Saturday, August 13, 2011

S-U-B-M-I-T, find out what it means to her

In public, Michele Bachmann, candidate for the Chief Executive of the world's largest superpower, says that she will continue to submit to her husband.  However, this submission, she says, is respect.  And this submission, she explains, is mutual.   Here's exactly how she put it last night answering why she did something her husband told her she must do even though she hated doing it:
“Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10. I’m in love with him. I’m so proud of him. What submission means to us, it means respect. I respect my husband. He’s a wonderful godly man and great father.
He respects me as his wife; that’s how we operate our marriage,” she continued. “We respect each other; we love each other. I’ve been so grateful we’ve been able to build a home together. We have wonderful children and 20 foster children. We’ve built a business and life together, and I’m very proud of him.”
If Ms. Bachmann becomes President, then her relationship together with Marcus should not change.  He may tell her to do some things that she hates, and she will obey; she must do it.  This also came up last evening:
During last night's Fox News debate, moderator Byron York questioned Rep. Michele Bachmann about her 2006 remark that her "husband said you should study for a degree in tax law. You said you hated the idea. And then you explained, 'But the Lord said, 'Be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.'" York asked Bachmann, "As president, would you be submissive to your husband?" The question received loud boos from the audience, and was the subject of attention in write-ups of the debate.
York, after hearing Bachmann's answer, was pleased.  He said:  "I personally thought she handled it very well. She handled it much more human -- it was like a very human moment for her."   So what does York mean by "human"?  Not mousey and wifey and womanly?  Rather mutual and sharing and two-way respectful?

We get the idea, then, that a President Michele Bachmann would have her cabinet submit to her.  In a human sense, therefore, they would love her and would work together to build with her and would mutually respect her.  The question remains where that would leave First Gentleman (not First Lady) Marcus Bachmann.  If he told his wife to do something she hated, then would he get obedience?  And what would be the chain of command for the Commander in Chief?

Now Wayne Leman at BBB blogged on this.  He says "we at BBB" (meaning the all-men team of bloggers at BBB) want to know:
Does the Greek word ὑποτασσω in Ephesians 5:21–and assumed by almost all Bible translators to be implied in the next verse–mean ‘respect’ or something else?
 Yesterday, I linked to an essay, a post, by Wayne Grudem in which he says that "submission is a respectful affirmation" but that submission must only go one way in a marriage.  Submission, he explains, is not "mutual."  Marcus Bachmann is not to submit to his wife Michele Bachmann.  As the husband, he is not to give her "respectful affirmation" in the sense that he is under her.  Rather, she is under him because she is a woman, because she is his wife.  She must respectfully follow his leadership even if he tells her to do something that she hates.

The BBB all-male blogger team want to know what this means.  If you are a woman, then do know that there is a special practice by this team for moderating the comments of females.  The way blogger Theophrastus has tracked this is as follows:
The situation over that the BBB is that all male-blogging team has decided on a secret rule that issues of gender cannot be discussed in blog posts.  However, this rule is inconsistently enforced – it is particularly enforced on women who try to comment on that blog.
If you'd like to comment freely, whether you are a woman or a man, then always feel free to do so at this blog.  Or, if you really want to reply to the BBB questions but find yourself moderated in any particular way by the all-male BBB team, then feel free to do so at the BBBB.  The BBB all-male no-woman team has promised that everybody gets automatically moderated in reply to Wayne Leman's recent post.  The BBBB, however, will allow you to make your comments openly on this same topic or on any topic you somehow want to bring up there.

Now, before we leave the topic of ὑποτασσω as Paul wrote it to Greek readers in Ephesus, I thought we might listen to how his first Greek readers, those Ephesians, may have heard this word.  There's no reason to believe that these Ephesians in Ephesus were uncultured.  There's no reason to think that the husbands and wives to whom Paul addressed his letter would not have attended the local plays.  There's no reason to suggest that they might not have gone to watch the plays by Euripides or even his play that we know today as The Bacchae.

As we all know, the Bacchae were women, not men.  

They were also called maenads, those females who followed and nursed and submitted to the god Dionysus.  The Bacchae or Maenads were "Raving Women."

If you've watched the play by Euripides or have read it, then you know how these raving women murdered a human king for banning their worship of the god.  If it's significant, this particular god, Dionysus, had a human mother.  At any rate, we all know how the Bacchae or Maenads or Raving Females broke the law of the king and killed him.  They did not submit.  They did not like this chain of command, this male hierarchy from the king.  In fact, the mother of this king usurped the male authority and led the raving women.

