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Ezer Kenegdo and Submission (1 Peter 3:1)

How do we reconcile the role of the ezer kenegdo as a helper

that opposes with 1 Peter 3:1?

“Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they,
without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives.”

One of the points of proper Biblical hermeneutics is called “The Synthesis Principle”. This method
explains that the best interpreter of scripture is scripture itself. A passage must be examined in relation
to its immediate context (the verses surrounding it), its wider context (the book it’s found in), and its
complete context (the whole Bible). The Bible does not contradict itself. In other words, good Bible
interpretation relates any one passage to the total content of scripture. This careful process ensures
that one has the “whole story.” This lessens the possibility of someone taking a verse or verses out of
context to make them fit into a biased paradigm or a preconceived doctrinal framework.

Does submission mean never questioning and always agreeing or going along with another person or
authority? Or does submission mean having a heart that is willing to yield to another person out of love
and respect? Which type of submission does the Bible teach?

The context for the verses in chapter 3 begins back in chapter 2. This is why Peter begins with the Greek
adverb homoios, which means, “likewise/similarly/so”. He’s making a comparison. The second part of
chapter 2 deals with general submissiveness to an authority. The character of those that follow the true
G-d of Israel should be marked by good behavior or “well-doing” (1 Pet. 2:15). Peter’s discourse on this
begins with the directive to “submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake…” (1 Peter
2:13) In other words, we (men and women) are to be obedient to the authorities that govern us.

If we are to submit to every ordinance of those that govern us, what do we do when those ordinances
oppose the Word of YHWH? Is Peter saying to submit anyway— no matter what? If we answer in the
affirmative, there are many scriptural examples that must be ignored or redefined with some pretty
fantastic theological gymnastics, and one of those examples is from Peter himself!

“But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men.” (Acts
5:29)

Peter was not double minded. He was discerning, Spirit-filled, and used plenty of common sense in his
application of the Torah as he taught others. A heart that is set on serving and loving YHWH will go the
distance to be a good witness, a loving neighbor, and even a good citizen. But, that doesn’t make a
servant of the Most High a doormat for wicked tyrants. Nor does it mean that one must submit to evil
decrees, governors, headships, or kings. While a child of YHWH shouldn’t be known for being rebellious,
sometimes rebellion is necessary in order to be obedient! That may sound like an oxymoron, but we
have plenty of examples of this.
Consider the midwives that rebelled against Pharaoh’s decree to kill the male Hebrew babies. Or Moses’
parents that hid him as a child. Or Abigail going behind her husband’s back to meet David. Or Daniel
praying to/petitioning YHWH even though it broke the law of the Medes and Persians. Or the
Maccabees rebelling against the Seleucid rulers. Or the disciples ignoring the Sanhedrin’s authority and
mandate to not preach in the name of Yeshua.

Obviously, there is a HUGE difference between outright rebellion (witchcraft) and opposing the laws of
men that are contrary to the Word of YHWH. I believe the Scriptures are clear on this. We are to submit
to those in authority over us because YHWH is the one that placed them in these positions in the first
place. Just because we disagree or dislike the way that government operates or rules isn’t rebellion. If
these authorities do not force one to abandon the Law of G-d, then one should submit to their
authority. However, YHWH is not a sadist. He in no way expects us to obey laws or decrees that are
contrary to His Word, knowing it will bring curses or severe consequences. If the government demands
you kill your child or desecrate His Temple, you ought to obey YHWH rather than men. Otherwise, you
are in outright rebellion to YHWH.

Peter relates these thoughts to “wives, be submissive to your husbands”. Wives are to do so in order
that an unbelieving or disobedient husband may become convicted by their chaste
conduct/behavior/conversation. People that use this verse as a blanket statement for women to submit
no matter what, fail to point out the context. Peter is referring to an unbelieving/disobedient husband.
Sadly, many equate submission to never questioning or disagreeing with the man. But, this isn’t what
Peter says.

Disagreeing with or questioning an authority, ruler, king, or even YHWH is NOT rebellion, nor does it
negate submission. You might not understand, agree, or like a certain Torah commandment, but you can
submit and obey out of reverence for YHWH. You are even free to question Him and ask, “why?” He may
or may not answer, but at least we can rest in the fact that He is perfect and infallible. We can trust Him
completely.

Humans however, are fallible, even those in authority. A man (or other authority) that will not be
questioned or counseled has a major issue with pride (which is rooted in ungodly fear.) They are not
YHWH. They need accountability. A man that believes he is the mediator between his wife and YHWH
has grossly misunderstood Biblical authority and submission.

To assume that a man’s actions, words, or decisions cannot be questioned by a woman (especially one’s
other half/wife – the one that should know him best) is mind-boggling. Absolute power corrupts
absolutely. YHWH placed checks and balances to ensure all people, men and women, have culpability.

