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Submission & Obedience to Husbands

Women Must Submit to Husbands in Marriage, Church in All Things


Submission & Obedience to Husbands: Women Must Submit to Husbands in Marriage, Church in All Things

Submission & Obedience to Husbands: Women Must Submit to Husbands in Marriage, Church in All Things

Image © Austin Cline, Licensed to About; Original Poster: Library of Congress

Carefully structured and clearly organized hierarchies of power appear to be very important not only to Christian Nationalists, but conservative and fundamentalist religious believers of all types. This concern extends along the entire spectrum of power relationships, including most especially the power relationships within the smallest, most fundamental social unity of society: the family. According to Christian Nationalists, the role of the woman requires her to be subordinate, obedient, and helpful while the man's role requires him to take charge, lead, and make the tough decisions.

Such ideas about how husbands and wives should relate were at one time uncontroversial, but today the rest of society has changed too much for such attitudes to be accepted uncritically anymore. Modern society has made great strides towards the emancipation of women, something which conservative evangelicals and fundamentalists find abhorrent. There are regular stories about conservative churches attempting to stem the tide by becoming even more reactionary and misogynistic than a strict interpretation of their doctrines requires.

There is no question but that such acts merit criticism, but no criticism can be considered informed and reliable without taking into account what I described at the outset above: efforts to keep women "in their place" are merely part of a larger desire to see all power relationships be made more strict and more clear. Conservative evangelical Christians perceive a strict hierarchy between God and humans which must be replicated in the social and political spheres. Children must obey parents; wives must obey husbands; Christians must obey ministers; citizens must obey leaders.

It is believed that problems in society stem from the chaos of too much freedom, too much license, and weakened expectations about one's social role. Women who voluntarily enter or remain in extremely patriarchal religious communities cite as one of their primary reasons the fact that their social and familial roles are clearly laid out, as are their expectations of husbands, children, and neighbors. Clarity of purpose, place, and direction mean a lot to some people.

The above image was taken of a World War I poster depicting a woman reporting for duty to the nation to assist in the war effort and requesting donations to help the National League for Women's Service.

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