Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Authority and Power Part 1

What is AUTHORITY? Daniel Webster says
“power or right to command or act; dominion, control; a person or persons exercising power or command; generally in the plural (the civil authorities); government or governmental agency; a reference source or expert in a field to support a fact, opinion, action, etc; a ruling; proof; justification; credit or credibility; (a work of no authority); assurance (to speak with authority).”
So according to Webster, a person with authority exercises power or command and also has the RIGHT to command and have dominion and control over.

If Webster is correct, a person who has the “right to command,” also has the right to TAKE authority over another person. If this is so, we cannot accuse a person with authority of being “controlling,” since authority carries with it the right to control and exercise power or command. This is likely why complementarians both deny that domestic abuse/violence is present among their families and at the same time blame the wives for the abuse and violence they receive from their husbands. After all, if the husband has the RIGHT to control his wife, when there is any discord it must be the wife's fault because the husband has all the rights and the wife has none—except when there is danger the state may step in and charge the husband with criminal behavior, or when he is demanding his wife perform some act that is CLEARLY taught against in the Bible. This is per John Piper's statement, with which many other complementarians agree.

Isn't it ironic that for years, centuries even, husbands have had rights automatically granted to them just because they are male and just because they are married and male. It is also very telling that they hate the word RIGHTS when it is applied to women. Although the men have had rights via authority all these centuries, both the right of self direction and the right of ruling their wives, they say rights are evil when women want the right to choose the direction of their own lives. Never mind that women are not asking for the right to rule their husbands, only for the right to stop their husbands from ruling over them, so that God can be their leader and authority. As Shirley Taylor has pointed out, when the Israelites wanted a king, God told them they didn't need a king, they had GOD to lead them. In the same way, wives don't need a "king" either. They, too, have GOD as their king. Yet, according to the anti-feminists, women should have no rights. Not the right to live according to their conscience, not the right to follow God's leading, and not even the right to "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness;" they should be ruled by or led by their husbands. And if their husband chooses death for them, that is fine--tragic, but fine. She must have done something to provoke him--like not submitting to/obeying her husband. Ironic. Rights have now become evil—unless men have them and they are called authority.

So what is POWER? Since a part of authority is power, "power or right to command or act;"it makes sense to know what power is. Webster says
“Ability to do or act; capability of doing or effecting something...Great or marked ability to do or act; strength, might, or force...the possession of control or command over others; dominion, authority, ascendancy, or influence; legal ability, capacity, or delegated authority; one who or that which possesses or exercises authority or influence...”
According to Webster, in the context of authority, power means FORCE, strength, might—someone who is capable of making things happen via control over others.

Notice the word “force” that is associated with power. It suggests that the person with authority also has the right to force and enforce. If this is so, the word authority carries no restriction on enforcing the will of the one with authority. In other words, by commanding husbands to take authority over their wives, complementarians also command them to force and enforce their will upon their wives. In Seven Promises of a Promise Keeper, page 79, Dr. Tony Evans advises husbands to
"...say something like this:"Honey, I've made a terrible mistake. I've given you my role. I gave up leading this family, and I forced you to take my place. Now I must reclaim that role."

Don't misunderstand what I'm saying here. I'm not suggesting that you ask for your role back, I'm urging you to take it back."(Italics by Dr. Tony Evans.)
Although Tony speaks of a husband LEADING the family, it is clear from the context, in spite of his attempt to "nice it down," that he is teaching husbands to take authority over their wives, families, and communities. He tells husbands
"...there can be no compromise here. If you're going to lead, you must lead. Be sensitive. Listen. Treat the lady gently and lovingly. But lead!...Stop making your wives set the spiritual tone for your household. Assume the task of getting your family to church, and behave like a leader when you get there."
Now we are all commanded to be servants, to provoke one another to love and good works, but where are males commanded to be leaders or to take authority over others? Leadership is well and good, as long as it is not TAKEN or coerced and as long as people follow because they want to, instead of because they are brainwashed or bullied into following. But the complementarian teaching is for men to TAKE authority/leadership over, for women to follow and give up their own leadership capabilities and even the knowledge and wisdom that God has given them. This appeals to the baser drive of many men; the drive to dominate, to be king. If Evans does not mean it as a dominating "role," he should have chosen the word "serve," which does not carry the idea of domination or the raising up of oneself, but rather the laying down of oneself for the benefit of others.

The complementarian teaching that husbands are to take authority over their wives, puts them in tension with the governmental authorities, whose authority is superior to that of individuals. Governmental authorities categorize rape, physical control, beating, and physical harm as a crime, punishable by jail time, fines, etc. Governmental authorities, via domestic violence shelter workers, also categorize non-physical control tactics as a crime, however, these are only chargeable in court if there are witnesses or other evidence to verify that serious harm was inflicted by the use of dominating/nasty behavior. Otherwise, non-physical controlling behavior is seen as a red flag, alerting the person thus used to the presence of danger.

Notice also that one of the definitions of power is
“the possession of control or command over others; dominion, authority, ascendancy, or influence.”
Ascendancy? According to Webster ascendancy includes dominance, superiority and predominance. But complementarians claim their authority teaching does NOT include superiority, that husbands and wives are equal with different roles. That sounds like smoke and mirrors to me. Ok, complementarian husbands have the role of dominance, superiority, power, controller, and commanding ruler. That IS what authority means. If that is not what complementarians mean, they need to choose a different word. But even “leader” and “head” as they use those words include superiority.

And if dominance, superiority, power, controller, and commanding ruler, ie authority over, is the husband's role, what does that leave for the wife? Dominated, inferior, controlled by another, obedient subject. That falls far short of equality, and it includes far more than “roles.” In fact, male superiority and female inferiority have been touted by males for centuries and used to keep women “in their place.” So why are complementarians denying that their husband-authority teaching has anything to do with an underlying (and not so underlying) belief in male superiority and female inferiority?

The site Gods Word to Women @
includes quotes from Gene Edwards' book The Christian Woman set Free. The quotes are telling and show that the male attitudes of male superiority and female inferiority have been with us for centuries and are still governing Christian men today.

From Part One of The Christian Woman Set Free by Gene Edwards
Who Started the Mistreatment of Women
Praise be to God that he has not created me a Gentile, a woman, or a hog. —Hebrew Prayer

The courage of a man is shown in his ability to command. The courage of a woman is found in obeying.

By all means get married. If you get a good wife, you will be happy. If you get a bad wife, you will become a philosopher.

Women are those who fell prey to their irrational, emotional side, and are therefore incapable of reason and making rational choices . . . moreover as irrational beings, women may not always know what they really want, and so it is the man’s domain to decide for them.

We have courtesans for our sex and pleasure. We have young slave prostitutes for our physical use and we have wives to bring up legitimate children.

Do not admire your wife’s beauty . . . from the time women are fourteen years old they think of nothing and aim at nothing except going to bed with men.

Even the most virtuous of women is a witch.
—Oral Jewish Law

Woman is a temple built over a sewer. It is contrary to the order of nature and of the law for women to speak in a gathering.
—Saint Jerome

Because of you we are punished by death . . . because of you, women, the Son of God had to die.

Men should not listen to a woman even if she says admirable things or if she says saintly things. They are of little consequence since they come from the mouth of a woman.

A man may marry again if he has divorced his sinful wife because he is not restricted in his right as is the woman, because he is her head.

By herself woman is not of the image of God. The man, on the other hand, alone, is the image of God.

For a man to go to a woman for advice is like going to the lowest kind of animal to seek advice.

Woman is defective and misbegotten.

