Re: On Slavery and Subjugation of Women

This article responds to a specific section of Michael Huemer’s Scary Bible Quotes, “On Slavery and Subjugation of Women.”

In an answer to Question 5 in his introduction, Michael Huemer claims his quotes are in context. I will echo his other critics and argue at least one of his points is definitively not in context.

His first point about “Subjugation of Women” is Ephesians 5:22-24:

Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

In context, we read that men must reciprocally love their wives. Ephesians 5:25-33:

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

This paints a picture very much other than that which Huemer paints. This is not a picture of subjugation or enslavement. The Christian marriage is a relationship where man and woman are co-equal, but possess different roles. Neither the man nor the woman controls the other. Rather, all choices should be made jointly by the husband and wife. This sometimes entails deferring categories of chores or decisions to one or the other person depending on relative strengths.

When a decision requires leadership, which they sometimes do, it is the role of the husband to lead, but this is not to say the wife becomes a slave. Both people are better off with a house that has good leadership. I would also say that it may not always be the case that the husband is the leader, although I think it is the usual case. There are marriages where the wife wears the pants so to speak. This isn’t an immoral situation, it’s a specialization in roles. I think it’s an interesting but unrelated theological curiosity as to whether a wife skilled in leadership should adopt the role of head of household or train up the husband.

Huemer has a few other points under this section:

  1. Regarding deference to authority – 1 Peter 2:13 Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every authority instituted among men.
    1. It’s possible for God to grant authority to government without rendering them morally perfect or licensed. I propose that is the real world.
    2. We are also supposed to obey God rather than men when there is a conflict.
    3. This doesn’t mean God thinks the state is necessary, or that he is against anarcho-capitalism or polycentric governance.
      1. In fact I think a polycentric Christian theonomy is possibly the ideal human arrangement, barring a God-ruled benevolent dictatorship.
      2. Also in fact, I think efficiency is a great-making property, the market is a moral-making entity, and in the long run morality will converge. (*brain explodes*) but really.
      3. Such long run convergence may be related to the concept of shalom, and the approach toward such state seems consistent with the perishing of evil (1, 2, and 3).
    4. This doesn’t mean God says we aren’t allowed to leave the country when Hitler gets elected.
    5. A more controversial discussion might be whether a Christian is licensed to assassinate Hitler.
  2. Regarding slavery – this deserved its own post!

 

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