Friday, May 09, 2008

Submissive is...

We were out to dinner tonight when I heard someone comment that they were glad our particular denomination didn't call for women to be submissive to their husbands. I know I can't speak as the ultimate authority on my denomination in this area, but I can speak as the ultimate authority on ... myself.

Am I submissive?

I think I batted my eyes at my husband and replied in mock fashion, "Whatever you say dear," which brought about laughter from around the table, but I didn't really mean it in a mocking fashion. That was just for show. Really, I have to admit -- I don't think I have that big of an issue with being submissive; at least not my understanding or interpretation of the word. In fact, I think it's a word that is misunderstood almost as much as ... say ... meek.

For the sake of scoring more definitions, here's the definition of submissive in verb form -- submit -- from the American Heritage Dictionary -- To yield or surrender to the will or authority of another or others. To subject to some condition or process. To commit something to the consideration or judgment of another. Give in, acquiesce.

Ladies, what is the big deal anyway? If we huff and puff and say, "Well, I never!" could it be that our pride is kicking into overdrive? I suppose the problem is that there are too many women out there who are married to horses arses or something. Scripture is very clear that yes, wives should submit to the husbands; and husbands should love their wives as Christ loves the church. Sounds like each has a clear order to follow. (And I'll go so far as to say that the men have a harder one!) Oh yes, we all want to be loved by our husbands as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, but submit in order to secure that love? Honey, wake up and smell the coffee!

That is what I hear most of my girlfriends say.

Here's what the writer of Ephesians says about it all in chapter 5:

22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.


Submit to your husbands as to the Lord. Is it possible that the same women who have problems submitting to their husband's authority have problems submitting to the Lord? Are the two attitudes related? If our husband doesn't love us as Christ loves the church, is that a deal buster? Are we off the hook?

And so I'm back to square one ... do I submit to my husband? If I struggle to submit to my husband, just what am I afraid of? Jesus had the heart of a servant. Dictionary.com likened being submissive to being a slave, but if Jesus is a servant in his treatment of the church, and that's how my husband is supposed to be, what's the big deal if I am a slave? Aren't they the same thing practically?

Most importantly, I believe the word implies a choice; just like the word meek. I choose to submit. I choose to surrender to my husband's authority. I say, "Hey, things go a lot better when one person has the final word."

If I feel strongly about something, I say so. My husband has never said, "Shut up, woman, and submit!" I can count on one hand the number of times I have said, "I'm sorry, but I'm not in agreement with that...." Sometimes we end up in a stalemate and nothing happens. Why? Not because I'm not submitting, but because my husband recognizes that acting contrary to my feelings is not loving me as Christ loves the church.

No, the Bible doesn't say, "Husbands, MAKE that woman submit!" It is not an order given to men to keep their women in line. Perhaps there are some men who understand it in this fashion but they are confused and their wives are to be pitied. And the Bible doesn't say, "Women, snivel and grovel before your husbands, you worthless scum." Why would we be asked to behave in such a fashion? What man could love a woman who behaved in such a fashion?

Women, respect your husbands.

Men, love your wives.

One submits to the other so things run more smoothly. But the husband doesn't lord his authority over his wife. That would be a misuse of authority; an absence of love. And the wife doesn't ridicule the husband. That would be a lack of respect. I

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