The wickedness of women is greater than all other wickedness. A dragon is more curable than the familiarity of a woman. Avoid them like poisonous animals.
—Pope Innocence III

There is no gown or garment that worse becomes a woman than when she would be wise.
—Martin Luther

All women are born that they may acknowledge themselves as inferior to the male.

To make women learned and to make a fox tame work out to the same end. Educating a woman or a fox simply makes them more cunning.
—King James

The quotes which you have just read may cause a reaction in you; nevertheless, these words did not move me to write this book. But the quote on the next page did! In fact, having heard the next statement, I went home and started this book!
—Gene Edwards

You would not let an eleven-year-old child stand up in a meeting and talk. Then why should you allow a woman to speak in a meeting?
—A statement made in a Christian conference in the twenty-first century

These quotes speak for themselves, and there are many more that we hear in current church life and in complementarian writing, although a greater effort is made to hide the male superior/female inferior beliefs. And so far we've only addressed the dictionary definitions which include , “power or right to command or act; dominion, control; a person or persons exercising power or command.”

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, July 13, 2011

Authority and Power

We hear a lot about authority these days. Do folks who claim to have authority have legitimate authority? Where does authority come from? What does it mean? How do we know if a person who claims to have authority actually has authority? Can just anyone proclaim, “I have authority!” and from that moment he or she has authority? Or does a person gain authority because another person declares it to be so? Or can a person just “take” authority over another without that person's consent? And if a person takes authority over another adult in that way, (ie: takes authority away from the other person) what prevents it from being stealing? And why does authority always have to be over another person? Why is there so much emphasis on wielding authority over others, and very little emphasis on applying authority/control over oneself? What is it about genitalia that gives 48.3% of the adult population the mandate to take authority over the other 51.7% of the adult population? (for every 100 men, there are 107 women) What are the limits to authority? Does having authority over another adult, carry with it the right to school, punish, coerce, force, or enforce? If so, who gives that right and where is that mandate written? Is power synonymous with authority?

I plan to address these questions in a series, exploring what the Bible says about power and authority. I will conduct the study based on the foundation that God, I AM, is the supreme authority, the author of all, and that all authority comes from our triune God, and that God is the author of the Bible—as it was originally written. This study will also rest on the belief that Jesus, being a part of the God-head, taught with God-endowed knowledge, wisdom, power, and authority when He was on earth in human form.

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, June 23, 2011

Honor to Whom Honor is Due

Over the years I've heard complaints from several men that they are not honored on Fathers Day like women are honored on Mother's Day. A secular man complained that stores don't print fliers that are 100% intended as gifts or discounted items for fathers, that they always include several pages of women's and children's items. But they print 100% female-interest ads for Mother's Day, with not a single item that a man would want to buy for himself. The man also complained that his son never honored him on Fathers day like he honored his mother on Mother's Day. A church-going man complained that the sermons on Fathers Day never praise dads and say how wonderful they are, but instead they are sermons telling dads how to be better dads and husbands. Yet, just a few weeks earlier the same preachers, praised mothers without a hint of suggestion on what mothers could do better. Instead, the Mother's Day sermon also included exhortations to husbands to be more loving and honoring.

The men are right: stores do include female-interest items in their sales fliers for Fathers Day, and omit male-interest items for their Mother's Day sales fliers. And preachers do brag up moms and exhort dads. Children do tend to be closer to their moms than they are to their dads, and honor moms more than dads.

This isn't always the case, though. When dads/husbands give selflessly of themselves, when they don't brag themselves up, they tend to be honored by their wives and children. Households where there is reason to quote the proverb “Man works from sun to sun, but woman's work is never done,” are households where the husband/father is less likely to be honored on Fathers Day. And households where husband/father takes authority over his wife, makes decisions for her rather than with her, are households where the man is less likely to be honored.

Perhaps surprisingly, this reaction of mothers and children is biblical. Jesus, himself, said it in Matthew 23:12
“And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”
Dads/husbands who declare their word is law, are exalting themselves. When they come home from work and expect to be served, they are exalting themselves. When they declare their authority is a God-given role, they are exalting themselves, making themselves superior and their wives inferior.

Jesus said, “He that is greatest among you shall be your servant.” On Mother's Day, children, pastors, and businesses are proclaiming that it is their mother who served them. It is their mother who connected with them and established a closer relationship. It is usually their mother who cared for them when they were sick and listened when they needed someone to care, who kept working after Dad sat down to watch TV, read the newspaper, or went to bed. No amount of “Me Tarzan” posturing makes anyone great. Instead, it is genuine caring and selfless serving that makes a person the greatest among us.

If men want to be honored, they need to stop thumping their own chests, and start genuinely caring about their wives and children. And after they've started caring, they need to keep on caring and cherishing and serving, day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year. And if they are angry because they haven't been honored after 2 days or a month of serving, they need to admit their motivation was not based on love, but was based on self-gratification and self-adulation, which is hard for others to miss because the stench is so strong. Instead of focusing on the error of those who aren't honoring them enough, they need to refocus on getting their hearts right, to genuinely loving their wives and children, to serve and benefit their wives and children instead of themselves.

After they have genuinely humbled themselves without tooting their horn, and served because of having the best interests of others in mind, then they will be exalted. Jesus said so. But by that time it won't matter, because they aren't doing it for praise; they are doing it because of God-like love.

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, June 20, 2011

Respect of Persons

My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with a gold ring, in goodly apparel, and there come in also a poor man in vile raiment; and ye have respect to him that weareth the gay clothing, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good place; and say to the poor, stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” James 2:1-4

In spite of the principle clearly laid out in James 2:1-4, complementarians teach respect of persons based on sex. All we need to do is change a few words in James, and it is easy to see that the principle fits for gender, too.
My brethren, have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons. For if there come unto your assembly a man with strong muscles and male equipment, and there come in also a dainty woman with female equipment; and ye have respect to him that hath the male genitals, and say unto him, sit thou here in a good place; and say to the dainty woman, stand thou there, or sit here under my footstool: Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” James 2:1-4

By putting women in a secondary place, they, too have become judges with evil thoughts. Only, they excuse it by calling it roles; rightful, God-decreed roles. I suppose the wealthy could say that, too. Because they are wealthy, they deserve greater respect, and they have a different role than the poor or the middle class. The wealthy should make the rules, after all, they are smarter than all the poorer folk, how else could they have amassed so much money? After all, doesn't Proverbs 22:7 say “The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender”? Aren't those God-decreed words, too? Why haven't churches made a doctrine out of them, and decreed that the wealthy are to rule the poor?

Yet, that is exactly what they have done to women. Just as is prophesied to Eve in Genesis 3:16 “thy desire to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” is what pastors and husbands are doing to wives, and decreeing that it is to be so by the command of God. And they add to it by twisting the scripture and claiming that a passage that indicates that Eve would crave the cherishing she at one time got from Adam, actually means she wants to rule over him, and therefore all husbands should take control over their wives. They sound quite Ahasuerus-esque.

Yet, they do not make absolute rules and insist that the rich shall rule the poor, even though that pronouncement is in the Bible, too. In fact, they could bolster their teaching with Proverbs 18:11a “A rich man's wealth is his strong city” and Proverbs 18:23b “but the rich answereth roughly” and Proverbs 14:20b “the rich hath many friends,” just as they bolster “Wives submit to your own husbands as to the Lord” with “the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church” and by head they mean authority, in spite of the fact that the context of the passage does not convey that meaning, and instead conveys the meaning of sacrificial servant or source who pours himself out for his wife's benefit, which is spelled out to husbands just a few verses later. And the verse that introduces the passage tells all Christians to submit to one another. Just like the verses I quoted from Proverbs, they ignore the phrase directly before or after the one they choose to emphasize, as well as other verses in the same passage.

