Opinions on faith and life

Warped Drive

2009-05-11

I speak of the drive to make men leaders of women by virtue of the flesh. I have gleaned some quotes from message boards that show this disturbing trend and its effect upon Christianity. Try and read through them, considering the presumptions underlying the words. I will comment periodically.


I think I lead well ... there are areas where her expertise exceeds mine, and in these I STILL lead, but she acts as a consultant... Any woman who loves you will, in her heart, realise you have to be the leader... This is an excellent way to show her you will be fair, but firm. And onward you lead... Think of a successful pairing like a business partnership, except the two people kiss; each of you is involved in all aspects, work, household, personal development... and if she doesn’t [choose wisely], you have the right to an explanation. (emphasis mine)
I have the impression that this man thinks his wife is a child. Leading someone with greater expertise than you is foolhardy and egotistical; basing love on obedience to a mere man is idolatrous; comparing a one-flesh union to a business model is like trying to pattern child care after the rules for football. “Fair but firm” is, as I said, what a parent says to a child or an employer says to an employee; veto power is for political leaders and bosses. This confused young man has swallowed the male supremacist line completely.
I think some of MY ways of not giving up the power to the next one is by not allowing myself to get too emotionally involved with her, unless we get to the point where we feel we are a match...
“Giving up power” says it all; he believes he has divinely-sanctioned POWER over his wife or girlfriend. And anyone who thinks he has this power yet looks for a “match” is saying he wants an equal subordinate. Not gonna happen!
A healthy woman is attracted to a man she can influence and who will listen to her, but not one she can control. She will feel safer with you if she knows you will listen to her but do what you think is best anyway. That can be hard at times, but it is good for you and for her. If you are with someone that doesn’t trust you enough to allow you to be a man, then just be careful.
A healthy woman does not manipulate or control— same for a healthy man. Any woman who thinks she is incapable of trusting her own judgment is not healthy or not grown up, and neither is the man who thinks his judgment is always better than hers. If he wants a dog he should buy a dog. And “being a man” does NOT mean being a jerk, a boss, a brute, or any other such egomaniac.
I’d be inclined to avoid going too far down that road before your self-esteem takes too much of a pounding... My wife used to get annoyed with me leaving the toilet seat up until I pointed out the likely consequences of it being left down if my aim wasn’t quite right in the middle of the night... Someone who is dominating and controlling at first is unlikely to improve over time...
Nobody’s self esteem takes a greater and more relentless pounding than a woman who is not allowed to grow up or be an independent adult, or who has to trade her direct relationship with Christ for a mere man. As for the toilet seat, does Mr. Clean realize that if you flush with the seat up, little droplets of whatever was in the toilet go flying all over the room and land on things like toothbrushes? The guy is not only lazy but ignorant and self-centered. Oh, the poor baby shouldn’t have to raise the seat during the night, but wifey gets no sympathy for having to be sure she puts it down. Sheesh. And I totally agree with the last line; no domineering man is going to soften if his wife spends her life stroking his delicate ego.
I love her very much, but she is not very submissive and yells at me alot. I actually have my hand in a cast because she kept going in an argument and I punch the floor.
Holy matrimony, Batman! She won’t submit! Must.... punch... SOMETHING!! “That woman you gave me...”!
The desire of the woman will be for the position of the man but he will have to rule over her as a result.
Show me the word “position” in Genesis. And “HAVE TO” rule? Oh sure, this terrible burden was given to man. Cry me a river.
I have made the mistake of often agreeing with my ex wife... Rather then making it clear that because it was not important to me it was not important unless I judged [sic] it would be good for her or us both together before God’s eyes.
Yeah, agreeing with her is what broke the marriage, I’m sure. Well, Your Honor, you obviously had no clue what was better for BOTH of you.


That was all from one thread in one message board. I was going to go on but all this sniveling, whining, me-first pablum was giving me a headache. What ever happened to just being Christians, just being adults? Have they never read “not so with you”, “love is not self-seeking”, or “consider others as better than yourself”? What religion is this?

Yes, the disciples are still aiming for the top positions in the kingdom, still wanting to be first, still claiming preeminence.

22 Comments

truthseeker

Paula, your article is incredibly timely, and though I have to run, I WILL be back because some of the examples you just cited parallel experiences I had yesterday and today. Just for starters, my husband’s pastor, in his mother’s day message, stated that is seems that many women struggle with their purpose in life. I nearly came unglued (inside) but told my husband it was no surprise since they are so often told what they CAN’T do. He chided me by saying that WASN’T where the pastor went with that and nor his purpose in bringing it up. Well, maybe not, but why can’t they see the truth in it?!!!! Gotta run, will be back.

