Fighting Evil or Doing Good?

This is part of a series on patriarchy, headship, and submission. See this index.

The previous article “Lying to Combat Lying” discussed what constitutes lying and concluded that it not legitimate to lie in order to fight lying. In this article we will discuss how God wants us to respond to all evil in general and answer the question, “Are we supposed to fight evil?” We will also discuss how the answer to this question fundamentally opposes the Patriarchal Headship submission doctrine.

Fixing Evil

Over at the Sigma Frame blog, the author of a recent article says this:

In summary, the only way to combat the male performance aspect the sphere purports as necessary for female submission is for husbands to embrace their God given role as one of the primary drivers of their wives’ sanctification per Ephesians 5:22-33, “washing her in the Word”.  The husband guiding his wife to a deeper faith in God is how he combats her hypergamy and her drive to usurp control.
— Red Pill Apostle @ Sigma Frame, “Do you have a Communist Marriage?

A commenter adds the following anecdote:

I prayed multiple times a day, fervently, for over 20 years, including periods of fasting, for my wife to repent of her wickedness, while trying every possible thing I thought might work. And for twenty years straight my wife only became more evil. I washed that demon with the word of God, boldly, and it just pissed her off and jaded her. [..] Funny how they never ever tried telling my wife God’s word, but resort to telling me their lies and excuses instead. The truth is that church pastors hate what God’s word says to wives, and they hate God’s holy patriarchy. They’re servants of the devil who do Satan’s will of turning all men to hearkening to the voice of their wives, like Adam did and got the whole earth cursed. Their goal is still to get me back enslaved on their apostate woman-worshipping plantations.
— comment by Sharkly @ Sigma Frame, “Do you have a Communist Marriage?”

The focus here is on fixing evil by enacting the authority of “God’s holy patriarchy” and calling for men to take charge and drive change, to fix the evil piece-by-piece. By “guiding his wife”, a husband thus tries to incrementally achieve in her “a deeper faith in God” to combat her evil “drive to usurp control.”

These actions cannot succeed. Only acts which lead to transformational repentance can be effective.

Faith and Works

Bruce Charlton’s articles “Temptations in responding to the oppressions of here-and-now evil” and “Evil is incremental, but Good is qualitative” can be summarized as: Christians cannot truly combat evil, they can only choose to be good. Following Jesus is a qualitative choice to make him Lord. It is not quantitative: the amount of good added or the amount of bad removed. Works-based improvements do not save. Indeed, trying to make something good by incrementally reducing evil is fundamentally incorrect: a quantitative compromise with evil that legitimizes coexistence. Being “partially good” is just being evil.[1]

There is no continuum or spectrum between good (qualitative) and evil (quantitative), and they are not opposites. The opposite of faith is not evil, but unbelief. Thus,

You cannot increase your faith by displacing evil.

…and…

You cannot increase your faith by performing good works.

Doing great works does not make you a better Christian.[2] Doing good is not a stepping stone on the journey to complete goodness. Those attempting an incremental approach to goodness can never achieve it.[3] Rather, good is transformational—a complete change from one state to another—by faith in God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

By focusing on removing evil, one risks doing so at the expense of doing the will of the Father. Jesus said that works are not good unless they are the will of the father by those who have chosen Christ as Lord.[2] Works that do not come from the Father are evil, but good comes from the heart:

Proverbs 12:5
The thoughts of the righteous are just; the counsels of the wicked are deceitful.
Romans 10:10
FFor it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Jesus said that prophesying and doing great works (including successfully exorcising demons!) is not good fruit unless it is by the will of the Father.[2] One’s internal orientation of the heart must be qualitatively good.

In “They Don’t Understand Satan” Ed Hurst noted that you cannot pray for the consequences of evil to go away when those consequences are part of God’s will (e.g. for punishment). Moreover, your suffering is part of God’s will.

