On Christian Female Bloggers II: The Gold Standard of Reverent

Prepare to be offended.

But as for you [Titus], teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.

I think my readers know what is meant by “not slanderers” and “or slaves to much wine”, but “reverent in behavior” means what for people in our society? Towards the end of his post (and him with no knowledge my post was in the works) Dalrock translated the specific Greek words used in Ephesians for fear and reverence.

Fearing women, however, is not something that the Bible teaches.  Christians are to fear God, and wives are to fear their husbands.  As every Christian feminist’s favorite verse in Ephesians 5 explains, Christians in general are to submit to one another in fear (also translated as reverence) of God:

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

A bit later, in Ephesians 5:33, Paul explains that a wife is to fear (also translated as reverence) her husband (ISV):

33 But each individual man among you must love his wife as he loves himself; and may the wife fear her husband.

Interestingly in some translations fear is used in verse 21 while reverence is used in verse 33***, as is the case with the King James version:

21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

…33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Other times we see it the other way around as is the case with the International Standard Version:

21 and you will submit to one another out of reverence for the Messiah.

…33 But each individual man among you must love his wife as he loves himself; and may the wife fear her husband.

Translation is a necessary and noble endeavor, but it is one I am happy to trust to professionals and my friends[1].

My process is much simpler. I performed a Google search of every blog recommended to me for the word knee because kneeling is the gold standard of submission and reverence. That (should have) found even comments with knee and its derivatives. Then I bookmarked each result. Of them all, only one post contained a reference of one spouse kneeling to another. It was at “A Peaceful Wife”, by April Cassidy[2]

It came from an email from a reader which April posted for mutual inspiration. She wrote:

I finally found out what he meant by “arguing” by reading your blog. I seriously had NO IDEA!! I didn’t understand why he would get mad when I “shared my feelings” with him until reading your blog. I felt absolutely baffled by it! He also notoriously calls me “negative” and tells me I “complain” a lot, which would make me furious! And so I would defend myself thinking that he would then see that he was hurting me and fall on his knees to apologize.. I had no idea that I was actually perpetuating the disrespect by defending myself. This is still the hardest thing for me because I hate being wrong and being the person who needs to apologize, etc.[3]

She knew that the right thing to do when asking forgiveness was assume a humble posture, but when she realized it was herself who should apologize: She didn’t kneel as she had wanted her husband to do. Instead she took April’s advice and walked out of the room. Later she told her husband he’s a very good boy:

One other huge break through, I have tried many times in the past to tell him things I do respect about him but he has never believed me and he knew I was just doing an exercise I read in a book or something. However, after reading your blog and comments on there, etc, I realized that he has never withdrawn from me or our boys and he has never stopped leading, even in the face of my disrespect and attempts to control.
  • So I told him that I was very impressed that he still continues to lead, to tell me my sin, and to try to engage in the family even when I’m wrong and even when most men do the opposite.[3]

April posted this to her own blog as an example of a submissive wife. That–walking out of a room, and saying what a good boy a husband is– is not a picture of submissive wife. That is a picture of a doting mother. I must assume she knows the difference. Remember: This woman wanted her husband to give her the gold standard in submission. She knows that standard is kneeling.

In fact none of the female Christian blogs I searched ever mentioned a wife assuming the posture of submission; of her kneeling. There are admonitions for tone of voice, and silence, and just about any other vagaries of action which are only nonchalance disguised as submission. This lack shows in a couple ways. First, you can see it in wordiness and meandering of posts on submission by otherwise well-meaning women. (One has to shovel a lot of vagaries to fill the hole left by kneeling.) Second, even women who are trying to be submissive leave comment after comment about “running out of ideas” on how to make their submission apparent to their husbands; as if men hadn’t the eyes to see submission. I’m sorry to say that is often the charge leveled at husbands. If a wife kneeled, could her submission be in question? No.

This topic makes me uncomfortable. I don’t think I’m alone in that. Dalrock’s post continues:

This is not to say that Christian wives are to worship their husbands as Christian men today so often worship women, but clearly there is a healthy reverence wives are instructed to have for their husbands in line with headship and submission.

I know I’ve said the same. While it is murmured elsewhere that I am an oppressive dolt, the fact is you can’t keep me from tripping over myself to make clear my haste to demonstrate my lack of need for submission…which is a lie that I’ve been telling myself since I began thinking about submission. I do need my wife’s submission if I want a wife at all!

The truth is that I I had been overlooking it forever. And–in my defense–I’ve been warned away from female submission my entire life. In the post this series corrects, I erroneously wrote:

Submission is the absence of rebellion. Wives don’t have to learn “how to be submissive”; they just have to decide not to rebel.

