Mutual submission is bunk...
It is the final sign of imbecility in a people that it calls cats dogs and describes the sun as the moon--and is very particular about the preciseness of these pseudonyms. To be wrong, and to be carefully wrong, that is the definition of decadence. The disease called aphasia, in which people begin by saying tea when they mean coffee, commonly ends in their silence. -G. K. Chesterton
(Tim) I've been privy to a private E-mail discussion between a few men concerning the response Governor Huckabee gave during the recent Fox debate to a question about his having signed a Southern Baptist Convention statement affirming the Creation order of father-rule. Originally, it was our intent to start this post with an excellent summary statement David Talcott had written to initiate the private discussion. As things developed, though, it became clear other good responses to David's argument needed to be included here, and that collating the discussion was going to be a big job. So there things sat.
Still, I don't want to let the moment pass without comment. At this point you might want to watch the video of Gov. Huckabee's response, before reading my own comments.
Few things have been used to greater effect by men wanting to skirt the issue of father-rule and the opprobrium they would suffer if they were plainspoken in their affirmation of Biblical sexuality than mincing words about mutual submission. And make no mistake: every pastor, seminary professor, or presidential candidate who speaks in any way analagous to the way Gov. Huckabee spoke knows precisely what he's doing and why he's doing it.
By this late date many thousands of oil drums of ink have been
spilled in argument about the connection between Ephesians 5:21, "Be
subject to one another," and Ephesians 5:22 through 6:9 where the
wives, children, and slaves of Ephesus are singled out and specifically
commanded to submit to their husbands, fathers and mothers, and
Those who hate authority, and specifically the authority of father-rule ordered by our Creator, make much of the "submit to one another" command, trying to use it to trump or confuse or hide or obfuscate the "wives submit to your husbands" command immediately following it. And all their tactics can be illustrated by an exchange something like this:
Foolish Christian: "The Bible tells me to submit to my husband."
Wise Christian: "Yes, but the Bible tells your husband to submit to you, also."
Foolish Christian: "Oh, you mean in 1Corinthians where it talks about me having authority over my husband's body, sexually?"
Wise Christian: "Well yes, there's that; but also in Ephesians 5 where it commands us all to submit to one another."
Foolish Christian: "But that 'submit to one another' isn't a command for my husband to submit to me, but for me to submit to my husband. Look at the rest of the passage--it tells us how we're to submit to one another: Wives to husbands, and then children to parents and slaves to masters. That's what it's talking about when it tells us to submit to one another; not everyone to everyone else, but every believer in whatever subordinate position God has placed him, to the superior God has made him subordinate to. It's not willy-nilly, but ordered submission."
Wise Christian: "No, you don't get it. 'Submit to one another' is the heading of that entire section, it's what holds together everything that follows. Lots of Bibles separate it from the rest of the passage, but it shouldn't be separated. It's the principle through which we're to interpret the rest. Look at the rest of the passage; it doesn't just give commands to wives, but also to husbands; not just children, but also fathers; not just slaves, but also masters. A wife isn't the only one given a command, but also her husband. Both husband and wife are to do what Scripture says: They are to 'submit to one another.'"
Foolish Christian: "You think that's saying a wife should submit to her husband? I don't get it. If that's what it's saying, why doesn't it say it? But it never anywhere tells husbands to submit to their wives--only wives to submit to their husbands."
Wise Christian: "What do you mean it doesn't tell husbands to submit to their wives? I already showed you where it says it. Right there at the beginning. 'Submit to one another.' That's where it says it!"
Foolish Christian: "But that's ridiculous! If we're to take that verse as a command for every Christian to submit to every other Christian, what you're really saying is that every Christian in every relationship is equally a superior and a subordinate. And that's pretty convenient since it really amounts to saying that no one's a subordinate. The way you make it out to be, there's no authority at all and no Christian has to submit to anyone!"