Satan is destroying Western Civilization. It was built by Satan and its his to destroy, but he’s doing it at God’s command. You cannot possibly do any good trying to rebuke the Devil from tearing it down. It’s so stupid I cannot even put it into words. [..] Your domain is to love the brethren the way Christ loved His disciples. You have to know whom God says are your brethren. [..] With only a tiny few exceptions, He did not heal those who weren’t under the Covenant of Moses. [..] You aren’t going to drive demons out of the US government. It belongs to those demons, so let’s focus on the things God has called us to do about that. God intends to carry us through an apocalypse. He’s going to work miracles, but He’s not going to make everything easy for us.

You cannot resist evil. You should not resist evil. Attempting to thwart the will of God is evil.

Resisting Evil

The New Testament states that Christians are not to resist evil. This is why Jesus taught that we are never to use any violence and why the New Testament gives no exceptions. Jesus said:

Matthew 5:39 (REV)
But I say to you, do not resist an evil person, but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other cheek to him also.

Paul says the same thing, over and over again:

Romans 12:17-21 (REV)
Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Think ahead of time how to do what is honorable in the sight of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live in peace with all people. Do not avenge yourselves, beloved, but give place to the wrath of God, for it is written, Vengeance belongs to me, I will repay, says the Lord. But, If your enemy is hungry, feed him, if he is thirsty, give him a drink, for by doing this you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
1 Corinthians 5:12-13 (NIV)
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked person from among you.”
1 Corinthians 6:7 (REV)
Actually, then, it is in general a loss for you that you have lawsuits among yourselves. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?
1 Corinthians 10:24 (REV)
No one should seek his own good, but the good of the other person.
Ephesians 5:8-14 (REV)
For at one time you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), discerning what is pleasing to the Lord. And do not participate in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead even expose them, for it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light. For what makes everything visible is light. This is why it says, “Awake, you who sleep, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

Paul says we must not repay evil with evil, but evil with good. There can be no revenge or demand for repayment. We must overcome evil with good and only good. Even speaking of great evil is shameful! The correct response to evil is to overcome it by denying it purchase, not trying to defeat it. And good is defined as whatever is the will of the Father.

Paul proposes a method of overcoming evil—by doing active good deeds for one’s enemy rather than active harm. This would prohibit the possibility of defensive violence, which uses a different method of overcoming evil.
— Lynn Martin @ Anabaptist Faith, “Biblical Nonresistance

Peter too gave specific instructions to the foreign Christians who were being persecuted and suffering for their faith while living among unbelievers. He says:

1 Peter 3:9,17 (REV)
Do not repay evil for evil, or insult for insult, but on the contrary, give a blessing, for to this you were called, so that you inherit a blessing. [..] For it is better to suffer for doing what is good, if the will of God should will it, than for doing evil.

The reaction to evil is never to try to fight it directly, but to endure it, even rejoice in it.

Matthew 5:10-12 (NIV)
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Matthew 10:22 (NIV)
You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.

Time and again the Bible instructs Christians to be good in order to do good. Evil cannot be overcome by combating it. The presence of evil is an opportunity to endure more suffering and do more good. Be glad and rejoice.

The presence of evil is a joyful opportunity to suffer and do good for Christ.

We have no response to evil other than to endure it and respond with good. But, we were commanded to do good anyway! Doing good is not a reaction to evil, but rather an outward expression of the inward state of the heart. The quality of one’s heart determines what one does.

Do good out of your heart regardless of the presence of evil.

The presence of evil does not matter, except to provide additional opportunities to do good.

When a brother is caught in sin, what does Jesus say to do? To forgive him, to bring him to repentance, or to disassociate the congregation from evil by expelling him.[4] It is only through the transformation that comes with repentance that evil can be replaced.[5] In the face of evil, one can only ever continue to do good by doing the will of the Father.

Headship

The careful reader will have noted that I quoted two important passages above—Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3—in the context of not resisting evil. These are two passages commonly used to assert Headship Submission. As I noted in “The Original Source Material“, they are often taken out of context in order to support Headship. I had explained that meaning of Ephesians 5 changes as you include the wider context, noting that…

…even this quotation is not complete enough. Cutting it even this much subtly alters it from what the original audience would have heard…

I had not included the full context from the earlier verses, the very ones referenced above that talk about not involving oneself with evil—the darkness—but rather associating oneself only with what is good—the light. It is in this context—and the instructions from Jesus—that we must understand Paul’s instructions. Submission is walking in the light, not stopping the darkness. If headship involves the latter and not the former, then it is evil.

