Tag Archives: headship

You Would Love Submission If You Properly Understood It!

Someday I’ll need to start a collection of when Christians say, “Wives, you would love submitting to your husband if you understood submission properly!” It’s a well-meaning sentiment, but it’s a lie, and one that leaves women confused as they struggle with the concept.

On one hand, Christian women do want to obey God. On the other hand, these same women still have a sinful nature that wants to disobey God. Just like with men, they have a battle going on in their minds where they have two natures waging war against each other. Knowing what the Bible commands us to do is key to discerning what actions constitute obedience and disobedience. We cannot determine what actions are Godly based upon our feelings. This is especially true for women given the fickle nature of their emotions.

What I’ve seen is that Christian women try to broach the topic of wifely submission by assuring their female audience that the reason they have an immediate negative reaction to the concept is because they simply don’t understand it. They follow this up with a complaint that our society has made submission a dirty word, but the true biblical definition is one you would be happy to embrace.

Take a video by Jackie Angel called What it Means to Submit to Your Husband:

In this video she makes a few faces she says she has made and has seen other women make when submission is preached on in church:

At 1:09 she says:

I’m going to share with you what it actually means because it’s so beautiful!

What follows is she reads Ephesians 5:21-32, and then at 2:22 says that submit means,

“to be under the mission”. So, wives, be under the mission of your husband. And then it says husbands, love your wife as Christ loved the church. Um, the mission of a husband is to lay his life down for his wife. To love her as Christ loved the church. How did Christ love the church? He laid his life down he sacrificed his life so that we might live. So, husbands, like- That’s the mission of a husband, is to lay his life down. It doesn’t say in there, ‘husbands, your mission is to treat your wife like an object, to treat her like property, to be a domineering man, to be prideful, to be- no. It’s saying to love her as Christ loved her, with tenderness, with beauty, with gentleness, to lay your life down, to sacrifice your pride.”

This is a standard method of sanitizing what the Bible says. Submit does not mean ‘to be under the mission’. It means to be obedient, and no one in a debate/dialogue setting could dispute that. But, having inserted that awkward definition, Jackie then says that the husband’s “mission” is to be super duper nice to his wife and never be egotistical, which also isn’t what the text says. Having done that, she says at 3:05,

And women, I mean, that’s the kind of mission I want to be- like, that’s the kind of mission I will be like, “Heck yes, I support that mission! I’m gonna be under that mission.”

If you watch that portion of the video, you should see how hard she has to act as if she’s positively thrilled with what she’s saying. Whereas her faces of disgust and revulsion were quite convincing, this is pathetically artificial. Even after mangling the meaning of submission, she still can’t do a convincing job of faking “delight” at her feminist-friendly interpretation.

Her poor acting is just icing on the cake, of course. The truth is that wifely submission is not a doctrine that women will ever be “thrilled” to embrace. The fact that Jackie still doesn’t like it even when she twists its meaning to suit her feminism only proves this point beyond all question.

That being said, her point is clear: If biblical submission is taught, it should make Christian women happy to embrace it. Thus, a basic thought has been planted in her viewers’ minds: “I’m supposed to like submission.” Thus the groundwork has been laid for marital catastrophe, since these women are now prepped to gauge the validity of the doctrine of wifely submission with their feelings. If those women aren’t thrilled to death about what their pastor is teaching about submission, then something must be incorrect with what he’s preaching.

The fact of the matter is that submission is not a doctrine women are ever going to love. What Jackie has done is admit that women hate it. Submitting to their husbands is something she and they loathe, and at our core, we all know what submission truly means. It means someone else is in charge of us, and we must do as he says, like it or not. But, since Jackie has been told she is a strong woman (she says this multiple times in the video, and with indignation), she despises the prospect of her husband being in authority over her.

Jackie may have been saved this struggle had the Christians in her life simply explained what submission really means and acknowledged her ugly-face for what it was. It’s not due to a misunderstanding of submission, but a proper understanding of submission. Teaching what the Bible says requires violating women’s phony notions of self-esteem, hence they will never “like” it. But, a truly born-again Christian woman can still grow to accept it. Slaves were expected to respect and obey their evil masters in 1 Peter 2:18-20. If a slave can be expected to do it, then so can women today.

Doug Wilson Plays the Motte and Bailey

Last Friday, Doug Wilson came onto The Gospel Truth to discuss his book Reforming Marriage.

