Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Marriage God's Way - A Book Review, part two

This is part two in my series reviewing the book Marriage God's Way by Scott LaPierre. Part one can be read here.

Right at the beginning of the book, Pastor LaPierre attempts to establish a foundation for the rest of the book. On pages 4 and 5 we can find what I believe to be the most important things said in the entire book. In fact, the principle related there, if followed, is the key to a wife finding fulfillment and success in her role as a wife. (I won't spend as much time discussing what husbands can learn from the book because I dislike very much the notion of a woman immersing herself too deeply in a husband's duties before God. I may comment where I think the author has totally missed the mark or stated something that is outright unbiblical in this area). Here are some examples:
A wife cannot submit to Christ without submitting to her husband.
Likewise, a wife submits to her husband not because he is a wonderful spiritual leader, or because he loves her the way she wants to be loved. A wife submits to her husband because she wants to submit to Christ.
Pastor LaPierre is hitting the target right in the bullseye with these statements and it isn't hard to find Scripture passages that teach this exact thing. (1 Cor. 11, Eph 5:24, 1 Peter 3:1-6, and others)

The first chapter left me hopeful because the foundational principles were so clearly stated and it seemed safe to assume that the rest of the book would be affirming of this. Unfortunately, that is not what happened. There are many places in the book where it reappears, but there are other places where it is outright contradicted. I believe the book could also benefit from real life examples of wives submitting that don't involve the author's own marriage. He and his wife are too young and lack the depth of understanding that comes from decades of practicing submission.

The undermining of the principle that a wife submits to her husband in obedience to God begins in a footnote right on page 4 that says
1  Chapter thirteen addresses the "what ifs" of submission: "What about an abusive husband? When does a wife not need to submit?"
I think I may have groaned out loud when I read that. Conspicuously absent is a chapter devoted to the "what ifs" of love. "What about an abusive wife? When does a husband not need to love?" No one EVER writes a book on marriage and includes instructions on when a husband is relieved of his duty to love his wife like Christ loves the church. And yet so many authors feel somehow compelled to let wives know that they don't always have to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ.

To be clear, the commands to both husbands and wives in the Bible are unqualified. And just in case there was some question about whether the wives are really supposed to submit to their husbands in EVERY THING, Paul says this in Ephesians 5:24
Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
There is no exception clause. No exceptions are given anywhere. And, just in case there is still some question, Peter goes on to explain in chapter 3 of his first epistle that when a husband is being disobedient to the word of God (abuse perhaps?) the wife is to be subject to him. He even gives the example of Sara obeying Abraham at a time when he was not obeying the word. Now, I am assuming that Peter didn't have some supernatural knowledge of the life of Sara, but was basing his argument on what he knew about Sara from the Scriptures and on what his audience would have known about Sara. When did Sara obey Abraham? When did Abraham disobey the word? It was when Abraham told Sara to say that she was Abraham's sister (not wife) so that she could be taken to wife (adulterously) by two different kings. (Gen 12:13 and Gen 20:5) You can read what I wrote about that passage here.

On page 122 of the book, Pastor LaPierre entitles a subsection Submission Does Not Mean That Wives Submit to Sin.  I disagree, based upon what Peter said about Sara making herself subject to Abraham. IF Sara had been taken as a wife by Pharaoh or Abimelech it would have been sinful. But the sin would have been Abraham's, not Sara's. God caused both Pharaoh and Abimelech to rebuke Abraham for his lie. No such rebuke was aimed at Sara, on the contrary, God preserved her obedience as a memorial to her in 1 Peter 3.

By telling wives that they don't have to submit to sin, they are set up to be continually in a position of judging their husbands, deciding whether what the husband wants to do is sin or not. The wife is granted a veto power over her husband with her trump card of "I believe it would be sinful." When the wife has the final say, it is SHE that is the head and ruler, not the husband. It turns the whole meaning of submission on its head. God is not the author of confusion, and this is a doctrine of confusion. Instead of telling wives, as the Bible does, that they are free to offer their unconditional submission to a husband and to trust God for the results (Committing themselves to him that judgeth righteously, 1 Peter 2:23) this author would have a wife judge every command of her husband, putting a burden on her shoulders that God did not intend for her to carry.

