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Month: April 2008

Patriarchal authority and free will

Patriarchal authority and free will

One of the key differences between an egalitarian and a patriarchal marriage is in the area of authority and will. In a patriarchal marriage, the man is set up as the final decision maker of the home and he is given the right to make a decision for his wife even if it overrules her will. The question we need to ask ourselves, is this biblical? Is a husband given a scriptural right to take authority over his wife against her will?

There is only one place in scripture where we find husbandly authority. This authority is found in 1 Corinthians 7:4. The Amplified version says:

1 Cor. 7:4 For the wife does not have [exclusive] authority and control over her own body, but the husband [has his rights]; likewise also the husband does not have [exclusive] authority and control over his body, but the wife [has her rights].

In this case both the husband and the wife have rights and authority over their spouses’ body. While the bible shows that each has an authority over their spouse’s body, this does not give one person the right to exercise authority over their spouse’s body against their will. In verse 5 Paul addresses the one who has made a decision to hold back from their spouse the sexual rights due to them.

1Co 7:5 Do not refuse and deprive and defraud each other [of your due marital rights], except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves unhindered to prayer. But afterwards resume marital relations, lest Satan tempt you [to sin] through your lack of restraint of sexual desire.

Paul’s encouragement is not aimed at the one who has been deprived of their rights telling them to take what belongs to them by taking authority over their spouse. This kind of forcing of one’s will on the other is never permitted. Rather, Paul’s instruction is to the one who is holding back and he instructs them to consider their spouse and the marital rights that are due their spouse because of their one-flesh marriage union. Paul writes that abstaining from marital relations is fine as long as it is for a time and is by mutual consent. The focus then is on mutual consent not on one person taking authority over another. If there ever was a place where Paul could have allowed men to take authority over their wives, this would have been one such place. But Paul does not tell men that it is their right to take authority over their wives even when he states that it is a man’s right to have marital relations with his wife. Why doesn’t Paul tell men in this instance that the husband has the right to take authority over his wife when their view on sex is different? Why doesn’t Paul tell men that they are allowed to make a decision for their wife when the husband and wife do not come to a mutual decision? It is because when a husband takes authority over his wife and physically overrules her will it is called rape.

If a husband is not allowed by scripture to take authority over his wife physically to force her against her will into a sexual relationship with him, then what makes patriarchs think that the husband is allowed by scripture to take authority over his wife’s will when they have a difference of opinion in other areas of their marriage? Scripture never once tells a man to take authority over his wife. This would be an overriding of her will and God considers our will as a very precious thing that not even he overrides. When people reject God by a decision of their own will, God does not force them into a relationship with him. God has given mankind a will that God respects. God will encourage us and persuade us and plead with us but God will not override our will. If we reject God, God will give us our will in the end and he will punish us for our sins instead of forcing us to be saved against our will.

One of the challenges that patriarchs will offer, is what does a married couple do if they disagree over a decision? If the husband doesn’t take authority to make the decision then how can they survive in a dead-locked position? The book “Does God Really Prefer Men?” available as a free download from doesgodreallyprefermen.com gives some very good biblical suggestions regarding what to do in this situation. When a couple is dead-locked, this is an opportunity to take the decision to the Lord in prayer. It is also an opportunity to work at unity. Last, it is an opportunity for the husband to sacrifice for his wife and/or for the wife to submit to her husband.

There is another good reason why God has not given the husband the right to take authority over his wife. The reason is that God’s desire is for each one of us to grow up and be mature. If the husband takes the position of decision maker in the home, the wife’s ability to mature is withheld from her.

Let me give you a couple of real life examples from a former complementarian couple who were taught that the husband was to be the decision maker of the home and he was to be responsible for his wife.  I will refer to them as “Bruce” and “Connie”. On their wedding day Bruce started this “role” as he took seriously his responsibility as “head” of the home. On their honeymoon in the mountains, when he realized for the first time that his new wife was afraid of heights, he took on the responsibility of dealing with her fears. He took authority over Connie by forcing her to go close to the edge of a cliff. For him it was an act of love because he was taking authority over her fear and that should have been a good thing. However his young wife was not released from fear. Instead she experienced a great amount of fear and panic and for the very first time in her new marriage, she experienced resentment because he had exerted his authority over her and against her will.

