All abusers require submission in order to carry out their abuse. As an abuse survivor, I am acutely aware of this fact. If you stop the submission, you will stop the abuse.
Now, I am fully aware that this statement flies in the face of modern fundamental Christian churches, but hear me out. The Bible surely talks about submission, but I fear our churches and para-church organizations have taken it a step too far. This extra step opens the door to abuse very wide, and every time. The very first step in stopping the abuse is to stop the submission. The very first step in stopping the submission is to understand what the Bible really says about submission.
Submission started with sin. In the garden, when God was telling Adam and Eve the results of their sin, He told the woman, in Genesis 3:16, that her "desire will be toward her husband and he will rule over" her. So, the idea of submission is a result of the fall. God was telling them what they would face in the future; He was not ordering the husband to rule over the wife. There is no command given in this statement.
Ephesians 5:22 tells wives to "be subject to" their own husbands "as unto the Lord."
Colossians 3:18 states, 'Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord."
Each of these passages have one word in common above the others and it's not the word "submit." As a matter of fact, the Ephesians reference does not even have the word submit in it in the Greek. Look it up and see. The one word these verses have most in common is "husband" and a particular husband at that....."your own husband."
Women, we are to submit to our own husbands. Period. There is no other man on the planet to whom we owe submission in that context. We are to "submit ourselves one to another" as Christians, as stated in Ephesians 5:21, but that does not mean all women submit to all men. It means all men and women submit to each other in a church context. It means the female voice is just as important as the male voice.
When Christ died on the cross, He brought in the age of grace and His Word went from husbands ruling over wives to husbands being commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. (Ephesians 5:25) A husband who is looking to do that hardly has time to brow-beat his wife into submission for his struggle is far greater, I dare say.
Women, stop submitting to men who are not your husband!
I have been married for nearly 35 years. We have reared eight children. Submission is not an issue in my marriage. Submission is not an issue in my life, either. I submit to the law of the land, I submit to the Word of God as the Holy Spirit moves in my heart. I submit to other Christians in our service of the King. But, I simply do not and will not submit to any other man simply because he's a man and I'm a woman. I do not submit to preaching that is not aligned with the Word of God. I look things up on my own and decide if they are true. I hold no one else responsible for that besides myself.
I never have. I never will. But, this has not gone over very well with other men.
When we stop submitting to men who are not our husbands, it opens a door to freedom. It empowers us to question men like Bill Gothard. It makes us think twice before we automatically submit to the unreasonable demands of a mission board over how to school and/or raise our children.
I don't deal with men who expect me to submit to them and their way of thinking. Years ago when my husband and I owned a rental property business, we would look at a potential house to buy and some of the real estate agents would not so much as look at me, let alone give credibility to anything I had to say in any deal. They would look only to my husband. When we realized what was happening, we dealt with it swiftly and effectively. We simply would not buy a house or property from any agent who did not treat me as an equal in Johnson Rentals. When an agent practiced this, we politely thanked him for his time and were done. No female agent ever did this, by the way; it was only the men.
I truly believe one of the keys to stop abuse in the church, on the mission field, and in any Christian or non-Christian workplace is for women to stop submitting to men who are not their husbands. Husbands and wives can become a united fortress for their families, that no one can penetrate. This protects their children from abuse more than anything else.
This thinking enabled me to make my son's Marine Corps Drill Instructor stand down and apologize to me in front of his recruits. I knew he had no authority over me, so when he cussed in front of my two little boys, who were four and six at the time, I politely asked him to stop talking like that in front of my little boys. I told him that they are so young and impressionable and they would think it's ok to talk like that. The DI immediately apologized to me over and over and said he'd clean up his mouth. My son and his fellow recruits silently rejoiced. (I worried for a minute that he wouldn't let my son graduate boot camp, but he did.)
Abuse survivors like myself learn that we have power over ourselves and we become unafraid to exercise that power no matter who disagrees or tries to quiet us.
Oh, and quieting us is a common tactic to allow the abuse to continue, or at least ensure the abuser doesn't get caught. In many cults, this is called making the women and girls "keep sweet." In the FLDS (Fundamentalist Latter Day Saints) cult, run by Warren Jeffs from his prison cell, this is what they do. They first subdue the women with submissive teachings, then they oppress them if they try to exercise a mind of their own, then they accuse them of causing trouble if they don't "keep sweet." This is eerily similar to what I've heard some men say.....they criticize women who are outspoken about abuse in an attempt to quiet them. They'll say things like, "Oh, she's always harping about that." or "Are you ever going to give that up?" or "You're just like that because you think you were abused." or "Can you believe her? Ha!" And the list goes on. Don't "keep sweet." Speak up about abuse, every single time. Some young man or woman will thank you one day.
Every cult that ever was works openly to subdue the women! Without exception.
Don't be that woman. Don't submit to men who are not your own husband. And if your husband is demanding you do something unbiblical or something you disagree with, stand your ground against it. God comes first. And if you need help with that, contact me.
And, if you're not married but live on your own as single, you submit to no one any more than any man does and should. Don't submit to men just because they are men. Submit to one another in your church, but the men should also be practicing this.
I know a pastor who is so insecure about submission that when a godly woman in his church was widowed, he didn't know what to do with her, so he ostracized her and accused her of being out there "practicing fornication" in the world. This woman had served her Lord in her church for years and was in her 70s when this happened to her. She left his church. I don't blame her. I would have gone with her had I been there at the time.
I am heartbroken for the young people who were hurt by Bill Gothard. I am heartbroken for the people I know whose marriages were destroyed due to his unbiblical teachings. I am burdened beyond expression about this and I will continue to speak out against abuse. I will continue to empower women to stand up and have a voice of their own. I will continue to encourage women to choose Jesus, like Mary, Martha's sister did, because that cannot be taken away from them.
You all have the right to choose Jesus. And you don't have to do it quietly to be godly.
If someone wants me quiet about abuse, they can stop supporting abusers.