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Submission or Doormat Legalism?

There is dangerous trend in several homeschool movements that focus on obedience to man-made rules instead of God’s rules. Legalism is essentially opposed to grace.

Biblical submission teachings are distorted to the point that family life centers around the father of the home rather than on Jesus Christ.

This legalism begins with a false teaching about women’s roles. Dr John Garr explains in God and Women (AMAZING BOOK, MUST READ!!):

“In every generation, civil and religious male bureaucracies have reinforced domination/submission codependencies that have used and abused women….

The tragedy is that these hierarchies have been profoundly harmful to both men and women because they have strengthened and further concretized the male-female domination/submission codependencies that have proven spiritually and psychologically debilitating to both genders….

Godly women have an unwavering commitment to godliness, to adhering to the principles of conduct that they know instinctively must be taught by Holy Scripture. They cannot bring themselves to jettison the Bible as a relic of an antiquated patriarchal male God in order to accommodate the demands of some feminists.

They know intuitively, however, that something is wrong with the historical church’s positions on women that still carry over into the present to one degree or another. Surely these positions do not reflect God’s eternal will for women.”

Don’t Judge a Book by Its Cover

A legalistic movement may appear spiritual from the outside, but fails to accomplish God’s purposes because it is based on outward performance instead of an inward change. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Examine the fruit.

The Fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness,  gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness and temperance.

The Fruit of Legalism is pride, self-righteousness, judgmental and critical attitudes, superiority, conflict, worry, demanding compliance,  aggression, extremes, manipulation, elitism, and plain ol’ nastiness.

I have friends with different beliefs that I know love God. They might not homeschool, or attend a church I would attend, or run their home the way I would. That doesn’t mean I have a right to think myself better. God forbid! What love is that?

Legalistic people look down their noses at those with different beliefs. God’s Words says,

“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters” (Romans 14:1).

“Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand” (Romans 14:4).

You, then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat” (Romans 14:10).

Why do so many well-meaning homeschoolers get caught in legalistic trappings?

Why? I believe it is because we are desperate for order and rules. “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.”

We gravitate toward and esteem most highly those who are the most conservative and moral. However, Jesus told some of the most upstanding citizens that publicans and harlots would enter the kingdom before they would.

Those who consider themselves “godly” may be further from God’s kingdom than the lowest sinner.

Submission, Not Doormat

More from Dr. John Garr

The role of women in family, society, and church has been one of the most hotly debated issues in the history of the Christian church. Across the annals of time, it has remained among the most volatile and emotionally charged subjects of discussion that have engaged the community of believers.

Presently, from the one extreme of chauvinism and even misogyny to the other extreme of militant feminism—and everywhere else between—strident voices continue to clamor for a bully pulpit from which they can pontificate and speak for God, giving everyone the answer to the question of a “woman’s place.”

The very term woman’s place is pejorative as though there is a place where women should be sent and contained so that they can be kept under control.

Unfortunately, like so many other controversial issues in Christian doctrine and polity, this subject has generated far more heat than light.

For all of recorded history, women have been the most consistently and universally abused people group on planet earth. Since time immemorial, men have dominated women in virtually every human culture in systematic, unrelenting, and often violent ways.

Consequently, Christian women have been essentially bound in chains of submission and gagged by demands for silence since the end of the apostolic era.

We need to reexamine the role of women from the Bible, from the Hebrew view, instead of the common teachings that are repackaging the Catholic and Greek Orthodox extreme submission perspectives from Greek philosophy.

The new book God and Women: Woman in God’s Image and Likeness brings serious biblical and historical scholarship to bear on the role of women in home, society, and church in an analysis of God’s original intentions for women—and for men—at the moment when he formed humanity—male and female—from the dust of the earth. I strongly suggest you get this book (the first in a series).

There are homeschool movements teaching that their way is THE way, so before blindly following any movement you need to know the theology behind the movement. You need to ask questions.

10 Important Questions

  1. Do you see love or an attitude of superiority?
  2. Does this teaching bring me closer to the Lord or not?
  3. Does this teaching promote loving one another?
  4. What is the focus: God’s Word or man’s rules?
  5. Do you see joy or worry?
  6. Do you see peace or conflict?
  7. Do you see longsuffering or demanding compliance?
  8. Do you see gentleness or contemptible attitudes?
  9. Do you see meekness or aggression?
  10. Do you see temperance or extremes?

We need to spend time teaching our children to look for fruit!

What Does the Bible Say?

Much of God’s Word speaks directly to false leadership and deception:

God looks in our hearts: Many sinners, even the demon-possessed, humbled themselves before God, while some in church leadership were so self righteous and puffed up that they completely missed God. Man looks at outward appearances but God examines the condition of the heart.