It’s true that one way to define submission is the absence of rebellion, but I was wrong in that women do have to learn to submit. And I do have to learn how to accept it. My mind has put forth to me every kind of excuse against kneeling, but–discomforting or not–the fact is irrefutable that the gold standard of submission is kneeling. Therefore, can we say of anyone who disdains (or even merely eschews) kneeling, that they are in submission?

I’m a bit timid of this line of thinking. There is some sickness in me that wants my wife to find me…what? Equal? Unworthy? Something. At the same time: The sickness makes me bitter when it gets its wish! It is a stupid sickness of the Old Adam and it must be crucified within me. Healthy marriage is too important.

Here’s why: I see the ships of those who pilot for Biblical Marriage repeatedly crash on the shoals of questions like this:

  • What if my husband asks me to sin?
  • What if my husband won’t follow-through on (church, praying, controlling finances, etc.)?
  • What if my husband ignores me?
  • What if my husband won’t forgive me for my mistakes?
  • What if I really need (food, clothes, etc.) but my husband won’t provide it?
  • What if I’ve tried everything and nothing works?

Here’s my response from now on: After you tried smiling sweetly, and doting on him, and the silent treatment, and standing up for yourself, and going behind his back, and taking matters into your own hands, and bringing in the pastor: Did you try kneeling before your husband in submission?

Are Christian female bloggers aware that kneeling is the gold standard of submission? Yes. In fact, the more “spiritual” the blogger wants to sound, the more she mentions kneeling submissively in prayer. “Hit my knees!” “Fell to my knees!” “Knelt right there on the linoleum!” They know submission during prayer is important.

As I said: Not one of the Christian female bloggers suggest kneeling to her husband. To be reverent to their husbands, and to teach young women to be submissive, they must start.


[1] I’m looking at you, Deep Strength, Jonadab, and others!

[2] Who is not 60, nor a grandmother, nor post-menopausal. In no way do I find her to be an elder woman.

[3] Emphasis in original

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37 thoughts on “On Christian Female Bloggers II: The Gold Standard of Reverent

  1. Pingback: Gold standard | To our bodies turn we then

  2. Cane, my brotha, my brotha…

    Submission is the absence of rebellion. Wives don’t have to learn “how to be submissive”; they just have to decide not to rebel.

    What was wrong with that? There was nothing erroneous in that statement at all. I think it’s borderline semantics.

    Here is an example of three things (at least) about female behavior that I’m sure most of the brothers would agree are features and not bugs in the software:

    Rebellion
    Disrespect
    Hypergamy

    Of those three, the only one that is not an affront to Holiness is hypergamy, for its a subconscious feature in women that is a response to her need to survive and secure provision, protection, and security for her offspring.

    Like hypergamy, rebellion and disrespect are mechanisms that have evolved and are subconscious.

    It’s the environment that created the rebellion and disrespect that has to change. The environment is where rebellion and disrespect assert themselves, whereby stifling submission.

    Women don’t LEARN to be submissive, they are TAUGHT.

    You know who is supposed to teach them? Men.

    You know how? We create the environment…starting with our families, our communities, and in our nation.

    You know why? You just said it yourself. They don’t know how!

    If you want to see submission in action, watch how a dog behaves with his loving, but assertive master.  They don’t kneel, per se, but they lower their heads and their body closer to the ground as a show of submission.

    Even among the human species, averting and lower of the eyes and head are signs of submission.  No one TEACHES that (in the form of object lessons)…it’s an adaptive response.

    What factors in some environments with some people promote such responses more than in others?

    More about that later…

  3. In one of her old blogs Sunshine Mary talked about kneeling before her husband and recommended it. The blog is now defunct, so I suppose it wouldn’t come up on a search.

  4. @Pedat

    I don’t understand your comment. It seems like you are disagreeing with me, but then it seems like you agree.

    You know who is supposed to teach them? Men.

    You know how? We create the environment…starting with our families, our communities, and in our nation.

    Men certainly aren’t prohibited, but these posts are about older Christian women who are to teach; and more specifically Christian female bloggers. Older women create the environment, too.

    No one TEACHES that (in the form of object lessons)…it’s an adaptive response.

    That’s not true, but let’s suppose it was. They aren’t getting the lesson. Why are you opposed to it being taught?

