My Parents: An Example of Mutual Authority in Marriage

Jory Micah Peterson

lightstock_329212_medium_andrewpeters

Subscribe to the Junia Project Blog

Get content on biblical equality straight to your inbox. And get our free guide: 5 Pillars of Biblical Equality

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
mutual authority in marriage

MY PARENTS

And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything (Eph. 5:21-24).

I grew up in a household that I believe functioned properly. Of course, things were not perfect, but they were good. My friends hung out at my house and considered my parents their spiritual parents. My parents didn’t pretend that my dad was always in charge and they didn’t take the scriptures above to mean that my mother’s body obtained salvation through my father.

I believe these Bible verses have been blown way out of proportion. Firstly, we often leave out the verse that starts this passage, “And further, submit to one another out of reverence to Christ.” Secondly, historical and biblical context is often ignored. And thirdly, these verses have been taken way too literally.

Women who stand up for mutual authority are often demonized in Christian sub-culture as those rebellious types who want to find a way not to have to submit to anybody.

This couldn’t be further from the truth. Submission is a key aspect within Christian thought. It is an expression of love and its purpose is accountability. It is crucial that we all learn to submit, sometimes even when we don’t agree with our leadership. Husbands and wives are naturally one another’s accountability partners. Our spouses are the people who call us out when we are acting foolish. This is good. This is healthy.

What I find so troubling is the belief that wives are supposed to submit to their husbands, but husbands are not supposed to submit to their wives.

Many Christians give men a free pass to love their wives without any accountability to their wives. I would argue that this is not a complete expression of Christ-like love and character. Sub simply means under and mission means assignment.

Therefore, submission as it relates to all Christians (not just marriages), means “under the same assignment.” A Christian marriage should strive to be centered; equal love, respect, authority, accountability, and partnership are key to balance and proper function.

jory parents copyGrowing up, I valued my mother’s sweet temperament, but strong approach. She is the go-getter in our family and she led by example.  My father, who has devoted his whole life to studying and ministering God’s Word, is even more passionate about mutual authority in the home than my mother is. As a family, we recognize and value a man’s ability to walk into a room and bring order. When I was a teacher I loved when a dad stopped by. Just his presence brought my rowdy 7thgraders under control.

 

My heart is not to diminish the man’s authority, but to raise women up to take their equal place of leadership in the home. I adore men. They are strong and protective, but this does not always give them the final say.

A husband and a wife should equally reign over their homes as a king and queen would rule over their country. They both have unique gifts to offer and, when used together, they can do great things. But how do we biblically justify this? Many of us have been taught our whole lives that the man is the head of the home.

Firstly, there is evidence that head in ancient Greek (the language the New Testament was mostly written in) means source. This actually makes a lot of sense being that woman was taken from the side of man. Therefore, man is the source of the woman and Christ is the source of the church.

But whether this is accurate or not, the truth is that many of us have applied our modern-day understanding to what the word head means and have ignored both biblical and historical context.

For example, Christians are taught throughout the Bible to submit to one another. Why do we make an exception for husbands in the marriage unit? If we make a case out of just a few Bible verses and ignore the rest of the Bible, we find ourselves creating human-made doctrines. Also, it is imperative to understand that the culture the Apostle Paul abided in was male-dominated, and Paul was all about fitting into culture as best as possible in order to win others to Christ.

Although the Bible’s principles are still relevant and useful for our lives today, we must not forget that Paul was writing to a very specific audience. 

I find it almost amusing how those who teach complete female submission in the home don’t typically have their wives wear head coverings. Why not?

If we are going to heed some of Paul’s words as literal commands for every culture and time, should we not heed all of his commands? He clearly writes “for if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head (1 Cor. 11:6).” This is just one example of many double standards some in the church hold. The truth is that this command is not to be taken as a universal principal and need not be applied to American culture in the 21st century. But isn’t this a slippery slope one may ask?

There are always going to be people who take things too far and start proclaiming that there are no absolute truths in God’s Word, but this is simply teetering out of balance in the other direction.

There are many principles in the Bible that can and should be taken literally because God is absolutely clear that some things are sinful. But my parents’ relationship of mutual submission and shared authority is far from sinful. They are closely connected, take long walks together often, and talk about everything. They make decisions together, respect one another’s independence, and share financial responsibility.

