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”