The Subordination Challenge: No. 6 -- By: Gilbert Bilezikian

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 17:1 (Winter 2003)
Article: The Subordination Challenge: No. 6
Author: Gilbert Bilezikian


The Subordination Challenge: No. 6

Gilbert Bilezikian

Gilbert Bilezikian is professor emeritus of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College (IL) and cofounder of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, IL. Among the books of which he is the author are Beyond Sex Roles and Community 101.

Proponents of female subrdinationa are herein asked to prove their case from the Bible.

Challenge #6:

Cite a New Testament text that exempts husbands from being mutually submitted to their wives.

The facts

Male rulership has prevailed since the time of the Fall. For Christians, the new covenant in Christ should reverse this situation to the original goodness of the created order, from rulership back to the reciprocity of oneness (Matt. 19:4-5).

Submission to Christ requires of believers that they submit to one another (Eph. 5:21). According to this text, where there is no mutual submission, reverence for Christ is wanting. Because the newness of the gospel calls for new relationships, a paradigm shift has occurred that requires of Christians, including husbands and wives, that they are to be in mutual subjection.

Since the practical expression of subjection is servanthood, this means that both husbands and wives are servants to each other. But perhaps in order to overcome the ruler legacy that men have inherited from the Fall, it is additionally specified that Christian men must also love their wives to the point of Christlike self-sacrifice for their sakes (vv. 25-30).

For this precise reason, in the only New Testament text where the word authority is used (in verb form) to describe husband and wife relations, husbands are not exempt from coming under the authority of their wives. A Christian wife has exactly the same authority rights over her husband as a husband has over his wife (1 Cor. 1:4).

In this text, the Scriptures teach specifically that a husband has no authority over his own body but that his wife does. (Interestingly, the NIV has considerably softened its translation of this challenging statement.) In fact, decisions that affect their marital relationship may not be made unilaterally by either husband or wife (v. 5). Such decisions require the agreement of both parties. They both have equal say in the matter since either of the two may veto the proposed course of action.

Thus the New Testament requires that, beginning with the most personal expression of conjugal life, the one that emblemizes par excellence the union of man and woman, r...

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