Generation Cedar

I continue to be utterly heart-broken and dumbfounded as “the new Christianity” re-defines what hitherto the body of Christ has largely agreed were clear, Scriptural principles.

I choose for this post as an example, among many of those principles, “authority in marriage”.  And instead of belaboring the point about wrong interpretations, what “headship” really means or how so many men have abused this principle and therefore the principle must certainly be wrong, I give you this example of a godly man who believes in and teaches the appropriate truth of the Bible regarding marriage roles.  John Piper who has taken a leave of absence from his ministry for the remainder of the year (that is, a leave from even blog writing and tweeting), writes:

“Noël and I are rock solid in our commitment to each other, and there is no whiff of unfaithfulness on either side. But, as I told the elders, “rock solid” is not always an emotionally satisfying metaphor, especially to a woman. A rock is not the best image of a woman’s tender companion. In other words, the precious garden of my home needs tending. I want to say to Noël that she is precious to me in a way that, at this point in our 41-year pilgrimage, can be said best by stepping back for a season from virtually all public commitments.”

I post his thoughts here to reveal what complementarians hold as TRUTH…that a man can be (and should be) the head of his home and the servant-leader Christ was.  He can “lead” his wife and love her as himself.  We don’t believe that authority and tenderness are mutually exclusive, but that the very leading Christ calls men to is only rightly done through serving.  Headship doesn’t equal abuse, just because some do abuse it.

Nor do we reject the idea of authority just because we don’t like the way it sounds.  We know that God’s written Word is true and right and we submit to it because we are submitted to Him.

Call out the man who abuses his responsibilities before his wife and children but in the name of all that is holy DO NOT tell me that Scripture is just wrong or badly written.

Put blame where blame is due.  But DO NOT tell me that because I believe when the Bible says, “the husband is the head of the wife” that I am too stupid to understand what is really being taught.

Teach men the proper way to lead their homes but DO NOT tell me, as my husband lives with trepidation before the Lord, loving me as Christ loves the church, that I have been brainwashed with cultish doctrines.

More and more, those who don’t like the idea of authority are villainizing it by using abusive examples to throw out every example.  It’s the proverbial “baby with the bath water”, only with more serious implications.

Truth is beautiful truth.  Don’t cover a lie with an appeal to feelings and self-actualization.  Don’t use the misuse of God’s principles as an excuse to eradicate them.  Sinners abusing a Scriptural principle does not make the principle erroneous.  Don’t, in an effort to right a problem, create another one.

Authority is not a bad thing.  God has given it to us–to fathers, to parents, to churches, to governments–to handle with great care.  We are accountable for the way we use it.

But we will also be accountable if we don’t.

“Everyone must submit to governing authorities. For all authority comes from God, and those in positions of authority have been placed there by God. So anyone who rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and they will be punished. For the authorities do not strike fear in people who are doing right, but in those who are doing wrong. Would you like to live without fear of the authorities? Do what is right, and they will honor you.” Romans 13:1-3

Spread the love

71 Responses

  1. Forgive me if I’m dense, but I read your post three times and I cannot figure out what Piper’s quote has to do with the rest of your post. How does him taking a break to love on his family have anything to do with authority or the lack of it? Would you mind clarifying? Thanks. =)

  2. There are plenty of reasons why many of us don’t believe there’s authority in marriage, but I won’t list them. Suffice it to say that most of us, as we understand this situation, do not either condemn those who believe otherwise or make something what it’s not. Just as there are numerous branches of feminism, there are numerous branches of complimentarianism, and I’ve gotten as tired as you have of seeing those who don’t believe as I do twist the meanings of the kind of union I believe in. Couples who truly love each other and God will live in fruitfull marriages, regardless of whether they call their practice mutuality or hierarchal. When I see these equally sacrificing, dead-to-self and passionate marriages, labels such as “patriarchal” or “egalitarian” don’t even come to mind.

  3. Darcy,

    Sorry.

    Piper is a “complementarian”, believing in the literal interpretation of the roles in marriage. Often this view is touted as “sexist” or even “abusive” by those who think it is not possible for a man to be the head of his home AND demonstrate Christ-like gentleness at the same time. Opponents of this view often produce examples of abuse as a reason they don’t believe it is biblical.

    Perhaps the post doesn’t fill in the blanks enough. I’m pulling from so many thoughts and arguments against this subject that it may be incoherent. I’ll try to clear it up a bit.

  4. Piper’s showing devotion and absolute love (an egalitarian would even say submission) to his wife, disproving the idea that comp men are automatically abusive; I figured that’s why you quoted it. I’ve read his poetry to his wife and..wow. He might be a bit of a hard-butt on Calvanism, but when it comes to love, he’s a big softie.

  5. Kelly – thank you! It is so much more than “rock solid”…

    We are faced with a housing decision that is enviable – good and better – I voted for the Dave Ramsey “good” – husband chose the (ironically still Dave Ramsey) “better” – none of the additional amenities are of any interest to him, they are a gift to me, only to satisfy my sensibilities. Because he loves me more than he loves himself…likes it when I’m tickled, nothing more.

    I have no words for the awe I have for my husband. I certainly haven’t “earned” his love and sacrifice; he is inspiring me to be my best by being Christ in my life. He just loves me, and waits for me to accept it. I guess most people would think he’s a fool, or I am – good for me that I figured out otherwise.

    He (or more often she) who resists appropriate authority more often than not shoots herself in her own foot. Ask God, on any given day….

    This is so good – thanks for putting words to it – it just is true.

  6. I love this post. If the husband being head of the home is abusive, then I guess I long to be abused! I’m so weary of the feminist thinking that run rampant in the church and causes this to be such a controversial issue. Keep putting the truth out there Kelly. Some of us love to hear it : )

  7. Kelly, I am quite familiar with the blogs you are referring to. Yes, there are certainly some over reactions. However, they are certainly correct to protest the abuses of authority that have been damaging so many women and children. How else will the abuse stop? How else will true authority be redeemed from those who have twisted it into something ugly with selfishness and domination?

    May I quote from Gary Thomas’s excellent book Sacred Influence? It is for wives in difficult marriages.

