What To Say When Someone Says Wives Are To Submit

What To Say When Someone Says Wives Are To Submit March 4, 2019

From CBE

On February 25, 2019

Editor’s Note: This article is part of a series on difficult Bible passages entitled “What to Say When…”

“The Bible says wives should submit to husbands, because men are the head of women.”

Sigh. Some of us have heard this overly simplistic and frankly convenient interpretation of Paul’s words in Ephesians 5:18-32. But are we taking the “household codes” seriously enough in their own context? Is there more to this passage than meets the eye?

The Household Code and the Paterfamilias

Ephesians 5:22-6:9 is often referred to simply as the “household code.” The household code was a literary form for rules about behavior in the household. They used very wealthy families as an idealized model. Everyone in these households had some relationship to the figure known as the paterfamilias. Occasionally, a woman occupied this role, but usually, the paterfamilias was a husband, father, grandfather, uncle, brother, or master to everyone in the house. Though women were beginning to gain some rights during this time, he would exercise total control over the life and often death of everyone inside. Only very rarely could anyone use the legal system to challenge him. This is a microcosm of how the whole of society was organized. Higher status people supported lower status people in return for deference and service.[1]

Christ is the Head of the Church (5:23)

The Greek word for head is kephale. When Greeks used “head” in an idiomatic sense, it was rarely about authority. Instead, they understood the “head” as the cause of life, source of sustenance, and expression of identity. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 11 (written before Ephesians), man is the head of woman. But it’s clear he is talking about who comes from who. Eve was created fromAdam, so man is woman’s “head.” But Paul also wants the Corinthians to be careful about making too much of this. Men are born from women, so all humans are interdependent.

Furthermore, Christ is eternally begotten of the Father, not subordinate to him. If that’s what it means for God to be the head of Christ, the same meaning probably carries through in Paul’s other uses of the word.

In Ephesians and Colossians (which share language and themes), Christ is called the kephale of the church five times. Ephesians 1 speaks of Christ as “the kephale for the church, the fullness of him who fills everything.” Colossians 1 says Christ is the kephale of the church, the beginning and firstborn from the dead. In Ephesians 4 and Colossians 2, Christ is the “kephale from whom the whole body grows.” While Christ is certainly the supreme authority over all things, this word—head—doesn’t express that truth. This metaphor is about Christ as the source of new life and growth. Similarly, but on a tiny scale, Eve was created out of Adam. Also, it’s crucial to note that women in Greco-Roman society were dependent on men for life and identity. This metaphor was thus a helpful image for Paul, but things are different today.

The Husband is the Head of the Wife, but the Master Isn’t the Head of the Slave?

A female slave would be responsible to her master, not her husband. If we were supposed to read “head” as “in charge,” it would make sense for the master to be the head of the slave. This is especially true since, in household codes outside the Bible, the husband-wife relationship was seen as the most equal of the three, with the least need for overt control. However, slaves were not made from masters. Kephale wouldn’t make any sense for a slave, because this word is not about authority, but about the source of life.

Be Filled with the Spirit (5:18)

Most translations put a section heading over Ephesians 5:22 that says something about the household. Verse 22, then, appears to start a new thought. In fact, it’s not even a new sentence.

In Greek, verse 22 is part of a very long sentence that begins in verse 18. It should read something like this: “Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speakingsingingmaking music…giving thanks to God the Father…submitting to one another in the fear of Christ—wives to their own husbands as to the Lord.” This signals that as we read the household code, we should be thinking about worship—not a worship service, but how we can have lives of worship to God and not people.

As to the Lord (5:22)

Wives are told to submit “as to the Lord,” and slaves to obey “as to Christ.” Both commands refer to that long sentence in verses 18-22. Women suffered terrible injustice in this era (and in all others before and after it). But, the Christian community of this time had no power to change or challenge the wider culture. Roman society was seized with anxiety in this era about the roles of men and women, and they exerted tight control over women’s behavior. In our day, nothing about adherence to traditional gender roles makes the gospel more attractive. In fact, the opposite is true. Furthermore, Christianity has enormous cultural influence that can now be used to seek justice for women.

This household code was Paul’s attempt to reframe the unjust treatment that women suffered as subordinate members of the household. It was unlikely that the status of the women to whom Paul was writing would change dramatically during their lifetimes. Paul suggests that they consider their submission directed ultimately to Christ instead of to a husband.

It’s crucial to note, however, that this doesn’t mean that the husband is entitled to the wife’s obedience. It also doesn’t mean that suffering subordination is a good thing or that society’s unjust treatment of women and husbands’ unjust treatment of wives was acceptable. It certainly doesn’t mean that Christians should prop up the arrogance of male authority just because the Romans did.

It means that since wives already had to obey their husbands, they should consider it part of their Christian duty to submit to everyone as worship to Christ. Husbands share this duty, as do all believers (verse 21). Today’s wife should also be submissive, to be sure—but her husband should be, too. All Christians are called to mutual submission as one among many acts of communal worship.

It’s also worth noting that the oppressed woman is encouraged to subvert the authority of her husband by giving her deference and service to Christ. As the household code in Colossians puts it: “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for human masters…it is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Col 3:23-24).

This is a Profound Mystery (5:32)

In the incarnation, Christ was joined to humanity as “one flesh.” This allows Christ to be our kephale in the resurrection—the firstborn from the dead. We can only hope in the resurrection because Christ has become human. If maleness were necessary for Jesus’ incarnation, it would be necessary for our resurrection. But because he is “the kephale from whom the whole body grows”—men and women—we are all joined in one Christ, and authority differences between people are ultimately meaningless (Gal 3:28).

To Sum Up, What Should You Say?

1. “Head” doesn’t imply authority. Instead, it means that at creation, women came from men. In the new, resurrection creation, the church comes from Jesus Christ.
2. All Christians should submit to each other as part of a life of worship.
3. Because wives and slaves suffered unjust power imbalances, they should direct their submission to Christ, rather than human authorities.
4. Because Jesus became one flesh with us in the incarnation, he can be our kephale in the resurrection.

Notes

[1] Cynthia Westfall, Paul and Gender: Reclaiming the Apostle’s Vision for Men and Women in Christ(Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2016), 20-22.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I agree with the conclusion, but the premise that “kephale” is a Hellenistic metaphor for “source of life” is pretty shaky. It is true that “kephale” is sometimes used to describe “source” such as the source of a river, and sometimes a “starting point.” In other places, it can be used as a metonymy for someone’s life, as in “this plan risks our heads.” I can’t think of any extrabiblical references where “kephale” means “source of life,” but I’m open to correction on that.

    What I think is more likely in this passage is “kephale” is being used in the sense of prominence. In a patriarchal society, the patriarch is the socially prominent member of the family, and antisocial behavior that happens in his family is a reflection on him. Authority is still not an implication of this, but “foremost representative” fits several NT passages, the social context of Paul’s argument in this passage, and the Septuagint translations as well, which do not use kephale to designate someone in authority, but will use it to translate passages such as Jeremiah 38 (in the LXX – 31 in English) where the remnant of Israel returning from exile is referred to as the “head of the nations,” which obviously does not mean that they rule the nations, but rather they are prominent among the nations.

  • Robert A. Pursley

    I do agree that God is the head and source, and the Son is eternally begotten/generated. However, I’m not so sure the assertion that he is not subject to the Father is correct. One is language. God is called the Father. Jesus is designated the Son. Does this not imply an ontological hierarchy (perhaps not the best word) of sorts? John portrays the Son as always being subject to the Father. The Son does not seek his own glory. He does not act independently of the Father. His food is to do the will of Him who sent him. Think of the synoptics and Jesus’ prayer in the garden. “Not my will, but your will be done.” All of these seem to indicate some degree of subjugation, a pattern of how the Father and Son relate to one another. Even Phil 2, with the language of equality present, says that Jesus humbled himself by becoming obedient to the Father’s will. He did not cling to his status, but humbly obeyed. We also can see that the Father’s concern was that the Son be glorified and exalted. So, God is no tyrant Father. He is a good and loving Father who seeks His own glory in the glory of His Son. He exalts Him to the highest place. One could argue that this subjection was limited to the incarnate Son, not the pre-incarnate Son. Yet, I do think it is reasonable to assume that the Son becomes incarnate because, though equal to and of the same essence as the Father, He is still the obedient Son. This seems to be the implication of what Paul says in 1 Cor 15, also. God himself is not subject, but Son will himself be subject as he delivers the kingdom to His Father. He is submissive to His Father in every thing. I would also argue that while Jesus is our source of eternal salvation and life from God (kephale), he is also Lord of the church.