And they definitely ignore the many verses that are commands from God, even those spoken by Jesus, that we are NOT to take authority over others like the Gentile sinners do.
“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.”
Since they insist on exercising dominion and authority over their wives, according to Jesus, they are like the “princes of the Gentiles” and not disciples of Jesus. I realize that sounds harsh, but Jesus said it, not I.

Jesus also said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words...He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings” John 14:23-24. Are men who claim to follow Jesus actually going to follow a twisted interpretation of Paul's words, instead of following the straightforward words of Jesus?

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, June 12, 2011

Scratched Record

Remember when we had those large disk records? When one got a scratch, you'd hear the same words over and over again. Until you moved the needle beyond the scratch, those words would repeat over and over, wearying you, annoying you, until you finally got up to do something about it. But if you had a seriously scratched record, you'd soon end up with words repeated over and over again, and you'd have to stop what you are doing and address the problem again—and again.

We have another type of record that is repeating over and over again. We've been addressing the “scratch” one episode at a time, and now the “record” is doing those repeat episodes with increasing frequency. Unfortunately, society loves the record and doesn't want to get rid of it. Even though it is beyond flawed, beyond damaged, and is damaging more and more “listeners,” society insists on keeping and playing the record daily, 24/7. And some folks deny that the record is damaged and causes major damage. They insist that every married couple must own a record and play it all the time. They claim that the flaws in the record are actually problems with the player, not with the record, and therefore the record must not be destroyed.

So what is the “scratch” in the record? A big one that we keep hearing in the news is unfaithful politicians. These politicians are a small group who are elected to office, because voters think they are of high character, high integrity and also will promote the voters' values. Yet over and over again, politician after politician is discovered to be having an “affair” or doing sexual misconduct. What is causing these poor choices that betray their family and constituents? According to John Edwards, a recent politician in the news, the fame and power went to his head. He became accustomed to having anything he wanted. And apparently women are included as things in the “anything.”

But notice that John Edwards is not the only man who thinks he has the right to have anything he wants. The people he claims gave him money to hide his extramarital affair apparently encouraged that mindset. The other politicians who choose to satisfy their urges have the same belief system. So also do the many men—including complementarian Christian men—who make use of pornography and/or prostitutes. Note the common denominator: men misusing women as a commodity to satisfy their selfish urges.

But adultery is not the only “scratch” on the record. Domestic abuse and domestic violence are another scratch where men are also misusing women. This is a "scratch" that our society didn't even start to deal with until about 35 years ago, and that large portions of churches still do not deal with today--except to blame the misused women. Men who chose to control or abuse their wives and children also believe that as “the man,” they are entitled to have whatever they want, including the right to control their wives, even if their demands make no sense or they just ordered the opposite a minute ago. For many of these men, the belief in their right is so strong, they believe they can do anything necessary to enforce their “right,” including beating their wives, and some even go as far as murder.

Both of these types of “scratches” have the same source, which is the grooves in the record that result in the same accompanying and overpowering drumbeat for every song that plays. What is the accompaniment? (Hear the drum beat):
...Husband authority, male authority, absolute husband authority, husband is final decision-maker, the man is to be in charge, the family must do what the man says, the man is not to be questioned, husband is in charge, if the man wants sex the woman or child must deliver, if the husband hurts the wife it must be her own fault, if the man sexually abuses his child the wife must be at fault, absolute husband authority, male authority, husband final decision-maker, wife must give husband what he wants, husband is smarter & wiser than wife, if husband plays with another woman it must be his wife's fault, husband can do no wrong, husband is the authority, if husband is not happy it is wife's fault, if husband is not happy wife is not submitting, husband must have what he wants, husband is in charge, husband authority, husband authority, THE MAN is in charge, the MAN is not to be held accountable, the man is the authority...

With these the-man-is-in-charge grooves being the ruling theme in the entire “record,” and with a lack of consequences for their behavior, men easily believe they have the right to whatever they want. Until the ruling theme of the societal “record” is corrected in both society, in church and in the Christian community, we will continue to endure repeated and frequent scratches in the record. And those scratches, even the invisible scratches, will continue to cause damage to whomever the scratches touch—often lifelong damage that repeats in generation after generation.

It is high time the church repents of its bias against women, its favoritism toward men, aligns itself with authentic bible doctrine, and becomes the leader in ridding our society of the scratch-prone grooves that are directing males toward sin.

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, June 2, 2011

Remembering Danni Moss

Nearly a year ago, Danni Moss passed from this life to the next. Born April 27, 1964, she lived 46 years and 1.5 months before she died on June 13, 2010. I believe it was the abuse she suffered at her husband's hand that took her life. When she was still with her husband, the Lord impressed upon her heart Proverbs 18:21 “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” From that verse and a vision, she knew if she did not free herself from the destruction of her husband's words, she would die. Although Danni did leave her husband, she did not get away from him soon enough; she did develop cancer, and cancer killed her. The medical profession has known for years that chronic stress greatly increases the likelihood that a person will get cancer, that chronic stress hinders the immune system from fighting off illness and disease, and a recent study has shown that women who have been abused within the past year have much higher rates of illness, and those who were abused up to 5 years ago still have higher rates of illness and disease than women who were never abused. So medical research has shown that the verse God impressed upon Danni's heart is true. Her husband's tongue spewed out death and killed her.

I miss Danni. Her strength, her faith and connection with God and the truth of His Word were (and are) such an encouragement to me. Please join me in praying for Danni's daughter, who I believe is 8 now, and last I heard was sent to live with her dad, the same man whose tongue spewed out death to Danni. Danni's adult sons, her siblings, and her parents also need our prayers. People who have lost loved ones tell me the sense of grief and loss hits them harder in the days approaching the anniversary of the loved one's death. And remember to pray for man who was Danni's good friend, and for Danni's ex-husband, too. I won't tell you what to pray, except to request that you ask God to show you how to pray for Danni's family and loved ones.

Danni's blog, Because it Matters, is still up, thanks to her family and to Wordpress, and I encourage everyone to reread what Danni has written. Perhaps you want to start with her 3-part series, “Sticks and Stones: Why Verbal Abuse Kills” The following link provides links to all three parts:

I invite anyone who cares to do so, to share how Danni has made a difference in your life.

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, May 29, 2011

Keeping Vows

Some complementarians like to use the account of Abigail and Nabal as support for their argument that a wife should never leave her husband, even if he is abusive. They claim that if the abuse is as bad as the woman says, that God will intervene and either change her husband or smite him so he dies, as He did with Nabal—unless it is God's will that the wife endure abuse for a reason that only God knows. With this reasoning—and it is man's reasoning—they make it clear that according to them, in order for a wife to be obedient to God, she must do nothing to protect herself or her children from harm at her husband's hands.

There are several problems with using Abigail and Nabal to make this point. First, there is no indication that Nabal was abusive to Abigail. Often when a man is abusive at home, he is seen as a pillar of society in public. But in this case, Nabal was known as being churlish and evil in society, and we have no indication what he was like at home. When Abigail told him she had fed David and his men, there is no suggestion that he yelled at her, cut her down, or beat her.

Second, Abigail did not submit to Nabal's every wish or command. In fact, when she went to David with food after Nabal had denied food to David and his men, according to complementarian teaching, she rebelled against Nabal and against God because she did not submit to her husband's authority. In other words, the way Abigail managed to stay married to Nabal was by NOT submitting to him at times.