    “If you always play it safe in your marriage, you’re going to end up in some ruts. What I believe will give you the most boldness and courage to address issues that need to change is, first, understanding who you are in Christ, and second, letting God, not your marital status, define your life. Armed with that acceptance, security, and empowerment, you become a mighty force for good. You can then claim the power of Moses’ words in Deuteronomy 31:8: “The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Fear and discouragement create stagnancy and persistent disappointment in marriage. If you’ve had your fill of those, why not try God’s path of faith and boldness? One of the things I’ve been trying to do in these opening pages is to awaken in you a capability not often expressed to Christian women. Our culture in general – even Christian culture – is on a long slide toward passivity that completely goes against who God made us to be. Let me be blunt: hope is not a strategy. Merely “wishing” that your husband would change, merely “wanting” your marriage to be different, won’t do anything. The problem is that some Christians spiritualize “wishing – we call it “praying.” Please understand, I’m not knocking prayer; I’m challenging a misconception about prayer, namely, that we can merely voice our displeasure and expect our world and our relationships to be transformed. True Biblical prayer is about much, much more than that. It involves receiving our marching orders and then acting on them. A good marriage doesn’t happen by accident, and a good marriage isn’t maintained by accident. I’ve never written a book by accident, and you can’t build a business by accident. These endeavors require deliberate choices and much perseverance. When you start acting instead of merely wishing, when you begin taking initiative instead of simply feeling sorry for yourself, you become an active woman, and active women mirror the active God who made them.” (from pages 34-35 of Sacred Influence)

    There is more on this on one of my blogs…
    http://comewearymoms.blogspot.com/2009/11/help-for-hurting-marriages.html

  8. I like what Jennifer (the first Jennifer post) said:

    “Couples who truly love each other and God will live in fruitfull marriages, regardless of whether they call their practice mutuality or hierarchal. When I see these equally sacrificing, dead-to-self and passionate marriages, labels such as “patriarchal” or “egalitarian” don’t even come to mind.”

    Yes, what it is labeled really shoudl not weigh in on either side. You can call it patriarchy and I can call it egalitarian-either way it is the same actions happening. Sometimes people hold different perspectives simply because the path winds in a particular way for them, and not the same way your mind and being interprets it. We all hold our prejudices and blind spots in not being able to see clearly-and no one is exempt from this characteristic of human nature, because we are not yet healed.

    Virginia, I like this:

    “Our culture in general – even Christian culture – is on a long slide toward passivity that completely goes against who God made us to be. Let me be blunt: hope is not a strategy. Merely “wishing” that your husband would change, merely “wanting” your marriage to be different, won’t do anything. The problem is that some Christians spiritualize “wishing – we call it “praying.” Please understand, I’m not knocking prayer; I’m challenging a misconception about prayer, namely, that we can merely voice our displeasure and expect our world and our relationships to be transformed. ”

    I resemble that remark 😉

  9. Virginia,

    I have maintained that abuse needs to be dealt with. We all believe that. It’s a given, even in the most conservative “patriarchal” circles. No one is *for* abuse.

    But the definition of abuse has become so ambiguous that many women are using it to take a dagger to any form of authority they resent, even if it’s right, biblical authority.

    My second beef with the new era of redefining truth to satisfy discomforts is the blanket statements that leave tremendous wounds in the wake of efforts that claim to want to bring healing.

    If 80% of those who claim to be a Christian were really hiding heinous sin under that guise, it would STILL be wrong to the sincere Christians to make a statement like:

    “This ‘Christian movement’ promotes immorality, witchcraft, etc. and it needs to be exposed”.

    This statement is parallel to some statements being made about the “conservative movements” (though I don’t believe they’re movements at all, since “movement” indicates something new), and regardless of the number of people within said “movement” who take advantage of it, to blanket-statement the whole group is wrong.

    They claim to make distinctions but they don’t.

  10. I understood Kelly’s post perfectly. It is true that the Bible is crystal clear: the husband is the head of the wife. It says it over and over.

    I can’t count the number of times I have heard Ephesians 5:21 used as a way to negate all the other Scriptures that point to the headship of the husband.

    I call this “exchanging the truth for what works for us”. Which is just a euphemism of course. The Bible calls it “exchanging the truth for lies.”

    As for abuse: I fail to see what it has to do with the situation being discussed. We all acknowledge that abuse is wrong. It saddens me that every time true Biblical marriage is discussed, we need to add an “abuse caveat.”

    We never feel the need to do that with other subjects, say obeyingthe governing authorities or children obeying their parents. Why the need to drop that into every discussion of wifely submission?

    It’s because most Christian women have decided that they are not going to submit (not going to obey God’s word), and they need a straw man to hang their rebellion on.

    For the record, there are such people as abusive wives, too!

  11. Excellent post!

    I too am tired of a blanket statement such as “if a man is head of the house he must be abusive” or “she must be a doormat”.

  12. Terry, many of us who have ministries in the home schooling movement have spoken out very clearly on abuse in parenting, especially after the death of Lydia Schatz by her home schooling parents who thought they were doing the right thing to beat her for hours with a plumbing line. See here: http://comewearymoms.blogspot.com/2010/02/child-discipline-or-child-abuse.html

    Wives need to know that is it not right for their husbands to rage, rant, and ridicule their families. They need to have the confidence and the courage to speak up and say, “This is not right and it must stop!” They need to know that they have the duty to intervene if the children are being abused. And they need to know their churches will stand behind them in this, instead of being told to go home, shut up, and submit. Unfortunately, I can’t count how many situations where this just hasn’t happened. I hear a lot of them since I write an e-magazine for over 1,000 home schooling families around the world… Pregnant wives being kicked in the stomach by their husbands, and being told to go home, be a better wife, and pray for their husbands to be mroe gentle. A wife being told by a leader her in church that she cannot refrain from sending a particular child to her husband for discipline for a period of time because of recent and severe abuse from the father’s rage. She is told that she is sinning by not having faith in her husband’s authority. A wife being told she must lie to her children at the behest of her husband — she cannot even leave the room to evade the situation. Instead, she has to listen to over an hour of yelling, slander and false accusations. I could go on but I don’t have time right now.

