In his great book Orthodoxy, Chesterton once said, “This began to be alarming. It looked not so much as if Christianity was bad enough to include any vices, but rather as if any stick was good enough to beat Christianity with.”
The aptness of this observation is seen in the following missive from Angie: “Credenda Agenda, which I think of as your baby, carries an article in the current issue under the heading Femina, which positively encourages godly women to expect a divine reward if they rat out their dissenting husbands to the pastor and elders of the church.”
But here is the real issue:
“You Christians teach that wives should submit to their husbands, right?”
“What if a husband is beating his wife? Then what should she do?”
At this point, this becomes a choose your own adventure novel. Suppose the (horrible) answer were:
“Nothing. She should be submissive, and just take it.”
At this point the Tolerance Police would set to caterwauling about how such Christians hate women. And that caterwauling would not obscure the fact that, on this question, they would happen to be right. A blind squirrel finds a nut every once in a while. No human authority on earth is absolute, and each legitimate authority must defer to other legitimate authorities according to their respective spheres. This involves family government, church government and civil government. There are times, Angie, when a woman should call the cops. There are other times when she should call her pastor or elders. I am sorry you do not appear to think that battered women should have this option. It appears that feminism is still evolving.
So if the answer were no, as it was in the column she mentions, and the wife urged to take her problem with an abusive husband to the elders, the caterwauling ascends yet again. Chairman Mao! Stalin! Returning to the quote from Chesterton, it begins to looks as though Christ Church were not bad enough to encompass any evil, but rather that any rock is good enough to throw at us.
With all this in mind, let us return to the article written by my wife that Angie quoted. I want you to notice what she omitted from her quotation and hid beneath some dot dot dots. What is contained underneath those handy dots?
If a man is acting foolishly, a woman is foolish to go along quietly. Of course this requires great wisdom. I am not advocating giving wives license to disobey in a willy-nilly fashion. That is what I am objecting to in the paragraphs above. But there are times when a godly wife should beseech her husband not to act in a foolish manner. It may involve doctrine. Perhaps she is alarmed that he is being attracted to heretical ideas, whether it is “openness theology” or Roman Catholicism. She should speak to him respectfully about this, but letting him know she cannot follow him there. If she belongs to a godly church, her elders would support her in this. Perhaps he is plotting to create some kind of stink in the church. Abigail would not stand for it. A good Christian wife should go to the elders and ask them how she can be a good church member and a good wife at the same time. She should not simply stand by, hoping that her husband will do the right thing. Nor should she just accept anything her husband does as though he is infallible. If a husband is bad-mouthing his elders, his pastor, or his friends, a godly woman should refuse to go along. She should speak to him privately first, but if he is not receptive, she should go to her pastor or elders and seek their advice . . . A wife is to be a helper to her husband not a blind follower, and this sometimes includes going past him to get help. God blessed Abigail when she did this
Now here are the missing words: “This same pattern should be followed if a husband is violent, if he has a temper, if he is cheating on his income taxes, if he is not providing for the household, or if he is being sexually unfaithful in any way. This is not an exhaustive list.”
Far from being an example of us teaching members of families to function as snitches, this is simply proves that we do not teach what you assert we do. We believe that no unquestioned authority ought to be placed in the hands of sinful men anywhere. This applies to husbands, parents, elders, pastors, presidents, governors, etc. In all Trinitarian societies, there is mutual submission and mutual accountability — for everyone.
I can see it now. A woman comes into a police station or a safe house. She is bleeding from the lip, has a black eye, and her dress is torn — another victim of domestic violence. The sergeant looks at the officer next to him. “Oh great. Another stool pigeon.” I really am curious how we got to the point of me defending a woman’s right to challenge her husband’s authority, with feminists attacking me for saying so. But I don’t mind. I think it is kind of funny.
Debby took umbrage at the point we made re: “fakers, humorless, joyless, and encouragers of racism and violence.” But we were not maintaining that every last secularist is humorless, etc. We do believe that the logic of secularism tends that way, and that multitudes of secularists have followed this logic out as evidenced by the general howling in this controversy. Are there exceptions? Sure. But we reiterate that the fundamentalism of the left is not very attractive, rejoices in pettiness, hesitates not when it comes to circulating a lie (and when caught in a lie, simply moves on to the next one), and likes to initiate pogroms in the name of inclusive diversity. Have the deadly earnest “Not in Our Town” folks picked out an appropriate colored shape for us to have to pin on our clothes yet? I suggest a big “I” for Intolerant.
Apologetics in the Void” are repostings from an on-going electronic discussion and debate I had some time ago with members of our local community, whose names I have changed. The list serve is called Vision 20/20, and hence the name “visionaries.” Reading just these posts probably feels like listening to one half of a phone conversation, but I don’t feel at liberty to publish what others have written. But I have been editing these posts (lightly) with intelligibility in mind.