10/22/2004

Stupid Misogynist Church Tricks

I subscribe to a worship leader mailing list. I'd say 99% of the posts are from evangelical/fundamentalists so I'm presuming that the general readership is similar. The message linked to the title is, unfortunately, all too common in evangelical circles. (Quick summary: Married female singer on worship team going through marital glitch. Some gossip rats her out. She is kicked off the worship team. Marriage gets worse. Husband stops coming to church. Woman won't be allowed back onto worship team without husband's permission. Husband doesn't give a rip, not being a church member. Woman leaves church looking for less abusive environment.)

The source of the problem is, as usual in husband/wife relations, the Apostle Paul. Well, before you get your hackles up, it's selective interpretation that's the real problem. Let's start here:

22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Pretty clear, no? I once found a bible study guide on marriage that featured this passage prominently. What it didn't have, amazingly enough, is the verses immediately following:

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

As usual, the language gets all convoluted and Paul continues writing, mixing up the husband/wife and Christ/church metaphor, but you get the drift.

At the very least, this is at least as demanding a reciprocal requirement as Eph 5:22-24, yet it seldom seems to be encouraged. In fact, loving your wife as Christ loved (why not "loves"?) the Church. Pretty tall order. The two sections combined paint a picture of a very mutually sacrificial relationship, the like of which is rarely seen.

Being involved in youth work as I am, I am also very interested in the chapter following:

Eph 6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 Honor your father and mother which is the first commandment with a promise 3 that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.

Again, oft-quoted and enforced in various ways. But hey, what's that coming up right behind?

4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.


Just so we're all sure, exasperate means: "to excite the anger of, ENRAGE, to cause irritation or annoyance to". Now how often do parents get that admonition? I guess there are several interpretations of the second half of verse 4, but the context seems to imply "train them by example", a version of the golden rule - treat your children as you would like to be treated. Ha, fat chance you'll ever hear anyhting like that from, say, James Dobson.

If you're interested in just how badly spiritual abuse of women and children can go, check out Renee Altson's book Stumbling Toward Faith.

Meanwhile I pray that Patti finds her way in the world free of stupid misogynist church tricks.

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