Third, it appears that Nabal did not live in the same house with Abigail at least part of the time, which could have made it easier for Abigail to stay married because she would have had to endure less of her husband's churlishness, yet had a number of servants to get things done. We know at the time of the account that Nabal was in Carmel sheering sheep, instead of at home in Maon. We also know that Nabal had a lot of property in Carmel, which would have given him good reason to be away from home frequently. Because of our own culture, we could assume that Abigail went with her husband to Carmel, but since he was out working all day, he didn't find out about the busy beehive of food preparation and loading onto asses that happened at his wife's direction, nor about the envoy of asses that left his property, even though it could have taken quite a few hours and been hard for either Nabal or his men not to notice if they were anywhere in the area. Or we could assume that Abigail stayed behind in Maon while Nabal was in Carmel. But if Abigail was in Maon, why would David have been coming against her, instead of against Nabal in Carmel? Especially since we know David knew Nabal was in Carmel. Further, I Samuel 25:36 tells us that Abigail went to Nabal and found he was holding a feast at his house, and that he was merry and very drunk, so she waited until morning to tell him what she had done. Now it seems if they lived in the same house, the servants would have had a limited amount of time to prepare Nabal's feast in the hours after Abigail left with the asses loaded with food, and before she returned in order for her to not have known he was throwing a party fit for a king. Also, if Nabal's feast was held in a house the couple shared, it is unlikely the writer would say the feast was “in his house.”

Fourth, God does not always deal with regular people in the same way that he deals with people he has chosen and anointed for a task. David was God's anointed. Therefore, God sometimes extended extra blessing to those who helped David, and extra trouble to those who gave David trouble. Consider all the trouble Saul dealt with, probably because of his attempts to hunt down David, God's anointed, and kill him. Consider also the widow of Zarephath, who fed Elijah, God's anointed, during a famine when she was nearly out of food, and as a result neither her meal, nor her oil ran out until God sent rain. Yet, there were many other widows during that famine who received no help from Elijah. Recall the curse of leprosy that came on Miriam for her action against Moses, who was God's anointed. David was blessed for not harming Saul, who was God's anointed.

Clearly, there is a biblical pattern of blessing for those who bless and protect God's anointed, and curse or harm for those who harm God's anointed. So God's smiting of Nabal was because of his refusal to aid David, God's anointed, and had nothing to do with Nabal's treatment of his wife.

Fifth, there is a problem with complementarian logic that would require a person to remain in harms way. There are many biblical examples of people who got out of harms way. David fled from Saul, even though he had agreed to play music for him. Paul fled those who would kill him. Lot did not deliver his visitors to the demanding men at his door. Elijah fled from Jezebel. And Jesus didn't stick around to let the people throw him over a cliff, either.

Would any of these complementarians demand that a person remain with the church they had vowed to be faithful to, even after they realized the leader was taking them down a wrong path and would require them to drink poison, or otherwise harm themselves in any way? Would these complementarians demand that a person remain in a church where they are being sexually, physically, emotionally, or spiritually abused by a leader in that church?

Yet, somehow they would have us all believe that marital vows are more binding for women than other vows or agreements, even if keeping those vows leads to our illness or death, as is the case with domestic abuse and domestic violence. It is a known fact that chronic stress increases one's likelihood of getting cancer and other diseases. Recent research has shown that women whose husbands are abusive have much higher rates of illness than non-abused women do, even illnesses like bladder infections that seem unrelated to abuse. And these same complementarians seem to disregard the vow the husbands made before God and man to love and cherish their wives.

I want to know, why are church leaders focusing on wives keeping their vows and submitting, but only giving lip service to husbands truly loving, cherishing, and sacrificing for their wives?

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, May 26, 2011

Are Complementarian Women Next?

A face book page calls on Saudi men “to beat Saudi women who drive their cars in a planned protest next month against the ultra-conservative kingdom's ban on women taking the wheel.” Another case of submission tyranny. But that's over there. It can't touch women here in the United States, right? Think again.

When Sandra Day O'Conner wrote the Supreme Court opinion, and based it on European law, she opened up Pandora's box of atrocities, which includes tyranny against women. Consider: only a few years after O'Conner's written decision, judges are beginning to allow Sharia law in their court rooms, including laws that restrict and punish Muslim women according to Sharia law. and In other words, the Muslims who are pushing for Sharia law are wielding an ever larger influence in the United States as well as in Europe and other western countries, and many nations are making concessions and allowing Sharia law to be practiced alongside their own, and even superseding their own.

In addition to Muslim pressure, complementarians are pushing to repeal rights that have been won for women, including the right to vote, the right to obtain a restraining order against their abusive husbands, etc. (do your own research. I refuse to provide links to their sites.) Similar to radical Muslims, complementarians also believe women should stay in their homes (with the exception of women like Mary Kassian, Phyllis Schlafly, & etc who go around teaching other women to stay in their homes and defer all money-making and decision-making to their husbands) and that husbands should maintain strict authority over their wives.

Added to these pressures, many voices are blaming Israel for disallowing citizenship to Muslims who live in Israel, which I presume includes banning them from the right to vote. In other words, in trying to vilify Israel for restricting the Muslim influence from taking over in that country, liberals in the US, are laying the groundwork to allow Muslims full citizenship and voting rights in the US. All it would take is a concerted effort by both Muslims, complementarians, and other anti-women-freedom groups, most of whom believe in producing large families, to raise up a huge block of voters to overturn the current laws that protect and give rights and freedom to women.

The bottom line is that our constitution, our declaration of independence gives the rights of equality specifically to men, not to women.
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

At the time the Declaration of Independence was written, black men were not included as being equal, and later it was decided that a black man could be counted as half a person. Women were not included in that equality statement either. In fact, women were not allowed to vote until 1920, 144 years after our nation was formed. Although Amendment XIX (19) was ratified in 1920, it only states
“The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.”
Nothing has ever been written into the law or constitution about the inalienable right of women to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, nor about their God-created equality.

With that lack of protection in our foundational laws, and with the growing pressure from Muslims and complementarians, with liberals pushing to allow illegal aliens citizenship status and to not block the corridor from Mexico, (or claiming that it is already blocked, when it is not,) with the children of illegals (some of them could be Muslim, Sharia-loving illegals) being granted citizenship if they are born in the US, the door is wide open for a takeover that would allow radical Muslims and/or complementarians to fill over half the seats in the house and senate, and for a radical Muslim or radical complementarian to become president within one generation. (perhaps sooner).

Indeed, even in the United States, which is purported to be the land of the free, women's status, freedom, and protection from tyranny is heavily dependent upon the mercy and goodwill of men. As recent as April 9, 1923, in Adkins vs Children's Hospital, just 2.5 years after women had won the right to vote, the court decided that the 1918 minimum wage act for adult women was “an unconstitutional interference with the liberty of contract.” # 11 of
It took 14 years for that law to be overturned in “West Coast Hotel Co v. Parrish” . As recently as 1893, just 118 years ago, the supreme court decided that "a woman had no legal existence separate from her husband” (bottom 1/5 of page) and as recent as June 29, 1992, a whole 99 years later, that the court concluded in the Pennsylvania case regarding abortion rights that “A State may not give to a man the kind of dominion over his wife that parents exercise over their children.”

If women are not seen as having these inalienable rights from God, but instead have received them from men, those rights can also be taken away by men.

