feminism was started due to the 'lording it over' them, and yet they claim it is the feminism that breaks the family apart. I don't understand why they don't grasp that people will lose the connection there. Human nature most of the time will rail against the 'lording it over', and yet they see the response to that as the problem - and not the problem that started the feminism march to begin with.

    I mean does that make any sense to anyone? lol it sure doesn't to me, and I don't even call myself a feminist!

  5. Hannah,
    You are right. Although it wasn't called feminism at the beginning, the movement started because husbands were abusing their wives and because society had laws and norms that kept wives locked into abusive marriages, or dumped them out of the marriages destitute and with very limited ways of supporting themselves. They usually had to become household servants or governesses. It wasn't until later that they could become nurses and school teachers. (Florence Nightingale was born May 12, 1820. When she was 25, her father allowed her to take nurses training--in 1845, at a time when nursing as a trained profession was a male career.) The women's movement started around 1850, with Elizebeth Cady Stanton, Susan B Anthony, and Lucretica Mott. At that time, women who taught school were paid pin money, just enough to have alittle spending money, and not anywhere close to enough to support themselves.

    To get an idea of the abuses that were considered acceptable, the phrase "the rule of thumb," comes from a British law that a husband was allowed to beat his wife as long as his stick was no bigger round than his thumb.

    You are right, Piper and Grudem are laying the blame on the effect instead of on the cause.

    Considering that "In the beginning they admit that how most men view their role within the family is sinful," they look very foolish to me, not just strange.

    I can only conclude that they believe if they tweak the doctrine just a little and put a tiny bit more emphasis on requiring husbands to love and sacrifice for their wives, that men will stop lording it over their wives. They far underestimate how ensnared in sin these men are, how they delight in their sin and the short-term benefits it brings them.

  6. Rebecca,
    On my Fireproof part 2 post,
    Anonymous said...
    I got out of a very abusive relationship 5 yrs ago. I tried everything possible to save it. NOTHING worked! When I tried to be nice and understanding, he became much worse. He confused my kindness and compassion with weakness. He used to always tell me I was "weak". Churches are very naive when it comes to the dynamics of abusive relationships. I saw Fireproof and thought it was a good movie but I do not like the way churches have regarded it as some kind of magic talisman to save a relationhip. It will not be very effective especially if the abuser has a psychopathic or narcissistic-type personality disorder as mine did. These types usually do not seek help because they do not think they need it. Churches need to become aware that when they tell an abused spouse to be nicer or more subsmissive they are actually aiding and abetting the abuser. Fireproof is a fictional movie with good ideas that can save some marriages that have maybe gotten stale and need an extra boost but the dynamics are different with an abusive marriage. Reality does not always follow a Hollywood script.

    What she says is so true. I had the same experience. NOTHING worked. I tried so hard. Every abused woman I have ever talked to tried so hard, and NOTHING worked. Queen Esther's story does not apply to most abused Christian wives. Even 3 days of fasting and preparing a banquet two days in a row would not influence him to stop the abuse. Instead, it would influence him to increase his abuse.

    I listened to the sermon example you suggested, and admit on the surface it sounds very good, especially since it seems to have worked for Pastor Tim and his wife Kathy. However, there are many flaws in their teaching. Rather than go into detail here, I think I will put my comments in posts.

    As an overview, although they said very correct things at the beginning, their advice throughout was often one-sided in favor of the husband getting what he wants. One dangerous comment was to tell a wife to confront a husband who sins against her. If he is abusive, that may be very dangerous advice. They also didn't say what to do if the husband continues to sin against his wife.

    Additionally, although at the beginning they talked of both spouses serving one another, most of the examples were of the wife serving her husband. In the bedroom, for example, althoguh they told the husband to "put it in context," and to be patient, the rest of the advice was for wives. They advised the exhausted wife to tell her husband to "jump her bones," because although she is too tired to participate, she loves him and wants to serve him. A servant husband should be serving her, meeting her need, not using her body when she is already exhausted. And what husband will find any pleasure in s*x with an unresponsive wife? If he does, he is very SICK! And selfish!

    Note also that when the pair had differing s*xual appetites, the speakers said the wife was the one who should serve. Why couldn't the husband serve his wife's need for less s*x? Why couldn't he channel his s*xual desire into selfless, serving capacities? And if he helped his wife with even more of the household and childcare responsibilities than he already is, perhaps she would have energy left to participate in the bedroom.