Within a few months they came to their first major roadblock in decision making. Bruce had a bag of mending for Connie to do and he wanted her to work on mending the holes in his pants. She loved sewing but she hated mending and she did not want to mend the ragged holes in his pants, at least not now. Maybe later, she told him, but not now. So he took his authority over her and told her that she had to do the work – now. Bruce pushed Connie down into the chair in front of the sewing machine and took authority over her will. This certainly should help her to be responsible and do things in a timely manner. He did everything that he was taught to do. He became responsible for her and he took authority over his wife and made the final decision when they disagreed. But by his taking authority over her will, she started a process of dying inside. Because Connie’s husband took authority over her will, she started to lose who she was as a person and instead of growing and maturing as a person and as a Christian she was kept in an immature state and she stopped growing. Through the years he loved her by protecting her from making mistakes. For example if she bought a frying pan at the store and he didn’t think that she needed a new one, he took authority over her will and made her take it back to the store.

As Connie’s will was overridden time and time again she started to hate her oppressor. After years of having her husband take authority over her, she started to dream about doing the unthinkable. She could never actually divorce him, but she could dream about divorce and what it would be like to be free from the one who controlled her life. What neither one of them realized at the time was that taking authority over your spouse against their will is emotional rape. It wasn’t until many years later when Connie came to the end of her rope and she finally drew the line in the sand because of all the control, he stopped taking his authority over her and he stopped making all the final decisions and she finally started to grow and mature emotionally. She actually started to blossom as a person. Instead of protecting her from every bad decision, he started to allow her to make wrong choices and she started to learn from her mistakes and this helped her to mature. She responded by loving him intensely for the freedom that he gave her to be her own person. She now was able to submit to him in love instead of having her submission forced on her. Bruce started to understand that loving his wife meant that he needed to sacrifice his need to keep her from making what he considered to be mistakes. True mature love, he learned, is not about taking authority over another person, but in serving them. A true godly husband serves his wife by providing her with all the tools that she needs to grow and mature.

When Jesus was on earth he did not take authority over his bride. Instead of taking authority over her and making her decisions, he spoke gently to his bride and he used persuasion instead of authority. One of the best examples of this is when Jesus submitted himself to wash the feet of the disciples. Peter, part of the bride of Christ, refused to have Jesus wash his feet. If the patriarchal way of taking authority over the wife was the right way, then Jesus surely should have taken authority over Peter and made the decision for Peter to wash his feet even if it was against Peter’s will. However Jesus did not do that. Instead of taking authority over Peter’s will, Jesus told Peter why he needed to wash his feet. When Peter understood Jesus’ actions as serving Peter in his need, Peter was very willing to submit to the service of Jesus.

The actions of Jesus are representative of a godly husband. A godly husband does not take authority over his wife’s will. Instead of making decisions for her, a godly husband will gently persuade and lovingly sacrifice for his wife. When a husband does these things, a wife will find joy in submitting to his sacrifice and it will be an act of her own free will that will accept what he offers her.

Hierarchical teaching influences the doctrine of the Trinity

Hierarchical teaching influences the doctrine of the Trinity

One of the ways that hierarchical teaching has influenced the church since the 1970’s is in the area of the doctrine of the Trinity. In hierarchical teaching, the Trinity is no longer three functionally equal persons who share the same nature. Instead Jesus and the Holy Spirit become functionally subordinate to the point that Jesus no longer has a will that is exercised. Instead of a functional equality with the Father, it is now claimed by some hierarchists that Jesus as the pre-incarnate Son of God had to have permission to create the world since the authority even for creation rested on the Father alone. It is also claimed that the Jesus is so unequal in authority with the Father that we are not biblically allowed to pray to Jesus or have intimate communication with him. These claims more closely resemble the teaching of some well-known cults than they do of historic Christianity.

Will the church stand back and allow the Trinity to be downgraded so that the persons of the Trinity are no longer equal in authority, in their will or their work? We are now seeing a ground swell of opposition to the hierarchical teaching that tries to equate women’s subordination with an re-invented eternal subordination within the Trinity (this is not the first time in church history that the issue of subordinationism has reared its ugly head). Our new DVD on the Trinity is just getting ready for filming in early May 2008 and the second DVD in this 2 DVD set will focus on a refutation of the hierarchical distortion of the Trinity. Although the subordination of women will not be mentioned in the DVD, the foundation of the modern subordination movement that bases the subordination of women on the supposed eternal subordination of Christ in the Trinity, will be thoroughly refuted. There will also be many audio clips from noted hierarchical teachers such as Bruce Ware that documents the faulty logic used to downgrade Jesus to a lesser authority than the Father (the same logic they use to downgrade women as under the authority of all men).

Others who are bringing to light the connection between the hierarchical movement and the subordination of the Son are doing a good job at drawing our attention to the attacks on the doctrine of the Trinity from within our Christian churches most notably from within the Southern Baptist Convention.

Be sure to read Wade Burleson’s blog post and Dr. Cynthia Kunsman’s post discussing the censorship that she has experienced by merely talking about patriarchy and views espoused by hierarchists such as Bruce Ware and CBMW.

