Sunday, December 19, 2010

Institution of Submission—As to the Lord

Before Christ, wives didn't submit; they obeyed their husbands. Although this is never commanded, we see the pattern of wifely obedience to their husbands in many Bible stories. Sara obeyed Abraham. I assume she referred to herself as his sister instead of his wife, because Abimelech reproved her in Genesis 20:16. (Was he accusing her of putting on rose colored glasses? "Behold he is to thee a covering of the eyes...") She thought of him as "my lord" when she heard they were to have a child in their old age. Gen 18:12 Vashti was expected to obey her husband when he ordered her to display herself to a drunken, leering crowd of men and lost her royal estate when she disobeyed. Sapphira agreed with Annanias to lie about a donation to the church, Acts 5:1-10, and was struck down by God because of it. Wives obeyed their husbands as one would obey a taskmaster; with fear.

But Jesus instituted a new thing, honor and status for women, and adult submission as to the Lord, rather than child-like obedience as to a king or taskmaster.

He started the new pattern with the arrival of the one who was to prepare the way—John the Baptist. He chose to have his forerunner come through Elizabeth, a barren woman, who had endured years of the reproach of men and was now beyond child-bearing years. In Luke 1:25 Elizabeth says:
“Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men.”
Barren women were the lowest of the low. Finally being pregnant raised Elizabeth's status, and that her child was filled with the Holy Ghost while in her womb, and was the forerunner of the Messiah raised her status even further. When she heard her cousin, Mary's voice and her babe leaped in her womb, Elizabeth was honored by being filled with the Holy Ghost, which was unusual in those days.

God could have chosen a different way for the forerunner of the Messiah to appear, but He didn't. He chose a lowly woman, who was reproached by men. Elizabeth's husband had little to do with raising his wife's status. Indeed, he had been unable to impregnate her for years, and now his own lack of faith made it clear that her child's Spirit-filling was in spite of her husband.

Jesus chose to come to earth through a woman of low status as well. Mary spoke of her low status being raised when she visited Elizabeth.
Luke 1:46-48. "My soul doth magnify the Lord...for he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.” Luke 1:52-53 “He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.”
Very few were of lower degree in that day than females. And both Elizabeth and Mary rejoice in their raised status. Mary prophesies of the new order; that the poor and those of low degree will be exalted by God, while the oppressive rich will be brought low.

As mentioned in the previous post, Jesus continued to honor women throughout His ministry and never stooped to the common woman-debasing practices of the day. But He went a step further: He lowered His own status as humans saw it, by washing the feet of His disciples, a job no one else wanted to do. Further, He taught the disciples to do the same; to serve others—even those they considered beneath them. And to serve them doing the tasks no one else wanted to do.

The Apostle Paul follows the example Jesus established and set the stage for successful husband-servitude by telling wives to submit to their husbands, who were considered their superiors in that culture, AS TO THE LORD. This was not reiterating the centuries-old practice of obeying dictator husbands, but instead was instituting a new practice in marriage. Even as the lowly Peter submitted to superior Jesus when Jesus stooped, bent, or knelt to wash his feet, so also lowly wives were to abstain from refusing to yield to their superior husbands when the husbands dropped the rules of status and hierarchy to stoop and serve their wives with love and sacrifice.
“Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so the wives to their own husbands in every thing” Ephesians 5:24
The “every thing” wives were to submit to, as explained in the verses addressed to husbands, was the new order that Jesus had established—that those of high status were to love and sacrificially serve those of low status, thereby raising those of low status to a place of respect and honor, which would result in obliterating status differences entirely.

This new order in marriage fulfills the law of loving God with our whole being and loving our neighbor as ourselves. When husbands love and sacrificially serve their wives, they are showing evidence that they know and love God. And just like we love Jesus because He first loved us, so also wives will love their husbands because the husbands first loved their wives. When husbands demand a place of higher respect and authority, denying wives the privilege of the self-determination of following God according to their own consciences, they are not loving their wives as themselves, and therefore are not living according to the “royal law” (James 2:8) and therefore do not know God, either, (I John 4:20).

The husband loves his wife so much that he is sacrificing because he loves her, not out of obligation. His love is so powerful he sees to it that his sacrifice is helpful rather than sloppy, disruptive, self-aggrandizing, wife-exploitative, or etc. In other words, if he is serving by doing house-hold chores, he will do chores in such a way that his wife cannot tell by his poor or disrespectful workmanship (that forces her to do it over) which of them did the task. This takes humility on the part of husbands. Just as their wives at some point in their lives had to humble themselves to learn how to do things right, so also the husbands will need to humble themselves to receive instruction until they get it right. I can't imagine Jesus leaving mud between Peter's toes, nor that He would consider a sloppy or other sin-motivated job as loving self-sacrifice.

On the other hand, wives who refuse to allow their husbands to serve them with loving, non-pushy self-sacrifice, expose the pride within themselves. Just as Peter's refusal to allow Jesus to wash his feet would have shown evidence of pride in his low status, and thus a lack of love for Jesus, so also wives who refuse to allow their husbands to demonstrate their love by demolishing the status differences between husbands and wives, males and females, reveal their own sinful pride.

Wives who "submit as to the Lord," submit to receiving humble service from their husbands. Just as Jesus requested, respectfully explained and didn't insist or forcefully wash Peter's feet, and never demands or forces us to do His will, so also Husbands must respect the free-will of their wives and refrain from attempts to force them through argument or indoctrination.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See Fiction written to expose God's truth.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Peter Models Church-Wife Submission

Bible readers can so easily fall into the trap of inserting current realities into biblical texts. Ephesians 5:21-31 is one such text. The deeper meanings are totally missed by inserting current culture onto the biblical text. Verse 24, for example, is read as:
“Therefore, as the church, which has practiced husband authority & wife subservience for centuries is subject unto Christ, so the wives to their own husbands in everything—especially when the husband is commanding his wife to do something that she disagrees with because it pains, inconveniences, or dishonors her or her children, or appears wrong or of poor judgment to her.”
In spite of what we've read into the text, this is NOT what it is saying.

Since the wives of that day were already submitting to their husbands, Paul had no need to tell them to submit, except perhaps to keep them from getting the idea Paul was handing them authority over their husbands because of the heavy sacrificial servant demands he placed on husbands in verses 24-29. But Paul had another purpose. Because of the teaching of Jesus, he wanted to turn how marriage was practiced up-side-down.

In those days, wives were mere chattel to their husbands. Husbands enjoyed elevated status. Wives held a place similar to that of servants or cattle. They could be dismissed or misused, and were rarely loved by their husbands. They could be sexually desired until their husbands got tired of them, but that is not the same as genuine love. Their job was to serve their husbands and to bear them children, which then were owned by the husbands, but cared for by the wives.

Paul instructed the church to turn to culture on its head and practice the teaching of Jesus instead. He directed the high-status husbands—that is, ALL husbands—to love their wives even as they loved their own bodies. This love was to be so genuine and deep that the husbands were to sacrifice everything for their wives, even to laying down their lives for their wives. Where before the husbands demanded and expected service, they were to humble themselves and serve. Where previously the husbands had dismissed their wives as unimportant, they were now to honor them with high status.

The relationship of husbands and wives in that culture was similar to the relationship between Jesus and His disciples. Jesus, the teacher, the Son of God, had highest status. His followers expected to serve Him and to learn from Him. They saw themselves as beneath Him; He was high above them. If anyone would do the menial job of foot-washing, it would most certainly NOT be Jesus, the Master with high status. Likewise, in that culture, husbands wouldn't be caught dead doing something as demeaning as washing the feet of guests, or serving food. That was what women and servants were for.

But Jesus, the Master with high status, turned male & master privilege up-side-down and replaced them with male (ie husband) as loving servant. In John 13, Jesus, the high status Master, washed the feet of his disciples. This was so against all propriety that Peter protested. Jesus told Peter in v. 7
“What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.”
Jesus was instituting a change in practice: those of high status in the Kingdom of God are to humble themselves and serve those of lower status, choosing the most demeaning tasks for themselves and thus elevating those beneath them to an equal status. Indeed, He calls us His friends and joint heirs. Jesus has lifted us up to His level.

In the same way, Paul commands husbands to lift their wives up to the high status level that is equal to their own. Wives are no longer to be considered disposable servants, but instead they are to be honored even as a servant would honor his master.

Although husbands may have difficulty accepting this, Paul knew wives would also have difficulty with it. Therefore, Paul tells wives to submit to their husbands in everything—especially when the husbands humble themselves to serve. Peter had such difficulty with it, he at first said, “Thou shalt never wash my feet.” His language is so strong, we can see him shifting his feet to the side, tucking them out of sight under his robe. That is the same response Paul expected most wives to experience when they saw their high-status husbands lower themselves to serve.

