Bryan Fischer
September 29, 2010
Alan Grayson, Daniel Webster, and the submission of wives
By Bryan Fischer

Rep. Alan Grayson, a miserable creature if there ever was one, created one of the most reprehensible and despicable political ads in recent memory by twisting the words of his opponent, Daniel Webster, and equating his view of women with the dark, dangerous, and demented religion of Islam.

Calling Mr. Webster "Taliban Dan," he inserted a clip of Webster talking about marriage and saying "submit to me" no less than four times in a 30-second ad. He accused Webster of fostering the same kind of degrading oppression of women that is called for in Islam and practiced in Muslim-dominated backwater countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The truth, of course, is exactly the reverse of what Grayson implied, which perhaps will come as no surprise once people discover that Grayson is a Democrat, an ilk for whom lying, twisting and distorting the facts seems to be second nature.

Webster was giving counsel to husbands in the tape from which the clip was drawn, urging the men to find verses in the Bible to pray for their wives. He pointedly told them, "Don't pick the ones that say, 'She should submit to me.'"

Don't pick that verse, he said. Rather, "Pick the ones that your supposed to do. So instead, you should 'Love your wife even as Christ loved the church and gave himself for it.'"

Grayson's conduct was so inexcusable that even lefty groups like the Annenberg Public Policy Center and the Orlando Sentinel issued full-throated condemnations of Grayson, who heretofore has been their pet.

The stunt has backfired big time, as Webster raised $70,000 yesterday (Tuesday) alone off Grayson's ham-handed attempt to demonize his opponent.

As an aside, you cannot find a more stark contrast between Islam and Christianity than on their respective teaching about marriage. While Islam instructs husbands that they literally may beat their wives into submission, Christianity instructs husbands to imitate the example of Christ, who loved his bride (the church) so much that he laid down his life for her.

This is just another example of the profound, unbridgeable chasm between the value system of Islam and the value system of the West. They are and always will be irretrievably incompatible. Every advance of Islam in America will come at the expense of liberty and of rights for women.

Now there is probably no other concept that is more misunderstood, both inside and outside the church, than the Bible's teaching on submission and headship.

The first myth is that in a Christian marriage only the wife submits to her husband. But the first statement the apostle makes is this: Both husbands and wives are to "submit...to one another out of reverence for Christ" (Ephesians 5:21).

So a Christian marriage is to be one of mutual submission, not the domination of the husband over the wife. There is a profound sense in which a Christian husband submits to his wife as much as she submits herself to him. Submission takes a different form for the man than it does for the woman, but it is submission nonetheless.

The Scriptures clearly instruct wives, "Submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22). The word "submit" is comprised of two Greek words, one of which means "under" and the other of which means "to set" or "to arrange." So a wife is instructed to arrange herself, put herself, set herself, under the leadership of her husband in the home.

What's critical to understand here is that there is no verse in the Bible that instructs a husband to see to it that his wife submits to him. This is a matter between a wife and her Lord, not between a wife and her husband. It is not her husband who is asking her to submit, it is God. It is a matter of reverence for Christ rather than for her husband that prompts her to voluntarily arrange herself under her husband's leadership.

It is a gift that she gives to her husband, not a right that he demands. She demonstrates her reverence for Christ by not challenging her husband's leadership in their home but by supporting him and working with him to help him succeed in shaping and directing the life of their marriage and family.

How does a husband submit himself to his wife? As Webster reminds us, husbands are told to "love your wives, as Christ love the church and gave himself up for her" (Ephesians 5:25). That is, he submits himself to his wife by refusing to use his headship simply as an excuse to get his own way, or as a cloak for his own selfishness. He submits himself to his wife by making a determination to use the authority God has given him in his home to give his wife and children what they need rather than to get what he wants.

Marriage is not and can never be a democracy. Somebody has to have the tie-breaking vote when the poll reveals a one-to-one tie. In a Christian marriage, the husband is the tie breaker. The way it is designed to work is that a wife willingly defers to her husband on those rare occasions when they cannot agree on a course of action, and the husband makes the decision that his conscience tells him is best, not for himself, but for her, their marriage, and their home.

If a husband believes before God that the best decision in a given situation is different than the one his wife prefers, he does not order her to follow him, he asks her. The decision is then up to her. He's not forcing her to do anything. He leaves the issue squarely where it belongs, between her and her God.

If you have a problem with a Christian view of marriage, fine. Don't become a Christian then. Nobody is going to make you, again unlike Islam where the choice is convert or die. But if you do decide to follow Christ, his instructions regarding marriage are clear.

The president said yesterday that "I am a Christian by choice" because "the precepts of Christ spoke to me." The precepts of Christ, as given through his chosen apostle, are plain and unambiguous when it comes to roles in marriage. You sign up to follow Christ, you sign up for the whole package.

Getting back to the Websters, it's worth asking how this whole leadership/submission thing works out in practice.

Here is Sandy Webster, Dan's wife of many years: "Dan has been an amazing husband and father, and the finest man I have ever known."

Here's a wife who believes in the biblical view of roles in marriage, and seems quite happy to be married to a man who is dedicated to using his strength to protect her and provide for her, and to "nourish and cherish" her as the Bible says. What wife wouldn't?

Christianity, like conservatism, works every time it's tried. Alan Grayson is learning that lesson the hard way.

(Unless otherwise noted, the opinions expressed are the author's and do not necessarily reflect the views of the American Family Association or American Family Radio.)

© Bryan Fischer

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)