Michele Bachmann 'Submissive' Wife Idea a Matter of Interpretation

Evangelical Christian scholars point to Scriptural nuance and complexity.

ByABC News
August 12, 2011, 3:26 PM

Aug. 12, 2011 -- The debate-night audience lashed out at the reporter who dared to ask Rep. Michele Bachmann whether she would be submissive to her husband as president, but the chorus of "boos" Thursday in Ames, Iowa, overlooked a much more nuanced and complex partnership that's grounded in Scripture, evangelical Christian scholars say.

The concept of a submissive wife needs to be "seen in the context that there is a good many more things a husband is required to do than the wife is required to do," Richard Land, head of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, said.

The husband "is to love his wife the way Christ loved the church and gave himself for it," Land continued. "He's going to be seeking what's best for his wife and the wife, in turn, is to put herself under the authority of her own husband as unto the Lord."

The relationship is only between two married people and not between a woman and other men, including men with whom she might work, he said. "The husband is to be the head of the home and he is to give himself to sacrificial service to his wife," Land said. "And the wife is to put herself under the authority of her own husband as unto the Lord and that means she is going to trust his authority and he's going to put herself under his headship in the marriage."

One of the most talked about moments at Thursday night's GOP debate on the Fox News Channel came when Bachmann of Minnesota was asked a question that raised some eyebrows. The question stemmed from a speech she gave in 2006 when she was running for Congress.

Bachmann told a church in Brooklyn Park, Minn., that she hated taxes, but went on to study tax law in order to be "submissive" to her husband.

"My husband said, now you need to go and get a post-doctorate degree in tax law. Tax law, I hate taxes. Why should I go and do something like that? But the Lord says, 'Be submissive.' Wives, you are to be submissive to your husbands," Bachmann told the crowd at the Living Word Christian Center. "Never had a tax course in my background, never had a desire for it, but by faith, I was going to be faithful to what I thought God was calling me to do through my husband, and I finished that course of that study."