    Yes, Ephesians 5 is written in the context of believers submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. Yet, there is still a connotation of authority present. The husband expresses submission by loving his wife as Christ loved the church. A wife submits to her husband, expressing her devotion to Christ by respecting her husband. Authority is not a bad word. It doesn’t even express inequality. (The Trinity is a prime example.) The questions is, how is that authority expressed? Is it expressed in sacrificial, self-giving, or is it expressed tyrannically?

  • Petros

    There is indeed the thorny aspect of how (limited) human language gets used to express Trinitarian relations. Yet care must be taken, lest one find himself mired in the eternal subordination of the Son heresy that blew up the blogosphere a couple years ago.

    In earthly human relations, authority, per se, is not necessarily a ‘bad’ word. But it does entail inequality insofar as it bequeaths rights/privileges not otherwise available to those who don’t have it. And THAT is the rub, where the burden of proof might be on the side of the person who intends to claim that husbands have unique rights/privileges that their wives do not.

    Just one other aspect to consider is the cultural context of Ephesus when trying to discern Paul’s argumentation. The Ephesian female-dominated and domineering cult of Artemis, with roots tracing to warrior-amazon women, is a factor. These ladies were no shrinking violets. Above/beyond the trans-gender “submit to one another” command of Eph 5:21, one can wonder if Paul felt particular cause, under the cultural circumstances, to re-emphasize the “submit” bit to wives in Eph 5:22.

  • fb

    As we contemplate the possible meanings of kephale and submission, we need to pay attention to the bigger picture of the discourse. We should ask ourselves: is Paul’s focus here on reinforcing the culturally-mandated patterns of authority and order — things which were uncontested and clear in the social context into which he was speaking — or on arguing for mutual obligation, something which may not have been nearly so clear? It seems to me like he’s spending a lot of time and space making the case that in these relationships which were marked by a clear distinction in terms of power, that the more powerful partner had a responsibility to use their power to bless the ‘weaker’ partner, to NOT exploit them for personal gain. The example of Jesus as head in the passage is that he lays down his life for his beloved and for her benefit — not that he rules justly.

    How this applies to modern marriages in Western culture is less clear. Is Paul sanctioning the power differences common in the culture, or is he undoing them from the inside? But it seems like a pretty strong case can be made for the latter. YMMV.

  • Ldon

    quote““The Bible says wives should submit to husbands because men are the head of women.” This is an incomplete summary of the idea of Biblical submission of the Wife.
    The proper context is ” as unto the Lord”. Not just because the husband is the head of the wife, but because she is doing it to please her Lord.

    “When Greeks used “head” in an idiomatic sense, it was rarely about authority. “ Many Greek Scholars will disagree with this statement. For the opposite is true. It is mostly about ” authority over ” and very little to do with ‘ source ‘.
    But the context in which “Head ” is used, suggests the writer ( Paul) is speaking of authority over, for we submit to authority or those who are over us in the Lord and in Society.
    We do not submit to a source. We use the source for substance, not direction or correction.

    “Eve was created from Adam, so man is woman’s “head.” This is one reason Paul use to justify male headship. But Adam is the source of both man and woman. For as the First Adam came sin into the world, so the 2nd Adam will bring Life eternal to both males and females.
    But while Adam was the source of Eve, Adam also exercised authority over her by naming her. He did this not as “Source “, but as ” Head with authority over her”. Naming is a function of authority. And God saw it was good, Adam did NOT abuse Eve or his authority over her. And Eve did NOT rebel asking for equal rights to name Adam and the animals.

    ” In the new, resurrection creation, the church comes from Jesus Christ.” And yet, Jesus sets in order His Church and appointed all men as apostles with the authority to lay a foundation of doctrines for His Church to follow. Doctrines that forbid a woman from usurping the legitimate Headship of man.
    Yet, Jesus corrects whom he loves because He is given ALL authority to correct, reprove and rebuke His Church because He loves her.

    This is a typical example of eisegesis and bad hermeneutics design to please women and their quest for equal rights rather than an honest attempt at rightly dividing the word of truth.

  • Ldon

    Paul is NOT concern about the current culture or future ones. Nor is he concerned about changing times.
    We know this because the standard Paul uses is ” as unto the Lord “. So as Long as there is Jesus, then the wife is to ignore the culture or the kosmos around her and do as she is told: ” as unto Her Lord “.

    Secondly, while the article does not mention 1 Timothy 2: 12, the reason Paul gave for the prohibition has NOTHING to do with culture, or education but with Creation. It is God’s sovereign will at work which supersedes culture and times and that’s the standard Paul uses.

    The sad commentary is, we, the Church is conforming to a changing culture and times. But we are told to NOT conform to the world, but to be separate and to hold fast to the tradition of the Apostles. And NOT be tossed around with every new wind of doctrine ( like egalitarianism and Feminism) that blows our way, designed to appeal to the flesh and what makes us feel good.

    We are to contend for the faith that was ONCE given to the Saints,[ Jude 3] and when we do this, we will NOT be following after a changing culture.

  • JohnM

    Ephesians 5:22-6:9 is often referred to simply as the “household code.” only in egalitarian circles, the rest of the church doesn’t do that, often or ever. For that matter, after a quick search of the term the only references I found to household code all were in the same context used here. Now a quick internet search is hardly thorough research. Maybe there are somewhere scholarly articles on the subject of 1st century domestic arrangements, and maybe they use the term “household code” but what in the text leads us to the conclusion that is what Paul had in mind? And why would we think it matters in the direction suggested here?

    Suppose kephale did mean “head” as the cause of life – and I don’t know if it does, but suppose – what difference does that make the instructions? How does that make Paul not have instructed wives to submit to their husbands? Not following the reasoning.

  • Jeb Barr

    I’m not sure if the Romans or Greeks used used the exact phrase “household codes”, but their existence is found in Roman and Greek writings. We know Paul had these in mind because he follows their structure exactly – husbands’ authority over wives, fathers’ authority over children, and masters’ authority over slaves. This simple structure that framed the family interactions of the day goes back at least to Aristotle, and the Romans carried it on as they did with much of Greek thought. Here’s a link where Aristotle is quoted: https://www.psephizo.com/life-ministry/aristotle-and-the-household-codes/.
    Paul then takes this familiar cultural structure and reframes it in light of Christ.

  • Ldon

    You are wrong…

  • JohnE_o

    I’d say, “Obviously you’ve never met my wife…”

  • Rod Bristol

    The most frequent use of human reasoning is to convince yourself that you are right. Philosophical arguments about submission and authority bog down in the process of justifying whatever authority one considers legitimate while deflecting whatever authority one would rather see go away.

    Jesus blew it all away when he said, “Not so among you.” He destroyed hierarchy when he emptied himself and washed our filthy feet. He submitted himself to the injustice we inflicted on him to justify us. Hierarchy is useful in war and in corporations. It has no place in the church or in the family. Even when parents must overrule their children’s wishes, their goal and motive should be to bless and nurture them, not to show who is boss.

  • Petros

    Just curious. Would you say that the prohibition against women braiding their hair (1 Tim 2:9) demonstrates “God’s sovereign will at work which supersedes culture and times”? And, in your church do you ensure that all women cover their heads? (1 Cor 11).

  • Ldon

    Context is important. I hope you can agree with that.
    “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel,with modesty and sobriety; not with braided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;”
    Modesty is an issue of the heart. If we are lusting after the trends in the culture, especially in our attire, it speaks to the condition of our heart. We are warned repeatedly not to conform to the culture around us. We are to be different not only in our speach, but attire as well.
    So one has to study the fashion trends of the day to understand what Paul was saying and why he sought corrective measures.
    It was NOT a prohibition as you say, but an admonition to be Modest in your attire and not follow after the fashion of the day which, logically speaking meant it was not modest.

    The trend then and now seeks to draw attention to self, in seductive and revealing manners, to promote and elevate self in the assembly of Believers.
    The gold and the braided hair isn’t the issue in and of itself. But when we seek to use those things to bring attention to oneself then it becomes an issue of the heart, and would be immodest.[ IMHO]

    ” in your church do you ensure that all women cover their heads?” I am NOT a police man for women. Women are free to chose, including abortion. Some wear hats other don’t…
    But, in my church, I chose to Present the truth of God’s word , in context, even if women are offended by it.
    The Bible does speak to women and their attire, and so do I.
    I trust the Power of the Preached Word to bring correction to the Body of Christ.

    When a Sister or a Brother isn’t properly attired (especially if they are in Leadership positions,) we will have something to say to that individual, and disciplinary actions taken if no change is made.
    There MUST be order in the Church of Jesus Christ.

    You Cannot appear before a Judge in any attire you think makes you feel good and is proper.
    The Judge will order you out if your attire violates the standards the Courts set for one and all.

    Did my answers make you feel good?