  7. Waneta Dawn,
    I'm so sorry to hear about what you went through and I do want to say that I don't believe a woman should be left in a dangerous situation.
    Let me, however, ask you one question : when you tried everything, what was your first motivation ? to save your marriage, get your husband to change, or to honor God ? What we know about ourselves and about God changes everything about why we do the things we do. When we realize that our lives, our marriages, etc. are not about us, but about God, it radically transforms how we think and how we live. Have you ever listened to Rachel Barkey's message ? if not, I really encourage you to do so :
    It has nothing to do about marriage or submission, but it deals with what we all experience in one way or another : suffering.

  8. Rebecca,
    Although I appreciate your desire to be helpful,
    I highly resent your question. Would you ask a man in a business suit who was mugged what his reason was for being on the sidewalk at that time? Would you ask if perhaps he had the wrong attitude or motive that would spur someone to attack him? Perhaps he had showed he had a wad of cash in his pocket? Perhaps he had looked at those people wrong. Perhaps if he had chosen different attire?? After all, the suit made him look wealthy...

    We wouldn't consider that type of victim-blaming, but people do it to women all the time. If the wife would just shade her responses or her attitude or her motive alittle differently, her husband would not treat her like that. If she would just honor and obey God in the right way. If only she would....fill in the blank...he would not abuse her.

    Oh?? so now wives control the behavior of their husbands? If they are to control the behavior of their husbands, shouldn't they be accountable to God for the behavior of their husbands, too? The Bible says everyone must give account of himself to God.

    The fact is, abusers abuse because of who THEY ARE, not because of anything their wives are, or do, or don't do. Many wives with wrong motives are not attacked by their husbands. Many husbands who come from families where their father was abusive, choose not to abuse. Many husbands who are tired or stressed do not abuse. The fault is NOT their situation or life experiences, it is the BELIEF of the man--the believe that he is entitled to get his way, to have all the perks, to use his wife for his own benefit.

    When these men hear the complementarian teaching that the husband is the authority, that is ALL they hear. As far as they are concerned, it gives them ultimate authority, and permission to be ruler, king, judge, jury, and executioner in their homes to the extent that they choose.

    Consequences is the only thing that gets them to quit it. Our legal system gives them consequences for PHYSICAL abuse, so they have decreased that, but continue the other abuses. Further, they have to do the other abuses with even more destructive tactics to make up for the fact that they cannot use physical violence.

  9. Rebecca,
    Now, to answer your question. From the beginning of our marriage, my belief and attitude was to submit to my husband because God said so. Also, because I was taught that when a wife submits that would bring God's approval and blessing and that our marriage would be one that was full of the fruit of the Spirit and was a wonderful symbol of Christ and the Church.

    I did try to engage my husband in discussion and protested his demands--especially that I sign a paper allowing him to have a vasectomy the first year of our marriage, while I was pregnant with our first child--even though we had earlier agreed to have 2 children.

    It was not until 3 years into the marriage, that I realized I was dealing with abuse, (there was very little written about non-physical abuse back then) and a while after that that I realized my submission was making my husband more abusive, not less. With that realization, I knew something was wrong with the submission teaching I had been taught, but I didn't know what was wrong with it. I just knew the only chance to save our marriage--which I believed was what God wanted me to do--was for me to stand up to my husband more.

    One of the books I read gave the general guideline to tell the abuser to "Stop it!" If he respected the wife enough to stop it, the marriage had a chance. If he didn't, the marriage lacked even the foundation that is necessary for building a marriage.

    For the first month, (perhaps it was only a week or two; I lost all track of time.) my husband did stop it when I told him to. But after that he said (with anger and threat in the way he spat out the words) "No, YOU stop IT!!" IT was then I knew I was not safe, that he did not even respect me enough to stop accusing me of doing something I didn't do, of having a motive I didn't have (but it was a motive and action HE had!)

    Your response, Rebecca, is what is wrong with the complementarian view. Their first response (after an appropriate "I'm sorry for what you've been through,") is to blame the woman. To get her to submit more, to be broken before God more. Whatever.

    Why is the first question never: "Did your church hold him accountable?" or "I hope you called the police." Or "I hope your pastor was supportive of you and taught against domestic abuse from the pulpit." Or "It sounds like your church needs to study what abuse is and teach in depth against it." Or any comment that focuses on HIS sin, rather than on making the wife responsible for her attacker's behavior.

