lundi 11 décembre 2017

Marriage: Are There Exceptions on Submission for Religious Purposes?

Today I am hosting a good friend of mine, Michel Mbonyinkebe, answering a question which was asked in a closed forum. His intervention was quite good that I took the liberty after consultation with him that his response should be turned into a short post for future references. I hope his reaction would clarify certain things you might have had as it did to people in that forum. I have translated his notes from French to English and made few adjustment and additional notes, but in essence and for the most part, I kept his commentary unchanged and true to the original interaction.
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Image result for biblical submissionQUESTION:
"Yesterday I asked this question to my husband, 'how can a spouse deal with her husband if she find herself disagreeing with him doctrinally.' I meant, if the disagreement is about fake grace."


RESPONSE:
For me it is quite simple. Submission assumes that we recognize the existence of a hierarchy, a bit like in the army. We have to keep in mind that the same scriptures that exhort us to submit to God also requires of us to submit to each other, particularly in this case, a wife to her own husband.
"But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God." - 1 Corinthians 11:3 ESV
It is clear that St. Paul raises the question of hierarchy in the family unit with the expectation to offer harmony in the family, and submission has its role to play in maintaining the family system working. For what would happen if the household had two heads during a disagreement? A peaceful resolution would be hard to attain. Hence submission doesn't mean being in total agreement, but rather as the dictionary puts it, 'the action of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.'

Piggy-bagging on the scripture shared above (1Co11.3), it is clear that in the family there is a higher authority above the couple, namely Christ. Wisdom dictates therefore that submission should be due to the perceived highest authority when a conflict appears between two authorities. This is common understanding which provide a bed-rock in distinguishing the level of submission. When it pertains to the nature of the Gospel of Christ, our submission should always bow to Christ himself when it is conflicted with what the husband claims. However, when it comes to matters of behavior that will not affect the worthiness of the Gospel, a wife is exhorted to submit to her husband. This latter one is also regarded as 'bearing fruits'. This implies that even in the depth of doctrinal disagreement within the couple, the partner (a.k.a the wife) should continue to express herself with meekness and all kindness. There is never a good reason to be unkind to your partner, even for doctrinal disagreements. I think this might have been what St. Peter had in mind when he said,
"Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct." -1 Pete 3:1-2 ESV
Wee see the same analogy being displayed on a different context by St. Paul when he spoke about political authorities,
"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment." - Romans 13:1-2   
This is more significant if we remember the political context in which St. Paul was writing. He was under an hostile political milieu that persecuted him for his Christian faith. The Roman Emperor had little patience for Christianity as it turned out, many believers were persecuted and many died including St. Paul himself. However, the hostility didn't prevent him to recognize the Roman Emperor authority, even in his disagreement with Emperor belief. Similar stories are reported in the book of Daniel under the authority of the Babylonian King. Although their faith ran counter those leaders perspectives on religion, they nevertheless remained noble in the way they conducted themselves in their disagreements. The first Christian community expressed that contrast this fashion:
"But Peter and the apostles answered, 'We must obey God rather than men.'" - Act 5:29 ESV 
The task of the Christian therefore is to learn to recognize authorities set by God without forgetting God own supreme authority in the process. The key as I see it:

1) Respect and submit to the hierarchy. And if there is a conflict about a higher principle (doctrine),
2) Keep the attitude noble and respectful while challenging the conflicted principle because you are equally submitted to God (who remains in the family unit the highest authority); but the final decision in the household will still be that of the husband even if your are not bound by conscience to embrace his views.

Last note: Some authorities are not chosen, but they are imposed on us. We do not chose to be under certain authorities but we find ourselves being under them such as a child being born in a certain family. There is nothing we could have done about it. 

But in marriage, modern courtship makes it so that each partners choose willingly to enter into a relationship that will bind both lovers into a hierarchical order of authority. Hence it is unfair to complain all the time to have a partner you have difficulty to submit to doctrinally at home when you've made the conscious choice in the first place to submit under his authority through marriage. I understand that people can change for the better or for the worse, but in any case this doesn't change that it was your choice to begin with, hence you will have to learn to love and submit through thick and thin.

2 commentaires:

  1. Thank you, Eric, for sharing about this challenging and important topic that married couple need to read carefully as this is one of the pillar of marriage, Submission, and Authority.
    What I can add about submission is that nowadays women have the same opening to education and are exposed to sufficient information to nurture their knowledge on doctrine which permit them to have a position to challenge the husbands position or opinion on doctrine in many cases. This takes me to give this advice to my fellow husbands to have their ears open and listen to their wife’s opinion because being a husband and Leader of the house doesn’t mean that you will always be right in every doctrinal’ s discussion. A leader is the one who listen the one he is leading, listening, and agreeing to your wife argument does not take away your role of being the Leader of the house

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