    The attrition rate is staggering of kids raised in this kind of environment fleeing their families as young adults, and some even leaving the faith entirely. Are they getting a true picture of authority and grace? Who wants Christianity if there is what it is?

    So yes, we need to be talking about abuse when we talk about authority — because it is a seriously mistaken view of authority that perpetuates the abuse. A man thinking he can do whatever he wants because he is in charge. A wife thinking she has no voice whatsoever. And a church either condoning the situation or sitting by in silence. This grieves me beyond words.

  13. Millie

    (Deleted your comment…they’re so hateful.) You’re wrong. Not EVERY time a woman screams “abuse” is she being abused. I, too, could tell countless stories of marriages where abuse turns up being something like “my husband wouldn’t let us have a tv”.

    Just because I’m addressing the fact that “abuse” has been abused does not make me hard toward those who really are and does not make me ignorant. Our church is helping a woman and her children right now who have left an abusive situation. We are even more closely involved that I am free to discuss. I am privy to abusive situations. Take your hatred somewhere else. I’m very tired of it.

  14. Virginia, I can appreciate your concern for abused women. It’s *wonderful* that you have opportunity for special ministry via your newletter and blog.

    But there is a certain obsession w/ turning every. single. GC posting of biblical headship into a debate on what constitutes abuse and how headship leads to abuse. It *never* fails. It reminds me of all those times that someone brings up homeschooling in a mainstream setting and someone brings up abusive parents. As though homeschooling necessarily leads to abuse. Or when people talk about homebirthing and someone always having to bring up *that* dead baby story. Because homebirthing surely leads to higher infant mortality.

    Abuse should be taught on and dealt with. There’s a time and a place. Why the *constant* hijacking of Kelly’s blog?

  15. It seems that our use of single words to describe Biblical doctrine has turned around to bite our collective backsides. 🙂 I’ve seen it many times people develop a sensitivity to – a word – and whenever that word is brought up they start firing missles (comments / arguments). Sometimes even with a complete lack of understanding of all that word entails within the context of Biblical doctrine. Patricarchy, wifely submission, modesty, 6 day creation, or world wide flood even the word “rapture” irritates some people. But then how does one discuss these very important topics without these words?

    The church of Jesus Christ is so dis- unified that is it unbelieveable. Could it be because we are all so wrapped up in our RIGHTS, our DESIRES, our INTERPRETATIONS that we fail (miserably at times) to simply let scripture speak for itself because we have to interpret it to suit our needs? Scripture says that all Scripture is inspired by God and useful for instruction – may we all have teachable hearts for the Holy Spirit to instuct us.

    I’ve struggled for sometime with the discrepancies I see within Jesus’ church namely that of obedience (not argument) to Scripture. For sometime I was almost certain that if you don’t believe it all then how can you be saved? But, I’ve listened to the Holy Spirit and I’ve come to an understanding: Confession/ trust /faith in Jesus, repentance of sin are what is required for salvation. A life of obedience to scripture is required for rewards at the Judgement Seat of Christ.

    1 Corinthians 3:11-15:
    11For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
    12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;
    13Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.
    14If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
    15If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

    As Christian women we are building upon the foundation of Christ. Personally, I want to build with gold and silver not wood or hay. I want to get there w/o going through that fire but I doubt I can – altho’ all things are possible with God, He alone will make us stand! Read Scripture for yourself, let the Holy Spirit teach you, OBEY God. I often tell my children: if you will love God first, put obedience to HIM first every other relationship in your life will be exactly where it supposed to be. We will have sinful men/women with us until the end – it’s only going to get worse barring revival. We must live exemplary obedient lives and by doing so we will affect a change in our communities, by teaching salvation we will expand the Gospel.

    Sunday morning at church the teaching ended with this and so will I:

    OBEY NOW! Live with the Judgement Seat of Christ in mind!

  16. Virginia,

    I agree with Terry that it’s difficult to have a conversation about biblical marriage without it being hi-jacked by the subject of abuse. We all hate abuse. Yes, it needs to be dealt with. But this post is about misrepresenting Scripture to dodge a biblical truth (which is far more rampant than marital abuse). We can’t stop teaching authentic Christianity because of those who are abusing it.

    For the record, there are often two sides. I’ve seen that too and it is equally tragic.

    The homeschool movement is getting a particularly bad rap in the name of calling out abuse. When someone abuses his wife or children why is it tied to a movement or group or teaching? Since you brought up the Schatz case, it’s a perfect example. People love to blame. Suddenly, it’s Michael Pearl’s fault that these parents beat their children. Or it’s because they homeschool, or whatever. How about it’s because they sinned? For every homeschooling family that doesn’t behave itself, I can give you 100 that do.

    Why is it that when a child gets abused at school the public school system isn’t blamed? When a teacher is a pedophile no one says, “I’ve always thought school teachers were suspicious”? Because that would be ridiculous.

    We are becoming less willing to take responsibility for our own actions and more willing to blame someone else.

  17. Kelly,

    This is wonderful post written with clarity and eloquence, as always. Thank you for your willingness to stand behind the the Truth of God’s Word. The onslaught from the “enemy” seems to be more painfully obvious on topics of absolute truths. Some of the aversions to this post reek of deception. No God honoring Christian man or woman would condone abuse in the true sense of the word. But like you said, the word “abuse” has become relative.

    We don’t stop sharing biblical truths just because there are false teachers. We don’t stop yielding our will to the Lord’s just because we don’t get what we want when we want it. We don’t stop respecting governmental authority because there is corruption. We don’t stop training our children just because some parents cross the line into sinful abuse. And we don’t stop submitting to the God-ordained headship of our husbands because some men refuse to be led by the Spirit.

    Be encouraged! The Lord is using you in a powerful way to defend His Truth!