At 30:15, the host, Marlon Wilson, brought up a question I’d typed in the form of two chat messages. Unfortunately, he brought them up in the wrong order. Here’s what I said:

After reading the question, Marlon first asks Doug if what I said was true. I think it’s interesting that Marlon first asked to confirm if Doug really did write what I said he wrote. The easy answer should have been, yes, that’s true.

Instead, Doug answered thusly at 30:50 (I’ve tried to cut out extraneous words, ums, uhs, stammering, and other things to make it more reader-friendly):

The word “despot” there is the word that Paul uses, “despotes”. And so, those statements from “Reforming Marriage” and from “How To Exasperate Your Wife”, harmonize. And they harmonize this way: The wife is the executive of the home. Alright. So, when I was in the navy, I served in the submarine service. The captain was the captain of the ship, but every ship had an executive officer, the XO. And the captain was the final authority in the home, but the executive officer was like, in a company, you’ve got the CEO, and then you’ve got the chief operating officer, the COO. My understanding is that God’s pattern in marriage is that the husband is the protector and provider for the home, and he’s the captain, the head of the house. But, when it comes to the management of the house, like, what goes in the dishwasher when. “Don’t put paper plates in the dishwasher,” Mom says, right. Or, since Mom is the one keeping everything clean, she says, “I really want everybody (to) kick your shoes off by the door, by the front door.” You know, things like that. She’s the executive of the home, and she’s running the home. And that can happen without the husband relinquishing his headship or his authority. So, if she says, let’s say it’s a rinky-dink kind of thing, where she’s the one that does the grocery shopping, she stocks the fridge. I remember when our kids were teenagers, and Nate was moving into the age where he would drink lots and lots of milk, Nancy’s impulse was to, “I just went to the store yesterday, I just bought that! Limit the milk!” And I said, “No, our kids can drink as much milk as they want.” So, I make an occasional decision as the head of the home, this is what we’re going to do. But when it comes to the running of the house, that’s her area of expertise. That’s what she does. Now, if she thinks that I would have any question about something, Nancy runs it by me, but I believe that… Wifely submission is something we believe and practice, but, in 43, coming up on 44 years of marriage, actually, we’re coming on 45. 45 Years of marriage(…)So, um, coming up on decades of marriage, the instances where Nancy and I differed about something, and I made a decision and she needed to submit to it, has probably happened less than ten times. Everything else is just ordinary (lack?) together, talk-it-thorough, that sort of thing. Submission is assumed in everything we do. Headship and submission is assumed. But, if you are having a showdown every other day, and you’re pointing to the Bible verse in Ephesians 5, and you’ve got bigger problems. You’ve need to go get counseling.

Doug said that the word despot is the word used by Paul, which is despostes. In How To Exasperate Your Wife, he didn’t say Paul used despotes. He said oikodespotein. Here’s the quote (bolding is mine):

As the apostle Paul is urging young women to marry, he lets a very interesting comment fall in passing. “I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully” (1 Tim. 5:14). The word translated here as “guide the house” is oikodespotein. The wife is to be the ruler or despot of the home. This means that when she tells you to take your shoes off at the door, you will take your shoes off—and cheerfully.

How To Exasperate Your Wife (Page 11)

Perhaps Doug has argued for the word “despotes” in another book or article. Or maybe he was thinking of “oikodespotes“.

That aside, my assertion was more than that Doug used the word despot to describe the wife’s authority. I made sure to mention that he meant the wife, as despot, could order her husband around. The obvious point being that Doug, in the book this episode was named after (Reforming Marriage), condemns bossiness on the husband’s part, but allows the wife to do just that in another book (How To Exasperate Your Wife). Doug asserted that the two statements harmonize. But if you look at his answer, he harmonized nothing at all.

Remember, there’s two conflicts asserted by me in my chats. One is hypocrisy when it comes to allowing bossiness for the wife but not the husband. The second is a challenge to Doug to explain how he can allow the wife to order her husband around when he knows full-well that wives are to submit to their husbands. Keep that in mind, and now look over Doug’s entire response. Listen to it in the video. Despite speaking at great length in response, he never even tried to show how he resolved either of the issues I raised.

