The Eternal Submission of Women?

Some guy recently wrote a “scholarly” article arguing that women will eternally submit to men. That actually happened and I had the misfortune of reading it. Actually, I didn’t read the whole thing, just enough to irritate my esophagus. A stronger man might have made it to the end, but I couldn’t stomach it.

I was introduced to the article through the twitter feed of a frustrated and irritated woman. The woman said it was rather hard to believe the Church would let stand an article arguing for the eternal submission of women. She even blogged that she was considering leaving the Christian faith in response to the growing number of Christian leaders who have an aggressively low view of women.

I wanted to urge her not to leave, but I didn’t think she would submit to my leading. At least I hope she wouldn’t have submitted to my leading, because why in God’s green Earth would any man need a woman to submit to him. I know I’ll probably be preaching to the choir in this post, but sometimes the pastor’s gotta turn around and say, “Do you believe what I’m seeing? I mean come on, how did this become the priority?”

Eternal submission of women! That’s what we end up arguing for when something’s gone terribly wrong with our gospel proclamation. Even if I believed in some sort of Biblical law dictating the subordination of women, why would I ever want anyone to follow my lead based on that law. If Christian community and Christian relationships are rooted in love, why would I want my most meaningful relationships to be held together through continually fortifying a code of gender hierarchy?

Why would I want my wife’s response to me to be based on a principle of authority? Why would I want my daughters to respect me because of a code of gender submission? In what scenario would it benefit any man or woman to partner in ministry based on laws of gender appropriate leadership?

Christ-centered relationships are rooted in love! Love is not the fulfillment of laws and regulations. Love is making room for the abiding presence of God to be fully expressed in each and every one of His children. Love is listening to the voice of God in those he has entrusted to our care. Love is surrendering to the Holy Spirit’s leading. As all Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit, love is surrendering to the Holy Spirit’s leading in every Christian.

My wife and I daily submit to each other. We not only submit to the voice of Christ in each other but we also submit to the voice of Christ in our children, friends and church family. God speaks to us through those he has entrusted to our care. He speaks to us through male and female, young and old, theologically trained and downright ignorant. God speaks and we listen. We listen and follow because we love the voice of God. Why would I ever want to turn this love relationship into a lifeless, gender bound law?

These are dangerous times. We’ve got angry Christians fortifying their doctrinal positions at the cost of love. They are trying to silence the voice of Christ in the daughters of the King. Christ abides in both men and women. Christ has the right to speak in his temple. Christ has the right to move in his temple. We, the body of Christ, both male and female, are God’s temple. Christ will not silence or subordinate his voice based on the gender of the temple in which he abides.

When we refuse to recognize the God-given authority of women to lead, we stop listening for the voice of God in them. When we try to silence the voice of God in women, we relegate them to objectified lives. When we refuse to acknowledge their position in Christ, we begin to measure their worth based on how well they serve the non-spiritual needs of their male counterparts. They become tools for procreation, sexual satisfaction and domestic tranquility.

It is no surprise that men who devalue the role of women are constantly teaching women about their place in God’s created order. These individuals do not believe that God is speaking through women to men, therefore they do not trust that women are able to know what is right in their relationships with men. When we devalue the voice of God in any person or class of persons, we are ultimately dehumanizing those individuals and the groups they represent.

Today I read an article that argued for the eternal submission of women…well at least I almost read it. I just couldn’t bring myself to get to the end of it. Which is the problem. There seems to be no end to this aggressive, misguided notion of hierarchical Christian community; a notion that seems to spring from a reactionary fear to our ever changing culture. Some of my sisters and brothers in the faith are getting tired of this seemingly endless gender submission drum beat. Today I read an article where a man claimed this submission is eternal. I, for one, am thankful that someday this foolishness will cease!


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13 Responses to The Eternal Submission of Women?

  1. chicagoja May 14, 2014 at 3:27 pm #

    The Abrahamic religions all call for the submission of women to men. Of course, men wrote all of the holy books, now didn’t they?

  2. Tim May 15, 2014 at 8:40 am #

    I think you hit the pastoral tone just right, Doug. “Can you believe what I’m seeing?!” This garbage of eternal submission is not only based on a wrong understanding of men and women, but a wrong understanding of the Trinity.

    Grudem bases his teaching about women submitting to men on the false doctrine that the Son eternally subordinates his will to the Father’s as if they were separate wills and one needed to be ruled by the other. But Jesus taught that he and the Father are one, and there is no part of Jesus’ will – nor the Holy Spirit’s for that matter – that has not been eternally consistent with the Father’s.

    • fairlyspiritual May 15, 2014 at 8:45 am #

      Thanks Tim, I appreciate the further discussion and information.

  3. Cheryl McGrath September 4, 2014 at 3:20 am #

    Great post. Thankyou!

  4. Jeannie January 15, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    I saw this linked today on Twitter and was intrigued by the subject. I really appreciate your emphasis on listening to the voice of God in everyone rather than adhering to some rule or hierarchy. Also, this morning in my Bible study group we were reading Luke 20 in which Jesus (in response to the Sadducees’ question) says that in the age to come there will be no marrying or giving in marriage. It just wouldn’t make sense to say “There’s no marriage in heaven, but I should warn you that there IS eternal submission of women.” Sometimes we just have to say “This is nonsense.” So thanks for saying it!

    • fairlyspiritual January 16, 2015 at 9:57 am #

      Thanks for reading and responding so on point! I do appreciate your encouragement.

  5. livingliminal July 29, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    “We’ve got angry Christians fortifying their doctrinal positions at the cost of love.”

    I think it’s always important to ask the question, “Does this look like love to you?” If the answer is anything other than a resounding, “Yes!”, it’s probably time to re-think your position (or at least your approach).

  6. GC July 30, 2015 at 6:13 am #

    Thanks very much for this post. In response to LivingLiminal, I think that “Does this look like love to you?” is a great question. I also think that “Does this look like Jesus to you?” is a great question. And when it comes to eternal subordination of women, the answer is clearly “no.”

    • livingliminal July 30, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

      Thanks GC – that is also a really great question! 🙂

  7. April Fiet September 15, 2015 at 5:23 pm #

    Thank you!

  8. fluffybabybunnyrabbit June 15, 2016 at 12:45 am #

    I just have to say that I really love the photo that accompanies this article. Very apt.

  9. lovetruthpeace2014 June 16, 2016 at 7:56 am #

    Reblogged this on lovetruthpeaceblog.

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