Paula Fether

Hey sis, you know the timing is all God’s ;-) And don’t you just love how Mothers Day is turned into yet another opportunity to put her and her daughters in their places? They might as well have a Slave Day or an Underling Day. I’d prefer they truly honored women all year, such that making one day to do so would become ridiculous.

Greg Anderson

My pastor actually pointed out in his Mother’s day sermon that the old orders and hierarchies are of this world, and should not be so among us as the Body of Christ.

The work that you and others are doing in the blogosphere is having effect.

Again today on the freeway, the well known radio ministry I’ve mentioned before, had one of their pastors on, who actually declared that the internet is full of false teaching about gender roles.

Could it be that more than a few sheep at the mega-biggie churches are starting to ask questions?

truthseeker

Greg, I hope so, per your last question. And cheers for your pastor’s comment!!!

In my most recent conversation with my comp, I asked him if he would be willing to list, complete with biblical references, which actions or behaviors would be specifically his as head in a marriage. That is, none of them could be anything at all attributable to or able to be done by me otherwise I could, by definition, be head, also. I am curious how those of you who are out there who may have been comp at one time, would reply to this question based on your former beliefs or understandings of the matter. Since the bible doesn’t define, in my searching, any clear-cut guidelines for a ’head’ to go by, a job description if you will, how is a poor ’head’ to know what to do, let alone, a poor ’body’ (wife)? Verses would be very helpful-verses that are very specific. (The head shall decide where the family lives, the head shall decide how the money is spent, how many kids to have, the head shall answer all theological questions at home (’let the wife ask her husband at home’-however that does not say a husband cannot ask his wife anything at home, therefore doesn’t appear to be a husband/head exclusive, etc., with chapter and verse. )

(Of course, we already know that the verse that says the man is the head of the woman isn’t speaking of marriage anyway, but it is often assumed to be doing so by comps.)

We also know that if the husband is analogous to ’head’, and wife is supposed to be analogous to ’body’, that in human life, bodies make no decisions AT ALL, they just respond to neuro messages from the brain, so a wife, by analogy, couldn’t make ANY decisions. Would comps really like that? Are they really prepared to continue to use the head/body analogy as pertaining to decision-making? I mean, as a wife, I should be able to go on ’mental strike’ and behave simply as a robot or vegetable. That means my husband would have to ALWAYS be at my side to tell me every single thing I ought to do. Maybe all comp wives should strike and try this-even for a day. In fact, it would probably only take an hour in households that have children in which the husbands also go to work.

Where, after all, does it say in the bible, that husbands are responsible, as heads, for the major decisions, and not the minor ones and the teensy ones-every single one? I mean, hey, if we are going to do this thing biblically, then lets do it RIGHT! Vegetables of American Christianity Unite!!!!

The irony is that as so-called bodies, women have been given full mental capacities BY GOD!! Do ’they’ really think God intended for the car to just sit in the garage when it is fully equipped to drive down the road??!

Why aren’t there huge mobs and storms of women questioning the sheer idiocy of this entire theological claim?!!

Bear with me all those of you who are no longer living in a house divided by comp/egalism. When it within your own boundaries, it is an ever-present challenge/discouragement/etc. I know it is for the comp on the other side of this issue, also, with all due respect. Especially on blatant days such as Sundays and Wed. evenings.

truthseeker

Paula, I had to reread your article again just now because your humor is great! A good ’comp-pounding’! I needed that!!

Janice

Our little Sunday School class did the "whole armour of God" from Ephesians 6 on Sunday. Since I had to give the lesson I did some preparation and what I gathered from that is that the head was never thought of as the seat of reason. Some OT words translated as ’mind’ actually mean ’kidneys’ ("as the seat of emotion and affection" - Strongs 03629). Other words mean ’spirit’ or ’soul’ or ’heart’. In the NT I haven’t been able to find any use of ’mind’ that specifically relates to the ’head’.

The head seems to have been for decoration. The Egyptians preserved hearts and livers but they used to dissolve brains and throw them away.

In the NT ’head’, as we all know, is ’kephale’. Strong’s says that in its metaphorical use in relation to ’things’ it means "the corner stone". Wikipedia says that,

The cornerstone (or foundation stone) concept is derived from the first stone set in the construction of a masonry foundation, important since all other stones will be set in reference to this stone, thus determining the position of the entire structure. (emphasis mine)

Not being a builder I never before understood what was so important about corner stones.

