Christianity + Submissive Wives = Domestic Violence?

by Dr. Georgia Purdom on September 11, 2014

Although this equation might seem strange to most of my readers, it was an equation being promoted in an article in the Washington Post titled “Five Christian Theologies Scarier than Halloween.” The author, Susan Brooks Thistlewaite, professor of theology and former president of Chicago Theological Seminary, stated the following:

Theologies that emphasize a hierarchy in creation, i.e. that women were created second and Eve is to blame for the sin that got Adam and Eve kicked out of the Garden of Eden, are scary to me because they are literally responsible for a lot of violence against women.

“Submission” is a scary theology that justifies abuse in the name of Christian obedience by women.

Wow, where to start!? First of all, we know from Genesis that Adam was created first from the dust of the ground, and Eve was created second from Adam’s rib (Genesis 2:7, 21–22). This in no way implies that Eve was inferior to Adam because she was created second. Genesis 1:26–27 is clear that both man and woman were created in God’s image and they both have equal value and thus equal standing before God (Galatians 3:28). Instead, the created order relates to a difference in roles. We know this from Genesis 2, and it is confirmed in other Scriptures (e.g., Ephesians 5:25–33) that the husband is to be the leader and the wife the helper. Likewise, members of the Trinity are all equally God but have different roles, including submission of the Son to the Father (Philippians 2:5–8). For a more in-depth look at the topic of Genesis and submission, I encourage you to read my article, “Genesis, Wifely Submission and Modern Wives.”

While it is popular for people to say things like, “We wouldn’t be in this mess [referring to the cursed world] if weren’t for a woman [referring to Eve],” it is biblically incorrect. Multiple passages including 1 Corinthians 15:22 and Romans 5:12 make it clear that Adam’s sin is to blame for the suffering and death in this world. While Eve did disobey God, Adam as the leader of his family, the federal head of creation, and mankind’s representative is the one held accountable for the entrance of sin and death into this world.

The result of living in a sin-cursed world is that sometimes husbands abuse their role as leaders and commit violence against their wives. But that is certainly not the type of leadership that Paul calls husbands to in Ephesians 5:25, where he wrote, “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.” God wants a husband to love his wife sacrificially, even to the point of giving his life in exchange for hers. Domestic violence is not the outcome of the biblically described leader husband and submissive wife, but rather a sinful distortion of the leader role within a marital relationship.

This Washington Post article was a great reminder to me of why it is so important for women (and men) to know what the Bible says—and does not say—and be equipped to defend the Bible’s truth. The theme for next year’s Answers for Women conference is Embrace: Compassionate Answers in a Fallen World. What do you say when a friend confesses to adultery? When your sister tells you she's a lesbian? When a niece aborts her unborn child? When a coworker's baby is born with a debilitating disability? We certainly live in a fallen world, and we all know someone who has experienced the effects of this sin-cursed world . . . someone who is hurting.

At the 2015 Answers for Women conference, we'll hear from women who have walked these paths themselves and have found the help they need comes only through Jesus Christ and His Word. Join us as they share compassionate answers from God's Word that give us practical ways we can embrace those who are hurting. The solid biblical teaching will nourish your mind and heart and equip you to be a loving witness for Jesus Christ.

We have several returning speakers, including Joy Fagan and Stacia McKeever, and several new speakers, including speaker and author Rosaria Butterfield, Camille Cates, and Rose Colón. These women are passionate about equipping and encouraging women in the truth of God’s Word. I will also be giving a presentation about answering life’s toughest questions about God and suffering. Check out the Answers for Women website for all the conference topics.

Registration is now open! As in past years, attendees and their spouses and children (under 18) will have free admission to the Creation Museum. Make the conference a trip for the entire family!

Husbands, Christmas is coming and I know shopping isn’t always fun, so let me make it easy for you. Buy your wife registration for the 2015 Answers for Women conference. She will be blessed, and so will your family.

Keep fighting the good fight of the faith!

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