Consider this: I own and operate a house cleaning business. Most of the people I work for are wealthy and enjoy status and privilege far above my own. Most of them are friendly and talk to me as if we are equals, but I am aware the division of status is still there. It is an invisible line I must not cross. I both expect and am expected to serve them. They do not expect to serve me, nor do I expect them to serve me. In fact, I would be horrified if they showed up at my house and offered to clean it. Even if I were disabled, they would be among the last people I would expect to stoop to clean my house.

In a similar way, Jesus was the last person anyone would expect to stoop to wash the guests' feet. Peter was horrified, just as I would be if my clients stooped to clean my house, take out my garbage, or wash my windows. I genuinely would want them off my property and out of my space—even if they were doing it for free. Or especially if they were doing it for free. Them serving me would be so inappropriate as to be gross. Their status says THEY are NOT to get their hands or knees dirty, that is MY job, my status. If they get on their hands and knees cleaning my house while I sit in a comfortable chair, (even if I'm writing a blog post or novel) I would feel so out of place. Their action would reverse our status. Not only would I be hard-pressed to accept it, I would also feel humiliated because their action would suggest I haven't done what is expected of me and now they, my superiors, must do it for me. This is also how a wife in Paul's day would feel if her husband lowered himself to do “women's work.”

This wifely rebellion against the humble sacrificial service of their husbands is what Paul was referring to when he told them to not refuse to submit to their husbands “in everything.” They were already submitting to all the other “everythings.” In the next verses he describes the “everything” the wives will be submitting to. Further, Paul says this is a great mystery, but that he is speaking of Christ and the church. That statement takes us back to the gospels where we see how Jesus interacted humbly with those first followers, raising them to his own high status as heirs of God.

Although a summary reading would lead us to conclude Paul wants wives to subject themselves to every self-serving, husband-knows-best edict of their husbands, a consideration of the context, which includes the gospels, leads us to see Paul would have to talk out of both sides of his mouth if he said on the one hand husbands are to love and sacrifice for their wives, and on the other he told wives to obey their authoritarian husbands—even if we claim it is loving for husbands to take authority over their wives. Even the complementarian teaching of “joyful submission,” shows they indeed are telling wives to be joyful in obeying that which reduces their status to servant or child—a person who has no decision-making power. (Although they would never admit they are anything but equal to their husbands.) Rather, Paul is not talking out of both sides of his mouth, but is reminding wives to NOT rebel against accepting sacrificial servitude from their high status husbands. Instead, they are to accept the service of their husbands whole-heartedly, as Peter did. V 9
“Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.”
Indeed, Jesus tells us that He is sending us—and this includes high-status people, particularly husbands—to follow His example.
John 13:12b-17 “Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord; and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet, ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”
In today's culture, washing another's feet may be inappropriate and unnecessary, since we wear shoes instead of sandals. But when husbands honor their wives by elevating them to the status of decision-maker alongside themselves, the action is likely to urge husbands toward sacrificial service in ways they would not otherwise consider—service that is more in sync with the teaching of Jesus and of Paul.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Complementarian Creation of Double-minded Apostle

Complementarians have reasoned and twisted the Ephesians 5:21-24 writing of the Apostle Paul until they have made him into the double-minded, unstable apostle. At least, if any woman wrote like they claim Paul did, she'd be called illogical, unstable, emotional & double-minded. They claim that after commanding everyone to submit to one another, when the Apostle Paul then commanded wives to submit to their husbands, he was also commanding husbands to take authority over their wives—the opposite of what he commanded in verse 21 and the opposite of what Jesus taught.

If Apostle Paul is such a double-minded man, we should see similar teaching elsewhere. After he tells the entire church to do one thing, he should tell half of them to do the opposite. I looked for that type of teaching elsewhere and couldn't find any, so I had to redefine Paul's letters, like the complementarians do. These should work wonders at bringing husbands and wives into close fellowship with each other, resulting in stronger marriages and fewer divorces.
Philippians 2:3-4 “Let nothing be through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. Husbands, sit under the footstool of your wives, that the wives may display their goodly apparel, their fine-broided hair and their costly gold jewelry, bringing glory to themselves and to God.”

Ephesians 5:11-12 “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. Wives, bless your idolatrous, adulterous, covetous husbands and give praise unto God.”

Colossians 3:9-10 “Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new man. Husbands, agree with your wives quickly while it is yet day, lest they trample you under their feet and rend you.”
Ridiculous, I know. But more ridiculous than the reasoning complementarians use on Ephesians 5:21-24? Could it be that by commanding husbands to love and sacrifice for their wives in verses 25-31, Apostle Paul is providing a word picture, showing husbands how to submit to their wives? That would make sense and be in agreement with the preceding verses. Could it be that since all his explaining is about love and sacrifice, that those are the actions that are to come forth from the “husband-head?” Notice that no leadership is mentioned, unless it is the leadership of sacrifice and love. No husband-generated goal to aim for, nor making decisions that the wife must follow is mentioned. Could it be that those are NOT the application of “husband-head?”

It is high time complementarians stop making Paul out to be “a double-minded man, who is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:8, and encourage husbands to submit sacrificially and lovingly to their wives and encourage their wives to submit to the love and sacrifice of their husbands, but to “be followers of God” Ephesians 5:1, rather than followers of man.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Proud Bible Thumpers

A phenomenon I have noticed when Bible reading is that there are New Testament passages that we hear very little about. Ephesians 5, for example, has the same three verses thumped, pounded and hammered, while the rest of the passage is ignored. Those three verses about wives submitting to their husbands are reasoned over to the point that some pastors currently claim they are teaching husband authority.

A passage I read this morning sheds light on this doctrine of men, even though it says nothing about wife submission. The context is a message to servants who are “under the yoke,” teaching the servants to honor their masters in a godly way so that “the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.”
I Timothy 6:3-5 “If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.”
Notice that Paul uses “the words of our Lord Jesus Christ” as the most important guideline that we are to consent to. Clearly that was his guideline, along with “the doctrine which is according to godliness.” Remember, Paul did not consider his words to be scripture. He considered his words as letters which contained advice, direction, & teaching, but not as scripture. The words and teaching of Jesus clearly have top billing in Paul's mind.

With the words of Jesus having such high priority to Paul, what is the likelihood that he would teach anything contrary to the words of Jesus? Would he claim that “the doctrine which is according to godliness” would trump the words of Jesus? In Paul's words, God Forbid! He would never consider such a thing! Indeed, he considered himself an apostle of Jesus Christ. As an apostle, he must adhere to the teachings of his Lord.

Yet, traditional teachers & pastors preach from Paul's letters, teaching as if Paul was directing his listeners to do the opposite of what Jesus taught. Yet Paul, himself, wrote “Be ye followers of me even as I also am of Christ,” I Corinthians 11:1. By that directive Paul makes it clear that if anything he says is contrary to the teaching of Jesus that we are NOT to follow him in that teaching. By extension I would add that he meant to include anytime we misinterpret Paul's teaching to counter the teaching of Jesus, we are NOT to follow that interpretation.

What did Jesus teach regarding women and authority? By example He did NOT put women “in their place,” at least not in the place that men had decreed belonged to women. He elevated women and their children instead of classifying them as nuisances, disposable, or unimportant. He healed women, he honored Mary for taking a man's position and NOT serving, and He included women in his inner circle. He chose a woman to evangelize the Samaritans, and did not reject those who came to Him at her bidding. He chose to come to earth through a woman, He chose to “come out” at the temple via the announcement of a woman and a man, & He chose a woman as the first witness to His resurrection. He honored the woman who in an emotional (shall we say “that-time-of-the-month?”) crying jag washed his feet with her tears and anointed him with expensive perfume. He defended her “wasteful” use of perfume, and did not berate or belittle her for making the place “reek to high heaven.”

Jesus said absolutely nothing to even suggest that men were to take authority over women or wives. Instead, He said the entire law and the prophets are based on two rules; to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. Further, He specified that we are to treat others as we want to be treated.
Luke 6:31 “And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.”
The two laws are interconnected. If a person does not love his neighbor by treating his neighbor as he would like to be treated, he or she clearly does not love God, either. He has put himself ahead of both God and neighbor (or spouse). Do I want my spouse to give me the right to decide his life for him? To tell me what he thinks is best and then lay his concerns aside, choosing to follow my decisions--even against his better judgment? Absolutely not! Do I want him to give me that kind of power over him? God forbid!! To be handed such corrupting power would be loathsome to me. Therefore, I will not tempt my spouse with such corruption.

