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(2Ti 4:2; 1Ti 4:7) = Controversial topics must be addressed and their silly myths put to rest.

 

Truth: a reminder (Joh 18:38 “What is truth?”):

1) truth is not determined by personal or public tolerance (Joh 6:51-60; Eph 1:10; Hence Rom 12:1-2), 2) truth is determined by a proposition’s agreement with God’s Spirit (i.e., the Word of God) not the spirit of the world (Mat 4:4; Joh 6:61-63, 17:17; Act 17:10-12; Eph 6:17; Eph 2:1-2; Col 2:8 w/20; Hence 1Jo 4:1 and Rom 12:1-2), 3) you cannot be Jesus’ disciple (i.e., a saved person) yet rejecting truth or listening to the error of this world -i.e., no sacred cows allowed (Joh 6:66, 18:37; 1Jo 4:4-6), 4) often what we think is truth is the spirit and error of the world (Hence Rom 12:1-2).

 

4. Domestic Discipline (the right and responsibility of a husband to discipline his wife)

4.1. Like the children, the wife is the human property (slave) of her husband:

4.1.1. The Hebrew term for husband (בַּ֫עַל; ba’al) and it’s Greek equivalent (κύριος; kurios) can also be translated as “owner” or “lord/master”, referring to persons whose authority is due to ownership (e.g., [בַּ֫עַל]: Gen 20:3 “man’s wife” = Literally, “she is owned by an owner [ba’al]; Exo 21:22 [same word as v28]; Isa 54:5; Jer 3:14, 31:32; Joe 1:8; Pro 12:4, 30:23, 31:10-12, 23; [κύριος]: 1Pe 3:1 w/6).

 

“[In Israel, women] had no legal status, being the personal property first of their fathers, and then of their husbands.” – Anthony Phillips (Ancient Israel’s Criminal Law: A New Approach to the Decalogue)

 

4.1.2. In verbal form, the term (בַּ֫עַל; ba’al) refers to marriage, strengthening the connection between marriage and ownership (e.g., Deu 24:1).

 

4.1.3. Etymological studies reveal the term (“husband”) to be a derivation of the ancient term, “householder”, meaning owner of the household.

 

4.2. Wives as the property (or slaves) of their husband was the consensus position in all ancient societies.

 

“The essence of the woman’s position in Roman law was that she could never technically become a free agent [no longer be a slave]…If a woman underwent marriage she passed into the manus [property ownership and control] of her husband…This placed her legally on the same footing as her daughter.” – Suzzane Dixon (“Polybius on Roman Women and Property”; JSTOR)

 

4.3. Though modern society no longer recognizes wives as their husband’s property (women as chattel), vestiges of this biblical truth remain. For example, most women still assume their husband’s last name. A sign of ownership is you carry that person’s name (e.g., Mat 28:19 w/1Co 6:20 w/Act 20:28 w/Eph 5:23).

 

4.4. Under the Old Covenant:

4.4.1. God commanded that all slaves (personal property) be treated righteously (e.g., Lev 25:6; Deu 5:15-16, 16:9-14). Never were they to be neglected or abused or exposed to harm. So favorable was the position of the slave under God’s Law that many desired it over emancipation (Deu 15:12-17). The master-slave relationship was to reflect the relationship of Master-slave that existed between God and His people (Israel) (Lev 25:42; Deu 6:20-25 = We obey God because He is a good Master Who redeemed us [bought us out of slavery] from an evil master so that we could become His slaves; One of the most prominent terms used to describe Christians in the NT is δοῦλος, literally, “slave” -e.g., Act 2:18, 4:29; Rom 1:1, 6:18 and 22 [verbal forms]; Phi 1:1; Tit 1:1; Jam 1:1; 2Pe 1:1; Jud 1:1; Rev 1:1).

 

4.4.2. God condoned the use of physical force against a man’s slaves when it was: 1) for righteous reasons (to enforce the law/justice), 2) done in a righteous way (the punishment fit the crime and did not cause permanent harm). A husband therefore using righteous physical force against his wife (according to the aforementioned criteria) was never considered abusing her (what today is identified as “domestic violence”). In this respect, it was viewed as no different than a parent spanking their child (Exo 21:20-21 “rod”, 26-27; In re: to children: Pro 13:24, 23:13-14 “rod”). That God saw the use of physical force (e.g., hitting, spanking) as appropriate not only for children but also adults is made clear by (Deu 25:1-3). Consider also (Pro 19:29, 26:3 = The category of “fool” includes more than children). It is important to note that God uses physical force against His wife when she is disobedient (e.g., Ezekiel 23; Eze 23:25-27).

 

4.4.3. That being said, God never condones a slave (including wives and children) hitting their owner (husband or father). Outside of acting in defense, such actions are always an act of insubordination. In the case of children, striking either parent is considered a capital crime (Deu 21:15). Though no explicit punishment exists for wives’ guilty of the same crime, it remains serious. Given the comparison made between wives and the church in the New Testament, a wife striking her husband is like the church striking Christ.

