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Huckabee: Wives Must "Graciously Submit" to Husbands

January 25, 2014

This was not the best of weeks for once and possible future GOP presidential candidate Mike Huckabee. First, the Fox News host doubled-down on his "Uncle Sugar" charge that the Affordable Care Act's conception coverage mandate showed that Democrats believe women "cannot control their libido or reproductive system without the help of the government," only to be reminded that as Arkansas governor he signed even broader legislation in 2005. Making matters worse, in his new book Huckabee's fellow Baptist and GOP Congressman Steve Pearce (R-NM) proclaimed that wives should "voluntarily submit" to the husbands. As it turns out, that's pretty much the same language Governor Huckabee used in a 1998 full page ad in USA Today.
As Sarah Posner recalled, Governor Huckabee took a high profile role in the 1998 controversy over the Southern Baptist Convention's statement on Family. The Church's message read (and reads):

A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and to serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.

But when the SBC received criticism for its anachronistic family formula, Baptist Minister turned Arkansas Governor joined 130 other evangelical leaders in signing a full-page ad in USA Today titled, "You Are Right!" The August 26, 1998 declaration trumpeted its support of the SBC position

"At a time when divorce is destroying the fabric of our society, you have taken a bold stand for the biblical principles of marriage and family life. We thank you for your courage...
You are right because you called husbands to sacrificially love and lead their wives.
You are right because you called wives to graciously submit to their husband's sacrificial leadership.
You are right because you affirmed that the husband and wife are of equal worth before God."

As it turns out, Huckabee's proclamation is particularly problematic, and not just because divorce rates are highest in those states where the Southern Baptists hold the greatest sway. As he made clear during his 2008 White House run, Minister Huckabee believes that what he sees as the Bible's paternalistic hierarchy should also be the law of the land:

"I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it's a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that's what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it's in God's standards rather than trying to change God's standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family."

Ultimately, Mike Huckabee tried to walk back his call for a faith-based Constitution. And if he runs for President in 2016, he'll doubtless try again to paper over his demand that wives-whatever the state of the libidos--graciously to their husbands.


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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