On the men's side, do they want women to take power over them? I am convinced they do not. So why are they doing it to women? In particular, why are they doing it to their wives whom they claim to love? Controlling another who is one's equal is how one would treat an enemy, not how one would treat a cherished and respected companion.

Finally, Jesus taught both directly and in principle that we are not to exercise authority over others nor seek to be greater than they.
Matthew 23:10-12 “Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ. But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant. And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

Matthew 20:25-28 But Jesus called them unto him and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

John 13:13-15 ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”

Foot washing was a demeaning task that fell to the lowliest person in the household. It was so lowly that people often refused to do it. (In the house where the woman washed Jesus's feet with her tears, neither the host nor a servant had washed His feet. In His defense of the tearful, perfume-wasting woman, Jesus commented on the host's lack of manners). Peter did not want to allow Jesus, his Lord, Master, Superior, Teacher, and Friend to wash his feet; he saw it as so out of line with propriety and his love for Jesus that he protested. By both teaching and example, Jesus, our Master and authority, taught both male and female to choose the lowliest serving positions instead of ruler and superior positions. We are to follow His example.

Now with Jesus's teaching and example, how could Paul possibly conclude that husbands are to rule and act superior to their wives? His very focus on following the teaching and spirit of his Lord and Master would totally rule this out. Instead, he would teach husbands, especially those who “would be great among you,” to serve their wives through loving them sacrificially as Christ loved the church, giving themselves and whatever they thought would benefit themselves up for her, and to choose the lowliest tasks, which may include washing the feet of their wives or cleaning their wives shoes or boots, cleaning urine from the floor and toilet, changing oil in the car, hand-washing feces and urine from diapers (if the couple has chosen to be green and $ conscious and use cloth diapers), to humbly do whatever job needs to be done, and to do it well and as to the Lord without grumbling, complaining, or power-seeking.

If that is NOT what Paul was teaching, by his own statement, we are NOT to follow him. We are to follow the words and teaching of Christ Jesus our Lord. If any man (or woman) does not consent to following the words of Christ, “he (or she) is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth...

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Friday, December 10, 2010

If Father knows Best Why are Wives Choosing Divorce?

There is a five-fold fallacy in the husband-authority doctrine, and it results in divorce.
First, it requires the very person who is prone to keep himself detached from others to make decisions for them as if he was up-to-date about the details he needs to know in order to make a wise decision.
Second, is the assumption, by both the husband and his peers, that the decisions the husband makes truly ARE best for his family.
Third, is the reasoning that in those “rare occasions” that the husband makes poor decisions, it is enough for the husband to bear 100% of the responsibility (meaning blame) for his decision, neither blaming his wife for her input, nor blaming her for his decision. This focus exposes a belief that the husband's poor decision(s) will harm no one but himself and/or his finances/concerns, that somehow his wife and children are insulated from his poor judgment and will not be effected.
Fourth, is the assumption if the husband isn't harmed by his decision, it was likely a good one, therefore if the wife doesn't like it, she should just submit and get over it.
Fifth, all of this is decreed by God, Himself, and anyone who argues against it is a feminist who is rebelling against God.

With these beliefs, instead of building their marriages on Christ and His principle of the Golden Rule and not taking authority over others, complementarians build their marriages on a foundation of male-promoting gravel that lacks the cement necessary to hold marriages together. Instead of being able to point to a notably low divorce rate, which one should expect from the Christian community, conservative Christians have a higher divorce rate than atheists do. Making matters worse, they blame feminism and female rebellion for their failure and refuse to look at the real cause.

By pressuring husbands to take authority over their wives, complementarians urge husbands (whether or not they realize they are urging them) to distance themselves from their wives in order to rule them. Husbands tend to discredit and devalue their wives and their input, and tell themselves that they are making objective decisions because they know things that women are too ignorant and too emotional to know or decide. Husbands often pat themselves on the back because they “listened” to their wives, even if they already had their minds made up and would be unlikely to value any input from their wives.

The belief in husband wisdom and near-infallibility, blinds Christian men to the multitude of important information that they do not know and have no interest in knowing or considering. Because they think only male-interest information is worth taking into account, they deny the experiences, make-up, and development processes of both wives and children. When they believe that other experiences, perceptions, feelings, etc don't exist in their wives and children, or when they perceive they do exist but must be discounted, and when concrete facts are the only basis for decision-making, husbands limit themselves from pertinent information to such a degree they are LIKELY to make poor decisions. This denial both makes them believe they made the best decision, blinds them to other decisions they could have made, and blinds them to the devastating effects their decisions are making on their wives and children.

Husbands who claim to prayerfully consider the best interests of their wives, defend the right of other husbands to wield authority over their wives and expect them to submit to the decisions of their husbands. They justify this by saying the husband will then be the one to take responsibility and the blame for the decision.

I had a discussion about this with a man recently and pointed out that it was immaterial whose fault it was; the problem was that so often a husband's decision ended up causing major pain, distress, and even damage to his wife and children. He looked startled, as if he had never considered that. He seemed to think that taking the blame somehow justified the harm a husband brought on his famiy through the use of a doctrine that required his wife to lay down what she thought was best and accept her husband's decree as a law she must embrace--even against her will.

The notion of justifying the insistance that the wife must yield herself to her husband's decisions by saying the husband would then take responsibility for his decisions and absolve the wife of all blame totally ignores the effect of the decison on wife and children. They assume the husband alone bears the distress of his disasterous decisions. I have yet to hear any preacher talk about the wife and children harmed and hurting because the husband over-rode his wife's decision and brushed off her advice. They fail to mention that her husband's financial failure forces her to go without and to work extra hard to make up for it. Her husband does NOT carry the blame alone. The community, and especially the IRS, holds her just as accountable, and often more accountable than her husband. But in the case of decisions her husband makes refusing needed medical care or education for the children, his wife and children suffer and work for years to overcome the handicap the husband ordered upon them. This is an uncomfortable truth the complementarians refuse to deal with.

Further, if wives protest the decisions their husbands make, their husbands, pastors, other husbands and even other wives, claim the wives are rebellious. They deny that the reason for the protest is the distress and suffering they and their children are enduring because of the high-handed decisions of their husbands. Again and again, it isn't simply that wives don't like the decisions. It is that they and their children are harmed and even damaged by the decisions. Decisions that range from, 'No, we will not participate in the family gathering on YOUR side,' to 'You and the children will attend a church of MY choice,' to 'I will choose where we eat out every time unless it doesn't matter to me,' to 'No, Junior does not need tutoring, and I certainly will not pay for it,' to 'We will NOT use birth control, and you will satisfy my sex urge anytime I want you to, and you will bear and care for as many children as are conceived by our union, without outside help even if it ruins your health,' and etc, DO harm his wife and children and stunt their growth and cause them unnecessary hardship. Yet, the husband often is not aware of the harm he has caused. Instead, he believes he is a loving and wonderful husband and father, who does what is best for his wife and children. He believes his wife needs to repent of her spirit of rebellion and submit joyfully to her husband's decisions, and often his pastor and church will agree with him.

Finally, the belief that God has decreed that husbands are to take authority over their wives brings us full circle back through the whole fallacy. If God decreed it, it doesn't matter if the decisions the husbands make are wise or if they damage their families. All that matters is that the wives “submit” (meaning obey to the point of agreeing with their husbands and laying aside their own will and beliefs) and that children obey, too (although they are allowed to have their own thoughts as long as they keep them private). If the ill-equipped wife must tutor Junior, she and Junior must devote much more time to the process than it would take for a trained tutor to do the job. The result is that Junior may never learn what he needs to succeed at life, and many chores will be left undone and other children left unattended. She, her children, and her family of origin will be harmed by the family split her husband created, and because she is never allowed to decide anything for herself, she will atrophy in this area, getting slower and less decisive in decisions she must make on her own. The house may get messy, for example, because she cannot decide what to do with things.

The bottom line is that although the Bible not only never tells husbands to take authority over their wives, and also tells them to NOT take authority over others, males teach that it does command husbands to take authority over their wives. They discard valuable knowledge from their wives, including the intimate knowledge that wives have about themselves and their children, and claim their own knowledge is superior. The damage and oppression they inflict is what is driving wives to reluctantly choose divorce. Yet, these husband-authorities refuse to look at the destructive elephant which is so obvious in complementarian marriages. In the words of Caleb in "Fireproof," complementarian husbands are "trampling all over their wives."

Complementarians have what they deserve: a high divorce rate. They can insist that marriage is for keeps and that wives must not divorce, but until they teach that husbands share power, authority, and decision-making with their wives, the divorce rate will remain high and is likely to increase.