    Please, please, educate yourself and your church about the various forms of abuse. It is very important. Please, start supporting those who are abused. I believe when you understand what drives an abuser, you will have to question your stand on marriage. Go ahead and question it. Some people who know about abuse still choose to be complementarian. For myself, I believe the teaching is both unbiblical and sinful, because by not keeping husbands accountable when they are abusive, it gives them permission to sin.

    I have been looking for a quote by Jocelyn Andersen, but have been unable to find it. Basically she points out that a slave with a kind master is still a slave and not free. In the same way, a wife with a kind comp. husband still has limited liberty because she knows he can choose to overrule her any time he wants. He can also choose to be nasty any time he wants, and in a huge number of churches there is no recourse for her. May I suggest you read Jocelyn's "Headship or Lordship" post ? This clears up a lot of the trouble. Headship and lordship are not the same, yet many men try to make them synonomous.

    God bless you in your research, Rebecca!

  10. Dear Waneta,
    If this is the teaching you received : "If the wife submits, it will bring God's approval and blessing on the marriage", then I would have to say it is a terribly, terribly wrong message. No, nothing that WE do will make us deserve God's blessing, in our marriages or otherwise. In fact, God even promises the opposite (2 Timothy 3/12). Yes, sometimes when we do what is right we are blessed, and sometimes when we do what is wrong we reap the bad consequences. But not always. Sometimes good people go through incredible suffering while bad people have a wonderful life (see Psalms 73). And how do we find an answer to that ? We can find an answer when we know God, when we make HIM our biggest treasure. That is why I was encouraging you to listen to Rachel Barkey. Like I said, this has mothing to do with marriage or submission.

    Now, let me invite you to read 1 Peter chapter 2 verses 11 to 25. It's all about submission (not wifely submission). First, submission to legal authority. Peter is telling us to submit our government. And what governement was he under ? A government that was burning Christians, and trowing them to the lions and that would later (according to the tradition) crucify him, head down. Now I would call that some pretty serious abuse.

    He goes on and tells slaves to submit to their masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are... harsh. WHAT ??? What did we read ? That is so injust !! Peter doesn't deny it, yes, it IS unjust suffering, but this is commendable or "finds favor" before God (depending on the translation).

    And how do we do that ? How do we find the strength ? We do it by looking to Christ Jesus. Let's read the following verses (21-24), because it is their that we find hope, and encouragement. He submitted to his Father and where did that take Him ? To a cross. HE was a victim of a terribly wrong and unjust treatment. He was abused in every possible way. He was mocked, accused wrongly, beaten, crucified. And he did NOT deserve it. He did not deserve any of it. He was completely pure, completely perfect, and he did not say a word. It just blows my mind. He was the ultimate victim. And it was because of me, and you.

    Like I said, this isn't about marriage, it's about something way bigger : it's about God and suffering. Let me encourage you again to listen to Rachel Barkey.

    PS : Now, before I get accused of saying that a wife should just keep her mouth shut and let herself be beaten to death, I will repeat what I said previously : I don't believe a woman should be left in a dangerous situation. The church should (and has : my husband, as a pastor, and I know he is not the only one, has confronted abusive men) discipline husbands who sin against their wives and God. We also have the immense priveledge of having some justice in our western countries and of having authorities that condemn abuse. We can call upon higher authority when we are victimized and see justice be done (the Christians who were tortured and killed for their faith under the soviet system didn't have that opportunity). We should take advantage of that opportunity. I have read several complementarian teachers tell wives to call the police if they are abused. Christians have fled from persecution to find religious freedom and women can flee from abusive relationships. I'm not saying they shouldn't. I'm just trying to put things in the bigger picture and finding what attitude honors God when we undergo suffering unjustly.

  11. '''Let me, however, ask you one question : when you tried everything, what was your first motivation ? to save your marriage, get your husband to change, or to honor God ?'''

    Rebecca: Most abused wives are doing what they are doing because they wish to honor God. Most don't run at the first hint of danger, and they try to change themselves to not only honor God but their husbands. They ask God to show them the ways he would wish them to change, and to help transform them. What will hopefully happen at that point? Your marriage will be what God intended.