    Kristina

  18. Submit seems to be a word that sets people off. So does authority. My husband and I accomplish a lot less in our home when we are not both on the same page. Someone has to have the final answer or decisions, and God says that is the man. To not submit to that is also not to submit to God. I feel great about this EVEN when it is difficult but I have been raised and live in an atmosphere where 95% of the men that I know have always been caring respectable loving manly family men. It seems so many women bring up abuse ,that they have lived in an opposite atmosphere and cannot even imagine there are good men in real life. We argue about something that uses the same words but we understand those words differently.Submit to me means my husband and I discuss things openly and completely but we don’t need to argue (much)! because the decision is his and my trust is in God. Another woman apparently believes submit means be quiet, be beaten ,raped , made to do immoral things while God shakes his finger at you. How can we ever be in agreement?? How can we ever communicate when this is so? It frustrates me more as time goes on as more women are raised without Daddys it seems the amount of women distrusting men skyrockets.It seems we are not even from the same planet.(and more women are raised without Daddys because of the Mommas fault too)

  19. “Suddenly, it’s Michael Pearl’s fault that these parents beat their children. Or it’s because they homeschool, or whatever. How about it’s because they sinned?”

    I think people spoke out about Michael Pearl because this family was following his teachings and techniques, and because many of his teaching about raising children are abberant. God says show mercy, to let the children come to him, Pearl says–and this is taken directly from a quote on his website–to “show no mercy” when disciplining a child, to whip them until they don’t even have the breath to protest (again, easily found on his website), to punish them until they are “completely broken.”

    If you examine the theological roots of his teachings, many of them directly contradict that which has been historically taught about children and their high place within the covenant community.

    I think we are clearly called to examine teachings, even by pastors/elders/leaders of homeschool movements, and test them against what is taught in the Bible (see James 3:1, for example). Yes, if a family sins against their children, they are culpable, but someone who teaches poor theology is also culpable for leading sheep astray.

  20. Something God put on my heart lately about these verses regarding headship… I’m going to stumble here because I’m still very much processing all of this.

    First, let’s look at the book of Ephesians and it’s purpose; very different from Romans, for example, in it’s audience and message.

    They’re doing well, overall, in their community. Yet, there are ways they can become even MORE Christlike… If you want to truly love each other, listen to this message…. wives, submit to your husbands (don’t argue with them, don’t go behind their back, don’t hurt them, don’t lie to them about what you’re doing…because that will only cause strife, which pulls people away from each other….and away from Christ…).

    I happen to disagree with the modern definition of submission. I don’t believe that to submit means to give up who you are…. it is merely a boundary for being who you are. I submit to the IRS in paying my taxes. That doesn’t mean that I stop having a voice in where my money is spent, or even how the government spends the money. It means, that as a citizen of this country, I agree that I will help support certain aspects of this country monetarily. If I disagree with the amounts, and the directions those monies go, then there is an avenue to voice those concerns. I don’t stop paying my taxes because that’s not the appropriate avenue. If I stop paying my taxes, I am hurt. I accrue penalties, I may have to go to jail, I put my family through tremendous stress, my wages may be garnished and then I can’t enjoy the blessings I have, etc…. I submit, and enjoy the blessings that come from that level of peace. If there is a deeper issue, I go down that road… In the end, my joys will be greater. (If we’re looking at this from the perspective of what gain is there for me from being submissive– which seems to be a common worldly question….)

    It’s similar in a marriage. God did not instruct husbands to go out and be leaders. He said you are the leader. It’s not guidance, it’s a statement of design. It’s as if He said, (to avoid another debate, I’m going to make up an example)… It’s like God saying, brain you are the headship of movement. It’s not the brain battling it out with all the muscles and limbs in the body to prove it’s in control. It’s simply a statement of design. If the body is going to move as a cohesive unit, then the signals have to come from somewhere. If the feet start going one way, and the legs another, we have problems. So IT’S TO OUR ADVANTAGE to let the brain direct our movement.

    God is telling us that by design the husband is in headship in his family. The husband WILL lead the family. We see this truth clearly. Look at the husband in most families–Christian and non-Christian. Their tone, their personality, etc… usually drives the family dynamic. Research backs this up. Even in families where there is an egalitarian attitude, it’s the man who is comfortable having a wife in a leadership role. He is leading, in essence, by stepping aside, or by entering into a partnership.

    The issue isn’t whether or not the man leading. He IS leading–and a lot of mainstream evidence supports God’s truth (again). The issues are two-fold. Wives, if you really want a Christ-like love in your marriage, submit to your husband. In a Christian marriage, the implication is that Christ is leading the heart of your husband, possibly freeing up the wife to focus on the raising of the children, or whatever….But the truth remains, that in a Christian marriage, Christ is leading the man, so submission to the husband is a way of submitting to Christ.

    The second issue involves how Christ instructs the husband. What wife wouldn’t want a husband who loved her like Christ loved the church????

    So, really in today’s world, the issue isn’t God’s design, but rather our lack of commitment to His design! Do we strive to love our families fully, according to Christ’s design? If that’s the question non-Christian’s have, I think it’s valid observation and question. Where are today’s prioriites? I certainly see a lot of Christian men forsaking their families for their own personal gain or entertainment (and I see the same with Christian women… I am guilty of that some days myself, as I would imagine we all are….) I know many men/women who look at their spouses as their personal servants. So, I can understand why some women, especially women who don’t know God’s value for them, would rebel against their husbands. But the truth is that they’re not rebelling against God’s design for marriage; they are rebelling against sin in their husbands.

    So, the question is really, in my mind, how do we help families to heal? How can we help the husbands feel fulfilled as a man in Christ so he doesn’t need to find his identity in the world? How can we help wives to see that submitting to their husband’s leadership helps to build his identity as a man in Christ, and frees them up to become fully alive in Christ? It doesn’t mean a letting go of herself, but on the contrary, it is a way of becoming fulfilled in Christ.