  • Ldon

    quote,“. Hierarchy is useful in war and in corporations. It has no place in the church or in the family.” I believe you are confusing “Hierarchy ” and ” Patriarchy”.
    In a Hierarchical system, women can by the head or Captain and can be equally abusive as men.
    But in a “Patriarchal ” system, the female CANNOT be the Head of the man. This is God’s ordained system designed to be patterned after God the Father.

    “Even when parents must overrule their children’s wishes, their goal and motive should be to bless and nurture them, not to show who is boss.” I agree with this, But it also applies to the man, who is the Head of the woman. He is NOT to show himself as Boss, but is to lovingly correct as Christ also dose correct His bride.

  • Rod Bristol

    deleted redundancy

  • Rod Bristol

    No, I’m not confused. Patriarchy is the most pervasive hierarchy in the world. God acted in patriarchal, polygamous, divorcing, violent society, but did not ordain any of those cultural norms. The New Testament teaches oppressed people how to live spiritually free and faithful, whether under unjust government, as a slave, or as a woman. The first proclaimer of Jesus as Messiah was a woman. the person Jesus sent to testify to his resurrection (to the boys) was a woman. Submission in the family of God in Christ is mutual, not gendered. What’s not new for Christian families is wives submitting to husbands. What is new is husbands sacrificing themselves for their wives, as Christ loves his bride. That is profound submission. The traditional proof texts for Christian patriarchy have been profoundly misunderstood and misapplied. You can see this explained at https://readfresh.pub/BiblicalGenderRoles

  • Ldon

    You are conflating ideas. But God does not endorse divorce, in fact He said He hates divorce.
    Polygamy is a sin, for marriage is designed between one man and one woman; in fact, we see punishment to David and Solomon and others for the exact reason.
    I hope you are not insinuating that the God of creation is Violent? These issues you are presenting as social ills are the result of SIN. And not an act of God the Father.

    But, before Sin entered the World, by ONE MAN, Adam, God the Father allowed Adam to exercise “dominion” over the Animals and the female that He created and brought to the man to see what Adam would call her. And what ever Adam call her that was her name, even today in 2019.
    Was Adam abusive to Eve and the animals? Was Eve mad at the fact she was not given the same opportunity to name Adam or the animals? Was she demonstrating for “equal rights” to exercise “dominion” over Adam? No, she was not. In fact, she was happy, until the day she had a conversation with the snake.

    This is the beginning of Patriarchy, under God. And from that time and throughout the Bible, we see a consistent pattern of Male Headship, or patriarchy. It is from this idea that we / the Bible speak of the Patriots of old who were ALL men. The New Testament furthered that same idea with instructions for men to be the Head of the woman and that she is NOT to usurp his authority and for Fathers to rule well their homes as a condition for Church leadership. This is a consistent theme in the OT and NT.

    Yes, Jesus gave Mary a message of his resurrection, but the same Jesus appointed ALL men to be Apostles with the authority over His Church to lay a foundation of Doctrine for Mary and ALL the Saints to follow. Was Jesus a male sexist chauvinist? Was Mary mad at Jesus, for she was NOT chosen to be in positions of authority in His Church?

    Yes, I agree with you that “Christian Patriarchy” is misunderstood and misapplied, and you are furthering that misconception by equating patriarchy to Hierarchy.
    Now, That’s a sad commentary but it is a popular one.

  • It really boils down to the question of whether Paul was writing only to people of that time and place, or whether there is a broader application. And if there is a broader application, what is it and how is it to be set in place?

  • Rod Bristol

    You call it conflation because you like a particular kind of hierarchy. You said a man should “lovingly correct” his wife. I don’t necessarily disagree, but I say that a good wife will “lovingly correct” her husband when he’s wrong. A relationship in which correction flows in one direction and not the other is an oppressive relationship; it presumes superiority of the corrector. Male dominance is a hierarchy, whether formally legislated or not. “Hierarchy” is just a label for a relationship where one person exercises power over another. The exercise of power by one person over another is what Jesus forbade to his followers. Self-sacrificial love is what he demonstrated and commanded.

    Of course, God does not endorse the cultural norms of polygamy, divorce, and violence. However, stories in the Bible reflect those cultural norms, often (nearly always) without disapproval. In contrast to what you say, David’s polygamy was not disapproved; see 2 Samuel 12:8, “…I would have given you more.” Solomon’s polygamy was not condemned; his idolatry under the influence of foreign women was.

    Patriarchy is nothing more than a human convention, a cultural norm, from which Jesus leads us out. You need to read Genesis 1 – 3 again to see the beautiful allegories. The two stories of creation make sense in view of their purposes, but they flatly contradict if you insist they are history. (I had to set aside my already-know-what-it-says habit before I could see how wrong I had been to read it as history.) The trouble with using the creation accounts in Genesis as proof texts is that it violates the text. You read your preferences into it and others read vastly different ideas into it.

  • Ldon

    ,“Hierarchy “ is a man-made system of organization where “people ” ( including women) are ranked according to position and authority.
    The goal of such a system is “self-interest “, usually the ones with the authority.

    “patriarchy” means the ” Rule of the Father”, hence a woman cannot be the head of a man and she is forbidden from usurping the headship and authority of men, (not by me but) by the God of creation. Because He is a God of order, and He has put in place His Sons to be heads of the woman and the Family and in His Church.
    The goal is to honor God the Father ( who is the Head of His Heavenly Family) and to promote the image of godliness in the earth.
    This is His doings.
    When a woman seeks to be the head, she is no longer representing godliness but is a usurper and has presented a distorted, confused image of the God Head.

    “You need to read Genesis 1 – 3 again to see the beautiful allegories.” The beautiful picture of creation was marred by the deception of Eve and by Adam abdicating his leadership role.
    Yet, Paul and NT writers often referenced the Creation Narrative as justification for gender roles in the Home and the Church.

    Hence the ” beautiful allegories ” are more than descriptive, it is also prescriptive and the legacy of male headship from Adam to Noah, to Abraham, to the Prophets and Moses all demonstrates a prescription for Patriarchy as directed by God. He is the one that called Abraham and He told Abraham to rename his wife from Sarai to Sarah. Thus solidifying Abraham’s dominion over his wife.
    Please note, Dominion is what God predicted back in Gen.1-28.
    Domination is what sinful people ( male and female ) do to each other.

    One has got to be stubborn and defiant to ignore the overwhelming preponderance of the evidence that points to Patriarchy as a theme ordained or designed by God the Father to be modeled after godliness.

    Did Adam abuse Eve? Did Noah abuse his wife?…

  • Rod Bristol

    Hierarchy doesn’t imply self interest; General Eisenhower worked for his country and the world. Hierarchy is just a word to identify a relationship based on authority and power. It doesn’t matter what you call it. The issue is the same. The “usurping” (KJV) forbidden in 1 Timothy 2 is not legitimate authority. It is the kind of dominance that never belongs in a human relationship, much less a Christian one. It’s a huge mistake to construct a doctrine that runs contrary to many other passages by reading tradition into this exceptional passage, the meaning of which has long been uncertain for many faithful, diligent people.

    If you knew the people who disagree with you, you might discover they are neither stubborn nor defiant. You might find they have a very high view of Scripture and have diligently, prayerfully studied it. The overwhelming preponderance of scripture shows patriarchy to be one of the cultural features that are contrary to God’s will. Refusing your opinions is not refusing the truth.

    Peace.

  • Ldon

    It would be helpful to present verse and chapter as evidence showing patriarchy to be contrary to God’s will.

    However, I have demonstrated to you where the idea of Patriarchy came from and how is was Meant to be exercised as written for us in the KJV of the Bible. It is not an opinion, it is the Written Word.

    “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” This is not an opinion, it is the written Word.

    “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, good … 4:One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; “
    This is the Written Word, it is not my opinion.

    Now can you share a verse saying the same of the woman?

    “1 Timothy 2 ” is also the word of God. Your interpretation of these verses are not the Word of God.
    So you are not really refusing my opinion, because I have not given one, but you are actually rejecting the Written Word of God.

    But you are not alone…

    Blessings!

  • JohnM

    That simple structure was not unique to the Romans or Greeks, it pretty much describes the family/social structure of most cultures throughout most of history. It is the arrangement we see in the Old Testament. Apparently Paul found it to be right.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. Role of authority or not?

    In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders – Role of authority or not?

    It is a nice argument to refer to the “head” as “origin” and that was the “common way” it was seen.

