Friday, November 13, 2009

The Parable of the Divinitys Explained

Jesus spoke in parables. Sometimes it was to hide the meaning from those who would misuse it, and other times it was to make the point in a way that people could better understand. It seemed many people could not comprehend heavenly truths any other way. They could not see the forest, because the trees were blocking their view.

As I consider the many authors who have written before me, those who are battling alongside me, and then look at those who dig their heels in even harder and refuse to hear the message, it seems the trees are blocking the view of many church folk today, too.

Perhaps the previous parable along with the meaning in this post will help make a difference.

Mr. and Mrs. Divinity represent God. Genesis 1:27 says “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.” Male and female together are the image of God.

The last name, Divinity, represents God’s whole family.

The twins, John and Jane, the older children, represent church leaders and also parents. Ephesians 5, along with other passages command us all to submit to one another. Romans 12:10 “Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love, in honor preferring one another…”

The younger siblings, Tom and Sally, represent a young married couple. They, too, are told to submit to one another, to honor one another.

The Divinity house and property represents wherever God places us on this earth, and includes the jobs He gives us to do.

The cabin represents both Heaven and the way of escape that God has promised to us. I Corinthians 10:13-14 “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it. Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” If we do not flee the temptation to do other than what God has commanded, we risk becoming idolatrous.

The incorrect statements of John and Tom represent the reasoning of men who claim to be obeying God’s commands, but twist the scripture so that it is more to their liking, giving themselves full authority over women, their wives in particular.

John’s increasing declarations of authority, and urging his brother to take authority, represent the current trend of leaders taking authority in many churches, and urging husbands to take authority contrary to God’s command to husbands to love self-sacrificially and to present their bodies as living sacrifices, not being conformed to the world’s hierarchical way of thinking (Romans 12:1-3).

Tom’s increasing declarations of authority represent the escalating abuse some husbands inflict on their wives.

Tom’s statement that Jane is not his boss and that he does not have to listen to her, represents the attitude of many church men that all of us should not listen to women, nor allow women to influence us, but instead should suspect them of leading us astray. Also, they insist we should only accept new ideas/biblical truths from males.

The feast in the cabin represents both our heavenly reward and our earthly reward. Job, for example, was rewarded after God had tested him.

Over all, the parable points to the evil that men are committing against women in both church and home today, in spite of God’s commands to neither rule like the Gentiles, nor elevate themselves like the world does.

Like in the parable, God does provide a way to escape. By insisting that wives live with rules that are contrary to God’s word, (elevating husbands to a place of authority and superiority which belongs to God alone), husbands force wives to live in idolatry. If a wife chooses to do a sinful act that her husband is demanding of her, that is obviously sin. But church leaders fail to recognize that wives who are forced to live as inferior to their husbands are also disobeying God. That disobedience is both idolatry (putting husbands and church leaders above God) and sin.

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. Waneta, that was a engaging and accurate parable...I understood it immeadiately upon reading it. And I like that you explained it.

    I wonder about something, though.
    My husband was an abusive alcoholic and we went to a large church where patriarchy was not preached, but, understood? I'm not sure if that makes sense, but the church itself was set up in such ways that women became inferior by default.
    Examples: Women were not allowed in the seminary, or to teach men, they were not allowed to hold any job position if they had young children. Men were taughte to 'lead', and women submit to that leadership...but men were also taught to love their wives as Christ loves the church.'s the rub. If you ask any of these men about that passage on submitting, there's always an addendum about men loving their wives also.
    These men acknowledged that part, but when it came to practical, daily application, it was incompatible with treating women like equals.
    So, I often wound up on the short end because if I questioned any man about something he said, he could use the submit as a fallback whether I was right or not and he didn't have to give me a answer to anything.

    It is a more subtle ignorance in the church that I'm talking about. I beginning to believe that ANY church that tries to be fair to women but still preaches submission or holds women in subservient positions will wind up with patriarchs instead of just doesn't play out in real life.
    Women with good men, wound up still less than their husbands, and women like me sank further into the pit. No matter how many times the pastor preached about men loving their wives as does not translate into a loving marriage for anyone.
    Sorry, for the long comment.
    I just wondered how you would approach churches that insist they include men loving their wives along with the submit part and then don't take any responsibility when men treat their wives like children.

