Sunday, August 14, 2011

Michele Bachman's Submission

Conservative columnist Byron York put this question to Michele Bachmann in last Thursday’s Presidential debate,

In 2006, when you were running for Congress, you described a moment in your life when your 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.’”

As president, would you be submissive to your husband?

Bachmann responded,
Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10th. I’m in love with him. I’m so proud of him. And both he and I — what submission means to us, if that’s what your question is, it means respect. I respect my husband. He’s a wonderful, godly man, and a great father. And he respects me as his wife.
There has been a lot written on this topic, and I can't begin to discuss it all. Here are the posts that I have read so far by Denny Burk, Kurk and Wayne.

My view on this is fairly simple. I don't think anyone who has made a vow of obedience to someone else should be elected to public office. I don't think anyone who has made a vow of obedience to someone else should be allowed to vote. We need to make it clear that vows of obedience cannot coexist with democracy.

So, yes, I think Bachmann gave a reasonable answer. Mutual submission is fine, unilateral submission of the wife is wrong, and a vow to obey should be outlawed.


Old sage said...

Biblically: the husband is the authority in the family and wives submit to the husband within the parameters of the family. His authority is limited jurisdictionally to family matters only. Husbands do not have authority over wives outside of the jurisdictional confines of the family. If Bachmann worked for AT&T or Chase-Manhattan, her submission would be to the authorities in those areas and her husband’s authority over her at her employ would be non-existent. He has no jurisdiction there.

It is the same in her role as Congresswoman. Jurisdictionally, her husband does not have authority over her in her role as Congresswoman (or President). Her authority is the Constitution and her constituents and so she is in no way obligated to be “submissive” to him in matters relating to her responsibilities as Congresswoman. Her obligation to be submissive is only as a wife not as a Congresswoman. Out of mutual love, trust, and respect, she may value his counsel in her role as Congresswoman, but in no way is she obliged to follow it.
(As far as obedience is concerned, I'm sure there are plenty people in authority over you in your life's journey, Suzanne, that you obey.)
Joe Rogowski
Richmond, VA

Suzanne said...

Thanks Joe,

What happens if a woman has to work late? Who has jurisdiction over her concerning whether or not she can work overtime?

Regarding my own life, I belong to a union, thank goodness.

G said...

"We need to make it clear that vows of obedience cannot coexist with democracy."

If a democracy is defined as a government by the people, it means that every citizen's vote is an important part of the rules of that society. In a democracy it is impossible to separate completely the affairs of the society and the family. For one example, the votes of the mother and father, effect the matters of the children's education. If the husband is the authority of the family and the woman must unilaterally submit, then her vote, if different than his, may very well cancel his vote. This would surely be a violation of his authority. If this is the case, wives should not be allowed to vote lest they violate their husbands will. Therefore, such a unilateral submission will not work in a true democracy. Also, in a democracy, all authority is contingent upon the larger community. Any static notions of authority in an individual, except by God alone are a temporary illusion.

Hannah said...

She didn't answer the question for me personally. She avoided it.

She makes a statement - I don't know the context - about how her husband wanted her to study tax law. She didn't like tax law, but did it due to submission to her husband.

Now if she said she did it because she respected her husband's opinion, and maybe he saw something she didn't, or it would help the family, etc. There are loads of reasons why a person would study tax law even if they don't want to. It may not totally compute for many, but it makes more sense to me. At times you bite the bullet.

The way it was worded about her doing it out of submission? Bad choice of words if 'respect' is what she truly meant. It makes me think she was pandering to the audience at the time, and was back pedaling at the debate.

Most of the secular world - whom she was speaking to - do not look at submission as respect. Too many preachers make it well known that submission means they are the boss, and you do as I say. THAT is what it means to many.

I think that was the reason the statement was brought up, and I can't say that I blame them. Are we going to elect a person that will make the decisions we elected them for, or run it by the spouse first? Abide by what he says due to submission, but since we didn't elect him?! I can understand WHY they would ask the question.

I don't think one President didn't have conversations with their spouse about issues, and we all know that spouses can influence things. That to me is a non issue. Its part of marriage in their case.

People want to be sure they are electing Michele, and not Michele after her husbands said it was okay type of thing.

I doubt this statement was put to bed after the debate. There is nothing wrong with respecting your spouse - as you should - but the way she worded her going to school for tax law? Obedience is what heard. Not respect. She needs to be careful.

Anonymous said...

I am not at all concerned that if Bachmann is elected her husband would be the shadow president and she would be taking orders from him. But I am concerned that Bachmann is a liar. I had been impressed with her until that question came up in Iowa. Now I don't know about her.