    We also need to discern what types of suffering God would wish us to endure, and what types he may take as tempting him to keep us safe when we place ourselves at risk. As you know Jesus and even Paul found there were times in which God had them leave a circumstance, and NOT stay to suffer.

    When the church finds a family where abuse is happening, and they wish to flee? I would certainly hope they have more grace than to ask questions regarding motivation and of course mention things like suffering. We have more important matters to deal with, and that is dealing with and confronting the person that is abusing. THIS of course is after the family is placed out of harms way, and with their permission due to the families dynamics. To me? It would be smart to ask those questions of the person that is doing the harm don't you think? It seems pretty clear a man that abuses doesn't have a healthy outlook or definition of his role in life. What healthy motivation would seriously tell the person to endure this sense of brokenness, and risk themselves and the children?

    Its sad that more people don't take the time to understand families that are dealing with abuse.

    It would seem they would have a more encouraging and affirming way of approaching it.

    Fleeing danger with a supportive environment would make more sense then questioning a person's motivation towards fleeing it. Confronting the broken abuser, and guiding them to the path to healing?

    That to me would seem like a path God would have all of us take as we deal with the abuse.

    The bible does mention confronting the sinner in a number of ways, and then treating them as an unbeliever if they do not respond.

    Fleeing abuse isn't sin - abusing another is.

    When people hint at suffering and their motivation to leave (ie marriage due to abuse) most would question that person's common sense, and personally? I wouldn't blame them! We need to worry about healing the abuser, and wonder about motivation to leave later. We should see the priority it would seem to me. The healing the victims it would seem to me would also take priority.

    Do we have our priorities straight with that line of questioning? Seriously! Do we? Wouldn't God wish those that are to help to pray to make sure they do right?

  12. Rebecca,

    I'm not sure what you are debating, unless it is that more abused wives should stay with their husbands and continue to suffer. With 1 in 4 women suffering physical domestic abuse, and 44% suffering from any kind of domestic abuse, I find this view quite unpalatable. Why would God be calling so many women to suffer, but not call men to do likewise? How does their suffering at the hands of those who promised to cherish them glorify God?

    Also, if this is your view, at what point do you believe it is ok for a wife to leave her abuser? Are you saying God doesn't honor a wife who flees abuse as much as He honors the wife who stays in the abusive environment? It seems as if that is what you are saying, but then you comment that it is ok to leave for safety reasons. At what point should a wife (and children) leave for safety?

  13. '''Yes, sometimes when we do what is right we are blessed, and sometimes when we do what is wrong we reap the bad consequences. But not always. Sometimes good people go through incredible suffering while bad people have a wonderful life (see Psalms 73). And how do we find an answer to that ? We can find an answer when we know God, when we make HIM our biggest treasure. That is why I was encouraging you to listen to Rachel Barkey. Like I said, this has mothing to do with marriage or submission.'''

    Do you think the abuser is having a wonderful life? Or are you saying something else completely? That makes no sense.

    '''He goes on and tells slaves to submit to their masters, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are... harsh. WHAT ??? What did we read ? That is so injust !! Peter doesn't deny it, yes, it IS unjust suffering, but this is commendable or "finds favor" before God (depending on the translation).'''

    I'm am sure you are aware wifes are not slaves. lol! There is also a message of a slave that escaped in the bible. You remember that correct? Peter sent this slave back to his master, and told his master if he was a follower of Christ he would welcome him as a fellow brother and NOT escaped slave.

    What not rebuke this person for escaping his condition, and tell him to go home and take his proper place in life do you think? Remind him that he is honoring God with his unjust suffering, and is not in God's favor now that he has escaped?

    If you check your bible Jesus did mention if you have a opportunity to escape that life - you should take it. Are we offering those that are escaping abuse the same, or asking them are you sure this is right?

    '''Christians have fled from persecution to find religious freedom and women can flee from abusive relationships. I'm not saying they shouldn't. I'm just trying to put things in the bigger picture and finding what attitude honors God when we undergo suffering unjustly.'''

    Waneta it seems has escaped unjust abusive behavior, and what she and many others have found if people tend to question if she made the right decision. Did she do everyone right by dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's. Hinting at we are human's and tend NOT to do that. Do you know what that does to people that suffer abuse? You seem not to understand the mindset at all. It reaps more guilt, pain and suffering onto them. It makes them doubt themselves, and the messages that God may be sending to them.

