Created To Be His Help Meet, 260-261
We’re in the section where Michael takes up the pen and explains the exceptions to the requirement for wives to obey their husbands. Last week we learned that it’s all about spheres of authority—if a husband is inside his sphere of authority, his wife must obey; if he steps outside of his sphere of authority, his wife need not obey. But what is inside of the husband’s sphere of authority and what is not? This week we learn the answer to that question.
The Husband’s Sphere of Authority
A wife does not have to choose between God and her husband. Render therefore unto your husband that which is your husband’s and unto God the things which are God’s.
Somehow I missed this verse when reading through the Bible . . .
The authority God gave to your husband is his alone, and God will not interfere and take back to himself that power, even if your husband abuses his powers within certain permissible parameters.
Again, this is the setup here. The issue is the permissible parameters.
We will discuss those exceptions directly. But first, know that a husband has authority to tell his wife what to wear, where to go, whom to talk to, how to spend her time, when to speak and when not to, even if he is unreasonable and insensitive, but he does not have authority to command her to view pornography with him or to assist him in the commission of a crime.
As we go through this section, you will see the importance of mentioning pornography and criminal behavior—Michael says that women must obey their husbands unless their husbands command them to sin (God’s sphere) or to break the law (the government’s sphere). But what’s very clear is that Michael does not consider abusive husbands’ treatment of their wives to be sin. Husbands are allowed to be controlling, manipulative, abusers. Wives are to buckle under and obey. In Michael’s world, this is God’s plan. There is no consideration that God might find abuse itself abhorrent.
In the same way, a parent’s authority does not extend to the right to command a child to participate in immorality, abortion, or anything that may define the child’s conscience before God or that causes him to violate the just laws of the land. Yet a child must continue to honor the office of FATHER, even if the father is immature and verbally abusive.
Abusive father? No biggie.
Wives are to obey an unreasonable and surly husband, unless he were to command his wife to lie to the Holy Cross, as did Ananias, in which case, the wife should obey God, not her husband. A husband has the authority to have natural sex with his wife, but he does not have the authority to command her to participate in unnatural (anal) sex.
I’m really concerned about how “natural” and “unnatural” sex are being defined here. Is it really that hard to make good-sex be the kind where there is consent, and bad-sex be the kind where there isn’t consent? Because what I’m getting here is that God is a-okay with marital (vaginal) rape, but totally not okay with (consensual) marital anal sex. (Note to self: It’s whether it’s in the vagina matters, not whether it’s consensual.)
The wife, as well, has authority to access her husband’s body for sexual gratification.
You know, I’m pretty sure Debi leaves this out of her sections entirely. I mean, how would this even happen? The wife is to obey the husband, not the other way around.
This principle seems obvious and simple enough when stated in theory. There are two sides to this marital coin. On the one side, the wife is to obey her husband in all things, reverencing him, serving him, as unto the Lord. On the other side, if he steps outside his sphere of authority and attempts to command her to do the illegal or immoral, she is to obey God or government, as the case may be.
That whole “two sides to the coin” thing usually implies some sort of equality or mutuality. There’s nothing of the such here.
Now, if husbands always ruled their homes in holiness and justice, there would be no need for exceptions to obedience. But of course, that is not the case, nor has it been the case for centuries on end. In end, “For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Yet God, while acknowledging the fact of man’s sinfulness, nevertheless commands the wife to reverence and obey her husband—in the Lord.
I really dislike this exposition. God said that men are sinners, and God commanded wives to obey their husbands . . . so clearly God means for women to obey even abusive and cruel husbands. I’m not buying that.
The key, then, is for the wife to have the wisdom to know what is within her husband’s sphere of authority, the government’s sphere of authority, the church’s sphere of authority, and God’s sphere of authority—a daunting task for the carnal mind.
Call me crazy, but Michael hasn’t yet made any reference to a case where the husband may overstep his sphere into the sphere of the church. God’s sphere (immorality), yes. The government’s sphere (criminal acts), yes. But the church’s sphere? This is rather confirming my feeling that Michael puts the authority of the husband over the authority of the church.
If all wives were inclined by nature to submit to authority—be it God, government, church, or husband—I am sure that it would all work out smoothly. Wives would cheerfully obey their husbands from day to day, and only in those rare exceptions, when a husband commanded his wife to do evil, would she take the reluctant step of refusing to obey him in violating the laws of God and man. But, alas! Wives are also fallen children of Adam and not prone to be balanced or wise.
The only point of this bit seems to be to point the finger at women and say “see, you guys are sinful too!” Oh noes, terrible women, not wanting to obey their husbands! And that’s somehow in the same category with men who are unkind, controlling, or abusive? Um. No.
Most “Christian” divorces are religious. Her religious convictions and narrow-minded insistence drive him to leave her. As a divorcee, she maintains the image of the persecuted and abused victim, but in many cases, it was her “standards” that crated the rift that led to divorce. The devil laughs, the children cry, and the church’s Singles Class grows. Isn’t it ironic that the teachings of Christ should be blamed with a woman disobeying and dishonoring her husband?
So when abused Christian wives leave their husbands, they get to look forward to Michael deriding them for their “standards,” standards which clearly caused the initial rift that lead to the breakdown of the marriage and the ultimate divorce.
God does not override a man’s authority when he uses it unjustly.
Well now, there’s stating it directly.
Where Is the Line?
God does not step in and divest a father of his authority when he proves to be short-tempered and neglects his child, or when he is excessive in his corporal punishment, as long as it does not cross the line that would violate the just laws of the land or slip into the category of violence against another human being.
Let me interject here to note that all corporal punishment involves “violence against another human being.” Knowing what Michael teaches in his child training manual, I really want to know what actually qualifies as “violence against another human being.”
Another note—notice that Michael speaks of not crossing the line that would violate the just laws of the land. If a law is unjust, a husband may in good conscience break it. What makes a law unjust? If it steps over into God’s sphere, and out of the sphere of government. Last week Michael’s example of this was a government ban on parents teaching their children that homosexuality is immoral. I would suspect that another example would be the government banning spanking, or defining physical abuse such as to ban beating children with an object. In other words, Michael gets to choose which laws he considers just or unjust based on his interpretation of the Bible.
Children are still required to obey an unreasonable and surly father. Likewise, wives are to obey unreasonable and surly husbands, for they retain their headship until they cross the bright red line of criminal acts or imposing immoral behavior on the family, bringing God or government to intervene. This is Scriptural in every way.
You know what? I’m not seeing all that bright of a red line. Wives are to accept their husbands’ interpretations of the Bible. Presumably, husbands also get to determine what rules are “just” or not. And, if you’ll note, the “sphere of the church” has been allowed to slip out of the picture. All that is really left is the husband’s sphere. The husband sets the rules, after all, and creates the parameters of the game. In this game, it seems that bright red lines could easily blur to pink.
I want to hammer, again, on the fact that Michael’s definition of immorality centers on pornography and anal sex. Greed, unkind treatment, even verbal abuse—these things don’t trip the immorality trigger.
More than any other part of the book, sections like this are directed toward women in bad situations. After all, the question here is whether there are times a woman need not obey her husband—if he abuses her, for instance. Michael’s answer is that women must obey even cruel, controlling, or unkind husbands, and that the only exceptions come if a husband asks his wife to break a just law or engage in immorality (read: pornography or anal sex). This is Michael’s basic response to the abused woman—obey your husband. God’s not stepping in.