Thursday, September 14, 2006

Judging others

Normally I don't make a practice of using this blog to follow the discussion on other blogs, but I felt this follow-up was important.

After being asked to clarify his harsh judgments of an egalitarian woman, Mr. Bayly posted a lengthy reply which didn't answer the question posed but ended:
You will understand, I trust, dear brother that there is a limit to my time, and these words don't write themselves. So please be gracious when I don't respond to every challenge or question posted as a comment.
To which the questioner responded:
I understand that and appreciate the answer. However, the matter of calling someone "an agent of the Evil One" seems important enough to clarify so that you are not misunderstood.

So, if I understand you correctly, you are not saying that Ms. Morton is not a Christian. Just that she is wrong in this one doctrinal matter. Yes?

In which case, since we are all imperfect, we would all be agents of the evil one in some area or another since no one has perfect doctrine.
Mr. Bayly then responded:
Well, sure, all of us could, at one time or another, see our Lord saying to us, "Get thee behind me, Satan!" But it would have to be one of the most sober rebukes of our lives. Similarly, I would hope that Mrs. Morton would take my rebuke, as an officer of Christ's Church, as one of the most sober rebukes of her life. As for whether or not Mrs. Morton and other feminist rebels against God are Christians, that's not the question I was addressing. But do you think Peter wondered about his eternal destiny when he heard our Lord's rebuke? I can't imagine he didn't.
This whole exchange raises a host of interesting questions. One which interests me is the broader issue raised by Mr. Bayly's statement, "Similarly, I would hope that Mrs. Morton would take my rebuke, as an officer of Christ's Church, as one of the most sober rebukes of her life." For the sake of argument, let's assume that a similar situation is taking place between Mr. A, a teaching elder in his church, and Mrs. B, a member of a completely different church.

Mr. A strongly disagrees with the egalitarian position. He believes that anyone who espouses it is an agent of Satan and cannot possibly be submissive to their husbands. He believes this to be a foundational doctrine, an essential doctrine. He believes that, as an "agent of Christ's Church", he has some sort of authority over women outside his church and that his rebuke should carry a similar weight to Jesus' rebuke of Peter.

However, let's assume that Mrs. B belongs to a church that disagrees with Mr. A. Perhaps her church is egalitarian or perhaps they are complementarian but don't consider this issue to be an essential one that should cause division within the church. Mrs. B's elders know her well; they have observed her submission and devotion to her husband; they have observed that her devotion to Christ is what motivates her to relate to her husband in the way she does. Because they know Mrs. B and because they believe that a difference in doctrine over egalitarianism is not a difference in opinion over essentials, they would firmly disagree with this online rebuke of one of those God has entrusted in their spiritual care.

Let us suppose that Mrs. B is in full submission to both her husband and her church leaders. Let us suppose that her egalitarian views have been taught to her by her husband. (This is not unusual. I have been in mind-boggling online arguments where wives, whose husbands were insisting on egalitarian marriages, were told by other men that they needed to "submit" and "insist their husbands lead" -- even if this was contrary to their husband's desires.) Why is some man, claiming to be an "officer of Christ's church", so quick to rebuke a woman so harshly (calling her an "agent of Satan") without any real knowledge of her? Why, while claiming to follow a Biblical view of male-female relationships, is he so quick in his attempts to usurp and undermine the authority of Mrs. B's husband, elders, and pastor?

Let us suppose that Mr. A likes to "throw his weight around". He loves reminding people that he is an "officer of Christ's church", because that sounds oh so much more important than "I'm an elder at a little church that meets in a school." He also loves putting women in their place and enjoys the idea that he has some sort of God-given authority over them, as a male and as an elder, even if he is the elder of a church they've never heard of.

When I was a fairly new wife and, desiring to become better in this role, read a lot of books and listened to a lot of advice, my husband often had to remind me gently, "Honey, you are supposed to submit to me, not to some guy who wrote a book." If only all those guys who write books and blogs really believed that!

For an interesting cross-cultural perspective on how the Bayly's treat other men's wives, read Hannah Im's blog entry. It is an excellent reminder of how far our American culture has strayed from common courtesy and respect.


  1. As a former member of one of the Bayly churches, my suggestion in your scenario above would be to tell Mr. A and Mrs. B to stay off Bayly Blog and keep yourselves from stress, headaches, anger, and any other emotion you can feel with trying to talk to people who have no interest in what others think unless it matches their thoughts 100%.

  2. If you don't mind, here is a post I wrote on my blog last month that pertains to this subject:


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

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

    Ephesians 5:22-28

    Unfortunately, many Christian marriages look much like the first portion of this passage from the Bible. Christian men usually have no problem with wives submitting to them in everything. But, many Christian men fail miserably in the second part of this passage.

    In marriage...true leadership is not demanding you be followed....but, creating a relationship and environment that creates oneness between the husband and wife. It is encouraging your wife and submitting yourself to her thoughts and convictions. It is not to sumbit to her will....but to oneness. Most christian men think that it is ONLY the wife's job to submit....not realizing that the Bible calls us to sacrafice something for our wives. Are we raising up our wives spirit....or trampling it?

    When we submit to oneness with our wives...we are following biblical teachings. Jesus himself submitted to his bride...the church. Jesus submitted His rights and glory as King out of reverence for His Father. As head, Jesus could have demanded that WE submit unconditionally. But, like Paul...He did not. Jesus knew that there were more important things than merely exerting His rightful authority in the relationship:

    "For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy."
    Romans 15:8-9

    Jesus taught us submission to oneness by example...He submitted, through suffering and death, to oneness with us. He came to do the will of His Father, not His own will. Oneness with Christ and the church....and oneness in marriage require mutual submission to oneness....and our submission to God's authority makes oneness possible.

