Does a Christian Wife Have to Submit to an Unbelieving Husband?

“Does the bible say anything about women being with men who aren’t followers of God? Is a man who doesn’t even believe in God still entitled to a submissive wife or am I now exempt from that?” – These questions and others were recently asked to me in an email I received from a newly married young Christian woman calling herself “D”.

D’s Story

“Hi there, If you don’t mind may I call myself “D?” I am a 27 year of woman and I have been quietly reading your blog for a while after I stumbled upon it while I was seeking out some answers online about my lifestyle. While I cannot say that I live a lifestyle that is completely working in tandem with the things you talk about, I do find your insight interesting and honest. I appreciate the thought and honesty even if I don’t always understand or want to agree with some of the things being said. If you don’t mind, I was wondering if you could help lend some insight on something that has been troubling me? I don’t really know where to go to find answers as it seems society throws people left and right, often even shaming people for wanting to understand.

I would like to start by explaining my lifestyle dynamic first so you can gain an understanding of where I am coming from. This might seem long and drawn out but stay with me, it’s sort of complicated. I do not attend church, well I have not committed myself to a church yet but I do go from time to time. I would consider myself a Christian, even if my choices didn’t always show that. While believing in God there has always been a somewhat liberal understanding of how things worked for me. As I grow older I realize how confused I really am, I was brought up one way, society tells me something else, while my heart yearns for more knowledge.

I have been happily married for 2 and 1/2 years, but here is where most Christians are going to frown down on me…

My husband doesn’t believe in God, we are intermixed in that way and I know that’s not the ideal circumstance! I will clear things up by mentioning it’s basically a mirror image of how my dad was, not believing in God while my mother did, it’s what is normal to me so I felt comfortable doing it. I wonder, did I mess up, am I wrong for this?  I love my husband and I would NOT like to be one of the couples that ends up in a divorce due to our differences and arguing over stupid petty things. I hope that one day he can change his mind about God, I really have hope for that. Still in the back of my head I wonder am I wrong to be with him because of our religious differences, will we fail for this reason? I want to ensure that I won’t end up in a divorce, we really only fight about petty things for the most part.

Generally he tells me that “I don’t listen” or that “I argue with him too much.” His solution is just that I should do what he says. I feel that isn’t a reasonable for our situation for us though because our marriage isn’t exactly founded on those biblical principles, so why is he still asking for them? It frustrates me and even angers me sometimes.

Does the bible say anything about women being with men who aren’t followers of God? Is a man who doesn’t even believe in God still entitled to a submissive wife or am I now exempt from that? How do I deal with this? This is just such a strange situation and I don’t know what to do. Part of me says “I should do what he says so he is happy and we don’t fail in our marriage” while the other part says “well he is clearly wrong he doesn’t even believe in God, therefore he has no idea what he is talking about.” Also, I wonder which is worse for a Christian to be married to a non-Christian or for that couple to get in a divorce?

I would like to thank you for your time, I hope this didn’t sound too confusing. I know that you base most of your dealings with couples who are both Christians but it would mean a lot to me if you could look into my situation as well as it has been eating a way at me for a while now. If you’d like to use my story as a concept for your blog, I would be okay with that too. I wonder if there are other people struggling with my situation.”

Below are the answers to D’s concerns.

The First and Most Important Question Is Are you a Christian?

D’ Statement of her faith:

“I would consider myself a Christian, even if my choices didn’t always show that. While believing in God there has always been a somewhat liberal understanding of how things worked for me. As I grow older I realize how confused I really am, I was brought up one way, society tells me something else, while my heart yearns for more knowledge.”

I have said many times on this blog that the most important doctrine of the Bible and really the most important question of life is this:

Have we truly accepted the one true God, the God of the Bible and his Son Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior believing that he died for our sins, was buried and rose again on the third day?

So, if you cannot answer with a clear and resounding yes to that question I encourage you to reach out in faith to God today and place your faith and trust in Jesus Christ today as your Lord and Savior.

The Gospel is NOT the Only Important Doctrine We Need to Accept

Just because the Gospel is the most important doctrine in the Bible does not mean it is the ONLY important doctrine in the Bible.  Many Christians and Churches today falsely believe that if they are preaching the Gospel and the Gospel alone that they are doing all God requires.  They believe everything else should be left alone for each individual Christian to figure out on his or her own.  But God did leave us to wonder on our own as believers and the Scriptures tell us he gives us teachers to teach us in his Word:

“11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; 12 For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: 13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”

Ephesians 4:11-13 (KJV)

While the office of Apostle was temporary to start Christ’s Church and true Prophets will probably not appear till the end of days we do today still see God call men to serve him as evangelists, pastors and teachers.  I believe God has placed a calling on my life to be a teacher of his Word and this how I minister to his people through this blog.

The Bible also tells us that husbands are to be spiritual teachers of their wives:

“34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.”

