Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Marriage as Parable of Permanence 8

posted by Scot McKnight

WeddingRing.jpgWe are discussing marriage by examining the recent book of John Piper’s called This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence.

What then about this “submissiveness” that is so emphatic in Piper’s complementarian approach to reading the roles of husbands and wives?

Piper begins with 1 Peter 3 and finds four characteristics of biblical women: they hope in God, they are fearless about the future, they have an inner adornment, and they are submissive.

What submission is not according to Piper:

1. It does not mean agreeing with everything yoru husband says.
2. It does not mean leaving your brain or your will at the wedding altar.
3. It does not mean avoiding every effort to change a husband.
4. It does not mean putting the will of a husband before the will of Christ. “Submission to Jesus relativizes submission to husbands” (100).
5. It does not mean that a wife gets her personal, spiritual strength through her husband.
6. It does not mean she is to act out of fear.

What is it?



It is to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts. “It’s the disposition to follow a husband’s authority [new word so far as I can see], and an inclination to yield to his leadership” (101).



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Your Name

posted July 10, 2009 at 1:30 am


The only passage I know of that speaks explicitly of “authority” in marriage, and using that word (exousia), is in 1 Corinthians 7:4:
“The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; and likewise also the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.” (NAS)
Paul goes on to say: “Do not deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time…” (v. 5, NIV)
This sounds like mutuality to me.
It seems odd, if Paul truly believed in the “husband leads/wife submits” model, that he would make an exception in the area of sexual compliance. Sex is a pretty fundamental componant of marriage, is the means by which two become one flesh, and can serve as a metonym for the whole marriage relationship.
I have no objections to Piper teaching women to submit to their husbands. What I find flawed is that he infers this means men are exempt from mutual submission and that only the male partner has a leadership part to play in the marriage partnership. True egalitarians are not against submission. They object to it being half missing. We want more submission; not less. The complementarian, on the other hand, wants to shirk the most distinctive aspect of Christ’s example: kenosis.



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Dave Leigh

posted July 10, 2009 at 1:33 am


… forgot to fill in my name, above.



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Travis Greene

posted July 10, 2009 at 9:38 am


Dave, “We want more submission; not less.”
That’s a great point. I hope you don’t mind me stealing it.



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Larry S

posted July 10, 2009 at 10:17 am


Dave,
I’ve noted the same thing in 1 Cor 7. That passage deals not only with marital itimacy but also the couple’s prayer life. The notion of the husband’s spiritual authority is not in the text. Instead the couple make mutual decisions about their prayer/intimate life.



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joanne

posted July 10, 2009 at 11:13 am


I can appreciate his qualifications on what submission is not, I also know there is more to his story about the relations between men and women in marriage and in the church.
But in Piper’s view submission does mean
1. women may not teach or preach in the congregation
2. women may not be pastors
3. women may not be leaders or participate in leading in the church an home.
4. women must adopt a particular identity in relation to men in the home and church that is largely defined by pastors and accept their definition of their substance and what it means.
I think submission is about doing the hard work of relationship between one anothers… in the church and household system.
1. it’s about listening to one another
2. it’s about inviting and including
3. it’s about putting aside the me first attitude to others can flourish and thrive in the new community.
4. it’s about following the ways of Christ in the character of Christ.
5. it’s for both men and women.



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joanne

posted July 10, 2009 at 11:35 am


One more thing on what submission is:
I think it’s about finding our part in the community and serving others through the gift that we are… the gift that God made us to be in Christ. That’s a work of the Spirit, the self and the community to help us become that person. It’s a giving and receiving.
Like someone said yesterday that struck me… submission can be both giving and receiving. Sometimes it is harder to receive from another especially someone of lesser status or popularity… but even more profound if we have eyes to see and submit to receiving their gift as Jesus did in receiving the anointing from the sinful woman.



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John W Frye

posted July 10, 2009 at 11:44 am


If two believers–one man and one woman–are both gifted by the Holy Spirit with the charism of leadership (Romans 12:8), does the complementarian view demand the woman “submit” to the man’s leadership *because* he is man? If so, why? Where does that kind of thinking come from? It seems forced into N.T. texts, not derived from the N.T.
This may seem snarky, but I think the complementarian view is all smoke and mirrors to uphold a cultural model of “authority” and “headship” (who created that word?) rather than observe and practice biblical teaching. But that’s just me. I am not speaking for anyone else here at Jesus Creed.



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joanne

posted July 10, 2009 at 12:01 pm


to submit just because someone is a man… isn’t that sort determining the community by the flesh?