Instead of harmonizing what he wrote, Doug resorted to professing a completely different view. In How To Exasperate Your Wife, he didn’t write all this nonsense about XO’s and COO’s. He wrote that a wife is a “despot” and proceeded to grant to wives the authority that a despot would naturally have. Several pages later in the same book, Doug Wilson only fortified his belief:

A wife therefore has true authority over her home which no one, including her husband, can take away from her. She must be obedient to him, as this verse states, but this is a clearly delimited obedience.(…)In a certain sense, a husband (as the head of his wife) is an honored and permanent guest, but he should learn to see himself as a guest. He wipes his feet at the door, he eats what is served to him, and he seeks to conform to the pattern established by her

How To Exasperate Your Wife (Pages 17-18)

A husband is a guest in his own home? His wife has authority to tell him to stop in his tracks and remove his shoes? She decides what he eats? He conforms to her pattern? And he better do it with a smile on his face? Wow. It sounds like the wife is ruling over him. Sounds pretty bossy if you ask me. One might even call it despotic, which is exactly why Doug would shrink away from defending it.

However, he doesn’t have to defend what he wrote in How To Exasperate Your Wife. He could always just renounce what he’s written, but he can’t do that. His whole scheme as a feminist-in-patriarchal-clothing relies upon him playing the motte and bailey. In person, he’ll assure you that a wife should submit to her husband, and any authority she has over his household is, of course, subject to his veto. Then you buy How To Exasperate Your Wife expecting to find the same biblical model being proclaimed there, and you find this bizarre monstrosity has taken its place.

But honestly, what else is Wilson to do? Well, if you’re familiar with his work, he talks about masculinity being the glad acceptance of responsibility. If what he wrote is indefensible, then he could just withdraw the book from sale, say that he was wrong in this area, you know, basic stuff a man would do if he were gladly accepting the responsibility for correcting his error. But Wilson simply cannot do that, so the game must go on.

Must Wives Obey Their Husbands Even When They’re Acting Outside Their Scope of Authority?

A little over a week ago, Pastor Tom Buck posted the following Tweets:

I’m going to assume that Tom Buck has had to interact with Christians who propose we ought to obey our government even when it oversteps the authority granted to it by the scriptures. This is what he’s rebutting when he says that it would be disastrous to apply such a standard to the requirement for wives to submit to their husbands. I also assume that the Christians he is dealing with are specifically using Romans 12:1-7 and I Peter 2:13-25 in their arguments with him. Notice also that Tom Buck rhetorically claims that his wife would not be required to submit to his command to wear a red dress every Tuesday. From his perspective, such a command is outside the scope of his authority. That’s what makes it tyrannical. He would be trying to exert control where he has no biblical right to do so.

Let’s take one of the scriptures that Tom Buck made reference to in his first Tweet; 1 Peter 2. Specifically, let’s examine verses 18-20:

1 Peter 2:18 (ESV): Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. 19 For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.

Peter grants that the servants reading his letter may have a master who is unjust. They will suffer sorrow at their masters’ hands, to the point of being beaten. To act in an unjust manner is obviously sinful, and an unjust master would clearly be acting outside the scope of authority that the scriptures give him. In fact, we even have laws in the Old Testament to protect a slave who is unjustly harmed by his master:

Exodus 21:20-21: “When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.

Exod. 21:26-27: “When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free because of his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let the slave go free because of his tooth.

It’s clear that the Bible forbids masters from mistreating their slaves. A master who would demand his slave put up with such mistreatment is therefore acting outside the scope of his authority. However, it’s also clear from 1 Peter 2 that slaves are still, in Tom Buck’s words, “required to submit” to such evil masters in spite of that. If we were to re-word Tom Buck’s question like this:

Would my slave be required to “submit” to me beating him even though he doesn’t deserve it?

The answer would be a definitive yes. His obligation to submit doesn’t end with his master’s scope of authority. In fact, it stretches beyond that. Does his master have the right to demand such submission? No. But, is that slave still required to submit to him anyway? Yes, because God requires it.

So, let’s revisit Tom Buck’s original question. He rhetorically argued that his wife isn’t required to submit to him if he issues an order that falls outside his scope of authority. For him, his wife’s dressing habits are one of those things he can’t assume authority over. I don’t know why he thinks that, but let’s grant him that and ask: Does he have the biblical right to impose such demands upon his wife? No. But, does God require that his wife obey those demands? Yes.

A complimentarian would likely demand to be shown a text that grants to husbands the specific authority to govern their wives’ dressing habits. I would respond by saying you’re missing the point. If a slave wrote back to Peter and quoted Exodus 21 to him, Peter would still tell him to obey and respect his unjust master. This is directly relevant to wives, because after Peter finished instructing the slaves in chapter 2, he turns to wives and orders them to treat their sinful husbands in the same way.

