home
RSS
August 12th, 2011
12:10 PM ET

Bachmann faces theological question about submissive wives at debate

By Eric Marrapodi, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

(CNN)– Thursday night in the Fox News GOP debate in Ames, Iowa, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minnesota, was asked by columnist Byron York whether she would be "submissive to her husband" if she were elected president.

Before the congresswoman had a chance to answer, a chorus of boos rang down from the audience.

"Thank you for that question, Byron," Bachmann responded with a wry smile. "Marcus and I will be married for 33 years this September 10. I'm in love with him. I'm so proud of him. What submission means to us, it means respect. I respect my husband. He's a wonderful godly man and great father.

"He respects me as his wife; that's how we operate our marriage," she continued. "We respect each other; we love each other. I've been so grateful we've been able to build a home together. We have wonderful children and 20 foster children. We've built a business and life together, and I'm very proud of him."

"She answered it the most appropriate way in the context it was being asked. She was being asked a deeply theological question in front of millions of Americans," said Gary Marx, the executive director of the Faith and Freedom Coalition. "That's why there was such a strong and visceral booing over the very premise of the question."

Marx, who was in the balcony at the debate Thursday, said that for Iowa evangelicals, this is a nonissue.

"Most evangelicals know it's not easy to teach in a 30-minute sermon on Sunday. It's impossible to answer in a minute sound bite. Her answer about respect is the only one that can be given," he said.

The question of wives being submissive to their husbands comes from a passage in the New Testament in Paul's letter to the Ephesians. The letter was originally written in Greek, and there are various translations of the Greek word Paul uses.

"Whatever someone thinks Paul means of submission of wives to husbands ... it doesn't leave any room for exploitation," said David Matthewson, an associate professor of New Testament at Denver Seminary. "I would say her response was very consistent with the text."

In the New International Version translation of the Bible, the version most preferred by evangelical Christians and nondenominational churches, a camp Bachmann has said she belongs to, Ephesians 5:22-24 are translated as:

"Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."

The letter goes on to say in verse 25:

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."

"The English word 'submit' is as good a translation as any without using a bunch of words. The problem, though, is the word 'submit' in English carries connotations for most readers that may not have been there in the Greek," Mathewson said. "In English, we think of forced submission or exploiting. ... I don't think that's in the Ephesians passage."

In the King James Version, the first mass-produced English translation of the Bible, the word is translated as "submit."

In Eugene Peterson's translation of the Bible, "The Message," which aims to use more common English, he translates submissive as "understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ."

Historically, the fifth chapter of Ephesians has been taken in context of Paul's writings to mean Christian spouses should operate as loving equals, though the word "submissive" has long been a divisive one for Christian women.

"It seems it's been, in the 20th century, to have caused a lot of issues in North American Christianity," Mathewson said.

Former Alaska Gov. Sara Palin, another prominent evangelical politician, weighed in on the issue Friday in Iowa.

Palin told CNN's Don Lemon, "That's her opinion, that, to her, submission to her husband means respecting her husband, and I respect my husband, too."

Lemon asked, "If (husband) Todd said don't run, would you not run?"

"I can't imagine my husband ever telling me what to do politically," Palin responded. "He has never told me what to do when it comes to a political step, and I appreciate that. I respect you for that, Todd; thank you."

Bachmann identifies herself as an evangelical Christian. Her congressional office said recently that she has been attending a nondenominational church as her schedule allows.

She has shown over the years that she is fluent in "Christianese," using words and phrases that ring true to evangelical listeners.

She has long been a darling of evangelical voters, serving as keynote speaker at anti-abortion events in Washington and making the rounds at prayer rallies at the Capitol. It is one of the reasons she is expected to do well in Iowa, where the GOP base is filled with evangelical voters.

Her faith has caused a few bumps in the road in the campaign. Her husband's Christian counseling program came under fire by critics for a controversial therapy. She formally pulled her membership in her former church days before she formally announced that she was seeking the White House.

But Marx points out that fielding a question like this in a debate only helps her. "In Iowa, it reiterates that evangelical identity she has."

And, he noted, the last Republican to win the Iowa caucus in 2008, former Southern Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee, got asked a lot of questions about the finer points of his faith, too.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Belief • Christianity • Church and state • Michele Bachmann • Politics

soundoff (1,672 Responses)
  1. Alexander

    RON PAUL 2012!! IF YOU, THE VOTERS, IGNORE PAUL AND VOTE FOR PERRY, BACHMANN, ROMNEY,
    YOU'RE GOING TO GET 4 MORE YEARS OF THE STATUS QUO! WAKE THE HECK UP! VOTE RON PAUL 2012!

