Does ὑποτασσω mean ‘respect’ in Ephesians 5?

This post allows non-translation comments to be made on the Bible translation post with the same title which appears on the Better Bibles Blog (BBB). The same guidelines for posting exist on this spillover blog as they do at BBB, except that here comments need not be limited to Bible translation topics. Following are comments made so far on the BBB post which were considered non-translation in character. You are welcome to make further comments. As on BBB, all comments will be moderated as best as we can:

Ben
Submitted on 2011/08/14 at 6:32 pm
@Suzanne: Headship as expressed in Eph 5 is de facto a dictatorship. Why is that? Because God is perfect and omniscient and perfectly loving. The church does or should willingly submits under his rule for these reasons. This kind of government will work much better than any form of democracy. The only advantages of democracy are, as you said, protection from abuse, and fair and equal treatment of the subjects. Neither are dangers in God’s kind of perfect government.

Paul draws a parallel for husbands and wives: While both should submit to each other and to Christ, at the same time they have roles that parallel that of Christ and the church. Then husbands will do anything for their wives, including the dishes (sorry, that was self-ironic), and listen to them and serve them in any way they can, and wives will respect their husbands by acknowledging the role of leadership decreed by God. This is the picture that Paul draws, and it’s a beautiful one. Unfortunately, itt doesn’t have much to do with many Christian marriages today, where husbands will abuse their wives and be weak leaders and wives have a hard time respecting such husbands.

That is exactly why redemption needs to happen. The only way this works is when God is allowed to redeem love relationships, and when mutual submission is played out within the roles. You can’t interpret Eph 5 right if you only see the mutual submission. Likewise, you will misinterpret it if you only see God’s decree of roles. You have to have them both.

(Sorry, this was kind of a theological comment, as in, it might be against the posting guidelines. But it also deals with the context of this passage, and context was needed in my explanation.)

J. K. Gayle
Submitted on 2011/08/14 at 8:11 pm
Kurk,
Thank you for stating your objections clearly. They belong to the realm of politics and ideology; I already knew that you are fiercely anti-complementarian. In fact, you are a fierce critic of the Bible wherever it does not conform to what you believe is acceptable in terms of a “feminist subject.” (I am confident that I am not misrepresenting your position, but if I am, please say so.) So I am not surprised that you also take offense at believers like Grudem and the Bachmanns. However, your commitment to reader-orientated interpretation means that they are just as entitled to their interpretation of the Bible as you are to yours.

Really? Is nobody here at BBB monitoring this? I believe this comment you all allowed violates every single one of your commenting guidelines:

1. Support claims with evidence.

I already knew that you are fiercely anti-complementarian. In fact, you are a fierce critic of the Bible wherever it does not conform to what you believe is acceptable in terms of a “feminist subject.” (I am confident that I am not misrepresenting your position, but if I am, please say so.) … you also take offense at believers … What claims! And no effort whatsoever to support it with even a shred of evidence!

2. Do not question anyone’s intelligence, spirituality or motives; NO PERSONAL ATTACKS!

you are fiercely anti-complementarian

you are a fierce critic of the Bible wherever it does not conform to what you believe is acceptable

you also take offense at believers

they are just as entitled to their interpretation of the Bible as you are to yours.

What attacks these are! Using the logical fallacies of ad hominem and of begging the question helps no one, not the attacker himself here either!

3. Do not tell someone what they believe. Instead, ask them.

your objections … belong to the realm of politics and ideology …

(I am confident that I am not misrepresenting your position, but if I am, please say so.)

Would that he would just ask me instead of tell me!

See the examples from 1. and from 2. above.

4. Avoid sarcasm.

Thank you for stating your objections clearly. They belong to the realm of politics and ideology;

Sarcastic right from the start!

5. Comments should be concise and relate directly to post content.

Neither concise nor, I must say, even remotely related to post content.

Dear BBB moderator(s),
Do you really want me to respond here? Will you now allow me to do so?

Suzanne McCarthy
powerscourt.blogspot.com
Submitted on 2011/08/14 at 9:11 pm
Okay – I am lost. Why are commenters not being asked to back up statements with evidence. Gottman and Osiek are not as represented here. Statements representing the views of these authors ought to be backed by evidence or removed from the thread. I cannot discuss them without something solid to go on.

