Drinking Deeply

Tuesday, August 22, 2006 at 11:26 AM

A wife's submission to an unjust husband (3)

A few more clarifications in light of the last comment by wyu on my last post, and if you're new to this series of posts, check the first one too.

1) I am not dealing with what those in authority (government, masters, or husbands) ought to do. I am in general agreement that if they are abusing their authority (though physical abuse, unjust laws, or what have you), they are sinning. These posts are not encouraging husbands to go demand that the wife go and do this, go and do that, forcing them to submit. If that happens, they are sinning. I'm also not saying that the wife must check every decision against her husband.

2) I am concerned about how we respond under unjust authorities. What should a wife do if the husband hits her? What should citizens do if the government decides to start jailing and executing Christians? What should a slave do if the master gets physically violent?

3) My call for submission to such authorities does not imply I support what those authorities are doing or that I would encourage what they are doing. As Theocentric pointed out in an earlier comment:
We need to remember that a godly wife staying with an unjust husband does not condone her husband's actions. That might be the psychological implication, but it's not a logical/biblical/theological one. If fact, theologically, a godly wife submitting to her unjust husband may condemn him all the more. It may also save him... (But I would much rather that God condemn him to hell. But that's my unmerciful side talking)
I am in full agreement. One's submission, just like all good things that God gives, will call the regenerate and harden the reprobate.

4) My call for submission is an attempt to answer the question, "how may we glorify God while under an unjust authority?" Yes, it is difficult, but as difficult as it is to carry this cross, it is far lighter than the cross Christ bore.

wyu's comment prompts the question, "when may we disobey?" From the examples cited as well as the fact that it is Christ who is above all authorities and powers and it is by God's will that they exist, I think the simple answer is, "we may disobey when to obey would involve breaking one of God's commands."

This isn't to say that we can't appeal to the authorities if they've given us the means to do so (like Daniel does when commanded to eat the wines and food, and like I might encourage a wife to when physically abused).

But sometimes we don't have that means. Daniel's companions were commanded to pray to an idol. They refused. The midwives were ordered to murder. They lied about it (and I would argue that lying in this case was sinful as well.) The Apostles were ordered to stop speaking the Gospel, they obeyed Christ's commands to preach instead.

Notice as well with Daniel's companions submitted to the punishment, which was to be thrown into the furnace. They submitted, even at (possible) cost of their lives. James and John the Baptist were jailed and executed for their words. Tradition has it that most of the rest of the apostles were executed as well. Physical danger was not in their minds. It was glorifying God that they were concerned about. They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for His name.

Notice as well that the escapes of the Apostles and Daniel's companions are supernaturally effected. They didn't write letters to the people asking them to dig tunnels or to help them escape. They trusted the Lord. Some of them God delievered, some of them He did not. That's His perrogative. This doesn't mean we don't take advantage of the means that exist - appealing to the government, voting, speaking up, preaching the Gospel, prayer, etc. But it does mean that when physical means don't seem to work, we can trust God.
1 Peter 4: 19Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
It may be that in our submission God supernaturally rescues us. He may strike the husband/master dead. He may convert the husband/master and effect a change of heart. He may do all sorts of things. But our call here is to submit, suffer, and rejoice.

The general view expressed in many comments and private opinions expressed has been that submission only extends until there is physical danger. I don't think that view is supportable by Scripture, especially here in 1 Peter.

I'm basically repeating myself now, so I'm tempted to move on. I will continue to respond to comments that are posted, and if something new comes up I will post a new post up.

Once again, Peter's words to slaves -
19For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. 20For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God.
We submit while being "mindful of God." We endure while being "mindful of God." This is a gracious thing in the sight of God. It's not about my rights, it's not about how they're violating me and how I'm being beaten, it's "how do I respond?" And Lord willing, we could all say, "we submit mindful of You, Lord. You will repay. And we trust You that You have placed us under these authorities for Your glory. So we submit to them. It hurts us physically, but You've given us that example to follow. Thank You, we are not worthy in ourselves of sharing in the sufferings of Your Son, but thank You for counting us worthy."

All - I'm sorry that a topic that I intended to be encouraging to people has required me to go back and forth in discussion. My original intent was simply to discuss how a wife may glorify God in an abusive relationship. This can also be applied to citizens and children today. The general call is to submit and trust in the Lord, emulating Christ. In a prior comment, it was pointed out that this issue should be handled with sensitivity and care, and that my original post was lacking in such. I am sorry for that. I will be going through my original post and revising it in the next day or so.

**edit, someone suggested that I put a hold on my personal responses to comments for a period of time. I am going to take his advice. Feel free to continuing commenting. You are also free to email me (via profile)**

Longing to emulate Christ with you all,

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Blogger Dwayne Forehand said...

A few questions . . . What took you on that path of exploring these ideas? Did your father physically discipline your mother? Are you married?  


Blogger mxu said...

I'll answer the first and third, but the second is private and I'd prefer not to share it on the blog. If you would like to know personally, feel free to email me. My email address is found via my profile.

1) Vincent Cheung has been, for some months, been posting his work in progress commentary on 1 Peter. When he got through slaves and masters and Christ's example, someone asked in small group what a wife should do with an abusive husband. As part of the discussion, I brought up 1 Peter and the example of Christ. Someone asked me if I would type up a personal answer.

3) I am not married.  


Blogger Benjamin Oetken said...

As to those who are still following this great controversy MXU and I are going to attempt to dialogue about this so head over to thelightoftheword.blogspot.com to see my first post on the subject.  


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