Sunday, December 26, 2010

Part 14: Jezebel vs Sarah - The Degree of Submission

I don't expect to be dwelling long before moving beyond the topic of submission within marriage. I may return to the subject, I cannot say, but it's necessary to shortly address other gender role issues relating to Jezebel vs Sarah and the curses and blessings that impact our lives so dramatically in these last days.

I'm not dealing here with hypothetical situations or the so-called marriages (of convenience and mutual exploitation) between unbelievers, whatever profession may be made of faith. Those who truly aspire to be found pleasing to Him do submit, and He will have a Bride whether or not you or I personally rise up to become worthy. If you personally still struggle with matters of braids, gold, pearls and apparel, and struggle with submission as it has been presented even after reading this post, this series may not be for you. I have encouraged folks to be patient with this work, and will ask you, once again, to please be patient with this as it unfolds here and in your life.

In walking out the practical matter of submission in a marriage, I'd like to be very clear about the degree to which the wife is to be in subjection so there is no confusion.

Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
Ephesians 5:24

To embellish upon the simplicity of that declaration is to change it. I field arguments to the effect that "every thing" really means "most things." I reject them. You see, the example provided for the wife to follow doesn't allow for the exercise of "better judgment." Granted, the reality of life presents difficult challenges. Please consider how that if one permits oneself to go down the road of rationalizing what extreme conditions might justify a woman's disobedience to her husband, one has departed from the model given. Such a departure takes one off the Rock and places one on the proverbial slippery slope down which a continual series of slides is the prevailing scenario.

I believe those who struggle against this matter of full submission don't yet grasp the magnitude of the importance of correctly modeling the Bride of Christ. Neither do they grasp the value of the experience gained and lessons learned and relationships developed in becoming willing to walk it out, then walking it out. If your faith does not permit acceptance of such a radical consideration as "subject in every thing," you are in the vast majority, if there's any comfort in that. There are many churches and forums and websites and blogs where you'll be quite comfortable. Yet, the Bride model stands for those who accept the Bridegroom's radical invitation.

From 1 Peter 3 the direction is given that wives should be as Sarah, who trusted God, being in subjection to her own husband, and who even called him, lord. A comparison is made to illustrate the wife/husband relationship through the example of the servant/master model. That comparison is given a little more attention here for the sake of clarity. The servant/master is not as employee/boss but rather slave/owner. It's also important to note how the wife/husband and servant/master models are different from the citizen/ruler model. The "In like manner" of 1 Peter 3:1 refers in context to 2:18 but not further back to 1 Peter 2:13-14. The wife/husband model matches the servant/master model but, far less so, the citizen/ruler model.

Servants in our culture ARE employees but servants in the New Testament context were typically slaves or bond-servants. Such were therefore not free to quit or act independently of their master's will. Please consider:

1. Onesimus, a servant/slave - from Philemon 1 - Greek word "oiketes" (Strong's G3610)

2. In 1 Peter 2, Peter does not suggest any distinction between servants as slaves or non-slaves, which implicates the cultural norm of servants as slaves and their masters as owners.

"Jesus is recorded as mentioning slaves in one of his parables. It is important to realize that the term "servant" or "maid" in the King James Version of the Bible refers to slaves, not employees like a butler, cook, or maid. Here, a slave which did not follow his owner's will would be beaten with many lashes of a whip. A slave who was unaware of his owner's will, but who did not behave properly, would also be beaten, but with fewer stripes." (Slavery in the Bible)

A wife compares to a slave as owned by her master/husband rather than as an employee. She is not free to quit. Divorce is permissible (with respect to the scriptural constraints), but such a case biblically does not equate to an employee quitting a boss.

