I have read with interest Deep Strength’s latest posts on submission and marriage. In chronological order we have:
Unfortunately, time restraints kept me from responding in detail until now. Since DS has written several follow-ups to the first post, some of what I was going to say is now dated. Some now ideas developed, however, and so I will try and flesh out this post as best as I can.
I should note that I don’t agree with all that DS has to say- sometimes for theological reasons and sometimes practical reasons. But those disagreements can be worked out in other posts (and in some cases already have)
To begin with, I want to explore the notion of “intelligent submission.” As some alluded to in DS’s post, such a term is highly disingenuous. Not because there is anything wrong with either word. The problem is when they are combined together. The addition of “intelligent” is meant to apply a condition to submission- in other words, to limit its application.
Frankly, whenever anyone proposes limiting any expression of faith, be it submission, or charity, or compassion, etc., massive red flags need to be raised. Has anyone among my readers heard of “Intelligent Compassion” before? I can’t say that I have. And if I did, you better believe I would be looking for the con. I rather suspect I would not be alone in this.
Intelligence, or better put, Wisdom, is a trait that all Christian women should posses, or strive to build. Married women are no exception to this:
She opens her mouth with wisdom,
and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
However, when people start talking about “Intelligent Submission” they aren’t referring to a woman exercising wisdom and submitting to her husband at the same time. No, they are saying a woman should intelligently decide when and where and how to submit to her husband. The gap between those two notions is as vast as that between Lazarus and the Rich Man. No bridging that gap.
All of this drives to my main point: beware of those who try and applies conditions to how they live out their faith. For most, if not all, their intentions are not benign. What they are trying to do is limit how much work they actually have to put into their faith. An example from our Lord:
Then Pharisees and scribes came to Jesus from Jerusalem and said, 2 “Why do your disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? For they do not wash their hands when they eat.” 3 He answered them, “And why do you transgress the commandment of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God commanded, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and, ‘He who speaks evil of father or mother, let him surely die.’ 5 But you say, ‘If any one tells his father or his mother, What you would have gained from me is given to God,[a] he need not honor his father.’[b] 6 So, for the sake of your tradition, you have made void the word[c] of God.
[Footnote b: By dedicating his property to God, i.e., to the temple, a man could avoid having to help his parents, without actually giving up what he had. The scribes held such a vow to be valid without necessarily approving it.]
They want to have their cake and it eat it- to appear righteous, without having to live a righteous life. Which leads to the next part.
This idea of appearing righteous without having to actually be righteous is what Deep Strength covers in his most recent post:
That’s ultimately what it comes down to: women want to let their husband lead instead of following his lead. I had thought that twisted rebellion like the complementarians espouse was the main sin nature of women. However, I believe I am now wrong about that. Covert rebellion which is “I let my husband lead” is probably the main sin nature of women because it’s under the guise of righteousness (e.g. the husband is leading) but it gives her all of the power (e.g authority) in the relationship.
This is the true essence of virtue signalling. Grabbing power while maintaining the moral high ground. It’s not enough to grab power. It must be done with the moral high ground.
In other words, a woman must look good while rebelling or sinning. As Looking Glass likes to call it: Vanity. Vanity rebellion. Women’s sin nature in marriage is Vanity Rebellion.
DS is very close here. He is spot on about the specific behavior that women are exhibiting here. Although I think the name “Vanity Rebellion” is a bit clunky, I can’t think of a better name myself, so VR it is.
This VR phenomenon is quite prevalent in Christian circles, and is something I think we can probably call endemic to human nature. Nor is it necessarily limited to women, although I think women are more prone to it.
As DS points out, can also see this virtue signalling when it comes to divorce- women always try to have the moral high ground when they initiate a divorce. It is never because the woman is just tired of marriage. That might be part of it, but there is always some major failing on the man’s part.
At the same time, however, I think that this specific behavior is just a particular manifestation of a much broad behavior that women are prone to engage in. I call it “The Escape Plan.”
It is as simple as it sounds- always have an escape plan in place in case something goes wrong. Whatever the situation is, always have an out for it. You can find this behavior everywhere:
Don’t like what your husband is telling you to do? Claim it wouldn’t be intelligent to submit to him, and that is what God expects of wives.
Don’t like being married to your husband? Divorce him and claim it is his fault, that the moral blame lies on him because he failed as a husband and God wants you to be free.
Don’t need an abortion but want to be free to get one if need be, and at the same time appear righteous? Say that you are personally against abortion but don’t feel the state should intervene in women’s lives/bodies.
Rollo’s Plan B is an example of this. Keep a “Plan B” man around… just in case.
Heck, you see this in domestic violence cases all the time. The woman calls the police, but then tells them she doesn’t want the man arrested. Why? Lots of reason, but a major one is she wants them there to cool the situation down, at least at first. But then she can decide whether to keep the relationship or not. If she decided to keep it, she says she doesn’t want to press charges. If she decides to ditch her man, say she wants charges. You can also see this with women who will stick with a man, but then tell their friends or family they are “in fear of their lives.” This gives them a great out- they can stay if they want, but once they want out they can call the police and point out they warned people in the past. [This is nothing, mind you. Having friends who are cops can provide all kinds of stories- but this isn’t the place for that. ]
Again, the goal is setting up a situation where the woman can bail at any time if she wants to. It is all having options.
This explains Vanity Rebellion- women want to appear to be a good, righteous woman. But they also worry about what the cost of that could be if they actually lived up to everything. So they gain power… just in case.
Now, men do this too. But women, who are more naturally covert than men as owing to their nature, are far and away more prone to this. So prone to it I would argue that it is a standard procedure for women- they will default to it unless they actively resist. For men I think it is much more likely to be an active choice, and thus less common.
And that wraps up my commentary for today. To recap:
- People who add conditional modifiers to expression of faith, such as submission, are almost always (and should be presumed to be) acting in bad faith.
- Vanity Rebellion is just one example of a larger phenomenon, The Escape Plan- whereby a woman tries to get some perceived good but at the same time leaves an option available to her to bail or escape if the cost should prove too high.
My readers are of course free to disagree and/or add their own thoughts.