Sunday, January 9, 2011

Submission=Slavery?




A few months ago, I posted parts of an article from Crosswalk on domestic abuse in the church.

One of the comments struck a chord with me. A woman who identified as "Anonymous" wrote: "The hardest thing about domestic violence is being controlled in the mind. My ex just convinced me that there was nothing abnormal, that I had to try harder, that it was my fault if things weren't OK. Then there was the constant teaching of the church to never contemplate separation, and that no matter what, the marriage had to come first, even if the kids were dying on the inside. Even now, after leaving, the abuse doesn't stop but it does get very covert and hard to prove to others..."

In my response, I wrote: "... many churches have improperly taught on what submission really means, twisting it to the point where some women resemble slaves. Other times, churches don't touch the subject at all, leaving couples to try to decipher such vital teachings on their own, with dire circumstances." I also wrote I would write on the subject "very soon"... and well, that was October. But just because it's not on my blog doesn't mean it's out of my mind. So here, with Anon still in my prayers, is that long awaited post.



In December 2009, my mother-in-law sent the hubby, straight from Trinidad, a box of gifts for his birthday. One of the items was a book called "Understanding the Purpose & Power of Men: by Dr. Myles Munroe. Being the book nerd that I am (what? You thought Cartoon Li's perch atop a bunch of books was accidental? Nope!), I quickly snatched up the book and began to read it. After all, it's subtitle is "a book for men AND THE WOMEN WHO LOVE THEM". So being a women very much in love with my man, I flipped it open and enjoyed what I read. I definitely recommend this one.

Dr. Munroe, from a Christian perspective, goes in-depth into what being a man, and ultimately, a husband, father and leader really means. He also takes the time to poignantly delve into the oh-to-sticky-submission issue. Yeah, SUBMISSION. I have yet to meet a Christian woman- no matter if she's fundie, Wesleyan, Presbyterian, Holiness, Reformed, whatever- who has not heard of the famous "Wives SUBMIT to your husbands" verses and accompanying teaching. It's these verses, scattered throughout the New Testament, penned by Paul, that have resulted in many Feminists labeling Christianity "patriarchal" and "domineering". And quite frankly, many Christian women, like the loud-mouthed ghetto "Angie" in a scene from Tyler Perry's "Why Did I Get Married Too", to, especially in this day, quickly dismiss it with a "Submit? Oh, I'm not doing that."

Unfortunately, other women, like Anonymous, suffer under the yoke of abuse because they are taught to "submit". Sadly, I heard some preach similar messages growing up. Basically, wives, deal with getting knocked up side the head... "so saith the Lord." Yeah, because using King James Version English some how makes battery authoritative.



Munroe, in a chapter titled "Dominion versus Domination", shares these words about submission:

"Many men's distorted understanding of strength can be seen in the way they view the concept of submission. Yet the passage in which this concept is found, Ephesians 5:22-23, contains something many people miss. It says, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church."

Let's first talk about the word submission. The definition of submit means to "willfully give your will to another." Submission has nothing to do with force or pressure. It's an act of the will. To submit is the choice of the person who is submitting, not the command of one who wants to be submitted to. Put another way, you cannot submit unless you want to, and no one can make you submit if you don't want to.


Any man who has to force a woman to submit does not deserve to be submitted to. He is no longer worthy of submission; he has become a slave driver. Do you know what makes a slave a slave? Force and fear. Those are the elements that are dominating too many homes. The Bible says, "Perfect love drives out fear" (I John 4:18). This means that if a man has to make a woman afraid of him in order to force her to do something he wants done, then he doesn't know what love is."

Tomorrow, I'll be back with more wise words from Dr. Munroe. But I want to 1.) get the conversation going and 2.) encourage my readers to share good books, websites and organizations that will be a help to all the women out there like Anonymous.

7 comments:

Red Cardigan said...

Alicia, this is an important topic, and I'm interested to read your thoughts about it.

May I share a few of my posts from a Catholic perspective on the subject of wifely submission? They are:

http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/2007/08/submission-or-doormat.html

http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/2007/10/thinking-poorly-of-women.html

http://redcardigan.blogspot.com/2008/01/husbands-love-your-wives.html

Looking forward to reading the discussion here!

Alisha De Freitas said...

Erin, I can always count on you for great links! Thanks so much for sharing!

I can't wait to read your posts!

Mary said...

I think the key is to see both sides of the responsibility and to understand the analogy Paul uses.

So, one side is submission and the other side is leadership. It's right there in Paul's letter. There are two sides of *responsibility*, not one side of priviledge and one side of oppression.

If we look at the analogies used for both sides it becomes obvious in what sense Paul is referring to headship and submission. So it's not tyrannical rule with an iron fist on the man's part and it's not cowed bowing and scraping on the woman's part. It's Christlike leadership on the man's part (responsibly and sacrificially leading his wife in righteousness for her spiritual benefit, as Christ would) and it's respectful submission like that of the Church to Christ on the woman's part (honouring, faithfully following his good leading, and respecting him as the Church does her Heavenly Husband).

The problem comes in when one or the other party is not making a concerted effort to follow this pattern. In such cases, the principle is still to be followed *provided it doesn't lead to sin - which includes abuse*. We have to see this passage in the context of the whole of scripture.

And of course those of us who are unmarried can and should try our hardest to filter out those who exhibit patterns of behaviour that would be destructive. So we need to examine those we consider for the post of husband or wife (just as you would for any other job description!) and see whether the behaviour they display is in keeping with a commitment to follow a biblical pattern for relationships.

Anonymous said...

Submission is kind of like slavery. After all, that is what it is compared to in the bible. That and a parent/child relationship. the bible treats women as lower than the lowest bug. Women are too good for this treatment. It destroys self-esteem, and even self-respect. Women are way too good for the bible, organized religion, and slavery.

Anonymous said...

No man is worthy of submission. Men are just people, just like women. Why should someone get all the power because of a reproductive organ. I don't understand women believing in their own inferiorty. Please reconsider your worth. Women are wonderful, and don't need to be submissive to any man (unless they want to-they don't want to make their own choice and decisions-they want to have a man take over their lives. Please-you are as good, and probably better, than any man. Do you really need a head/master? How about an equal partner-that you give and take with. it's not just you giving, and him taking. Submission hurts women-even if you have a nice "master", he is still that- a master.

Don said...

Never married, but involved in at least three committed relationships in my lifetime. And I tend to agree with the notion that if a man has to force a woman to submit, then its clearly against her will and as the case she wouldn't entertain the mental/emotional capacity I believe is needed to gain the proper understanding.

It probably works better if both recognize and nurture the gray area? Of course this is the older, more experienced version of myself commenting. No telling what the younger version would've said.

Alisha De Freitas said...

@Don, thank God that wisdom comes with age and not just gray hair.

The husband is to model himself after Christ... Christ does not force Himself on us. He exemplified love to the point of death.

More men (and women) should meditate on that.

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