    Interesting article can be found here https://biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/kephale.pdf

    And, of course, there is always TDNT…

  • GoneNative

    If Christians or followers of other religions still cannot see the difference in society between the pre-medieval, bronze age time of Jesus and the Roman Empire and the modern age we live in today, they will not be able to grow beyond that stage.
    All of us have mothers! In other words, you need a woman to perform an almost impossible act, suffer an almost insufferable amount of pain to give birth to you. And then you have the gall to demand her to submit to you? You sorry excuse for a man even need to misquote the Holy Books, Bible and Koran alike to make the women submit? Then you have absolutely no understanding of God and of what He stands for! Try and give birth!

  • George Potter

    Ephesians also says that a man shall love his wife as Christ loved his church. Christ died for his church are you ready to die for this woman you want to submit to you?

  • Rod Bristol

    Your citations do not demonstrate that patriarchy came from God. Like any other English translation of the Bible, the KJV should be both respected and tested against the Greek text. Any doctrine that depends on specific English words in any version is doubtful, because it merely reflects a preferred interpretation. The passages you cite are often used to justify patriarchy, but the apparent justification depends on human philosophy and interpretive bias. Slave holders and their sympathizers used their proof-texts in the same manner to justify slavery. The proximity and parallels of various passages teaching how to be a free and faithful disciple of Jesus while oppressed by your owner or your husband point to the understanding that patriarchy should go the way of slavery. Just as no passage flatly declares slavery or patriarchy were ordained by God, no passage directly states the opposite.

    The article I referenced earlier shows how the life of Jesus and the testimony of scripture lead us to a new way of living, without power structures, without patriarchy. Here’s the link again: https://readfresh.pub/BiblicalGenderRoles

    I also encourage you to carefully read other Jesus Creed posts. This one is specifically relevant: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/jesuscreed/2019/02/27/what-to-say/ . That post also has links to other excellent resources.

  • Rod Bristol

    Role reversal, if it means swapping the direction of power, would be wrong. Flattening the human urge to exercise power is part of the faith which was once delivered to the saints. (Mark 9:35; Luke 22:26; 3 John 9; etc.)

    Like beauty, absurdity is in the eye of the beholder. If you want to understand why others disagree with you, you will read or listen to what they say. If you wanted to improve your ability to refute them, you would temporarily set aside your philosophical objections, your favorite proof texts, and your moral judgements, just long enough to see why they think the way they do Some of the people you call “egalitarians” may hate the truth or disrespect God or suffer some other moral or mental impairment. The ones I know are diligently faithful lovers of God and the truth. The tradition of patriarchy is so pervasive and deeply embedded in culture that it takes hard work to understand it apart from one’s own habits of feeling, thinking, and socializing. Because the social and psychological roots of patriarchy burrow deep in a person’s mind, a meaningful study of the issue from scripture is necessarily longer than would be appropriate in a comment on someone else’s blog.

    I have read lots of articles written by patriarchists arguing for patriarchy. Of course, no one can read everything written contrary to their own opinions, but I have read some very well-done work, such as _Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood_, edited by John Piper and Wayne Grudem, 1991, Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois. I grew up in a patriarchal tradition. As a Bible teacher, I have earnestly proclaimed how I (mistakenly) saw patriarchy to be grounded in scripture.

    After decades of practicing and defending patriarchy, I had to admit I had been wrong, in order to better see the freedom that God created in Christ.

  • Ldon

    ” The tradition of patriarchy is so pervasive and deeply embedded in culture ..”. Please tell me, which ” culture ” are you speaking of?
    Can you explain the ” culture ” that gave rise to Patriarchy?
    Maybe it may clarify our misunderstanding of each other’s point of view.
    Please note, I have said that male Headship started before the Fall and was at Creation and it is from that event we got Patriarchy.
    What was the culture then that you see as offensive?

    “After decades of practicing and defending patriarchy, I had to admit I had been wrong” Maybe your defense of Patriarchy wasn’t base on the unchanging Word of God. Maybe it was base on wrong applications of the idea , which can be a real issue in Christendom.
    I too must admit that our practice does not always reflect godliness , but that does not mean the idea was wrong or abusive.

    The God of creation does not endorse abuse ,neither does the Apostles.

    Does abuse take place under a Democratic system of Government? Yes it does, but do we reject the system or do we call out the wrongs done ? Yes we do call it out and have in place rules, regulations and laws to live by and punish the offenders

    Thanks for your time and look forward to an answer about Culture..

  • Ldon

    I saw your response earlier, but now that I am ready to reply, it was deleted.
    However, Your answer Re: ” the Culture that gave rise to Patriarchy” was disappointed. Almost laughable.
    The use ‘ current culture ‘ as a reason for patriarchy is silly and not to be taken seriously.

    Now, Culture = the customs and practices( arts, religion, fashion, food etc..) of a particular group of people in a given society.
    God has often warned His people to NOT follow the gods or the customs of the people around them.
    We are told NOT to conform to the world,/ kosmos or the arrangement of the culture around us. We are to be in the world, but NOT of the world.

    Yet, you will have me and others believe that God, Jesus, and the Apostles acquiesced to the customs of a sinful people and appointed ONLY men as Heads in the Church and the Family, because, God, Jesus, and the Apostles were afraid of these sinful men.

    This is utterly absurd and laughable and sad all at the same time.
    But it speaks to the length you and others will go to justify your ideology and worldview. But it is on shifting sands… that too will come to pass.
    But sound doctrine will remain…

    Thanks for conversing.
    Shalom!

  • Jeb Barr

    Did he? That argument is what Christian slave owners used to justify their actions 150 years ago. They claimed the Bible in this passage and others approved of the system of slavery. Today we understand what Paul was doing here – applying principles of the Kingdom of Heaven to the cultural situations of the day. He wasn’t advocating for slavery, but where it existed, masters should treat their slaves fairly, and slaves should work well for their masters and obey them as a witness to them.

    Likewise, I believe Paul is taking the existing cultural views of a man’s total authority over his wife and children and applying the principles of the Kingdom to that cultural situation. He calls for mutual submission. He calls for the husband to love his wife sacrificially. This was a far different take that Aristotle and others. It doesn’t mean Paul was fighting for institutional patriarchy. It was simply the reality of his day. It doesn’t have to be the reality of ours.

  • Derek langseth

    This article is feminist and socialist. This womans comments are not Christian. Women obey your husbands or God himself will punish you.

  • Derek langseth

    The apostles writings are not corrected by “modern society” but rather modern society is corrected by the Apostles writings.

  • mellowyellow

    Nonsense. You are fear mongering and don’t know what she is talking about.

  • Roger Morris

    I’d say “On yer bike and leave off your anachronistic, misogynist, outdated 1st Century Near Eastern theology of command and control”.

  • Roger Morris

    And that there is the whole problem.

  • Roger Morris

    A prime example of bad faith.

  • Derek langseth

    Fear the Lord and obey His word. God himself will judge His people.

  • mellowyellow

    that doesn’t excuse your willful ignorance and fear mongering. Socialism? Nothing she said indicated that.Feminism? You mean treating women with respect and as our intellectual/emotional/spiritual equals? Nothing wrong with that. They read and study the Bible as well, don’t discount their point of view.

  • Derek langseth

    We do not correct God. He corrects us either through His Word or with His chastisement. Unless we are none of his. Then we will be destroyed by him just as the those before the flood were destroyed. I will pray for you that you are found in Christ’s Kingdom at the end.

  • Rod Bristol

    I did not say that culture gave rise to patriarchy. I do say that patriarchy is just one facet of most cultures past and present. Patriarchy is a cultural expression of the animal part of human nature. I also pointed out that the Bible gives its testimony within cultures of the times it was written, often without condemning things we now see as wrong. You say patriarchy was ordained by God and was evident in the creation story before “the Fall.” The argument you advanced for that is that Adam named Eve. Your argument is philosophy, not what the Bible says. Adam named the animals before the curse and Eve after the curse. The leap from those details to giving males authority over females forever strains common sense past the breaking point and disrespects scripture.

    Far from acquiescing to culture, Jesus repeatedly violated the religious culture of his time. One way he did so was by breaking their rules of the Sabbath. Another way he violated culture was by teaching women, leading them on his travels with other disciples, partaking of their financial means (Luke 8:3), and respecting them as complete human beings. He was killed by religious traditionalists who would not accept his radical teachings. Without endorsing it, Jesus, like Apostle Paul, who became “all things to all men, that I might by all means save some” (1 Corinthians 9:19, KJV), accommodated culture as a practical necessity so the gospel could be proclaimed effectively. Jesus accommodated culture by appointing male apostles and at the same time, he planted seeds of grace that would gradually overcome society’s prejudices against women.

    Yes, sound doctrine will out, eventually overcoming patriarchal tradition, laughter, and all other defenses against it.

  • D.M.S.

