You Will O-bey, Or You Will Be Exter-minated

You Will O-bey, Or You Will Be Exter-minated April 19, 2015
Image by Living Liminal

by Living Liminal cross posted from her blog Living Liminal

Ok, so the truth was bound to come out sooner or later… I have to confess to being a bit of a geek… just a bit…

And so inevitably I couldn’t help but discern the similarity between the Daleks’ mantra of ‘obey or be exterminated’ and the ‘submit or be excommunicated’ way of operating espoused by some christians. Christians and Daleks with so much in common! Who would have thought? See what I did there 😉

Anyway, as I shared in Part 4 of my story, the concept of enforced submission played a large part in the conflict I experienced as an elder in our church. One man had been  proclaimed by the board to be ‘God’s anointed’, a message he desperately wanted to believe. That same man seriously wanted to be seen as the leader, to be the one in authority over others. So regardless of his behaviour, or how he treated those ‘under’ him, I was expected to submit to him.

No matter how many times I tried to spell out the pain and distress his behaviour was causing, no-one wanted to know. (There are none so deaf as those who refuse to hear!) The board member who delivered the ‘submit or leave’ ultimatum to me said at the time, “If there had been any impropriety involved it might have been different.” I could only assume he was referring to sexual misconduct and, as crude as it sounds, all I could think was that obviously screwing someone’s wife physically was regarded as ‘bad’, but screwing them emotionally was just fine!

Sadly, this attitude is not new. Teaching that unquestioning submission is somehow ‘godly’, coupled with the insistence that this will guarantee some sort of spiritual ‘covering’ (protection) has caused untold pain and suffering throughout the body of Christ. It places one brother over another in terms of authority, it demands submission and it threatens dire consequences to those who do not comply. (How godly is fear-based submission anyway!?) And yet, this teaching is still being employed by countless leaders who insist on absolute submission to their authority, their vision, their rule.

As there is extensive teaching on this subject available on-line, I won’t even attempt to replicate it here. But the following article is a great place to start: Under Cover: Authority, Obedience (& Abuse?). Another very useful website which explores this topic quite extensively is Covering and Authority.

Let me finish with one last thought. Throughout the New Testament, christians are encouraged submit to one another (mutually). It is a seen as a gift, something we can offer another, but not something to be demanded. Once we step over into that territory it becomes coercion, and that makes us just like the Daleks.


Living Liminal lives in Australia with her husband and three sons, and she is learning to thrive in the liminal space her life has become. She writes at Living Liminal. 

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  • Servelan

    If you stitch together some of the verses from Covering Authority, you get this: Touch not the Lord’s anointed and obey your leaders and submit to them; God gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers and rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft so you should submit yourself to every authority.

    All out of context, of course, but for those who preach submission (and I could be wrong, but women are supposed to do all the submitting) it makes some sort of sense, I think.

  • Quadratic Wizard

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who saw this very geeky parallel, though I was always torn between Daleks and Cybermen for comparison. They remind me of both in equal measures, really