Huckabee on SBC Complementarianism

In last night’s GOP debate (transcript), Mike Huckabee was asked about his support of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) statement of faith, which explicitly affirms complementarian principles. The following is a video of the exchange, but I have also included a transcript of the same at the bottom of this post.

Huckabee will be facing these kinds of questions for as long as he stays in the race—especially if he becomes the party’s nominee. I suspect that the Democrat opposition will be able to use his 1998 endorsement against him to great effect.

In his response, I think Huckabee was clear about two things. First, he’s clear that as President he will not try to coerce citizens to adopt his denomination’s views on the family. This answer has been his consistent response to “religious” questions. Second, I think the video makes clear that he’s not backing away from the BF&M 2000. He says, “I’m not the least bit ashamed of my faith or the doctrines of it. . . I certainly am going to practice it unashamedly, whether I’m a president or whether I’m not a president.”

I’m not sure why Huckabee called this question a “doctrinal quirk.” Biblically speaking, male headship in marriage is not a “doctrinal quirk,” but is a clear emphasis beginning in Genesis and continuing on through the New Testament. The apostle Paul says that a husband’s headship is meant to point to Christ’s own headship over his church (Ephesians 5). Thus one’s view of marriage relates directly to gospel realities. This is not a small point of the Christian faith, though it will likely be lost on those watching the debate last night.

——————————————————

[Transcript of the Exchange]

CAMERON: Governor Huckabee, to change the subject a little bit and focus a moment on electability. Back in 1998, you were one of about 100 people who affirmed, in a full-page ad in the “New York Times,” the Southern Baptist Convention’s declaration that, quote, “A wife us to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.” Women voters in both parties harshly criticized that. Is that position politically viable in the general election of 2008, sir?

HUCKABEE: You know, it’s interesting, everybody says religion is off limits, except we always can ask me the religious questions. So let me try to do my best to answer it.

(APPLAUSE) And since — if we’re really going to have a religious service, I’d really feel more comfortable if I could pass the plates, because our campaign could use the money tonight, Carl.

(LAUGHTER AND APPLAUSE)

We’ll just go all the way.

First of all, if anybody knows my wife, I don’t think they for one minute think that she’s going to just sit by and let me do whatever I want to. That would be an absolute total misunderstanding of Janet Huckabee. The whole context of that passage — and, by the way, it really was spoken to believers, to Christian believers. I’m not the least bit ashamed of my faith or the doctrines of it. I don’t try to impose that as a governor and I wouldn’t impose it as a president. But I certainly am going to practice it unashamedly, whether I’m a president or whether I’m not a president. But the point…

(APPLAUSE)

… the point, and it comes from a passage of scripture in the New Testament Book of Ephesians is that as wives submit themselves to the husbands, the husbands also submit themselves, and it’s not a matter of one being somehow superior over the other. It’s both mutually showing their affection and submission as unto the Lord.

So with all due respect, it has nothing to do with presidency. I just wanted to clear up that little doctrinal quirk there so that there’s nobody who misunderstands that it’s really about doing what a marriage ought to do and that’s marriage is not a 50/50 deal, where each partner gives 50 percent. Biblically, marriage is 100/100 deal. Each partner gives 100 percent of their devotion to the other and that’s why marriage is an important institution, because it teaches us how to love.

(APPLAUSE)

——————————

(HT: Henry Institute)

See also:
“Huckabee affirms BF&M marriage stance” – by Michael Foust (Baptist Press)

32 Responses to Huckabee on SBC Complementarianism

  1. Bryan L January 11, 2008 at 1:35 pm #

    Does it seem like he tried to lessen the force of complementarianism? He tried to make it sound more like Egalitarianism in my opinion. You know for as much as I hear about Huckabee being straight up about his beliefs it seems that he often tries to make them sound more palatable to a wider audience (I’m thinking back specifically about his comments about other ways to salvation).

    What do you think?

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

  2. jeremy z January 11, 2008 at 1:52 pm #

    I find it interesting that the American public sees this complementarisanism as a negative aspect. The public sees this complementarisanism as a quirky doctrine.

    So I find it very interesting that Huckabee takes more of an egalitarian position.