    August 14, 2011 at 9:50 pm |
    • Pat

      Four more years of the status quo is a lot better than Perry, Bachman, Romney and Paul all combined. All the repubican candidates should be put to an intelligence test to see if they can at least pass with an average IQ, which I doubt any one can.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
  2. Luis Wu

    Submit you b!tch!

    August 14, 2011 at 9:49 pm |
  3. Joel

    Oh bull. Classic attempt to weasel out of the plain meaning of the text when you don't have the backbone to simply say "That's outdated nonsense and we ignore it," an answer I could have respected. If Paul meant "You should love one another as equals," he'd have said so. But he didn't – he commanded women to submit to their husbands. Most Christians thankfully ignore that. Most, but not all. Bachmann submitted to her husband when he commanded her to go to law school, why wouldn't she do the same if he commanded her to make a certain political or policy decision in the Oval Office?

    August 14, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  4. Mike0301

    @Howard
    Do you "Impeach Obama" crowd KNOW who would become President? Yeah, The VP, Joe Biden.
    Of course it will have removed the black, which has been to goal from day one.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  5. Michael

    I guess if you want a candidate who literally believes that a magic man created a person from sand, then a woman from his rib, then the rib woman got the sand man to eat a magic intelligence apple (coaxed by a talking snake of course) and that the magic god that already knew the future was somehow furious about something he already knew would happen? Then vote Bachmann 2012 because you probably only have a GED so why the hell not.

    August 14, 2011 at 9:35 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      Yeah, he created the sand woman when he saw the man was lonely.... I can see it now God slaps himself on the forehead – "Doh! Why didn't I think of that before!" HA HA HA HA how utterly stupid.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:51 pm |
    • Jeff S

      I can't stand Bachmann, and I don't know enough about her to know if what you write is true, but if it is, I hope you understand that it is a tiny minority of Christians who are not intelligent enough to understand the esoteric meanings behind the allegory in the Bible.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • DarwinDude

      You're so right! I prefer the story of the Big Magic Explosion that blew pixie dust all over the place, and using the power of luck and blind chance, grew everything into everything.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:53 pm |
    • thes33k3r

      Awesome.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:54 pm |
    • BD

      Excellent! So funny. And so sad too as you actually didn't even exaggerate the story. No need.

      August 14, 2011 at 10:03 pm |
  6. TheUber

    Lets ask Hillary that question, I wonder what she would say?

    August 14, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • steven harnack

      Hillery has never made any statements that she has ever done or not done something because because a book of fairy tales told her that she had to obey her husband, unlike Bachmann.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:38 pm |
    • How R u?

      Again you are avoiding the issue! Evangelicals are a joke and do not even follow their religion correctly!

      August 14, 2011 at 9:45 pm |
    • Luis Wu

      I can see her now, whip in hand, Bill submits to her!

      August 14, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  7. Ladervijd

    "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.
    For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."

    eg. KJV 1769:
    22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
    23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even [or "also" in other translations] as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

    Seems that most translations of Ephesians 5:23 don't have "should submit to their husbands in everything". Might be a thing one gets when translators are married, albeit "Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything." leaves room for joke "A few hours a week if that, huh?". Kind of unfortunate thing about that translation though is that "church" in 5:23 stands for the Christian Church, not the Roman Catholic one.

    August 14, 2011 at 8:38 pm |
  8. Cortie The Thesbian

    Michele Bachmann should be more submissive to her wife.

    August 14, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  9. Tea Party Daily Mirror

    A spokesperson today said that candidate Michele Bachmann, having recently left her church behind, is converting to Islam.

    Bachmann is also leaving her latent-gay, flaccid husband Marcuthhhhhhh so that she can be free to pursue musician Yousef Islam (Cat Stevens). Bachmann is guoted as saying "I've always liked his music. You know what they say about musical men and their trombones..." and "As a Muslim and POuTUS, I could solve our terrorism problems once and for all. There's no way Al Kaida and his countrymen will attack a country with a Muslim leader. This will help me get elected in other ways too. In fact, it might be the only way I can get more than the teabagger vote and pull in anything from Obama's liberal base."

    Yousef Islam (Stevens) was heard to say "No way, dude, no friggin way. That leathery old haggis wouldn't have made it as my groupie even when she was 20, no matter how good her oratory skills are."

    August 14, 2011 at 5:26 pm |
  10. a person of the Name

    Hmm, surely undecided on whom I'm to place my vote too. What I'm sure of is that it will be someone with good Christian values. I'm tired of the greed that is in politics today.

    August 14, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • Renae Mann

      They need to stop constantly using religion to justify all their trashy,criminal behaviors .It would be nice if they were just honest from the jump & tell people what they really plan on doing instead of constantly saying their christians because it's a crock of crap.They all seem to do itThere's nothing Godly about any of them.

      August 14, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • BooDiggly

      And why do yo uthink "good christian values" and greed are mutually exclusive? Here's a hint for you: They're not...