But laws of our country aside, how many complementarian husbands deny their wives the right to drive when and where the wives choose? How many Christian homes in the USA have the same prohibitions against women driving that the Saudi's do? How many more husbands, in the name of husband authority, will inflict that rule upon their wives in the coming year? And how many so-called Christian husbands beat their wives for driving their cars? Perhaps the Christian community would do better to focus on those in their own pews, instead of worrying so much about radical Muslims. After all, they have much more influence in their own pews than they do among Muslims.

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, May 24, 2011

Complementarian Equality

Complementarians claim that they do believe in equality of the genders, but that men and women have different roles. However, their behavior says they do NOT think men and women are of equal value. Complementarian Phyllis Schlaffly is a lawyer who works with father supremest groups to repeal WAVA, the Women Against Violence Act, which allows women to obtain a restraining order to protect themselves from their abuser. Apparently, Phyllis thinks the right of men to maintain authority over their wives through threats, verbal assault and physical punishment ought to be protected, even though their wives are afraid for their lives and frequently the wives who are afraid of their husbands do end up severely battered or even murdered by their husbands. Schlaffly claims it is unconstitutional to inflict a restraining order on a man without finding him guilty in a court of law.

On the other side, people like Bruce Ware suggest husbands would not beat their wives if wives submitted. The first thing pastors tell wives who complain of being abused by their husbands, is to go home and submit to their husbands. In other words, Ware and friends prejudge wives as guilty without a trial.

When couples go to pastors for counseling, pastors tend to focus on wife submission. Only after they have been working with the couple for 6-12 months or more, and see that the wife is actually submissive and docile, do they even begin to suspect the husband may be at fault. By that time, they have helped produce such an extreme imbalance in the marriage, it is frequently beyond saving because their intervention has taught the husband that he is lord, king, master, and god of his wife, and the husband is unwilling to relinquish his entitlement and privilege.

So on the one hand, complementarians refuse to believe a man is guilty of abusing his wife until the truth is so obvious they can no longer deny it. On the other hand, they refuse to believe the wife is NOT guilty of insubordination and insist she must be at fault, until the truth is so obvious they can no longer deny it.

Just how is this presupposition equality? Clearly complementarians believe men are more righteous, more believable, more right than their wives, and their behavior is more justifiable. Complementarians also believe wives are liars, untrustworthy, selfish, unrighteous, unscrupulous, rebellious, God haters, men haters, & etc., and their behavior is NOT justifiable. And these beliefs continue in spite of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

I repeat: how can they claim their teaching/belief is equality of the genders? Doesn't this show a belief in male superiority and female inferiority? In fact, this shows they do NOT deal with men and women, husbands and wives, with anything remotely resembling equality. It is NOT just about differing roles. It IS about inequality and about MAINTAINING that inequality.

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, April 28, 2011

The Joyful Submission of the Plush Doormat

Mary Kassian's claim that complementarian teaching is misrepresented by non-complementarians, and the misrepresentation is what is argued against, and thus is a straw man (woman) argument, says a lot about Mary Kassian, and possibly about her husband, close friends, and her church, but not much else. See Hannah's article: The fact is, complementarians are not just insisting that wives become doormats, (although they deny subjection makes a wife into a doormat) they are pushing wives to joyfully make themselves into plush, comfortable-to-walk-on doormats, or even into plush, beautiful, priceless Persian carpets specifically designed to give husbands tread-on pleasure.

Kassian seems to have forgotten that most, if not all, of the Christian women who write against patriarchy and husband authority were in fact greatly harmed and even devastated by that very teaching. They know it was caused by husband authority beliefs because their husbands told them so—frequently—often ranting while they did so. These wives did as was taught and demanded of them, and suffered for it. They know many women have been killed by their spouses, and that their own lives have been spared. Their writing and arguments are clearly NOT straw-woman arguments. They KNOW what they are talking about because they lived it and fought to free themselves from the suffocating grave-clothes of complementarianism, of wife denigration, of husband privilege and elitism. And the men who fight complementarianism, also experienced the harsh realities of homes where the doctrine was pounded into the victims' heads.

Kassian's argument that complementarianism is misrepresented, suggests that either she is not very submissive, or that her husband makes most decisions with her and not for her, which is not the experience of those real women her argument misrepresents and ends up denigrating as non-existent straw women. It also suggests that most couples she knows, also do not practice what complementarians teach via pulpit, books, articles, Bible study, Sunday School class, and peer pressure. So while she, herself, does not practice what she preaches to the point that it is foreign to her, she still demands that other women joyfully make themselves into plush doormats and plush priceless Persian carpets for their husbands' to denigrate, manipulate, & dominate for their own pleasure and comfort.

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, April 16, 2011

Preserving Marriage & the Family

My primary goal in fighting domestic violence and submission abuse is to preserve marriages and the family. I want married couples to be able to stay together “as long as they both shall live.” How does one go about trying to preserve the family? If a person is complementarian, the primary focus is to maintain husband authority via wife submission & obedience. It seems to me, this is preserving the husband's authority, but does nothing to preserve the marriage or the family.

If one wants to preserve the family, each member of the family must be strengthened and encouraged to be all they can be, to use their talents for the benefit of both family, community, and society. Demanding that wives dumb themselves down and weaken themselves so their husbands can appear strong and manly and maintain authority, does not preserve wives. Nor does it preserve husbands. Nor does it preserve marital bonds. The divorce rate is just as high among Christians as among non-Christians, and some say it is higher among Christians than among non-Christians. It looks like the harder churches push husband authority, the more Christian wives choose to divorce.

This phenomenon makes perfect sense, since it is well known that a husband's belief in his right to dictate to his wife, his belief in his entitlement to have his way at his wife's expense and against her will, his belief that these privileges give him the right and justification to punish and train his wife, to expect service from her are the very beliefs and system of beliefs that are the foundation, the motivation, undergirding domestic violence and domestic abuse, whether verbal, emotional, spiritual, physical, or all of the above.

Ordering wives to stay married does not preserve marriages, nor does it preserve families. If you keep food in a jar, but the seal is broken, that food is rotten and full of bacteria. We could say the food is dead. It is garbage and we throw it out. In the same way, an abusive marriage that is kept in the “jar” of stay together no-matter-what, is rotten and dead. The seal of love and do-to-others-as-you-would-have-them-do-to-you has been broken, and the marriage is contaminated. In Jesus's words, those marriages are “whited sepulchers, full of dead men's bones.” We know the interior of those marriages are contaminated and rotten because the children from those marriages are 2-3 times more likely to have abusive marriages themselves. (If I recall the rate correctly. It may be higher than that, but I'm too lazy to look it up.)

In my work against domestic violence and its foundation of husband authority, I am fighting for the committed loving relationships that are pictured in the Holy Bible. I am fighting to preserve LIVING marriages, LIVING families, that are holy to the Lord. I am asking husbands and wives to obey what the Bible actually says and teaches, rather than follow the doctines of men. I am asking, begging Christians to reexamine the Word to see if it actually teaches husbands to take authority over their wives, or if that is a teaching inserted into the text by men.

I am specifically asking those with relatively good husband-authority marriages to examine the Word. Your marriage is working because the husband is choosing to share his authority with his wife. Please consider the many wives whose husbands do not share their authority. These wives live with continual pain and devastation of their being and lacerations to their dignity, because their husbands place themselves as god, and above God to their wives and children.