1 Peter 3:1: Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives,

The “likewise” ties the manner in which wives should “be subject” to their husbands to the manner in which servants ought to “be subject” to their unjust masters. While Tom Buck rhetorically argues that his wife shouldn’t have to submit to his dress-code, Peter is telling wives to go way beyond that. Never mind wearing red on Tuesdays- you need to obey your husband even if he beats you unjustly!

Would that be tyrannical? Yes. Would it be unjust? Yes. Would it be, in Tom Buck’s language, “disastrous”? Yes; And in spite of all of that, wives are still required to submit to it. It’s definitely a difficult truth to accept, even for genuine born-again Christian women, but this is the mandate God has given to them.

I could end my response here, but, if you’re a complimentarian reader and you’ve made it this far, but you still would like an explicit text relevant to the clothing issue, I’m happy to say I have one, and I’m glad to give it to you. I’d like you to notice something about 1 Peter 3:1-6:

1 Peter 3:1: Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2 when they see your respectful and pure conduct. 3 Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear4 but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

It’s ironic, isn’t it? Tom Buck just happened to use a hypothetical example of clothing as one of those situations where his wife is not “required to submit” to him. And yet, the apostle Peter went out of his way to tell Christian wives to disregard concerns about their clothing in favor of being obedient to their husbands! For a wife to cling on to her preferred manner of dressing herself against her husband’s wishes would be to directly disobey this command. Tom’s question may have been rhetorical, but the scriptural answer is not. If a husband tells his wife to wear red dresses on Tuesdays, then that’s exactly what she should do.

The DWC Files #2: Wilson VS. Genesis 3:16

Remember in Genesis 3:16 when God told Eve that her desire was going to be for her husband? Do you remember being taught that her desire for her husband was the same as the desire that Sin had for Cain later on in Genesis 4:7? If you’ve read most conservative books on marriage, that’s usually what you’ll find. You’ll also be told that this desire is not sexual or affectionate, but one of a possessive, dominating desire. Doug Wilson is a man who taught that for years in print form, and who knows how many sermons and lectures.

Back in 2017, in his article called The Feckless Evangelical Bridge, he announced that he was reconsidering “the standard interpretation” of that verse. A more correct way to say it would be to say that he was reconsidering his standard interpretation. It’s one that he had taught less than a month prior to his reconsideration. But to say it like that would be too close to admitting you seriously misled your audience, something Wilson would never do. So, I decided to challenge him in the comments. I have altered the formatting with some bolding and italics to make it easier reading.

Prince Asbel #203268
“On the other hand, Foh’s interpretation is a novelty. Prior to this fairly recent attempt to parry the feminists, the standard interpretation was simply that the woman would be oriented toward her husband, and therefore subject to him.”

So, Douglas Wilson, is her interpretation false? Is Calvin’s true? I can tell that you’re undermining Foh passively, but you won’t say straight-out that her interpretation is false. In fact, your mere assertion that it’s not standard hardly persuades me that Foh’s is wrong. The standard interpretation you’re proposing isn’t any more true because it was the typically accepted interpretation. I want a man who has penned as many books as you have to give us a direct definitive answer void of flower commentary. Is it false to interpret Genesis 3:16 as a curse upon the woman that she would seek to rule over her husband? Yes or no?

Douglas Wilson #203274

Prince, I am not ready yet to reject Foh’s approach outright, although I am currently leaning against it. My point was that we can capitulate to feminism either way we go, and so we have to be careful.

Prince Asbel #203416

“Prince, I am not ready yet to reject Foh’s approach outright, although I am currently leaning against it.”

So you are undecided on this. You have written entire books on marriage, and you’re not sure you reject Foh’s interpretation of Genesis 3:16. That’s incredibly confusing to me. Given that you’re a man who has written books on marriage, I knew you must have interpreted this verse before. I doubt you had some wavering undecided opinion to offer your readers, so I did some digging into your books on marriage. What you’re saying now is a bit odd in light of the following quote from your book, For a Glory and a Covering: A Practical Theology of Marriage, page 75:

“As we have seen from Genesis, part of the curse for the woman was the desire to master her husband (Gen. 3:16).”

If I were to determine your position on Genesis 3:16 from what you’ve written in this book, it doesn’t seem to me that you’re undecided at all. Your interpretation is the same as Foh’s. Here’s the entire paragraph from which I extracted that quote, lest anyone think I’m taking you out of context.