    The only time that is to occur in a heterosexual marriage is when the husband submits to Christ Jesus and tries to follows all of His examples. Scripture is explicit on how a husband is to treat his wife and 100% of the time he is to treat his wife with love, respect and honor.

  • Ldon

    Scripture is also explicit on how a wife is to treat her husband.
    She is to submit to him in Everything, and she is to see to it that she respects her husband. [ Ephesians 5:33]
    Yes?

  • Ldon

    Before the Scriptures address the issue of husbands loving his wife even to death, the Bible first addresses the Submission and respect of the wife to her own husband, in everything. Verse 22 comes before v25.
    With such a wife, dying will be automatic.
    If she is the feminist type , argumentative and contentious, then the Wise Man Solomon admonished the man to go and live on the rooftop than live with such a woman.
    He won’t be dying for such a wife….and no need to force him just like we do not force a wife to submit to her husband. Both are free will actions.
    She chose to submit, he chose to die. Yes!

  • Roger Morris

    You assume that your particular interpretation of “God’s will” in this matter is accurate and irrefutable. You would be wrong on that matter.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    Do people not read the text anymore??? Of course there is a hierarchy in the language of Jesus! “And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
    And is Paul making things up as he writes, “But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ”?
    As far as the Greek “study” is concerned, it is pretty limited in facts.

  • D.M.S.

    Submit in everything to him under God/Jesus.

  • NorrinRadd

    Unilaterally? No, that is not Scripture’s demand. They are to submit to each other — Eph. 5:21.

    Saying the wife’s submission is to be unilateral places her in a lower status than slaves, since in 6:9, after many firm instructions directed to slaves, the master is told to treat them “the same way” that they were to treat him. In a household, the “husband” and the “master” are the same person. If masters and slaves have equivalent reciprocal relationships, but wives are require to unilaterally submit, that is inappropriate bordering on blasphemous.

  • NorrinRadd

    Verse 21 comes before verse 22, and verse 21 commands *mutual* submission.

    In fact, the verb “submit” does not even occur in the Greek of v. 22; it carries over from v. 21.

  • Derek langseth

    Gods word never changes. It shocks me that people think they can remake God into a socialist or post modernist. Normal Christianity is now offensive. Scary. May God richly bless you.

  • Ldon

    Yes indeed…there is no other standard for her Submission.
    It must be a choice as unto the Lord.
    So too, it must be his choice to Love , even to death,

  • D.M.S.

    Do you believe in God/Jesus?
    Is God/Jesus your Lord and Savior?

  • Ldon

    V21 is a general instruction which applies even to the Pastor. Yet , there is only one Pastor per flock with the ultimate authority to set directions and will be held responsible by Jesus for the Flock in his care.

    So too a husband has the ultimate authority in the home and the wife is instructed NOT to usurp his legitimate authority.
    There is NO verse that ask a husband to NOT usurp the authority of the wife.
    She is NOT the head for it was NOT given to her by her Lord and Creator. It was given to the man.

  • Dw

    While I agree your interpretation of “head” is consistent with certain passages, in others the reference is clearly anatomical with the husband being the head and the wife the body, just as in the larger sense Christ is the head of His body the Church. What function does an anatomical head have in relation to the anatomical body? It must be noted that “authority” is not stressed as has been common, but care, concern, and direction for the body is.

  • Rod Bristol

    Yes, of course, we read the text, carefully. The end of the passage where Jesus quashes hierarchy (Luke 22:24ff) has Jesus’ followers sitting on thrones judging the twelve tribes. Jesus is not contradicting himself. He leaves us with a puzzle to learn what “judging the twelve tribes of Israel” means. One rather obvious application is that those who follow him will, by that example, stand in contrast to the majority of those who were privileged to have been born into the twelve tribes, yet rejected him. The other text presenting the thrones image (Matthew 19:23ff) points to this interpretation. Again, if Jesus wanted his followers to exercise authority over one another, he would not have explicitly said “Not so.”

    The text you cite (1 Corinthians 11) addresses a cultural issue from both sides of disagreement over the issue. Remember that the central issue addressed in that letter is the fracturing of Christian fellowship into parties (See chapter 1.). This is not the only place in that letter that Paul explains to one side of a conflict why the other side thinks the way they do. To read this ambiguous text as if it establishes relational hierarchy is simply to read a preconceived idea into it. If Paul had intended a hierarchy, the broken sequence of the hierarchy obscures that supposed intent. Scripture nowhere depicts one’s relationship to the Lord Jesus depending on or flowing through any other person.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    You are confusing things here. There is the idea of hierarchy, and there is the idea of relationship with God. A relationship flowing through someone is found in the Catholic church. The text does not speak of “Only through the husband can the wife have a relationship with God.”

    In the idea of hierarchy as described in Ephesians 5 and 1 Corinthians 11 (and “elder” passages) we have a totally different picture.

    But in the relationship between husband and wife there is the fact that the husband will be accountable for his spiritual leadership. As elders will be held accountable for their spiritual leadership over the flock. “Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood…” Unless, of course, I am reading this one wrong, too.

    1 Corinthians does not address a cultural point when it speaks of the ‘hierarchy.’ You MIGHT have a case if Paul was speaking to Jewish Christians, but even then…

  • Rod Bristol

    Will a woman be accountable for her spiritual leadership? Were Timothy’s grandmother and mother violating God’s will by teaching Timothy? Was Priscilla out of bounds when she taught Apollos?

    If 1 Corinthians 11 teaches hierarchy and if males are accountable to God in a different way than females, then the implication that some people stand in the way of others’ relationship with God is not absurd. Of course, I agree with you that such an implication is absurd, which is why the premises are not valid.

    1 Corinthians 11 does not teach hierarchy. The concept of hierarchy is incidental at most and arguably irrelevant to the text. The text speaks of honoring others by honoring their custom, even when the custom is not part of one’s own culture. In today’s world, instead of flaunting one’s right to do otherwise, a woman might cover her hair and a man might avoid raising his foot, out of respect for a Muslim neighbor or for a former Muslim who is now a sister or brother in Christ.

  • Rudy Schellekens

    Really?? We are talking about a husband-wife relationship, not a male/all females.

    And again, people are not standing between anybody’s relationship to God. Look at the text, again…

    ” praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man and the head of Christ is God…”

    Tell me where “custom” begins. Is the relationship between Father and Son “custom” in this text? Is the relationship between every man and Christ custom? If neither one of those is custom, than how in the world can you make the middle statement custom??

  • Dw

    The repeated instructions in Scripture for submission are from God to wives. Never is a husband instructed to demand or make his wife submit. For instance, in Genesis 3:16 the directive “he shall rule over you” is addressed specifically to Eve. The only commands to husbands are for them to love their wives. That said, women love confident, masculine, leading men. Witness the covers of most romance novels which are read predominantly by women.

  • gdubya31

    Generally like the ‘temperature” of your article with 2 exceptions (if you’ll read through this I think you’ll like and agree with me in line with your article for the most part): 1) Head, even in biblical context of kephale, still implies authority by order but you’ve written of authority in this article just as the world does implying “ruling or lording over others.” Jesus recanted the whole worldly concept of authority in word (Mt 20:24-28 clearly debunking the idea that authority itself was what the world and sinners make of it in “ruling over others”) and action (Jn 13:1-5; 12-17 where He models love, humility and service as authority itself and then tells us as disciples, spouses, co-workers, Christian brothers and sisters that this is exactly the authority in His Kingdom includes and can’t be separated from love, humility and serving). If we would apply His Truth definition and modeling to all forms of headship/authority it would completely change the way we do marriage, spousal roles, church and everything else that we participate in as Christ followers, and; 2) Struggle to agree with any goal that “makes the Gospel more attractive” other than The Truth of The Gospel itself…there are many instances where that Truth is not attractive to our culture at all…it’s just that in this case if we would follow Jesus Truth in word and deed we would make love, humility, service and authority much more attractive in every setting – marriage/family, church and beyond. Just imaging if our churches actually taught that a husbands authority role begins with sacrificially submitting and serving his wife just as Jesus did for His Bride. Wow, leading by example to show our wives what true love and submission really are would be a great starting point. Wives/women would be much more inclined to choose to submit if husbands chose to sacrificially love in the first place as servant-leaders in line with God’s Truth revealed in His written and Living Word! Thanks for the article and make it a great day in Him!

  • Ldon

    NorrinRadd, Submitting one to the other is a general instruction to all of us, including Parent Child relationships. Yet it is the Parent that has the authority over the child and is responsible for the Child.
    Can you appreciate this Fact? Or v21 does not apply to Parent Child and or the Pastor Congregation relationship?

    Please note, v21 did NOT specify any relationship pairs. But in v22 , it did specify the wife to submit to her own husband in everything.
    Why single her out and NOT the husband.?