So now go back to 1 Cor 11:3 - "But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God." If we replace ’head’ with ’corner stone’ can we say that the corner stone of a woman is her husband? I think we can. Too bad for women that their husbands aren’t necessarily true-cut or well-set corner stones. Their skewedness can skew the whole edifice of a marriage and bring it crashing down because, like it or not, women do tend to defer to their husbands. The big problem is that men typically don’t want to defer to anyone. That’s partly testosterone (the hormone of aggression and libido) but it’s also lack of humility. See the story of Cain. That fellow refused to respond to God’s encouragement of him to ’do well’ and just went out and murdered Abel whose own real faith was making Cain’s perfunctory ritualism look bad.

Paula, what blogs are you reading? Do you contribute? I was wondering whether, if you do contribute, you think it’s worth the grief but now I’m thinking that if you weren’t called to this you wouldn’t bother.

Paula Fether

Hi Janice,

I used to be active in Christian message boards and blogs but I always get shown the door in one way or another, over my views on emergent, egal, Calvinism, eternal security, etc. I read many blogs but only comment in egal blogs that also let me warn against emergent. Right now that’s mainly Cheryl’s blog and some others that I link to here.

TS, glad to cheer you up!

Greg, I really do hope that the house of cards known as "Church" is falling, and being exposed for its corruption on many levels. We need to be there to fill the vacuum. But I believe that instead of fancy advertising and marketing, I’ll let God do the "loaves and fishes" thing.

Greg Anderson

truthseeker,

Many years ago I attended one of the mega-biggie churches here in Southern Cal.

They now have affiliates nation wide and are generally known for their authoritarian form of church governance, and autocratic rule by their head pastors.

I was a comp. back then and I didn’t dare and question the teaching that women are not to teach the Bible in mixed corporate venues, nor are they to assume any type of corporate leadership position in the church.

But there was a nagging doubt in my soul of souls that God would turn around and doubly curse all women after he said that the woman’s DNA alone would bring Messiah into the world.

Call it an epiphany, call it what you will, but I could no longer reconcile patriarchal teaching with what is taught about God’s character throughout the rest of Scripture.

I read and re-read the Genesis narratives over and over again and could find nothing in the text to indicate that Adam had rule over Eve prior to the fall, and that her desire after the fall was to usurp his rule.

But this is what they taught then and still teach today.

When I confided in an elder about my doubts, I was told that my heart of hearts is wicked and deceitful and that I must be careful to heed Peter’s warning about those who wrest the Scriptures to their own destruction. (Jeremiah 17:19 & 2 Peter 3:16)

To make a long comment shorter, I wrestled and doubted for quite awhile until I realized that the core doctrines of the faith (virgin birth, Jesus’ and Him crucified etc.) are what really matters to a dying world, not the gender of who proclaims or teaches them.

It was like a wave of relief and peace that washed over me. I have been free of the traditions and commandments of men ever since.

Paula Fether

Greg, you touched on an important point: that "authority", however one wishes to define it, is never in the person but only in the Source. The Bible is authoritative because of its Author; the teachings of the apostles (NT) is authoritative because they wrote under inspiration of God. Any time authority is assigned to believers, it is assigned on the basis of authority to, not over.

This is a big issue because so many have it in their heads that there is such a thing as a "pastorate" or "pulpit" which has authority over others, or that this "office" instead of the gifting of the Spirit in each believer has authority to speak a message from God.

If only more would have the same epiphany as you did!

Alison

That is quite an "aha" moment, Greg.

I am struggling right now with the patriarchal teachings and how to square them up with what I know of God, and, unless I’m missing something, I just can’t do it.

The struggle’s been especially pronounced recently, in wake of a woman I consider to be my spiritual mentor making a comment about how letting the man I’m dating lead and make decisions is practice for being submissive in a marrriage (even if I end up marrying someone else!)

I only pray that somehow God will help me resolve this thorny problem, since she implied that not submitting is an issue of sinful pride, something that I’m not sure I believe.

Greg Anderson

I would also like to add that the realization I had when I became an egalitarian, struck a harmonic resonance with what Katharine Bushnell wrote almost a century ago:

“...If we find even in the Bible anything which confuses our sense of right and wrong, that seems to us less exalted and pure than the character of God should be: if after the most patient thought and prayerful pondering it still retains that aspect, then we must not bow down to it as God’s revelation to us, since it does not meet the need of the earlier and more sacred revelation He has given us in our spirit and conscience which testify of Him...”