God looks for loyalty: For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His. 2 Chronicles 16:9a

God looks at our motives: Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:19-21

God looks at our thoughts: And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? Matthew 9:4

God looks at our response to His Word: But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience. Luke 8:15

God looks at our worship. This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. Matthew 15:8

Watch this blog for more excerpts from Dr John Garr’s book on women.









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About Robin Sampson


  1. Hello!

    I just wanted to say thank you for stopping by my blog and for leaving your comments. I have looking around your blog here and really enjoy it. I just joined your Sunday Seven meme. That one sounds like fun! I just read this post and loved it! I grew up in a church that is independent baptist, but basically a cult in my eyes. (I am not saying Independent Baptists are cults – that is just the classification this particular church put themselves in.)I grew up not celebrating Easter or Christmas. The pastor had multiple affairs with women in the church and is still pastor. Abuse goes on with some of the women. The pastor is the sole authority of this church. And I could go on and on – but I won’t. My parents pulled our family out when I was 16. And they are with a very grounded church and me and my family are with a very grounded church as well. Sorry for rambling (I usually don’t ramble so), but I just really enjoyed this post and I know it will help others too. Thank you!

    God Bless~

  2. Thank you for sharing this and reminding us to look for the fruit that is produced. It also helps us to remember to check the production of our own fruit. Does it smell sweet? Is it rotten? Are we producing any at all or have we become dormant? Thanks again.

  3. Just read this post today and wanted to let you know it was helpful.

  4. What a blessing this read is. And, what a blessing that God answered the prayers for this family.

    Prayer is a mighty powerful blessing given to us. I only wish more people believed in this wonderful hot line to God and the power that prayer possesses.

    This is truly turbulent times and God’s Word is being attacked more so today than any other time in history in a broad range of deceit. Deceit that has, over many years of slow infiltration, caused much turmoil and a loss of direction. Not just in certain sectors of our nation but on a global wide basis by those we have been taught to trust. Those in high places with high admiration of the people.

    Your, “How to tell– look at the fruit”, is a wonderful tool for those who are searching for God and those who are just struggling to get through all the misdirection of today’s world.

    Thank you for sharing this. I will definitely share this with others.

    Ds Books N More

  5. Thank you for this Mrs. Sampson. It was a great read and very enlightening. Thank you for always being a source of encouragement!


    <3 u

  6. I have been in churches that I later discovered had “Pharisees” oozing from everywhere. GLAD to be away from “Pharisaic mindset” now!

    Using your checklist I can say that I saw (almost daily) in those places:
    an attitude of superiority; ongoing conflict; demanding compliance; contemptible attitudes (and actions); aggression (open hostility with threats made).

    When I challenged these things I was made to feel like I was the one who was wrong. Went to a Christian counselor to learn to deal with emotional abuse.

  7. Andreea

    Please,pray for me,I think Im a legalist.. But the problem is I feel like things I do are from God and I feel guilty if I give up my interdictions etc.. Please help me!

    I don’t want to lose the relationship with Jesus and heaven..so what can I do? My email is : givemewingstfly@yahoo.com

    Who wants to help can write there, Thank u Jesus bless u

  8. Robin,
    Excellent post… I have to tell you I`m really tired of these so called Christians that are filled with judgmental pride. They honestly give me nausea. I have no desire to befriend a person like that.. none whatsoever.
    I`ll pray for them from very much afar. People like that have done more harm to my family and my life than anyone could imagine.
    I am a firm believer in our Lord.. I love Him with all of my being. And I refuse to give in to legalistic doctrine. It`s not from God. It`s Satan`s way of trying to destroy the church and also impede real evangelism. These kinds of Christians make the lost sheep run from ever even opening the Bible. I know because I`ve been evangelizing and discipling for quite some time and breaking the legalistic stereoytpe in people`s minds has been the biggest problem when evangelizing.
    Thanks so much for writing this post. Will Tweet, Stumble and Facebook it.

  9. Amen — This is so true. I’m reading through Dr. Garr’s book now. It’s so vital that both men and women get a paradigm shift on what is truly “female” and truly “male.” I don’t believe a man can be a true male, the way the Lord intends, without accepting what a true female is, the way the Lord made us to be (and, vice versa). My opinion is that the identities of male and female, as well as the relationships between men and women, are one of the core elements of the Lord’s restoration today — another reason Dr. Garr’s book is so important.

    It’s sad that we try to make up our own identities ourselves — including gender identities — and also allow the culture (including “Christian” culture)to define us, rather than seeking the Lord’s definition of who we are. May the Lord open our eyes to our identities in Him, and close our eyes and ears to the false, man-made identities that bombard us all.

    Such a hot topic. Thanks for posting these truths and helpful guidelines.

