SALT LAKE CITY (BP)–While some women recoil at the idea of submitting to their husbands, respect for God’s Word and trust in his wisdom should convince them to follow God’s plan for the family, said the two women who helped draft the statement on family adopted by messengers to the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting June 9 in Salt Lake City.
It doesn’t take a scholar to be able to interpret what is clearly laid out in God’s blueprint for the family,” Mary Mohler, a homemaker from Louisville, Ky., whose husband, Al, is president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “‘Submit’ is not a negative word. It may be a politically incorrect word. It may not be a popular word. But it is a biblically correct word and that is what counts.”
“One reason you find rejection and animosity toward the term is that few people understand what biblical submission is,” Dorothy Patterson, a homemaker from Wake Forest, N.C., whose husband, Paige, is president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and the newly elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
“Submission is a voluntary thing, a ‘lining up under’ — that’s what the word literally means — so there is no forced aspect to the word in the biblical sense,” Patterson said. “And with the husband, too. In headship there is a lot of responsibility in making decisions.”
In a world where couples may find themselves reversing traditional family roles — often because they feel it is a necessity — husbands and wives have to seriously weigh what price they are willing to pay to follow God’s guidelines for the family, Patterson said.
“If you come under Scripture, that does limit you,” she said. “It gives you a particular set of guidelines. There is a measure by which you just have to trust the Lord, that if he gave you those guidelines he will see you through.”
A family that is always trying to decide who is going to make the decision and who is going to submit is headed for chaos, she said.
“I think the Lord knew us very well because he created us,” Patterson said. “He gave us a plan that wasn’t dependent on perfect circumstances or perfect people. What he did do was just say to us, ‘Do it.’ And so, as a woman standing under the authority of Scripture, even when it comes to submitting to my husband when I know he’s wrong, I just have to do it and then he stands accountable at the judgment.”
Respect for the Bible as God’s Word is all a wife needs to resolve the issue of submission, Mohler said.
Because she approaches the topic convinced the Bible is “the infallible, inerrant and sufficient Word of God, it’s not my prerogative to go through and start cutting and slashing passages,” she said. “I accept the entire canon as true.
“I submit to the leadership of my husband in our home, not because it is a command from Al Mohler, but because it is a command from almighty God to me as a Christian woman. My glad acceptance of that role says absolutely nothing about my gifts or my abilities or my intelligence, but it says everything about my willingness to be obedient to the commands given to me in Scripture.”
Submission to her husband’s leadership does not override a woman’s responsibility to obey God, however, the women agreed.
“There is one higher authority in a wife’s life than her husband,” Patterson said. “There is a statement in Scripture that we ought to obey God rather than men. However, we must move very carefully when we try to ascribe to God our own whims and interpretations and desires and cultural states.”
If her husband told her to shoot her granddaughter, “he’d better run for cover,” she said. On the other hand, if he told her he wanted to take his dog to church with him, “I hope he’s preaching because I’ll let him go and sit beside me and hope he ends up interrupting the service.
“You have to be able to distinguish what is a timeless principle from God and what is a manifestation of that principle in the time we are living in,” Patterson said —