When All Else Fails Read the Instructions

Commenter 7817 at Dalrock’s (and sometimes here) brought to my attention a newsletter from (I believe) Bnonn and Michael Foster which argues the case that Christians are to order their homes in either recognition–or avoidance–of things like: “the locus of control”, “masculine hypoagency”, “toxic matriarchy”, “gyneolatry”, and several other strange terms which normal men should mock.

What all those words have in common is that they are set within a nearly 3,000 word screed which never actually quotes the Biblical instructions we Christians are given for the ordering of our households.  I will list below, again, the instructions with which God blessed us, through his apostles, in the order they appear in the Bible.

1 Corinthians 11:8-10

For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.

1 Corinthians 14:33-35

33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.

Ephesians 5:22-24

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

Colossians 3:18-19

18 Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.

1 Timothy 2:11-12

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.

Titus 2:3-5

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.

1 Peter 3:1-7

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,when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 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. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

What the Word of God  says–if we trouble to read it– is that men are the heads. There is a distinction. I wrote last year in Though the Best Retort is to Live It:

“Husbands are not called to ALWAYS lead, but wives are called to ALWAYS obey. Sometimes the head may give a subordinate the lead because that is the prudent thing to do. He does not give up the rule. He may take back the lead at his pleasure, and the subordinate is only right if she gives it up in submission. A wife is to submit and obey her husband.”

 Men are to love, care for, instruct, provision, and protect our wives and children. You will not find one single verse which explicitly says that a wife’s or child’s obedience is dependent on the goodness of the husband’s or father’s leadership. 1 Peter 3 says the opposite is possible, in fact.

There is in the Scriptures the strong implication of the goodness of leadership skills for husbands and fathers; certainly for the selection of elders and deacons from among the men of the church in 1 Timothy 3. We should consider it soberly, and that means we consider that good leadership or good submission may win over apathetic husbands or rebellious wives. Sober consideration also shows that the great emphasis of ordering Christian households is for husbands is to love their wives, and for wives to obey their husbands. We are both to follow Christ: Men are to love women while they follow, and women obey men while they follow. I encourage the writers of the newsletter and everyone else to go dig into the surrounding passages of the verses I quoted above; verses which the authors of the newsletter eschewed in favor of long-winded theories of “gyneolatry” and “masculine hypoagency” that interest no normal man, and which–if they did interest him–would not do him good.

One more thing: The newsletter never mentions headcovers except in a quote of my words and they never address that point. It was utterly disregarded.

25 thoughts on “When All Else Fails Read the Instructions

  1. Pingback: Bnonn, Pastor Foster, and the power of women. | Dalrock

  2. It’s pretty impressive to see all those verses laid out in a row like that. Interesting also that they come from the New Testament. As much as modern churches dislike the Old Testament, these New Testament verses are no easier to swallow.

  3. I guess it depends on which translation of the Bible they’re reading, for example, the NIV has “when they see the purity and reverence of your lives” instead of the “when they see your respectful and pure conduct” that you cite above from the KJV. The Greek word in both 1 Peter 3:2 and Ephesians 5:33 is phobos. So in either case, “revere” your husband, or “respect” your husband might work in either.

    However, I wonder if it is clever sophistry in the NIV to invert the word order, putting “pure” before “reverence,” because it seems to water down the use of “reverence,” making it only a further explanation of “purity” or “pure conduct,” instead of reverence or respect toward the husband. So, she just lives a pure life, reverencing God (only) and not respecting her husband, then.

    I can’t put all that together as well as I would like to, but it’s just something I’m considering. I would like to be able to answer intelligently during the studies we are doing on Ephesians at church and have some answers prepared for when others at the study say “that’s what it says, but that’s not what it really means.”

  4. As much as modern churches dislike the Old Testament, these New Testament verses are no easier to swallow.

    Of course the next place they go after that is to say “Ah, but this isn’t in the Gospels!. Jesus doesn’t say I have to do this, only Paul does” — the implication being that since it is in the apostolic letters and not in the Gospels, it can be written off as “time and place specific”. Of course that doesn’t wash, but it’s the argument that gets trotted out repeatedly.

  5. Nova:

    “Ah, but this isn’t in the Gospels!. Jesus doesn’t say I have to do this, only Paul does”

    After that , the arguments are:

    “That was then. This is now. Paul was speaking to a specific audience for a specific time in a specific place addressing specific problems being experienced in specific church communities.
    Those things Paul wrote don’t apply to the modern church.”

    “We are attracted to a different understanding of Paul’s argument.”

    “‘Head” doesn’t really mean ‘head’. That word can also be translated as ‘source’.”

  6. It’s unfortunately gotten so bad that most people literally never see a real-life example of it. When they do see it, it basically resembles the average “greatest generation” marriage and social dynamic. I wonder if the “greatest generation” earned that title not by sacrificing in WWII but by being the last generation to have normal, healthy family relationships.

  7. @Gunner Q

    His disagreement against you was entirely groundless.

    It’s not clear to me that Bnonn and Foster know what they think at all except that they want to pick a fight with me, Dalrock, and Rollo. The last person is interesting because Rollo and I don’t really interact or speak on the same things. A person could hate what I say and love Rollo’s words, or vice versa, but a person could not think we say the same things.