      August 14, 2011 at 9:32 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      What good Christian values do any of them represent? I always thought Christianity was about helping the less fortunate; these folks seem to hate the poor and the sick and needy. They love tax cuts, though, and they love cutting social programs along the way. I'll never understand the fascination of good Christians with these phony religious politicians. There is too much trust in your hearts. It's actions, not words. Remember that.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:40 pm |
  11. Stevie B

    Kudos to CNN for bringing a bright and balanced professional (Dr. Tartt) in to analyze the question/answer at hand. I halfway expected an ultra liberal to come in and paint a dark picture of a crazy evangelical domestic autocrat who would surely command his wife to nuke the Middle East. : )

    August 14, 2011 at 4:53 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      Is that really what you see from the left? Makes me sad.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:42 pm |
  12. TheMostWise

    If Michelle Bachman's religious faith were anything but the fraudulent scam that it actually is, a reasonable person would recognize that Minnestota would be in a hell of a better condition than its current plight. It seems as though the "Celestial Pa"
    that she avers with the all insincerity who speaks to her in "special voices" (voices no other person hears) must have somehow lost his hearing aid or has depleted batteries in them. My...what an incredible influence her 'special relationship' with this..."Celestial Pa" has had on Minnesota! Haven't the results been....."just wonderful"? Her.."Celestial Pa" must surely have been dozing this past decade. He sure sleeps a hell of a lot for one who is deemed..."omnipotent". This is the source of change that she and the GOP are counting on to right America's problems. It sure would be nice if "Pa" would wake up and fix all these terrible problems. One can expect that Representative Bachman will surely say that if she's elected president, she's the very one who will know how to wake the "Old Slug" up. Thus far, she's been unble to do so.

    August 14, 2011 at 4:47 pm |
  13. TheMostWise

    If Michelle Bachman's religious faith were anything but the fraudulent scam that it actually is, a reasonable person would recognize that Minnestota would be in a hell of a better condition than its current plight. It seems as though the "Celestial Pa"
    that she avers with the all insincerity who speaks to her in "special voices" (voices no other person hears) must have somehow lost his hearing aid or has depleted batteris in them. My...what an incredible influence her 'special relationship' with this..."Celestial Pa" has had on Minnesota. Haven't the results been....."just wonderful"? Her.."Celestial Pa" must surely have beem dozing this past decade. He sure sleeps a hell of a lot for one who is deemed..."omnipotent". This is the source for change that she and the GOP are counting on to right America's problems. It sure would be nice if "Pa" would wake up and fix all these terrible problems. One can expect that Representative Bachman will surely say that if she's elected president, she's the very one who will know how wake the "Old Slug" up. Thus far, she's been unble to do so.

    August 14, 2011 at 4:42 pm |
  14. guitarharry

    The real issue is that Bachmann answered this question at all. If she understood the meaning of the First Amendment, she would simply say that he religious views are her own and nobody else's business. But since she believes that the US is a "Christian nation" she feels compelled to let her faith guide her in making political decisions. That is why I cannot vote for the woman. Do we really want another born-again Christian president? GW Bush nearly destroyed this country with is "faith-based" decision-making.

    August 14, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  15. Reality

    Obviously, Mr. Marrapodi was a bit tired when he wrote his commentary i.e. it is Ephesians chapter 5 verses 22-24 not Chapter 2. Maybe a secret word filter is needed to check on the comments of said moderator. Strange that Marrapodi and his buddy can use words like "s-ex" and "h-o-mo-s-exuality" without using separators but we cannot because of the inane word filter forced upon us.

    Professor Chilton pulls no punches in criticizing one of the founders of Christianity. Basically Paul was a "prude". An excerpt for Chilton's book,

    "He (Paul) feared the turn-on of women's voices as much as the sight of their hair and skin..... At one point he even suggests that the sight of female hair might distract any angels in church attendance (1 Cor. 11:10). Simply add Paul's thinking about women to the list of flaws in the foundations of Christianity.

    Professor Chilton btw is a Professor of Religion at Bard College and a priest at the Free Church of St. John in Barrytown, NY.

    Hmmm, do you think maybe that Mo's scribes simply enhanced Paul's thinking about women when they wrote the koran??? Absolutely!!!!

    To be fair, however, most contemporary NT scholars have concluded that the Epistle to the Ephesians was written by a pseudo-Paul. Obviously, M. Buchannen should have noted this in her response indicating she is not well versed in modern Christianity. Ditto for Mr. Marrapodi.
    ========================================================================================

    August 14, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  16. GrimmReaper

    Here are my sentiments on these issues:
    Religious Views: Mine alone. I don't proselytize nor do I tolerate those who do.
    Political Views: Independent Centrist (I don't drink tea or Kool-Aid)
    Favorite Quotations: 'Life's tough. It's even tougher if you're stupid' John Wayne, Sands of Iwo Jima, 1949.
    LMG

    August 14, 2011 at 2:37 pm |
    • herbert juarez

      life must be very ,very hard on you.