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Ann

posted July 10, 2009 at 12:45 pm


@ John #7, to your question in the 1st paragraph: In a nutshell, yes. I’ve studied w/ complementarian professors, including one who is a recognized authority on NT Greek. He didn’t realize the irony when he said to me after an exegetical study I did which overturned commentaries’ arguments on a passage, “I’ll never read that passage the same way again.” Yet, he still thinks men have to have the “senior pastor” role and women can only be in supporting pastoral roles because of his interpretation of 1 Tim. 2.
@ Joanne #5, some complementarians (as the prof above) believe women can be pastors, just not senior pastors. Others take the more extreme view, such as the Lutheran MS pastor who tried to teach my daughter in middle school that “according to [his] role, and the order which is necessitated by sin, wives must submit to their husbands in everything. [he quoted Eph.5] So, I give my wife permission to cook and clean the house.” To which my daughter responded, “doesn’t that sentence begin with ‘submit yourselves to one another’?” He told her that she was taking it “out of context” (no, I’m not kidding!), and she said, “I don’t think so, I think you are!”
BTW, Scot, I showed our now-college-aged daughter your comments on that exact Eph. 5 section and she laughed aloud. :)
I think Joanne’s point #1 of “listening to one another” as an act of submission (and, I’d add, love) is critical. Being a later life seminarian after working in economics & investment banking, I’d recognized that some/many men have a hard time really hearing women in any area, not just in the church or family. I recall a bank Exec VP responding to a study I’d written that clearly laid out how poor the internal accounting controls were, & thus how exposed to fraud the bank was: “She’s just a Yankee and a girl.” Most professional women know what I mean when I wonder aloud if there doesn’t seem to be an exceptionally hard pushback when a woman speaks the truth to those in authority, in contrast to when another man may speak the same truth.



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Ann

posted July 10, 2009 at 12:50 pm


One last remark in re: “authority”
It seems clear (to me, anyway) that this is one of the most abused words of complementarians. If I understand Paul correctly in the Greek, his use of the word authority is based in God’s authoring. Further, since God authored *both* men and women in the image of God, men and women need to hear where the other one is speaking and living the truth of being “in Christ.” Thus, there isn’t any excuse, ISTM, for a man to reject or muzzle the truth of God’s voice through a woman, if indeed she is speaking as she is found “in Christ.” When in Christ, her authority originates in our Creator God.



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Paul

posted July 10, 2009 at 1:30 pm


Well Mr. John W. Frye…you may speak for me! Spot on, brother, spot on!!



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joanne

posted July 10, 2009 at 2:20 pm


some complimentarians don’t believe women are made in God’s image. She is made in the image of man so only partly reflects the image of God. (John MacArther and Bruce Ware teach that).
Most of us would agree on most ideas around submission and servanthood but once a woman is defined as under a man, for whatever reaason… all kinds of details follow about what a woman is, what she can do. And it’s usually the devil in the details.



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Pat

posted July 10, 2009 at 3:22 pm


Heavy sigh….



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Dave Leigh

posted July 11, 2009 at 12:08 am


#3 Travis
By all means use it! Truth can never be stolen.
To the comment you liked I would also add: we are not looking for less leadership but more–and specifically we are looking for ALL who are gifted and called to lead to do so with all their hearts, mind, soul and strength. The gifts and callings of God show no respect of persons or gender.
Full partnership means full mutuality.



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Ann

posted July 11, 2009 at 2:26 am


@ Joanne #12 – they might as well rip Gen. 1 right out of the canon, then.
Not to mention the obvious that most parents can observe – boys and girls are very different, as are each from another! I have to say it makes me laugh how abstracted from daily reality some academics have to be to posit such dogma.



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Your Name

posted July 11, 2009 at 12:56 pm


I have no disagreement with the obvious fact that boys and girls are different.
Does difference as in a flesh (male flesh and female flesh) sense mean we are have less of God’s image?
Definitions of difference usually move to what men and women are designed to do in the church and home. Then arguments are made for why difference means women should be subordinate.
So it’s not difference that is the issue… but what is made of difference. That’s why the devil is in the details.



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joanne

posted July 11, 2009 at 12:57 pm


opps, #16 is Joanne.



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ChristSpeak

posted July 13, 2009 at 6:23 am


John (@7) – If a woman was called to leadership, she should lead. But the simple question is, does God call women to leadership? Which then brings us back to exegesis.
A small thing to consider is the Old Testament. Yes, Deborah and a few women here and there led the nation politically or militarily, but that is not the spiritual body of the OT (the “church” back then). The priesthood is the closest thing they had to what we have. That was always led by men throughout the entire history of Israel.
It is said of us in the NT that we are now “a nation of priests” (in Hebrews). Does that make us all able to lead like the Levitical priesthood? I’m more inclined to see our priesthood more in the second sense used in the OT when the entire nation is called a nation of priests, mediators between God and the other nations. I think that is what the Hebrews passage is talking about — the office of Levitical priest pretty much went away (except for Christ taking the High Priest position) since we have no sacrifices or temples left to maintain.
So that is something to consider at least, in terms of biblical theology. I also just wrote a small blog on a different aspect of the whole issue, I’d like to get your opinion on that if you wouldn’t mind:
http://christspeak.com/2009/07/13/imagery-marriage-part-2/
I’ll have to think over Dave’s point up in comment #1 about the mutual submission to sex and how that would fit it, it’s something I haven’t considered deeply before. Its nice to have good theology discussions online when people are civil about like on this blog :)
Oh, and if any of y’all read this, I just want to say that I’m signing up for all of your blogs on my RSS (Dave, John, Ann, Paul, Pat). They look good.



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