  5. Pingback: Submissive body language | Julian O'Dea

  6. Your first reference on reverence is incorrect.

    Phobos/phobeo is used for respect/reverence/fear in passages to wives. However, in Titus 2, the word used for reverent in their behavior is not phobos/phobeo (noun/verb). KJV translates it as: “that [they be] in behavior as becometh holiness”

    The Greek word used is:

    G2412 — ἱεροπρεπής — hieroprepēs — hee-er-op-rep-ace’
    From G2413 and the same as G4241; reverent: – as becometh holiness. Total KJV occurrences: 1

    Anyway, that doesn’t really change your point as wives are told in the Scriptures to respect/reverence/fear their husbands in both Eph 5 and 1 Peter 3. The other words of fear/reverence/respect are correct.

  7. @DS

    Thanks. I thought something like that might be the case. That’s why when I quoted Dalrock I explicitly wrote “in Ephesians” lest anyone be accidentally led astray. It still follows that a hieroprepēs woman would be known by her adherence to guidelines in Ephesians, Peter, etc.

  8. Lack of rebellion is like virginity v.s. fornication.

    Submission means taking an ACTIVE role. If you are on your feet all day, having your (perhaps unbeautiful) feet rubbed is better than kneeling, though they can do both simultaneously.

    The husband is the head – the protector and provider. The woman is protected and provided for. The normal, rational, sane response is gratitude, even apart from submission.

    Submission is advanced, gratitude is basic.

  9. Cane, I wonder if you have done Google searches about kneeling. If so, I trust you observed that almost all of it concerned men kneeling when proposing marriage?

    Kind of funny how its origin was tied to a feudal servant kneeling before his Master/Mistress. Or not.

    I recall somewhere reading about a British ambassador to China who refused to kow-tow to the Chinese Emperor of the time. He said something along the lines of how he would go on one knee before his King, and two before his God, but nothing for some foreign leader.

    Well, if the man is the King of the home, then it stands to reason that others should kneel to him there, including the Queen….

  10. @tz

    Lack of rebellion is like virginity v.s. fornication.

    Submission means taking an ACTIVE role.

    That seems like an excellent comparison. Let’s call “lack of rebellion” as obedience. As virginity is to chastity, so obedience is to submission. I’ll think about it more, but it seems right.

    @DG

    The first three pages of my Google search for “kneeling” almost exclusively turned up links to Catholic websites and exercises.

    Kind of funny how its origin was tied to a feudal servant kneeling before his Master/Mistress. Or not.

    […]

    Well, if the man is the King of the home, then it stands to reason that others should kneel to him there, including the Queen….

    My thoughts traveled along this path as I thought about submission and kneeling. What I decided was sort of the reverse, but it encouraged me: Kings point to husbands and fathers; not the other way around. We kneel to kings because the king is sort of like a father of the nation.

    There was almost a section on that in this post, but I cut it for space. I guessed that someone would bring up “A man is the king of his castle” in the comments and I could discuss it here. Thanks for helping me live the dream!

  11. The first three pages of my Google search for “kneeling” almost exclusively turned up links to Catholic websites and exercises.</blockquote

    Interesting. When I tried again I got that too. Must have left something else in the search to throw it off.

    Kings point to husbands and fathers; not the other way around. We kneel to kings because the king is sort of like a father of the nation.

    But of course. They are like a Patriarch writ large, after all. Good insight Cane. Should have considered it from that angle too.

  12. @donalgrame

    ”But of course. They are like a Patriarch writ large, after all. Good insight Cane. Should have considered it from that angle too.”

    I think that’s why I consider Queens as head of state problematic. I think that’s part of the reason why John Knox is against it:
    http://www.swrb.com/newslett/actualNLs/firblast.htm

    A Kingdom is a Patriarchy writ large and a Queendom is a Matriarchy writ large. The former is biblical and latter not.

  13. To state this as obliquely as possible, I knew you would discover something that I wanted to offer up but would have done so in an email, not here. And yessir, you done gone and done it.

  14. Only offended by the stupidity, poor exegesis, and mark driscoll-style misogyny. Nothing scriptural about your stance. You’re not much more than a cowardly man who is threatened by intelligent women. So really, you’re a pussy

  15. You’re not much more than a cowardly man who is threatened by intelligent women. So really, you’re a pussy

    John, j have a joke for you: An egalitarian walks into a bar and calls the barkeep a pussy.

    Get it? It’s funny if you can think about it.

  16. Everyone has someone in authority over them to whom they are required to submit. Will you be kneeling to show your submission to those authorities?

  17. Pingback: When I spoke, I said too little – Moose Norseman

  18. Cane, here’s a relevant thought exercise for you: Do you kneel when praying, either publicly or privately? It’s a useful test of the heart, demonstrating the soul’s state. The issue is whether or not we feel “silly” or “weak” when assuming this obviously submissive posture. Personally, it tells me a lot about my current condition.