Husbands are never commanded to rule or control their wives. Whatever head means, the application is to submit one to another, and for husbands to love their wives, caring for them tenderly as they care for their own bodies, and to love them, giving themselves up as Christ gave himself up for the church. When husbands do marriage the Jesus way, by treating their wives as they want to be treated, which includes not over-ruling them or taking authority over them, wives will be inclined to stay married to their husbands.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Frozen Pipe Churches

Many women do not realize the churches they gather with on Sunday mornings are frozen pipes. These women work hard to do the right thing, to obey God, but don't realize the refreshing water of the love of God isn't getting through to them. Psychologically, they huddle up to endure their 'lot in life,' or focus on whatever entertainment is allowed them to cope. But when the word of God is opened up to them, allowing the water of God's love to reach them, they rejoice in the miracle that God actually loves THEM. Yes, they knew He loved them, but they didn't KNOW he loved them. They hadn't experienced His liberating, freeing love. They had only known bondage.

I was one of those women, so I will share my experience. I was taught that as a female, I must give up what I thought was best, because a male decreed otherwise. First, my dad, and then my husband. I tried my best, with God's help, to be as perfect as I could. But I often ran out of energy, and the men in my life constantly complained and put me down. No matter how hard I tried, they refused to define me as a valuable person, or my work as a worthy contribution to home or society. It took me years to acknowledge that their decisions usually made life hard and painful for me. But they denied their nastiness and/or told me that was my lot in life because I was born female.

And then I learned that in the Old Testament, Moses instructed husbands to give their wives a writing of divorcement instead of just kicking them out. Further study helped me realize that through Moses, God had instituted a provision for women to free them from their abusive, adulterous, negligent, or disappearing husbands. And the divorce was to free the women so they could marry a different man, one who would love and care for them as God had intended. In other words, instead of divorce being the height of wickedness, divorce was God's gift to women to free them from hard-hearted husbands.

I hugged this knowledge of God's love to my heart. Then I returned to Ephesians 5 and noticed that husbands are never told to boss, rule, or take authority over their wives. Instead they are told to love and sacrifice for them as Christ did for the church. And the Ephesians 5:21 command to everyone to submit, includes husbands. By taking men's reasoning and doctrine out of scripture, my gut sense that something was wrong with the husband authority/wife servant-child doctrine was backed up with REAL scripture. Indeed, controlling, self-serving husbands had God's censure and condemnation, NOT His nod of approval. The men who told me I must submit to their misery-producing behavior and demands because God had instituted this to be so, no longer had a leg to stand on. GOD had provided women freedom from man's cruelty. Men were the ones who had sold me the gospel of God's disdain for women.

Churches are supposed to be God's pipelines, delivering living water and freedom from oppression to everyone. But instead of winding protective and warming tapes around them to insulate them from the world's contempt toward women (and blacks, Jews, the disabled, the poor, etc.) they embraced the icy scorn of the world, welcoming it into their midst and entwining it like barbed wire into their interpretation of scripture, using human reasoning in the process, and claiming their treatment of women and their elevating of males is God-ordered, even while they claim their demoting and promoting role-rules ARE equality.

Women, wives, God loves you so much He provided divorce as an escape from a damaging and destructive marriage partner, whether the abuse is physical, mental, verbal, sexual, economic, social, spiritual, or whatever. Our God is a God of justice.
The fast He has chosen is to “loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke.” Isaiah 58:6
God indeed has positive plans for you.
Jeramiah 29:11 (KJV) “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

As happened with my frozen pipe today, when you gird yourself with the excellent heat tapes of God's REAL word, the refreshing, living water of God's deep abiding love will come gushing through, causing love, joy, and a sense of freedom from bondage to flood your heart and make you want to dance.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Bewitched Americans

Americans have been so badly bewitched they have been driven off course, and Christ has become of no effect. Although they may have been saved by grace at one point in their lives, they attempt to maintain their salvation by works; women through “submission” that is actually obedience to males, and males through taking authority over women.

Consider this: for years we were taught that Genesis 3:16 COMMANDED husbands to rule their wives, and commanded wives to allow their husbands to rule them. It was made into a church law that had as much weight as the ten commandments. In recent years, since the husband-authority crowd has had to admit God is telling Eve what will happen rather than commanding her, they have latched onto the teaching that the verse is saying wives want to rule their husbands. By putting the focus elsewhere in the verse, they dredged up a false reason for the husband-authority law. But they still have made it into a law.

By making it into a law, they put themselves under the curse of the law, thus obligating themselves to keep the whole law.
“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Galatians 3:10

Indeed, even as in Paul's time, people continue to seek to put the Children of God in bondage.
Galatians 2:4 “And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.”
By teaching wives total subjection to their husbands and teaching husbands to take authority over their wives, they have put both men and women in bondage. And the result is unhappy marriages, domestic abuse, domestic violence, divorce, and women leaving Christianity altogether.

Galatians 5:3-4 “For I testify again to every man that (takes authority over his wife, and every woman that obeys her husband) is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”
The word fallen is #1601 in Strong's Exhaustive Concordance and means “to drop away; specially, to be driven out of one's course.” In other words, “whosoever of you are justified by the law, are driven off the course of grace.” This lawish doctrine of authority/subjection is driving couples off course and away from grace and liberty in Christ. Instead, they add marriage roles to their requirement for entrance into heaven. If you doubt this, notice how wives who leave their abusive husbands are ostracized, and how husbands who do not take authority over their wives are called names thought to indicate they are feminine and thus ungodly.

I experienced this misbelief myself. When I finally realized something was not correct about the wife submit law, that it was resulting in my husband sinning against me repeatedly, and I stopped obeying when my husband's commandments were illogical or simply would not work for me, and started applying boundaries, I went through a time of questioning if I would go to heaven. That alerted me that somehow my faith in Christ's atonement had lost its strength and had been replaced by faith in my works of obedience to my husband. I had indeed been driven off course by the husband-authority/wife subjection doctrine.

Considering the many pastors, teachers, & writers who put so much emphasis on husband authority and wife subjection, it is likely the majority of Evangelical and conservative Christians have been driven off course. Many husbands are neither loving their wives, nor submitting to their wives, even though they are commanded to in Ephesians 5:21 & 25-28. Many wives are putting their husbands ahead of God, and practicing husbandolatry. Husbands and wives who do these things are not loving God with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, nor are they loving their neighbor as themselves. Instead, they end up encouraging their spouses to sin against God and neighbor, and this sin-leaven has spread to the whole lump, causing the church, which is supposed to be salt to the world, to lose its savor.

“I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain. O foolish (Americans), who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith. Are ye so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" Galatians 2:21-3:3

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Effective Domestic Abuse Prevention in Church

In the 8th comment on my “Church Lies” post,, I bring up the question, “What can pastors do differently to be more effective at freeing women from their abusers and at stopping abuse.” Some of my own suggestions are that congregations should have at least 5-6 people per a 200 member group speak to the group about domestic abuse. That would give those who are mistreated by their spouses some choices. Instead of going to the pastor, they could go to someone they feel comfortable around, with whom they may have a closer relationship. In addition, instead of speaking on marriage twice a year and focusing on wife submission, pastors should speak on marriage six times a year, teaching against one-way submission, and instead teaching how a couple can submit one to another.

Especially important is the teaching of attitude. A spouse could keep the letter of the law, but if they are doing the bare minimum, their spouse will likely be unhappy and feel slighted. It is important that each spouse is as concerned about the happiness and satisfaction of their partner (provided that satisfaction is not gained by abusing and controlling the spouse.) as well as their own.

These are suggested because the wives who stay with their abusers, seem to think it will get better; that they must stay married, and/or refuse to report it because they think no one will understand, or think that since they are NOT perfect, the pastor will blame them, or that reporting is too nasty, or some combination of these. These are in addition to the concerns secular wives face. Some women think they ought not go to secular society for advice. So if their church doesn't teach about this issue, they think there is no one to go to. In addition, many Christian counselors are not trained concerning domestic abuse, and would be likely to push for couples counseling, which is extremely damaging to the powerless wife and her children.

I would like ideas and comments from others. What can our churches do differently to be more effective in getting the message about domestic violence and domestic abuse to women who need help in recognizing abuse and in getting themselves and their children free from their abuser? I'd like to save discussion for how to be there for abused wives for a different post. For this post, I want to address how the church can help abused wives get educated and unstuck before the damage to themselves and their children becomes severe. After all, the sooner the abuser is confronted and reeducated, the more chance he has of making permanent change, and the more likely the marriage can become a union of equals who respect and value one another for who they really are, instead of for some role they have been pushed to play.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Someone has to be in Charge--by Hannah

Hannah, @ Emotional Abuse and your Faith" makes excellent points in her recent article “Someone has to be in Charge.” She points out that men tend to think when there is mutuality between themselves and their wives that the man is a doormat. However, that is their male perspective, not the truth. They twist their perspective to say that women feel like doormats if they are not in charge. They seem to have no comprehension that mutuality means no one is a doormat and no human is in charge. Instead, Jesus is in charge.