  10. Excellent points!!!
    Blessings in Yeshua HaMashiach,

  11. Robin, this article and your entire site is a HUGE encouragement to me. All of your resources are what I think of as “Holy Spirit Led Homeschooling” products. I wish I could download your entire site into my heart – NOW! Thank you for all that you do.

  12. I have been preaching now for about 4 years and if I have learned anything, it is that so many people spend most of their time casting stones at the church rather than just studying and worrying about their own state of affairs. I’m not saying that there aren’t churches out there with false teachings, but the Bible also says that we should not cast our pearls before a swine.

    I studied myself right out of organized religion and into the non-denominational church. I tried to fight against the teachings but failed because I didn’t study enough to know how to discuss with people what the Bible actually said. Legalistic, strict, or whatever one chooses to call it… the Bible is VERY narrow when it comes to the practices of the church and where one stands in the Kingdom. The gate is narrow and few will go in by it. I don’t think that God wanted us to know that if everyone is going to heaven.

    So what point would there be to being a Christian if we all get to go anyway? God has not changed his plan and he still wants today what he wanted before the world was ever created. To say that any portion of the Bible is wrong or mistaken or out of context is to call God a liar.

    I’m not a Baptist by the way, just so that the record is clear that again I am not a part of organized religion. We do not celebrate Easter or Christmas as a day of coming together at church. The Bible does not tell us when Jesus was born. My family celebrates Christmas in our own home by doing the same thing that everyone else does. We exchange gifts, we have a tree, and we enjoy one another. I think about Jesus and the fact that he was born, but we do not attend a worship service.

    Why? Well because we’re told that we are to come together EVERY first day of the week to remember Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection and to partake of the Lord’s supper as commanded in 1 Cor. God wants us to remember his son much more than just Christmas and Easter. He paid an ultimate price that deserves far more than just two days out of the year. Oh – and the Bible also does not tell us the date that he was crucified. It does, however give us enough to know that he was crucified on a Friday and rose on the third day… math indicates Sunday.

    I’m dumbfounded how so many today want to be religious, but not Biblical. I have people on my Facebook page who seemingly are always posting put downs about various churches. They are always trying to find fault in specific organizations. It’s time to put those things aside and pick up the Bible and read it, learn, understand it and do as the first century church did… spread the Gospel to every creature, he who believes and is baptized shall be saved, he who believes not shall be damned. I didn’t write it… God did!

  13. Rachel NC

    Thanks Robin, I really needed to read this, and I really needed to read it today. You are such a blessing to me. I appreciate that you are willing to say what needs to be said, led by God and not by man (or even woman).

  14. Batzion

    If you please, I would appreciate the Scripture reference where it says that we are to meet on every first day of the week. Also, I would like to add that the Messiah was crucified on the eve of the Passover (which is considered a Sabbath in Judaism). The Sabbath mentioned in the account was not necessarily a Friday/Saturday. If you re-do the math and count, it goes like this: Friday-Saturday = Day 1, Saturday-Sunday = Day 2, Sunday-Monday = Day 3. He rose on the 3rd day which is recorded as the first day of the week (Sunday) so, He could not have been put in the tomb on a Friday. It would have been a Thursday according to your reckoning. Now if you take into consideration that a day according to the Creator’s calendar begins at sundown the previous “day”, then it is possible that the Savior rose after sundown on a Saturday which would have Him in the tomb on a Wednesday after sundown. Again, “Sabbath” is not necessarily Friday/Saturday. It is recorded that the women came while it was yet dark (at the sunrise according to Mark 16:2) so, He would have to have risen well before sunrise. Add to this: According to Jewish custom, a body would have to be washed (unless there was blood loss, in which case the blood-soaked garments, etc. had to buried with the decedent), wrapped in linen and then in the tomb within 24 hours.I do hope you find this study of the Word as intriguing as I did. Peace to you.

  15. There is no Scripture reference where it says that we are to meet on every first day of the week. Sabbath is Fri sundown to Saturday sundown.

  16. This topic of women in the Bible has been in the forefront of my mind lately. Thank you for confirming that I’m on the right track. 🙂

  17. I have struggled with these issues my whole life. As the author says, I wanted to be biblical in my attitudes and actions, but I knew my former church’s teaching on being a doormat couldn’t be right. I was so hurt when a visiting evangelist (back in the 1980s)preached that men were made in the image of God and women in the image of man. Hurt and angry–that he preached it and that our pastor let him. I wove that bit of nonsense into my historical novel, Unclaimed Legacy. Thanks for posting such valuable article. I’ll be checking out the book.

  18. Extremely nice post. I just stumbled upon your weblog and wanted to state that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your weblog posts. In the end I will be subscribing for your rss feed and I hope you write again quickly!

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