What disturbed me about Bachmann's response to this question is that she comes off as a liar one way or another. I think she was lying in the first instance actually. Here's why. First, I do not believe she is or was a submissive wife in the way that the majority of Christians understand that to be. Second, I believe she understands what being a submissive wife means to most Christians. So, to me she was lying in the first instance when she made the claim that she was a submissive wife.

Kristen said...

Old Sage, you make some interesting points, but they seem a bit far-fetched. "Jurisdiction" as you describe it seems to be an anachronistic reading-in of a modern idea into a first-century text. In those days there was no separation of the family and business worlds. A home was an economic unit just as much as it was nucleus of blood relationships.

Why can't we just say that Paul was writing in a culture where men had absolute authority over their slaves, wives and children, that we don't live in that culture now, and that it's therefore ok to rethink the whole concept of husband-authority, just as we rethought the whole concept of slavery?

Anonymous said...

Today we focus on but half the message that was given to married people in Ephesians 5. No worries, because people have been doing this for centuries. "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord." How about the other half? Was the statement, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..." not implying that the husband had to submit himself, his body and his entire life to the support and well being of his wife? Mutual submission is very much called for in the scripture, in my humble opinion.
Was this a "fair" question? Of course not, but Bachmann put this bullet in the press' gun when she said what she did about becoming a tax attorney. Had she instead replied that her husband recommended she pursue that profession and she that followed his ADVICE, there would have been no submission question.

diamondnell said...

Suzanne, I chuckled at "I don't think anyone who has made a vow of obedience to someone else should be allowed to vote," but I have to disagree with your premise. Democracy has to make room for the freedom to obey (when appropriate, and even when not). We DO all have authorities in our lives. Governmental authorities, if nothing else.

And believers have to answer to God -- that alone disqualifies people of faith from participating in democracy, in the minds of some.

diamondnell said...

Joe, I agree with your analysis in theory. (Though not with the "Biblically: the husband is the authority in the family..." part.) As in any job, spheres of authority must be observed.

But in practice, spheres can and often do overlap and conflict. There is no way that Bachmann's husband would not have influence as a spouse. And *if* she regards him as her authority, that would certainly increase his influence.

diamondnell said...

Anonymous, I am afraid that you are right that "she comes off as a liar one way or another." She is trying to sound mutually submissive now to play both sides, but her first comment was clearly not reflective of *mutuality* the way most *people* understand it.

Unfortunately, a lot of Christians these days do play the same game with the word "mutual," so I'm not sure that she is not, in fact, "a submissive wife in the way that the majority of Christians understand that to be."

Bachmann probably holds her beliefs about submission sincerely, and in the current evangelical climate she may even believe she is expressing her thoughts on submission sincerely. What bothers me is that her playing-both-sides approach *is* representative of the lack of intellectual integrity that the world is observing in evangelical Christianity right now. Which is not, in my view, adequate evidence of trusting in and submitting to God.

I don't want someone in office who trusts too much in human beings, and I don't want someone in office who lets themselves be drawn into the spin club (deluding themselves in the process). Though politicians would seem to be the only candidates we have to choose from :P

So yeah, my first instinct is a thumbs-down for Bachmann, but I'm sensing I need to tread carefully here, and remain open to comparing her to all available options.

Kristen said...

"As in any job, spheres of authority must be observed."

This is certainly true-- but it is, as I said earlier, a modern notion.

What I don't understand is when people claim we must have husband-authority as set forth in the Bible, but then impose upon it modern notions such as "spheres of authority." If the way it was in the Bible is the way we must follow, then husbands ought to have absolute authority over their slaves, wives and children, in homes that are run as a combination of home, business, miniature kingdom and spiritual unit -- and the President should be a Caesar-king who has the right to come into any home at will and override the husband's rule in every area.

Of course, if we did that, the full impact of Paul's words to husbands to "give yourselves" for their wives just as Christ gave Himself to raise the church up to be glorious beside Him, would be much more plain. Hmmm.

A. Amos Love said...

Suzane - Anyone

Thought someone might like to respond to this blog post. ;-)

The Gospel Coalition


Fellas, Take the Ladies Salsa Dancing!

...Besides being fun, you’ll have a wonderful model for male-female relationships in marriage. Here’s what I learned:

1. The entire dance depends on male leadership. There is no dance if the man doesn’t lead.

And much more... on complimentarians...

Seems to me to be a very ugly comparison. :-(

Oy vey!!! :-)

Be blessed... And be a blessing...