1 Corinthians 14:34-36 (KJV)

The Scriptures exhort husbands to follow Christ’s example and wash their wives with the Word of God and again this requires teaching, correction and sometimes rebuke:

“25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.”

Ephesians 5:25-27 (KJV)

Also, Christ when speaking to his Churches of which the Bible pictures him as their husband stated this:

“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.”

Revelation 3:19 (KJV)

Having started with this as our foundation, let us now move on to questions for true believing Christian wives who are living with unbelieving husbands.

Which is worse for a Christian to be married to a non-Christian or for that couple to get in a divorce?

There are three ways a Christian could end being with an unbelieving spouse:

  1. They were not a Christian when they married and neither was their spouse. Then they became a Christian after marriage.
  2. A Christian marries another person who claims to be a Christian but the person reveals later that they never truly were a Christian.
  3. A Christian willfully and knowingly marries a non-believer.

There is no sin on the part of a Christian who ends up with an unbelieving spouse because of the first two scenarios.  However, if a Christian knowingly marries a non-believer than that Christian has a committed a sin against God according to the following passage:

“14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

2 Corinthians 6:14-16 (KJV)

However, the Scriptures tells us this if we find ourselves with an unbelieving spouse (not matter the circumstances of how we came to that position):

“13 And the woman which hath an husband that believeth not, and if he be pleased to dwell with her, let her not leave him. 14 For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy. 15 But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace…

39 The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only in the Lord.”

I Corinthians 7:13-15 & 39 (KJV)

So here is what the Apostle Paul is stating by the inspiration of God in the above passage.  If a man or woman find themselves with a spouse that is not a believer and that unbeliever wants to stay married to them they must stay in that marriage.  However, if the unbelieving spouse wants to depart then they may let them depart and the believing brother or sister are not bound to that marriage in those cases.

When we look at verse 39 in the context of verses 13-15 of this chapter as well as passages like Exodus 21:10-11 then we understand that if a Christian woman’s unbelieving husband provides her with food, clothing, shelter and sexual relations and he wants to remain married to her she is bound to him for life and may not leave him.

So, if your unbelieving husband matches that criteria – you cannot leave him.  You are bound to him for life.

So, even if you willingly married a non-believing husband (which was a sin) if you divorce him without just cause that God allows for you are compounding that sin and doing something even worse.  The fact is God can forgive you of the sin of marrying a non-Christian and he may even use you to win him to Christ as we will talk about in the next section.

Is a man who doesn’t even believe in God still entitled to a submissive wife or am I now exempt from that?

The Bible directly answers this question of yours in the following text:

“1 Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives; 2 While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

3 Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel; 4 But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.

5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”

I Peter 3:1-6 (KJV)

So, the Scriptures tell you as a Christian woman to do something that very much goes against your sin nature.  If your husband is doing something your believe is disobedient to God whether it is how he conducts various aspects of his personal life or even how he treats your or your children your sinful response is to try and correct him, rebuke him and then free yourself from his authority.

But the Scriptures tell you to attempt to win your husband into obedience to God whether by accepting Christ as his savior or getting his life right with God if he is a Christian.  It tells you to win him without the word, without preaching at him and instead win him by your subjection to him, your living a pure life before him and your reverencing him.

The False Teaching that I Peter 3:1-6 Only Applies to Unbelieving Husbands

The key phrase “if any obey not the word” refers to husbands who are disobedient to the Word of God.  This would cover unbelieving husbands who “obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:8) as well as those husbands who claim Christ as their savior but are disobedient to his Word in various ways.

I have heard many Christian women say “if any obey not the word” is strictly speaking about unbelieving husbands and does not apply to Christian husbands who are disobedient to the Word in various ways.  So, they literally try and have us believe that I Peter 3:1-6 does not apply at all to wives married to Christian husbands and they have thereby nullified the Word of God.   In other words, they believe if their Christian husband is disobedient to God in his lifestyle in anyway they deem too serious they have the right to free themselves from his authority.  His spiritual authority in their view is now forfeit.

The problem with this interpretation is that verse 5 blows it out of the water:

“5 For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands: 6 Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”

After Peter describes the type of submission that wives are to have to their husbands who are disobedient to the Word he then writes a key phrase “For after this manner” and then he goes on to talk about the holy women of old times like Sara who obeyed Abraham calling him lord.  Was Abraham an unbeliever? We know he was not an unbeliever as the Bible presents him as a man who “believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness” (Romans 4:3).

Therefore, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt based on the full context of this passage that the phrase “if any obey not the word” absolutely applies to both unbelieving as well as believing husbands who are disobedient to the Word of God.

Can My Unbelieving Husband Demand My Submission to Him?

Another false teaching among egalitarians and sadly even most complementarians today is that a husband (whether he is a believer or not) cannot in any way compel his wife’s submission to him.  In fact, that is why most complementarians in our modern times reject a husband’s authority to discipline his wife for her failure to submit to his authority.  They teach the Biblical submission of a wife to her husband is completely voluntary and the part of the wife and this should not be any concern of the husband.

This false teaching comes from a faulty understanding The Greek word hupotasso which is translated as “submit”, “subject”, “subjection” and “obedient” in our English translations of the Bible.

This is the definition of hupotasso according to Thayer’s and Smith’s Bible Dictionary:

    “to arrange under, to subordinate

to subject, put in subjection

to subject one’s self, obey

to submit to one’s control

to yield to one’s admonition or advice

to obey, be subject

A Greek military term meaning “to arrange [troop divisions] in a military fashion under the command of a leader”. In non-military use, it was “a voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden”.”

So, like many words in the Bible, the context in which hupotasso is used determines if it is a voluntary attitude of giving in and cooperating with someone who is an equal verses the military use of the word which is an involuntary submission to one’s authority.

In Ephesians 5:19-24 we read the following:

“19 Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; 20 Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; 21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

If you notice above I have put a separation in the text between verses 21 and 22.  In the NIV and many modern translations they will be put a separation between verses 20 and 21 and the NIV even puts a note above verse 21 making it seem as though verse 21 is speaking to the husband wife relationship.

Again, just like we discussed with I Peter 3:1-6 context is key.  Here in Ephesians 5:1-21 Paul is speaking to Christians in the Church in general about holy living.  He then ends his general call to holy living for Christians with a call for Christians to submit to one another – this is not the military type of submission of one under authority to another, but it is the voluntary submission of equals serving and cooperating with one another.

Then he turns to the subject of marriage and the family in Ephesians 5:22.

First and foremost you will never find one passage in the Scriptures that tells a husband to submit to his wife.  Not one. You will see egalitarians try and throw smoke up about God telling Abraham to listen to Sarah regarding Hagar (Genesis 21:12).  But this was not God telling him to submit to his wife, but rather for him in this instance to act on her advice.  Nothing in the Scriptures forbids wives from making requests of their husbands and giving them advice.  And sometimes God will lead us as Christian husbands to act on our wife’s advice but this is not a husband submitting to this wife.  This is no different than a King who grants the request of one his servants or follows the advice of one his advisors.

So how do we know what kind of submission it is that God calls wives to regarding their husbands? The found in the words surround the call for wives to submit to their husbands.  First in verse 22 God calls wives to submit to their husbands “as unto the Lord”.  In no other passage of Scripture do we find God calling someone to submit to a human authority as unto God.  But only in the husband wife relationship do we see this comparison.  Verse 23 further bolsters this by telling wives that their husbands are their head as Christ is the head of the Church and then in verse 24 he tells wives to submit to their husbands as the Church is to submit to Christ in everything.

So which kind of submission is God calling for? The voluntary type of serving submission between equals or the military type of submission where one is called to submit to and obey the one in authority over them? The answer is clear and indisputable.  God is calling for the military type of submission from a wife toward her husband.

When egalitarians and even complentarians say that a wife’s submission in this passage is the voluntary submission between equals they are breaking the model that is being setup here.  God is basing a wife’s submission on the model of our obedience to him and the Church’s obedience to Christ.  Are Christ and the Church equals? We know they are not.  Christ is the authority of the Church and he demands his Church’s obedience to him.

Therefore, we can say beyond a doubt that the submission that God calls wives to toward their husbands is the military type of submission which is mandatory. And just as commanders in the military must be concerned with and compel the submission of those under their authority so too husbands must compel their wife’s submission to them.

A husband who refuses to compel his wife’s submission to his authority is just as delict in his duty before God as the wife is who refuses to submit to her husband’s authority.  They both are failing to model the relationship of Christ to his Church where he compels the obedience of his Church and the Church submits herself to Christ.

Conclusion

You stated this regarding your unbelieving husband’s insistence that you stop arguing with him so much and simply do what he tells you to do:

“Generally he tells me that “I don’t listen” or that “I argue with him too much.” His solution is just that I should do what he says. I feel that isn’t a reasonable for our situation for us though because our marriage isn’t exactly founded on those biblical principles, so why is he still asking for them?”

Based on all the Scriptures I have presented to you in this article I hope you realize that your husband’s motivation for asking for your submission is irrelevant in God’s view.  God wants you to submit to him whether he asks for your submission or not.  Your husband may want you to submit for totally selfish reasons but God wants you to submit to him, not to make him happy, but for two reasons.  The first is just as I Peter 3:1-2 states that you may be able to win him to Christ by your submission, pure life and reference for him. The second is that by submitting to him you fulfill your role to model the Church’s obedience to Christ even if your husband is not fulfilling the role of loving you as Christ loves his Church.

So, D – you should absolutely listen more, talk less and don’t argue with your husband.  It is one thing to give him respectful advice or make a request and let him decide what to do.  It is another to argue with him.  D – do you realize how if you completely changed your attitude on this and truly just talked less and submitted more that this change could cause your husband to inquire of you what happened? Then you could share with him how God changed your heart on this matter and that God showed you he wants you to submit to your husband and serve him as the Church submits to and serves Christ.

This will also remove a lot of your frustration.  Because then you will realize this is not about you.  This is about Christ.  In way you are being just as selfish as you believe your husband is being.  You are making your marriage about you.  It’s not about you and your personal happiness.  It’s about God and his plan for your life.  Your service and submission to your husband is your service and your submission to God.

I pray that you and all Christian women who read this and who live with disobedient husbands will humble themselves today and truly submit to their husbands as unto the Lord.

Christian Egalitarianism’s rebellion against male authority

An underlying root problem with Christian Egalitarianism is a belief system that is completely at odds with Biblical authority. Christian Egalitarians believe they are simply rebelling against male domination and oppression of women, but in reality they are rebelling against the design and authority which God has established.

The Bible establishes many different types of Authority

We are to submit to our civil authorities

“13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether to a king as the one in authority, 14 or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the praise of those who do right.”

I Peter 2:13-14(NASB)

We are to submit to our Church authorities

“Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not [b]with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.”

Hebrews 13:17(NASB)

We are to obey our employers

“Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;”

Colossians 3:22(KJV)

Children are to obey their parents

“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right.”

Ephesians 6:1(KJV)

Wives are to submit to and obey their husbands

“Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Ephesians 5:24(KJV)

We obey God, when man’s rule conflicts with God

“We ought to obey God rather than men.”

Acts 5:29(KJV)

This issue of authority is one of those areas where the fallacy of Christian Egalitarianism can be clearly seen. We understand that countries, states, cities, churches and businesses need leadership. There must be a chain of command for these organizations to properly function. In each of these areas, there are executives to give direction to the organization and settle disputes.

But Egalitarians say, in perhaps the most foundational of all human groupings, that of marriage, there is no head, no leader. For them it is a partnership of equals with no one to set the direction, or settle disputes. They have no problem with the Bible telling us to submit to our government authorities, or our managers at our jobs. Christian Egalitarians would certainly not have a problem with the Biblical teaching that children should obey their parents.

But when it comes to wives submitting to and obeying their husbands, they are ready to reinterpret or remove those passages, and deny any authority within marriage.

I believe the reason for the rejection of male authority in the home by Christian Egalitarians is that it hits them where they live. Governments can (and should) only exercise limited authority, as well as our employers and churches. But in the home, if the Bible is read at face value, the women is to submit to her husband in “everything”(Ephesians 5:24).

This scares people, such authority could be abused. So they deny it and say no one should have to be under such absolute authority of another human being, or so they think.

It must also be pointed out here that no human authority has absolute power.  Not a king, not a president, not a governor, not an employer and not even a husband.  Each human authority has it’s sphere of power and responsibility and its limits.  Only God has absolute authority.

For instance a husband while being his wife’s head, cannot order his wife to break the  speed limit.  That is a law set by the civil government, and it is within their sphere of authority to make such a law. A husband cannot order his wife to cover up him committing a murder or raping or abusing people as these things violate both the laws of God and the laws of man.

If a husband is physically abusing his children or his wife or is asking his wife to violate the laws of man (as long as those laws don’t violate God’s law or usurp the boundaries God has placed on all authorities) or the laws of God then she has not only the right, but the responsibility to resist him and go to his authorities(whether civil or church) for them to exercise discipline upon him.

A wife has the right to be freed from the tyranny of husband who physically abuses her or her children or threatens her life or the life of her children.

See this post I wrote on this subject “Does the Bible allow divorce for physical abuse?”.

What they do not realize is, man’s authority over woman is not meant to crush her, but to protect her, just as God lovingly but firmly leads us as his people.

I hope that Egalitarians reading this will prayerfully reconsider their beliefs, and truly think them through from a Biblical perspective. God gives us authority for our good, not for our demise.

Only by submitting to God’s authority in all areas of our life, whether they are civil authorities, church authorities, our managers at work, as well as the authority that God has established in the marriage and in the home can we truly find peace and be pleasing to God.

Previous article on Christian Egalitarianism

Why does the Bible call Woman the Weaker Vessel?

Why does the Bible call Woman the Weaker Vessel?

potter-making-clay-jug-s

In my last post in this series on Christian Egalitarianism I alluded to the Bible calling woman “the weaker vessel”.

I understand that when we say “weaker” that seems like an insult to many women. But God’s Word does not see it that way:

“Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.”

I Peter 3:7(KJV)

Most people are instantly drawn to the word “weaker”, but let’s first look at the word “vessel”. We need to understand that as human beings we are born into “vessels”. Our souls are equal, but our vessels are not. Our vessels are made for different purposes.

Consider the similarities and differences between this minivan and then the military truck next to it.

photodune-1783948-silver-van-s Military truck

Do we think that a person driving a minivan is any less than a person driving this tough military truck? Of course not, it is only the vehicle or “vessel” they are driving.

In the same way that a minivan is made to carry a family, women have vessels that are designed by God to carry and care for children. Just as this military truck is made tougher for hard work, and it will take a much bigger beating than a minivan, so too a man is built stronger and tougher than a woman, and his body is built for work, as opposed to caring for children.

But just as man and woman are both human beings, both of these are automobiles.  Just as a man and woman both have hearts and lungs and almost all the same organs(except for reproductive organs), both of these vehicles have engines, transmissions and tires that make these vehicles move using the same basic principles.

But would anyone be insulted if someone told them their minivan was not as tough as this truck? Of course not! Each vehicle is built for a very different purpose, just as God has built men and women’s bodies for very different purposes.

Many commentators have tried to go out of their way to say here in I Peter that “weaker” does not really mean “weaker”, but that is exactly what it means in the Greek. But also notice that God calls husbands to honor their wives as weaker vessels.

What God is saying is this – “Men I want you to recognize that your wife is not as strong as you, both emotionally and physically. You need to be considerate of those qualities, and appreciate those qualities for the many ways they help her to be a good wife and mother. Don’t belittle her for being weaker or more fragile than you, but instead honor her position as your wife and the mother of your children.”

I truly believe this is the truth that God is trying to communicate to husbands, if we take I Peter 3:7 literally, as we should.

Speaking of the “weaker vessel” some Christian Egalitarians have tried to say “ezer” actually means “power” or “strength”. While it may take on that meaning in certain contexts we must also understand that words take on different meanings within their context, and we have to look as a whole to see if women in the Bible are presented as symbols of strength and power.

When Barak begged the prophetess Deborah to go with him into battle she said:

She said, “I will surely go with you; nevertheless, the honor shall not be yours on the journey that you are about to take, for the Lord will sell Sisera into the hands of a woman.” Then Deborah arose and went with Barak to Kedesh.”

Judges 4:9(NASB)

She did not want to go, and when she said the honor would not be his, but that God would hand their enemies “into the hands of a woman” this was meant as a slap in the face to the Barak and his men.

“O My people! Their oppressors are children,

And women rule over them.

O My people! Those who guide you lead you astray

And confuse the direction of your paths.”

Isaiah 3:12(NASB)

When God said through the prophet that Israel’s oppressors were children, and women ruled over them, that in no way conveys that women were symbols of strength and leadership. It was a slap in the face to Israel, to say they were so weak that children oppressed them, and women ruled over them.

While God praises many godly women in the Bible, women are never presented as symbols of strength and power in the Bible. Instead the Bible emphasizes the love of women as well as the compassion and care that women do so well.

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Christian Egalitarianism’s rebellion against male authority

Previous article in series on Christian Egalitarianism

Why did God make woman so opposite of man?

Why did God make woman so opposite of man?

CompareManWoman

In my last post in my series on Christian Egalitarianism, we showed why I believe KENEGDO in Genesis 2’s “help meet” means that woman was made “opposite or different” than man.

Just look around you today and you will see our culture trying to minimize or deny the significant differences between men women, both physiologically and psychologically. They deny God’s natural design and order as Paul speaks about in Romans 1:

“18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”

Romans 1:18-20(NASB)

How can anyone say with a straight face that men and women are equal outside of their common humanity and their souls? Let me remind you of these differences I stated in the last post:

Men have external sex organs Women have internal sex organs
Men’s bodies are built for strength and endurance(they have more muscle mass, tougher skin, more red blood cells and experience less pain because have fewer pain receptors in their skin) Women’s bodies are built for beauty, comfort and caregiving and they are more sensitive to pain than men are.
Men are systemizers Women empathizers
Men have tougher skin Women have softer skin
Men see less colors Women see a broader range of colors
Men have faster reflexes and can track moving objects better Women are better at multitasking
Men are competitive Women are cooperative
Men are task oriented Women are relationally oriented
Men are risk takers Women are more cautious

 

It can be “clearly seen, being understood through what has been made” (Romans 1:20) that women and men were designed for very DIFFERENT purposes and roles. To deny this is to deny a self-evident truth.

I believe based upon Romans chapter 1 that we as Christians should not stand silently by as groups claiming the Christian name, seek to minimize or deny God’s distinct design of and his roles for men and women. We should be angry at such a perversion of God’s purposes, just as he shows he was angry when men perverted what he had made.

As an American, I believe in the right of every person to believe what they will. But as a Christian we are called to defend the truth, and call out false teaching where we see it. Most Christians, and especially Bible believing Pastors, need to stand up and call out this teaching for what it is – heresy pure and simple.

I believe the answer to why God made woman so opposite from man can be found in this verse:

“Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.”

I Corinthians 11:9(KJV)

We can see from both Genesis 2 and I Corinthians 11 that God created woman for man. When we understand this principle, then we understand that God created a helper for Adam, who was not just his mirror opposite, but someone whose opposite attributes would complement Adam.

Adam needed someone who would be able to bear and care for his children, he need someone to care for his home while he hunted and worked the fields. God not only made woman with the natural ability to become pregnant and after birth be able to feed the child from her breasts, but he also gave woman the emotional ability to empathize and work with children in a way most men are incapable of doing.

A woman should never be mocked for being emotional (as some men do), because this a gift from God which enables her to be the perfect mother, as well as great caregiver to the sick and elderly.

But God did not just give women breasts for feeding children, he gave them breasts for the pleasure and comfort of man. Human females are the only mammals who have constantly protruding breasts, even when they are not pregnant or nursing children.

Because men are so visually wired by God, he made a woman’s body for beauty, not for toughness and endurance the way a man’s body is built.

But besides these practical differences, God also created woman for spiritual and symbolic reasons. God created man in his image, to exercise God’s leadership, provision and protection qualities. But man needed a person, not just some animal, which would allow him to exercise these traits. Woman was perfectly designed by God to fulfill this role as the recipient of man’s leadership, provision and protection, and to provide him with the perfect helper and companion.

God could have made men and women much more similar than he did. He could have made women just as strong, and with the exact same nature and abilities, but he did not. God purposefully made woman weaker and more fragile (both emotionally and physically) than man, so that she would need his leadership, protection and provision.

In my next post in this series on Christian Egalitarianism, I will talk in more detail about the Bible calling woman “the weaker vessel”.

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Why does the Bible call woman the weaker vessel?

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What did God mean when he called woman a help meet for man?

What did God mean when he called woman a help meet for man?

wife gives her husband a meal 

Previously we discussed Egalitarian beliefs surrounding the word “Ezer”. This word is used in the Hebrew language that the Old Testament was originally written in. Most English translations of the Bible translate the Hebrew word Ezer as “helper” or “help”.

Ezer occurs 21 times throughout various Old Testament books. In most of these instances, Ezer is referring to God as man’s “help” or “helper”. Here are a few examples:

“But I am poor and needy: make haste unto me, O God: thou art my help [EZER] and my deliverer ; O LORD, make no tarrying .”

Psalm 70:5(KJV)

“My help[EZER] cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:2(KJV)

In both of the above passages, as well as most of the other passages where Ezer is used, we can see that Ezer seems to be referring to help coming from God. However there some passages where Ezer does not refer to God’s help, but to man’s help.

Isaiah 30 is a prophesy talking about Israel looking to Egypt for help, but this would be a futile attempt according to the prophet:

“They were all ashamed of a people that could not profit them, nor be an help[EZER] nor profit , but a shame, and also a reproach.”

In this case, EZER is referring the fact that the Egyptians would not a “help”, or EZER, to the Israelites.

So while most instances of EZER refer to God’s help, it sometimes also refers to men helping other men. But for the Egalitarian, the most important use of EZER in the Bible comes at the very beginning, in the creation account when God created woman:

“20 And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help [EZER] meet [k’enegdo] for him… And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

22 And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

23 And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”

Genesis 2:20-23(KJV)

The Egalitarian interpretation of Ezer from Genesis chapter 2

Below are some typical Egalitarian interpretations of Hebrew word Ezer:

“Ezer is used 20 times in the Old Testament: seventeen times to describe God and three times to describe a military ally or aide. “Help” or “helper” is an adequate translation, but English has different nuances than the Hebrew does. In English “helper” implies someone who is learning, or under a person in authority. In the Hebrew “help” comes from one who has the power to give help—it refers to someone in a superior position. That is why God can help Israel: he has the power to do so. God helps Israel because they do not have the power to help themselves.”

Source: http://www.cbeinternational.org/blogs/does-it-really-mean-helpmate

“Adam was regarded by his Creator as incomplete and deficient as he lived at first without the benefit of a proper counterpart. He was without community. God said: “It is not good for the man to be alone” (Gen 2:18). So, as Ecclesiastes 4:9-11 expressed it, “Two are better than one….” Accordingly, in order to end man’s loneliness, God formed “for Adam [a] suitable helper” (Gen 2:18)-or at least that is the way most have rendered the Hebrew word ‘ēzer.

Now, there is nothing pejorative about the translation “helper”, for the same word is used for God, but it is also variously translated as “strength”, as in “He is your shield and helper [=strength] (‘ēzer)” in Deuteronomy 33:29; 33:26.

But R. David Freedman has argued quite convincingly that our Hebrew Word ‘ēzer is a combination of two older Hebrew/Canaanite roots, one ‘-z-r, meaning “to rescue, to save,” and the other, ģ-z-r, meaning “to be strong,” to use their verbal forms for the moment.”

Source: http://walterckaiserjr.com/women.html

 

A Complementarian response to the word “Ezer” in Genesis chapter 2

The Bible tells us that woman was created as an EZER KENEGDO, or a “help meet” for man. Modern translations often translate this as “helper suitable” for man. For Egalitarians this phrase is one of the cornerstones of how they interpret the entire Bible as it relates to God’s intention for men and women.

Let’s first address the “Ezer” in the room. I agree that “help” or “helper” does not always mean the person doing the helping is a subordinate. For instance, maybe someone is new cashier at a store and they need their manager to come over and “help” them with something that does not make the manager any less their authority because he is helping them.

So when God called Eve Adam’s helper, that in and of itself did not mean she was his subordinate. Ezer does not refer to position, it refers to function. The person helping someone may be an authority, an equal or subordinate.

But what is the full context surrounding the “help meet” of Genesis chapter 2? Context and Scripture interpreting Scripture are critical. While “Ezer” does not tell us Eves position (as an authority, an equal or a subordinate) to Adam, the surrounding context DOES tell us her position.

In Genesis 2 Adam names the animals, an act of authority given him by God. Then he names his wife “Eve”, another act of authority.  In the Scriptures while mothers sometimes named their children as Leah did with Issachar(Genesis 30:18) we see that fathers always had the final say in naming and sometimes overrode the names their wives gave to their children as in this case:

And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, (for she died) that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.”

Genesis 35:18 (KJV)

So when we look at mothers naming their children – the naming of their child was in essence a suggestion which had to be validated and finalized by the father.  The father always had the final say in the naming of a child because of his authority over both his wife and his children.

Furthermore, in Genesis 3:16 God said:

“Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”

Egalitarians are quick to say that Genesis 3:16 proves that Adam and Eve were meant to be equal originally, and that him ruling over her was only because of sin in the garden and was temporary until Christ came, this where they try and use Galatians 3:28 to say Christ “restored” what they believe was the original equality between men and women:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Galatians 3:28(KJV)

The problem with the Egalitarian interpretation of Galatians 3:28 is that it written by the same Apostle Paul who wrote these words:

“But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. “

I Corinthians 11:3(KJV)

“22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.”

Ephesians 5:22-24(KJV)

And one of Paul’s fellow Apostles (Peter) wrote:

“Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbandsEven as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters ye are, as long as ye do well, and are not afraid with any amazement.”

I Peter 3:1 & 6(KJV)

So in one passage Paul says there is no male or female in Christ, yet in all these other passages he says men are the head over women, and wives are to be in subjection to their husbands. Some Egalitarians have actually said Paul was simply being inconsistent with his own teachings – a direct attack on Biblical inerrancy.  Others explain away the phrasing in these passages, write parts of them off as scribal additions that were added many years after the Apostles died.

So going back to Genesis 3:16 where God said Adam would rule over Eve, he also mentioned Eve conceiving children in pain. It is clear from the context that “the pain” was the curse, not Eve’s ability to bear children. So it is an incorrect interpretation of Genesis 3:16 to say everything in it, including man ruling over woman is all part of the curse.

In fact Ephesians 5:22-24 shows that man’s ruling over woman is meant as a beautiful picture of Christ ruling over his Church, not as part of the curse of sin.

So if Galatians 3:28 does not get rid of God’s distinct roles for men and women, what is it referring to?

When we look at Galatians 3:28 in it’s larger context, we can see what is really is talking about:

“7 Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham. Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.”[ So those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith…

26 So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

Galatians 3:7-9 & 26-29(NIV)

Rather than obliterating God’s gender roles as Egalitarians suggest Galatians 3:28 does, it is a statement referring to the oneness of all those of faith from Abraham to Christ.  We are all the children of faith, if we believe as Abraham did. God fulfilled his promise to Abraham that all nations would be blessed by his seed(Christ).

So spiritually speaking, there is no difference between a man and woman, a Jew and a Gentile, a slave or a free man, we are all brothers and sisters in Christ.  However physically speaking, while we live in this world these differences still exist. You have to write off a lot of Scripture to say this passage gets rid of God’s divinely created gender roles.

What does KENEGDO mean in Genesis 2?

But what does KENEGDO really mean? This word when transliterated is “Neged” and generally means “in front of, or opposite to”. We can see other usages of this word these passages:

“Now it came about when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing opposite [Neged] him with his sword drawn in his hand, and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us or for our adversaries?”

Joshua 5:13(NASB)

“I will set no worthless thing before [Neged] my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not fasten its grip on me.”

Psalm 101:3(NASB)

“There is no wisdom and no understanding And no counsel against [Neged] the LORD.”

Psalm 54:3(NASB)

Nothing in KENEGDO translates to a “helper equal to man” as Egalitarians often preach. Nothing in KENEGDO means equality.

I believe the best interpretation of EZER KENEGDO is “a helper who is man’s opposite”. That translation makes a lot of sense when you really think about how God made man and woman as I have mentioned many of these differences on this site many times.

Look at all these opposite attributes of men and women:

Men have external sex organs Women have internal sex organs
Men’s bodies are built for strength and endurance(they have more muscle mass, tougher skin, more red blood cells and experience less pain because have fewer pain receptors in their skin) Women’s bodies are built for beauty, comfort and caregiving and they are more sensitive to pain than men are.
Men are systemizers Women empathizers
Men have tougher skin Women have softer skin
Men see less colors Women see a broader range of colors
Men have faster reflexes and can track moving objects better Women are better at multitasking
Men are competitive Women are cooperative
Men are task oriented Women are relationally oriented
Men are risk takers Women are more cautious

I could go on with the many ways that men and women are indeed opposites, but you get the point.

But then you have to ask the question, why did God make woman so opposite of man? Was it just to give some variety to the world? In my next in this series on Christian Egalitarianism post we will discuss some reasons why God made woman so opposite of man.

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Why did God make woman so opposite of man?

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What did God mean when he called woman a help meet for man?

Why Christian Egalitarianism is not Biblical or Christian

EgalitarianWomanShakesFists1

Egalitarians reject the historic and literal reading of the Word of God where it shows distinct roles and purposes for which God made man and woman. Those who embrace the historical Christian view of the roles of men and women are in modern times called Complementarians.

What do Complementarians believe?

Complementarians believe that God designed man and woman to “complement each other”, like two opposites that when they come together form a whole, thus the term “Complementarian”. These are Christians who believe that the traditional gender roles that men and women have had throughout history are not only “traditional”, but also by the design of God as seen in the Scriptures. Complementarians believe that men and women are equal in their souls, their humanity and their worth to God, but this is where their equality ends and their differences begin.

For instance, Complementarians do not believe that men and women have equal responsibility (opportunity or right) to exercise leadership in the home and the church. They believe God gave clear direction that men are to exercise authority over women in the home and in the church, and that women are called to graciously submit to the authority of the men over them, as well as accept the boundaries that God has place them within.

What is the difference between “two part” Complentarians and “full” Complentarians?

Complementarians generally believe in a hierarchal view of marriage, sometimes called Patriarchy (male lead marriage and family). While there are many variations between Complementarians, the biggest difference that Complementarians have amongst themselves is on the role of women outside the home and church. “Two part Complementarians” are those who believe that man’s authority over woman is limited to the Home and the Church. “Full Complementarians” believe that in all three areas of life – in the Home, the Church as well as society in general, women are to be under the authority of men.

An example of this would be, full Complementarians (also called Patriarchalists) would believe it is unbiblical for a woman to be President of the United States, whereas most two part Complementarians would believe it would be ok for a woman to be President.

I am a full Complementarian.

What do Christian Egalitarians believe?

Probably one the best representations of Christian Egalitarianism is found at http://www.cbeinternational.org/content/cbes-mission. Here are few excerpts from their mission statement:

Believers are called to mutual submission, love, and service.

God distributes spiritual gifts without regard to gender, ethnicity, or class.

Believers must develop and exercise their God-given gifts in church, home, and world.

Believers have equal authority and equal responsibility to exercise their gifts without regard to gender, ethnicity, or class and without the limits of culturally-defined roles.

Restricting believers from exercising their gifts—on the basis of their gender, ethnicity, or class—resists the work of the Spirit of God and is unjust.

Believers must promote righteousness and oppose injustice in all its forms.

How do Christian Egalitarians use the Scriptures to support their beliefs?

Christian Egalitarianism starts first and foremost with an idea, that there are no boundaries upon people based upon their gender, and that God did not design specific roles for men and women. In the Egalitarian view, aside from their reproductive differences, men and women are equal in every way and both men and women can fulfill any role in the home, the church or society at large interchangeably. Marriage is partnership of equals, with no earthly head, but only Christ as it’s leader.

It is with these ideals in mind that Christian Egalitarians chose to reinterpret the Scriptures. These are the three primary Biblical sources through which Egalitarians reinterpret all the Bible:

  1. The “help meet” of Genesis chapter 2 is not Adam’s subordinate because the Greek word “Ezer” is usually used of God’s help toward man in the Old Testament and God is not man’s subordinate. In the Egalitarian view, Eve was no more Adam’s helper, than Adam was Eve’s helper, they were in fact equals made for each other. Egalitarians see Adam’s rule over Eve as part of the curse of sin, not the original design of God.
  2. They believe that the phrase “there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” in Galatians 3:28 means that God abolished all gender roles and boundaries for Christian believers. If man ever was the head of woman, this no longer exists in the Christian world.
  3. Whenever the Bible speaks of man being the head of woman (I Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 5) it does not mean “authority” in their view, but instead means “source”. “Head” in these passages is simply referring to the fact that God created woman from man when he took the rib from Adam’s side.

Egalitarians sacrifice the Scriptural teachings of Biblical inerrancy in their allegiance to their Egalitarian views and they write off whole passages of Scripture as being “scribal additions” where they cannot explain away the phrasing. Some of these passages include Ephesians 5:22, Ephesians 5:24 and I Peter 3:6.

In my next post in this series on Christian Egalitarianism, we will explore the “help meet” of Genesis chapter 2 and differing beliefs between Christian Egalitarians and Complementarians.

What did God mean when he called woman a help meet for man?