Beyond Authority and Submission

Rachel Green Miller has written a remarkable book. But learning new things is scary.

The Heidelberg Catechism asks concerning God’s law, “Can you keep all this perfectly?” And the answer is, “No. For I am prone by nature to hate God and my neighbor.” (Q&A 5)

We inherited a certain way of looking at the world. It is a way based on hatred, rather than love. It is a way of control and power rather than mutual respect and deference. It sees the world through a lens that taints everything. It always asks, “What’s in it for me?”

It is a mindset that sees in others only potential enemies, or potential tools to be used

It cannot see beauty, for it is trained to see fault.

It cannot see love, for it is trained only in the language of authority and submission. The world is made up of slaves and masters.

We think this way automatically. Husbands, like the Pharisees of old, fear “losing their place and their nation” (John 11:48) if the women aren’t kept under tight control.

Like Ahasueras, Vashti must be taught a lesson or all wives will rebel. Society will collapse.

And the fear of losing “our place and our nation” has taken Christianity and wrapped it in layer after layer of hedges and traditions; an entire movement of added rules and regulations concerning men and women and family and society. And it is all based upon our natural distrust and suspicion of one another.

Is “hatred” too hard of a word to use? I will leave that to the reader to decide, but a quick glance at the twitter-sphere towards anyone who might agree with Miller’s book reveals an ugliness that should never been seen in the church. We’ve been taken over by bullies, boors, and cretins, who will stop at nothing to protect “their place and their nation.” These are the teachers of the law, who know nothing and enforce that nothing through trolling and bullying.

But our natural way of viewing things must be conformed to scripture. We naturally twist the scripture to fit our own views and this must be turned the other way around. We must conform our thoughts to God’s thoughts. Ahasueras must repent and start agreeing with God, “Husbands, love your wives.”

And this change is hard. We change our thinking by the power of the Holy Spirit – from the inside out. And sometimes we do it kicking and screaming, through much fear and trembling. But if we do not learn from Christ, we are none of his. We can either guard our self-delusions and protect our societal biases, or we can follow Christ and conform our thoughts to his. There is no middle ground. There is no treaty we can sign. We surrender our thoughts to his, or we perish.

Miller has undertaken a monstrous task. She writes, “We have ended up with layers of unbiblical and extrabiblical beliefs that obscure and cover up the beauty of what the Bible actually teaches about men and women.” (Miller, Beyond Authority and Submission, pg. 257).

With the meticulous art of a careful scholar, she respectfully and honestly documents layer after layer after layer of these beliefs and teachings, and then she compares each layer to scripture, calling us all to repent of our false beliefs and conform our thoughts to God’s thoughts.

And we will either repent of our false beliefs and know the beautiful, glorious, freedom of the gospel; or we will continue to live in hatred, distrust and anger, continually fearing that we will lose our place and our nation.

I would urge you all to get this book. If you were raised in conservative circles, it will make you very, very uncomfortable. If you were raised in more liberal circles, it will make you very uncomfortable.

Because the truth is this. We are prone by nature to hate God and our neighbor. Even when we become Christians, we have a whole ugly suit of armor that we were born with. We resist the truth, we fight for those things we are comfortable with, and we hate, I mean we REALLY REALLY HATE to examine whether or not what we were taught from youth is actually true.

But if we don’t change, the only alternative is to stay the same, and that we cannot do.

2 Comments

Filed under Book Notes

2 responses to “Beyond Authority and Submission

  1. Christ is LORD

    I haven’t read the book, but I believe gender to be sex roles, which are man-made and there is no such thing as masculinity and femininity aside from being man-made gender roles/rules.

    Men aren’t inherently powerful, dominating, non-feeling, controlling jerks due to testosterone levels. It’s this whole ‘masculinity’ nonsense.

    Same thing with the man-made construct of femininity, which is actually ritualized subordination and fetishized subjugation.

    Society enforces and indoctrinates these gender roles and that is how supposed ‘sex differences’ come to be.

    And too few men truly fear and revere God. If they truly did fear God, they wouldn’t walk about treating women and children as though they are but subjects/animated possessions, as though said men are but gods themselves. The reality is that women are in an underclass of men’s making and reinforcement.

    And if women and children were truly seen as fully human, then men wouldn’t treat them as they do. Just like with porn (which is everywhere and informs and conditions men’s/boys’ worldviews with regards to women/girls), it wouldn’t exist and be so popular, if women/girls were actually seen as fully human beings.

    I’ve found that when a person watches how riled up men get, especially over a woman’s book, it shows their ‘gods’/idols. Most men consider themselves to be gods in respect to women and children. If Rachel Miller’s book is getting pushback, then it’s probably a really good read.

  2. Anu Riley

    “We inherited a certain way of looking at the world. It is a way based on hatred, rather than love. It is a way of control and power rather than mutual respect and deference. It sees the world through a lens that taints everything. It always asks, “What’s in it for me?”

    “And it is all based upon our natural distrust and suspicion of one another.”

    Thank you for those thoughts. I don’t think anyone has put it so succinctly.

    I’ve been on both sides of the coin: I have the right dehumanize you (as the oppressor). Or, he or she or they have the right to dehumanize me (as the oppressed).

    Both are abhorrent. You cry out for repentance and redemption for the former, and you cry out for healing and justice for the latter.

    But you never choose to be silent. You cry out. You run to the Lord, not away from Him.

    “But if we do not learn from Christ, we are none of his.” This is ONE of my daily prayers: make my heart teachable and reachable, because I am neither. It is shameful to admit this, but unacceptable to deny this.

    “I mean we REALLY REALLY HATE to examine whether or not what we were taught from youth is actually true.

    But if we don’t change, the only alternative is to stay the same, and that we cannot do.”

    I know the pain of facing all the lies you had unquestionably absorbed into your being for so long. They became a part of you. They defined you.

    You are traumatized. Paralyzed by fear. You collapse into a heap. Your foundation was revealed to be on sand, so when the storms came, the ruination was great.

    Now what? Do you say: I refuse to rebuild, ever. Or do you say: I will rebuild, but this time on the solid foundation that is Him and him alone?

    I’m still deciding, but I’m leaning towards the latter.

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