Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bachmann submission

People are still weighing in on Michelle Bachmann divine obligation to be submissive to her husband.

The conservative/evangelical Christian Post has several pieces on the topic: Napp Nazworth, Was Bachmann's Answer on Being a Submissive Wife Biblically Correct? 08/17/2011; Anugrah Kumar, Bachmann Repeats: I'm 'Submissive,' Not Subservient to My Husband 08/15/2011; Stephanie Samuel, Bachmann 'Submissive' Question Ignites Debate Over Marriage, Sexism 08/13/2011. Samuel notes that Bachmann gave a more definite answer to the question of submitting to her husband to Newsweek than she did at the Iowa debate last week:

Newsweek also asked Bachmann about her submissive role to her husband, Marcus.

She told the magazine that she respects her husband but clarified, "In the White House I would be the decision maker."
Kumaar finds Bachmann dancing around the question on CBS:

"Congresswoman, what do you mean wives should be submissive to their husbands?" the CBS host asked. "Well, there was a debate earlier this week and that question was asked in the debate and for my husband and I submission means respect, mutual respect," replied Bachmann, who won the crucial Ames Straw Poll last week.

"I respect my husband, he respects me. We have been married 33 years, we have a great marriage, we built a business together and had five children together, we raised 23 foster children together in our home. And respecting each other listening to each other is what that means."

O'Donnell then asked if Bachmann would use a different word today other than "submissive." "You know," Bachmann answered, "I guess it depends on what word people are used to, but respect is really what it means." O’Donnell persisted. "Do you think submissive means subservient?" the host asked. "Not to us," Bachmann replied without reacting.

Julie Ingersoll will be surprised if Bachmann ever gives a straightforward explanation of her position on wifely submission. She writes in Can a Submissive Wife be President? Michele Bachmann says Yes Religion Dispatches 08/12/2011. Noting that Bachmann's evasive response echoes the vocabulary of what Ingersoll calls the "complementarian" variety of submission theology, she writes:

In Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, likely the most important the articulation of the complementarian position (I’ll bet five bucks Bachmann has this on her bookshelf), authors John Piper and Wayne Grudem argue that it violates women's essential nature to be in authority over men in any situation. Apparently (since she is running for president) Michelle Bachmann does not agree with their position entirely — although functioning as president with the "covering" of the authority of her husband could be reconciled within it. Asking her, and any other candidate who invokes submission theology, how it would apply to their actions as president seems entirely appropriate to me.

Bachmann still hasn't answered — and she won't — because there are still a lot of Americans who think women should submit men and stay home raising children. And she wants their votes. [my emphasis in bold]
Nazworth reports Southern Baptist minister Curt Bradford also dancing around the question:

"The truly Christ-like husband-leader is one who considers the submission issue to be about his submitting to God and leading or influencing his wife and family to submit to God as well. Her submission to his leadership is a matter of trust in her husband's walk with God. The husband who simply considers submission to be an authority issue has neglected the Ephesians 5:21 charge to Christians that they submit to one another or be subject to one another as normal for Christians. This is about a functional aspect of biblical community," Bradford said.
But he eventually gets to the nub of it:

"The wife’s submission to God and then to her husband’s leadership is not an indication of her worth, or weakness. Rather, it is an indication of her acceptance of the way the Creator of the universe constructed sociological systems for Christ [sic] followers."
He also interviewed a Presbyterian lay leader Carmen Fowler LaBerge, who was clear enough in her response:

“Having said that, the answer to the question is 'yes.' Any Christian who would serve as president would do so in submission to Christ. As a Christian wife, I submit to the headship of my husband in as far as he follows Christ. And just as Jesus does not 'lord' his headship over his disciples, neither does my husband 'lord' his headship over me. There is a joyful freedom in knowing that there is a person who has your back, covers you no matter what, and who would sacrifice himself for your honor and welfare."

LaBerge added, however, that she does not think Bachmann would be elected president if she had given that answer, but, "I think it is the right and righteous answer to the question for a woman speaking out of an authentically biblical worldview."
On the face of it, "I submit to the headship of my husband in as far as he follows Christ" could be a huge loophole. But we're unlikely to hear Michelle Bachmann use it because it would open up other unpleasant lines of questioning.

Frank Schaeffer, a recovering Religious Rightist and a former Christianist leader himself, explains in Are Michele Bachmann's Views About 'Christian Submission' Even More Extreme Than She's Letting On? Alternet 08/15/2011 explains submission theology in more detail and also why he thinks Bachmann's evasive response to the issue is "a barefaced lie."

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