Monday, January 13, 2014

Submission, Obedience, and Authority

Finally I think I can spare a few minutes to blogging, without missing some super-important deadline. A number of folks have written comments, some of them in response to old posts, which no one else is likely to see. So I have decided to publish them and my response as posts. I do apologize for the long delay in publishing the comments. Life has been and continues to be overwhelming & hectic. I am doing my best.

Madcan commented on Institution ofSubmission—As to the Lord. I will put madcan's comment in red, and my reply in black.

In order to support your view of "submission," you have conveniently chosen to highlight Jesus' footwashing as an example of submitting as to the Lord. Jesus washed the feet of the apostles because he gladly chose to submit to Father! His submission (obedience) to Father was motivated out of his love for Father, to fulfill the mission Father had for him, and to make Father look great through his mission.

Likewise, a husband is to gladly submit to the Father by doing things for his wife. They may be status-lowering chores that no one wants to do. Just as Jesus was motivated by love for the Father, so also husbands are to be motivated by love for the Father, as well as love for their wives.

Surely you do not imply that Jesus had no love for those He served? Do we as Christians only serve others because of our love for God? Wouldn't that make our service condescending and cold? I Corinthians 13 says if we do all kinds of noteworthy things, but do not have love (for others) we are like a sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal, and we are nothing.

Your comment sounds like IF Jesus loved us, He ONLY did so out of submission to the Father. If that is indeed what you are implying, you likely also believe that John 3:16 means that God the Father so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son, who does not love us, or who didn't love us enough to die for us, himself. If Jesus only died for us out of submission to the Father, Jesus cannot be equal with God, for God is Love. But Ephesians 5 says Christ did love us--so much that he died for us.  Christ did not die for us because of love for the Father, but because of love for US!  

Your focus on the submission of Jesus to the Father (putting Jesus in a dress, as Cindy puts it) paints Jesus to be stupid. The submission you have been taught that goes on in the heavens leaves no allowance for the Father to submit to the Son. So the Son would never suggest anything because God forbid the Father should ever submit to the Son. That leaves Jesus as a mindless slave, not equal with God in authority, nor in power (if the Father gave Jesus-as-God power, He can also take it away). That makes Jesus into a liar; Jesus and the Father are not one, they are two. Obviously, Jesus cannot be the liar. Therefore it is the “doctrine” that is false.  

The view you are pushing says that the Father orchestrates and decides everything, while Jesus' role is to love and obey the Father, that Jesus and the Holy Spirit while "equal" with Father, (as you put it) are His puppets.  Are you not aware that the God Jesus was obeying while on earth as a man, included Himself? He and the Father and the Holy Spirit, as 3 in 1, together love us and together chose to redeem us.  If Jesus only came to die for us because Father ordered it, that invites doubt about the Father's love for us, since He wasn't willing to die for us Himself, but sent His Son instead.  It also brings doubt about the Son's love for us, since He only came because He was commanded to come.  The fact is, the triune God loves us so much the 3 in 1 together chose the plan of redemption.  I believe the Word offered to come to earth and die for us, otherwise it is difficult to claim His love is of any depth at all.  Making Jesus into the Father's stooge so that men can make wives into the stooges of their husbands devalues the love of our triune God and devalues salvation and redemption to the point they are practically worthless.  Anyone can order their servant to do the hard stuff.  If that is the pattern, why didn't Jesus order one of His disciples to be His stooge and do the footwashing?  Oh, right, because of His love for Father.  Why is that not comforting? 

As you are aware, there were numerous other instances when Jesus instructed, corrected, and directed his disciples with the authority that Father gave him. This authority did not negate or contradict his submission to Father through acts such as footwashing; both authority and humble acts of service are two sides of the coin that men are called to live out.

Yes, I am aware that Jesus did instruct, direct, and even correct at times. However, it was with His own authority. Although Jesus was here as a man, He was also God. He simply HAD authority because of He was and is God. Where is/are the verse(s) that call men to authority over their wives, to instruct or correct their wives? Men are commanded to love and serve their wives, but never to teach, instruct, correct, or order them, any more than wives are commanded to teach, instruct, correct or order their husbands. We are all to edify one another as well as submit one to another.

Allow me to state the obvious -- men are not women. Jesus chose twelve men to be his disciples. Jesus chose men for HIS reasons. We can offer our opinions as to why he didn't choose six men and six women, but our opinions don't matter. God's ways are often too deep for us to understand; we do well to default to trusting him and accepting his ways as holy and right.

Actually, Jesus never even suggested that women could not preach or teach the gospel. Jesus chose women, too. They also followed with the disciples and supported Jesus financially. Did you notice how He did not choose to appear to John and Peter when He rose from the tomb? But after John and Peter left, He appeared to Mary, whom He sent to be the very first Gospel-teller. There was no gospel until after he rose from the dead, so she was the first. He gave that special honor to a woman. He also commissioned the woman at the well, who spread the news to her whole village, including the men. Jesus told parables that included women, so obviously he was speaking to women as well as men. Contrary to popular teaching, Jesus valued women, honored them, included them in establishing his church. He did NOT order Mary to help her sister, Martha, but protected her freedom to learn along with the men. Jesus did not establish a male-favoring gospel—humans did that.

My point? There are enough scriptures that teach us that wives are to submit to their husbands (as to the Lord). I urge God's people to accept the simple message he has given us through his word -- it is his will that wives submit to their husbands IN EVERYTHING. That submission includes both humble acts of service and obeying the instruction, correction, and direction (authority) given by God through
the husband.

And there is where you are wrong, madcan. Submission and obedience are not the same. Wives are never commanded to obey their husbands. Submission suggests choice, not a master/slave, or command/obey relationship. When a husband is not behaving toward his wife in a loving, Christ-like way, he is sinning against her. There is no way Paul would recommend that a Christian put her stamp of approval on sin by facilitating it. According to the doctrine you appear to support, a wife must obey what her husband commands her, unless it is clearly sin. But you fail to understand when a husband sins against his wife, even though he may not verbally be commanding her to sin, non-verbally he is commanding her to degrade herself, which is sin. (Do not call good evil; as a redeemed person, she is good.) Submission means she does not need to choose to obey a sinful demand against herself. As she would with any Christian, she must rebuke the sin to get rid of the leaven that will spread to her and cause her to sin.

The only part of Jesus husbands are told to copy is that of love and sacrifice. They are never told to copy His lordship. Neither Jesus, Paul, nor Peter command husbands to take authority over their wives. Instead, the Ephesians 5 instructions to husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, sounds similar to Romans 12:1-2, that of offering oneself as a living sacrifice—for their wives. As his equal, a husband owes his wife respect. As a servant of Christ's, he owes his wife love, cherishing, and submission. 

This blog is not a place for debate.  That is not my calling, and I find the exercise pointless.  It accomplishes nothing.  There are other bloggers who may choose to discuss or debate, you can do your debating there.  The few times I choose to publish a debater's comment and reply to it are those where I think the exercise can enhance the message God has given me to proclaim. 

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