My mother loves to serve my father, but her purpose is much greater than just this. She is an extraordinary artist, savvy business woman, and an effective Bible teacher/speaker. I have watched my father support her in all of her endeavors my whole life, and they are a highly cherished couple in our community.

They are a shining example of a Christ-centered marriage and have been going strong for 37 years. I could not be more proud to call them my parents!

parents 1

Posted in
Tagged as

Jory Micah Peterson

Women and the Bible

Revisiting the Woman at the Well in John 4

Gail Wallace

The story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well is told in chapter…

Personal Stories, Women and the Church

Those Who Protect a Woman’s Call

Sarah Sparks-Franklin

Thank God for those who protect a woman’s call! “I’m not sure I can continue…

General

Awaiting the Refugee King: A Christmas Reflection

Christiana Rice

This Christmas, I’m pondering the grittier, truer side of the nativity narrative through the lens

Subscribe for our free guide

5 Pillars of Biblical Equality

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

20 Comments

  • Thanks for this, Jory. It’s a powerful picture of a good marriage which can stand the test of time. It took us a while to work this out, but our marriage of 43 years is far more potent and peaceful because we did. I’m reposting.

  • It seems that some will take the verse about submitting to husbands and the passage about women not talking in church and build a doctrine that says women are to shut up and do what their husbands say. Thank you for pointing out that this is not faithful to a full reading of Scripture, nor to the context in which those passages were written.

    • Tim- you are welcome and thank you for your comment. Too often people forget to interpret the Word of God with the Word of God as their primary source. The whole book must be understood to understand even one verse in its correct context.

  • LOL, at first I read the last sentence of your bio as saying you wrote your thesis during the first and second centuries…! Off to have a look at it now.

  • I married a focussed, intelligent Proverbs 31 woman in 1078. She “considers a field and buys it;
    From her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong.
    She senses that her gain is good”. (Specifically-businesses, farms, medical equipment, horses and tack)

    We have both succeeded above expectations vocationally, but we are “wired” differently. Did I become the behind the scene “server” because someone had to or is that my specific calling? I have learned to enjoy cooking, laundry and having her coffee and clothes ready for long hours at the clinic or at the equine training barn.

    Have I sometimes wondered if my role is biblical? Yes. Would I have been more successful if my dinner and slippers were waiting on me every night? No.

    Truly, she would be bored out of her mind and I have been more successful as a business development consultant working from home than I ever dreamed.

    Thanks for your contemporary study of this important subject for women. But, men need confidence they are pleasing God in our day just as much.

    • WOW! You sound like one great guy! Callings and roles are based off God’s will, passions, and personalities; not gender.

  • This is wonderful, Jory. Thank you so much for sharing from the inner sanctum of your family.
    I didn’t grow up in this kind of home, and it’s a gift to see that they exist. It gives me hope.

  • How encouraging and uplifting to see a real-life example of mutual submission. I can’t even imagine it right now — it wasn’t in my home of origin, and it very much isn’t in my marriage. This gives me hope and joy that it does exist! And thank you for your support and love for your parents. That’s a beautiful thing to see too.

    • Zoe. Thank you for your comment. Finding the balance of mutual submission seems to be a journey, not a destination. It takes a lot of time and a centered walk with Christ on both ends. My hubby and I believe in it strongly, but it still takes work. It seems someone always wants to be the boss. Give it time girlfriend! 😉

  • Well-written and well-said…my husband and I have lived your conclusions beautifully for 57 years; we have a full partnership in every respect; thank you for your study and thoughtful insight…Rachel Solomon

  • Well spoken Jory,

    this topic of relating to the Bible scriptures as being taken too literally reminds me of how our Leader and Teacher “Lord Jesus” used to imply of how the scribes and the Pharisees used to be back in his day as regards to taking things regarding the scriptures of the law too seriously. Unfortunately they could not see beyond the things of the flesh, by way of the flesh so they held fast to the teachings of man rather than the things of our “Heavenly Father” which are of course the spiritual things. Its a good lesson for us to see beyond our flesh and look to the spiritual. That way I feel we can get a better understanding of our “Heavenly Father” and the true meanings of his word.

    • Thank you for your comment and I could not agree more! I take a special interest in breaking off legalistic chains around the necks of Christians (especially female Christians).

Comments are closed.

Scroll to Top