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.


  1. Glad to see you back blogging!

    Good responses to Madcan. And yes, he/she is mad and that can have a bad effect on their theology.

    It sounds like Madcan supports the doctrine that makes men into gods over their wives.

    Here is another good post for Madcan to look at, and perhaps debate, that addresses his/her false doctrine.
    Shirley wrote on the sinful desired for men to become gods over their wives in Desiring to be God part 1:

    1. Thanks Mara! I, too, was thinking of Shirley's work. I'm glad you added the link. Love your "mad" comment, too. :-)

  2. Why do people never notice that Jesus specifically said that if He had called, the Father would immediately have sent a legion of angels? Not "If I asked the Father if it was ok to call" but "If I call." Even though He knew such a call was not the plan.

  3. So true, Kristen! Jesus didn't die because He was ordered to, or because of submission to "Father." He died for us because of His own choice which was motivated by his great love for us--a love that is so great we cannot comprehend it. Eph 3:18-19 "(that you) May be able to comprehend...and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge..." Jesus said there is no greater love than that of laying down one's life for a friend. Jesus did that for us, and He did NOT call for that legion of angels.

  4. It is unhealthy to the spirit life of a Christian to obsess over authority so.
    And it is our sinful nature that drives people to obsess over authority and who has it and who doesn't and over who gets to be the boss of whom.

    1. So true, Mara! Especially considering that Jesus said that's what the princes of the Gentiles do, and it shall not be so among you. Matt 20:25-28 The antidote Jesus gave: "Whoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." These men want so badly to be chief and refuse to be servants. I can only conclude they are Gentiles at heart.

      Mara, my brother believed in husband authority and staunchly defended it. He died at age 49 and it troubles me. Where is he now? Can a man insist on having authority over his wife, no matter how much he is hurting her, and be a Christian? Jesus said "By their fruits ye shall know them." That husband authority junk made my brother's fruits look rotten. I'm afraid for him and for men who insist on having a God-given right to wield authority over their wives. Literally afraid for their souls to the point of tears.

  5. Wanetadawn, let me tell you about the end of men like this. I belonged to a church which used to psychologically abuse and beat down women. The elders of this church believed every thing that went wrong in the family was the result of women who did not submit to their husbands. They took it further, and believed that women who did not submit to their husbands or the elders were responsible for all the evil which happened in the church. They then started preaching that they were Christ personified and if people did not obey them then they were disobeying Christ.

    They believed they had the right to separate marriages, separate children from parents, maneouver men and women to divorce and then remarrying the 'correct' partner that they had subsequently chosen. These men did not start out preaching this heresy. They started out as presbyterian ministers from a normal church and began to give way to the insanity of one or two men in particular who had issues with authority and control and hated women with a passion.

    One man in particular who ended up being the CEO of this place wrote in a published book that he was not able to stand against a husband and wife who stood together against him. A very interesting statement. It proves what Ecclesiastes tells us about the threefold cord, and the fact that our enemy wants nothing more than to separate men and women, and in particular christian married men and women. If he can use the issue of submission and authority all the better.

    He saw this standing together as evil, since he saw himself as faultless and Christ's authority on the earth. He therefore decided he could separate married couples encourage divorce, encourage keeping the children in the church with the partner who stayed (the other one was always ousted) and then would encourage shunning by the children and spouse who stayed in the church. You will not be surprised to learn that most of us who left saw this place as a cult.

    However, as I said, these men did not start out like this, and who in their right mind would want to join a church which exhibited these behaviours. However, as a member of one small church which merged with this larger one, I can say that some of the teachings of our own elders were very similar to this church. They likewise believed in submission of women to husbands and elders and the right of the man to take authority over his family, and they were dangerously close to believing that the elders were not to be questioned ever.

    This kind of teaching becomes insanity very quickly and I believe that is why Paul was always so concerned about false gospels, false teachers and false apostles. And many have arisen since his day.

    I used to think these people were misguided, and I now believe that they are truly apostate. These men have been warned again and again and appealed to regarding their sins against the church but they mock both former congregation members "you went out from us because you were no longer of us", and the word of God and refuse to believe they have done anything wrong. Even when these leaders have been kicked out by the chief Pharisee, they are impossible to talk to because they still refuse to repent of their false gospel and abuse of others. In fact, they cannot see their own sin.

    This is a terrible place to be, and is the result of pride and a searing of the conscience. I believe these men are no longer saved and if they don't repent will perish. Paul warned that those who preach a false gospel are under a curse, and I also believe that the congregation are under the same curse.

    It is up to us as individual christians to seek the word of God and know for ourselves what it says and be able to stand up and hold true to the real gospel and to reject the false, for our own sakes, if not for those weaker than us in faith.

  6. Bella,
    Thank-you for joining the conversation. What horrid "pastors" you've had! Power has gone to their heads, and sin to their hearts. Romans 1 applies to them too. It appears God gave them over to increasing perversion of the truth. You said, "I used to think these people were misguided, and I now believe that they are truly apostate." I am leaning the same way. While we know God is not quick to write people off, (smoking flax will He not quench, or words to that effect) we also know that Jesus said He would say "Depart from me, I never knew you," to people who say "Lord, lord, have we not prophesied in your name and in your name done many wonderful works?" Whatever their state with God, it is dangerous, and they are trying to force others down with them.

    You are right about the antidote. Each of us must study the word, digging deep into the original meanings. We are not told that translations are God-breathed; it is the original word that is God-breathed. We are also told about adding and taking away from the word. Now that verse is about Revelation specifically, but I believe the principle applies to the entire Word of God.

    I just looked up "Add" in the concordance to find the verse (Rev 22:18-19) WOW! Look that up. The Strongs # is 2007, and those verses in Rev is the only time that version of "add" is used. It means "to impose (in a friendly or hostile sense)." Again, WOW! These folks have been imposing upon women in a hostile sense. They certainly have not been friendly.

    "For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book. And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out to the book of life, and out of the holy city and from the things which are written in this book." Rev 22:18-19 Yet another verse that says a person's name CAN be taken out of the book of life. And changing the meaning of scripture is one of the reasons for losing eternal life. Turning "husbands love self-sacrificially" into "husbands take authority" is certainly changing the meaning of scripture. Denying that Eph 5:21 applies to husbands, or even their "some submit more than others" also takes away from and adds to scripture--in a hostile sense. They behave as conquerers laying down the terms of occupation and domination. Hostile. Great description.