    All of us have become so engrossed with worldly ways of thinking, often without even realizing it, that it’s hard to stop and change the direction of our life. It’s easier to point fingers and blame, and say things like, “I can’t; I will stop as soon as he stops, etc… ” Do men abuse women? Do families abuse children? Yes, but instead of finding blame, we need to look much deeper to find out why, and we need to open our hearts to grace so we can gently, lovingly, minister to families who we see hurting….There is so much blame and condemnation in the world, and so much punishment for mistakes in the world. But Christ tells us in John 16:33, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

    These are examples of why we need to encourage each other all the more as the day is approaching…. It’s a tough world out there, and we’re all part of it to some extent. Let’s look for opportunities to build each other up in Christ, and to lovingly guide one another back to the Joy and Hope of God’s Word–The Bible is a love letter to us! We have a King on the throne who knows each of us by name, who loves us, who wants to spend eternity with us…. Honestly, who doesn’t want to know they’re loved that much??

    We need to trust Him, let go of our fears that Satan so desperately needs us to believe, and remember that over and over Christ communicated His desire to share His goal for love and peace for us. He WANTS us to be be complete; he just wants us to do it through Him, because He knows that’s where true love and peace stems. So, if we see someone not that in that state, then we know that for that moment in time, they need prayer and ministry to be restored to Christ. We need to pray for our families, and our friends to continually be in a state of restoration in Christ. And, if we see people being abused or victimized, we need to pray for them, and for God to put people in their life who will minister to them in a way that teaches them how to see with God’s eyes. We have NO examples of Christ abusing anyone, and NO examples of Christ tolerating abuse of another. So, to say that Christians contribute to abuse, is completely unBiblical, and it goes directly against God’s design. In those situation, we need to uncover the real issue, so that God’s truth prevails.

    Abuse never has been, and never will be from Christ. His deepest desire is for us to live in faith, hope, joy, love, and ultimately, peace, with Him….

  21. Mary,

    I agree. Mostly, it’s our definitions that have become skewed…

    “It doesn’t mean a letting go of herself, but on the contrary, it is a way of becoming fulfilled in Christ. ”

    Well said.

  22. PSA! This Just In! CO SLEEPING KILLS CHILDREN!

    http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=105×6455482

    http://www.mywesttexas.com/articles/2010/04/17/news/top_stories/cosleeping–revised.txt

    I can only surmise that all co-sleeping is deadly to children, and only homicidal parents would put their children in such danger. I am going to campaign to have all co-sleeping made illegal, and seek to have all co-sleeping parents’ chidren removed from their homes and placed in foster care, with responsible people who don’t strangle their children in their sleep.

    Because some rare cases of cosleeping has led to tragedy, I’m ready to go on a rampage against all parents who snooze with their children.

    It dosen’t make much sense in this instance either, does it?

  23. “But the definition of abuse has become so ambiguous that many women are using it to take a dagger to any form of authority they resent, even if it’s right, biblical authority.”

    So true, and now it’s children (with adults – and I use the term “adult” only to identify their chronilogical age – in the legal system concurring) that cry the same foul, suing their parents for abuse for such radical disciplinary measures as going to church more than once a week, doing chores, and going to bed w/o supper. I have a family member (one no one listens to much, gratefully) who thinks that home school itself is a form of abuse.

    The definitions have become so watered down and subjective (and even self indulgent) it would be laughable, except it’s so demeaning to those who are suffering actual harm. Abuse of authority is a sad consequence of the fall, but “abuse” and “authority” aren’t synonymous, and regardless, we aren’t relieved of our Biblical charge by the wrong actions of others.

  24. Beautiful, Mrs. Kelly ~ and I’m loving following the comment conversation.

    Isn’t the accusation of being ” brainwashed with cultish doctrines” such a tricky one?? It makes me wonder who is the arbiter of truth -who decides that I’m living in a matrix, and how do they know they have the inside scoop on reality? 😉

    Praise God for the unwavering standards in His Word! And I’m grateful to him for role models like you.

  25. Please pardon me Kelly, if this is redundant, but I feel compelled to respond to Virginia reply to my pointing out how often abuse is thrown down as a gauntlet when the discussion of Biblical marriage is raised.

    First, I am both a homeschool mother and a public school mother, as this is what submission to my husband has meant for the educational structure of our family.

    However, I get a bit rankled by these discussions when they begin to turn on abuse within patriarchy, or homeschoolers, or what have you, as if these settings are the only ones in which abuse occur. I think this becomes part of a larger problem when as believers, we are unable to get outside of ourselves, and look at the larger picture.

    For the believer, the bottom line, the foundation. When or if someone, in this case the husband, isn’t living according to Scripture, it’s perfectly fine to call him on that. What is not acceptable is to therefore decide that the Scripture clear directive (Wives, obey your husbands) is open to debate.

    If a husband is abusing his wife physically, he is abusing his authority, violating God’s word, and simultaneously violating the laws of the land. Same with sexual abuse of the children. And let’s just be clear that these are extreme examples and do not represent a significant portion of prblem marriages.

    As I said before, I don’t see the connection between God’s word and abuse. And it saddens me that so many feel the need to connect the two. Can we not see that it is an affront to God to connect His Holy Word to abuse?

    Men (as in mankind) are abusive. Men have always twisted Scripture to suit their own ends. It is common and not isolated to husbands in marriage. Preachers do it, politicians do it, parents do it, and as we can see here, wives do it.

  26. “Why the need to drop that into every discussion of wifely submission?

    It’s because most Christian women have decided that they are not going to submit (not going to obey God’s word), and they need a straw man to hang their rebellion on”

    Because asking a woman to obey her life partner is quite different from asking a child to obey parents or a country to obey government; I’ve always disliked those comparisons. And no, the comment about rebellion is not the case at all for most.

  27. “Someone has to have the final answer or decisions, and God says that is the man”

    Actually the Bible does not say that, nor is the word “lead” used much if at all regarding the husband. Regardless of whether one sees a ladder in the marriage or not, I’ve found the “SOMEONE has to make the final decisions” argument to be a faulty one in support of this.

  28. Terry,

    Very aptly spoken. This topic has been one of no small concern to me lately. We must think rightly, blame the guilty, take responsibility, and obey the Scripture. But I’m beginning to notice such hostility among the body of Christ that it’s frightening. (Usually though, the hostility is masked.)

