Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Submission, Mutual Submission, and Final Decision-Making Power

 I was listening to a religious radio station to a program on finances a few years back. The program said that people are, of course, commanded to tithe to the church. If you are a husband, and you want to tithe, you can and should make that decision for your family. However, if you are a wife, and you want to tithe but your husband doesn't, then you can try to change his mind, but it is his decision as to whether or not the family tithes or not.

Now, even if you believe in a hierarchy between men and women, is this sort of a conclusion required? Does "headship" translate to "final decision-making power?" These conclusions are typically drawn by Bible teachers, but I never see them actually drawn in the text of Scripture. And if, as Ephesians 5 clearly teaches, both husband and wife are enjoined to submit to one another, how is that even possible if the man always knows that if he holds out long enough, his wife is going to have to give in?

5 comments:

Dan Lower / KKairos said...

It seems like in a Christian framework that headship has to translate into an "in the Lord" sort of thing--sort of like a child only obeys his parents "in the Lord" but not when told to do something contrary to God or to God's Love. So if tithing is commanded it seems that this conclusion is not only not required, but precluded from possibility: When the husband goes against the Law of God the wife's higher obligation would still be, clearly, to disobey him in favor of that law.

Anonymous said...

As to tithing, there's a good argument that tithing is not a command for the New Testament church: it was a funding mechanism for the Old Testament priesthood, but never commanded in the New Testament.

The meaning of "headship," is very subjective. Clearly, the modern trend (outside the Muslim world) is toward female empowerment.

But do you really think that it's possible to prove one position "right" in any objective sense?

Dustin said...

I don't think it's possible to *prove* the external world exists, but I'm sure enough of it to get by...

kbrowne said...

If headship does not mean 'final decision-making power' what does it mean?

Victor Reppert said...

In Ephesians, Before that passage about wives and husbands, you get this statement.

5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Now if you have a two-way submission, it doesn't look as if that invest on or the other with final decision-making power. It seems to imply that even though one side is submitting, the other side can also submit. She's supposed to submit, but he isn't supposed to lord it over her and show her who's boss. That's why I suspect that the standard complementarian interpretation of the passage doesn't do justice to it.