Friday, July 11, 2008

The Bible Sometimes Gets a Bad Rap or Women Submit to Their Husbands

Man, am I ever about to get myself in trouble I think. It seems lately that almost every Bible study/small group I’ve been apart of and there were a handful, have touched upon the subject of women in the church and women at home. Even my Sunday school class is studying a book about women in the Bible, I can’t get away from the subject.

At one group I was volunteered to essentially ask a female seminary student why she felt it was okay to be a pastor when the Bible seemingly discourages it. At another that I attend with two very strong, opinionated, and intelligent women, they insisted that we skip over Colossians 3 because of verse 18. I serve under a female pastor. I periodically attend another church led by, you guessed it, a female pastor. I used to attend a Precept study led by…a female. And doggone it, tomorrow at the small group I mentioned earlier with the two strong, opinionated, and intelligent women, we are studying 1 Peter 3, which deals with…yup, women submitting to men. Wow. I have lots of good, strong women in my life for whom I have the utmost respect. Just thought I'd better throw that in there.

Not sure how I should feel about all this though, with the subject popping up everywhere. I think perhaps God is trying to show me something, but probably not what you would think at first. I think maybe He might be compelling me to speak the insights I gained today as I was studying the chapter for tomorrow, or perhaps He just wants to see how I wiggle myself out of trouble. He does have a sense of humor after all…look no further than the person writing this :) Let me set the stage a bit here.

This group hasn’t met in a while for various reasons and quite frankly, I had no clue where we had left off. So when the chapter was emailed out this week, I figured I’d best take a gander and my heart immediately sank. Right there in the first line, “Wives in the same way be submissive to your husbands…” My mind began churning, rolling over the possibilities and my potential responses, when they both no doubt stared me down with the dreaded stink eye for the mere misfortune of having been born a male. The best I could come up with was, “Um, I regret to inform you that I have a tummy ache and therefore will not be able to enjoy your presence in the morning.”

So, what did I do? I went to take a shower to get rid of the cold-sweat I had broken out in. And just as I was about to turn the water on, I had an epiphany; suddenly I had the response to all of it. The Bible does in fact say that wives should submit to their husbands, more than a few times. And as Christians, if we truly believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, then really what choice do we have, but to follow what it says? There, I’m done. Do what it and therefore God says, case closed, if you don’t like it, take it up with the big guy, I’m out…Great epiphany, huh? God has His reasons, who am I to argue? I just work here.

Somehow, I don’t think that’ll float tomorrow, nor do I think it’ll allow me to escape with my head still firmly perched atop my shoulders. Darn it. Oh well…there is more. Let’s go back to being Christians and the Bible being the inerrant Word of God, and the idea that we have no choice, but to follow God’s Word. Where does it say anything in the Bible that women shall have no choice in who they marry? (Yes, I know there were arranged marriages, but work with me here.)

If a woman is being a good, strong Christian woman and in being such, following God’s Word to the very best of her ability, is it not also her duty to choose a husband for whom following God’s Word would not be an issue? Should she not choose a good, strong, upstanding man of good leadership qualities? A man that she can respect and believe in? Should she not set higher standards for herself and her husband in order that God’s Word would not be a hindrance to her?

Let’s take it a step further. If a man meets those higher standards and has displayed himself as a good leader, is he not going to treat his marriage as an equal partnership? As a good leader and head of the household, is he not going to give voice to his wife? Is he not going to value her opinion? Is he not going to share leadership responsibilities as well? A good leader is not a dictator. A good leader is one who allows others to lead along side.

I married a strong, beautiful woman, with whom we share family leadership. It is in essence an equal partnership, but there are times when a decision, as the man of the house does fall to me. Do I make it on my own, in a vacuum? No, absolutely not. I seek her opinion and her input in every one of these instances. I recognize her strengths and allow them to not only strengthen me, but also to cover my weaknesses. Is this submission? Probably, if you wanted to be absolutely literal in your interpretation of it. She does ultimately allow me to make the decision, but she is certainly my partner and co-leader. But is this the Biblical picture that so many have of women submitting to their husbands? Nope. Frankly, I think more times than not, I’m more submissive to her, but that’s a story for another day.

Ultimately, I know I’ve opened myself up for all sorts of abuse and I will say that what is contained here in this entry, is not my entire opinion on the subject, but it is most of it. Ultimately, I think back to where Jesus is talking about gouging out eyes and cutting off hands if they cause you to sin. Obviously Jesus wasn’t being literal, but was rather saying that if something causes you to sin, avoid it. Set yourself up for success by removing obstacles and then not engaging them later. In the words of Paul, “Now to the unmarried and the widow I say: it is good for them to stay unmarried as I am.” In the words of the Cantankerous Christian, “But ladies, if you do insist on marrying, marry a man who will treat you with the love, respect, and reverence you deserve.”

2 comments:

Marty said...

Yep! You got it right. It's a shame that people tend to forget the verses following the verse about women submitting to their husband. Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loves the church even as far as giving his life for her. How many men are truly willing to die for their wives? Which brings me to another question...What happens when a couple marries before they know the Lord? Then as the marriage progresses the woman grows in her faith at a faster rate then the man? Should this woman still submit to the husband on spiritual issues? Just something to think about.

Tim Hamilton said...

I highly recommend this book. It wonderfully illustrates what Marty discusses about Love and Respect.

Love & Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs

http://www.amazon.com/dp/1591451876/?tag=googhydr-20&hvadid=2323160101&ref=pd_sl_12tkpl4gxg_b