Friday, October 17, 2014

Is Lori Too Black and White? {By Ken}

Many of the readers of Lori’s blog will come to the conclusion that she is pretty “Black and White” with what she teaches from the Bible. The Bible is very much a black and white book, except of course for some words in the middle in red letters. Truth remains truth whether or not I, or even the majority lives up to it. God's Kingdom is not a democracy with God being so understanding that His mind on a matter changes depending on each individual’s particular circumstances or needs. No, the truths about wifely submission and that Christian wives are to be keepers at home is quite clear, but are they absolutes?

It is always an interesting argument in a friendly Christian discussion concerning God’s laws, and truths to see some “black and whiter’s” hold so tightly by the truth “thou shalt not lie,” that they are theoretically willing to never lie to protect their family. For them, God’s truth is so absolute that if evil soldiers break down the door and ask them where are the women in the home, that to be silent is OK, but to lie and say my wife and daughter are not here, that is a sin. Perhaps a sin worth perpetuating, but nevertheless a sin? I don’t think so, and neither do I see in exceptional situations a wife’s unsubmissiveness, or working outside the home, as being sinful.  But when the exceptions become the the rule, too many are being "disobedient to the Word."

No, Lori does not spend a lot of time on the exceptions, precisely because the Good Book she is teaching from has few exceptions in it. God intended in a few words to give us His universal mind on all we need for life and godliness. This includes marriage and family life. Those who do not see the universal truth of wifely submission and keepers at home in their Bibles are generally unwilling to do so. They want to relativize something that God has clearly and definitively said in His Word, and it becomes inescapable when such things are repeated multiple times, by multiple apostles.

“Wives submit to your husbands in EVERYTHING!”  
This cannot always be true, can it? Yes, the principle is always true, but its application must be judged in relationship to God's other truths and admonitions. Some truths are foundation and the bedrock of our faith such as when Jesus says, “No man can come the Father except though me.” And again, the apostle Paul says, “For by grace you are saved, through faith, … it is a gift of God, lest any man should boast.” These theological truths cannot be relativized because there is no higher truth that may trump them. 

But the Bible also gives truth by way of God's admonitions which tell us His universal mind on matters of life and godliness. These admonitions may be set aside for a time for a higher truth, a greater love, or as some may say "a greater good."

That is correct. If you are playing the game of Spades, or Rook, you understand the concept that when a player before you plays a card, you too must play a similarly suited card if you have one in your hand. But if you do not have a spade, you may, by rule, trump the spade with a heart and win the hand, assuming that no one has a higher trump in the hand then yours. 

This same principle works when applying God’s admonitions in the life of mature Christians. We should not be those who are children “tossed too and fro by every wind of doctrine,” nor be immature in our understanding of God's Word. Instead  we must be solidly planted on the bedrock of truths that God has given us. We then build upon those bedrocks a life of God's admonitions as we try to "best please"the One we call our Lord. Lordship trumps all once we enter the family of God. We are to look clearly into God’s Word and give special preference to any truth or admonition that God repeats more than once, and especially if it is 6-8 times, and realize that God must really want me to do this. Unless there is some higher or greater truth that clearly should be followed to please the Lord.

Rare exceptions exist when it comes to wifely submission, and Lori states the two biggest ones regularly: 1)If a husband is in any way physically abusive or seemingly a threat to a wife’s safety, or safety of the children; or 2) If a wife is asked to sin, or participate in, aid or abet sin. If we cannot see these two truths as modifiers on the truth, “wives submit to your husbands,” we end up violating a higher, more important truth for a lesser truth. But when “everyone begins to do what they think is right in their own eyes,” clearly the wheels have come off the chariot of truth and one’s feelings and circumstances becomes the trump cards, not God’s higher truths and ideals.

God wants all of our being: our mind, heart, body, soul, attitudes and behavior. He came and made you and me brand new fully expecting that we would walk in newness of life, not settling for a “get out of hell free card.” If we do not as yet know that Jesus demands Lordship, and lordship demands everything from us then we have not read the red words in the Bible, let alone the rest of it. Christianity and Lordship are inextricably linked. When it comes to fully understanding the mind of the Lord on any particular matter, the Lordship of Christ trumps all.

So now let’s back up and tackle the issue again of absolute truth when it comes to wifely submission. I will suggest, at the risk of being misunderstood, that there are indeed times that a wife  should not be in submission to her husband if her love for him finds a greater truth that precludes her obedience. And especially if she finds herself with a man who is masquerading as her husband because drugs, alcohol or mental illness has taken the real man she married away from her. She is still to seek his best interests and not her own, yet how she does this may mean saying "no."