Suzanne McCarthy
Submitted on 2011/08/14 at 9:16 pm
Re; Gottman – In his words –

“This observation led me to formulate the hypothesis that marriages work to the extent that men accept influence from, share power with women. Next I applied this to a longitudinal study of 130 nonviolent newlywed couples and found that, amazingly, those in which the men who did not accept influence from their wives wound up divorced. The prediction rate was very good, 80% accuracy, and it did not work the other way around: Most wives accepted influence from their husbands, and the acceptance predicted nothing.”
(Gottman, John “The Marriage Clinic” page 52 )

Gottman’s research is the centerpiece of a Newsweek report on “The Science of a Good Marriage”:

“An unequal balance of power is also deadly to a marriage. Gottman found that a husband who doesn’t share power with his wife has a much higher risk of damaging the relationship. Why are men singled out? Gottman says his data show that most wives, even those in unstable marriages, are likely to accept their husband’s influence. It’s the men who need to shape up, he says. The changes can be simple, like turning off the football game when she needs to talk. Gottman says the gesture proves he values “us” over “me.” (Wingert)

The gender-specific advice that he makes in this passage is clear.

John Hobbins
ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com
Submitted on 2011/08/14 at 10:54 pm
Kurk,

Thanks for the clarification (no, I am not being sarcastic; nor was I earlier).

Here is Carolyn Osiek on Ephesians 5-6:

I think it is correct to say … that “Ephesians assumes, is embedded in, yet also critiques the honor-shame code of the Greco-Roman world” [ ], as long as we bear in mind that author and hearers are every bit part of that world, not separated from it. There is some suggestion here that the “pagan culture” is the oppressive patriarchal enemy against which a Christian discipleship
of equals dared to rise up. Granted, some Christians, including Paul and the authors of Revelation and Ephesians, seemed to have thought of the Roman world as the enemy–but not because it was patriarchal.

My way of understanding the response of early Christians to the honor-shame code is that they “reset” it. The template is still there, but it is put down in a different place. Different kinds of behavior now bring honor, others shame. By talking this way, they are of course bringing about alienation
between themselves and the dominant culture. The idea of “equal regard,” then, needs to be assessed critically. Ancient and modern notions of equality are not at all the same. No ancient male would have thought of a male of inferior social status, much less a woman, as his equal in the post‑Enlightenment
sense in which we would understand it today. This must be clearly understood.

Did [Pauline and post-Pauline] Christianity move away from patriarchy? I think it was part of a wider movement that was moving with glacial speed toward a more humane patriarchy, in Christian terms, perhaps, something like Troeltsch’s “love patriarchy.” Patriarchy is no less patriarchy if enacted with love, it seems to me. Ultimately though, our biblical hermeneutic here is not historical but theological. We want to know what it all means for us today. Where I come from, we do not have to prove that what we are doing is the same as what they did, only that it is in some kind of organic continuity.

End quote. For an introduction to the context in which Osiek made these remarks, with links to Osiek’s full remarks, go here:

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2011/01/eschewing-mythmaking-in-the-discussion-of-household-roles-according-to-the-new-testament.html

Further discussion here:

Suzanne McCarthy
powerscourt.blogspot.com
Submitted on 2011/08/14 at 9:32 pm
Ben,

Show me the human being who no longer sins, and I will agree that he is candidate for being an authority. Being 24-7 under the “authority” of another sinful human being, is a degradation. One bears the conequences of one’s own sin, and the full brunt of somebody else’s sin.

John Hobbins
ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com
Submitted on 2011/08/14 at 10:54 pm
Kurk,

Thanks for the clarification (no, I am not being sarcastic; nor was I earlier).

Here is Carolyn Osiek on Ephesians 5-6:

I think it is correct to say … that “Ephesians assumes, is embedded in, yet also critiques the honor-shame code of the Greco-Roman world” [ ], as long as we bear in mind that author and hearers are every bit part of that world, not separated from it. There is some suggestion here that the “pagan culture” is the oppressive patriarchal enemy against which a Christian discipleship
of equals dared to rise up. Granted, some Christians, including Paul and the authors of Revelation and Ephesians, seemed to have thought of the Roman world as the enemy–but not because it was patriarchal.

My way of understanding the response of early Christians to the honor-shame code is that they “reset” it. The template is still there, but it is put down in a different place. Different kinds of behavior now bring honor, others shame. By talking this way, they are of course bringing about alienation
between themselves and the dominant culture. The idea of “equal regard,” then, needs to be assessed critically. Ancient and modern notions of equality are not at all the same. No ancient male would have thought of a male of inferior social status, much less a woman, as his equal in the post‑Enlightenment
sense in which we would understand it today. This must be clearly understood.