Here's a memorable moment from the play in which this king, before he gets assasinated, is getting a report on these women and on his own mother (as translated from the Greek of Euripides into English, by George Theodoridis):
But just then she [your mother] shouted, “Hey, my speedy bitches, there are some men here who are hunting us.  They want our submission. Come, run with me.  Arm yourselves with your thyrsus and come with me! Let’s get them”

We just managed to run away and escape the slaughter but they threw themselves, with no spear nor sword, at the calves that were quietly grazing nearby.  One of those women tore a poor, tiny calf away from its mother’s udder and others ripped calves to bloody pieces with their bare hands and then they began eating them raw.

My Lord, you could see bits of flesh strewn all around the place. Whole sides of animals, legs, other chunks of animal flesh hanging from the fir trees, dripping blood.  Huge bulls, my Lord which only a few minutes earlier stood tall and proud, the sort that if one got them angry they’d tear everything apart with their massive horns, well, now they dropped their bodies to the ground and straightaway countless girls dragged them about with their bare hands and… and by the time you blinked your royal eye, my Lord, they’d have the skin torn off those massive carcasses of them bulls.

And then they went flying about like the wild birds that ruin the proud wheat stalks of Thebes, the ones that fly low next to the rushing waters of Asopos river.  Then off them women rushed to the villages of Erythres, near Ysies, at the foot of Mount Kitheron and just like an invading army they turned everything upside down, ripping children out of their houses and taking all sorts of goods from there, which they just threw carelessly over their shoulder without tying anything together; still nothing fell to the dark soil, not even bronze or iron, my Lord!

And, o, my Lord Pentheus [the king], around their hair there was this brilliant fire that had no effect on them. Didn’t burn them one bit.

Then all the men came out fuming with anger and fully armed, wanting to bring these Bacchants into submission [ὑποτάσεις], but then, my Lord, if only you could have seen this most awesome thing!  Most terrible thing to see.
So the Ephesians would get that submission was not mutual in some contexts, that the king was to be obeyed, that women especially raving females should be under male gods and male leaders.  This was a gendered thing.  A one-way sexist thing.  Or was Paul suggesting mutual submission of all one to another also?


G said...

I will not even try to make a comment on BBB since I was censored. I guess they want a boys only club.

Perhaps Paul had the same thought in mind with women and slaves. Probably slaves and the women especially those attracted to the cult of Dionysus were interested in the more equal Christian cult that Paul seems to be promoting as in Gal. It is hard to really know Paul's mind as his writings seem a bit contradictory.

I think in the end common sense though tells us that mutual respect is the only humane development.

Rod said...


For Paul, at least in the entire context of Ephesians 5, mutual submission is the rule because Christ's death on the cross can partly be understood as a matter of self-giving. I say partly, because it is entirely that way, it will only serve to endorse oppression.

Jim / Random Arrow said...

I’m an amateur.

I don’t know how to interpret Ephesians.

My feelings –

Don’t talk about submission either way unless you’re willing to die. Mutually. Die to roles. Die physically. If needed. Anyone not willing to die isn’t qualified to – talk - about submission. One willing to die can still only talk for one’s self. “He cannot speak for her” (Gayle, your cite of that to me is still doing its job). I love the Bible story about Jael. Tent-peg Queen. I don’t want a whole herd of these raving females with tent pegs flying around hunting me. There are better ways to die.

Let the text speak for itself:

“ ... by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit ... “(Eph 2:15-18).

What to do with the – “He” – here?


Jim / Random Arrow said...

... and what to do with this too - "He might make the two into one new man ..."

God, help. Is there any way forward?


Suzanne said...

I am going to be ill if I have to read one more time (as I just did) the comment about sacrificial love on the part of the husband being a rationale for the submission of the wife. It is as if wives did not risk their life, and give their own life to give birth for the most part of recorded history. Women died in childbirth and men in war, and to make it out as if men sacrifice more of their life's blood than women is utter nonsense.

So, yes, I can make that comment here but not over there. However, I am permitted to list historic evidence over there.

The evidence suggests that submission can be cruel and violent one way coercion, or rape - or it can be mutual. Who knows.

Kristen said...

I am not a Greek scholar, but isn't there a difference between the active voice that is translated "to bring [someone] into submission" and the middle voice that is translated "submit yourself to [someone]"? And does Paul not use that middle voice in Ephesians 5? Does it not mean a voluntary act of the person who submits, as opposed to the forceful act of the active voice? That is what I have been taught.