 Is a submissive wife to be constantly and consistently silent and watch such a husband fall further into sin and despair, or is she to be his help meet in these matters and come along side of him to help him in his time of need? I believe that we would have a pretty unreasonable faith if a wife is to sit by and do nothing when she sees ways she can lovingly help her husband. True love trumps submission, but a wife must be sure the motive is indeed true love.

If your husband is high on prescription pain killers, yet he is getting into his car to drive to work and operate on a patient, do you hide the keys? And after you have hidden the keys and he tells you with slurred words that “I am OK, now give me my keys,” does a wife submissively give them to him?

Paul says, “submit to your husband in EVERYTHING!” so of course you give him the keys and God will either protect him or you will joyfully visit him in prison after your house is foreclosed upon. NO WAY! Of course you don’t give him the keys, although you may drive him to work if he insists, and go with him to talk to a fellow doctor and friend who can help in this situation. One might call this “the principle of the greater good,” and yet I don’t believe God wants wives everywhere to begin to pick and choose when is, or is not “the greater good,” EXCEPT in exceptional situations. 

One of the main reasons why most Christian marriages do not function effectively is precisely because the wife often strongly believes that she knows best, so the Christian husband is stuck either battling his wife’s will or sensibilities, while she believes she only wants the “the greater good.”  God expects us to first know His mind and will from His Word on these important subjects of life and godliness. Then we must check in with Him regularly to walk in His Spirit and in His ways.   Only in rare and extreme circumstances should a godly wife be trumping her husband’s judgment and desires with her own way of doing things. 

“So what if I don’t submit? What if it is a simple issue of my husband saying he doesn’t want me spending $25 a week on Starbucks and I sneak the money out of the budget and drink one latte a day anyway? How could God fault me for that, when we have plenty of money, and what’s the harm in what he doesn’t know? OK, I will admit that maybe the real issue he has is that I have been spending $200 in ATM cash on my own 'needs' each week and he got a bit upset with me when he found out. But we have plenty, you know.”

Most of you will readily see that there is no greater truth that will trump being obedient to your husband’s desires when it comes to a latte, or spending too much on yourself. The more difficult issues to answer are, “Where do we go to church? Do we send the kids to private Christian school? Do I take Julie to the doctor for her fever? Do I let the baby cry through the night? What if my husband wants sex five times a week, or more!?!”

I suggest that there is very little, if anything in the Bible, that will trump by way of a greater truth any of these types of decisions more so than “be in submission in everything.” I will also suggest that when a wife is not submissive in buying a coffee latte or spending some extra cash, if the family truly has the means, that her unsubmissiveness is not pleasing to God, but He is not keeping track to hold it against her some day. What He will hold against a wife someday is if her heart’s desire and general behavior is not set on His clear truth of  joyful wifely submission to create a godly marriage. Wifely submission should not be seen as an endless list of do's and don'ts set up by God and husband, but instead a willing heart to follow, even if at times one is not perfect in obedience.

No godly husband is keeping track of how many times his wife was unsubmissive in the little things, unless he for a short time is trying to prove the point.  I want my wife to live in an attitude of submission, but if she feels strongly about something, and goes against my desires, I usually stay silent, not wanting to be petty. Or I may nicely call her on it, then drop the subject. I am certain that if that is the way a godly husband responds to an unsubmissive wife in the little things, I cannot see God caring about your secret latte. But, God certainly cares very much for your overall heart attitude towards allowing your husband to be your leader. 

God desires that you please your husband without being robotic, or a Stepford wife. He wants a wife to live in the same relationship with her husband as she is to be with her Lord and Savior. That is submissive and trying to please Him in everything. If a higher truth is clearly in play, confirm the higher truth with fellow believers, an older godly women, elder or pastor. Don’t start going Rambo on your husband because you know better, or “God told me so.” No, God told you what he wants from a godly wife and it is her role to live this out while still living a reasonable faith. Christianity is the most reasonable of all faiths, and it makes perfect sense in all areas of life and godliness. Submission is not subservience, nor a lesser class of person. God forbid we see the submission of Jesus to the Father as somehow making him unequal, or not as much value in His very nature as God. 

Let's not make submission to a husband something that is unreasonable and yet, remember, that for the Christian, our happiness or perceived needs are not trump cards. What God wants is our spiritual growth as an image bearer of Christ, and the advancement of the Kingdom. These  things are what is most important to God for our lives and why He gave us  the truth of His many admonitions. 

For husbands, there are no trump cards that will please the Lord more so than "Husbands love you wife as Christ loves the church." No ifs, ands or buts about it for those who choose to follow the LORD Jesus with their lives. Love always seeks the best interest of another, over our own self interests, in good times and in bad. Unsubmissive, difficult, sick, or no matter what, we married her, and God is entrusting us to love her and help grow her up into Christ Jesus, without using the submission card for our own self-interests.

So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 
Matthew 7:20-21