    Ch 6 ask children to ” Obey your parents in the Lord”. Why not ask the Parents to obey the Children in the Lord? Why NOT? Can you see the chaos such would create?

    You may feel hurt and offended that the scriptures ask you, a wife to submit to your husband, but then it is your pride that is bruised and offended.
    In which case, the intended effect of v21, ( which is humility ) means nothing to you. For it is humility of heart that will allow the wife to ” submit and the Husband to Love as Christ did.

    That is the beautiful Picture of the relationship between Christ and His bride that is to be reflected in our earthly relationships.
    A wife who is the head of her husband, is presenting a false, corrupted and subverted image of Christ and His Church.

    That relationship is never abusive, because Jesus does not abuse His bride.
    This is the standard we are to press forward towards…Yes?

  • magilla gorilla

    thanks to you and rod for the great discussion, perhaps i should refrain for now from judging a winner?

  • magilla gorilla

    thanks to you and rudy for the great discussion, perhaps i should refrain for now from judging a winner?

  • tovlogos

    I think the most important thing on the list is: “Be Filled with the Spirit (5:18)…”
    Without this necessity all things are doomed to failure, spiritually speaking.
    If a couple were filled with the Spirit then 1 Peter 3:1,2,7 would not be so offensive a statement, especially in view of
    Eph. 5:
    “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word,
    they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.
    Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner
    and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
    In a proper translation it does say in Genesis 3:16 that there will be basic differences in male and female — (God said to the woman)…in pain
    you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you.
    And then Adam receives his marching orders and the appropriate condemnation — thus the trials and tribulations had begun.
    So, I believe being filled, engaged, guided by…the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-15) is the only key to the Door.
    It’s obviously not a simply matter — we can’t make it work any more than Paul could sort out the grievous paradox he faced
    in Romans 7:14-24 — yet worshipping God is the only solution. Eph. 5:8 — For once you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord;
    walk as children of Light [lead the lives of those native-born to the Light. PS, husbands are not off the hook — 25 Husbands, love your wives,
    as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her. Although churches in Europe and the US are largely in free fall, each one of us
    is still obligated to to be godly at all times — much easier said…

  • Rod Bristol

    Custom apparently begins in the correspondence from Corinth to Paul, to which he responds in this, his second letter to them, which we call 1 Corinthians. His complement to them, followed with “but…” indicates the beginning of a response. This letter introduces several topics in ways that appear to reflect its responsive character. The topic is the decorum a man or a woman should present to others when they pray and prophesy. The ;head’ argument (whatever it means) is not the topic; it’s a rationale for the decorum. The head argument does not stand alone; whatever Paul means by it, he employs double entendre throughout the discussion, which obviously focuses on social customs. The omission of unmarried women from the categories, which you noted, further points to the sense that honor, not hierarchy. is the basis of the argument Paul makes.

    To understand Paul’s rhetoric, or at least to recognize our lack of understanding, we should take note of the way he employs allegory in other passages, such as 1 Corinthians 10:1 – 5. Despite the textual rhetoric, nobody was baptized into Moses. The rock that followed the Israelites in the desert came from a fictional story that was well-known in the first century. That story was made up to bridge the gap between the two episodes, separated by decades, when water was provided from a rock. (See Exodus 17:6 and Numbers 20:8–13.)

    Take just a few seconds to understand what I wrote. I agree with you that nobody rightly stands between God and anybody else.

  • NorrinRadd

    Yes, I appreciate that parents have authority over children. I also appreciate the self-evident fact that children are qualitatively different from adults. The parent-child relationship is in no way a parallel to the husband-wife relationship.

    OTOH, I do not see v. 21 as inapplicable to pastor-flock relationships. While I do recognize that the NT does portray leaders within the body of Christ, they are WITHIN the body, not some special class ABOVE the body. I am not inclined to further pursue this particular line of discussion. If you can, try to locate a copy of Gordon Fee’s old essay Laos and Leadership under the New Covenant. You may not agree with it, but I think you’ll find it thought-provoking.

    Yes, it would be problematic for parents to be told to “obey” their children. But I note you ignored the part where “masters” were told to treat their slaves “the same way” that the slaves had just been told to treat them. It is a problem for adults to treat children as equals; it is not a problem for adults to treat other adults as equals.

    You may feel hurt and offended that the scriptures ask you, a wife tosubmit to your husband, but then it is your pride that is bruised and
    offended.

    😀 It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it amuses me when some interlocutor assumes I must be a woman. If you were familiar with Marvel Comics characters, you would realize that my monicker reveals me to most likely be a male nerd. “Norrin Radd” is the “civilian” name of the Silver Surfer, Sky Rider of the Spaceways, wielder of the Power Cosmic, rebel former herald of the world-eater Galactus.

    A wife who is the head of her husband, is presenting a false, corrupted and subverted image of Christ and His Church.

    Whoever is best gifted to lead should lead. Ideally, there would be an equal partnership, as in the original Creation, where there was no hierarchy until after the Fall. In practice, each partner will likely have greater strengths in certain areas, and the two would alternate leadership accordingly. But in all cases, neither should have the attitude, “I should be in charge here,” but rather, “How can I best serve?”

  • Ldon

    V21 does not exclude any form of relationships. That’s what “One to the other” is.
    But the proper understanding is Humility as a Kingdom walk principle. So that Parents can indeed submit to their children without giving up their position of authority. It takes humility to do that.
    Submitting one to the other does not nullify the Husband’s authority over the wife.

    “Whoever is best gifted to lead should lead.” This is subjective and leads to chaos. But God has already assigned the man as the Head of the wife, regardless of her ” giftedness”.
    I think I am more ” gifted” than my Pastor, should I be the Leader Pastor as a result?

    I am not familiar with comic books…and it does not matter if you are a wife or not.

    Servanthood Leadership did not give the disciples the right to be Head of Jesus. , He was still the Head and they still called Him “Master”. Jesus never calls them ” master”. But it was Jesus who put in place all Male Apostles to Lead His Church because He is the Head of His Church.

    But only in the wife-husband relationship will it be conceivable for the wife to be the head even though she is forbidden from usurping his headship. That is of the devil and does not represent godliness.

    Egalitarians at CBE have often recommended ‘ Fee and Payne’ because they affirm such ideology. But the scriptures do not.

    It is up to you to continue the discussion. You are under no obligation to reply.

  • Andy Doerksen

    (1) The first thing you say is: “Yes, that’s what the Bible teaches.”

    (2) Kephale =/= “source.” See chapter 5 of this online book:
    http://cdn.desiringgod.org/pdf/books_bbf/books_bbf.pdf
    “Head” most certainly does imply authority.

    (3) Christ is most certainly subordinate to the Father. This is obvious to any objective reader of the New Testament, and has been orthodox Christian teaching for about 1700 years.

    What Hinkley and so many other Christians today fail to realize is that some aspect(s) of Scriptural teaching will ALWAYS conflict with the surrounding anti-God culture. You know what was controversial in the first-century Greco-Roman context? . . . “Husbands love your wives[.]”

  • Andy Doerksen

    Your understanding of “leadership” is worldly rather than biblical.

  • Andy Doerksen

    For worldly thinkers, yes.

  • Roger Morris

    It seems to me that the world needs more “worldly thinkers” than it needs pious Christian thinkers.

  • Andy Doerksen

    Trying to think God’s thoughts after Him isn’t “pious” as you define it. If the Bible really is divinely inspired, then not thinking biblically is the height of foolishness.

  • FlyingSquirrel

    Dude, socialism is when the government controls production of goods or ownership of property. It has nothing to do with gender relationships. Please stop using terms that don’t apply. What you are expressing is a fear-based reaction. I am personally well acquainted with this fear because I was conditioned from childhood and in adulthood with talk radio to react to everything conservatives don’t like as being automatically socialist or Marxist. The reality is, not everything is socialist or Marxist. Using ad hominem attacks that don’t remotely apply does not add to the discussion.

  • FlyingSquirrel

    Didn’t Christ die for us while we were yet his enemies? Surely by your own logic if the wife has to submit in everything, then all the more the husband has to die in everything, regardless of her behavior, and especially so as to win her over, since that is what Christ did for us? Your conclusion is self-serving and warped.

  • Seraphim Hamilton

    I’ll begin with this disclaimer: I write this stuff off the cuff, pretty quickly, and conveying tone with proper precision requires a fair deal of editing (or so I’ve found). So please don’t take anything I’ve written here as attempting to patronize or condescend. I don’t believe that the reading given in the article is viable, nor do I believe that the text is particularly opaque, but this is written in the spirit of engaging with the arguments presented.

    “This metaphor was thus a helpful image for Paul, but things are different today.”