  2. Julia,

    Thank-you so much for your insightful comment!
    I think you are right. I recall one visiting pastor who pointed out that wife submission has been overly emphasized for so many years and generations, that it should not be mentioned at all for 10-15 years and during that time husbands should be taught over and over to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.

    I get the impression that although husbands in your church are taught to love their wives, it seems to be an afterthought--one without the needed examples of what that love would look like. If their love doesn't pass the Golden Rule test, they are falling short of the mark. Would they want to be limited to child status? Respect for women needs to be taught. (and not just as home-makers, child care providers, and bed warmers.) You are right, The subtle (and not so subtle) put downs show that the love is not sincere.

    Being a woman, there is not much you can do to bring fast results in a church that rejects things women say. However, you CAN make a difference. 1. pray, 2. keep asking questions, but don't expect answers. The truth is they either don't have the answers, or they have the answers but don't want to admit it because the answer would require them to change. 3.) Look for teachable moments 4.) Be prepared to wait for years and years. 5.) refuse to be silenced. Start a Bible study, start a blog on the subject (or include it frequently), write a book, write children's books about treating women right, teach these things to your children, and encourage your children to have their friends over frequently so their attitudes can be caught by their friends and perhaps their friends parents.

    Here are some possible questions:

    1.) What benefit do you (and other men) get from silencing and limiting women?

    2.) Why did Jesus talk to the woman at the well? Wasn't she less than He? Shouldn't He have told her to be quiet and go get the men so He could have a worthwhile conversation?

    3.) Why did Paul bother to tell husbands to love their wives? I mean, he already had told wives to submit. If wife submission was the main doctrine, why bother attaching self-sacrificial love as a command to husbands?

    4.) What does it mean for a husband to love his wife as Christ loved the church? Does that just mean he is to be prepared to die for her if someone attacks her? (If they believe this, they have missed the point, big time!)

    5.) What does Romans 12:1-2 mean? How can a person be a living sacrifice?

    6.) Of all the Israeli kings who did evil, why is so much emphasis put on Jezebel?

    It may help to focus attention on female leaders in the Bible.

    7.) What would have happened to Israel if Jael had not driven the spike through Sisera's head?

    8.) What if Deborah had not led the Israelites into battle?

    9.) Would Aquilla have been as effective without Priscilla?

    10.) Why did Paul have Phebe, a woman, carry his letter to the Romans? (Romans 16:1-2 & my Bible states "Written to the Romans from Corinthus, and sent by Phebe, servant of the church at Cenchrea.") Wasn't Rome a man's world? Why would he entrust such an important task to a mere woman?

    Basically, pray that God will help you see the teachable moments, the opportunities, and give you the words to say when they arrive.

    A church that does not teach husbands to die to self daily, to prefer their wives above themselves, to honor their wives, will find it easy to slip into the patriarchial way of relating.

    I am sorry your husband is an alcoholic. I have had very little experience with those who drink. The experience I did have was eye-opening. The man I saw in action, drank to excuse the behavior he wanted to do. Only, he forgot and blamed the alcohol for the behavior when he had not yet put the cup to his lips. It was a very telling moment for me! I wonder if your husband drinks to excuse his abusive behavior.

  3. Waneta,
    Thank you very much, your response was so accurate to what I meant to convey (I was a little concerned I didn't write my thoughts coherently).
    I love what that visiting pastor had to say. I would be just fine and dandy with a church that didn't use the word submit in relation to wives ever again!

    Thank you for your kind words. My husband and I have been separated for over a year now and I entered a 12-step program called Al-Anon to help me understand what happened. God is gracious and merciful as my husband has also sought help in AA and has come to terms with his anger, though I still don't think he understands how abusive he was. And we remain apart.