“Being unprepared for real leadership. Many a wife desperately wants her husband to be a “spiritual leader,” but only to the extent that he leads where she thinks he should be going. But if man and wife agree, submission is really a non-issue. If you think that your husband is making the wrong decision, or is not acting when he should be acting, that is really the only time that submission (or obedience) could ever become an issue. As we have seen from Genesis, part of the curse for the woman was the desire to master her husband (Gen. 3:16). But in Christian circles, how would such a desire manifest itself? The husband has to be critiqued in very “spiritual” terms. “He is not very much of a spiritual leader. I would be submissive if he would start leading right.” And the whole thing can be couched as a prayer request to a number of sympathetic friends who are in the same boat.”

I understand you wrote this book in 2006. If all this means is that your views are changing and that you’re considering abandoning what you have said in the past, then okay. However, the more I read that paragraph, the more I liked it! You demonstrated exceptionally keen insight into the passive mock-pious manner in which a Christian wife would attempt to take authority over her husband. And do so to sympathetic ears whilst making a prayer request even! Most writers wouldn’t even dare to suggest such a thing, even though it’s exactly how it would happen in real life! I liked it so much that I read it aloud to my younger brother, and he heartily agreed that you’re right on the money.

But now you’re not sure your interpretation of Genesis 3:16 was right to begin with. In fact, you’ve gone out of your way to undermine it. I think that’s a regretful course of action for someone undecided at the moment. Why pre-emptively undermine an interpretation that helped give you such a keen eye for sinful rebellion if you’re not sure you weren’t right the entire time?

I look forward to your reply.

Prince Asbel #203614

To follow up my most recent comment, you also agreed with Foh’s interpretation of Genesis 3:16 [Open in Logos Bible Software (if available)] here as well:

“The prophecy that her “desire shall be for her husband” was not speaking of romantic getaways, but rather predicting that there would be a struggle for mastery. So instead of trying to gain mastery over her husband, she should struggle to gain mastery over this besetting impulse within herself.”


Prince Asbel #203615

That previous quote from your 21 theses on marriage was published a month ago, so therefore, you didn’t just hold to Foh’s interpretation eleven years ago. You held to it as early as last month! Also, from page 29 of your book Future Men:

“Part of the curse in Genesis is seen in how the woman desires to have mastery over her husband. When God tells Eve that her desire will be for her husband (Gen. 3:16), this was not referring to romantic getaways. The phrase is virtually identical to the one found in the next chapter, when God warns Cain that sin wants to have mastery over him (Gen. 4:7).”

I’m sure if I did some more digging I can find more. But it is quite clear what you have believed and what you have taught. It’s well documented. Again, I look forward to your reply whenever you get around to it.

Katecho #203855

Prince Asbel wrote:

That previous quote from your 21 theses on marriage was published a month ago, so therefore, you didn’t just hold to Foh’s interpretation eleven years ago. You held to it as early as last month!

Asbel doth protest way too much.

Wilson never said he didn’t hold to Foh’s interpretation. He even said he wasn’t ready to reject it, implying that he still holds it. However, he said he was “leaning against it”. That’s not a statement of having reached a conclusion.

So Asbel shouldn’t jump to conclusions on Wilson’s behalf, or try to rush him into one.

Wilson has changed his understanding on several important doctrines throughout his ministry, and I believe that has been to the better, and a blessing to many. I find it evidence of significant humility, especially when he shares his reasoning for the change.

Prince Asbel #204031

Wilson never said he didn’t hold to Foh’s interpretation. He even said he wasn’t ready to reject it, implying that he still holds it. However, he said he was “leaning against it”. That’s not a statement of having reached a conclusion.

This is gobbledygook. If he is presently leaning against it, then that implies he DOESN’T still hold to it. Talk about twisting words to no avail.

Also, if he hasn’t reached a formal “final” conclusion, big deal. He has concluded ENOUGH to go out of his way to undermine his own teachings in this article.

So Asbel shouldn’t jump to conclusions on Wilson’s behalf, or try to rush him into one.

He’s rushing into one just fine all by himself.

I find it evidence of significant humility, especially when he shares his reasoning for the change.

You and I don’t know what form Wilson’s final decision will take. If he’s going to demonstrate significant humility, that final decision (article?) will have to include a recognition that he has been teaching people the wrong interpretation of Genesis 3:16 for ages now. In print, and online (not to mention whatever sermons or lectures he has given wherein he said the same thing), and therefore, much of the insight and advice he has given which stems from that needs to be re-evaluated for its truth value, or rejected outright.

That may be humble, or it may be capitulation. At the end of the day, he’s undermining his own credibility. And none of you seem to have even noticed that’s what’s happening here. You say I protest too much- I say you and his other readers are protesting far too little. Acting as if there’s nothing to see here.