    The case of a woman bowing to her husband is merely a specific case of submission, and should not make anyone squeamish. We are all under authority; denying it is utter madness. Any man or woman who believes that he/she will never have to kneel/bow/obey is in for a rough awakening.

  19. “Will you be kneeling to show your submission to those authorities?”

    This is the strange part about why this is controversial. I kneel before authority regularly to receive blessings from priests. This is a standard practice. I’ve seen kids kneel to receive blessings from their fathers. I don’t see any reason a wife couldn’t kneel for a blessing, too.

  20. “In fact none of the female Christian blogs I searched ever mentioned a wife assuming the posture of submission; of her kneeling.”

    I’ve been married a number of years, and I have never had my wife show me reverence, honor, or submission in this way…

    “There are admonitions for tone of voice, and silence, and just about any other vagaries of action which are only nonchalance disguised as submission.”

    …but rest assured, my fair share of “I just don’t know what respect looks like to you.”

    I am curious, have any of you men ever had a wife kneel?

    True reverence is hard to hide.

  21. There is a scene in the worst episode of “Firefly”, “Heart of Gold”, where the evil patriarchal villain, in front of a crowd of cheering men, has his wife kneel down in front of him and presumably give him a blow job.

    What is relevant about this scene to the discussion here is that we don’t see the blow job, but the kneeling; this in itself representing the woman’s submissiveness towards her husband, and her performing a sex act for him publicly is likened to a sort of slavery.

  22. @MtC

    Someone else brought up the oral sex angle and I thought of that scene for a couple reasons.

    1) Because, as you say, the writers take pains to show submission as a bad thing by making about the man; by making it about pleasure; by making it about humiliation.

    2) Many people cannot accept the reality that sex is a lesser thing than submission. But sex is a subset of submission. You can’t tell them that though, because the biggest thing in these people’s minds is fucking.

    For women, making the error of submission-as-sex (instead of the other way ’round), is tempting because it makes them feel empowered, and because they like sex. They don’t like kneeling. It’s too objective.

  23. @Hope Deferred

    I am curious, have any of you men ever had a wife kneel?

    In anticipating this question I earlier asked my wife if she’d mind if I told a story about that. She did kneel once: When she pleaded with me to come home. We both remember it, and we both remember it the same way. That’s often not the case with past discussions. I believe the kneeling stamped it in our minds.

    I did come home, and her kneeling played a huge role in that. It summoned my sense of obligation from the abyss into which I’d tossed it. I didn’t come home immediately, or even agree to in the moment, but I couldn’t shake the chain after that.

  24. I don’t know that many kneel as part of prayer, even when they speak of that. I would guess it has become figurative to a great many people today.

    I know I have kneelled at times before the Lord, but I cannot remember any instance right now, so it is clearly not common. I would be glad to if I saw a strong Biblical push for that, but I can’t think of that.

    The only modern picture of that in my mind is a man kneeling to propose to a future wife, though even that seems to be fairly faded today, along with the rest of the value of marriage.

    Interesting point to think over.

  25. Thanks for the story, Cane. It’s surprising what good can come from such a “degrading” act. Looking back, would your wife say she recalls anything demeaning from that appeal (and the manner it was given) – it appeared to be from her own volition.

  26. @HD

    At the time, neither of us were happy for her to kneel. I didn’t want obligation. It was entirely her choice.

    The only way to see her submission as negative is if one hates her, me, our kids, marriage generally, and hates even love itself.

  27. BillyS

    I always took it for granted that that’s what Christians do. When I pray with the children at night, I always kneel (they’re usually tucked in bed). They see me kneel, see my submission to God.

    I don’t think you can expect this sort of detail in the NT. It seem more natural though when you’re Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican.

    One of the worst things in the post Vatican II mass is that people don’t kneel when receiving the Eucharist.

  28. Bruce:

    I always took it for granted that that’s what Christians do. When I pray with the children at night, I always kneel (they’re usually tucked in bed). They see me kneel, see my submission to God.

    I don’t think you can expect this sort of detail in the NT. It seem more natural though when you’re Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican.

    Regular kneeling in prayer is but one casualty of the general Protestant reaction against ’empty ritual’.

  29. The only way to see her submission as negative is if one hates her, me, our kids, marriage generally, and hates even love itself

    If envy and hate overlap, this is an observation that has legs. When a couple is divorcing generally speaking men will try to help restore the things in Cane’s quote while women will act in ways that they do not understand .are showing love to the woman and envy/hate to all possible cross-linking between the other players

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