A New Year, an Old Problem

“Wives, you must submit to your husbands.”

I wonder if Susie (name changed) heard those words as she sat in her Baptist church. By his own admission, her husband had slapped her a few times, no more than four or five. 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 their house burned down, giving him a big insurance payment with which he bought a tractor and some land with a pond.

It took six years before justice finally came for Susie. For years her death was classified as undetermined.

It was a Saturday and Susie had been washing windows on her day off. In the afternoon, her mother called her and they went shopping together. She got home about 6:30 p.m. Susie’s husband arrived shortly afterwards and he ordered pizza delivered. Suddenly he told her he had to leave to check on something. According to him, when he returned he found Susie floating in a pond in their pasture. “Startled by a snake and fell in, choking on the pizza” was his explanation. Problem is, bodies do not float to the surface in 30 minutes. He would have had to search the bottom of the pond to find her, and would not have found her floating on the surface in that short time. He is now in prison.

“Husbands, you must allow your wife to submit to you, because by doing so, she is submitting to Christ.” I actually heard a Baptist pastor say that in his sermon.

A woman with a job like Susie’s leaves quite a sum of insurance upon her death. Her husband 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 young patent attorney won the civil suit. Afterwards, there was a reclassification, and it was decided that Susie was murdered, and her husband was the prime suspect.

On their website, her church provides a link to the Baptist Faith and Message 2000, which reads: “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 Susie. That made her parents happy. Her father was a deacon in a nearby Baptist church. I went to school with her mother who was my best friend.

A greater tribute to Susie would have been to amend 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,” (Ephesians 5:28a Shirley’s translation).

Pastors, there is a consequence to what you are teaching from the pulpit. Your wives must submit attitude that is taught in churches, affects every woman, even if the man they must submit to never attends church.

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 to help more Susies before they lose their lives to husbands they are told to be submissive to.

About bwebaptistwomenforequality

Shirley Taylor writes with humor and common sense, challenging the church body to reclaim equality for Christian women.
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