Consequences of pulpit preaching

“Wives, you must submit to your husbands.”

I wonder if Becky heard those words as she sat in her SBC church.  By his own admission, her husband had slapped her a few times, no more than 4 or 5.  At least that is how many times he admitted to in the deposition just before his trial. “I love my wife,” he said, and “slapped her only seldom” during their 15 year marriage.

He even went to church with her on occasion.  Before he killed her, that is. Even before he had burned down their house and had received a big insurance payment and bought some land with a pond and some other stuff.

It took 6 years before justice finally came for Becky on March 10, 2010.  For years her death was classified as undetermined.  

It was a Saturday and Becky had been washing windows on her day off as a letter carrier.  Her mother called her to go shopping with her.  She got home about 6:30 p.m.  Her husband arrived shortly afterwards and he ordered pizza delivered.  Suddenly he had to leave to check on something.  According to him, when he returned he found Becky floating in a pond in their pasture.  “Startled by a snake and fell in” was his explanation.  Problem is, bodies don’t float in 30 minutes.  He would have had to found her after searching the bottom of the pond, and not the surface.

“Husbands, you must allow your wife to submit to you, because by doing so, she is submitting to Christ.”

A letter carrier can have quite a bit of insurance.  He tried to claim the insurance, but the family knew someone who worked for a lawyer, and they brought in a patent attorney.  Great story how a patent attorney won the civil suit.  Meanwhile, there was a reclassification and it was decided that Becky was murdered, and her husband was the prime suspect. 

On their website, her church provides a link to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000.

The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God’s image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

What if there is no servant leadership of her husband?  What if he is planning to kill her and hopes to receive a big payout in insurance money? How do you know when the God-given responsibility to respect the husband is null and void?  Just before you are murdered? 

Her church named their food pantry after Becky.   That made her parents happy.  Her father is a deacon in a nearby SBC church.   I went to school with her mother.

A greater tribute to Becky would have been to reword the BF&M 2000 to say: “Husbands and wives have a God-given responsibility to respect, nurture, and care for each other.”

 “You wouldn’t give yourself a black eye, so don’t give her one.” (Eph 5:28a Shirley’s translation)

Pastors, there is a consequence to what you are teaching from the pulpit.  The wives must submit attitude is taught in the churches and bleeds out into society and affects every woman whether they go to church or not. 

Both quotes above are what pastors in my town preached from their pulpit. Pastors, you are teaching that every woman has to graciously submit to her husband. Who determines if the husband is providing servant leadership?  Who came up with the sentence “submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband.”  Don’t you know that excludes a whole bunch of husbands? Don’t you know that those words are not in the Bible?

 Join us as we learn how men and women can scripturally be equal in the church and in the home.  Where you will find no “equal-buts” of the BF&M 2000.   Meet me at the CBE Houston Conference on April 27-28, 2012. 

About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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5 Responses to Consequences of pulpit preaching

  1. Mabel says:

    I have yet to hear a sermon that can explain submission well, BECAUSE, they are stuck in the one way submission trap. Talking out of both sides of your mouth (she is equal, but she has to submit) till the cows come home is not going to make you coherent.


  2. Anne says:

    My stomach was turning as I read this. Very moving, Shirley. Now I want to weep for the women who are abused or killed because their husbands thought they had the authority to do it.

    The Bible never tells husbands to lead. It is a false decree. Scripture tells husbands to love and honour their wives – ONLY.


  3. Leigh Newton says:

    This is a heart-breaking and far too common story.

    Somehow we have to face the challenge that Scripture is not infallible and inerrant, but the work of fragile, sinful humans. Proof-texting is never sufficient to interpret Scripture. We need all the tools of modern exegesis, interpreted in the light of Jesus, not Paul. We have to ask, “What was going on in the culture at the time? What was the pervasive dominant attitude to women at the time?” … and many other questions.

    Some things just don’t fit. When ‘submit’ means inequality (and what else can it mean?), we lose sight of the total embrace of Jesus for every one of us. In Christ there is no east nor west, male nor female. There are no qualifications.

    Without women’s ordination we continue to put men on a pedestal.
    Without women’s ordination we will continue to tell women and girls that they are less than good enough.
    Without women’s ordination we will unwittingly continue to support male violence towards women.

    How long Lord? How long?


    • Anne says:

      Don’t forget the most important tool for interpreting Scripture: the Holy Spirit. Only God knows what God’s Word definitely means.


    • I, too, have asked that same question “How long, Lord, how long?” We are working for change and are connecting the dots with others like you. Our voices will be heard. Please keep reading because there will be something that you, and others like you who are reading this blog, can commit to and do. You will be invited to join in after the conference on April 27-28, 2012.


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