This post was inspired by one of Dalrock’s articles in which he takes to task some complementarians who supposedly affirm male headship and female submission, but who in fact, do something close to the opposite. In his article, Dalrock quotes the popular complementarian, Mary Kassian (author of The Feminist Mistake) when she says,
“A husband does not have the right to demand or extract submission from his wife. Submission is HER choice—her responsibility… it is NOT his right!! Not ever. She is to “submit herself”— deciding when and how to submit is her call. In a Christian marriage, the focus is never on rights, but on personal responsibility. It’s his responsibility to be affectionate. It’s her responsibility to be agreeable. The husband’s responsibility is to sacrificially love as Christ loved the Church—not to make his wife submit.”
Sadly, upon a close reading of her words, we see that her teachings rob submission of its meaning and instead embrace a washed-out form of biblical headship. Notice in particular the words in bold. Kassian claims that when and how to submit to one’s husband is totally up to the woman. So basically, if a woman doesn’t feel like submitting, she most certainly doesn’t have to.
There’s just one small problem: that’s not submission. Here is the basic definition: to submit is to “accept or yield to a superior force or to the authority or will of another person.” Obviously, Kassian fundamentally misunderstands (or denies) what submission actually means.
As seen from the quote above, Kassian opposes any “yielding of the will” or “accepting the force” of her husband’s authority. It seems that her (and others’: see first paragraph of this pdf) brand of complementarianism wants to remove the husband’s authority from the headship/submission paradigm. To her credit, this is all to the goal of making submission sound appealing to women. While that is an honorable goal, she and those who share her view are going about it in a backwards way. Instead of teaching the actual doctrine of submission, they insist on teaching its caveats, providing women with every reason and excuse not to submit.
If the woman herself is the only one forcing her to submit, she really doesn’t have to if she doesn’t want to. Her feelings are her own authority. This is NOT what the Bible teaches. Not one bit. It commands women to submit. It does not say that women must submit when they see fit, when they feel like it, or when they want to. The whole idea behind submission is bowing your will to someone else’s. It is precisely when we don’t want to submit that we are actually submitting.
To be fair, as mentioned above, Kassian did write a book debunking secular feminism. However, I think she – and likely you and me – are largely blind to just how deeply feminism has wormed its way into the Christian worldview.