  3. Benjamin A January 11, 2008 at 1:53 pm #

    Bryan L

    I’m unaware of Huck’s comments regarding other ways of salvation. Could you be more specific and site a source. I would like to read what he actually said.

    Also, Egal-ism and Complement-ism, in my way of thinking, probably look almost identical as a way of practical daily living. So, I’m not certain Huck was attempting to do what you think he may have been doing. Yet, I’m not certain of that either. I did like his 100% comment though.

  4. Chris January 11, 2008 at 1:55 pm #

    Something I have been wondering about… Is it possible to successfully run for political office in this country and vocally and adamantly proclaim the narrow path of Christianity?

    I don’t think so as serving the world and serving God are often in direct conflict with each other.

    Interested in other thoughts…

  5. Luke Britt January 11, 2008 at 2:03 pm #

    You guys may be a little harsh on the Huck. He’s obviously not a hardnosed Complementarian like you guys, but he didn’t sound so egalitarian, either. His 50/50 comment flies in the face of contemporary thought and practice concerning marriage.

    Also, consider his audience. He will not use the same theological terms or technical language (it would be terrible if he had broken out kaphale in a presidential debate)in the presence of a political audience and probably isn’t using the term “quirk” quite in the sense that many Complementarians think he is using it. He may be referring to his adherence to Complementarianism as a facet of his personal lifestyle instead of an unimportant doctrine of the Church.

  6. Jesica January 11, 2008 at 2:22 pm #

    Benjamin,

    I’m pretty sure that the comment Huckabee made about different paths can be found here on Denny’s blog, in the archives. If I remember correctly, I saw the video here.

    With regard to submission, and Ephesians….a few years ago, our ladies Precept study worked through “How To Walk the Walk You Talk”, a 40 minute Precept study.

    The word submit is actually a military term, from the Greek, (Denny, go easy on my for my laymans paraphrase from memory, ok?)…and it means to place oneself under ones rightful authority.

    It’s like a private submitting to a general, or a general to the Commander in Chief.

    Wow! That was a huge thing to learn! Context made all the difference.

    In that class, I drew a picture of a stick man, with the head being Christ and the body being the church…as the head led, the body followed.

    Then, I drew it the opposite way…with the church being the head and trying to tell Christ what to do. It was ridiculous.

    In turn, we did the same with the husband/wife roles.

    I then asked the women in the class, “Have you ever seen a marriage where the woman runs the whole thing, and the husband is the follower, the one in submission? Was that woman happy? Was she fulfilled in hear marriage? Is that what we as women long for in a man, just some guy we can tell what to do?”.

    They got it. For as women, we are created to long for a leader, a strong man who will teach us submission as we observe his submission to the Almighty.

    There were lots of tears that night as the Holy Spirit brought conviction, and showed us all our responsibility before God to place ourselves under our God given leaders,our husbands.

    Not forsaking our roles as helpmates…but realizing that as we submit to our husbands, God honors it as submitting to Him.

    In Jesus,
    Jes

  7. Joel Patrick January 11, 2008 at 2:43 pm #

    As I was scrolling down to comment I noticed that Luke more or less said what I had intended to. I think in the context of the passage it’s pretty straight forward that Huckabee was not dismissing this doctrine, but was, in fact, strongly endorsing it: “I’m not the lease bit ashamed of my faith or the doctrines of it… etc.”

    Secondly, I dont think it was a missed opportunity. I think he did his best… even if one thinks that it could have been done better, it doesn’t mean that Huckabee had the ability to do better.

    Chris,

    No, I don’t think so either. “If the world hated you, know that they hated me” (might be good reason to believe that you won’t get voted for).

    Secondly, running for office and proclaiming the narrow path of Christianity are two different things.

  8. Nick January 11, 2008 at 3:00 pm #

    I think a few of you might be reading to much into “doctrinal quirk” – I just took it as him saying that it was something most people didn’t understand. I also saw no evidence that he was no longer committed to “complementarian principles”. When he says,
    “it’s not a matter of one being somehow superior over the other”, I think that’s right. The Husband being the head of the Wife doesn’t mean he is superior to the wife.

    And if the Democrats want to raise this criticism in the general election, then I’d tell them to just go ahead. The audience seemed to be very satisfied with his response and if he keeps answering questions like that as well as he has been, it will only make their ‘criticisms’ seem more lame and make himself seem more reasonable.

  9. Matt Svoboa January 11, 2008 at 3:01 pm #

    It is funny that all the Christian Romney supports say that his faith doesn’t matter, but they are extrememly harsh with Mike Huckabee.. Hypocritical? It most certainly is… People look beyond the ridiculousness of the mormon faith, but they scrutinize Mike Huckabee’s theology as much as they can. This is ridiculous! Any of you who have said, “Romney’s mormonism isn’t an issue”, but yet are ok with questions like this directed at Huckabee are a hypocrite. They ask this question that they know will upset people a lot of people, but why not questions to Romney about Mormonism that they know will make people see the ridiculousness of what he believes!

    Let’s be fair. If they are going to ask Huckabee contoversial questions about religion, Romney should get the same treatment. If people knew what Romney believed he would not even be in the race!

  10. Jonathan Moorhead January 11, 2008 at 3:18 pm #

    That would have been a wonderful opportunity for him to present the Gospel – namely, that husbands are to treat there wives as Christ does the Church, who gave Himself for her.

  11. Benjamin A January 11, 2008 at 4:14 pm #

    Jesica,

    Thanks for the encouraging complementarian view coming from a woman of faith.

    In saying the two camps practically look the same in daily life, I’m not inferring there isn’t distinctions in gender roles as technically defined by scripture.

    My wife and I talk about every decision we make and we make those decisions together. I listen to her ideas (she often has better ideas than I), she has equal input on how our money is spent, her thoughts and feeling about how to do things are highly valued and appreciated.
    I would say that’s how married egal’s do things around their house as well.
    And in that environment of mutual deference I believe a wife knows when she is being bossy and leading and going to far or if she is simply being a wonderful help mate who gladly submits to her husband when a final decision is reached. I also believe a husband knows the difference too.

    Hope that makes sense.

  12. Ben Stevenson January 11, 2008 at 5:55 pm #

    Here is Mike Huckabee’s answer:

  13. Jesica January 11, 2008 at 6:03 pm #

    Hey Benjamin,

    Thanks for your comment…I just wanted to clarify, the only part of my earlier comment that was directed to you was the part about how to find the video link regarding Huckabee’s past interview.

    I’m really sorry if it came across like the whole thing was directed your way…it wasn’t, I just wanted to share what I had learned about submission with everyone else because it was so life changing for me.

    Truth be known, I am not a theologian, and don’t have the slightest idea what the difference between the 2 camps is…nor does it matter to me at this point.

    I just love the Word of God, and eat it up as much as I can. 🙂

    Have a great weekend,
    Jes

  14. Denny Burk January 11, 2008 at 6:15 pm #

    Thanks for the link, Ben. I edited the post to include the video.

  15. Bryan L January 11, 2008 at 6:40 pm #

    Thanks for the video link. I’m not gonna lie, I like how he responds and what he says, but that’s ’cause he sounds more like an Egalitarian in his emphasis on how his beliefs work out in practice.
    Just my opinion.

    Blessings,
    Bryan L

    BTW I don’t get email notifications of new comments anymore Denny. Is it just me or are others having that issue? Do you know what’s up?

  16. Ben Stevenson January 11, 2008 at 7:29 pm #

    Bryan L,
    I didn’t get an email notification of the new comments either.

  17. Suzanne January 12, 2008 at 4:46 am #

    Jessica,

    Submit was used in the scriptures in a mutual sense, as Huckabee explains.

    In Eph. 5:21, the word submit is used, there is no verb at all in Eph. 5:22, the word submit is assumed and added in translation.

    I hope the following will help you understand that although submit had the meaning of “arrange under” as you say, Christian submission is explicitly mutual. It is often better translated as yield – to each other.

    3. Eph. 5:21

    submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.

    1 Clement 38.1:

    “So in our case let the whole body be saved in Christ Jesus, and let each man be subject (ὑποτασσέσθω) to his neighbor, to the degree determined by his spiritual gift,”

    2 Macc 13.23,

    ”[King Antiochus Eupator] got word that Philip, who had been left in charge of the government, had revolted in Antioch; he was dismayed, called in the Jews, yielded (ὑπετάγη) and swore to observe all their rights, settled with them and offered sacrifice, honored the sanctuary and showed generosity to the holy place.”

    However, Grudem writes,

    “But in spite of all these different forms of submission, one thing remains constant in every use of the word: it is never “mutual” in its force; it is always one-directional in its reference to submission to an authority.”

    It is clearly mutual in Clement, and it clearly is not only in reference to an authority in 2 Maccabees. That is, wives should submit to their husbands, but husbands, in yielding to their wives, are also submitting.

    Certainly, some complementarians live in this egalitarian manner of mutual submission, and it encourages me enormously to recognize this.

    And there is no word “helpmate” in the Bible, but only that woman is a “help” “suitable” for man. “Help” is a word that is otherwise used of God. There is no sense in which this word subordinates woman to man. In much the same way Phoebe was a help to Paul. This word is often translated as patron, or succourer, someone who offers assistance to someone else who is in danger. It has nothing to do with being an subordinate assistant.

    You write,

    “For as women, we are created to long for a leader, a strong man who will teach us submission as we observe his submission to the Almighty.”

    The Bible does not say that woman is weak and man is strong. The Bible says that man trusts in his wife because she is strong.

    I hope you don’t mind my adding this.

  18. Alex Chediak January 12, 2008 at 10:59 am #

    Denny:

    Thanks for a good discussion. I read your blog often and have a high degree of respect for you. So please take my comments below as a friendly rejoinder:

    1. This question was inappropriate for a man running for President. Would someone dare ask Gov. Romney what he (as a committed Morman) believes about women in marriage, or which marriages are eternal and which aren’t? I think one can find some aspects of Mormon doctrine that may not be “politically viable”. But we need not. Gov. Romney (like Gov. Huckabee) deserve to be evaluated as political leaders, not theologians. Hence the gentle rebuke from Huckabee: “everybody says religion is off limits, except we always can ask me the religious questions.” Indeed.

    2. I think you are aware that there are some complementarians take “hupotasso” in Eph. 5:21 as bi-directional (e.g., John Piper). The difference, these complementarians would say, is in the MANNER the husband “submits” to the wife. The wife submits by coming under the Christ-like servant leadership of her husband. The husband “submits” by sacrificially loving his wife as Christ loves the church. Now, other complementarians (e.g., Wayne Grudem) find this interpretation implausible. They argue that the “hupotasso” (submit) in Eph. 5:21 is uni-directional (as it always is elsewhere, they would argue). Hence, wives –> husbands, children –> parents, slaves –> earthly masters (in Eph. 5:21 – 6:4). Who is right? I tend to lean toward Grudem’s view, but the point is that I find nothing in Gov. Huckabee’s remarks that are necessarily outside the realm of complementarian conviction.

    And please note that the first part of Huckabee’s answer clearly affirmed that he stood by his 1998 statement–both in regards to his belief and his practice: “I’m not the least bit ashamed of my faith or the doctrines of it. I don’t try to impose that as a governor and I wouldn’t impose it as a president. But I certainly am going to practice it unashamedly, whether I’m a president or whether I’m not a president.” (emphasis mine)

    In my view, Huckabee gave an excellent answer. To have delved any deeper into the issue would have been politically unwise to say the least. And I do think he used the word “quirk” as a synonym for “nuance” –and not in a belittling way.

    Denny, I find it interesting that you seem unsatisfied with Huckabee’s answer, yet in at least one other post you have openly questioned Huckabee’s viability as a candidate in the general election. Do you see the irony here? Huckabee being politically viable necessarily requires that he provide deft, 30-90 second answers to political hot-potatoes like the one we’re discussing! The man is trying to be a viable candidate (and succeeding marvelously, in my view, as William Kristol recently argued in a NYT op-ed piece).

  19. Denny Burk January 12, 2008 at 11:13 am #

    Alex (et. al.),

    I think the most we can say about Huckabee’s remarks is that he was at best unclear and at worst evasive. While he endorses BF&M 2000 on the one hand, he uses “mutual submission” language on the other (he also talks about husbands “submitting”). If we read him charitably, we might conclude that he reaffirmed his endorsement of BF&M while muddling what BF&M means (wives graciously submitting). If we read him critically, we might conclude that he affirmed BF&M while intentionally distorting what it means (that wives should graciously submit). After this discussion and hearing from different readers, I’m not sure which is the case.

    In any case, I didn’t bring this up because I think his views on this question would disqualify him from office. I do think he is unfairly singled out with the pointed religious questions (I’d love to hear somebody go after Obama about his church’s beliefs, but I’m not holding my breath on that one). But even if he is an egalitarian, that fact by itself would not disqualify him in my view. But if he is a Complementarian, I’m just trying to point out that holding that biblical conviction may make him less viable. And I think a faithful Christian will choose to stand on biblical truth no matter what the consequences are for one’s viability in a political contest.

    Thanks,
    Denny

  20. Benjamin A January 13, 2008 at 12:34 am #

    Suzanne,

    In your comments to Jessica you said,
    “The Bible does not say that woman is weak and man is strong. The Bible says that man trusts in his wife because she is strong.”

    Well, 1 Peter 3:7 does say that women are weaker. “You husbands in the same way, live with [your wives] in an understanding way, as with someone WEAKER, since SHE is a woman; and show her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.”

    And true, Ephesians 5:22 doesn’t have the verb ‘be subject’ and it’s implied from the context. Are you saying something other than ‘be subject’ is being implied? If so, share with us what you think is being implied. And with v.23 expanding on v.22, and Paul saying “the husband is the head of the wife, AS CHRIST ALSO IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH”; am I to assume that you actually believe that Christ is in mutual submission with His church?

    And back to 1 Peter 3:1- Peter clearly says the same thing Paul is saying in Ephesians and this time the verb “be submissive” is in the text. “In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands SO THAT even if any of them are disobedient to the word they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.”

    So when you say, as you did to Jessica, “I hope the following will help you understand that although submit had the meaning of “arrange under” as you say, Christian submission is explicitly mutual. It is often better translated as yield – to each other.”

    In the context of Christian marriage you are absolutely wrong. Though in the context of Christian relations generally, you are right. Ephesians 5:21 tells us to be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. You want to make this verse a Christian marriage verse, which it clearly is not.

    Hope you don’t mind me adding this-

  21. Suzanne January 13, 2008 at 3:54 am #

    Thank you for adding this, Benjamin. 🙂

    1. In the context of Christian marriage you are absolutely wrong. Though in the context of Christian relations generally, you are right.

    I often hear people say that the Christian marriage is to model Christian relations. That seems to me to be an effective way to witness to others what Christian relations are. I take it that you don’t see it this way?

    2. 1 Peter 3:7 Which translation did you quote? NASB! It should say that the wife is the weaker vessel – she has a weaker body, so she must be shown honour. I guess a word dropped by the wayside in that translation. It departs rather surprisingly from the literal.

    3. Eph 5:21 This is a paragraphing issue in most Bibles. Divide the paragraph before verse 21, and it teaches mutual submission; but after verse 21 and it teaches the unilateral submission of some groups of Christians to others.

    This is a problem. However, My quote from Clement clearly shows that it is a legitimate interpretation of the Greek, to have mutual submission.

    So, did Christ submit to the church? He died for the church. He submitted unto death. This is a difficult question, but – is the wife to submit as Christ does to God, by dying on the cross. Or does the husband submit as Christ for the church by dying on the cross. Or is the marriage relationship in some way reciprocal?

    Or – do we limit these metaphors in some way, and say that the husband and wife relationship does not imitate Christ and the church in every way, but only in some ways.

    3. 1 Peter 3:1 This is part of a very sad chapter. I am not saying wrong, but very sad. This is where Christians are to submit to non-Christians as a witness. This is where Christians share in the suffering of Christ.

    I do believe that sometimes a wife must submit to great suffering, but I don’t think that she should feel that this suffering is God’s will for a Christian marriage. I also believe that it is the responsibility of the church to see that no woman suffers damage and abuse in her marriage since she is the weaker vessel. Women have died in abusive situations.

    I do believe that women should submit but that husbands also submit as Huckabee said.

    Back for a minute to idea of the strong woman – that’s a matter of translation.

    Aren’t the “gibbor hayil” and the “eset hayil” a matched pair in Hebrew?

    In English we say, the “mighty man,” and the “virtuous woman,” but in Hebrew it was the “mighty man” and the “mighty woman.” Her strength was also physical, in her arms. So, even though women are not as strong physically as men, the desirable quality of a woman is strength, moral and physical.

    The man of God has explicit instruction to seek a strong woman. Woman was supposed to be a help to man, just as God is a help, just as Phoebe was a help to Paul and able to succour him, or save him from danger.

    Just because husband and wife are complementary, does not mean we should complement strength with weakness, and leader with follower, but rather feminine strength is matched to masculine strength – although ultimately both sexes are to imitate Christ equally.

    Well, you will tear this up I am sure. But as long as women are not hurt and deprived of their voice. It is very dangerous when women are not able to express the situations that they are in, and suppress their natural instinct for survival.

  22. Jesica January 13, 2008 at 4:31 am #

    Suzanne,

    Thank you for your post. Obviously if you and I were to get into a battle of Greek words, you would come out the clear winner. 🙂

    I want to clarify my statement about learning submission from our husbands. What I meant was that as I watch my husband submit to Christ, I want to model him.

    When I see him getting up at 4:30 in the morning so that he can spend time in the Word before he leaves for his hour long commute, I want to be like him.

    When I witness his tears as he has become so aware of his poverty of spirit, I want to always be that broken, to be that contrite of heart.

    When he is recognized at work for being an awesome leader, yet gives all the praise to the team and takes none for himself, I hope and pray to one day be that humble.

    It’s a beautiful thing to observe as my husband grows in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord, and then lives that out in our home, and in our marriage.

    And it makes me want to follow his lead.

    I, of all people, understand your heart about women not being abused. I was married to someone else before I gave my life to Christ,
    and he was cruel. Very cruel.

    I remember he and I once being in a counseling session with a pastor, and the pastor telling me (IN FRONT OF HIM!) “Even if he is beating you on a daily basis, you do not have the Biblical freedom to leave.” And then the pastor quoted from 1 Peter.

    I suppose that’s why learning the Greek definition meant so much to me. I realized for the first time ever that it didn’t mean that I had to be a doormat and allow a man to “beat me into submission”, but that in honor to the Lord, I would respect the way that He designed the marriage roles.

    I hope my heart comes across in this post, as I find that often the heart is not clear when we post in forums or via e-mail.

    I’m not a theologian, as many of you are…so I realize that in that respect I’m way out of my league.

    I am simply the woman from Luke 7, thankful to have met the Messiah, forever changed by Him, and hungry for His Word.

    In Him,
    Jes

  23. Steve Hayes January 13, 2008 at 10:52 am #

    Jes,

    I appreciate your obvious love and respect for your husband. Let me offer a quick counterpoint for the sake of this discussion.

    You claim that your husband’s love and devotion to Christ is something that makes you want to model that same love and devotion to Christ. Yes, this is true. But it is not simply true of a husband leading his wife. I’m sure if we asked your husband he would tell us that your devotion to the Lord is inspiring to him and makes him want to serve God more faithfully. Does that now mean that he is submitting to you?

    My wife is a dear beleiver, and in many ways she walks with Christ in ways that are much more dedicated and devoted than I. When I see how responsible she is and how she is committed to fairness and justice, I am inspired and am pointed to Christ. Does that make her the head of our home?

    I guess what I’m saying here is that I’m glad you’re inspired by your husband, but that has absolutely no bearing on what this principle means within the context of Scripture. You may not have found women in your Bible study who are happy when they lead their husbands, but I would bet that these same women would feel horribly oppressed by the kind of patriarchal leadership that was alive and well in biblical times. The cultures are so different, it’s difficult to apply the principles to everyday life.

    If we literally practiced the kind of submission that you are advocating, women in this culture would freak out (including you!). You advocate a military use of the term. Can you imagine if your husband took that to heart and began practicing it? How would you respond if your husband began to demand military submission from you? If you failed to follow his order, are you advocating that he would have the right to make you drop and give him 20 push-ups? How is that understanding helpful in this passage?

    This is the problem with which we’re presented: If we take this passage literally, we have platoon leaders as husbands. Sure, they’re willing to die for their platoon, but in the meantime, they expect total conformity to their will. After all, that is the military model of submission.

    If we take the passage as some sort of mutual submission, we water down the cultural context and make the word “submission” mean something that it clearly doesn’t.

    I’m not sure how to reconcile this, but I don’t really like any of the options. I actually think Huckabee did a good job of answering this question, and his answer sounds correct to me. Is it a good interpretation of Ephesians 5:21? Not sure.

  24. Suzanne January 13, 2008 at 2:09 pm #

    Thanks Steve, for pointing out the difficult issue. In your personal story, Jes, you did not describe a military situation. A private does not admire how his leader gets up early in the morning and goes out to lead other people. The private is under military command.

    I do know Christian husbands who have taken this word submission in its military context, and tried to build a marriage on the command – obey model.

    It seemed to me that is what you were teaching those other women. It is important to realize that abusive behaviour is a human behaviour which afflicts both non-Christians and Christians. It is especially difficult for a Christian woman married to a Christian man, to seek and receive appropriate counseling.

    Jes,

    Learning Greek is neither here nor there to God. But if a person dips into a lexicion and pulls out a meaning, like the military meaning of hupotasso, without being aware that hupotasso is also used when a leader yields to the demands of the people, then it becomes very dangerous.

    In one sense, the husband has more strength, physical and often economic. Naturally, a woman also wants a strong moral leader as a husband. But this does not preclude the wife also being a strong moral leader.

    Moral leadership was thought to be the domain of women in the early evangelical movement, as women were the conscience of society, drawing others to pity slaves and the poor.

    If you read about the women of the 19th century, you will understand how they extended their role as mother into civic life as moral guardians, championing the cause of abolition of slavery, fighting prostitution and poverty.

    These women became preachers and leaders – strong leaders. It is hard to say what has become of that movement today. Women preachers have been alienated from some parts of the evangelical church. Early Baptist women preachers, who might have provided the leadership for younger women, are not well known and recognized today.

    I don’t know if you can offer any thoughts, Jes, on what happened to the strong Baptist women of the 19th and early 20th century. It puzzles me somehow.

  25. Jesica January 15, 2008 at 4:25 am #

    Hi Suzanne,

    I really don’t know anything about the Baptist women of the 19th and 20th century. I wouldn’t classify myself as a Baptist, although I do agree with the vast majority of their doctrine. I’m certainly not an anti-Baptist.

    From my understanding of the Word of God, I would agree (with the Baptist position) that women are not to hold positions as overseers of a church. That seems very clear to me.

    However, I agree with you that there have been many faithful female saints that have gone before us, and that they were strong and driven women.

    I am thankful for their witness, and they give me encouragement to press on and fight the good fight.

    I still see submission as a willful act on the part of the one submitting, and I believe this is often true even in the military setting.

    My mom always taught me that we were to submit to our husbands until they made a mistake, and then at that point that we were to bypass their leadership. In essence, we were to assume their roles, if they were doing a crummy job in them.

    She twisted the precept laid down in Scripture by saying that in the case of the man doing something sinful (and I’m not talking about abuse here), that we had to know that he had forsaken his position of authority, thus we were free to balk it and make our decisions apart from him.

    I don’t see that in my study of God’s Word. I see just the opposite. And, played out in a practical sense, I’ve seen time and again that when a woman will continue to place herself under her husband’s God given authority, (even if he’s about to sink the ship, so to say) that God can go straight to work in the husband’s heart…not having to first deal with getting the wife out of the way.

    I realize that this flies in the face of contemporary feminism. And for many, will fly in the face of logic.

    Regardless, it’s how I understand the Word of God, and God’s heart for marriage.

    I’m not inferring that a woman doesn’t have a voice in her own home. I’m simply saying that my understanding of the Word is that there is to be a leader in the home, and that God ordained that leader to be the husband.

    I know many women who faithfully submitted to their unsaved husbands (after first lovingly stating their personal opinions) even when his decisions were ridiculous. In so many of those cases, the husband was won over to the Lord as he watched how his saved wife treated him and honored him, thus honoring the LORD.

    Again, I’d never advocate a woman staying in an abusive situation…that’s not the context of my comments.

    It seems quite likely that you and I may be on opposite sides of the fence on this issue, but I do hope that we will be able to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 🙂

    Thank you for challenging me…it’s always good to know why you believe what you believe and to be able to articulate it to others.

    Have a wonderful day!
    Jesica

  26. Aaron January 15, 2008 at 12:46 pm #

    Wow, it really seems to me that Huckabee took a great stand on his convictions (as a Christian and a complementarian)! I find this admirable and I completely agree with the comments by Luke, Joel, and Alex. I am a good bit disappointed by the lack of charity and consistency shown Huckabee by certain Christians. I think some here may be greatly misunderstanding his comments (at best), and mis-characterizing him (at worst).

  27. Suzanne January 17, 2008 at 1:34 am #

    Jesica,

    Million of abused Christian women testify to the fact that Christian men also abuse, deprive their wives of freedom, of flourishing, of basic civil rights like voting for whom they want, having equal say in making decisions for the children, deprive their wives of voice, of friends, of time with family, of further education and work.

    Sadly woman who are trained to submit often do not leave when they should. I am strongly with your mother on this one.

    Basically I do not feel that men in ministry put enough emphasis on this and women need to participate more in bringing this to the attention of the church. There are basic problems with a male lead church. This is one.

    Another is the amnesia regarding women preachers who helped evangelize America.

  28. Suzanne January 17, 2008 at 1:34 am #

    Some Christian men.

  29. Suzanne January 18, 2008 at 8:04 pm #

    Ben,

    Male entitlement is a component of abuse.

    There are two major consistent contributors to abuse, alcohol and male entitlement. One of the major causes for women staying in abusive situations is that they have been isolated systematically from friends and family by the husband and trapped by a promise of silence that they will not discuss marital problems with others. They are outright instructed by the husband not to get counseling.

    Its true that once the abuse crosses the line and becomes physical the wife may be supported in leaving. But she has to get help first.

    There is absolutely no support provided for wives who are prevented by a vow of obedience from working, engaging in any program or activity outside the home, like going for coffee or to the gym or to a movie with a girlfriend or whatever. Basic civil freedoms like voting for the candidate of her choice. There is absolutely no protection for the wife from mental cruelty.

    But is is worse than that, Ben. On the CBMW blog, Grudem wrote that when kephale is used it means “ruler of”, and here is an example,

    the king of Egypt is called “head” of the nation

    But this is what he is quoting, presumably,

    and, in a word, the whole family of the Ptolemies was exceedingly eminent and conspicuous above all other royal families, and among the Ptolemies, Philadelphus was the most illustrious; for all the rest put together scarcely did as many glorious and praiseworthy actions as this one king did by himself, being, as it were, the leader of the herd, and in a manner the head of all the kings. Philo Moses 2:30

    In fact, Philadelphus is described as being the most illustrious, the leader of the herd, and not the ruler of the nation, at least, that is not what “head” means. “Head” clearly means that he is preeminent above other kings, who lived either before or after him. He was quite simply better known, or more famous, not “ruler of the nation.”

    Examine this, Ben, this is Grudem’s best example proving that the word “head” means authority but authority is not intended at all. So my beef with this position is that it promotes the misleading use of citations from Greek. It is dishonouring to God because it is not turthful.

    I feel abused when I read this kind of thing by Grudem, because, guess what, I studied classical and Hellenistic Greek for 6 years before I took my first course in NT exegesis. Grudem started exegeting before he studied Greek, and his theories are honoured and esteemed – for what reason, I don’t know. You tell me Ben, why do people believe Grudem. Look at that quote.

  30. Suzanne January 18, 2008 at 8:06 pm #

    PS Ben,

    You can find my email in my profile if you want more examples. They would fill a book. I don’t know if it is worth publishing. It is very demoralizing. I still send any items that are false to CBMW, since Grudem doesn’t answer my email. CBMW does answer once in a while, with protestations of willingness to check these things out. They never do. They don’t have any defense.

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