Did [Pauline and post-Pauline] Christianity move away from patriarchy? I think it was part of a wider movement that was moving with glacial speed toward a more humane patriarchy, in Christian terms, perhaps, something like Troeltsch’s “love patriarchy.” Patriarchy is no less patriarchy if enacted with love, it seems to me. Ultimately though, our biblical hermeneutic here is not historical but theological. We want to know what it all means for us today. Where I come from, we do not have to prove that what we are doing is the same as what they did, only that it is in some kind of organic continuity.

End quote. For an introduction to the context in which Osiek made these remarks, with links to Osiek’s full remarks, go here:

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2011/01/eschewing-mythmaking-in-the-discussion-of-household-roles-according-to-the-new-testament.html

Further discussion here:

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2008/12/early-christianitys-makeover-of-patriarchy-according-to-carolyn-osiek.html

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2008/12/carolyn-osiek-on-love-patriarchy-in-early-christianity-.html

Comments of yours are on both threads. In those threads you speak of the NT epistles, in accordance with Osiek’s own scholarship, as “making Christian patriarchy.” You also ask a rhetorical question (that is, the expected answer is clearly no): Is patriarchy kinder under “Paul” than under Aristotle?

As I understand it, you put “Paul” in quotation marks because you think of Paul as an egalitarian and the letter of Ephesians as symptomatic of a post-Pauline fall from grace. I asked you at the time for clarification but none was forthcoming.

Here is Osiek on that question (and I agree with her):

One piece of the structure to which I object, and about which I disagreed strenuously but to no avail with my co-author David Balch, is the nature or even the existence of the “retreat of the post‑Pauline church,” the “post- Pauline conservative retreat,” (p. 147), or as we might call it, the post-Pauline fall from grace. Whether the fall happened after Jesus or after Paul depends on one’s perspective. Here we are back to the “early catholicism” of the turn of the century, in which liberal Protestantism could identify with a pristine Pauline gospel of freedom from law, while the deutero-Pauline letters and the post-Pauline church fell from original grace into rampant institutionalism, including a degeneration into an oppressive pagan patriarchalism revisited. Rather, I find elements of everything denounced as postPauline degeneration already in the authentic Pauline letters.

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2008/12/early-christianitys-makeover-of-patriarchy-according-to-carolyn-osiek.html

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2008/12/carolyn-osiek-on-love-patriarchy-in-early-christianity-.html

Comments of yours are on both threads. In those threads you speak of the NT epistles, in accordance with Osiek’s own scholarship, as “making Christian patriarchy.” You also ask a rhetorical question (that is, the expected answer is clearly no): Is patriarchy kinder under “Paul” than under Aristotle?

As I understand it, you put “Paul” in quotation marks because you think of Paul as an egalitarian and the letter of Ephesians as symptomatic of a post-Pauline fall from grace. I asked you at the time for clarification but none was forthcoming.

Here is Osiek on that question (and I agree with her):

One piece of the structure to which I object, and about which I disagreed strenuously but to no avail with my co-author David Balch, is the nature or even the existence of the “retreat of the post‑Pauline church,” the “post- Pauline conservative retreat,” (p. 147), or as we might call it, the post-Pauline fall from grace. Whether the fall happened after Jesus or after Paul depends on one’s perspective. Here we are back to the “early catholicism” of the turn of the century, in which liberal Protestantism could identify with a pristine Pauline gospel of freedom from law, while the deutero-Pauline letters and the post-Pauline church fell from original grace into rampant institutionalism, including a degeneration into an oppressive pagan patriarchalism revisited. Rather, I find elements of everything denounced as postPauline degeneration already in the authentic Pauline letters.

John Hobbins
ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com
Submitted on 2011/08/14 at 11:08 pm
For an illuminating discussion of John Gottman’s research in connection with the marriage advice contained in Ephesians 5, with bibliography and direct quotation, see Marilyn Johnson’s guest posts here:

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2009/05/a-convergence-ephesians-533-john-gottman-and-gender-complementarianism.html

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2009/05/ephesians-52224-and-marital-decisionmaking.html

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2009/05/why-gender-differences-matter.

Suzanne McCarthy
powerscourt.blogspot.com
Submitted on 2011/08/14 at 11:30 pm
Wayne,

John stated,

“I also concur with Marilyn Johnson’s observation that the research of John Gottman confirms the need for gender-specific advice for marrieds, and for the love/respect model in particular.”

I provided two quotations from Gottman’s research to indicate where his research truly leads and you have not allowed this comment to be posted. Please indicate to me why comments with statements and no evidence are allowed, but evidence provided by me is specifically disallowed. Surely there must be some rationale for this.
Suzanne McCarthy
Submitted on 2011/08/14 at 11:43 pm
Perhaps my comment was accidentally lost or I submitted it to the wrong post.