With the rate of women who have been abused by a male partner in her lifetime having risen to one third of women, (up from 1 in 4) and with some studies suggesting the figure is closer to one half of women, isn't it time those who claim to follow Christ pay attention and prayerfully study the Word? Instead of relying on translations, use the concordance. I believe the Authorized King James Version is closest to the original text. Having looked up words in the concordance and then comparing what I learned with what other translations say, I find many translations insert into their texts husband authority that is not there in the Authorized King James Version or in Strong's Concordance.

What I have learned gives a far different picture of God's attitude toward women than is usually taught in many churches. And this knowledge fits like the missing pieces of a puzzle. Instead of a loving God who constantly stomps on women and cannot be bothered with their plight, I find a loving God who required husbands to divorce their wives rather than desert them or kick them out, so that their wives would be free to remarry and find fulfilling lives with loving husbands. I found the rules of divorce were decreed to protect women. This is a totally different side of God than my church taught. And it matches the love and compassion Jesus showed toward women.

Please, search the scriptures to see if this is so. And purchase books like “Behind the Hedge, A novel,” to have a better understanding of what goes on in husband-authority homes, how that belief system effects the whole family and even friends and the extended family. God bless you in your prayerful research.

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, April 14, 2011

Development of Joyful Streets and the Future Mudmats of Sovereign God

Societies all over the globe have a powerful rule that is foundational to all other rules: each person should contribute to society as much as they are able to contribute, and according to their talents. Those who refuse to contribute are considered bums, lowlifes, thieves. If one cannot contribute money, he or she ought to contribute labor, creativity, brainpower, or prayer. Jesus, himself, taught this principle: each of us are to use the talents God has given us and through them develop even more talents.

Here in the United States, our culture agrees with Jesus's teaching. Even the elderly and disabled are expected to contribute to the best of their ability. Nursing home directors instruct nurses and aides to refrain from doing things for elderly and disabled residents that they can do for themselves. Through experience they know if those with limited ability are not allowed to practice what they can do, they will lose that ability as well and become totally dependent. Thus, they hire activity directors to help keep their residents learning, developing, and as active as possible.

Similarly, parents are advised to encourage their children to do things for themselves. If a child can button his own shirt, a parent is to refrain from doing it for him and praise him for his accomplishment. If a child can feed herself, the parent is to let her do it, even though she makes a mess. After all, it is through practice that a child develops motor skills, and adds skills that require more dexterity, more strength and coordination.

Parents are also advised to increasingly turn more and more decision-making over to their children. From what clothing to wear, to what food to eat, to what item to buy, to what schooling to pursue and what job to take, to how to handle money, children must develop decision-making muscles, too. Through practice and experience, children develop the skills to make good decisions. Thus each generation equips the next generation to make a positive difference through their development of decision-making skills and through their development of mental, physical, and/or financial labors to contribute to the good of society.

But one group does not follow this principle. That group demands that certain members within the group must remain as labor-class children. These members are prohibited from developing and practicing their talents—unless those talents are part of a very limited list of allowable talents. If these certain members have the non-allowed talents as part of their inherent beings, or if the talents developed due to life circumstances, they are to bury their talents in the ground.

This group claims to follow the teachings of Jesus, yet pays no attention to Jesus's teaching that the person who buries his or her talents in the ground is wicked and God will punish that person by taking away the other talents that he or she has.

These select members are also commanded to give up any decision-making skills they may have developed, and are to become dependent on other members in the group to make decisions for them. Because they are allowed no goals, no right to make decisions of their own, these members that are selected to remain as children often are drained of the energy required to do the menial, labor-intensive tasks that have been assigned to them. They are denied the liberty and pursuit of happiness that our country was founded upon. There is a high degree of mental depression among these child-ordered members. Therapy is usually aimed at getting these members to accept and embrace their perpetual dependent, child-labor filled lives, to get them to focus on helping the other members in the group to reach their dreams and goals, to make their backs like a street to be walked on, (Isaiah 51:21-23) while denying they are doing so. Rather, they are taught to joyfully make their backs like a street to be walked on, that if the members they are dependent on choose to beat and abuse them, it is because they have not made their backs flat enough. Indeed, becoming a part of the street for others to walk on is to be considered their God-decreed role in life. But if they call it anything other than wonderful, a blessing, satisfying, and fulfilling, they are labeled as selfish, rebellious toward God and the roles He established.

If these members who have been chosen for perpetual child labor were part of a small hidden group of several thousand people, this group would be outraged. But since these disadvantaged mudmats are more than half the adult population of the group, their plight goes largely unnoticed. Those who do notice and speak out, are vilified, and many books, some of them slender, some of them fat, are written to deny what these courageous folks are saying, to deny that half of their members are being forced to bring punishment on themselves by burying their God-given talents in the ground.

Indeed, the mudmats do lose their talents and their ability to make good decisions, and many of them believe they have no value apart from the person who is stomping across their backs, leaving layer after layer of mud as a show of his absolute authority over and ownership of his human mudmat.

Isaiah 51:21-23 tells us what our Sovereign God will do about this:

21 Therefore hear this, you afflicted one,
made drunk, but not with wine.
22 This is what your Sovereign LORD says,
your God, who defends his people:
“See, I have taken out of your hand
the cup that made you stagger;
from that cup, the goblet of my wrath,
you will never drink again.
23 I will put it into the hands of your tormentors,
who said to you,
‘Fall prostrate that we may walk on you.’
And you made your back like the ground,
like a street to be walked on.”

According to this passage, God will defend his afflicted ones, in this case, his daughters. He will take that cup, the goblet of his wrath, and put it into the hands of their tormentors. Husbands, are you sure you want God to put the goblet of his wrath into your hands and force you to drink it? If not, isn't it time you stop insisting that the Bible commands you to take authority over your wives? Isn't it time you stop commanding women to fall prostrate so that you can walk on them? Isn't it time you stop setting yourselves up as higher than God with your husband authority teaching and practice and your demand that wives practice husbandolotry by obeying you rather than God? And isn't it time you live lives of non-authoritarian, sacrificial service as God commands?

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, March 24, 2011

Husband, father, shepherd--Wife, Nanny, Stupid Sheep

The Photo on the front of the March 2011 American Family Association Journal at first glance looks like a warm and loving husband and father who has his arms around his family. Upon closer study, though, something looks dreadfully wrong. The wife is standing there like a dutiful daughter; passive, obedient, and without parental authority herself.

I begin to wonder what her life is like. Does her husband override her authority when she tells her sons to pick up their things and put them away? Does she have any authority at all when she home schools them? Is her situation like that of an elder daughter—carrying heavy responsibility, but denied the authority to make sure her charges respect her?

And where does shepherd come in? Is her husband her pastor or priest? And she's expected to sleep with him?? If he's her shepherd, she's his fleeced ewe. So his relationship toward his wife is that he has all authority, he is her employer, her parent, and as her pastor/priest he has the right to speak for God, making any demands of her that he chooses--as long as he says God says so--which makes her a stupid sheep.

The stories of several women come to mind. Their husbands insisted on their right to undermine and over-ride what their wives asked of the children, and wanted for their homes. Their homes were chaotic as a result. Father was the all-powerful one. As soon as the wives found a way to be effective in spite of their husbands, the husbands would look for another way to undermine the wives. This picture looks like that. All powerful husband. Obedient daughter-wife, obedient sons. But since they are sons who will one day be the authority figures, they are not curbed as completely as their mother is, nor as any sisters would be.

Why doesn't the wife in the picture have her arm around the boys? Is it some lack in her? Do the boys allow Dad to hug them, but not Mom? Notice that they have their arms around each other. For a picture like this, wouldn't Mom automatically put her arms around her family, too? I'm guessing she would, but she's not allowed to. This agrees with complementarian teaching: wives are to receive and respond, not initiate or share authority with their husbands. Indeed, in this photo it looks like the sons have more authority than their mother does!