  29. I have enjoyed reading your blog, this post and the comments discussion.
    This very topic is something I have been reading/chewing on in recent months. I have been reading books, hearing speakers, reading blogs (such as yours) and entering into deep conversations with friends. I still find myself struggling.
    As background I grew up with an abusive alocoholic father. I have forgiven him for his many mistakes but I do still struggle with trusting men. It extends to my husband and even God himself. Sad to say but at least I am aware of it.
    But here is my dilemna specifically. My husband is not an alcoholic, he doesn’t cheat, he doesn’t steal, he rarely cusses, he works hard to provide for us and he is a Christian man. So he is not abusive. And I often find myself thinking that I should just shut up because I have nothing to complain about.
    But there are many times when I feel his leadership is sorely lacking. He seems content to just stagnate. The times when I feel the most desperate are when I feel that our family is sinking on the Titanic and instead of gathering the lifeboats, getting everyone in lifejackets and rowing us out of there he is fine to just sit and play a computer game. I want to follow his leadership but most of the time I am asking where is it?
    Mostly I feel that my preferences are ignored despite having valid concerns and reasonable rationals behind them. Here is a small example. We do not have a dishwasher and so all the dishes are washed by hand. He occasionally helps me with that. When he does though, he takes an entire stack of plates and “rinses” them quickly under the water and then puts them away wet. It is annoying to me but I really feel that it’s not sanitary. This is what I put food on and serve to my children to eat. I think it’s important that each plate is rinsed thouroughly with hot water and all the soap is removed. Despite explaining my viewpoint on this mulitple times he still doesn’t change his tactics. That is a small example like I said so please don’t think I am harping on dishes. I don’t want to detail other things which are far more concerning because I do not wish to be explicit. It seems to me a pattern of not giving much thought or belief to things that concern me. It hurts me so deeply. I don’t understand why he can blow these things off. But realizing that it does NOT constitute abuse I feel that I have no outlet for it.
    So then, I am not struggling with the why of submitting to my husband. I do struggle with the how. I work very hard to manage our home, homeschool our children, purchase our needs frugally, learn as much as I can in regards to these things and follow after God. I am trying but I am not sure what He wants from me.
    In this topic (not specifically this blog or this post) I generally hear lots of blaming of women. If your husband is not leading your family then it’s the woman’s fault. You are not doing something right or you are standing in God’s way. I want to do what’s right I just don’t know what it is that I’m missing.
    Not sure that I expect anything from posting this. I just felt the need to vent my thoughts and frustrations in thsi area.

  30. It’s slightly a side note, but in an effort to continue looking to Scripture for how we are to respond and live in a fallen world, and not use our feelings as the final measure, I was thinking about what Mary said:

    “We have NO examples of Christ abusing anyone, and NO examples of Christ tolerating abuse of another.”

    I’ll get railed for this, I’m sure, and I’m not using it to say “see, we must tolerate abuse”, but at the same time, we can’t look away from what Scripture says. We have loved ourselves far more than we often love obeying the Lord, even when life isn’t fair.

    Consider this passage in Romans:

    “Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps…”

    Christ suffered abuse. He was aware (and spoke through His servants to write it) that others did too. (Slavery, in and of itself, was an abusive practice.)

    My summary is that we need to give credence to the fact that suffering may indeed happen and there is comfort from Scripture about how we might handle it.

  31. Perfectly worded, Kelly; you put fire in your mouth without burning it. No, God did not tolerate abuse when He saw it done to others, but He knew it existed in the world and would not be entirely erased for a long time, and He experienced it Himself.

  32. Because asking a woman to obey her life partner is quite different from asking a child to obey parents or a country to obey government; I’ve always disliked those comparisons. And no, the comment about rebellion is not the case at all for most.

    This statement totally ignores the Scriptural demands placed on husbands, which I would submit is far more than we are called to as wives. Husbands have very big shoes to fill, according to the Bible.

    Taken is isolation, apart from the “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church”, submission or “obeying our life partner” doesn’t make much sense.

    This opens up a whole new topic in my mind. The importance of choosing marriage partners based on more than romantic notions created from Hollywood movies.

    Bottom line: marry a guy who loves the Lord more than he loves you, and the abuse issue evaporates.

    I think John Piper’s statement is a perfect illustration of what we are discussing here.

  33. Terry,

    “Bottom line: marry a guy who loves the Lord more than he loves you, and the abuse issue evaporates.”

    Hallelujah! I also think of Mark Driscoll–he gets grilled all the time for his “sexist” teaching about marital roles. But to hear him talk about his daughters and “what he must be” to marry them?

    “If you don’t love Jesus you can’t look at her, talk to her, touch her, live in the same zip code as her”…

    Because Mark knows what you said to be true.

  34. Our pastor recently said something to the effect that if you’re looking for who to marry, run as fast as you can toward God, then look beside you. Whoever is running next to you is it!
    So much of this goes back to the decisions we made before marriage about dating and physical relationships, our walk with God (or lack of), and whether we chose our spouse, or truly let God decide for us. And these all speak to the importance of what we need to be teaching our own children about these things, and about obedience, above all to God.
    And Terry – Amen! I find security and comfort in knowing that my husband is here to take care of me, protect me, and lead our family. I am often grateful that I do not have on me the responsibility that God has placed on him. And I can rest knowing that, even if I may question a decision of his – as long as it is not contrary to God’s word – that he is ultimately accountable, and I am doing right and being obedient to Christ by supporting him in the place God has put him.

  35. No problem, Kelly.

    “This statement totally ignores the Scriptural demands placed on husbands”

    Yes it does, because I was talking about wives in that statement, not husbands, and the simple fact that women to their husbands are very different from children to their parents and republics to their governments. The comparison is offensive to me, regardless of your other beliefs on the matter.

  36. I’m sorry you found my statements offensive, Jennifer. I should clarify:

    It was never my intent to imply that the husband/wife relationship parallels the parent/child relationship. Or citizens and their government. It does not.

    However, the parameters for both relationships are clearly laid out in Scripture. The potential for abuse also exists in all of these relationships. However, only in the case of marriage is this potential held up as a reason to negate the Scripture.

    Please help me see the problem here as I am failing to see what I said that was so ofensive. I know that we are not to relate to our husbands as if we are children relating to a parent and I don’t believe I ever said as much.

