Saturday, May 2, 2015

CTNAHM-Obey Indeed? Part 7 (4 Different Types of Submission)

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Hello! It's been quite a long time since I've even looked at this book, let alone review it. Honestly, I'd been having marital issues of my own, and reading that everything would be better if I would just submit more was too triggering. Not that my husband is forceful or demanding in any way of my obedience, but still...it was too much.

So, quick recap of where we left off a year ago. If you're wanting the original source materials, and have a strong stomach, here is the list of my reviews from the beginning. To sum it up, men are natural leaders and need-nay, deserve-a woman who is a good servant help meet. This chapter has been talking about how God never tells women to obey men in the Bible. That teaching is alternated with lovely reminders and anecdotes about how much better life is when women obey.
   Confused yet? Anywho, the last section I covered was Michael explaining the difference between obey and submit. Obeying is an action; he uses the example of horses obeying. Submission is obedience with a full heart. Basically being happy about obeying.  Today is more on that subject, in case there are any questions.

Text is in purple

Though God commends Sarah for her extraordinary obedience, (I must say it again) the Bible never commands a wife to obey. It commands much more than obedience-it commands her to submit. Submission is a voluntary attitude of cooperating.  Strong is correct in saying that the Greek word behind "wives submit" was a "Greek military term meaning to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader.'" (emphasis his)
   There we have it. God never tells wives to obey; He tells them to submit! Though I'm not certain how the Greek term has come to mean "women do what your husband says, and cheerfully". Maybe it's something that got lost in translation?
When Hagar fled from her jealous and oppressive mistress, the "angel of the LORD said unto her, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. (Genesis 16:9)" Not just grudgingly obey. She had never stopped obeying; she just treated Sarah with disrespect. She was told to return and submit, that is to willingly and with all her heart place herself under the authority of her mistress.
   I see a couple of problems with this comparison. First, Hagar was a slave. It was literally her job description to do what Sarah said. Is Michael saying that the dynamic between a mistress and servant is the same as a husband and wife?
    Second, some context for this verse. I'm paraphrasing because it's easier for me to understand this way. Sarah had been married to Abraham for awhile, and hadn't gotten pregnant. So she said "Here, take my slave and maybe she'll give you a child." It worked, and Hagar conceived. After she found out she was pregnant, she was rude with Sarah. And Sarah went to Abraham and said "This is your fault! I tried to make you happy, and now that she's pregnant, she's treating me like crap!" Abraham pretty much shrugged and said "She's your slave. Do what you want to her." Sarah did.  She treated Hagar badly, and Hagar up and left.  While she was running away, an angel came and said "You're Sarah's servant, what are you doing here?" Hagar answered "She was a jerk, and I'm done with that nonsense." Then the angel said "Go back and submit to her, and I'll give you so many descendants that there will be too many to count." So she went back and had Ishmael.
   Oddly enough, there is no mention of the Sarah/Hagar dynamic when Hagar went back. And still nowhere in this chapter of Genesis is it talking about wives submitting to husbands. If anything, it's telling a second wife to submit to the first wife. Which is a bit too Mormon for my tastes, so let's move on.
Paul employs the same Greek word in the book of Romans, "For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. (Romans 10:3)" The word obey would not be an appropriate synonym to replace submitted in this passage-"have not [obeyed] themselves unto the righteousness of God." To submit to the gift of righteousness is the opposite of obeying unto righteousness.
   Is it just me, or is Michael harping over a minuscule point? And, really, how is a husband to know whether his wife is obeying or submitting? Would it even matter, in this culture, to him? As long as what he wants is getting done, would he really think about the "state of his wife's heart"? I'm honestly not sure. I am, however, getting really sick of both of those words.
Those striving to obtain righteousness through human means were not submitting to God's offer of righteousness through  Jesus Christ.  I know many misguided souls who are obeying God but not submitting to the gift of righteousness. A wife could obey her husband without an ounce of submission.
   What the heck is the "gift of righteousness" he keeps talking about? Being a diligent student, I went to Michael's website to find out. Apparently it is "God 'imputed' our sin to the perfect God/Man Jesus Christ. He died as if he were the sinner and was raised from the dead because he was indeed righteous. God now imputes the righteousness of Jesus to all who will believe on him." How I understand it is that because Christ died for people's sins, God makes people righteous? I'm confused. Especially since there is no connection to "gift of righteousness" and submission! I mean, if God hands out imputed righteousness to everyone who believes in Jesus the God/Man, where would submission even play a part?
   Urgh. I remember now how infuriating Michael's logic is. It really seems like he thinks if he throws enough big Biblical words at people, they will agree.
Look at 1 Corinthians 16: 15-16 and 1 Peter 5:5. They carry the meaning of voluntarily conforming to and assisting."
   Ok. Let's look at those verses.

1 Corinthians 16:15-16New International Version (NIV)

15 You know that the household of Stephanas were the first converts in Achaia,and they have devoted themselves to the service of the Lord’s people. I urge you, brothers and sisters, 16 to submit to such people and to everyone who joins in the work and labors at it.
And 

1 Peter 5:5New International Version (NIV)

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,“God opposes the proud  but shows favor to the humble.
I kind of see what Michael is getting at. It does kind of show that when God says submit, he wants you to serve others and listen to your elders. But I cannot, for the life of me, figure out how Michael conflates this type of submission with wifely obedience.  Unless he is pointing out examples of other people's submission to non-husband entities (elders, mistresses, first converts) as a guideline for wifely submission?  Interesting, because of all the women in the Bible, how many of them actually submitted to their husbands? Ruth's husband was dead. Esther defied her husband, the king. Mary didn't have a husband at the time...Sarah did, but we've already covered how that turned out. (Spoiler: Abraham made bad decisions and God had to save the day)
   Which brings me to my final point. Who is there to protect the wife from an abusive or tyrannical husband? If submission is a gift to one's husband, is there a way to ensure the safety of the submissive? I don't know much about BDSM, but I do know that the submissive sets the limits and can always say NO. (Or a codeword) Honestly, despite the societal taboo associated with it, from my cursory research, it really seems that a BDSM relationship is far more healthy then anything Michael or Debi Pearl has to offer. 
  

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