Sometimes submission will lead to suffering. That is the entire context of 1 Peter, which is particularly applicable to the present discussion in chapters 2 -4. Peter admonishes different people to submit to those in authority, even if it involves suffering. Then Peter offers the example of Christ's suffering and death on the cross and says to the wives "LIKEWISE..." like what? Like Christ suffered, so should a wife, if that is what her situation requires. Keep reading chapter 3, all the way to verses 17 and 18 which say:
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.
In part one of my review I stated that one of my criticisms of the book is that when Pastor LaPierre uses Scripture, he doesn't look at it within its entire context and this is a perfect example. He deals with each of the first 6 verses of 1 Peter 3 as if they were standing alone, rather than being sandwiched right in the middle of chapters 2 through 4. 1 Peter 3:1-6 is not a recipe for a happy, peaceful, easy life, free of suffering. It is a description of one of the ways the people of God are called to follow Christ in His sufferings, which will sometimes occur within marriage.

It is unfortunate that in attempting to find a biblical example of a wife submitting to sin, Pastor LaPierre uses Ananias and Sapphira, whose story is told in Acts 5. There is no mention in this story that Ananias told Sapphira what to do or that she was submitting to him by lying to the apostles about the money. It says that Ananias kept back part of the price and Sapphira was privy to it. There is no mention that she was against it, or considered it sinful. So it really does fail as an example of why a wife shouldn't submit to sin. Again, the proper example, the one used by God, is the example of Sara, who was praised for her submission.

On pages 162 and 163, we read a pretty good description of Sara obeying Abraham in the matter of saying she was his sister rather than wife. But he is, again, separating verses 3-6, which are talking about Sara, from verses 1-2. In discussing verses 1 and 2, Pastor LaPierre attempts to make the case that Peter is talking about a husband who is an unbeliever. (pages 142-144) IF Peter was talking about an unbelieving husband, it would have been completely nonsensical to use Sara and Abraham as an illustration of the principle.

Also on page 122, Pastor LaPierre says that wife should not submit to her husband if he is breaking man's laws, which he equates to blatant sin. He mentions "cheating" on income tax and drug dealing. This is bordering on idolatry to claim that violating some arbitrary statute of men is a "blatant sin." What if the law of men prohibits home schooling or mandates sending children to state homes or boarding schools? This is just turning into dangerous territory for a wife who is now going to wrest the reins of family leadership from her husband by standing as judge over his every decision, ruling whether it is or is not sin.

On page 121 there is a subsection entitled Submission Does Not Mean That Wives Submit to Abuse. Again, why doesn't it mean that? Is abuse part of the "every thing" to which a wife is commanded to be in subjection to? If not, why not? Why does 1 Peter 2 describe the suffering of Christ as our example and then Peter says, "Likewise ye wives..."?  Pastor LaPierre gives permission to a wife who is being abused to separate from her husband. He asserts that God permits this based upon 1 Cor 7:11 which says:
But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband: and let not the husband put away his wife.
But this is ignoring the context, even the command in the verse immediately preceding which states:
And unto the married I command, yet not I, but the Lord, Let not the wife depart from her husband.
Pastor LaPierre gives permission for something God forbids, by direct command? Further, 1 Peter 3 clearly states that when a husband is not obeying the word, a wife is to submit -- not leave.  We also see on page 121 that he gives a wife permission to call the police on her husband. And yet, in 1 Cor 6 Paul instructs the church that it is better to suffer and take wrong than to go to law before unbelievers.

The overarching problem that I am seeing is that while Pastor LaPierre correctly states the principle that a wife should submit to her husband as an act of obedience to Christ, he then goes completely outside of the Bible to find exceptions to the rule. The Bible does not give an exception clause. If a wife decides to forego submission for any reason, she can't use the Bible to justify it, and no one should tell her otherwise.  If you want to label something as being "God's Way" then you must stick directly to what God has said.


Kim M. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kim M. said...

My comment to your post was too long to post here, so I posted my response on my blog. Here's the link:


Kim M. said...