She points out that we all are commanded to be humble, and that the husbands who insist they are in charge are lacking in humility. They are demanding to be “recognized properly.”

Hannah points out that both women and Honorable Men see this lack of humility as arrogance. “When others call them on this 'attitude' that is seen as arrogance?  They seem to try to justify themselves.” They claim their behavior and attitude lines up with God's word. However, “Male domination is in their own interest, and they tend to try to downplay that.  I mean how often do you see humble servants reminding everyone else they get the last word? The contradiction comes when they have to remind others WHO the top dog is!”

Hannah compares the authority that these men display with the authority of Jesus. Jesus didn't have to remind people to obey him or to treat him as top dog. People followed his leadership voluntarily because he taught as one who had authority, not as the scribes and pharisees. It seems the husband authorities of this age teach like the scribes and pharisees did, lifting themselves up instead of lifting our Triune God up. They lack love, mercy and compassion, just like the scribes and pharisees did.
But read the article for yourselves @

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Broken Homes

What makes a home “broken?” Traditionally, the term “broken” has been reserved for divorced couples. We see ripped photos of the couple torn from one another. But are these the only broken homes?

Are homes where dad beats mom intact and non-broken? Are homes where the husband takes authority over his wife and demands that she subject herself to him non-broken? Are homes where dad justifies his nasty treatment of mom non-broken? Are homes where children are sexually assaulted by a member of their immediate family non-broken? Are homes where one spouse is sexually active outside the marriage non-broken? Why hasn't the church come up with a name for these types of homes? If they aren't broken, what are they?

They certainly are NOT intact. We could call them dysfunctional, but the damage done in those homes is worse than dysfunction. We could call them bruised, but that understates and minimizes the truth. What about calling these homes battered homes? Kind of like battered shrimp, right? Shelled, skinned, covered up and deep fried. Or battered fish fillet. Gutted, sliced up, covered up, and deep fried. But to call it a battered home, when one person is not being battered, doesn't seem right. A home should not be labeled according to the behavior of ONE of the members.

Troubled home. Now that's a minimizer! Kind of like being troubled by a division problem, right? But it isn't a broken home, so how can it have a division problem? How about divided home? Take your chainsaw and split it, giving the batterer the house and his victims the door—and maybe a window.

Abusive home. Ah, now we're getting close. Problem is, not everyone in that home is abusive. In fact, usually only ONE person is abusive. Although he may be training the younger generation to do the same, we can't call the whole home abusive.

Could it be we ought to be calling a home where this type of abuse is the norm a Destroyed Home? Isn't one person in the home destroying the others? The brain cells of the abused wife and children are getting destroyed, their trust is destroyed, their self-esteem is destroyed, and often their health is destroyed. In fact, the direction of the family has been destroyed, because the abusive husband is rowing the family boat in a circle around himself with his one oar.

Could it be if we called a home where one person is abusing, devaluing, and controlling another a “Destroyed Home,” we would start acknowledging the truth of what is causing Broken Homes and the high divorce rate? And when we admit the truth, is it possible we would also find solutions that heal instead of “solutions” that keep women and children imprisoned with their destroyers, forcing them to participate in the training of the next generation of wife & child destroyers?

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Church Lies

Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.

Most of the time when someone quotes Philippians 4:8, they skip the first two items on the list, true and honest. They focus on noble, lovely, and good report, but delete what is true and honest. Instead, they lie to themselves, and to others.

Was this what the writers to the Philippians intended? Did Paul refuse to look at the ugly? Did he refuse to look at and deal with sin? Did he say their sin was good, was the fault of someone else, or wasn't there at all?

Actually, there are a number of passages where Paul rebukes those who are sinning, a passage where he defends himself against those in the church who are bad-mouthing him. In order to write those passages, he had to spend some time thinking about things that are neither noble, lovely, pure, just, or praiseworthy.

Yet, so many in our churches refuse to look at domestic abuse and what causes it. Last week I told a woman that I am working to fight domestic abuse, and she accused me of wallowing in abuse. Her pet phrase seemed to be, “God is in control, just trust Him.” I told her that is not particularly comforting to the person who is suffering for years and years at the hand of her abuser. She kept wanting to put a spin of “lovely” on everything, and at the same time throw accusations at anyone who looked ugly sin in the face long enough to try to stop it.

Why was it so important to this woman to deny domestic abuse, to blame me for working to bring the freeing truth in God's word to the church's attention? Why did she insist God had not called me to this ministry?

Is it not for the very same reason that the church in general refuses to deal with the issue? And so many that say they are dealing with the issue, put a large portion of their pressure on the abused wives, not on the controlling and abusive husbands. Some say an abused wife may separate from her husband, but she must still subject herself to him. (What an oxymoron! And how ridiculous and blind!) So many churches tell abused wives they are not allowed to divorce their husbands. Some say they are not allowed to separate from their abusers. The bottom line is that the sin of domestic abuse is denied by so many pastors, or blamed on the wife. Other pastors don't deny domestic violence and abuse but they deny its severity, cost, and damage.

Isn't it time the church stops skipping over the first two items on the list? When are pastors going to be honest with themselves, with their congregations, and with abused wives and children? When are they going to STOP dening that domestic abuse is a serious problem? How long are they going to keep on condemning women who have left their abuser? (One woman I know is still being condemned by the church she left because she divorced the man who nearly killed her several times.) How long are they going to claim there is no domestic abuse in their church, while studies have been showing that one in three women have suffered domestic violence in their lifetime--including women in church. In fact, at least one survey showed that 50% of women in church have suffered abuse from their husbands. When are pastors going to teach their congregations to offer friendship and support to abused women, instead of the cold shoulder and/or accusations and discipline?

When will the lying and dishonesty stop? Domestic abuse/violence is neither lovely, nor praiseworthy, but that it is among us is true and honest.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Friday, October 15, 2010

God Said it; You Just Don't Like It

A common refrain of complementarians is “God said it; you just don't like it.” They are usually quoting their favorite women submit and women keep silent verses. These same people are silent about the 'husbands love your wives' and 'husbands be considerate to your wives' verses, and have nothing to say about all the women in Paul's day who were prophetesses and leaders in the Christian churches. When they do quote those pro-women and husbands treat your wives right verses they don't talk in depth of what that means. Instead, they breeze over them to focus on the woman be in subjection and silent verses.

Having lived with an abuser and having facilitated a men's batterers group, and having read books pointing to this very behavior, I recognize the tactic the speakers are using. They are switching truth, attributing the other person's innocent or righteous behavior as their own, and projecting their own behavior/attitude onto the innocent party.

In other words, these speakers do not like that husbands are to love their wives so much that it is the same as submitting, so they focus instead on the wife submit verses. The “God said it, you just don't like it” speaker does not like that husbands are never told to take authority over their wives, because that is not the way they want it to be. The speaker also does not like that women in Paul's day as well as in the Old Testament and in Jesus's circle were also leaders, thereby showing that the prohibition to women was for specific cases. These complementarians do not like that truth, so they brush it off and put the focus and weight of their argument on the verses they do like.

Sometimes a woman, who claims to be submissive to her husband, says “God said it; you just don't like it” to a woman who is explaining that the “woman submit” doctrine is one-sided and as such is not biblical. Usually the women who claim to be so submissive sound smug. They are impressed with themselves for “getting it right.” They seem completely unaware that they are self-righteous. They are unaware that their self-righteousness is sin, and that it will not earn them a way into heaven. They also are unaware that they have not truly listened to the statement of the person who is explaining that the woman subject yourself doctrine is one-sided and encourages both husband and wife to sin.

Frankly, I don't like that people are maligning God, giving Him a bad name, by claiming He says such belittling things about women and that He made the women to be an underclass who are beneath men and who have the sole purpose of being the personal slaves of their husbands. That He made them a class He will never call into service, except to as invisibly and silently as possible serve the all-important male gender. I don't like it that they lie and call this one-sided servitude "equality." I don't like that so many women have turned away from the “church” because it has become a den of thieves that robs women of their dignity and worth. I don't like that their are so many atheists, who became atheists because of the sin of organized "Christianity" against women and their children. I don't like that “church men” are doing to women like white men did to American Indians. They are taking from women their property of value, which is their God-given dignity, worth, equality and whatever God has actually called them to do, and replaced it with worthless pretty beads, which is this so-called “glorious subjection,” which they themselves wouldn't be caught dead wearing because it is so demeaning. They are persuading women to give up their high worth in exchange for groveling in the dung-heap.