    You hit the nail on the head about alcohol. It really isn't about the drinking. My husband was sober for ten years of our 22 year marriage and he was at his most abusive during that time. It was also the time we went to that church I referred to.
    They were all nice people and the pastor is well-known, he writes books, heads the seminary and college associated with the church. But as I said, he had constructed all these institutions around this slightly, and by that I mean it wasn't overt, patriarchal behaviors.
    It translated into me having to love my husband more, submit more, forgive more, etc.
    They held him accountable insofar as he gave a good performance on repentence and then they left me to deal with his increasing rage.
    They discouraged me from going to Al-Anon because they thought it was a cult and would not let me use the word "co-dependency"...literally, I could not say that word when we were being counseled together (another mistake they made).

    All this contrived to put off real healing and restoration for my husband and I for many years. When he finally hit bottom and walked out on me and the kids, I went straight to Al-Anon at the suggestion of a Christian friend (who thankfully never went to a church like the one I described).
    It changed everything. I found the Lord again and realized He had never meant for me to "submit" to any of that.

    Now, here I am, reading blogs, books, literature...anything to try and deconstruct how the church influenced my husband and I, why pastors do not help their wounded flock, where all the fear in these churches came many questions now. But I suppose that's normal.

    I haven't been to church since the separation. I tried, but the moment I started hearing that husbands-lead-the-home stuff...I just couldn't take it.
    I'm satisfied to let the Lord take me where I need to go, and I trust my own instincts more.

    Thanks for laying some groundwork for me. I'm writing out your questions and will think carefully how I deal with churches and pastors from now on.
    I like your suggestions for changing this kind of thinking, bit by bit, blog by're right, every voice added will eventually get the attention of church leadership.
    Though sometimes when I go through patriarchal blogs (just trying to find a reference point...but, yuck anyway), I'm finding a defensive posture in many of these blogs, from men and women that is an interesting dynamic.

    I am blessed, my children are finding truth and healing as am I. I appreciate the time you took to respond to my questions and I look forward to reading more of your insights into this oppressive doctrine and the mindset behind it.

  4. Julia,
    I find it interesting that the co-dependency teaching is so helpful to you, while the book I picked up about codependancy was so destructive to me. Granted, the man who was my husband at the time was not an alcoholic. Yet, the author's focus on co-dependancy had the effect of blaming the victim. There was an implied, "He wouldn't do it if you would stop aiding him." Meanwhile, it was very hard to submit while still making sure the consequences fell on him instead of on me and our daughter.

    It seems to me you have more to wade through than I did, since you have to try to get your mind around alcoholism, domestic abuse, and also spiritual abuse by both your husband and your church.

    You said: "I haven't been to church since the separation. I tried, but the moment I started hearing that husbands-lead-the-home stuff...I just couldn't take it. I'm satisfied to let the Lord take me where I need to go, and I trust my own instincts more."

    I have experienced the same and have a very low tolerance for "husband authority" teaching. I had that intolerance at first, then tolerated it for awhile. But lately, I have been realizing that if churches are so off-the-beam on a subject that is clearly spelled out in scripture "husbands love your wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her," (nothing about "Husbands rule your wives.") can I trust them to get the rest of scripture right?

    Furthermore, why are women in these churches still marrying? If submission means a woman must submit to being humiliated and abused by her husband for the rest of her life, why are women being so stupid as to marry these power-hungry, deceitful men? Wait, did I call them men? They are NOT men. Real men don't act that way. I meant to say, power-hungry males.

    I am so glad both you and your children are finding healing and truth! Truth is such an important part of healing. So is trusting your own instincts more. God gave you those instincts for your protection, so listen to them. Interestingly, most pastors would tell women that their instincts cannot be trusted. But perhaps those male pastors are talking from experience and know that their own instincts cannot be trusted, but as is typical of abusers, they project that onto women.

    Do allow yourself time to grieve. It is part of the healing process. 15 years after leaving my abuser, I still experience occasional moments of grief, often brought on by the comments of a speaker, or of someone who is sharing their pain. At first I grieved for what he did. Later I grieved for what he didn't. Either way, a marriage that ends because of abuse is a huge loss. We women dream of being loved. The end of a marriage--even a hateful one--spells the end of a dream, when one finally has to admit there is no hope in realizing the dream with this man.

    God bless you with healing and comfort!