Not performing an ordinance, request, or law of an authority that violates YHWH’s laws is NOT rebellion.
In fact, it is actually submitting to an even higher authority — YHWH. This is true for husbands and wives
too. If a husband directs his wife to violate a commandment of YHWH, whom should she obey?
Obviously, I’m not condoning an attitude of strife, bitterness, or hatred towards a wayward spouse.
There are wrong ways and right ways to deal with the most important human relationship on earth. We
can be so right that we are wrong. The way we speak to others — especially our spouses— DOES matter
greatly. Nevertheless, we need to obey YHWH and not man. We must prayerfully consider how to
approach one another in humility and love.

With YHWH’s help, we can oppose our spouse when they are wrong. In fact, we SHOULD oppose our
spouses when they are wrong. This is a big part of what marriage is about. We learn and grow together
as ONE flesh. Iron sharpens iron. If both spouses are believers and serving YHWH, then this is the ideal.
Biblical submission between humans is not a weaker party serving a higher or stronger party. Submitting
to one another is an act of service and is expected by both men and women. We are here to SERVE one
another as Messiah served us.

But they kept silent, for on the way they had discussed with one another which of them was the greatest.
Sitting down, He called the twelve and *said to them, “If anyone wants to be first, he shall be last of all
and servant of all.” (Mark 9:34-35)

YHWH gave both men and women the capacity to think and reason. The motives of our hearts will
determine how we view, interpret, and act upon the many scriptural examples of biblical submission
and servanthood. If we have a relationship where there is complete trust and no fear, but real respect
and love, then a verse like this won’t throw us for a loop or cause us to wonder about our “proper role.”

A man and wife will seek to please and serve one another in earnest. There is no “power” struggle
because respect and love reside at the heart of the marriage, which casts out fear (pride). When issues
do arise, they are dealt with peaceably. When one is called out for disobedience to the Word or for a
poor decision, there is no fear that someone will get hurt. The guilty party knows that the correction
comes from a place of great love and it is received as divine instruction. When a person feels loved (as a
woman) or respected (as a man), submission is natural. No one must tell you to “submit to one
another”. (Eph. 5:21)

But, what about Ephesians 5:22-33?

Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. (Eph. 5:22)

This plucked verse seems to be about women being submissive to their husbands. At least that’s why
this passage is usually quoted. Rarely is it used to teach Paul’s main idea. Paul claims that the entire
point of his discourse is to show us a mystery. In other words, he is using the natural institution of
marriage to teach us something spiritual about Messiah and His assembly:

This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:32)

Marriage is used as a parable for Messiah and His Body (Assembly). The most intimate relationship on
earth between a man and woman is meant to teach us about our relationship with the Messiah. No
marriage is perfect and therefore cannot properly reflect this reality. Yet, we can imagine it. We can also
strive for this great intimacy not only with Messiah but also within our own marriage covenants. The
“how to do this” is the real question and is the reason for so many marriage self-help books, counselors,
and retreats.
The answer is found in love and respect. We just don’t know how to “DO” love and respect very well.

Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must
see to it that she respects her husband. (Eph. 5:33)

Paul reiterates this in Colossians:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be
embittered against them. (Col. 3:18-19)

People get hurt in marriage relationships when they don’t feel loved or respected. Thus, the human
tendency is to build walls around the heart to protect these wounds. Symptoms of this malady include
indifference, contentiousness, nagging, silence, argumentativeness, apathy, jealously, suspicion,
depression, oppression, aggression, and even abuse. The list goes on and on. The more one experiences
these emotions and actions from their spouse, the thicker the walls around one’s heart becomes.

Sometimes past hurts from familial or other personal relationships are brought into the marriage
covenant, which can incite the emotions and actions above, creating a vicious cycle. Nearly all
relationships suffer from this condition and will continue to be a problem until deliverance has taken
place. We live in a fallen and broken world that is in desperate need of the Messiah of Israel. Each of us
has areas that needs improvement or that needs to be completely rebuilt upon the Rock (YHWH).

If marriage is supposed to mirror our relationship with the King of the Universe, then your bond with
your spouse is designed to build up and bind up these wounds, so that you can walk as ONE overcoming
flesh. But this cannot happen without TWO participants that are willing to get completely naked with
one another emotionally, mentally, spiritually, and physically. This is real Biblical marriage serving YHWH
as ONE flesh. It requires the complete vulnerability of both the man and the woman.

But, this side of the World to Come, we each have a common enemy: the nephesh/flesh. Since the fall in
Gan Eden, our flesh would much rather run and hide than deal with nakedness, shame, and
vulnerability. Nephesh hates exposure. It despises looking at “the man (woman) in the mirror.” It’s so
much easier to look outward than inward. The fig leaves of denial, blaming, shaming, and oppressing
others are preferred to the death of the animal (human) flesh that YHWH provides for those that
SUBMIT to Him.

A man should love a woman as Messiah does, but he isn’t perfect. He will fail. A woman should respect
and reverence her husband like the Assembly does Messiah, but a woman is also human. She will fail.
We must have mercy, patience, and long-suffering attitudes with one another or our marriages are
doomed. Redeemed marriages require us to RISK our pride and our hearts (become vulnerable) with
Adonai and each other.