And the reason they manipulate and deceive women into this exchange? Because they themselves do NOT like what God has told them to do—to sacrifice for their wives and to love their wives as they love their own bodies.

How do they love their own bodies? They insist on freedom—freedom to choose whatever they want to choose. But they deny this freedom to their wives.

Complementarian men have claimed the Declaration of Independence for themselves, but denied it to their wives. Wives who are married to complementarian husbands are in the same class with slaves who only have whatever rights their masters choose to allow them, rights that can be taken away at the whim of their masters. And all because their masters do not like what God said.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Expendable Wives and Children

A repeated refrain on many blogs is that the gender issue is secondary doctrine that has nothing to do with salvation. Folks who believe husbands are to take authority over their wives and wives are to subject themselves to their husbands, (even when they are abused) are going to heaven just as much as those who believe husbands and wives as a team are to take authority over their children and households. But is this a scripturally sound view? I considered splitting this into several posts, but decided against that, since it needs to be read in one sitting to get the picture.

On the surface, I could agree with them. The Bible does not say Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and submit to your own husband, or take authority over your wife, and you shall be saved. Nor does it say Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and practice egalitarian marriage and you shall be saved.

Although egalitarians often understand that the doctrine of husband authority and wife subjection is the seedbed—yes, the CAUSE—of domestic abuse and domestic violence among Christians, complementarians deny that this is so. We know this is so because the abuser announces it frequently, telling his wife she is required to do as he says, because he is the man and God gave him the authority and she must submit to him. He frequently verbalizes this as he is abusing her for any real or imagined infraction of his rules, or just because he feels like it. He believes he has the right to determine the value of his wife, himself and of each of their children, to define their character--usually falsely defining himself as righteous and his wife as evil, decide the freedoms and limitations of each, the work each is to do, how much influence each will have, and to decide how much of their lives he wants to control. He can change the rules at a moments notice and punish the person who has not obeyed the rule that he had not yet decreed. He also believes he has the right to determine the type of punishment, whether "verbal unkindness," put downs, name calling, threats, intimidation, a slap, physically restraining, choking, raping, beating, kicking, or more subtle control methods like manipulation, driving wedges between people, deception, etc.

Except for wife beating and smacking, all these forms of domestic abuse against wives are protected by John Piper's church, for example, (see Bruce Ware publicly suggested the wife is at fault when the husband does these things, and most (if not all) of the Counsel for Biblical Manhood & Womanhood say things that indicate similar viewpoints.

Some complementarians say “Of course, a wife should never tolerate abuse.” Yet, churches all over, even those who seem to support women in divorcing abusive husbands, are frequently inhospitable to the abused women among them. The result is that many abused women give up on going to church. They have already suffered for years, and when their church hears about it, they abuse her still more through their avoidance of her, and frequently through taking disciplinary action against her. Some claim they don't want to get involved or take sides, yet uphold her abuser, offering him support, praise, and important and prominent roles in the church. Frequently, an abused woman's own friends turn away from her, and/or tell her she ought not be bitter or angry and to just get over it. If the couple had friends in common, the friends tend to maintain friendship with the husband, while claiming they cannot take sides.

The result is that many women who have experienced abuse, whether from pastor or husband stop attending church. Now this is NOT their initial response. They usually try to stick it out for awhile, but soon find that the retraumatizing at church in addition to the abuse they have already suffered, and are still suffering at home, is too much. In my work with abused women a common theme is that they stop going to church, often for more than a year. Some keep trying to find a church where they can find friendship and support, but never are able to find such a church.

One woman who had suffered domestic violence and long-term abuse through the custody decision of the court and her ex-husband, reported that it was so hard to even find someone to say “hi” to, after trying to make friends for 1-2 years, that she left that church, too embarrassed to return. A friendly, talkative, and open person, she experienced similar responses in 4 churches, including those where she never or rarely shared her personal story and made every effort to engage people in conversation of their choosing. She currently finds it too embarrassing to go to church, because people act as if she has the mark of Cain on her, often even refusing to make eye contact. If she did, she would have to plan to make a beeline for the car every Sunday, thereby defeating the purpose of attending church—which is fellowship. (One can worship, read the Bible, and listen to sermons at home.) But she knows that kind of self-isolation also hurts, so she associates extreme pain with church attendance and has no desire to force herself to suffer that kind of pain Sunday after Sunday.

Children who have suffered domestic abuse are also affected by the church's attitude toward abused women. When a mother leaves a church or stops attending church altogether, she usually takes her children with her. Yet the response of Christians is to either ignore those who give up on church, punish them, or shame them into returning to church, even though the only way to survive such shunning and shaming is to attend without any expectation of warm fellowship with other Christians—ie: avoid eye contact with others and make a beeline to the car the second the last amen is said so it won't hurt so much.

Diana Garland, co-author of a ground-breaking study on the sexual misconduct of ministers against their congregants, said
“(I)f the cases of reported abuse were spread evenly across the country, every average-sized congregation with 400 members would include seven women who have experienced clergy sexual misconduct at some time since they turned 18. That includes only women who go to church regularly, not those who stopped attending after their abuse.” (see for more on the clergy abuse article)
Finally someone mentions the fact that many leave church because of abuse! Even if the article deals with clergy inflicting sexual abuse on women, the comment applies. No one seems to be keeping count of the women who are not attending church because of the abuse they suffered from a complementarian, authoritarian husband. And then there are the women who attend, but who will never again be members of a congregation because of the "permission to abuse" that membership seems to carry with it. And we have no clue how many children are leaving the faith altogether because of the church's support of their abusive father. According to Barna, the number of non-churched Christians is growing steadily.

My first experience with this issue I was in my thirties, and found my insurance agent had left her church and said she would never go to church again because of how the pastors did not deal with her abuser and blamed her. She still had a good relationship with God, but would never again involve herself in organized religion. It was my own experience with abuse that opened the subject, so it appears that abused women share this information among themselves, but through experience know better than to divulge such information to men or to the 50%-75% of women who have not experienced abuse. Recently, my insurance agent mentioned a rule she had set for her daughter. Even though she said it in humor, I caught how difficult it is to train up a child in the way she should go when there is no church family to second the message.

At a time when a woman is in dire need of Christian support, when she has suffered years of abuse that has drained her energy and her belief in her own worth and competence, when she becomes a single parent, that is the time the church adds their pounding, humiliation, and avoidance to an already beaten-down woman and her children. The attitude of some churches toward abused wives seems to be “good riddance.” Her husband doesn't value her, therefore, her church refuses to value her, too. The faster they can push her out the door, the sooner they wash their hands of a difficult problem. Meanwhile, they keep the person who caused the problem in their midst. No one bothers to invite her back to church, or offers to be her supportive friend. And if someone does offer to be her friend, that person, too, will be ostracized. If she doesn't come back and face their shaming and disciplinary action, they are well rid of her.

But why blame the wife for her husband's behavior? Could it be that most Christians, in spite of what they SAY they believe, are acting on the belief that it is the WIVES who are to subject themselves to husbands and therefore any marital discord must be the wife's fault? From their behavior, it would appear that most Christians, even those who claim to be egalitarian, hold a deep-down suspicion that if the wife would just submit all would be well, therefore, the abuse must be her fault. Why else would they avoid abused women and cozy up to her abuser?

Not only has the church refused to be the Good Samaritan to abused women and their children, some of them have been the “Priest” and the “Levite,” passing by on the other side in their avoidance of her, and some have been the robbers as well, going right up to her and verbally attacking her and beating up the very one who is already black and blue on the inside.

After making every attempt to drive the abused woman and her children away from God's table, and succeeding, or after sitting by and watching others drive the abused woman and children away from God's table, they sit in their emptied pew and declare the egalitarian/complementarian debate is not a salvation issue.

What does Jesus say? Matthew, Mark and Luke all recorded Jesus's statement.
Matthew 18:6 “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”
According to Strong's concordance, #3684, Jesus was talking about a large millstone that required an ass to turn it. So He was speaking of a large enough weight to make sure the person goes down to the bottom and can't get back up. It sounds to me like Jesus is saying it would be better for a person that they drown than that they offend a little one.

Who are the little ones? The context in Matthew is speaking of children. But the context in Mark and Luke is speaking of anyone. Little, Strong's #3398 refers to “small in size, quantity, number, or (figuratively) dignity. The word clearly refers to short people, like children. The figurative usage would definitely include anyone who is already downtrodden to the point they are small in dignity—like the handicapped or abused wives; people who may be more easily intimidated due to social standing, past experiences, or height. Interestingly, although there is a list taking up ¾ of a column for verses with “ones” in them, the word is only used in Hebrew once, and not at all in Greek. It is added for understanding, but not italicized.