    The article should have ended there, with the confession that the teaching of Scripture was ultimately immaterial. Let’s be clear about what the assertion is. The assertion is that Paul used a metaphor which signified a relationship which in its fundamental structure was oppressive. The reality is that Paul nowhere places the cultural statute of limitations on his teaching that the author wishes to here.

    “Paul suggests that they consider their submission directed ultimately to Christ instead of to a husband.”

    This is frankly bizarre. The author is working within a system of thought where each person is in a state of competition for domination so that submission to one is subversion of another. This is antithetical to the biblical vision of reality, where God’s creation expresses who He is and manifests His character. For the wife to submit to her husband is to submit to Christ, because the husband manifests the authority of Christ in the family.

    “It also doesn’t mean that suffering subordination is a good thing or that society’s unjust treatment of women and husbands’ unjust treatment of wives was acceptable. It certainly doesn’t mean that Christians should prop up the arrogance of male authority just because the Romans did.”

    But Paul never frames the issue in this fashion. He doesn’t consider the divine order of the family as instituted at creation to be fundamentally oppressive or “suffering subordination.” He doesn’t consider authority to be “arrogance” by definition. And he never states or implies that his teaching only was relevant to Roman cultural norms. These ideas need to be imported into the text and then built into interpretation in order to create a problem which is then solved by dismissing the concept of authority within the household altogether.

    The argument about slavery seems to work as follows: “yes, the submission of wives to husbands is a hard saying. But accepting it means accepting an even harder saying, that slaves are called to live out their Christian faith in faithful service rather than rebellion. And that’s such a hard saying that nobody can accept it, so we don’t have to accept the earlier one, either.”

    I don’t buy it. Yes, Paul says what he says about slavery, and I believe it. Assuming there is a slave in the household, he should live out his Christian faith by faithful service, and if he is given the opportunty to receive his freedom, as Paul says elsewhere, he should take it. But you’ll note that whereas in Ephesians 6 Paul flattens out the dynamic between slave and master by stating that they both serve the same Master in Heaven who judges with no partiality towards either, in Ephesians 5 Paul does nothing of the sort. On the contrary, he roots the submission of bride to bridegroom in the ontology of creation itself and in the submission of Christ to the Church. Is there mutual submission of Christ and the Church? Is the Church free to rebel when she pleases, not, of course, being “obligated” to submit to her Divine Bridegroom? Is Jesus Christ “owed” the Church’s submission? This bit is representative of the general argument:

    “While Christ is certainly the supreme authority over all things, this word—head—doesn’t express that truth. This metaphor is about Christ as the source of new life and growth. Similarly, but on a tiny scale, Eve was created out of Adam.”

    Okay, let’s say that “head” doesn’t express the truth signified by the relationship described. I don’t quite understand why, but let’s concede it for the sake of argument. Even conceding that, you’ve right here accepted the fundamental point, which is that the relationship of Christ to the Church is a paradigm for the relationship of Bridegroom to Bride. They are joined as one body and he is the head in the sense that he is the source of the marital river. He directs the direction of its flow, he is the one who manifests Christ’s life-giving presence in the home in relation to his wife. As to the question of life and identity- allowing the Bible to define our psychology for us produces certain interpretations of reality which are deeply offensive to most people today when stated directly. But we can see the intrinsic connection female identity has with a male protector in noting the ways in which absent fathers will shatter daughters, and how those psychological issues will manifest in seeking a series of unhealthy relationships wherein she attempts to repair her broken sense of self.

    The dependence of women on men for a properly integrated sense of self is not a cultural artifact, but an unbreakable truth of mankind that is manifested in many myriads of ways. If we are to believe what the OP says, then in many ways contemporary society is living more biblically- in terms of the structure of the household- than ever before. How’s it working out? Broken families and homes everywhere. Divorces, adultery, weeping, broken children, shattered lives. The empirical results are as unimpressive as the interpretive strategy. I don’t see a reason to think that the account of things given in the article is actually true. And as Lewis pointed out in Screwtape Letters, we must vigorously attend to that fundamental category. It’s about truth and falsehood, not modern or medieval, not fashionable versus antiquated, not even oppressive versus merciful, for to define those categories before apprehending truth is to risk misdefining them in profound and fundamental ways.

    As to the question of Christ’s subordination, here you are just appealing to systematic categories to overrule the Bible, which isn’t a viable account of systematics by anyone’s account. But in reality acknowledging that Jesus Christ as eternal Son is subordinate to the Father in SOME sense is as old as the church and is simply unavoidable. He is the Son, the Father is the Father. The Father is the active mover, the Son receives and reciprocates. And this is a paradigm for the male-female relation indeed, because men and women share the same human nature and thus the same value in God’s eyes, but nevertheless have an internal order of headship and submission.

    The bit about singing in the Spirit is a non-sequitur- of course it’s about worship. And there are many wives who joyfully submit to their husbands. That some find this repugnant and are angry to even read such words does not mean that it is false. There are many millions of people who find any kind of submission- including to Jesus Christ- to be repugnant. But for those who find submission to be in principle repugnant, there is only the eternal quest to dominate. We all submit to some and are given authority over others. What does the Apostle Peter say?

    (1 Peter 3:1-7) Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives– when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external–the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing– but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

    Here we have precisely the same teaching unfolded by Paul in Ephesians elucidated in a different context, with different language, and by a different author. Surely one is able to see here that the kinds of moves being made in the OP are being made to reach at a predetermined conclusion which- by chance?- looks very much like a popular ideology popular in our own time and place.

    The thing that most struck me, though, was the identification of the traditional and prima facie interpretation of this text as an “overly simplistic and frankly convenient interpretation.” A few things:

    1. By framing this as nasty old boys just wanting to dominate everyone else again, the article starts by poisoning the well. Ah, yes, there they go with their “convenient” interpretations. Now they get to be oppressive as they like. As exegesis this just doesn’t fly.

    2. It seems to me far more convenient that you have adopted an “interpretation” that allows you to affirm, without any apparent exception, the entirety of the feminist credo. Women are not called to submit in any meaningful sense. They are to be permitted to do exactly as they please.

    The text in this article has no internal logic or flow. It is pulled this way and that as different bits of Paul’s words are explained away in different ways. It would be far, far more internally coherent and intellectually honest to simply abandon the pretense of faithfully following the inspired text and just embrace some kind of theological liberalism. But we know where that goes.

    I wrote this all rather quickly, so I probably came across as rather short in places, and if that is the impression, I apologize. All I invite you and anyone else reading to do is this: simply pray every night the Lord’s Prayer followed by “Heavenly Father, if I am wrong in anything, please humble and correct me in these matters.” He does not give His children a serpent when they ask for a fish. And trust me, I get that this sounds super condescending. But I don’t know how to ask folks to pray for correction in a way which doesn’t give that impression. God knows if you’re right. And if you’re right, He will give you a fish and confirm you in that. But if you’re incorrect, and you are willing to hear, He will also correct you in that. And I will pray the very same prayer over the next few nights- If I’m wrong, I want to be corrected and know the will of God as it is.

  • Treyarnon

    ..

  • Treyarnon

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  • Ross

    Standards of the society evolve/change over time but God doesn’t change….Mal 3:6: “For I am the LORD, I change not;”. His principles and the hierarchy that he established will be followed by his true believers without exceptions.

    Now, those Christians that do not subject to God but instead interprete Bible in a way that aligns with thier personal interests/modern beliefs… Are in for a suprise. “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who DOES THE WILL of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.
    — Matthew 7:21-23

    The concept of subjection is completely missing in the minds of many modern Christians. Not being under subjection of God but are rebellious and don’t want to conform with the hierarchy that God established…

    The rebellious attitude/pride happens to be one of the most effective tools of the devil. Pride was the cause of his fall and he is using it to destroy, societies, churches, families etc. The rebellious attitude is so common nowadays, people don’t want to conform with the hierarchy God established… So many divorces like never before, people demanding thier rights and simply do not have the humble spirit of Christ… Kids in return see parents willingness to resist God’s principles and grow up with a character of no restraint and without an understanding of the concept of subjection… But what can you expect, when whole denominations place a single focus that God is a savior but not as Lord and master…in essence eliminating the fundamental concept that has been established even before the creation of this world.

  • Ross

    That statement which was “specifically” addressed to Eve also happens to have affected every generation since then… All women continue to suffer during childbirth just as Eve…

    Gen 3:16: “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
    to thy: or, subject to thy husband

  • Ross

    Standards of society evolve/change and this is evidenced by the evolved, modernized concept of subjection expressed in this article…However, God doesn’t change….Mal 3:6: “For I am the LORD, I change not;”. His principles and the hierarchy that he established will be followed by his true believers in original form and value, without exceptions or compromise.

