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Posted by on Aug 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

Submission in Marriage: Michele Bachmann’s Egalitarian Answer To Byron York

At the recent GOP presidential debate, conservative columnist Byron York posed this question to Rep. Michele Bachmann:

In 2006, when you were running for Congress, you described a moment in your life when your husband said you should study for a degree in tax law. You said you hated the idea. And then you explained, “But the Lord said, ‘Be submissive. Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands.’”

As president, would you be submissive to your husband?

Here’s Bachmann’s response:

Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10th. I’m in love with him. I’m so proud of him. And both he and I — what submission means to us, if that’s what your question is, it means respect. I respect my husband. He’s a wonderful, godly man, and a great father. And he respects me as his wife.

While many have asked whether York’s question was a fair one, few have analyzed Bachmann’s answer to York’s extremely theological question.  One individual who has is Denny Burk, Associate Professor of Biblical Studies at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.

Burk writes on his popular blog:

Did Bachmann answer the question well? From a political point of view, the answer has to be yes. She did herself no harm by saying that “submit” means “respect” and that she and her husband respect each other. There is not a person in America who would view that answer as extreme or threatening. In fact, she answered the question like a good egalitarian would have answered it, and that view is well within the cultural mainstream.

From a biblical point of view, however, it was not a good answer. In Ephesians 5:22,Colossians 3:18, and 1 Peter 3:1, the word “submit” really does mean “submit.” Of course the term implies respect, but it goes beyond that and requires wives to subordinate themselves to the leadership of their husbands. This view of submission is positively countercultural in modern America, and Bachmann likely would not have helped her candidacy by embracing it publicly. Nevertheless, it is what the Bible means.

It remains highly unlikely that Ms. Bachmann will come anywhere close to winning the Republican nomination, much less the Presidency. Her candidacy, however, does serve to remind us that no political party has the corner on truth. The biblical worldview is sometimes too radical even for political conservatives.

Meanwhile, Mike Huckabee, a fellow Southern Baptist, has – according to Politico – said that Bachmann’s answer was “articulate…effective…brilliant.”

It will be interesting to see if more evangelicals like Burk will publicly criticize Bachmann’s egalitarian response as something less than the “biblical view”

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  1. I suspect that Bachmann agrees with Burk, but made a political decision to answer the question with “the truth” and “nothing but the truth,” but not “the whole truth.” Do you think that her prior use of the term, appearing in the context of that story, was in the sense of mere respect?

    A dishonest politician? Who knew?!

  2. I’m not sure that Bachmann completely agrees with Burk.

    Burk says in the post that his views are in line with John Piper’s views regarding whether a woman can be President.

    Piper characterized as “sin” a female serving as Vice-President (referring to Palin).

    While Bachmann may not have offered the “whole truth” in her response to York, she appears to believe that she can be President and remain faithful to her religious convictions concerning wifely submission.

  3. I meant she agrees with Burke that it is something more than respect. She enrolled in a degree plan contrary to her wishes due to the instruction of her husband.

  4. By the way, I should think that a Georgia native studying at Baylor would have something to say about the whole TAMU/SEC roller coaster that has been transpiring of late.

  5. I’m still trying to read all these e-mails that Baylor is bombarding me with about the matter.

    Baylor ought to admit that we really don’t have any influence and calling our legislators is a waste of time.

    I feel odd about it but I sympathize with TAMU. Who can blame them for wanting to play in the superior SEC? The SEC West match-ups make sense and UT hasn’t exactly acted in a way to avoid this predicament.

    I was a bit insulted though when some ESPN Radio guy the other day wrongly claimed that if the Aggies went to the SBC, TAMU would be the #1 ranked school academically!

  6. I think that Baylor’s influence in state politics is disproportionately large, but not infinite. Were it not disproportionately large, Baylor wouldn’t be in the Big 12 today.

  7. So Bachmann’s linguistically imaginative reply was a good one “from a political point of view” but as for being consistent with the beliefs she claims — welllll, we’re going to fudge a little on that.

    In other words, her answer was an outright lie but let’s just not call it that. Too bad Christianity in the US has become too spinless to point out that particular sin when it isn’t expedient.

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