Perhaps my comment was accidentally lost. John wrote,

John stated,

“I also concur with Marilyn Johnson’s observation that the research of John Gottman confirms the need for gender-specific advice for marrieds, and for the love/respect model in particular.”

Here is evidence for the gender specific advice from Gottman’s research. Gottman wrote,

This observation led me to formulate the hypothesis that marriages work to the extent that men accept influence from, share power with women. Next I applied this to a longitudinal study of 130 nonviolent newlywed couples and found that, amazingly, those in which the men who did not accept influence from their wives wound up divorced. The prediction rate was very good, 80% accuracy, and it did not work the other way around: Most wives accepted influence from their husbands, and the acceptance predicted nothing.
(Gottman, John “The Marriage Clinic” page 52 )

Gottman’s research is the centerpiece of a Newsweek report on “The Science of a Good Marriage”:

An unequal balance of power is also deadly to a marriage. Gottman found that a husband who doesn’t share power with his wife has a much higher risk of damaging the relationship. Why are men singled out? Gottman says his data show that most wives, even those in unstable marriages, are likely to accept their husband’s influence. It’s the men who need to shape up, he says. The changes can be simple, like turning off the football game when she needs to talk. Gottman says the gesture proves he values “us” over “me.” (Wingert)

Suzanne McCarthy
Submitted on 2011/08/15 at 3:44 am
John wrote,

“…. the marriage advice of Paul in Ephesians 5 can be accepted by egals, just as the slave-master advice can be applied to the modern workplace.”

I would like to be known as someone who promotes the modern workplace instead of slavery, and egalitarian relations over other paradigms.
Suzanne McCarthy
Submitted on 2011/08/15 at 5:16 am
John wrote,

“I find this approach more helpful than opting for 5:21 and discarding the husband-wife and master-slave advice following, as Suzanne proposes.”

Please inform me if I am allowed to respond to this comment or not. So far, it appears that men are allowed to say things and I am not allowed to respond.

John Hobbins
ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com
Submitted on 2011/08/15 at 11:09 pm
Suzanne,

I know plenty of people, WELS and non-WELS, who sealed their marriage with “love/obey” vows. I enjoy speaking to people who have a quarter century or a half-century of marriage behind them, and asking them how they handled things on grave occasions in which they did not see to eye. What I have learned is that framework matters little whereas the moral and spiritual maturity of the marrieds is determinative. Put another way, what matters is having 1 Cor 13 as the touchstone of one’s life, in marriage and outside of it. When that is the case, the question of framework vanishes into insignificance.

I asked you a question earlier. I pointed out that there is no need to assert that Eph 5:21, which you understand and translate in accordance with the historical interpretation found in Chrysostom, and following are in contradiction. Your own examples prove this. Moreover, no one in the Greek-speaking ancient church understood the passage along the lines you do. On what grounds therefore do you set aside the historical interpretation, which Chrysostom also instantiates?

Kurk,

I would respond to your quotations as follows. *Mutual submission* works fine as a translation so long as one allows the pericope to which the principle is attached fill the principle with specific content.
According to Eph 5, the specific way in which a husband is to *submit* to his wife is not by assigning her equal say in a decision-making process – an approach that works poorly in practice – but by loving her as Christ loved the church.

In practice that sometimes works itself out in his granting her *greater* say: veto power, pocket or otherwise. On other occasions, it works itself out in his overruling her rather than letting her overrule him. Tough love is occasionally the answer in all healthy relationships.

Once again according to Eph 5, the specific way in which a wife is to *submit* to her husband is by offering him respect. That will sometimes work itself out in practice in deference to his judgment; on other occasions, true respect involves challenging someone on the basis of a higher principle, “in the Lord” as Paul might put it.

The advice of Ephesians 5 is gender-specific. Love & respect. John Gottman’s research on marrieds leads to the conclusion that marrieds need gender-specific advice. Marilyn Johnson has argued that Ephesians 5 and the results of Gottman’s research are mutually reinforcing. For discussion, bibliography, and quotation, go here:

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2009/05/a-convergence-ephesians-533-john-gottman-and-gender-complementarianism.html

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2009/05/ephesians-52224-and-marital-decisionmaking.html

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2009/05/why-gender-differences-matter.html

Another relevant post:

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2009/02/two-kinds-of-domestic-violence.html

Suzanne McCarthy
powerscourt.blogspot.com
suzmccarth@yahoo.com
24.84.57.230
Submitted on 2011/08/16 at 1:20 am
The following material is off topic. Since I cannot respond to it and remain on topic it should be removed.