The picture should show both Mom and Dad as the adult parents with their arms around one another and around their children. Ephesians 6:1 says “Children obey your parents” not “children obey your fathers.” The Bible says wives and husbands, male and female are equal. Wives are not to be the obedient daughters of their husbands, nor are they to serve as child-like prostitutes. Nor are they the nannies, hired hands, or any other designation that requires them to hold less power and authority than their husbands do. I Timothy 5:14 when translated correctly, says wives are to be the heads of, rulers of their households.

Ephesians 5:21 tells everyone who is a part of Christ's bride to submit to one another. There is no exception clause for husbands. Nor is there an especially clause for wives.

Yet complementarians read Ephesians 5:21-22 as if it says “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God, especially wives to your own husbands. For the husband has authority over the wife, even as Christ has authority over the church.”

Because of this emphasis, they totally miss the deep message in those verses to husbands. Until they accept that Ephesians 5:21 is not a 90% to 10% with wives doing the majority of the submitting, nor a 80-20, 70-30, or 60-40 submission, they will never comprehend the depth of love and sacrifice taught to husbands in Ephesians 5:25-29. It is when husbands practice that total love and sacrifice for their wives, that Christ's love and sacrifice for humans is experienced and understood on a profoundly deep level. When the church "gets" the preciousness of what Christ did for his Bride, and what He continues to do for his Bride, the church becomes an effective living and loving testimony to the world.

But when husbands claim to have a God-decreed right to boss and take authority over their wives, the church loses her testimony, the prayers of husbands are hindered, the world is turned off to the message of Christ, and Christianity becomes as disdained as radical Islam.

Even if a husband puts on a show of love, as long as he sees himself as superior to his wife, as having more authority and/or importance than she does, his love is not the real thing. It is but a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. A person with real love does not vaunt himself nor puff himself up, nor does he claim he believes husbands and wives are equal, when he practices his authority and demands that she obey him. Indeed, the first item in the Philippians 4:8 list is truth. Until authority-hungry husbands acknowledge the truth, that they think male is superior to female, husband is superior to wife, the fulness of the gospel message will never reach their hearts.

When they acknowledge the truth and accept the role of love and sacrifice that God has commanded to them, then they will no longer think of their wives as Nanny, subject, and Ewe to fleece, but will instead think of their wives as loving companions, confidantes, advisors, best friends, and co-rulers over their households.

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, February 25, 2011

Spare the Rod and Spoil the Wife

Are the rules for children and for wives the same? A complementarian argues that since children are commanded to obey their parents, but parents are never commanded to take authority over their children, that the lack of such a commandment is meaningless—unless one concludes if wives are to have equal authority with their husbands, that children also have equal authority with their parents. Thus the writer concluded the text infers both parental authority over their children and husband authority over his wife.

This complementarian argument lacks substance. First, the qualifications of those who are chosen as leaders in the church include managing and ruling their children. I Timothy 3:4 A bishop is to be “One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity.” and I Timothy 3:12 Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.” Notice that nothing is mentioned about husbands ruling their wives.

Second, if Paul wanted young widows to marry, bear children and be the heads of their households, I Timothy 5:14, (the word that has been translated “guide” or “manage” actually means be the head, ie: ruler of, the household.) it is unlikely that he wanted anything less for other wives.

Furthermore, there are many verses/passages in the Old Testament telling parents to teach, discipline, and bring up their children, but not a single verse telling husbands to discipline or bring up their wives. Deuteronomy 6: 5-9

5And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. 6And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: 7And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. 8And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. 9And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

Here parents are commanded to love God and to teach their children what God has commanded. The only verses suggesting that husbands are to teach wives is I Corinthians 14:34-35 “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”
Because these verses are so opposite of what Paul teaches otherwise—he particularly teaches Christians to NOT follow the law, explained that in Christ there is neither male nor female, and wrote respectfully of women who were leaders in the early church—many scholars suspect these were inserted later and are not the writings of Paul at all. I Corinthians 11, for example talks of women praying and prophesying publicly. It is not possible to prophesy publicly while being silent. But even if Paul did write them, notice that it is the wives who are to ask their husbands, not the husbands who are to impose teaching upon their wives.

There are a number of Old Testament verses telling parents to discipline and bring up their children, but there are no verses telling husbands to discipline their wives or “bring them up.” Prov 13:24 “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Prov 22:15 “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of discipline will remove it far from him.” Prov 23: 13-14 “Do not hold back discipline from the child, although you strike him with the rod, he will not die. You shall strike him with the rod and rescue his soul from Sheol.” Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

All these speak of parents disciplining their children.

The Bible does talk of husbands who are distressed by a woman/wife, but nothing is mentioned about husbands training, disciplining, ruling, or teaching their wives. There is no “Train up your wife in the way she should go.” or “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of your wife; the rod of discipline will remove it far from her.” or “He that spareth his rod, hateth his wife, but he that loveth her, chasteneth her betimes.”

Proverbs 25:24 “It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house.” Proverbs 19:13 “A foolish son is the calamity of his father: and the contentions of a wife are a continual dropping.” Proverbs 21:19 “It is better to dwell in the wilderness, than with a contentious and an angry woman.” Proverbs 27:15 “A continual dropping in a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike.”

Instead, we have Proverbs 31, where a woman is praised by her husband for running a business and making big decisions like buying a field, for ruling their household, for managing their staff. That husband says nothing about taking authority over her, about disciplining her, about making rules she must follow, or about her catering to him. He doesn't demand or expect that she submit to him, but rather gives her the freedom to serve him and their household as she sees fit. And both he and the children praise her. By his example, he teaches their children to appreciate their mother.

Indeed, the entire community respects her; the passage infers that it is because of her independent management of estate, family and business that her husband is known and respected among the elders of the land. The respect her husband enjoys is not from taking authority over her, nor is it from keeping her cooped up at home. He is respected in part because she is so well known because she brings her food from afar, considers a field and buys it, she stretches out her hand to the poor and needy, and delivers girdles to the merchant. (This reminds me of the woman in my area who started the hog farming business. Her sisters were asked, "Are you the one who put up the big hog barn?" Obviously, her reputation precedes her.) The only way people of the land would know what happens at home is by what her servants are saying to their friends and families. And absolutely no one reported that she obeyed her husband.

Compare this with the praise for children, which is about following the instruction of their parents. Although parents are not commanded to discipline their children in the New Testament, the church is told to avoid selecting leaders who do not discipline and manage their children. The Old Testament lays a foundation of parental guidance of their children, including discipline and punishment, even going so far as to record God's condemnation of Eli for not curbing his sons. Hebrews speaks of God chastening us as a parent chastens his or her child.

Note the lack of God holding any man accountable for the conduct of his wife. Adam was not held accountable for Eve's sin, Ahab was not held accountable for Jezebel's sin, nor was Samson held accountable for Delilah's sin.

The complementarian argument once again is a leaky bucket that cannot hold water. Nowhere in the Bible are husbands given rulership over their wives.

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, January 22, 2011

Inspired Translations?

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” II Timothy 3:16-17
On the basis of these verses, some folks insist that we must interpret scripture according to the plain reading of the text. Some believe it is dangerous to dig into the Hebrew and Greek meanings, to study the cultures and beliefs of Bible times, because doing so may result in conclusions that disagree with traditional interpretation of the Bible.