I also believe that Jeremiah 17:19 is one of the most abused and proof-texted scriptures of all time, especially for the Calvinist cause.

I believe that God gave us our gut-feelings and consciences to warn us of danger and that they are not hopelessly tainted by the black ink of total depravity.

Greg Anderson

Sorry, the Scripture is Jeremiah 17:9 ~~~ (and not jer 17:19)

truthseeker

Greg, your comments are extremely helpful and encouraging. I especially appreciate the points you make in your last post, and it is those very points that I have been criticized for since thinking that way supposedly ’leaves the door wide open for error’. I am grateful for your insights, and your experience. Why is it that when one disagrees with ’authority’ it is considered evil and desperately wicked thinking, but if one used the same avenue to come to a place of agreement with the same ’authority’, it would be considered good and right?

Alison, I married just a couple of years ago, while I was briefly in a mild comp stage. I can not urge you too strongly to be as settled as you can about this issue, because shortly after I married-about half a year-I came to have serious doubts and questions about comp theology. I subsequently-with much help from Cheryl Schatz’s site and this site, among other things-came to the conviction that I could not, in any good conscience, endorse any level of comp theology-not heirarchical headship within marriage, nor patriarchal authoritarian hierarchy and headship within the greater church community. It has resulted in deep grief within my marriage as my spouse is still a conservative comp in belief and church practice, though thankfully not in our marriage. Comp theology is both unbiblical, in my understanding, and also deeply oppressive. I would hate to see you marry into that kind of bondage-no matter how mild-knowing what I know and having experienced what I have. You are better off single than in such a marriage unless you feel unquestionably convinced. Even then, you may change your mind later. If I were going to err, I would rather err on the side of egalitarianism anyway because no man is going to try to ’force’ you from a theological standpoint if he is truly egalitarian.

Alison

Thanks, truthseeker.

The fact is, I don’t feel really convinced of comp theology, no matter how much Piper or Grudem I read. I just can’t bend my mind around the concepts, and how unjust they really are, and how convieniently they fit the pattern of this world. That’s where the sinful pride comes in, not in my struggle to "submit", but in the insistence that I do!

I guess in a lot of ways I’m taking my egalitarianism for granted, but now it’s becoming even more settled in my mind. I’d much rather be single than have to "submit" in an unhealthy relationship. I’m coming to see marriage (and I’ll tell the woman I mentioned this) as a partnership where both people stumble forward together, not a situation where one necessarily leads, and one follows. It just doesn’t make sense to me.

Lin

Reading your post gave me another thought. Well, actually, I have read a ton of comments like that and sat through even more sermons but here is what I was thinking:

Look at the time and thought put into this topic by men and women. It is a rabbit trail of Pharisetical doctrines. It ADDS to scripture (big NO NO) and refocuses folks away from the salvic teaching.

It leads folks away from the Cross and the Resurrection. It makes them think about themselves and point fingers at others. It becomes a system of works.

Satan is delighted.

Paula Fether

That’s absolutely right, Lin. Satan cares not how much truth we have, but only that we fight each other instead of him. Divide and conquer... and nothing says "divide" quite like male supremacy.

truthseeker

Lin, that is a very good point even for me, though I am struggling with keeping the head above the comp water. I need to keep it all in perspective as much as I can living in the midst of a dichotomy.

Frozen Banana

Marriage as a business partnership? Ick... I am not married nor ever plan to be, but I would NEVER marry a guy who told me that. I once voiced an opinion differing from the authority/submission, and was promptly told that I was not on the side of God’s TRUTH, that I should be happy to have parents, pastors "covering" me. My mother told me I always had an authority problem. Maybe I do, lol! But I suffered some minor abuse in school (I have ADHD). I prefer the dignity of everyone being equal.

Paula Fether

I agree, Froze. They’ve got the wrong paradigm. And shouldn’t all believers have "an authority problem"? :-P

Paula Fether

And for Froze and any others who haven’t see this before, I give you...

The Magic Umbrella

... a fake but oh-too-real website for today’s alpha males.

Enjoy!

Kay

Paula,

Your Magic Umbrella is a hoot. I really appreciate the humorous satire you use so often. If we couldn’t laugh about this issue sometimes, it would be unbearable.

Paula Fether

Welcome Kay, and thanks! Always happy to cheer someone up.