Since I grew up in an egalitarian home, am a third or fourth generation egalitarian myself, and minister to congregations in which many people self-identify as egalitarians, though many of them are complementarians to a large or small degree by mutual consent, and still others are comfortable with the love/obey vows they pronounced fifty years ago, I would note that “man up – woman down” and also “woman up – man down” abusive relationships are more common than one would wish across all the frameworks.

In particular, it needs to be noted that egalitarianism combined with sin and sickness is just as toxic as is traditional “love/obey” or complementarianism combined with sin and sickness.

….

On the other hand, there is a great need for support groups for men, women, and children in abusive domestic and work-related situations. In my community, Catholics and evangelicals are just as committed to meeting this need as are liberal Protestants. It is unwise in the extreme to accuse the many people who do not self-identify as egalitarians or feminists of being wife-beaters or passive supporters of wife-beaters. Not only is the accusation false; it is profoundly alienating and destructive of good will.

….

I find this approach more helpful than opting for 5:21 and discarding the husband-wife and master-slave advice following, as Suzanne proposes.

Suzanne McCarthy
powerscourt.blogspot.com
Submitted on 2011/08/16 at 1:23 am
The following material is also off topic,

Moreover, Paul stresses that a husband is to love his wife as Christ loves the church; a higher standard is impossible to imagine; love often (not always) involves submitting to someone else’s needs or heeding their requests.

This is untrue. Women died during childbirth. They had a higher calling to sacrifice.

The traditional “love/obey” framework of marriage, the one the Bachmanns inherited from their belonging to a WELS Lutheran church, if put into practice with care and without giving unrestricted scope to *either* side of the equation, was and remains a healthy one in the context of a commitment to justification by faith (not works). That is, we have to imitate God in the sense of putting someone in the right before they are in the right, while they are yet sinners.

Marriage, family, the workplace: all three depend on domain-based hierarchies, but none of them function well unless grace is the container in which law is allowed to have scope.

Its all off topic and I have not been able to respond to it.

Suzanne McCarthy
powerscourt.blogspot.com
Submitted on 2011/08/16 at 12:57 am
In particular, it needs to be noted that egalitarianism combined with sin and sickness is just as toxic as is traditional “love/obey” or complementarianism combined with sin and sickness.

Then it follows that it is as toxic to live under a president as it is to live under a dictator.

John Hobbins
ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com

Suzanne,

The world is full of people who, 60 or 40 years ago and of course just yesterday, sealed their marriage in the “love/obey” framework. I enjoy speaking with those whose marriages have endured a half-century or more; it’s a great pleasure to hear them recount occasions in which they did not see eye to eye, and how they handled it. The “love/obey” framework served and continues to serve many Christians well. So long as 1 Corinthians 13 is the touchstone of a couple’s life, just about any framework works well for most people.

Above, I asked you a pertinent question. I noted that there is no need to assert that 5:21 and following are in contradiction as you have done. Your own examples prove this. Moreover, no one in the Greek-speaking ancient church understood the passage along the lines you do. Therefore, on what grounds do you set aside the historical interpretation?

I look forward to your response.

Kurk,

I would say the following in response to your quotes. According to Ephesians 5, the specific way in which a husband is to “submit to” his wife is not by assigning her equal say in decision-making – the egalitarian approach falsely so-called, which works poorly in practice – but by loving her as Christ loved the church.

This kind of love sometimes works itself out in a veto, pocket or otherwise, being granted to the wife; on other occasions, it works itself out in his overruling her rather than letting her overrule him. There is such a thing as tough love, in marriage and outside of marriage.

The specific way in which a wife is to “submit to” her husband according to Eph 5 is by offering him her respect. This is not the same as following his lead on all occasions. Sometimes someone who normally defers to another, for whatever reason, will not do so, and if this is motivated in the Lord, it’s time to seek a resolution in care and prayer.

The importance of gender-specific advice for marrieds follows from John Gottman’s research. For discussion, bibliography and quotation, see Marilyn Johnson’s posts on the topic:

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2009/05/a-convergence-ephesians-533-john-gottman-and-gender-complementarianism.html

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2009/05/ephesians-52224-and-marital-decisionmaking.html

http://ancienthebrewpoetry.typepad.com/ancient_hebrew_poetry/2009/05/headship-submission-a-soft-complementarian-model.html