The typical marriage vow had long been for a woman to obey her husband until "death do them part," in good times and bad. Such is not the employee/boss model of our culture. Neither is this, of course, the model of citizen/ruler. In our culture, the biblical wife/husband relationship more closely matches that of soldier/commander in the armed forces. It's not an exact model, but soldiers do, for a contract season, vow to obey those in an appointed chain of command even unto death, and they are required to do so under the most severe of conditions. That is, "required" as in "required," not as in "requested as an option." This is not meant to suggest that a wife's insubordination is cause for the equivalent of a season in the brig, courtmartial or summary execution, or that a husband's behavior should resemble that of an abusive drill sergeant, yet, it should be noted that this familiar model is a far better model of the biblical wife/husband relationship than that of employee/boss.

Peter was given to write what he did in 1 Peter 3:5 to present a manner of adornment that is not merely due to wives being in subjection to their own husbands but, as such subjection is in the context of trusting in God. Then, what is given as the example makes sense.

18) Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.
19) For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
20) For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
21) For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:

1 Peter 2:18-21

It's important for slaves and wives to obey, yet with the reason why fully in mind. While some accuse the Lord of being an evil, unjust and sadistic taskmaster, those who really know Him understand He has something awesomely wonderful in store for those rare and precious few who trust Him, confident in His unfailing love.

If one doesn't trust in God, the temptation to compromise in subjection will be irresistible. Temptation will come when trying to walk this out in practice because the Lord is so kind as to allow us to be challenged and thereby discover our character, proving our love. When you start down that road of compromise where conditions that might justify rebellion are explored, having already taken to yourself the responsibility of knowing "where to draw the line," you are going to walk in darkness as you strive to figure out where that line should be drawn. I'm convinced that all arguments to the contrary are most simply counter to the plain declaration of scripture.

Saul went down that road of compromise and justification by habit. I have briefly presented the Jezebel/Mystery Babylon model as contrasted with the Sarah/Bride of Christ model. Consider a parable from the Older Testament about the church as Babylon typified in Saul, from which a relevant lesson on a very personal level may be ascertained.

18) And the LORD sent thee [Saul] on a journey, and said, Go and utterly destroy the sinners the Amalekites, and fight against them until they be consumed.
19) Wherefore then didst thou not obey the voice of the LORD, but didst fly upon the spoil, and didst evil in the sight of the LORD?
20) And Saul said unto Samuel, Yea, I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and have gone the way which the LORD sent me, and have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.
21) But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the chief of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice unto the LORD thy God in Gilgal.
22) And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.
23) For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, he hath also rejected thee from being king.
24) And Saul said unto Samuel, I have sinned: for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD, and thy words: because I feared the people, and obeyed their voice.
25) Now therefore, I pray thee, pardon my sin, and turn again with me, that I may worship the LORD.
26) And Samuel said unto Saul, I will not return with thee: for thou hast rejected the word of the LORD, and the LORD hath rejected thee from being king over Israel.
27) And as Samuel turned about to go away, he laid hold upon the skirt of his mantle, and it rent.
28) And Samuel said unto him, The LORD hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbour of thine, that is better than thou.

1 Samuel 15:18-28

Consider, too, the model of Vashti and Esther. Read the book of Esther, comparing how these women honored their husband/king. Let it speak to you about wives drawing lines, setting the limits of subjection. Let it speak to you about consequence and reward.

The Lord is no fool. He commands but knows few will submit willingly. Lord, help us be willing to submit, and help us submit, rendering to you what is your due, because you alone are worthy.


  1. Eph 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

    The scriptural arguments I hear (from my wife no less) against Eph 5:24 meaning what it says are:

    Phil 2:12 out your own salvation with fear and trembling. [wife: "Let me work it out myself"]


    Col 3:18 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. ["'fit in the Lord' means that the wife only has to do those things that follow the bible, not necessarily everything the husband says."].

    Instruction welcome... thank you

  2. I forgot one more verse tossed at me to dismiss the submission of the wife:

    Eph 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. [wife: "see, we are to submit to each other"].

    Instruction welcome....thank you

  3. Been there. Simple response. 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Could any counter in response be acceptable? Clearly, no. No counter is acceptable. That passage just won't go away.

    11 A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. 12 But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.

    Stick to it. You're the man. She's not.