My previous entries:
Monday: My History With Feminism
Tuesday: Someone Got To Me Before the Feminists
Wednesday: Where Are the Men?
Thursday: Women Want to Get Married
Friday: I Happily Took My Husband's Name
Today's post is a doozy.
I'm going to go where few women travel. In fact, this is an area where few Christian women would travel because it's so controversial.
But, hey — what do I care, right? Controversy is what makes the world go 'round. Besides, it's a topic Christian women need to understand before having a knee-jerk reaction to it.
I am speaking of submission.
And boy howdy, talk about a bundle of dynamite for feminists.
Submission is a concept that immediately brings to their mind a caveman dragging his woman by the hair back into his cave, where he'll force her to scrub the walls and cook his brontosaurus medium well-done. And then after she's spent, he'll demand sex where he won't care if she enjoys it or not.
The trouble with that picture is that it gives a false image of submission. Plus the fact that it assumes the man is the instigator of submission. Actually, it is the choice of a woman, not the dictate of a man.
You can't "make" someone submit to you. If you do, it's called bullying and the other person has no choice. If done by force, it's coercion.
However, true submission is a sublime, beautiful gift that can only be understood through the prism of a relationship with God.
For Christian women, one of the key models of submission is the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was a young girl, unmarried, and suddenly called by God to carry into the world His Son. She was visited by an angel to soothe her fears and she responded with courage and faith with what is known as The Magnificat:
My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid; for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. Because he that is mighty, hath done great things to me; and holy is his name. And his mercy is from generation unto generations, to them that fear him. He hath shewed might in his arm: he hath scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath received Israel his servant, being mindful of his mercy: As he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed for ever. (Luke 1:46-55)
Humility is the predecessor of submission. It's tough to be proud and then submit to anything. Humility softens us and prepares us for those times when we're given the choice to either submit or not.
As I said before, submission is a gift. It is a gift to the one we submit to but also a gift to ourselves. The reason for this is because each time we make the choice to think of someone else's benefit instead of ours, we've walked in the same direction as Jesus Christ.
Some may think that submission in a marriage amounts to a husband telling his wife what to do and she does it. Although this may be true to a certain extent, I think of submission in much broader terms.
The Greek word for submission in the New Testament is hypotassō. The definition includes this: to yield to one's admonition and advice.
Some men unfortunately think submission is when a woman is simply to obey some command of theirs, without thought. These same men often use the scripture verses of Ephesians 5:22, 5:24, and Col. 3:18 as a justification for their own selfish desires. This is not what God intended when the word "submit" was used. In fact, in Ephesians 5:25, it says "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..." (emphasis mine)
This is a sacrificial love, a love that seeks to serve — not order someone about, according to one's whims. Yes, wives are to trust their husbands but their husbands are also reminded that they are to love their wives as Christ loved the church.
So what does submission look like?
Well, in my life, I am certainly a project in process. I am not a docile lady. At times, I can be downright cantankerous. However, I also seek to be pleasing to God. I'll give you a few examples of how I live out the calling of submission.
My husband recently bought a metal detector. He wanted to head out today to use it on a beach near a lake. I was still working on this post. He had to work overtime today and I knew when he'd come home, he'd most likely have metal-detecting on his mind. I was right.
Now, did I really want to go with him? Not particularly. However, it was a chance to enjoy the weather and spend some quality time with my husband. I chose to go and we had a fun time (Even if all we found were bits of aluminum foil, a young girl's hair barrette, and a piece of glass.).
Another example: I was asking for my husband's advice regarding a marketing question. I wanted to try one approach (which would have included driving to a store and asking people questions) but he thought it was better to set up an online poll. Although I saw the expediency of his idea, I still really wanted to do my idea. However, I viewed it as an opportunity to submit and I did. As it turned out, his way was just fine and I saved some gas.
Some might split hairs on these examples, thinking the first one wasn't really submission and the second one, just a tad more so than the first. To the naysayers, I'd simply shrug. The way I see it, submission is a personal journey for every woman and it's not going to look the same because not every woman has the same personality.
If a woman is meek and leans more toward people-pleasing behavior, then those two examples might not mean as much. But for someone like me, who usually believes that her way is the right way every time and after 39 years of being single, is used to doing whatever she wants, whenever she wants to do it — well, it's a big step in the right direction.
There have been times when I've held my tongue when debating things with my husband. Other times I've accepted what he's said without quarrel. And then there have been the few times when a decision has to be made and I've submitted to his choice.
All of these times have been opportunities to love my husband, respect him, and trust in God. These are not easy choices when we have a worldly ideology that tells women that it's just fine to do what we want without any consideration whatsoever toward our husbands. Not everything in my marriage has to be a battle and I am not in a war to win my position every time I come up against resistance.
Marriage has helped me grow because it's demanded I put aside my own selfishness. As I make the choices to submit in my own way, I feel a little less shackled by that selfishness and a little more freer to be God's channel of love toward my husband.
I don't expect feminists to understand this. They really can't. Feminism focuses so much on the individuality of the woman that there's no room to think of anyone else. And if you add to that a deep-seated resentment of men, then it makes it even more difficult.
Not everything has to be that difficult. Constant fighting and resistance expends a lot of creative energy that could be put to better use. Women are truly in the position of power within a marriage. Choose to fight a man every step of the way and life will be unpleasant, indeed.
But if a woman learns how to bend and yield on occasion, a marriage can be like heaven on earth.
Long ago, there was a controversial book written in the 60's, Fascinating Womanhood. Feminists hated it. The author, Helen Andelin, recommended to wives a bold strategy for "making their marriages a lifelong love affair": consider the feelings of their husbands.
She is very specific with her advice and millions (yes, millions) of women tested her theories and were surprised to find they worked! I highly recommend this book. It is full of wisdom. Many women were able to take a marriage that previously was on life support, and transformed it to a fully alive marriage once again. The advice is that solid.
Men and women are different. God created us that way and His commandments to the husband and wife are different because of our unique roles within His Kingdom. Something doesn't seem right when you see an extremely bossy woman and a meek, submissive man. There is something innate within a woman that knows a man is to have a certain level of assertiveness. And somehow women understand that men can only take so much bossiness before they've had it.
Submission is a delicate topic, and I'm afraid I've gone after it like a bull in a china closet. But I do hope for those who've read this far, who as soon as they heard the word "submission," shouted a hearty "Oh, hell no!..." at least will pray about it and be open to what God shows them.
You may be surprised. In fact, I know you will be. The fruits of this type of obedience to our Christian faith are numerous, and your life will hold a special kind of joy. The jadedness that has come with having to swim in this worldly muck will be removed and you'll find there is another way.
And, you'll find peace.
What's not to love?