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Austin Cline

Submissive Christian Women

By June 7, 2006

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Must good Christian women be submissive to their husbands' leadership? Many evangelical and fundamentalist Christians certainly seem to think so; its' even been enshrined as a principle for the Southern Baptist Convention. Many Christians, however, dispute that this is indeed necessary and make their case from a biblical perspective.

Jane Lampman writes in the Christian Science Monitor:

“We call ourselves Bible egalitarians,” says Mimi Haddad, president of Christians for Biblical Equality, a “reformist movement” of individuals and churches from 85 denominations. ... “Individuals around the globe who are conservative theologically, as we are, are seeing in the pages of the Bible ... a call for gift-based, not gender-based, ministry,” Ms. Haddad says.

Roles in the church should be based on the God-given gifts of individuals, which are without regard to gender, class, or race, they say, pointing to Gal. 3:28: “There is neither Jew or Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” ... “Paul taught mutual submission; he doesn’t mean that women are always submissive,” says John Kohlenberger III, an evangelical author of biblical commentaries and reference books. ... “We see women in the first three centuries called by every title there is in the church - deacon, apostle, elder,” he says. “It wasn’t until the fourth century when the church became more institutionalized that women started to get forced out.”

Conservatives are, naturally, resistant to the above perspective. They won’t even admit that a person might legitimately and reasonably disagree with them on this issue — their minds are made up and dissent is not to be tolerated. Women at all levels are being forced out of their jobs or simply marginalized to the point where their jobs as pastors and teachers are simply not longer fulfilling.

This is even causing such Christians difficulty when it comes to evangelization:

[S]ome Christians working in Eastern Europe have found that promoting female subordination undermines their evangelism. After years of communist egalitarianism, people aren’t very receptive.

Modern society is moving beyond some of the traditions which Christianity has preserved from the past — and that’s good, because we need to move beyond many of the things which some Christians wish to continue preserving. Some, like the subordination of women, are immoral and harmful.

 

Women & Religion:

Comments
June 7, 2006 at 7:24 pm
(1) RLP says:

Unfortunately, this article (and many people on both sides of the arguement) makes the mistake of using the wrong scripture verse to support or refute a position.
The concept of subordiantion comes from Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your husbands…”(NIV). Those quick to quote this verse, however, seem to forget verse 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”
This verse is important for three reasons. First, it reminds us that the subordination is about marriage- not ministry. Second, it reminds men of a tall order. Sacrifice your life for your wife. This, of course, is a living sacrifice in which one does everything possible to love another person. So she is to submit to him, and he is to do anything (within Christian reason) for her. Last, but not least, the above quote used the feminine pronoun “her” to describe the church (congregation, not a building). Throughout scripture Christians are referred to as “brides” to the “bridegroom”. So this leaves all Christians in a “female” role. That’s something every Christian should remember when discussing this issue.

June 7, 2006 at 7:34 pm
(2) atheism says:

The fact that a man is willing to give up his life for his wife does not in any way, shape, or form justify making women be subordinate to men.

Demanding that women submit to their husbands is wrong – it’s unjust and immoral.

June 7, 2006 at 9:04 pm
(3) DeGeorgetown says:

>>So she is to submit to him, and he is to do anything (within Christian reason) for her.

June 7, 2006 at 9:08 pm
(4) DeGeorgetown says:

hmmm… my full comment didn’t show up. I meant to ask: If he’s to do anything for her, what will he do if she asks for his respect?

June 8, 2006 at 2:45 am
(5) lucy says:

…or a divorce

June 8, 2006 at 9:14 am
(6) JAlanBrown says:

Ephesians 5:22 “Wives, submit to your husbands…”(NIV). Those quick to quote this verse, however, seem to forget verse 5:25 “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”

So the husband is as far above the wife as Christ is above the church.

Will someone please tell me why I am supposed to take marital advice from a man who A) was never married, and B) argued that it would be better that no one should marry?

June 12, 2006 at 11:57 am
(7) kurt says:

this article describes two sides of an issue, but both sides are located within Christianity, and both are using selected passages in the Bible to support their position. What does this have to do with atheism?

June 12, 2006 at 12:30 pm
(8) atheism says:

Kurt: not everything on this site is an article about mere atheism. Much of what you find here involves an atheistic perspective on or critique of religious, philosophical, and political issues. This, naturally, is one of the cases of an atheistic critique of a religious issue.

March 6, 2010 at 10:15 pm
(9) Derek says:

“Some, like the subordination of women, are immoral and harmful.”

“Demanding that women submit to their husbands is wrong – it’s unjust and immoral.”

So how, exactly, does an atheist describe what is moral/immoral?

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