    @7817

    It’s pretty impressive to see all those verses laid out in a row like that.

    Agreed. When I first did it for myself I thought, “What the hell is wrong with me that I struggled with such clarity for so long?”

    @James

    I would like to be able to answer intelligently during the studies we are doing on Ephesians at church and have some answers prepared for when others at the study say “that’s what it says, but that’s not what it really means.”

    Show them this list, which goes together. I don’t recommend you show this my post because they’ll just go bnonnas at my hatespeak, but show them the whole body of Scripture together and ask them how to explain that away. They’ll try, but you can respond with, “It sounds to me that you just don’t like what the scriptures teach us.”

    Mostly, they’ll just go round and round, hitting on the arguments that Novaseeker and thedeti have mentioned. You’ll show them how mutual submission is wrong, they’ll bring up the Gospels. You’ll explain how the Gospels produced Christian order, then they’ll bring up “cultural differences”. You’ll explain how Paul is instructing people who struggled with these things otherwise they wouldn’t be mentioned, and someone will bring up mutual submission… They will literally run down the clock until the study is over. Next study it will be a different topic, and they’ll hope you go away before the next verses on submission come up again in the Bible.

  8. @Patrick

    When they do see it, it basically resembles the average “greatest generation” marriage and social dynamic.

    Exactly right. We don’t actually push our wives into threesomes and beat our wives so modern people assume we must not be so brutish as to practice Biblical headship in our families.

  9. @ James

    The Greek word in both 1 Peter 3:2 and Ephesians 5:33 is phobos. So in either case, “revere” your husband, or “respect” your husband might work in either.

    Phobos doesn’t mean “revere”, or “respect”, it means “fear”. It’s the word from which we derive phobia.

    It’s also the name of a Greek God; Phobos, twin brother of Deimos, sons of Ares, god of war. Ares would send his sons into the ranks of an army he opposed. Ares’ sons then spread fear (Phobos) and terror (Deimos) through the ranks.

    Phobos, then, is the kind of fear that makes soldiers’ knees knock together, and their hands tremble as the prospect of death at the hands of their enemies.

    Stop watering down the Word of God.

  10. @ Cane Caldo

    We don’t actually push our wives into threesomes and beat our wives so modern people assume we must not be so brutish as to practice Biblical headship in our families.

    Kind of makes you miss the Toad, doesn’t it? Maybe? A little?

  11. Swords with two edges and all.

    Regarding the many words of wisdom here on how a church will resist the body of work Cane has listed.

    When you get the “specific time and place, cultural only, that particular individual, not in the Gospels” model fed to you (as you will), send it back with flowers.

    How many of these very same people freely claim Bible verses for themselves that are categorically and demonstrably intended for a particular person in exact circumstances? How many times have you heard some modern day Gentile lay claim to God’s plans for the Israelites laid out in the Book of Jeremiah, 29th Chapter, for instance?

    I’ve seen many Bible verses claimed out of context, and by the same people that would say that the verses in this OP have to be taken in context.

    I expect you already know this will be poorly received, but it seems like I should put the warning out there anyway.

  12. Excellent response on the questions about Eph 5 Cane. Regarding this:

    They will literally run down the clock until the study is over. Next study it will be a different topic, and they’ll hope you go away before the next verses on submission come up again in the Bible.

    This is a great point. I don’t think there is much you can do in the setting described against this tactic either. The best option I can think of is to note that this is the desired effect.

    The other thing they will try to do is exasperate you and make you look like a rabid woman hater who wants wives to be humiliated and suffer. Your best defense here is to stay in good spirits and keep your cool. The chances of such a group bucking the well practiced habit of ignoring the Scripture is very small, so don’t be discouraged if/when it goes as you already know it is all but guaranteed to go. This is a very long game. Some people will want to learn the truth. Most will not. All you can do is faithfully represent the truth. Persevere in faith and good cheer, no matter how obstinate they are. Some time down the road some of them may reconsider what you said. But even if they don’t, you are on the winning team.

  13. @ Cane and Dalrock: I’ll keep these things in mind. I don’t especially expect to convince anyone of anything (it would be nice, though) as much as I, first of all, want to know what is really going on. For example, as I have learned on blogs such as this, when men in church are talking about their “better half,” and “I would be nothing without my wife,” “I have the check with the boss,” and how dumb they are and how smart their wives are – at least I know what’s going on, because I’m aware of it now (I wasn’t before), and as a first stopgap measure, I myself no longer say things like this.

    Second, I want a good line of argumentation and defense, and I want to sharpen it. For example, a year or so ago in church, one of the pastors, who is black, was talking about “white privilege” (we’re a mixed congregation) and passing the microphone around for comments from the congregation. I had no idea of how to deal with this, other than later, I thought I might have asked him, “So, [name of pastor] are you abdicating your male privilege, and how is that playing out in your marriage?”

    But I studied about white privilege later and found out that it is a doctrine, sort of a knock-off on original sin, in that white people are born with it and can never truly be rid of it in this life, but that other races are not born with it. If I knew this at the time, I would have approached it differently and started with that this is not the gospel message, that it is a worldly doctrine and we are not to love the things in the world, etc. (In other words, a scriptural approach.)

    As it is, all the comments in the audience from white people were about how careful they were not to be this way, and one of the Jewish guys in the congregation jumped up and proclaimed that he was a victim too. In other words, everyone was trying to get out from under it. If it were a real gospel message, people instead would have been cut to the heart in a real way. However, this particular pastor, a.k.a. social justice warrior, has now moved on to another church, and perhaps we can all get along, rather than have things like envy, distrust and accusations stirred up among us.

    The lengthy description above serves to point out that I need to have reasoned defenses against certain worldly doctrines presented as gospel truths, rather than just sitting there not knowing what to say. And in my church, I hear a lot of the usual about men and women and their supposed roles and I’m not buying it.

  14. James:

    I would immediately leave a church where anyone started talking about “white privilege”. That is a church too invested in “social justice” and not the gospel or the administration of the sacraments. There is nothing to be gained and nothing in scripture about pitting the races, sexes, or other groups against one another. It is not scriptural. It is not consistent with how the life of a church is to be conducted.

  15. @ thedeti:

    Agreed. However, the person in question is gone, and I haven’t heard it since. I had stepped away from that church for other reasons – the morning Bible study was going to be a months-long Rick Warren study on prayer and so I opted out. I decided to go back recently, SJW pastor is gone, group studies are directly from the Bible, no workbooks, no name brand celebrity pastor series, so a valuable discussion is the result, when you let people in church read and discuss the Bible for themselves (as it was discovered when the Bible was translated into the languages of people who could not otherwise read Latin, in another era in church history). We’ll see how long this lasts. It’s good for now and I’ll keep going.

  16. The funny thing is that, to me, none of this sounds especially grievous. Everybody has to answer to somebody, everyone is under someone’s authority. If you’re under the authority of someone who actually cares about what happens to you, that is the best possible result.

    Does any woman think her husband is living in Mad Men? Work isn’t day drinking and swanning in with an inspired idea that saves the day. It’s obeying men you may or may not trust, it’s grinding out a bad idea that you know is a bad idea and shutting up about it because you know you have to let it play out. Shoot, even grinding out the good ideas is rough.

    Everyone submits to somebody.

  17. @ greenmantlehoyos

    Does any woman think her husband is living in Mad Men?

    The don’t think. Period.

    Wifely rebellion rarely has anything to do with anything rational. A man could lead his wife perfectly, and love her perfectly, and she’d still rebel. Why? Read Genesis 3.

  18. …and several other strange terms which normal men should mock.

    And how! Let’s throw “federal headship” in there, as well. These expressions aren’t even used in the Bible, and their use of them is only intended to make them appear as being a part of some sort of intelligentsia.

  19. Am I really going to have to send the little lady out to rob a bank again? Because everybody already knows that this is obviously all about. Bank robbing housewives submitting by playing Bonnie to their husband’s Clyde.

  20. @greenmantlehoyos

    Does any woman think her husband is living in Mad Men?

    Exactly.

    But, it’s beside the point. A lot of women go to work every day, and do you know what? They do what their bosses tell them without so much as a pout. Women don’t chaff at authority. Women chafe at husbands and fathers.

    @okrahead

    Am I really going to have to send the little lady out to rob a bank again?

    If you don’t, I’m not sure I can know you believe in Biblical Headship. Maybe you just have a case where your gyneolatrous matriarch suffers from hypoagenic loci of controls.

  21. As it is, all the comments in the audience from white people were about how careful they were not to be this way,

    Conservatives make so much ado about guns for self-defence, but against the much greater and constant threats of worldly philosophy and culture, they are helpless sheep, unable to defend themselves or their families.

  22. “Conservatives make so much ado about guns for self-defence, but against the much greater and constant threats of worldly philosophy and culture, they are helpless sheep, unable to defend themselves or their families.”

    Great point. I go to a fairly conservative church, based on the characterizations of evangelicalism I see elsewhere, where people generally fear and reverence the word of God. They still find it easy to mock the trans people, thankfully. But they fail to see the larger picture, how the world is tearing down every distinction from God in the name of oppression and equality. They can tell tell to varying degrees that SJW are in the wrong, but their implicit acceptance of egalitarianism renders them helpless. They will generally acknowledge that women must submit to their husbands and men must be pastors, but because they fundamentally accept the lie of equality, their defenses are empty and the game is already lost. And they strike out in the wrong direction, attacking the evil racists, the terrible wife beaters or abusive fathers, afraid of the slanders of the world, instead of seeing that it is this rebellion against legitimate authority and God ordained distinctions that is under attack by the world. (Psalm 2)

    The fruit is born in their children, and they can build nothing of value.

  23. @ greenmantlehoyos

    The Centurion said the same thing, “When Jesus heard this, He was amazed at the centurion. Turning to the crowd following Him, He said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such great faith!” ” Luke 7:9

    If such an understanding of authority was so rare as to be a marvel then, it is even more rare now.

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