Wise Christian: "Absolutely not! I never said there's no authority! All I said is that the wife isn't the only one who's supposed to submit in the marriage relationship. Her husband's supposed to submit, too!"
Foolish Christian: "Well yeah. Duh! Of course he has to submit. He's got a boss at work, a cop on the highway, the IRS April 15th, the pastor preaching, the elders correcting. Yeah he has to submit--all the time! I never said he doesn't have to submit. Everyone has to submit! What I was saying was that my husband shouldn't submit to me, his wife. That's wrong!"
Wise Christian: "What do you mean 'That's wrong?' That's not wrong! It's right! Read the Bible: It says right there at the beginning, 'Submit to one another.'"
Foolish Christian: "Yes, 'submit to one another' by wives submitting to husbands, children to parents, and slaves to masters--those are the one anothers we're to submit to!"
Wise Christian: "I can't believe you. The words are as plain as the nose on the end of your face, but you won't see them! It says right there, 'submit to one another.' One another! Don't you get it, you dolt?"
Foolish Christian: "Well if I'm a dolt, you're a rebel. But let me ask you a question. If my husband's supposed to submit to me, does that go for children and slaves, too? Does the "submit to one another' mean parents are supposed to submit to their children and masters to their slaves? I mean, that's ridiculous!"
Wise Christian: "Of course that's not what it means!"
Foolish Christian: "Why not? Seems clear enough to me. It says 'submit to one another.'"
Wise Christian: "Well, what kind of an idiot says parents should submit to their children and masters to their slaves! Don't put words in my mouth. I never said anything about parents or masters--only husbands."
Foolish Christian: "Yeah, I know you never said anything about them, but why not? I don't see how you get that husbands should submit to their wives from the text and stop there. If husbands are to submit to their wives, it's got to be--it absolutely HAS to be--fathers and mothers submitting to their children and masters to their slaves, too! Can't you see it?"
Wise Christian: "Don't be ridiculous! You know very well what I mean!"
Foolish Christian: "I'm not being ridiculous. I asked you a question and you're not answering it!"
Wise Christian: "Why should I? You're being ridiculous! Whoever heard of a mother submitting to her baby? Are you a nincompoop?"
Foolish Christian: "Sure, I'm a fool; that's fine with me. I don't need your kind of wisdom."
We've all been around this rat hole more times than we can count. And the pastor, let alone politician, who claims to hold to father-rule and then talks about "mutual submission" when attacked for that commitment is anything but confused or naieve. He knows precisely which ears he's scratching and what his loving strokes will buy him--particularly if he's a Southern Baptist pastor running for the presidency.
Without saying anything at all, one night at the dinner table a week or so ago I played this clip of Gov. Huckabee's response to the whole family. There were about ten of us there, including my mother. After the clip was over, I asked everyone to vote on whether or not Gov. Huckabee was saying that husbands are supposed to submit to their wives? Half voted "yes" and half "no."
After the vote, there was a great clambering for the clip to be played again, so I did so taking the vote a second time. Surprisingly, the vote was about evenly split again, but this time a number of the votes had switched sides. That is, those who'd voted had switched sides but the vote was still evenly split. So we played the clip again and, although some switched their vote again, amidst great hilarity, the final tally remained about evenly split between both options. And one more time failed to resolve into a consensus.
Now what does this tell us?
That Gov. Huckabee was carefully wrong. Especially if he had shown up at our table and told us all that he didn't mean the husband was supposed to submit to his wife, but that he was supposed to submit to God. Especially if that's what he meant, he was carefully wrong.
Because if my mother and her descendants and their spouses couldn't parse his answer, who on earth could?
No, I'm not saying Gov. Huckabee should have beat his chest and, once and for all, publicly proclaimed himself the head of the house, the man of the plan, the pater familia, the head honcho, the grand poobah, the chief muckitymuck, he who must be obeyed...
There are many ways to answer such a question honoring God without commiting hara kari. Many many ways.
If only Gov. Huckabee had chosen one.