Gem said...

I am not a Greek scholar either, but the submission in verse 21 and 24 is parsed passive at biblos and blb and I know they got that right. Its the only way a wife submitting to her husband in EVERYTHING (verse 24) makes any sense at all because it is physically and emotionally impossible for any wife to "fulfill" Eph 5:24 volitionally.

I checked with a Classics Greek Prof and he acknowledged that the passive could be accurate there which sealed the case for me.

J. K. Gayle said...

Thank you thank you thank you for your comments! You've each inspired me to consider how classical Greek scholars have translated this particular word in the Eph 5. context. (And at the end, I tell a real life story of mine, as a parable.)

JR said...

Suzanne? Are you saying that you just read (“as I just did”) the offensive comment over on that other blog where you cannot post?

Or are you saying that you just read the offensive post right here at this blog, that is, you just read my own post here (which is just before your post)? - and you found my post offensive?

The aim of my post about willingness to die is not about willingness to die as a justification for complimentarian hierarchy. If my post here is the offensive one – and if that’s the conclusion you drew from it. The point of my post is that authentic willingness to die (to roles, and physically) means the cessation of making hierarchical demands of submission. That kind of willingness to die to claims of hierarchical submission is never finished lifelong because the systematic presence of hierarchical claims is embedded in our social structures.

The temptation to make claims of submission in marriage (male or female) based on hierarchy is not eliminated because of word play using terminological tumblers of cognitive theology – claiming the verbal formulae of complimentarianism or of egalitarianism. I’m equally suspicious of cognitive theology (as a Quaker) no matter the cognitive content whenever cognitive theology is taken as the basis to trump irrational and deep bias (see the Implicit Attitude Test) – in other words, claiming an egalitarian theology can by used to mask deeper gender bias under the surface of a high sounding non-biased cognitive theology. That’s why my focus on attitude – the willingness to die. And to roles.

I do feel that a cognitive theology-teaching of egalitarianism is better than other teachings.

But as a caseworker getting restraining orders for battered women, it’s not an academic luxury for me to play word games with abusing men who know to speak all the right words before judges. I must look under the surface of words – at implicit attitudes. And at real behavior.

There are no verbal formulae free from ab-use.

Perhaps your comment responded to some post on another forum? If not, does this help any? If this does not help, then how might I correct my words? What’s a better set of words here? Or maybe you feel there is something more sinister beyond my words? How to correct this?


Suzanne said...

I need to clarify something here. When I wrote "I am going to be ill if I have to read one more time (as I just did) the comment about sacrificial love on the part of the husband being a rationale for the submission of the wife." I was thinking of a comment made elsewhere, but I wasn't allowed to comment on it at the time. My comment was NOT intended as a response to Jim above.

Talk about random arrows, this was a random tent peg. Sorry about that.

J. K. Gayle said...

I will not even try to make a comment on BBB since I was censored. I guess they want a boys only club.

I'm very sorry to hear that you also were censored! My experience, and experience as recent as yesterday, is that Wayne Leman at BBB is quite fair and attempts to be as true as possible to the published BBB commenting guidelines. Usually, an email to Wayne takes care of many things. Failing that, please do feel free always to post BBB related things at BBBB.

Thank you for emailing me privately. Your comment posted most recently here went automatically to spam. Sometimes blogger will send long comments to spam. The solution, until I see your email or your auto-moderated comment, is to try to break up your comment into a string of shorter comments.

It seems that Jim may have emailed you too. Thank you for your kindness, as always, and for your clarification to him and to the rest of us.

Kristen said...

Jim said:

"... cognitive theology is taken as the basis to trump irrational and deep bias (see the Implicit Attitude Test)"

This is very helpful. It was with great confusion, after I myself embraced egalitarian interpretations with joy, that I discovered that others who heard this "good news" that women were free in Christ just as much a men, did not welcome it as good news or embrace it as I did.

It was much easier for me to understand people who were not persuaded by the gospel itself, than that those who had embraced the gospel would not embrace its full extension to women. I still don't really understand it. But "implicit attitude" is probably the reason. Where do you take this test? Is it available online?

JR said...

Suzanne, Gayle thank you.

Thank you for investing the time, patience, and kindness to air out and correct these human foibles and to keep these conversations going.

Please know that I’d rather take the hits of random arrows and random tent pegs (from Suzanne, Gayle, or from anyone else) that are the results of labors of love of people trying to correct systematic bias (gender, race, age, ethnic, so on).

