Food allergies and submission?

Over at his blog, Doug Wilson has recently made some comments about food allergies. While acknowledging that there are some who have truly serious reactions to certain foods, Wilson also takes time to discuss those who are hypochondriacs or self-deluded in some way. His concern is that those who are “play acting” cause real damage to families, friends, etc. (Apparently in addition to being self-ordained and self-proclaimed leader of his own denomination, he is also a self-certified medical doctor.)

What is most interesting to me is that he sees a connection between those “play acting” and a lack of submission on the part of women:

3. The third point concerns frequent abdication on the part of fathers and husbands. Many times, emotional and spiritual issues show up in the lives of women as food issues, and the men involved are often too weak, or cowardly, or defensive about their own causal role, to address it in the way they ought to. Women are prone to be deceived (1 Tim. 2:14), and men are prone to let them be deceived. This is an area where I have seen radical unsubmissiveness on the part of some wives, and radical cowardice on the part of some husbands, conspiring together to destroy families. The food is just a symptom; the real problem is located somewhere else entirely. And wives, don’t read this and go off to demand that your husband tell you if this is true. It might not be, but if it is, you are unlikely to get a straight answer from him. Get on your knees and ask the Spirit if it is true. He’s not afraid of you.

As I’ve written before, one of the problems that I see with the patriarchy movement is that it views all relationships in terms of authority and submission. When your entire worldview is seen through the lens of authority and submission, it’s bound to cause some unfortunate and ill-advised comments on any number of subjects. This is just one more example.

Does Feminine Equal Submissive?

In a recent article, Doug Wilson calls for pastors and elders to be masculine leaders. His concern is that the church leaders are not modeling masculine leadership and courage:

That said, in these egalitarian times, we must insist on a masculine presence in the pulpit because the church is the bride of Christ, and needs to obey her husband in everything (Ephesians 5:24). The Lord required this of us (1 Timothy 2:12), and so that is what we must do. The individual man in the pulpit must be masculine because the bride of Christ must be feminine. The appropriate feminine response of the Church is to be submissive, and you cannot be submissive while disobeying.

While I cannot agree more that pastors and elders should be men of God, courageous and strong, I have to say that Doug Wilson’s apparent preoccupation with gender roles is troubling. Why does feminine equal submissive? As a side note, yes, the church is the bride of Christ, but that also includes the pastors. So wouldn’t that make them as feminine as the rest of the church?

Are women the only ones called to submit in Scripture? No, all mankind is called to submit to God. The church, both men and women, are to submit to Christ as the head of the church. All citizens, male and female, are called to submit to their civil leaders. Workers, men and women, are to submit to their bosses. Children are to submit to their parents.

My sons are not feminine in submitting to their parents. My husband isn’t feminine in obeying the elected leaders of our country. My husband is absolutely masculine, even if he obeys a female boss or elected leader.

By all means, let our pastors and elders be men. May they be strong and courageous in the Lord. But, please, let’s not reduce all of life down to the one aspect of the relationship between a husband and a wife.

The Problem with Patriarchy: 50 Shades of Grey, Authority and Submission

[TRIGGER WARNING]: The content of this post contains language and imagery that may be sensitive or harmful to victims of sexual abuse or rape.

One of the problems that I see with the patriarchy movement is that it views all relationships in terms of authority and submission. When your entire worldview is seen through the lens of authority and submission, it’s bound to cause some unfortunate and ill-advised comments on any number of subjects. Yesterday I came across a particularly bad example of this.

Over at The Gospel Coaltion, blogger Jared Wilson started a firestorm when he wrote about the current fascination with the 50 Shades of Grey novel. In case you aren’t aware (and I wish I could say I’d never heard of it) here is Wiki’s short definition:

Fifty Shades of Grey is a 2011 erotic novel by British author E. L. James. Set largely in Seattle, it is the first instalment in a trilogy that traces the deepening relationship between a college graduate, Anastasia Steele, and a young business magnate, Christian Grey. It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage, discipline, sadism, and masochism (BDSM).

There really aren’t enough words to explain what’s wrong with these books. Suffice it to say they should be avoided.

