Mother’s Day – Glorified then Villified

Jesus told us to honor our mother and our father. That is not the reason churches celebrate Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but it does give biblical meaning to our celebration of this day.

As in many things, Christians have taken honoring mothers and fathers to the extreme.

Pastors pull out their favorite scriptures such as 1 Corinthians 13 “the Love Chapter” and Proverbs 31 with the kids rising up and calling Mama blessed.

On Mother’s Day she is glorified. On Father’s Day – in order to make him the central character in the family – she is villified.

Listen to how this pastor forgot the part about honoring your mother and father and hammered on the part that wives (mothers) must submit to daddy.

A pastor preached a Father’s Day sermon in which he told men that husbands must allow their wives to submit, because “women have to submit to their husbands in order to honor God.” The pastor said that fewer marriages would break up if the wife would submit to her husband. I have news for him. That passage is not about saving marriages.

Whenever a preacher tells a woman that to honor God, she has to submit to her husband, she ought to run to her Bible and find out why Peter or the apostle Paul would say such a thing. The fact is that the intent of the scripture is always misquoted.

1 Peter 3:1 is the passage that the pastor quoted in the sermon. “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands,” and this is where they stop. But the complete sentence brings unsaved men into the story, and that pastor did not want to preach on that. More importantly, it gives spiritual leadership to wives (uh-oh!). Let’s continue with 1 Peter 3:1, “…so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives…”

1 Peter 3 actually begins in chapter two with the instruction that now that they are Christians, they should act like Christians, and this is the way Christians should act:

• keep your behavior excellent among other races

• submit yourselves to human institutions – kings or those in authority

• act as free men and do not use your freedom for evil

• servants are to treat their masters with respect

• wives are to respect their husbands

• husbands are to respect their wives

It ends with Chapter 3 verses 8-9, “To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another as brothers, and be kind and humble with one another. Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing; instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when he called you….” (Good News Bible).

Many have stolen Peter’s words about living with other Christians as Christians should, and have instead made it into an eternal marriage manual in which the wife submits.

The passage actually means, “Wives, now that you are Christians, this is what you should do. Continue on in your marriages the way you always have. Perhaps your good characters and demeanors will win your husbands over to the Lord.” Paul says the same thing in 1 Corinthians 7:15.

Remember, wifely submission was a fact of life for those women. Peter wasn’t telling them to submit. They were already submitting, like they had done every day of their lives. He was just telling them to continue on as they were. Perhaps some of these women thought that since their husbands weren’t Christ followers, they should leave their husbands so they would not be unequally yoked together. We find this possibility in 2 Corinthians 6:14, “Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness.”

I saw a perfect example of this one day as I sat in a meeting with other women speaking about equality. A young couple had been very involved in the male headship teaching of a church, and the wife was breaking away from that.  She said that she began to realize that their teaching was wrong, but her husband had not yet accepted that he was being led astray by that teaching.  She said that she felt so strongly about this that she wanted to be with others who teach female equality.  As I listened to this young woman, I could see her asking Peter, ‘What am I to do?’ And I hear Peter’s reply back to her, “Stay with your husband because you may lead him to the realization of the equality that you now have. Don’t give up what you have come to understand.”

But what the pastor had in mind when he preached on 1 Peter was that wives must submit to their husbands—period; nothing less, nothing more. But of course, he had much more to say about wives submitting to their husbands because as we will see, he loves that passage.

In his sermon, he said, “I love that 1 Peter passage.” Now why do you think he loves this passage? Why would a pastor love a wife’s submission passage?

Out of his 30 minute message on Father’s Day, he spent the first 16 minutes telling wives how wonderful they are and that a marriage is a partnership, but that she was created by God for her role, and that she must willingly submit to her husband. Not because the husband demands it, but because God demands it. He then read from Ephesians that husbands are to love their wives. The last 14 minutes was spent reinforcing the first 16 minutes.

These are direct quotes from his sermon:

• In order for wives to honor God, husbands must allow their wives to submit to them.

• The ground at the cross is level. (I would like to ask this pastor how can the ground at the cross be level if the wife has a husband stuck between her and Christ).

• He knows a guy that gives his wife a list of things to do and when he gets home, he checks the list.

• God made men to be rough and tough and He made women to be nurturing.

• Women want their men to be men.

• His pastor gave him this advice when he got married, “Make her queen of your house, and she will break her neck to make you King.”

• Who’s going to wear the pants in your family?

• The feminists want to wear the pants.

• When families follow these roles, they are less likely to get divorced.

Interspersed throughout all these sentences, he was sugar-coating the submission thing. Women are not to submit because they have to, he said, but because as a loving wife who is doing God’s will, she will want to. She is not to be a doormat. In fact, he brought in an actual doormat to show how dirty and trampled a used doormat is.

When your pastor tells you that “In order for you to honor God, you have to submit to your husband,” all the sugar in the world cannot cover up an ugly concept that has been foisted upon women. The Bible does not tell us that. 1 Peter 3 certainly does not say that. Read it for yourself. See if you can find where Scripture says that in order for women to honor God, they have to submit to their husbands. Can you find the Scripture where it says what men must do to honor God?

Have you ever heard a sermon on what men must do in a marriage to honor God? I can tell you one thing – what a man must do to honor God never puts another human being between himself and God. Yet, when only wives are required to submit in a marriage, this means that a human being has been inserted between the wife and God.

If you do not believe that God inserted a man in between you and Him when you said “I do,” then speak up and say, “I don’t.”

About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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1 Response to Mother’s Day – Glorified then Villified

  1. Fessup says:

    The Bible has been used selectively to justify the most heinous injustices. Instead of contorting passages, it’s time to recognize the strengths and weaknesses in this approach and follow the example of the Living Word who recognized and upheld women’s equality.


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