Offend, Strong's #4624, is “skanalizo,” where we get “scandalize.” The word is from 4625, and means
“to entrap, ie trip up (fig. stumble or entice to sin, apostasy or displeasure). (make to) offend.”
The offense Jesus was talking about is that of a believer being tripped up and enticed to sin or even apostasy. Jesus said it would be better FOR HIM that HE were drowned in the sea than that HE should offend a believer, causing them to sin or turn away from Christ. (Caps used to show who Jesus was talking about.) We already know it would be better for the offended one to not have been offended, but Jesus said it would be better for the one who does the offending that he/she were drowned rather than give them a chance to cause someone to stop believing in Christ. This suggests that God's judgment is extremely harsh on one who causes another to sin so much that they are in danger of losing their faith in God. Do we know of any such harsh judgment meted out to those are saved? No. So this suggests the one who causes another to lose or nearly lose faith is in danger of losing their salvation and going to hell.

Thus, in a round about way, the issue of husband authority vs functional equality in marriage does become an issue of salvation for both those believers who are driven out of church and those who drive them out. This is the second count against the abuser, who already does not produce fruit that shows he is connected to the vine. It is also the second count against the church that protects an authoritarian husband's right to maintain his authority over his wife, requires the wife to suffer under her husband's cruel reign, and now drives out the wife and children who are the targets of their husband and father.

It looks to me like the narrow way is much more narrow than I thought. If whole churches are teaching husbands to take authority over their wives, causing some of them to become lords and disconnect from the vine, if whole churches push traumatized believers away from church, causing abused women and their children to lose or nearly lose faith, are whole churches going through the strait gate, but leaving the narrow way to join those on the broad way to destruction?

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Jesus and Equality vs Roles

Contrary to the complementarian explanation of “equal but different roles,” Jesus saw those differing roles as greater and lesser. Luke 22:27 “For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? But I am among you as he that serveth.” The context clearly is about authority and subordination, that which some complementarians have declared makes their doctrine so "beautiful" and "glorious."

Jesus says something similar in John 13:16 “Verily, verily I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.”

Clearly, Jesus is using the negative to show that the opposite is true: the lord is greater than the servant. These verses are self-explanatory, especially to those who are familiar with their bibles. But since so many insist that men and women are equal but have different roles, they apparently pass over these verses and others like them, and may need to have them explained. Jesus, who is our authority, taught that the one in authority is superior. Both the one who sits down to eat and the one who sends are the authority figures and are superior, while the ones who serve and subordinate themselves are the inferior. These are the words of Jesus.

The complementarians cannot have it both ways. Husbands cannot be both the authority, yet equal. Jesus stated those in authority are superior. And wives cannot be both the subordinate and equal. Jesus said the servant is not as great as the one in authority who is being served, therefore the subordinate wife cannot be equal to her husband.

Since complementarian authority/subordination teaching does require wives to yield to their husbands, but does not require husbands to yield to their wives, they do indeed teach a superior/inferior relationship.

If complementarians are right, and husband authority/wife subordination is equality, then we must conclude Jesus is a liar.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

New Creatures

2 Cor 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.

Recently, I spoke with a woman who said the man she married changed radically after the wedding ceremony. Before the ceremony he was kind, courteous, respectful. But after the wedding, he became someone she didn’t know: he became her boss. Other women have also complained of the same phenomenon. One woman said it is as if a man goes through brain surgery during the wedding. His kind, loving, personality is exchanged for a nasty, domineering one. He is a “new creature” alright, but not one that matches any “new creature” list in the Bible. Instead, his behavior can be found in the “old man” list.

Season 7, episode 20 of The Waltons, entitled “The Outsider” shows what happens. Ben is dating Cindy, and is such a kind and loving gentleman that she wants to marry him. Within 24 hours after the wedding, Cindy is crying because Ben has chewed her out and told her how things shall be. A conversation between Ben and his dad tells us what is going on.
Dad: I’m not sure you know what a serious business marriage is.
Ben: Cindy and I are going to work at it same as you and Mama.
Dad: It’s not easy.
Ben: It’s worked for over 25 years for you, hasn’t it? You’ve made the final decisions around here; that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Ben has just described what so many men believe when they marry. They are confident the marriage will work because they are THE MAN, and they will make the final decisions. They will have the authority, and their wife will both listen to them and obey them. There! All they have to do is follow the husband-is-the-authority formula and all will be well. They will be ecstatically happy, and their wife will be, too.

But it doesn’t work that way. For some reason their wife cries--especially if she yields to her domineering husband--or she shuts him out of the bedroom or even out of the house, and stops listening and obeying. The husband doesn't have a clue why HIS marriage is not working.

Ben’s dad gives us a clue, though. He says to his daughter Mary Ellen:
“Ben’s not the easiest person to live with. He seems to think that being a man means being the boss.”

Husband authority is the very thing complementarians teach. Have you ever noticed how many complementarian marriage books are on the market claiming to be the solution for marriages? Yet wives are miserable. (Jocelyn Anderson in “Woman this is War” notes in chapter 2 that both Nancy Leigh DeMoss and Betty Friedan have said that women are miserable and frustrated.) Complementarian marriage books tell wives it is their rebellion that makes them miserable. So Christian wives dutifully try to submit even though they know their husbands are wrong, and it makes them even more miserable. Some wives cry themselves to sleep most nights and read more complementarian marriage books, looking for that elusive solution. And wouldn't you know it, complementarian authors came up with the answer. Manuals now tell wives the solution is to submit JOYFULLY. YES! If a wife doesn’t JUST submit, but submits JOYFULLY, her misery will be gone. But is it? Or is she just trying to fool herself? Trying to deceive herself? Woman after woman wakes up after years of allowing herself to be deceived into “joyful submission,” and finds herself more miserable and more down-trodden than she was before.

Take another peek into the Walton household. Ben tells Cindy he’s going to take her out for supper and a movie, so Cindy goes to clean herself up. She hasn’t put it together that the Waltons have only one bathroom, and that family members must keep their time in the bathroom short. While she leisurely bathes, four siblings are waiting their turn for the bathroom. Her new husband shows up and orders her to hurry up. She protests that she had to wait to use the bathroom, too, and he increases the volume and the pressure. She quickly ends her bath, and Ben keeps shouting at her while she dries herself. She tells him to stop yelling at her, but he just yells even more. When she opens the door, she apologizes to the family, saying she didn’t realize the situation. Ben then scolds her in front of his siblings, even though she has already apologized. She hurries away, and Ben tells his siblings it won’t happen again.

Ben’s siblings tell him he was being too harsh, that Cindy is trying her best. Ben yells:
“Will you keep out of it? She’s MY wife. What goes on between us is my business, not yours.”

Like Ben demonstrates, these are the typical beliefs of controlling husbands: 1. that their wives are their property, 2.) that they can treat their wives however they choose, and 3.) that how they treat their wives is nobody else’s business.

All three of these beliefs are false. We are all accountable to God and to one another, we cannot treat others however shabbily we choose, and no one is our property. Children are given to us on loan from God, to be prepared for life in a responsible and loving way, and spouses are also on loan from God, to be companions for the ups and downs of life. But those spouses are not ours to mistreat, to take advantage of, or to dominate. They are ours to respect as joint heirs with Christ, with value that is higher than ours, (In lowliness of mind, let each esteem other better than themselves." Phil 2:3) and with specific calling to serve as the Spirit of God calls, not according to our desires or beliefs. The calling of God doesn’t give anyone permission to ride roughshod over their mate. It doesn’t require the mate to do anything they don’t feel right doing, not even in the name of submission.

In the Walton house, Ben doesn’t follow these rules, and Cindy stops listening to him, kicks him out of the house, and tells him she’s leaving him. She refuses to consider giving him another chance.
Ben yells at her: Cindy! You’re my WIFE!
Cindy hollers back: No I’m not. I’m just somebody for you to order around.

Has Cindy hit the nail on the head? When a husband dominates his wife, are they really two who have become one flesh? If her half of the input is cut off, do they have a marriage? Doesn’t marriage require TWO people melding together into one, instead of one person taking over the other and erasing her as if he were a victor of war? Is the woman really a wife when her personhood has been erased, or when the husband has attempted to erase her? If a wife has been erased by her husband and she is a non-person by reason of stolen influence, can anyone claim God has joined them together? Is it possible to join together 1 person and a nobody, a ruler & a person who is usually overruled, making her a person of no significance? This is the definition of a hostile take-over, not a marriage. And what if the wife "rebels" or refuses to become a prisoner of war, a piece of chattel?
Ben confides to his dad: She won’t listen…Aren’t I supposed to (be the boss)? Aren’t I the man of the family, just like you are?
Dad replies: There are all kinds of ways to be a man. Listening to others is one of them.