    Now, those Christians that do not subject to God but instead interprete Bible in a way that aligns with thier personal interests/modern beliefs… Are in for a suprise. “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who DOES THE WILL of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name? And then will I declare to them, I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.
    — Matthew 7:21-23

    The concept of subjection is completely missing in the minds of many modern Christians. Not being under subjection of God but are rebellious and don’t want to conform with the hierarchy that God established…

    The rebellious attitude/pride happens to be one of the most effective tools of the devil. Pride was the cause of his fall and he is using it to destroy, societies, churches, families etc. The rebellious attitude is so common nowadays, people don’t want to conform with the hierarchy God established… So many divorces like never before, people demanding thier rights and simply do not have the humble spirit of Christ… Kids in return see parents willingness to resist God’s principles and grow up with a character of no restraint and without an understanding of the concept of subjection… But what can you expect, when whole denominations place a single focus that God is a savior but not as Lord and master…in essence eliminating the fundamental concept that has been established even before the creation of this world.

  • Ross

    Well said, Charles. I see this article as an attempt to interprete Biblical principles in such a way as to align them with the modern/evolved standards of our liberal society. Unfortunately, for the author, God doesn’t change… his values, principles and the hierarchy he established are ageless, and not subject to evolution.

  • Kate Phillips

    You may think me totally off-base, but I see this in this in the same spirit as Paul’s other writings (i.e., whenever you see a “Therefore,” go back a few verses to see what it’s “there for.”). To me, Paul seems to predicate the man’s obligation with what should be the result of the husband’s obedience to God; in other words, the onus is on the man, not the woman.

    In other words, “wives, be subject to your husbands; but FIRST, husbands, you have to love your wives as Christ loved the church” (i.e., give her a reason), sort of a reversal of “cause-effect.” If the husband shows that his love for her is as real as Christ’s love for the church, the wife will see that the manner of subjection/submission is not that of domination. At that point, the wife would be happy for her husband to be the head of the household, knowing that she will be loved and protected, just as Christ loved and protected the church.

    All I know is, if I knew my husband loved me like that, I’d gladly let him take the lead, knowing that he won’t use his position to subjugate me to the role of being property (or treat me as a sex toy or punching bag), but would love me perfectly and unconditionally, being the head of the household that God requires him to be. But I would have to see that first.

  • Seraphim Hamilton

    With all respect, this isn’t what the text says. The submission of the wife is not contingent on the genuineness of the husband’s love (as evaluated by whom?) anymore than the submission of man to God is contingent on his own evaluation of God’s love for him. We know that Jesus loved and gave Himself for the Apostle Paul- Paul still went out and persecuted Him until his repentance. And we know from all of Paul’s letters that the church is often rebellious. The husband is called to love his wife even if she refuses to submit to his authority, and the wife is called to submit to her husband even if he does not properly love her. There is no structure of submission and authority in scripture that works as you have described it. We are not called to obey the law only when we agree with it.

    But one does not simply need to make arguments from analogy. Scripture describes exactly the situation you described- where a husband does not properly exercise his love towards his wife- and instructs wives to do the exact opposite of what you have suggested.

    (1 Peter 3:1-7) Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives– when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external–the braiding of hair, the wearing of gold, or the putting on of clothing– but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.

    The love of the husband towards an unrighteous wife can sometimes bring her to repentance (not always), but here Peter reverses the order: the submission of the righteous wife can sometimes (but not always) bring her unrighteous husband to repentance. Our hearts are not such that when someone treats us well, we will always respond well. To think that our hearts work this way is spiritually dangerous- for both men and women. If you think that your own desire to reject what your husband asks is a sign that he is being unloving, then the woman’s heart and mind becomes a kind of revelatory tool which always perfectly manifests the will of God.

  • Kate Phillips

    On the other hand, if the husband loves his wife as Christ loves the church from the start, the wife will have a better time “allowing” the husband to be the head of the household, as she sees him as a model of Christ. Too many men use “wives, be subject to your husbands” as a free pass to be domineering and abusive, all the while claiming to be “godly, christian men” (the “c” is not capitalized on purpose). And yes, I believe that “husbands, love your wives…” predicates “wives, be subject to your husbands. I get what you’re saying about husbands loving their wives even if they don’t obey the word (and vice versa), but I don’t see that as where Paul was going; I honestly believe that Paul was was instructing husbands to love love their wives as Christ loved the church, so that their wives would want to “be subject” to their husbands, whereas Peter was describing a different scenario (however pertinent and important), where spouses are to show the love of Christ to their mates even if they don’t “obey the word” as it were, because they way they live may have enough impact on their spouse that they eventually believe (sort of like Lee Strobel’s wife “loved” him into the faith). As I said, I believe these are two different points, and both are valid (your mileage may vary).

  • Seraphim Hamilton

    Hmm, perhaps I misunderstood what you were saying. I agree with you that if a husband is faithful in his calling, then it will make it much easier for a wife to be faithful to hers. I was only saying that this doesn’t mean that a wife is exempted from the call to submit when her husband is not fulfilling his calling (or when she thinks her husband is not fulfilling his calling).

  • Christiane Smith

    well, we can look at how a wife was treated in the early Church:

    From a letter by Tertullian, an Early Church Father, to his wife, ca. 202 A.D.

    ” How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in hope, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice.
    They are as brother and sister, both servants of the same Master. Nothing divides them, either in flesh or in Spirit. They are in very truth, two in one flesh; and where there is but one flesh there is also but one spirit.
    They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another.
    Side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another, they never shun each other’s company; they never bring sorrow to each other’s hearts… Psalms and hymns they sing to one another.
    Hearing and seeing this, Christ rejoices. To such as these He gives His peace. Where there are two together, there also He is present, and where He is, there evil is not.”

  • D.M.S.

    Why would you state to Roger Morris, ‘ if the Bible really is divinely inspired ‘ ( it sounds like you have doubts in its authenticity) and you rebuke NorrinRadd for the same thing…….Why?

  • NorrinRadd

    How so?

  • The writer takes cultural conformity to be the reason for men subjugating women in the early Christian community who had no choice because this was a societal norm. From this spring board then, an awkward attempt ensues. She seems to liken present cultures dysfunction and misogyny as the unfortunate evolution from an Early Church lost in a culture war. “We had to–the culture overtook us”. Quite a stretch she makes, and for some it may even seem plausible.

    TO SUM UP
    1-Mutual submission , demonstrating reverence for Christ is the true springboard–tell-tale of motivations.
    -This reverence is the revolutionary motivation for denying existing cultural norms.
    -Submission is reciprocal (putting each other first)
    -Submission is to one worthy of respect (though wives married to non-Christians must win them by quietness and gentleness)
    2- Wives submit to husbands”In the same fashion” (not all women-and not non-Christians)
    -As Christ is the head of the Church
    -As the Church submits to Christ
    3-This is within a Christian Marriage (with no illusions to Rome or Greece. In these cultures, men had no obligations to women)
    -Obedience to Christ then assumes a dignity that men have duties to wives.–Love, protection, partners in holiness, care, fidelity and respect.
    4- When submission to civil authorities, parents, church leadership, or husbands, or “each other” becomes coercive or demanded, then a “Non-Christ” subversion is in place. God orders His design and authority, not man. We carry out this authority in daily operations and roles of decency.
    5- Husband is to Love (Christ-himself,-wife)–Wife is to Submit–put her husband first. (forgive the “oversimplification”)
    6-Inferiority of women to men or men to women is never hinted. Truly radical for that day and culture.

  • William Stiefel

    Ummm–the Bible doesn’t mean what it says??? I have never heard a more confusing, not to mention, inaccurate and false description of this passage. You will never know or find the beauty and wisdom God placed into Creation or the husband and wife relationship if you begin with a false premise and twist Scripture to find something suitable to your thinking. Interpretations like this are one reason why the western church, and marriages within it, are such a mess.

  • Kate Phillips

    I was just going by how Paul has been read, by myself and others (who may not necessarily agree with me either). No, submission of the wife to the husband is not contingent on the husband loving her as he should, but there is, as I see it, a bigger emphasis placed on the role of the husband, because he is mentioned last, seemingly in order to call special attention to the duty the husband has to the wife. As i said in my previous post, you may disagree and think I’m really off base, and I see where you are coming from as well (your mileage may vary). This is just the way I’ve always understood it, and possibly wishful thinking. 😀

  • Tracy

    Loved the article. When you study 1st century culture and Hebraic culture it fits well. Well done.

  • JD

    “What To Say When Someone Says Wives Are To Submit”

    Walk away.

  • Steven Waling

    Or you just say, “the bible isn’t God. It can be wrong.” Then watch as the fundies’ heads explode.