Suzanne, I’ll take your arrows any time as you keep up your work of exposing and correcting systematic bias. Mine, here. Or of bias elsewhere. A hard, nearly-impossible, and largely thankless task.

Same with Gayle.

Please know that I long for the nourishment, correction, and the rough-and-tumble of these kinds of academic-like and heartfelt conversations (Suzanne’s blog, and Gayle’s) because this level of conversation is rare in my daily work with poor and low income clients.

I need the corrections to my bias (implicit and systematic) from your patient work.

I’d like (at a later time) to seek further thoughts on the differences between exposing and correcting implicit biases (see e.g., Implicit Attitude Test) in contrast to systematic ones – a huge, huge problem for me. I confess. Later. Not now.

Suzanne, please keep shooting your arrows! (ouch!)


JR said...

Kristen, yes! And yes! I know that feeling. I’ll get you a link. Please be patient. Some work to do. The link soon, since my old link has changed or is broken. ~ Jim

Jim / Random Arrow said...

Galye, Kristen, Suzanne --

Thanks for your patience. Heavy workload. Housekeeping –

Implicit Attitude Test - @

Slightly renamed since I acted as a beta and guinea pig. Sorry for any confusions about the link to the test.

Please know I felt hesitant to post what little I did about implicit attitudes trumping cognitive theology. Or implicit attitudes trumping cognitive stuff in general. I wrote what I feel (Aristotle: say what you mean, mean what you say). I felt reluctant to write as I did for a reason. Because implicit attitude stuff could become a reverse discrimination against cognitive labors (cognitive here means well-reasoned) – like the cognitive labors of Galye, Kristen, Suzanne. That would be a demonic result. Please know that I do not want to discourage any of your efforts. Please know.

My general sense is a Freeman Dyson-esque sense of ‘infinite in all directions.’ This means we need infinitely more and more work in well reasoned (cognitive for now) theology, textual analysis, and all other forms of well reasoned criticisms of gender bias. More, not less. We also need infinitely more work understanding non-cognitive and deep implicit attitude bias. More work in all directions. My two-cents.

For those of you laboring in well reasoned efforts against gender bias – remember Anthony and Cady Stanton dying before seeing passage almost verbatim of their well reasoned words. Remember, and keep working. When I wrote earlier about a willingness to die, then the deaths of Anthony and Stanton too are examples. They died before seeing their fruits! Better, they gave their lives. I don’t like that. But, they did not give up!

Kristen, the interplays between implicit bias (that deep and very nasty bias) and cognitive theology which claims an egalitarian perspective – the interplays are hoary. Yes, I do agree that you are probably experiencing bias from a deeper level than the cognitive level. A mess. Even from allies who embrace egalitarianism. They can suffer deeper bias. Unawares! See more below. The combinations of interplays between our cognitive theology and our deeper, nasty, implicit bias are beyond me. I’m lucky to sort out a half dozen different kinds of bias all at once inside a single case (gender, race, age, ethnic – all in one case).

I’m worthless at the macro and large scale sort of stuff that Gayle and Suzanne do.

Galye, Kristen, Suzanne – dig this. I tested as almost bias-free on the Implicit Attitude Test. This portends good things for me as a caseworker. I must enter cases with an open mind. I must. I cannot afford to ruin the case of a client (it’s not about me) because my bias (pro or con gender bias) in advocacy blinds me to particulars of cases. I did disagree in my beta-test feedback (sorta like peer review) with the authors of the test – the test must be wrong about my own results as nearly bias-free. And the test back then needed tweaking to incorporate detecting gender bias. But here’s the kicker – pretend I’m nearly bias-free as the test said (I can’t really accept this), then I can still be gender-biased in my daily life by incorporating and repeating gender-bias memes in my daily work and conversation – at a cognitive advocacy or conversational level!

I can still spread the gender-bias memes.

My deeper freedom from implicit bias cannot justify or excuse me from criticism for propagating gender-bias at a conversational level. What a mess. Alas!

That’s why I need the ongoing lifelong criticism of Gayle, Suzanne, Kristen – at the cognitive level. Keep shooting those arrows.



Suzanne said...


Real life is catching up on me so I have started an article on implicit attitude bias, but have not read enough to respond.

I know that there are various paradigms for why we are attached to beliefs and values that do not make sense. I am familiar with the Just World/blame the victim framework for one. In fact, I find myself also holding this belief. I am on both ends of that one. I get blamed as a victim, and I blame others. Humbling, really.

I look forward to reading more on IA. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.