    "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ."

    Ephesians: 5:21

    Shamefully...many Christian homes are operating only on the first part of Ephesians 5:22-28. Here are some results from a christian study conducted involving christian wives:

    84% of married christian women feel they don't have intimacy (oneness) with their husbands.

    83% of married christian women feel their husbands don't even know the basic needs of a woman for intimacy (oneness) or how to provide intimacy for them.

    78% of christian woman who are divorced...say that their married years were the loneliest years of their lives.
    If you are married...think about it! God bought us at a price through the death and resurrection of His Son....He gave you one of His daughters as a life long mate. In other words...we owe it to our wives to submit to oneness...just as Christ submitted to oneness with us...His church.

    Several problems that men have in submitting to oneness with their wives are natural...and some are learned through wrong doctrine. Men are rebellious by nature...our ego is bigger than our wives...and more fragile. As men...we are usually less sensitive to the needs of others...especially our wives.....we are less emotional. Men are also many christian men...they think a good marriage means having peace. You get along with your wife and have all your personal and career goals in place...but, our wives desire oneness with us...a peaceable marriage alone is not sufficient in meeting the needs of our spouse.

    Another major problem is our inability and usually flat out refusal to soften our hearts. To accomplish oneness as Christ did with the church...we need to soften our hearts. A few questions:

    What creates the most difficulty in your marriage? How do you handle it?
    Are we leading our wife or trampling her soul?
    Does she feel oneness with you?
    Are we making room for HER thoughts, concerns, and opinions?
    Christian churches today are full of wives faithfully submitting to their husbands...but not receiving love from their husbands as Christ loves the church. Our churches are filled with woman who unnecessarily struggle with resentment and anger as their needs fail to be met by their christian husbands.

    As you/we continue to attempt biblical oneness with our wives you may encounter a slew of doctrinal instruction that is erred in its your spiritual journey for biblical oneness with your may be falsely accused of such things as:

    Being told you lack humility even though you are the one who is humble enough to sumbit your own ego for oneness with your may be told you are selfish...even though you are acting in the best interest of your wife and not may be told you are not a true leader...even though you are the one willing to submit your ego to achieve may even be told you are going to hell...for not leading your wife unconditionally...

    But, our concern cannot be to appease those who make such accusations based on limited knowledge of our relationship with God and our wives...What is important is OUR relationship to God and OUR do everything in our power...through Christ... to ask God to put us in check and sacrafice our own desires for the betterment of our wives souls....just as Christ did for us.

    In my working career...I have had only two good leaders as bosses. One in particular demonstrated what leadership truly is. He earned and commanded respect because when times got tough...he joined the effort and did whatever necessary so that the entire group would be successful....he was not afraid to get his hands dirty....he was not afraid to execute duties "below" his job title...people followed him because he lifted us up...encouraged us...submitted his ego to acheive a team goal...he created an environment and "spirit" that made us WANT to follow him....which led to higher productivity, efficiency, and respectful relationships.

    Are we as husbands doing this? Are we humble enough to get dirty and talk and listen to our wives and learn what their needs are? Are we willing to get really dirty and face our own faults so that we can improve and achieve the team objective....which is oneness? Is our "leadership" lifting our wives up or trampling their very spirit? My fear is that most christian men see themselves as strong...even though they have not really built true strength that comes from the deliberate act of LIFTING UP our wives...

    My prayer is that I am continuing to improve on do what the Bible says, and present my wife to the Lord with out blemish or present her Holy...part of that means that I am to treat her in a manner that does not cause her to hold resentment, anger and regret towards me because I abuse my God given authority. As I move forward in my spiritual race... my prayer is that I love my wife as Christ did the church...and that I will be humble enough to face my own faults and failures in order to present my wife...God's Him...without stain... just as He commanded.

    Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves as men and as husbands...Do I want to be right or righteous? Right in our own eyes...or righteous in our ability to follow Christ...and love our wives as Jesus Christ loved us...

  3. Kooz, thanks so much for your comments. Powerful stuff. In fact, I'm going to put what you wrote up in its own post on the blog, because it doesn't deserve to be buried in the comments.

  4. As an ambassador of Christ and a member of the royal priesthood......... :-)

    I guess I didn't realize I have such important titles, too! I am an ambassador and a member of the royal priesthood. I can speak authoritatively as long as my words line up with the word of God. He chose me to represent Himself to a dying people.

    I thought about who it is, as a woman, I am to submit to? Benny Hinn? Jim Jones? David Koresh? Any man that says he is an officer of the Church can expect me to obey and submit to their edicts? Where does this stop? Am I to be a reed blowing in the wind?

    I am very picky about who I place myself under to be my authority. That is one reason my husband and I wait a year to join a church. We want to see how they handle problems. That is where the rubber hits the road.

    I am not bound to submit to anyone who calls themself a "pastor". I would be in big trouble if that were true! I would be living a schizophrenic existence as a Christian.

    Good thoughts on this. This woman clearly stated that she submitted to her husband. It was said that she had refused to submit but that was not true. I couldn't find her saying that anywhere in the statements she made to the blog. I did see her state very clearly that she submits to her husband, though.