    Its true that some Christians die for their faith, and some have opportunities to escape their fate. If someone came to the USA that had escaped their fate in Russia would you be asking them if they had the right attitude when doing so? Would you ask them if they grasped the bigger picture? They just escaped a very traumatic experience, and chances are they are very tired in mind and spirit - at the same time thankful that God had helped spare them.

    If you wouldn't ask them that with the same spirit you are asking here? I would ask you why not, and what is your motivation in attempting to influence what they see as their truth? Why do you think Waneta is doing this out of the wrong motivation? Why wouldn't you ask the Russian Escapee that question? You seem so sure that she is wrong, and it would seem right for the escapee.

    Why is that? What do you see as so wrong about making sure people listen to their hearts, and the nudge of the holy spirit to escape abuse? People that are abuse live in a world of doubt, and others adding to that load - why do you think they are doing others any favor?

  14. Rebecca said: "Why is complementarian equated only with wifely submission ?"

    LOL Rebecca!! With your recent posts about suffering being a good thing--said in the context of domestic abuse of wives, perhaps you answered your own question. The complementarian emphasis is on wife submission even to the point of suffering for years and years--say 25 to 60 years at the hands of an abusive husband. No such emphasis is placed on the complementarian "role" of husbands.

    Although many claim wives are abusive, it is not major enough to get any appropriate links when I googled "abusive Christian wives." Instead all the links on the very first page were about abusive Christian husbands.

    BTW, if you think you can influence me to become a comp, you may as well give it up. To me the view adds to and takes from scripture and therefore is sin. The view also allows husbands to sin against their wives and children which is also sin. Many who believe the comp view also blame the wives for the abusive behavior of the husbands, and that, too, is sin because they are calling good evil and evil good. Therefore I will not do/believe the complementarian view.

    In the future, if you truly want to discuss issues, if you truly have a heart to obey God and want to discuss what that is, that is fine. You are very welcome to comment here.

    But if you are looking to nit pick, to blame the abused party, to insist that I and others on this blog change our views to match yours, to heap more sorrow and suffering on the abused party, please refrain from commenting.

    I already have heard all the arguments as to why I should continue to be mistreated, and I have also heard the wonderful message of God's love and how he set rules in place, from the Old Testement to the New Testement to protect those who are vulnerable--including wives. I refuse to give up my freedom in Christ and I will not allow anyone on my blog to guilt others into giving up their freedom in Christ, either.

  15. As there seems to have been a confusion as to where I was getting at, I will post one last time to clarify things. Maybe re-reading my posts while keeping in mind the following explination will help clarify things.

    I believe the Bible teaches gender roles. In marriage, it means humble, tender, servant-like leadership on the husband's part, and joyful intelligent submission on the wife's part. Submission is always voluntary, the Bible never teaches teaches that a husband should make his wife obey. That would be at best coercion and at worst tyranny.

    I believe this view is complementarian and that equal emphasis should be put on both parts, each spouse being responsible before God for their own obedience. As I've seen it taught, this balance has been kept (and often even more emphasis has been put on the husband's part). Now, I understand it may not be the case in some churches, and that you may have heard some unbalanced teaching. That should be denounced.

    BTW, I also believe the Bible teaches on submission in other contexts. Submission is not reserved to marriage. Christians should submit one to another in the Church. Both men and women should submit to their government, to church leadership, and ultimately, to God. Servants should submit to their masters (in our modern culture we could say employees should submit to their bosses). Etc.

    That was a side note. Back to marriage. The question is, when one spouse is not playing their role, what do we do about it ? More specificaly in this context, when the husband twists the Bible for his selfish wants, what does the wife do about it ?

    Your answer has been : you blame the doctrine for it and you reject the doctrine.

    My answer is : you don't change your doctrine, you refer to higher authority which should protect you (Church leadership and/or legal authorities) and you seek the encouragement the Bible gives to those who are suffering injustly. Like I said before, the fact is, submission often leads to suffering (it doesn't in a marriage where both husband and wife seek to please God, but sadly it does in many marriages where that is not the case). Women who are abused by their husbands go through tremendous suffering and the only way they can find healing is in the One who has suffered more than any of us.

    Your theology will influence the way you deal with the way bigger issue of suffering. Rachel Barkey is a woman who I believe has grasped the liberating truth that answers the question of why God allows suffering.

