Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Love in Fundamentalism V: Changing Terms Changes the Terms

[author] Words that come to mind are "love" or "honor", perhaps “service”, I'm sure there are more. 
[commenter] The problem is that it seems you can't really get away from the concept just by using different words.  It seems to me that both “love” and “honor” have just as much opportunity for exploitation and abuse as "submit" does.  It all depends on how you live them out.  The Christian definitions of "love", "honor", "service", and "submission" have been around for centuries, and the concepts are by no means new, though some of the ways they have been used may be.  I have to wonder, though, if back in the day what we've been talking about was the original meaning or definition of these words, and if it isn't the "common understanding" or dictionary definitions that have diverged somewhat.

The difference in the connotations would be that it is possible to mutually honor, respect, or serve one another, no matter which of the many common definitions you use.  It is, however, impossible to mutually submit to one another in any of the standard usages of the word.

I am not trying to get away from the concept of working for the benefit of others in preference to oneself.  I'm trying to get away from the apparent need (based on the number of books, sermons, lectures on the subject) to hammer home to women that they must submit to husbands with the corollary being men taking control of their households (rather than men submit, or men and women honor, or men and women act in service to).

My original point was that if church teachers (those who turn theology into practical application for the rest of us) focused their attention on the real truth of mutuality, using terminology that easily supported the concept, then there would be 1. less confusion about submission being a degradation of one party and promotion of the other and 2. less institutionally sanctioned exploitation of the concept.

What I want is a return to what I am presuming was meant "back in the day" and I think the language is creating a major obstacle to today's people being able to get to that meaning.  If the godly concept is "mutually working for the highest good of the other", then let's say that and not dogmatically hold on to outdated vocabulary simply because of tradition, especially when the use of the outdated words leads to so much abuse that could potentially be avoided simply by using words that speak to modern people.

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