  37. Thanks for clarifying, Terry. Many have used those comparisons more times than I can count, and the relationships are nothing like.

  38. Kelly, thank you for clarifying in the OP. I understand your rant now. 🙂 I think part of the problem was that I never event hought about what he teaches. I just read the quote (and the story) and thought “now there’s a man who loves his wife and understands priorities”. Labels such as “complementarian” never crossed my mine. And I’m one of those who speaks out against abuse in Christian circles. I just thought it was sweet and loving of him.

  39. Jennifer,

    I had to address this because it’s an example of how we don’t take Scripture as it is written and are thus able to redefine it:

    “Because asking a woman to obey her life partner is quite different from asking a child to obey parents or a country to obey government;”

    If you read on in 1 Peter 2 and then 3, you run across the command to wives which says: “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands…”

    “Likewise” means, “in the same way”. So we ask, “in the same way as what?” Going back we see the instructions on submission began with submission to government and dignitaries.

    Peter was saying, “just like I’ve described above, so wives are to submit to their husbands”.

    Even in the footnotes of my Bible it reads:

    “In the same manner that citizens are to relate to their government leaders and employees to their employers so wives are to relate to their husbands.”

    Respecting even those who don’t deserve respect, as commanded in the verse I posted yesterday.

    I would say that also includes a wife’s right to appeal to her husband, just as we can make appeal to our government. And obviously there is a very different relationship as the husband is commanded to lay down his life and love his wife as himself. Still, we are to understand clearly what the Bible says about our roles. When we do our part, we are “well-pleasing to the Lord and receive a great reward”.

  40. Kelly(WW), Great post! I have not read the comments yet but by the sheer number i can guess there has been a lot to talk about. 🙂 I am with you and understand exactly what you are talking about. I, too, was encouraged by how Piper is showing love and devotion to his wife and family. A wonderful example of what a complementarian marriage does. will be going back to read comments… hugs and blessings, jen in al

  41. You don’t have to explain, it’s more or less the “they’re the same but not the same” belief I’ve seen before. Most don’t see the wife as a city under a republic or a child under a parent, so that’s enough here for me.

  42. I think it is a big job to control what happens in other people’s marriages. I’m not sure why anyone would want to try.

    If a woman is misusing the word “abuse”–that is between her and God.

    I am puzzled by the way some bloggers need to remind and reinforce and try to force others to submit in their way. And seem so worried that some women are not submitting. And so very worried that they might be using the word abuse when it doesn’t apply.

    Why not focus on your own situation and your own marriage and allow these mistreated men to handle their problems? We actually know very little about what is really going on in their marriage.

    Trying to dig up situations where a woman should be submitting but really is not–that seems like a poor use of the time God gives us.

  43. How about a post on the reverse situation? Where a woman is being abused but does not call it abuse?

    I think it is odd that the focus is always on the woman and her possible wrongdoing.

    I think there are a LOT more situations where a woman is not reporting abuse. Those women–and their children–deserve our attention and encouragement. Yet there seems to be little desire to write about them.

  44. yongxiu,

    I can’t speak for anyone else her, but I have very concrete reasons for my passion about Biblical marriage, and its not because I want to tend to anyone else’s business, and not because I am unconcerned about abuse.

    Hailing from a community with a 70% illiegitimacy rate, I’ve lived among and see first hand the results of matriarchy, neutered manhood, and the way the state steps in to be daddy for those kids whose biological fathers are not equipped to do the job.

    Even in the “black” church, the illegitimacy rate is appalling and the divorce rate as well. To divorce (no pun intended) these statisitics from the fact that Biblical marriage is being rendered obsolete and/or abusive, is to me, foolhardy at best and a case of denial at worst.

    So no, I will not be silent as I watch my family members, childhood friends, and people I love end up in jail, divorced, and struggling to maintian any semblance of a normal life.

    And in case you hadn’t noticed, the rest of America is heading down the same path. We cannot negelct to call for the Christian family to embrace the Bible’s clearly described madates of familial order.

    The price is too high to remain silent.

  45. youngxiu,

    First, this post had little to do with abuse…it just turned to that in the comment thread.

    Secondly, I talk to principles–not “other marriages” because Titus 2 tells me to “teach the younger women so that the Word is not blasphemed”.

  46. Matriarchy is mother-rule, Terry, not simply a word for a community where parenting is loosely done and fathers are limp-footed.

  47. Yes, Jennifer, I know that. In homes where there is no father, the mothers rule. That is the case in most (not all) of the Black community.

    Valiant though many of these women are, it is very hard to be mama, daddy, breadwinner, disciplinarian, and everything all by themselves with out good, godly male role models to help out, especially when trying to raise sons.

  48. If a man is so weakened that he allows “neutered manhood” I doubt a post on a blog is going to help him.

    I believe people are responsible for their own actions. If a woman can really “neuter” a male–then it is his responsibility to prevent that. If he fails to do so, that is his own failure.

    By “neutering” a man I presume you mean bossing him around, failing to submit to him, acting like he’s dumb. Why would a woman even marry a guy like this anyway? Is she responsible for his behavior? Is she even powerful enough to cause this “neutering”? Is she more powerful than him–that she can create such a change in his personality? Or if he is born this way, why would she marry him?

    Men are responsible for their own behavior. If they let themselves be “neutered” that is their own choice.

  49. Actually, there are single mothers who raise their kids just fine.

    Without an authority to help them!

    So when someone says that women need an authority because of their emotions or their inherent weakness–take a look at some of these single moms. I know several who do just fine–they are happier, actually, than many married women I meet.

  50. By the way, your post uses the word “abuse” four times. So you can see why I might think it was about abuse.

  51. Gee, that’s really great that those single moms are happier without all those men to make them unhappy. It’s all about them and their “happiness” anyway, isn’t it?

    What do you get with a whole generation or two growing up without fathers in the home? Societal chaos, just as we are seeing played out right now.

    But as long as those single moms are happy, I guess that’s what matters.

  52. Kelly, I see my response may seem a little angry. I’m sorry, feel free to delete if you wish. I was typing without thinking first.