Jared Wilson’s original post, which has since been deleted, attempted to explain the appeal that 50 Shades has on so many women. He wrote that women are fascinated by books like this because it is a perversion of “good, God-honoring, and body-protecting authority and submission between husbands and wives.” Thanks to the magic of cached documents on Google, you can still see what he wrote. The part that started the uproar was a quote from Douglas Wilson that he used to support his theory:

A final aspect of rape that should be briefly mentioned is perhaps closer to home. Because we have forgotten the biblical concepts of true authority and submission, or more accurately, have rebelled against them, we have created a climate in which caricatures of authority and submission intrude upon our lives with violence.

When we quarrel with the way the world is, we find that the world has ways of getting back at us. In other words, however we try, the sexual act cannot be made into an egalitarian pleasuring party. A man penetrates, conquers, colonizes, plants. A woman receives, surrenders, accepts. This is of course offensive to all egalitarians, and so our culture has rebelled against the concept of authority and submission in marriage. This means that we have sought to suppress the concepts of authority and submission as they relate to the marriage bed.

But we cannot make gravity disappear just because we dislike it, and in the same way we find that our banished authority and submission comes back to us in pathological forms. This is what lies behind sexual “bondage and submission games,” along with very common rape fantasies. Men dream of being rapists, and women find themselves wistfully reading novels in which someone ravishes the “soon to be made willing” heroine. Those who deny they have any need for water at all will soon find themselves lusting after polluted water, but water nonetheless.

True authority and true submission are therefore an erotic necessity. When authority is honored according to the word of God it serves and protects — and gives enormous pleasure. When it is denied, the result is not “no authority,” but an authority which devours.

– Douglas Wilson, Fidelity: What it Means to be a One-Woman Man (Moscow, Idaho: Canon Press, 1999), 86-87. (emphasis mine)

What is truly amazing is that Jared Wilson didn’t seem to understand why so many women were upset with Doug Wilson’s language and word choice. Doug Wilson acknowledges that egalitarian women would be offended by his words, but really, shouldn’t all women (and men too, for that matter) be offended by such violent imagery. Both Jared Wilson and Doug Wilson have attempted to explain how there is nothing wrong with what they wrote, and that the problem is with the comprehension of the readers.

While I appreciate that both Wilsons have stated that they do not approve of violence against women, my concern is that they are the ones who have a comprehension problem. The sum total of the intimate relationship between husband and wife cannot be condensed into authority and submission, especially as defined by Doug Wilson above. The language of the Bible is much more balanced when it comes to descriptions of the right relationship between husband and wife. 1 Corinthians 7 states that a husband has authority over his wife’s body, but also that a wife has authority over her husband’s body. This authority and submission is not a one-way street.

The problem I have with Jared Wilson’s post and Doug Wilson’s quote is that the preoccupation with authority and submission leads to social and familial structures that encourage abusive relationships. Not everyone who agrees with the Wilsons will be abusive, but many will see these words as supportive of abuse. When one views all of the world in terms of authority and submission, there are bound to be comprehension issues. Maybe the whole world didn’t misunderstand. Maybe you’re wrong.

Women, Stop Submitting to Men

Yesterday I read a wonderful article by Dr. Russell Moore on the subject of women and submission. I was apprehensive when I saw the title, “Women, Stop Submitting to Men,” but I decided to see what he meant by that. I’m so glad that I did. By the first paragraph, Dr. Moore had my complete attention:

Those of us who hold to so-called “traditional gender roles” are often assumed to believe that women should submit to men. This isn’t true.

Indeed, a primary problem in our culture and in our churches isn’t that women aren’t submissive enough to men, but instead that they are far too submissive.

What does he mean by women being too submissive?

First of all, it just isn’t so that women are called to submit while men are not. In Scripture, every creature is called to submit, often in different ways and at different times. Children are to submit to their parents, although this is certainly a different sort of submission than that envisioned for marriage. Church members are to submit to faithful pastors (Heb. 13:17). All of us are to submit to the governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). Of course, we are all to submit, as creatures, to our God (Jas. 4:7).

And, yes, wives are called to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22; 1 Pet. 3:1-6). But that’s just the point. In the Bible, it is not that women, generally, are to submit to men, generally. Instead, “wives” are to submit “to your own husbands” (1 Pet. 3:1).

Too often in our culture, women and girls are pressured to submit to men, as a category. This is the reason so many women, even feminist women, are consumed with what men, in general, think of them. This is the reason a woman’s value in our society, too often, is defined in terms of sexual attractiveness and availability. Is it any wonder that so many of our girls and women are destroyed by a predatory patriarchy that demeans the dignity and glory of what it means to be a woman?

Continue reading