Dealing with Bible Passages on Submission

This week I am participating in Rachel Held Evans'  "Submit to One Another: Christ and the Household Codes" synchro-blog. Although I kinda wonder if it should be "Paul and Peter and the Household Codes" because Jesus speaks of marriage making two people one flesh, not one subordinate to the other. (And also against divorce, which frankly I have a harder time with unless it's to compassionately rescue abandoned wives from their shame and sheer poverty as a result of divorce.)


Ephesians 5:21-6:9 so got my goat as a young adult (between 16 and 21) that I refused to read it if I was scheduled to read that Sunday. Nothing so dramatic as declaring this for all to hear, I would refuse and call in sick. (I know, very passive aggressive of me and to be completely honest, I'd make my mother call in for me.)

This young feminist (me) who hadn't yet found her voice was disgusted at how out-dated this was. The times they have a'changed and why didn't the church acknowledge this? I chose for it not to be a part of my theology.

It meant that when it came time to marry, I chose alternate vows than the ones in the prayer book. "Obeying" my husband just wasn't something I was interested in. Especially when he wasn't vowing the same back.

Marriage, I learned, had more to do with respect and loving the other than any ancient set of vows. It took me a while to learn the truth of that. It wasn't something I'd been taught

It wasn't until I took the four year course Education for Ministry (for lay people) that I had to "deal" with it. Various parts of the intense bible study had caused struggle and dilemma for myself and other in my EfM group, but this one was tough. I didn't even want to acknowledge these letters (and those that said a woman should be silent in church). However, I made peace with it via Colossians and through an introduction to the Roman household codes (the latter I'll leave to others to talk about).

The Colossians passage is actually kind of nice. There's a simplicity to it without turning one spouse into God and the other into a virgin bride like Ephesians does.

Because it's mutual, equal. Husband to wife, wife to husband. Love each other, respect each other, see Christ in each other. That's what mutual submission is, otherwise somebody ends up a doormat.

By the way, Personally I think it is hilarious to hold Sarah up as an submissive spouse when she so often told Abraham what to do (1 Peter 3:6). The two of them make a team more often than not with one or the other taking the lead. I do wish the discussion they had about Sarah being his sister (twice) had been recorded. Just sayin'.


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