  53. Yes, I think it is good they are happy. Then they are more likely to raise strong, happy kids.

    The two women I am thinking of deserve happiness; they have had a hard road. One lost her husband to cancer just before they were about to adopt a child. The second woman returned home one day to find her husband had packed up and left; it seemed he had been cheating since day one. She never knew. I don’t know what their situations have to do with societal chaos, however.

    Both have found new lives, and are doing well. One has raised a son already–he has grown into a fine young man who respects his mother and is leading a godly life.

    Single parenthood does not always end badly!

  54. Very true, Yong. When most people think of single mothers, though, they think of the new trend of women who are deliberately single from the day of conceiving their babies. Statistics show that these latter women have the biggest number of unruly, unhappy children in America. In fact, widows and even divorced women have children who are more often healthy, even usually the ones who lost the constant presence of a father early on. The difference apparently lies solidly with the children who never had a father in the picture at all and whose mothers deliberately chose it this way.

  55. Maybe so. But I can’t agree that those children should have been aborted.

    Who knows, maybe one of them will discover a cure for cancer!

    I believe children are a heritage of the Lord.

  56. “But DO NOT tell me that because I believe when the Bible says, “the husband is the head of the wife” that I am too stupid to understand what is really being taught.”

    I *loved* this part. As a recent college grad who married half-way through, I got a lot of criticism in the area of the husband’s headship/wife’s submission, etc. Usually the conversation ended with a, “Well, you’re just too dumb to understand what’s *really* going on here.” *sigh*

  57. yongxiu – I think many here would agree that the mothers should NOT abort, but should have made better decisions earlier, and not become pregnant out of wedlock in the first place.
    Christian women speaking out and teaching other women what God truly wants for them (in marriage & motherhood, and that His way is best BECAUSE He loves us so very much and created us) is not only what we are called to do, but what anyone with a heart toward all lonely, hurting women desires. I really do believe that true fulfillment is only found in Christ and knowing His will for your life, and seeking “love” from men not your husband is clearly searching for what God longs to provide.
    And I do not believe that these children are “doomed”, but unless the mom seeeks Christ to base her child rearing on, she is trying to construct a family with not only missing pieces, but by throwing out the directions. Simply making it harder on herself and the child. Of course, this is not how the world sees things, and that shows these days. And this is also why women who have lost husbands can be successful alone, if their hearts ands desires toward family and children are right. God will help if they let Him, not fight Him.
    Children ARE a heritage, and always good, but He has set out the BEST way to have and raise them – for our and our childrens benefit.

  58. I love what you, Jennifer and Youngxiu are sharing. I see this very same thing as well, and have experienced it first-handedly, second-handedly, etc.

    Many women do not have a choice, as Youngxiu demonstrated. There are many cases liek this, not just a “few, isolated” ones. Look around! Look outside your own body of believers and really talk to people. Unfortunately, most have learned it is not ok to talk to people who already have their perspective hardened to the point they cannot allow reality and situations to soften their minds and hearts, so if one does not see or hear often and much about the sad state of husbands abandoning women in various different ways, it is because those women have learned it is not good to talk to those who place the blame squarely back on the women.

    Someone said, ““Bottom line: marry a guy who loves the Lord more than he loves you, and the abuse issue evaporates.”

    What about those who have not done this? What about the fact that they believed they were marrying the right person at the time? What about those instructed to marry that person? That received premarital counseling, and were given the green light? This offers no hope for people finding themselves in bad siatuations. Bad situations, that often arrived much later in the marriage.

    Physical abuse and abandonment are not the worst kinds of abuse, they are simply the ones with the quickest degree of deteriration physically. Verbal and mental and emotional abuse are just as severe, sometimes worse. I once had women who were abused on different levels tell me they wish their husbands would just punch them so at least the law would protect them, because mental and emotional abuse had no law to back them up, and the church often will not accept abuse that isnt physical as abuse. I find that appalling.

    Has one been mentally, emotionally, and psychologically abused, they would not say the things being said here.

    The pendulum swings both ways. People here do not want to be told things, but either do the rest of us, who feel our points are valid and imperative to inclusion in the final doctrinal belief. Especially when it affects our children, our friends, our society. Just because we do not BibleSpeak as some, does not nullify everything added to the conversation. I think Youngxiu and Jennifer have excellent points and bring balance to the conversation. They are not speaking of the ideal, but of the reality that is occurring. And I am listening and glad for their voices.

    Lastly, let us not confuse matriarchy with matrifocal, and other matri-terminology that are used in sociology. There are many matrifocal societies in the wolrd that are run well and put the patriarchal societies to shame.

  59. What I understood the point of the blog post to be was that just because abuse occurs, it doesn’t mean that the Biblical principle about the husband being the head of the wife is wrong. It is the abusers who are wrong, not the Bible. Even if they try to use the headship principle as justification for their acts, they are still wrong, not the Bible. True Biblical headship doesn’t have to be abusive. The pharisees (sp?)took the law and added even more restrictive man-made rules to it. Because they interpreted and applied it incorrectly, that made them wrong, not God’s law. I don’t think anyone was saying that abuse doesn’t happen or that we should ignore it. It saddens me to see how quick we are to abandon the Bible and what it teaches to suit our own wants and desires. There are so many other examples, such as the Bible says homosexuality is a sin, but there are even churches who ignore that and pretend that it’s ok. I’m not trying to ignore the issue of abuse, just pointing out that it doesn’t mean the Bible is wrong. We are sinful, all of us, but because we mess up and don’t always live out what we believe doesn’t mean the standard is incorrect.
    I hope my comments don’t sound mean spirited because that is not my intention, just wanted to defend my belief that the Bible is Truth.

  60. Beth,

    You articulated exactly what the point of the post is. If I took the liberty, I might delve into some of the reasons I take such issue with women yelling “abuse” and then blaming it on a principle or teaching. There are two kinds of abuse being talked a lot about these days. One is real, terrible, and in need of defending.

    The other is a wrong use of the word as a sympathy card aimed at destroying authority that the self-created victim is rebelling against.

    It needs to be carefully handled and corrected.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *