Abuse and Submission: We Have Gone Very, Very Wrong
1 Corinthians 11:3 ESV (3) But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
If anyone thought that this post was going to be about how those “horrid radical feminists” have attacked and maligned the Bible, well, you are going to be surprised. When I say that we have gone wrong in our teaching of the biblical doctrine of husband as head of his wife, I mean conservative, Bible-believing Christians have gone wrong.
I have been thinking about this matter quite a lot over the last few months, and things just are not settling well with me. To add to my discomfort, I re-read the wonderful article by Steven Tracy last night, 1 Corinthians 11:3: A Corrective to Distortions and Abuses of Male Headship. To find it online, go to this link 1 Corinthians 11:3: A Corrective to Distortions and Abuses of Male Headship [Internet Archive link] and scroll to page 17 to read Tracy’s article.
Tracy does a great job and in fact calls us to hear at least some of the fundamental charges being made even by radical feminists who flatly hate the Bible. Primarily however he deals with the Scripture itself and calls us to consider that the Bible teaches an intimate relationship of two equal-in-essence beings in both the Father and Son relationship and in the husband/wife relationship in marriage.
THIS IS THE STUFF THAT WE HAVE FAILED TO SAY FROM OUR PULPITS! And as a result, the biblical truths of the husband as head of the wife as the Father is head of the Son, have been all messed up and misapplied by sinful people like us. It has been made to be a power and control issue when it is not. Power and control in the hands of sinful beings always, always, always carries the likely danger for abuse of that power.
In reading what Tracy had to say, I was also impressed with the fact that it really is true that down through the ages, men have abused their power over women. The thing is undeniable unless a person wants to be willfully blind. When those who hate Christianity shout this charge, we need to stop writing them off and listen. They have a point and they have documented it. Those with power inevitably abuse that power and oppress the weak. Guilty.
Think about it. In conservative, Bible-believing churches like ours, men are pastors and elders and deacons and male leadership is endorsed in the home. Do we appreciate the potential for abuse of those positions? I don’t think so. We think too highly of ourselves. The result? Well, all you have to do is read the comments and stories in this blog to find out what the results have been. Abused people, generally women, abused by men – and then further abused by the male leadership of their churches and by the women in those churches who have been taught to go along with the unbiblical traditions and applications of “Scripture.”
And you know what? THIS, I believe, is a fundamental reason for all of this cover up and denial we meet with in churches when we try to expose this injustice toward victims. We are assaulting the very power structure of the thing. We are like whistle-blowers. Pastors and church leaders (generally men) panic when an abuse victim comes to them asking for justice. They may not realize that this is the psychological dynamic going on in their heads at the time, but it is there. They are afraid. Afraid of what? Afraid that the system is going to be shown to be broken. Afraid of the consequences of siding with a woman against her husband. Afraid that we all just might have to admit that a bunch of what we have been teaching our churches and our wives and our kids has been a bunch of bunk!
So the fear reigns and the victim is given one of those long shepherd hook staff thingies around the neck and dragged off the stage.