But is the King James Version, the Revised Standard Version, or any other version the scripture to which these verses refer? Can we be certain that the translators maintained the meaning of the original scripture? Can we be certain the translators did not impose their own bias upon the translation? And considering that translations differ, must we consider all of them to be the Inspired Word of God?

The truth is, it is the original scripture that is inspired, not the translations. We all must do our best to understand the text from the original—or as close to it as we can get, not from the translation. And if the meaning from the original differs from the translation or from the interpretation, we must go with the original Hebrew and Greek, doing our best to determine what those words meant in Bible times.

Insisting that bible words must carry today's meaning is also a false belief. The meaning of words can change over time. Take the word “gay.” Fifty years ago that word meant happy and cheerful, but today it means homosexual and people rarely use it to mean happiness lest they be misunderstood. Although many words keep their meanings, the fact that many change over time makes it very important to do our best to find out what the word meant when it was written. If the Bible was written in 1925 and we tried to say the word “gay” meant “homosexual,” because that is what it means today, we'd be so far off in our interpretation and completely miss the real meaning of the passage.

Frankly, I want the real meaning, the meaning God authored and inspired, not the meaning some translator or interpretor imposed upon the text.

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, January 9, 2011

Joyful Sacrifice of Husbands

Joel and Kathy Davisson Authors of "The Man of Her Dreams/The Woman of His!" and "Livin' it and Lovin' it!" left a comment on my January 19, 2010 post “Husband, Give yourself up for your Wife.” Rather than post it there, where few would see it, and where the internet crawlers may use it to block traffic because it is a repeat of what I already wrote, I decided to make a new post of it and insert comments to defeat the system. Thank-you Joel & Kathy! See link to their site at bottom of post.
“I am not sure if there is a way to put your article below in quote form - but wanted to say EXCELLENT to what you have written! Joel and Kathy Davisson Authors of "The Man of Her Dreams/The Woman of His!" and "Livin' it and Lovin' it!" Waneta Dawn wrote: "Ephesians 5:25 Husbands love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it. Just how much giving of himself is a husband to do? He is to do it “even as” Christ loved and gave himself for the church. Strong’s #2531 says this is just (or inasmuch) as, that:—according to, (according, even) as, how, when. So husbands are to love and give themselves for their wives “just as,” “according to," “according as,” “even as,” “how,” “inasmuch as,” Christ loved and gave himself for the church.”
Some thoughts I've had since I wrote the above is how humble—as in connected to truth—Christ is and was. Jesus knew He is God, He has superior strength, yet He lowered himself to become a man for both our benefit and for His. He wanted relationship with us because He loves us so much. Similarly, even though a husband may know he has superior physical strength, because he loves his wife, just as Jesus did, he will give up all the advantages that gives him in order to gain mental and emotional connectedness with his wife. Even if he believes he is entitled to have anything his heart desires because he is “the man,” he will give up that advantage in order to gain, have, and keep relationship with his wife.

In today's culture, men do give up their entitlement while they date, in order to win the woman of their choice, but once they have won the woman, they pick up their entitlement and turn on their wives as the conquerer turns on the vanquished and demands submission. In other words, they lay down their male-privilege as a manipulation and a deception. Many men do this throughout their marriages to gain sexual favor from their wives. Neither the premarital courting, nor the bid for sex are the laying down of self Ephesians 5 is talking about. Jesus didn't deceive us into becoming His subjects. He laid down his life, which broke down the wall between us and Him. He continues to give us life and relationship and never turns into a cruel taskmaster, a controlling dictator, or an otherwise unwanted user. Although He has the right of authority over us, He doesn't inflict it on us. He gives us free choice without shaming us, berating us, etc.
“Notice that the passage does not say a husband is to be an authority over his wife as Christ was and is over the church. That side of Christ’s job description is not mentioned at all in relation of husbands to wives. Instead loving and giving are the focus. Those are the specific ways that husbands are to be toward their wives. Now that we know that husbands are to love and give themselves up like Jesus did, what does it mean to give oneself up? According to Strong’s # 3860, give, "paradidomi," means to surrender, i.e. yield up, intrust, transmit:—betray, bring forth, cast, commit, deliver (up), give (over, up) hazard, put in prison, recommend. So a husband is to surrender himself, yield up himself, intrust himself to his wife, transmit himself (I get the idea of transmitting himself into the power of another like Saul transmitted Christians to the government and to prison and death—namely he is to transmit himself to his wife), betray himself, bring forth himself, cast himself, commit himself, deliver up himself, give over or give up himself, put himself in prison, put himself in hazard, recommend himself (as giving himself over.)”
In coming to earth as a baby, Jesus did indeed entrust himself to humans. He betrayed himself and His own best interests of safety, comfort, and the adulation to which He was accustomed, and placed himself in a place, body, and position where He would be limited. Indeed, His life was in danger. The children of Bethlehem were killed in an effort to kill Jesus. Jesus entrusted himself to Joseph and Mary, to the priests, laws, & customs of that day. He became vulnerable for our sakes. Similarly, a husband is to entrust himself to his wife, giving up his own best interests in order to meet the best interests of his wife.
“I fail to see any authority in this whatsoever, except the authority he has over himself, with which he gives himself up for his wife. This surrendering to the point of betraying, imprisoning and putting himself in hazard, is beyond submission. This is more like submitting “no matter what,” like submitting even to the betraying of himself, the imprisoning of himself, and to putting himself in a hazardous position. This surrender and committing of self has nothing to do with demanding submission from his wife, or with demanding submission from all wives to their husbands in general, or even in teaching wifely submission. It is beyond selflessness toward his wife. It is literally laying down his life for his wife. It brings to mind Romans 12:1 “I beseech you therefore, brethren…that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice.” It is literally when husband and wife disagree, the husband is to choose his wife’s preference instead of his own. He is to lay down what is in his own best interests and instead do and aim for what will benefit his wife.”

In other words, a husband's focus is to be his love for God and his love for his wife. His love for his wife is not to be aimed at training or disciplining her. He may impart information to her, but that must be geared toward benefiting her. To do that, he must know her completely—how she thinks, how she feels, what she thinks she needs, how she experiences life, what she values. This requires discussion, the sharing of the deepest thoughts and feelings, not dominance or authority over. It requires making decisions together, because when the husband alone makes decisions, that tends to restrain his wife's input.
“Even if the complementarians are right, and a husband’s position of “head” gives him the right to make the final decision, scripture commands that he give up his will and his way in favor of his wife’s will, way, and intuition, and in favor of her benefit. This is the position most complementarians, along with men of the world, would consider as wimpy or passive. But the Bible considers this kind of behavior as active. It is active love and consideration of another above one’s own self. It is a love so deep it cares for the other more than it cares for oneself. It is what makes a boy a man." Great job, Waneta! From Joel and Kathy Davisson”
If it is wimpy for a man to lay down his preferences for his wife, then it must have been wimpy for Jesus to lay down his life and preferences for us. Obviously, the opposite is true. What Jesus did took great courage and strength. It was the greatest testing of His life; He sweat as it were great drops of blood. Jesus is asking men to be real, loving, strong, sacrificing, men—just like Him. And just like Jesus, their motivation is to be love--and even joy.

Hebrews 12:2 "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him, endured the cross, despising the shame,and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God." If the sacrifice of Jesus was done because of the joy that was set before Him, the sacrifice of husbands should also be done because of the joy that is set before them. Joy of close communion and relationship with their wives, and the "well done, thou good and faithful servant" from the Lord.

Thank-you Joel and Kathy Davisson for bringing this to our attention again!
Please check out Joal and Kathy's site @ God Save my Marriage

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