Peter argues the same as Paul, but more explicitly. 1 Peter 3:1-6 describes wives submitting to their unbelieving husbands, but this is surrounded by Peter’s context of enduring suffering and not resisting it. As I noted in “The Context of Genesis 3:16“, Paul and Peter are unanimous: submission is the outward expression of an inward choice, an act of free will. It is not compelled by act of force, command, or authority. Both Peter and Paul tell husbands, wives, and members of the church to submit to one another.

When Red Pill Apostle states that…

“husbands [must] embrace their God given role as one of the primary drivers of their wives’ sanctification”

…it reflects the idea that one can incrementally bring holiness to another, that is, attempting to stop the darkness.

It is not through authority that one sanctifies another, but through service, love, and sacrifice demonstrating one’s own holiness. When Paul talks of  the husband “washing [his wife] in the word”, it means to spread the Gospel and share the Word of God, in the example of one’s  own life. It has nothing to do with trying to conquer the evil within another, which no man can do. No husband can sanctify his wife by commanding her to obedience. Husbands can only spread the Word of God and wait to see what happens, for good or evil.[6] Only in Christ can a person be transformed. Only then can good works flow.

The problem isn’t patriarchy, per se, but the idea that evil can be fixed by its application.[7] The “patriarchal passages” of Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter are about doing good, not stopping evil. Neither Paul nor Peter are telling people that they must rule, because ruling is in the frame of combating evil, and that is not the path to godliness.

Seeking another’s repentance is good and proper, but no man can fight the evil within another. Nor can suffering be avoided. A man in a bad marriage can only do good, to gladly embrace suffering for the opportunity that it is. He cannot have any expectation that evil will be defeated.

Everyone receives the same Word, but not everyone responds the same way.[6] Headship includes an implied promise that cannot be fulfilled and remain good: that by the exercise of authority, evil can be prevented or defeated. The personal act of submission—as an outpouring of the inner heart—can replace evil, but external authority cannot.

You cannot increase your faith by displacing evil. You cannot increase your faith by performing good works. The presence of evil is a joyful opportunity to suffer and do good for Christ. Do good out of your heart regardless of the presence of evil.

The doctrine of Headship is inherently flawed because it attempts to stop evil by the application of authority, something that the Bible says we must not and cannot do. We are not to resist evil, except indirectly by doing good. We cannot directly fix evil. Headship cannot accomplish this. Doing good is always an outward action. This is why submission cannot be commanded. Ruling is irrelevant. It is not a matter of compelling obedience.

Those who practice submission in their marriages are doing so out of obedience to Christ. They are doing those acts because their hearts are good, not because of the presence of a leader. Their marriages are already god-honoring.

For those who disagree, what benefit does leadership bring to a marriage that submission alone cannot achieve?

Note

The above should not be construed as some sort of dogmatic prohibition on all opposition to evil. Christians can and should flee from evil. This is a valid response. We can also pray that—if it be God’s will—evil be defeated. But as a general principle, we should not waste time trying to stop the many instances of oppression caused by evil. The vast majority of these cases are beyond our control, and many of them are happening because it is God’s will that they occur (e.g. punishments, free will, etc.).

Footnotes

[1] Most forms of evil involve the partial corruption of good. If good were completely displaced by evil, it would be noticed and fail. But by incrementally adding evil to something that was good, it can corrupt without detection. A thing can be almost entirely ‘good’, but that little bit of corruption destroys it. It is no longer pure.

[2] See: Matthew 7:13-23 and Matthew 25:31-46

[3] Evil cannot be cleansed and purified. It can only be rejected.

[4] Matthew 18:15-17

[5] James 5:20;  Galatians 6:1

[6] The Parable of the Sower: Matthew 13:1-23; Mark 4:1-20; Luke 8:1-15

[7] Evil cannot be conquered by force or the application of authority. Wives refusing to submit to their husbands cannot be altered through coercion. To do so is itself evil. Only the saving grace of God through Christ Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit can bring about submission.

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