  16. Rebecca,
    Thank-you for clarifying. I take it we will have to agree to disagree.

    You are right, as I see it the complementarian doctrine is a big part of the problem. Notice that I do not throw out scripture. Rather, I throw out the traditions of men, which I believe are based on a carnal hierarchial structure.

    I believe the Bible teaches equality, not roles. As Susanna Krizo comments on the "Strive to Enter" blog, "The Son was equal to the Father before becoming a human. Subjection cannot co-exist with equality regardless of the great effort of complementarists to convince us otherwise, for what is equality if not the absence of subjection? One is not equal if one does not have equal say; a lesson learned from friendship."

    I do not believe this equality means men and women are the same, as some say egalitarians believe. Nor do I believe being equal means each person must do 50% of everything. (I don't know of any who believe either of these statements.) Instead, I believe that both partners have equal say, and that they decide how to divide responsibilities based on individual strengths and weaknesses, and even preferences. There is to be mutual respect, accountability, and submission to one another. I do not know what this is called, and I have never bothered to look up what egalitarians claim to believe, although I have read blog posts of people who say they are egalitarian. I simply believe what I stated above more closely captures the meaning and intent of biblical teaching. It also does not give one partner room to use scripture to abuse another.

    If you would like to read more on the subject, there are other blogs I could inform you about. One blog is currently studying the word "head" and the meanings of various related words in the creation account.

    May I suggest that you read what the egalitarians themselves have to say, rather than hearing it second hand from others? With the exception of the roles doctrine, you sound more like an egalitarian.

    Many of the popular complementarian Bible teachers, like John Piper. at first teach a doctrine similar to what you stated, but when it comes to abuse, they minimize it or blame it on the woman. These are not from obsure churches. These are the leaders of the complementarian movement. Bruce Ware blamed domestic violence on the wafe, claiming that if she submitted she would not be abused.

    I once believed the complementarian viewpoint was what the bible taught. But when I found out first hand how a husband can "innocently" frame a decision, and in that way deeply harm his wife, I had to relook at scripture.

    I found that the idea of husband authority comes from the word "head," which is a figure of speech. A number of writers have pointed out that head did not mean "authority" in Greek.

    If a husband was to be in authority over his wife, Paul would have said so. Instead he told husbands to love and sacrifice or their wives. This is the opposite of authority over.

    In 2 partners yielding to one another, with neither having the "overrule" power, they more perfectly show the love relationship between Christ and the church. Both sacrifice for one another and seek the best interests of the other. One spouse is just as important as the other.

    As several men commented on earlier posts, just having the power to overrule ones wife, makes any decision he makes suspect. Can he always be assured that he is making a decision that is in her best interest rather than in his own? Other men comment that the "roles" doctrine is insulting to their wives, and they, the men, will not have it.

    Just food for thought. To clarify, you are free to choose to remain complementarian. I shared these tidbits just in case you had not considered seeing for yourself what egals and others are saying. Perhaps you have looked at that already.

  17. At the beginning of this discussion, Rebecca said:

    "My job is to joyfully embrace his goals and dreams, and to encourage his leadership in our family."

    Question: Does the wife get to have any goals and dreams of her own, or all they all subsumed under her husband's goals and dreams? If they are so subsumed-- then why is she the one "giving herself" for her husband, when Paul said in Eph. 5 that it was the husband who was supposed to love the wife as Christ loved the church "when He gave Himself for her"? Did not Christ lay down His very divine nature and take on the role of a servant, according to Phil 2? Doesn't Eph 5 say that after laying down His life, He then raises the church up to be glorious with him?

    So -- should not the husband joyfully embrace his wife's goals and dreams too? Should they not figure out, together as one in Christ, how to fulfill the dreams and goals of both of them?

    As far as his supposed leadership-- if "head" means leader, then does "body" mean follower? Does wife have "bodyship" to her husband? What is "bodyship"?

    The word "headship" is an English word, never found in the Bible, that has been superimposed over the Greek word "head" in Eph. 5, which is speaking of the husband and wife as a head and a body-- a metaphor of oneness. "Head" in ancient Greek does not mean "headship" any more than "body" means "bodyship" -- whatever that means.

    Christ is the Leader of the husband AND the wife. No one can serve two masters. Christ said so Himself.