We believe that our new DVD will bring to light evidence of the tampering of the Trinity by modern Evangelicals that may shock a lot of people. One thing that I have found most disturbing is that in the written material that I have read from Dr. Bruce Ware as well as in all of the lectures that I listened to by Ware on this subject, he never fails to connect the Trinity to the women’s issue and the subordination of women. This is extremely troubling to me that he would be so passionate to limit the full usage of women’s gifts in the church that he has become passionate in the last dozen or so years to make the Trinity an issue of eternal subordination. I do want to point out that in email correspondence with me Ware has denied that he sees Jesus as less than equal with the Father in function because he sees women also in the same lower “role”. However his inability to even discuss the Trinity without bringing the women’s issue into play makes his denial very suspect. Ware simply sees the two issues so intimately connected that he cannot discuss the Trinity without making application to the “glorious” pattern of male authority over women which is a reflection of the Trinity. I related to Bruce Ware that whether women are or are not subordinated to men does not reflect on the full equality of the Son. Ware does not see it this way. He has been one of several who have dedicated themselves to teaching the eternal subordination of the pre-incarnate Christ. This is not good nor is it right.

It is about time that we set up a flag in the ground and a line in the sand and say “No more!” We will fight for the truth and expose the error. No longer should we stand by to see Jesus dishonored by those who wish to remove his full and equal function as Deity.

Helpful sites for research on egalitarian views

Helpful sites for research on egalitarian views

I was also asked to have a place where we could list good blogs/web sites that promote godly views about women in ministry or issues of egalitarian marriage, etc. This post will be the permanent place to place links.

Pastor Wade Burleson http://kerussocharis.blogspot.com/ has been posting great articles on women in the church. While Wade may not agree with everything on women in ministry he is a great advocate for letting the Holy Spirit decide on who does what by the gifts that the Holy Spirit gives. You may want to page through some of the stuff that Wade writes regarding women to see how a “voice in the wilderness” is crying for sanity in the Southern Baptist Convention regarding women. Good stuff.

Wade Burleson’s father caught my attention quite a while ago and I just love the humility of Pastor Paul Burleson http://vtmbottomline.blogspot.com/ Pastor Paul often writes on the women’s issue and he is very supportive of using women’s gifts in the body of Christ. One of the things that I appreciate about Pastor Paul is his humble willingness to be taught. He does not look down on women or a person’s race or their age. He believes that he can learn from anyone when the person speaks the truth of God’s word. Paul speaks from the wisdom of his many years of service to the Lord Jesus.

Wayne Leman is a very caring man who started http://complegalitarian.blogspot.com/ This is a respectful place for both complementarians and egalitarians to dialog. Wayne is a bible translator and has a lot of wisdom in his years of service in the Lord as well. I have been privileged to meet Wayne in person and I greatly respect Wayne and his dear wife Elena and their hard work in bible translating.

Then there is a great egalitarian discussion board http://equalitycentral.com/forum where you can find friends, coffee and fellowship. Complementarians are welcome there too if they would like to dialog with respect. You will need to register to post, but it is worth the register to meet the great guys and gals there!

Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) http://www.cbeinternational.org/new/index.shtml is the Mother of all sites on biblical equality having been around since the time of Eve 🙂

Go ahead and add to my list. This post will be the chief post where we can list great web sites and blogs about biblical equality.

For those who would like a picture to appear by your comments go to http://www.engravatar.com and sign up. This program will allow you to pick a picture from your hard drive or from the internet that will appear by your comments. Kind of cool.

Another very helpful web page is http://www.DoesGodReallyPreferMen.com where you can request a great ebook called “Does God really prefer Men?” This ebook is especially helpful in establishing the base of an egalitarian marriage. I also found her exegesis on some of the hard passages of scriptures to be very akin to my own finding in scripture. Leslie Johnson writes that this is because we have the same Dad, the same Savior and we are filled with the same Holy Spirit. I heartily agree! For those of you who are especially looking for resources on marriage, make sure to request this free e-book from Gary and Leslie Johnson.

Biblical resources

Biblical resources

I was asked to provide a post that lists what people use for biblical helps all in one place.  I will start and anyone is welcome to add to the list.

I love e-sword http://www.e-sword.net/downloads.html It is a mostly free program that you can download onto your computer and it has tons of resources and bibles and helps.

I also love scripture4all http://scripture4all.org/ You can download the program or check the scriptures right on-line.  It is great for checking the Greek or Hebrew parsing.

Blue letter bible http://blueletterbible.org/ is also helpful although I rarely use it any longer since I have the helps already on my computer.

If anyone has already put their links in the comments area on other posts, please consider putting them in the comment section here so we can keep all of the resource links in one place.  Thanks!

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