Thursday, June 21, 2007

Why? Why? Why? Why? Why?

Here are some questions I get asked quite frequently:

Q: Do you think the doctrine of submission is responsible for some of the domestic violence that is taking place in the church?

A: Yes I do

Q: Why do you feel this is true?

A: Nowhere in scripture do we find even a hint that husbands are commanded or even permitted by God to demand submission from their wives. Yet we do find in the Bible where ruling over their wives will be a sinful inclination that husbands will naturally lean towards. Ruling over his wife was not a command given to Adam in Genesis chapter 3, but rather a very negative "consequence" of the fall.

I believe unscriptural preaching and teaching on the subject which stresses wifely submission as the answer to all or most marital problems naturally leads to abuses on the part of husbands as they attempt to assert a sinful authority over their wives that the scriptures simply do not permit.

In times past, scripture passages dealing with wifely submission were interpreted so literally, and enforced to such extremes, that laws were passed which gave a husband the right to beat his wife with a rod “no bigger than his thumb.”

Also, the fact that wife-beaters within the church are rarely subjected to church discipline, while in some congregations women who divorce due to the abuse are subjected to church discipline, sends a subliminal message to husbands that wife-beating or abuse is really not all that bad.

Q: Why did you stay and tolerate the abuse?

A: Ah, there it is, the question of the century! I devoted an entire chapter of my book to that question. In fact, the question of “Why She Stays” is the number one question asked of women in abusive situations.

I found, during the course of my research, that I reacted quite typically to the abuse in my marriage. There is really no simple answer to that question, except the one the Bible gives in Genesis Chapter 3 where God tells Eve that her husband will rule over her and her desire will be for him. The ruling part was a consequence to both Adam and Eve—not a blessing for him and a curse for her. And the desire for her husband part explains why she puts up with it.

In my own case, there were many separations and reconciliations along the way as I attempted to resolve the problems within my marriage. It was just part of the process. And if we believe what the Bible says, it should not come as a surprise to anyone that the abused/battered wife, especially the evangelical Christian wife, does not find leaving an easy thing to do.

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