Marital submission is something which feminists decry, as we all know, however, the other side sorts of makes a mess out of the concept, too. Some will reduce all marital problems to the lack of wifely submission: the husband won't lead? Or he is a heavy drinker/lousy provider/watches p*rn/whatever? Just submit, and all the problems will go away.
I'm afraid it's not that simple. Some people will say that the husband can't make his wife submit, it's a free gift. I wonder, if these people have ever been in leadership positions? I have, and let me tell you something, a leader needs to have certain qualities to make his subordinates submit to his will, and it's not always easy, but nobody will take you seriously if you lack character and a backbone.
I have come across a discussion of this very topic on a certain forum where someone asked whether the wife should treat her husband as the leader of the family and one answer stood up to me: "a man is either a leader or he isn't, it doesn't depend on his wife." I agree, more or less, with a caveat: the wife shouldn't try to undermine her husband's leadership, but the principle remains:
For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD,
The way I view things, wifely submission is not about punishment or oppression. It actually makes a woman's life much easier. Think of it, the one who takes the decision is the one responsible when the things go wrong. Every time I enforced my will over my husband's objections, I came to regret it because I kept second-guessing myself. The burden of responsibility is just too heavy for an average woman, that's why they are probably so neurotic nowadays.
Another point, marital submission doesn't mean the husband can force his wife to go against her conscience. While I'm not a Catholic myself, I liked this quote from a Catholic blog (h/t Jesse Powell):
... the church...bids the wife obey her husband in the Lord; but asserts her moral
independence of him, leaves her conscience free, and holds her
accountable for her own deeds.
Betraying one's moral code on behalf of someone else, even your own husband, will bring nothing but grief and disappointment and can destroy you as a person.
It's also important to understand that the man's authority doesn't exist in a vacuum, as there are still such things as family connections, civil authorities and, for believers, the church. The husband can't disregard them. We live in society so that right wing Christians should, imo, stop larping as some OT patriarch:)
If you have any ideas of your own on the topic, feel free to share in comments!
In my opinion two things are needed: wife's will to submit (you cannot make a grown-up woman to submit, not really) and a husband must have a character someone would actually want to submit to. Husband must be worthy of one's submission.ReplyDelete
I think it is not enough to think "ok, husband is the head of the household, the end", no matter what kind of a man he is. He has to earn that position every day, just like one has to earn respect from others. You cannot submit to a man who does not deserve it. Who does not deserve your respect.
I know some weak men, even lazy violent drunkards, think they have a right to expect submission because God has said man is the head etc. But that is utter b*llocks, pardon my french. You can start expecting submission and respect when you are that sort of a man God wanted you to be. I am rather sure God does not want men to be lazy violent drunkards.
I am very submissive, because my husband is a very good man and deserve it. And as you said, it makes my life so much easier. I find making decisions very stressful, this way I don't need to make so many decisions. Since we are very like-minded, I can be sure his decisions will almost always please me.
The word submission is often misunderstood. It is not the same as the word obedience. It means in the Greek, to line up under, and to respect a person's position. We do it every day in the secular world in business and civic matters. But to respect does not always require compliance. Christ and the apostles showed respect to government authority but did not always comply. So showing respect to the person's responsibility in his station in life, does not always require blind obedience or going against your conscience. Too many people who claim to be Biblical get this so mixed up, often putting the woman in danger of bad decisions. Its one thing to say, "the husband will take the blame if it turns out wrong" but its another thing to be a good helpmeet and guide the husband away from danger. Why suffer terrible consequences just because he will take the blame? That can't undo the consequences, which could have been prevented. If he says stay in the house even though there's a threat of fire, its ridiculous to risk the lives of the family just to blindly obey. Submission means to respect, and you can respectfully make a safer choice. One reason to get married is that two are better than one, but if one is so passive as to not participate in decisions or add her wisdom, its not much better than living with a pet.ReplyDelete
Good topic, by the way. Thanks for expressing it. Its often hard to explain, when you get these difficult teachers that isolate verses and pound them without mercy.ReplyDelete
Muslims actually say the wife has to obey because the husband supports her. In Iran you can get a divorce if the husband doesn't provide for as long as 6 months. There is a reason feminists will all the women working full time, when the woman earns her own paycheck she is fully independent from her husband and they both know it. I have found out that on a certain forum, the men who complained the most about disobedient wives, were stay-at-home dads! Well, what exactly did they expect???ReplyDelete
On the other and, all traditional churches, including the Catholics, as you can see, teach not just respecting your husband but obeying him, "in the Lord", which used to be the basis for the Western family law, as well. As for making a grown up woman submit, if she loves him and looks up to him (and is dependent on him) she'll follow him till the ends of the Earth. Also, many husbands have just forgotten how to say, "no." They should try it, it works.
In the Lord is the qualifying phrase. If a husband requires something not pleasing to the Lord,or neglects his home, that's not of the Lord.ReplyDelete
Naturally; every authority in one's life shouldn't be obeyed blindly, but only as far as God commands. A government which tells one to commit evil shouldn't be obeyed, either.ReplyDelete
The religious trend is to blame any marital problem on lack of submission. That's not really Biblical in my opinion, for the Bible says to live together in harmony according to understanding. Not always submission, but also understanding, and also going toward the future as partners in the Lord. We are heirs together in the grace of God.ReplyDelete
Wasn't it Leo Tolstoy who said that all happy families look the same but every unhappy family is unique in its misery? I wouldn't give marital advice over the internet. My point is very simple, I don't believe it starts with a woman. Western men should find their *alls back, before it's too late. But the authority can't come without responsibility as the two are closely connected.ReplyDelete
Yes, it was Tolstoy. I think it is in the beginning of "Anna Karenina".ReplyDelete
Lydia's first comment is absolute dynamite. Really well put.
BTW I actually think muslims want their wifes to be like pets. But here in Europe it has never been like that: Women are the queens of their castles. Magnus Birgersson, a king of Sweden at 13th century (Finland was part of Sweden back then)created a law that said when people married, to woman belongs half of the bed and all the keys and locks. Because lady of the house got a big keyring when she got married. It also highlights the division of labour: women was in charge of everything domestic while mans duty was to -well, everything else. But this has nothing to do with obedience...
I don't know about all Muslims, but from the Turkish TV series which were available on YouTube, their women didn't at all appear to be like pets, more like insufferable manipulative *itches:) Especially the one in the Magnificent Century, I don't think there was one European queen who could compare to her in having such a naked ambition and a will to power. You don't see in in the movie, but in reality she also ruled the country while he was fighting in the wars.ReplyDelete
But, of course, I prefer Christianity because it's a) true, b) a part of our tradition. And each and every Christian church until the 1960s taught that the wife has to obey her husband. There can be no discussion about it. The discussion is really as to how far it extends. I think the real difference between Christianity and other religions is that Christianity has never taught blind obedience. The power of every authority is restricted by the boundaries that God has set. And, the leader has to be worthy of leading, a good one won't lord it over and constantly pull rank, but he'll inspire his subordinates to follow.
Also, Christianity is less carnal an materialistic than other traditions, in Islam if your wife couldn't bear you children you took another one but Christianity taught that marriage was a sacrament not to be dissolved. So that the husband didn't only view his wife as an instrument of procreation, but more as a companion:)ReplyDelete
Don't forget though that all of these countries are now more or less "former Christian countries" (I presume you are speaking of the Western ones, not those in Africa) and that as a result, our societies are quickly going downhill, so I'm not sure whether this prosperity is really good for us. As the saying goes, Vikings were created by the North wind; we do need some adversity in our lives, methinks.ReplyDelete