 

4.5. Until the late 19th century, husbands disciplining their wives through the use of physical force was not only legal, but encouraged in the Western World (including the United Sates). The basis for such laws was the Bible:

 

“A Similar doctrine had been laid down by Dr. Marmaduke Coghill, judge of the Prerogative Court in Ireland, who in a suit by a wife for divorce on the ground that her husband had given her a sound beating, delivered a well-considered opinion that, with such a switch as the one held in his hand, moderate chastisement was within the matrimonial privileges of the husband”. – London Quarterly Review of Legal cases Vol 136, (1874)

 

“By the ancient common law [the Bible], the husband possessed the power of chastising his Wife…let the husband be permitted to exercise the right of moderate chastisement” – Calvin Bradley v. State of Mississippi (1834)

 

“A husband cannot be convicted of a battery on his wife unless he inflicts a permanent injury or uses such excessive violence or cruelty as indicates malignity or vindictiveness…A husband is responsible for the acts of his wife, and he is required to govern his household, and for that purpose the law permits him to use towards his wife such a degree of force as is necessary to control an unruly temper and make her behave herself; and unless some permanent injury be inflicted, or there be an excess of violence, or such a degree of cruelty as shows that it is inflicted to gratify his own bad passions, the law will not invade the domestic forum or go behind the curtain.” – State of North Carolina v. Jesse Black (1864)

 

4.6. Though no longer legal, domestic discipline was still popular (even encouraged) in the 1950’s – including by America’s most liberal influences, Hollywood and Capitalism.

 

4.7. Evidence from the early church also demonstrates that they too believed husbands had the authority to enforce the law/justice through righteous physical force in relation to their wives.

 

“A man may chastise his wife and beat her for her correction; for she is of his household.”

– Friar Nicolas Byard (1140 A.D.)

 

4.8.

A crucial consideration to the validity of domestic discipline:

what gives a man the right to such discipline (the use of physical force) is the same principle that justifies a police officer’s use of force: they possess the authority to enforce the law (or justice). Why (then) is it okay for the police and not the husband whose authority over his wife is greater than that of a police officer (the husband’s authority originates and reflects that of Christ in relation to the church)?

 

4.9.

The origin of Domestic Violence (or the villainizing of Domestic Discipline): the feminist movement of 1848-1861. Though spoken in the context of condemnation, a sampling from one of their speeches offers additional support to domestic discipline’s prior acceptance and understood connection to the Bible,

 

“In those early days a husband’s supremacy was often enforced in the rural districts by corporeal chastisement, and it was considered by most people as quite right and proper – as much so as the correction of refractory children in like manner…The laws made it his privilege – and the Bible, as interpreted, made it is his duty…By the common law of England, the spirit of which has been but too faithfully incorporated into our statute law, a husband has a right to whip his wife with a rod not larger than his thumb, to shut her up in a room, and administer whatever moderate chastisement he may deem necessary to insure obedience to his wishes, and for her healthful moral development!”

 

4.10. It is the same sinful ideology of the feminist movement that is behind the current push for child emancipation. Soon all attempts by parents to guide the moral path of their children – and most especially when it involves the use of physical force, will not only be illegal, but viewed as the dangerous and damaging actions of abusive parents. The use of force by police officers will eventually follow suit since at the heart of this ideology, lies the belief that any physical force used against others is always and only evil.

 

4.11. What does God’s teaching on domestic discipline mean for Christians under the New Covenant?

4.11.1. From the perspective of justice: The use of physical force by a husband against his wife for righteous reasons and in a righteous way is never abusive (since what God condones as good can never become evil) (Isa 5:20). Such actions only qualify as abuse when they do not meet the biblical criteria.

 

4.11.2. From the perspective of application: According to Ephesians 5:25-33 the husband still maintains the right and responsibility of disciplining his wife. However, what that looks like (now) is not only different, but far more effective (Eph 5:26 “cleanse”) = Discipline through discipleship in God’s Word (similar to a pastor’s responsibility to the flock – 2Ti 4:2). Support: 1) the cleansing of v26 is in relation to the “word” not Christ’s blood (i.e., it is not referring to propitiation), 2) the cleansing is (instead) penal (Pro 20:30), 3) (v27 “spot or wrinkle…holy and without blemish”) = Practical holiness versus positional holiness (e.g., 2Pe 3:11-14), 4) (Eph 6:17; Col 3:19), 5) why discipline through discipleship in God’s Word is (now) more effective (Jer 31:33; Eze 36:27; Hence 1Ti 4:8).

 

CLOSING CHALLENGE: husbands to pray the Lord’s Prayer and read the Bible with their wives (round-robin style) M-F for the next four weeks. Week: 1) Philippians, 2) Colossians, 3) Ephesians, 4) James