Becoming ONE flesh isn’t easy. It requires constant work and service from both partners. Your spouse
wasn’t given to you so you can “fix” them (fix their brokenness/weaknesses). Disciples of Messiah give
their weaknesses and shortcomings to the Messiah. While others can help and encourage a broken
person, ultimately YHWH is the only one that can offer a maligned soul true freedom. This is why it is so
very vital that we carefully choose our marriage partners. It is also why a proper marriage Ketuvah
(contract/vows) needs to be in place and agreed upon before the covenant is made.

Without clear covenant parameters, expectations, and boundaries, spouses hopelessly stumble from
one folly to the next. Blame is placed and misplaced in an endless cycle of misery and bondage. Hurting
people hurt people and relationships as close as man and wife cut the deepest. Violations are
intentionally and unintentionally imposed on one another mentally, emotionally, financially, physically,
and spiritually. All of these things TAKE from another. It is the opposite of GIVING oneself to the service
of our spouse. It is the opposite of sacrificial love and respect. It is contrary to Biblical submission.

Poor Biblical hermeneutics and translations of the Bible escalate the destruction of marriages. For
example, the roles of men and women are contorted to fit inside the framework of fallen and sinful
humans. Divorce is deemed a sin, when it is a solution to the sin of breaking the Ketuvah.[1] Authority
and submission in marriage mirror the instincts of the herds, packs, and prides of the beasts of the field
rather than the male and female created to be the image of Elohim in the earth. Abuse and domination
are often justified with a veneer of false holiness or superiority. You get the idea. Marriage is hard; and
sadly, religious spirits and the doctrines of men only make it harder.

The truth is that we can’t change another person. The ONLY person you have control over is yourself.
The only person that you CAN change is yourself. No man has the power to change a woman; no woman
has the power to change a man. Now, a man can physically overpower a woman. She might physically
fear him after this and conform to something he demands, but her heart has not changed — at least not
for the better (tov). Deliverance doesn’t originate from abuse; rather abuse creates a need for
deliverance.

Thus, when Paul urges a woman to submit to her husband, he is not insinuating that she become his
slave. She is not “lessor” than the man. She is not his child and shouldn’t be treated as such. A woman
wasn’t made in the image of Elohim to hang on a man’s every word and whim and never question his
actions, motives, or decisions. The Hebrew of Genesis literally places her face to face with the man like a
mirror. Together they reflect the image of Elohim (or they should).

Woman came from the side of a man as an equal co-ruler of YHWH’s creation. She is bone of his bone
and flesh of his flesh. This is WHY the man is admonished to LOVE her like his own BODY. Because that’s
what she is. They are one. He protects her one way and she protects him another way. It’s a relationship
of reciprocity and mutuality.

The man is also commanded to love his wife as Messiah loves the Assembly— to be willing to die for her.
This is sacrificial love at its finest and I don’t know any woman that wouldn’t greatly respect a man
willing to die for her. This kind of love cannot be faked, and engenders a reverence like no other. You
don’t have to be perfect to love or respect the way Paul is suggesting.
So, what is real submissiveness?

Messiah doesn’t rule over us with an iron fist. He never abused women (or men). He wasn’t a narcissist.
He didn’t have a “power-trip”. He never forced anyone to follow Him. He LISTENED to others. He
answered questions. He exercised EXTREME mercy. He healed the broken and the sick. He was gentle
with sinners. Rather than punish the disobedient —- He DIED for them, taking their death penalty upon
Himself.

Men are to emulate Messiah, but they are NOT the Messiah. The parable or metaphor Paul used can
only be taken so far. Women are NOT to worship their husbands, or replace their relationship with the
Messiah with their husband. Husbands were never meant to be the mediator between their wives and
YHWH. Man is not the god of woman, no more than woman is the god of man. Either extreme is
idolatry, not Biblical submission.

The conclusion is that a woman is to submit to a man as far he emulates Messiah. So long as the man
walks and follows in the steps of Yeshua, then the woman follows also. But the minute the man follows
his own flesh, a lying spirit, or veers to the left or to the right, a woman is not required to blindly follow
or submit to the man. Or else they both will fall into the ditch. But, this type of submission is a reciprocal
mandate. We are to submit to one another. (Eph. 5:21)

Sadly, I ‘ve witnessed well-meaning women blindly follow their husbands. Believing they were being
Biblically “submissive”, these women failed to hold their husbands accountable to grave sin, knew their
decisions were costly, and they tumbled down a path of destruction together. The sad part is that these
poor women believed that by following their husbands they were doing YHWH’s will. In their mind, they
had no right or authority to say anything about the behavior and decisions of their man, so they
remained silent and the entire family paid in spades. The shackles of man’s traditions and doctrines can
be very heavy and the price can be immense. But where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty! (2 Cor.
3:17)

I’m so very thankful that Queen Esther didn’t remain silent.[2] Or Deborah. Or Abigail. Or the daughters
of Zelophehad. Or Ruth. Or Yael. Or Hannah. Or Mary Magdalene. Or Priscilla. Or Lydia. Or Huldah. Just
to name a few.

I hope our understanding of real biblical submissiveness and authority continues to grow. The more I
study the Bible, the more I am amazed by just HOW much YHWH values women. This theme runs in the
background behind nearly every story. And, why wouldn’t this be the case? Isn’t the whole Book about
Him and His Bride?