Opinions on faith and life

Orwellian Doublespeak: When Domination Is Submission

2008-01-23

I mentioned the Orwell book 1984 in an archived post about the KJVO cult, in the way they twist words to make revisions not revisions and errors not errors. But the same sort of doublespeak is occurring in the gender wars as well, by the self-named complementarians who exalt males over females in all spheres of life.

I’ve incorporated this into the Egalitarian wiki (EDIT: moved to books; see Downloads), but will put it here as well:

Ephesians was briefly mentioned before, but look at Eph. 5:25-33. Remember Gen. 2:24 tells us that in marriage, the man is the one who is to leave his parents and join to his wife-- not the other way around as tradition has always had it. He joins to her and leaves his home. Yet this never seems to be cited by the complementarian argument. Had the Bible said A woman must leave her home and join to her husband, it would surely be used to support the husband’s rule over his wife, as the one doing the leaving and joining to the other must certainly be inferior. (Added material begins here.) But before more is said about this section, we need to look back a little.

Let’s back up to vs. 21-22, and read it as it actually is in Greek instead of typical (and deliberately misleading) English translations:

Be filled with the Spirit, while you are supporting one another out of respect for the Anointed One, wives, with your own husbands, as with the Lord.

(Admitted even by male supremacists; see link: The Greek is literally The wives to their own husbands as to the Lord. Then Paul adds as the church is subject (hupotasso) to Christ, so also the wives [ought to] (not in the Greek but added by translators) be to their husbands in everything.)

Typical English translations, even the TNIV, have this:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

The first speaks of mutuality and cooperation, while the second creates a hierarchy where the wife is told to treat her husband just as she does the Lord. But it also creates a contradiction: we all submit to each other, but somehow we don’t. In addition, it breaks a sentence which cannot be broken in the Greek, so a break can be made between the command for all to submit to each other and the more specific instructions to married couples. This is a deliberate changing of Paul’s train of thought, because it breaks into the middle of a sentence to put the second half with the text that follows instead of the text that preceded. And the wives with husbands phrase goes with the verb be filled, not submit/support, so the meaning is wives, be filled with your own husband as with the Lord. It sounds odd in English, but in Greek it refers to a wife being satisfied with her own husband.

So the passage flows like this:

  1. Everyone must support/submit to each other.
  2. Wives, be content with your own husbands, because the man is the source of the woman (Eve came from Adam) just as Christ is the source of the church. Just as the body supports the head, let the wife support her husband.
  3. Husbands, love your wives, because Christ loved the church and gave up everything for her. She is your own body, who supports you. You joined to her because of the scripture A man leaves his parents to join to his wife, making the two of you one flesh. This illustrates the mystery of how Christ joined to us in our humanity.
  4. To summarize, each husband must love his wife and each wife must support her husband.

There is nothing about authority, rule, hierarchy, or importance in the entire passage, but only unity and mutual dependence. Domination is not a different method of submission, it is just domination (dominate comes from the Latin word typically translated Lord) or rule or authority. The idea that one can submit while being in authority is derived from the idea that Paul, after making the mutual submission statement, is now defining how husbands and wives carry it out, but with a faulty definition for head, which we’ve already examined. Those who take this view equate submission with head/rule over, thus connecting a truth with a falsehood.

But the official complementarian view is that mutual submission is impossible (see The Myth of Mutual Submission). They presume that head must mean authority and submission must always be to an authority (without offering any basis for their authority to say this!), so they must conclude that mutual submission is impossible in spite of the Bible’s clear statement to the contrary. Much redefining of common Greek words is required to try and keep these new definitions without causing scripture to contradict itself.

Now you can see what is so fundamentally wrong with those evil marriage vows I mentioned a few posts ago. They are built on error, and deliberate error at that. CBMW knows better; they have been caught piecing together unrelated fragments of Greek to make things that don’t exist, or just pulling facts" out of thin air (see the January posts at Suzanne’s Bookshelf). But pride will drive people to desperate measures. It must be very frightening to think one’s favored status over the other half of humanity is not based in scripture after all.