Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Respect and Abuse

Are you getting tired of this topic yet?

Sorry, I've kind of wanted to address it for some time. It took a trigger to open the flood gates. And that trigger was Wendy's post. Sorry Wendy. It was nothing personal.

I want to address something she said. Don't worry. It's not pick on Wendy day here at ye ol' bitter to sweet. Just in case anyone missed this before. I have great respect for Wendy and her views. She's a gracious blogger who does a great job dealing with difficult issues rather than sidestepping them.

We do disagree on in a few areas. But the disagreement is not huge and if we lived closer and had time, I'd fellowship with her in a heartbeat, picking her brain concerning other topics.

Wendy gave a gracious answer to commentor, David, who misunderstood some of the other comments from concerned women. I'm glad David commented on her blog rather than mine and Wendy handled it well.

But I'd like to explore one thing that she said to him. She said:

"(#1)  I think that abuse and respect are totally different paradigms. (#2) I don't believe that respect as God speaks of it contributes to abuse. (#3) But I do believe abuse happens and wives need to know when enough is enough and they need to remove themselves from a situation. (#4) That's a topic that I've dealt with in other posts."

I've divided it into four sentences and wish do address three of them.

Sentence # 2 first. I absolutely agree with this sentence on both theological and theoretical levels. When God speaks of respect, it transcends all the muck and mire of the human condition and it does not abuse. It liberates and heals.

Sentence # 3 next. I also agree with this theologically and theoretically. God never calls us to submit to abuse, no matter how you look at the Bible, whether your conclusions fall on the Complementarian or Egalitarian side. Wives need to know when enough is enough and to get the heck out of Dodge when things get dicey.

It is really only Sentence #1 that I have a bit of trouble with. Yes, when dealing with perfectly formed people, not tainted by sin, poor cultural expectations, generational things etc, these two things can be separated when the non-tainted person encounters abuse.

I learned the term "Pervasive Depravity" from Wendy who was exploring the Calvinist TULIP doctrine. She and I both have trouble with the term "Total Depravity". All I can think of is serial killers and pedophiles when you bring up Total Depravity. But Pervasive Depravity? I'm on board with that. I don't have trouble seeing how 'The Fall" has tainted every area of our existences. It has touched and harmed everything including and especially our relationships as illustrated in Genesis.

So to me, Respect and Abuse being totally different paradigms is only possible if the position that is to be respected is completely untouched by pervasively depraved human hands. More specifically, as long as we are the ones doing the respecting and not expecting respect (as in leadership or elevated position of authority) then that attitude of respect can be separated out from abuse somehow. But the minute it is the human who is supposed to be respected...  Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. I Corinthian 10:12

I'm not saying that we are not to have leaders or positions of esteem. I'm not even saying that men can't be leaders in their own homes. It's that those in positions of esteem should have the right attitude, not expecting respect beyond human dignity respect. It's more than all right for them to have self-respect and not accept abuse against them as normal. But leaders should take care about how much respect they think they should have. Husbands who believe that they are the head of their household should have this attitude love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her. (Taken from Ephesians 5:25)
He needs the attitude of giving himself up, not the attitude of, "I am the boss of you therefore respect me as such."

What books like "Love and Respect" teach men to do is to expect respect from the little woman, a respect beyond human decency respect and beyond that preferring him over other men respect that comes with marriage. It teaches men to think more highly of themselves than they ought (Romans 12:3). It teaches them to think that they should get better, more important respect than their wives and teaches them that if the little women doesn't give him the respect that is his due (often defined by the depravity of his own mind rather than by anything taught by Jesus or Paul), she is not meeting his need for respect and then judged and condemned for her 'sin'.

Again we all need respect. In marriages, besides basic human dignity respect there is a special respect due to our spouses that prefers our own spouse over all others because we have become one flesh. But leadership respect?

I put forth that for true healthy relationships, even in a Complementarian one, that the husband should not expect extra special respect beyond human dignity and spouse related things. I feel that it is far more healthy for the relationship, overall. The wife is certainly free to give the husband leadership respect if that's how they believe. But he should take care that he doesn't let it go to his head and he uses it wisely. The minute he expects it, feels entitled to it, craves it... abuse is not far behind and in fact perhaps already mixed in. In this case I believe that respect and abuse are not totally different paradigms because of pervasive depravity. It is touched by our fallen selves. You simply cannot separate it out.

I actually have a couple more things to say to back this up but I believe that I'll put them in a separate post since this has gotten long.


Jays girl said...

Totally agree with this ! Thank you for taking the time to put into words what I have been thinking. My pastor just did a horrendous sermon based on this book and many people at my church were not happy, myself included. My pastor already has a view of women that I have major issues and this sermon series pushed me over the edge. I am currently trying to find a different church..

Mara Reid said...

You are more than welcome.

As I said, I've wanted address this issue for a long time. But it's a big issue. Huge. Kind of intimidating because of it.
There is so much involve and the repercussions are so damaging.
To me, it's wonder that a lot of other people are addressing it on this level.