Here Ben reveals that he has seen a pattern in his parent’s marriage. Dad usually tells Mom how things shall be, and Mom usually yields. Nothing is said about this doctrine being taught in church, but since Mom and the children are Baptists, (while Dad doesn’t go to church) it is likely they do hear that doctrine from the pulpit. Ben seems not to have noticed that Dad listens to Mom and to the children and frequently respects their wishes. Dad usually gets all the facts from the children and/or from Mom before he issues an order. Ben seems not to have noticed that at times Mom does the opposite of what Dad said, or that Dad highly respects Mom.

Why did Ben miss all these details? Could it be the church’s doctrinal emphasis, that every dad he knows orders his wife around and every wife he knows obeys, and that the most usual pattern in his parents’ marriage is that Mom mostly does what Dad says, while Dad seldom does what Mom says, with the exception of coming to eat? These are the very reasons young men begin their marriages expecting to be the “loving” bosses of their wives. They scold and chew out their wives for minor imperfections. Like Ben, they associate manliness with bossiness and with being in charge and in control of their wives.

Dad tells Ben of the thing he hasn’t noticed: that Dad does listen to and respect his wife. (perhaps because he doesn't go to church?) He urges Ben to listen to his grandma. Ben acts taken down a few notches as he follows his grandma back to his wife.

Cindy lets Grandma in the house and tells her:
"He won’t listen to me. He’s just like my father, loud and bossy."

Grandma hands Cindy a broom and tells Cindy to do the talking, implying Ben should do the listening. Cindy pokes Ben with the bristle end of the broom and says:
“‘God bless OUR house,’ that’s what Grandma’s sampler says. It can’t be ours unless you let me make it mine, too.”

Those words finally hit home with Ben. He realizes that he has been making it HIS house, instead of both of theirs. He also realizes he has been hurting his wife by excluding her from the decision-making. He does apologize, the two make up, and thereafter they have a respectful and loving marriage where Ben values Cindy for who she is, and stops forcing her into being an extension of himself.

That broom helped Ben become a “new creature.” The narrator says that broom always had a place in a corner of the kitchen, implying that from time to time Ben may have needed help from Cindy and her broom to return to his “new creature” status and shed the “old man.”

Isn't it time complementarians stop urging husbands to put on "old man" behavior and to instead put on "new creature" behavior of love, respect, not-lording-it-over, treating their wives as they would like to be treated? This means wives should be allowed to define who they really are and behave accordingly, instead of acting out some role prescribed for them by their husbands and the church hierarchy.

It is time to teach husbands to be "new creatures" instead of acting like the "old man" Adam, who ruled over his wife.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Connected to the Vine

Muslims have been free to say what they want about Jews and Christians, and no one retaliates against them. Muslims even ask to impose Sharia law in non-Muslim nations, and no one stirs themselves to violence over it. Yet, if anyone says anything against the Muslims or their religion, they get together to stir themselves up in a furor of anger and hatred, and they blame the resulting evil on the person(s) who they claim caused them to get violent.

The result is that everyone walks on eggshells around Arabs, lest they get violent. It is high time someone steps up and says we refuse to take the blame for your behavior. Someone did that on September 11, 2010 by tearing pages out of a Koran. The pages ripped out were those that commanded the killing of non-Muslims, which is a point that needed to be made long ago. Can a person be a Muslim without embracing the teaching that all should be Muslim and that every Muslim should seek to either convert or kill all non-Muslims? Is there such a thing as a peaceful Muslim?

I think of the Muslim who was working to paint Muslims as being peaceful, moderate peoples. Yet, when his wife left him, he killed her and cut off her head. So moderate!! So peaceful!!! Yet that is the Sharia law they wish us to allow them to practice in non-Muslim countries. They want us to look the other way when they murder their wives and sisters. And how long would it be before they murder us because we are not Muslim? After all, isn’t that Sharia law, too?

The crazy thing of it is that these murderers refuse to be held accountable for their actions. They claim it is someone else’s fault for stirring them to anger. Concerning the 20+ that were killed as a “response” to tearing pages from the Koran, for example, they blame those that tore the pages out. Yet, we saw the Muslims on the news, stirring each other up, rousing the crowd to violence.

Randall Terry, who organized the Koran page tearing, got it right when he said: “Such logic is like saying that a woman who is abused by her boyfriend or husband is guilty of bringing violence on herself because she said or did something that irritated him.”

Indeed, many in the Christian community do blame abused women for being beaten by their husbands and also blame the Koran page tearers for the killing of 20+ people. Those husbands, whether Christian or Muslim, are responsible for their own actions. They, themselves, are responsible and accountable to God for the way they practice their evil thinking and stir themselves up to anger and violence. Their violence is NOT a knee-jerk reaction; it is a developed ideology and belief system that they carefully nurture, even researching for ways to grow “hybrid crops” (like teaching that the in the Trinity Jesus has a role similar to what they proscribe for wives, while husbands have the role of The Father) to strengthen the “stock” of their belief system and make it resistant to various destroying “pests.”

Only this time the “pests” are actually beneficial to the saving of their souls. For the belief system they are nurturing and attaching themselves to is actually a soul-destroying thorn bush that claims to be the Vine. But as it is fed, it puts forth a choking vine that wraps itself so tightly around their branch where it is attached to the True Vine, and squeezes off the sap supply until their connection to the Vine is choked to death and dies without their knowledge. As their connection to the Vine is in the process of being squeezed shut, their fruit of the Spirit becomes smaller and production decreases, and their fruit of the thorn bush begins to increase. Eventually, when the connection to the vine is completely severed—even though they may be quoting Bible verses—the thorny fruit becomes big, luscious, and hurtful to many who come in contact with them.

The result is that some “Christians” behave very similarly to “radical” Muslims, lashing out in violence to any who dares to oppose them, blaming those they target. “Christian” husbands—and their pastors—blame their wives for “non-submission” and “insubordination,” while Muslim husbands blame their wives and sisters for the same thing—even when the wives/sisters are raped. Neither puts the blame where it belongs, both have an inflated idea of their godlikeness, and neither are connected to the Vine.

Jesus said: Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” John 15:4-6 KJV

It seems to me, a big part of "abiding in Jesus" is to do what he says (as perceived by the people in His day, taking into account the culture and beliefs that were already in place when Jesus said those things). Jesus explicitly said to not take authority over others:
“Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them and they that are great exercise authority upon them. but it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his lie a ransom for many.” Matt 20:25-28

but the CBMW and complementarians are teaching the opposite of what Jesus taught. They teach husbands to exercise dominion, leadership, authority over their wives.

How can they do that and consider themselves to be abiding in Jesus or connected to the Vine?

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Foreign Fruit

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance, against such there is no law.” Galatians 5:22-23

Although they wouldn't dare say so, according to complementarian teaching, the above Galatians 5 list is for females, especially wives. There is a different list for men, especially husbands. That list would read: “But the fruit of the Spirit for husbands is leadership, authority, ruler of his household, spiritual priesthood, police of his wife and children, judge, jury, and prison warden of his wife and children, this is God's law.”

How do I come to this conclusion? Complementarian teachers urge husbands to TAKE AUTHORITY OVER their wives (caps for emphasis). A speaker for the Promise Keepers tells husbands to TAKE authority, to not wait until the wife gives him that authority. These teachers can talk about loving leadership all they want, but it is clear that is NOT what they mean. What they really mean is despotic authority. This becomes clear when supposedly loving men, like John Piper, advise wives to endure non-hitting abuse from their husbands “for a season.” And to “submit” as long as it is not “CLEARLY” sin, with the examples given being quite far out and unlikely for any Christian husband to suggest. Unloving behavior is clearly sin, but that isn't mentioned.

Just where is the Bible verse where husbands are commanded to take authority over their wives? Where are they commanded to make their homes into kingdoms where husbands are the lawmaker, police, jury, judge, jailer, and executioner? I find neither permission nor command for husbands to do anything but submit to their wives—more specifically, to love their wives as their own bodies and give themselves up for their wives.

In addition, if they are connected to the Vine, they should be producing the Fruit of the Spirit: Love, joy peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance. If this is not their fruit, they are not connected to the Vine.

In other words, demanding his own way, calling her derogatory names, using Bible verses to guilt her into obeying the him, teaching the children to disrespect their mother, using his larger size to intimidate her, threatening her, using any form of physical abuse, all are foreign fruit. And this is the kind of fruit complementarian teachers like John Piper and Bruce Ware have given husbands permission to produce.

How can shepherds of God's flock dare to permit production of foreign fruit? How DARE they ENCOURAGE production of foreign fruit??

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.