      August 14, 2011 at 2:41 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Grimm, we have some things in common.

      August 14, 2011 at 3:01 pm |
  17. JeanM

    Her quick answer doesn't impress me with her intelligence. Even a one-eyed squirrel gets a nut now and then. I'm less impressed with her goal of America the Theocracy. Ideas like this are dangerous.

    August 14, 2011 at 2:25 pm |
    • AGuest9

      Actually, ideas such as what she holds to cause people to strap bombs to themselves and walk into crowded markets. Extremists don't look very different from one another after a while. They only claim to be on different sides.

      August 14, 2011 at 2:59 pm |
  18. Maya

    "Loving equals"... right. Why was it then that for centuries after the death of Christ were wives legally treated as the property of their husbands with the full sanction of churches? Why were women denied the right to vote, to own property or assets, make contracts, or work outside the home? This article is complete bull. Fundamentalist Christians were the first to declare female suffrage and equal rights as causes of the devil. Christianity has oppressed women for the past 2000 years, and it is laughably dishonest for any Christian to deny that.

    August 14, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • sevenseas

      Why are you not asking the same of the Muslim religion? Does that not fit with your righteous indignation at Christianity?

      August 14, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • jms

      A great question to debate at http://www.ufeud.comj

      August 14, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Dave

      Amen sista buy the way I think she’s talking about all religions that apply Bachman just happens to be Christen

      August 14, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • margeatlarge

      right on sister!! we would not be electing her-we would be electing her husband–

      August 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Pinewalker

      Why is that when anyone wants to bash Christians utilize ancient history like its today's headlines? Do we talk about race as if the government were still orchestrating segregation, um no. Times have changed. Not just churches, but everyone degraded and held women in a lowly class for centuries. I am a Christian woman and I have not been degraded or mistreated or made to feel in any way inferior by any man or other person in my church or family. I have by those in the secular world, but not by anyone in my church or family.

      August 14, 2011 at 3:48 pm |
    • Ladervijd

      – "Historically, the fifth chapter of Ephesians has been taken in context of Paul's writings to mean Christian spouses should operate as loving equals," –

      In particular Ephesians 5:33

      Also, i.e. children and pets are treated legally as property, regarding care and responsibility, and there wasn't really much, if any, personal property, so it could be accurate to say that nowadays material property is treated as were persons back then.
      There wasn't much of a right to vote in many eg. kingdoms in history of Europe, and in city states males were those to go defend the city or fight elsewhere as well as eventually taking blame, whereas women were keepers of the households (non-electrified etc.) and the right to vote itself wouldn't have gotten them what there was city-wide lack of.
      Not sure about right to property or assets in history in various countries. It is logical that an average (eventually-pregnant) woman is less likely to defend property than a man, albeit it is likely that rights to property were forbidden at times and places for females to prevent groups of women living together.
      The marriage contract is a legal contract too, albeit true that approval of a bride's father was necessary as to make sure that the bride wasn't kidnapped and to make sure that husband and wife weren't going to live in a cave.

      It is certainly true that clergy had and have household-keepers, but to say that "Christianity has oppressed women for the past 2000 years" seems very far-fetched, especially on what was listed.

      August 14, 2011 at 7:36 pm |
    • Ancient Curse

      "Why is that when anyone wants to bash Christians utilize ancient history like its today's headlines?"

      For the same reason that anyone wanting to promote Christianity does the exact same thing. Love it or hate it, Christianity is an ancient belief system.

      August 14, 2011 at 9:46 pm |
  19. brins

    Mr Byron York
    Was Bachmann the only person who was a married presential candidate???

    Or do you really think the MEN in the list are not submissive to their wives so thier opinions and decision would not affect the US citizens??

    August 14, 2011 at 12:29 pm |
    • jms

      A bad choice for America? http://www.ufeud.com/debate.aspx?ID=189

      August 14, 2011 at 1:17 pm |
    • Free

      No, it's just that a lot of Christians still have a pre-60s att.itude to what a wife's role in a marriage is, and that includes 'obeying' the husband. There is no separation of 'work' and 'home' decision-making really as many work decisions that a woman makes affects her home life, right? If Bachmann's husband were to tell her that he thought that this presidential bid was now a bad idea it would be interesting if she would let that dictate her decision.

      August 14, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
  20. DanoMcRoo

    You know there's a stacked deck when questions garner more press than the answers.

    August 14, 2011 at 11:37 am |
    • jms

      Not the best candidate? http://www.ufeud.com/debate.aspx?ID=189

      August 14, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29
Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.