Saturday, May 28, 2011

Wifedom and Submission (modern day swearword)

Lately Ive been contemplating what it means to be a wife.

Aside from my usual cries to Dad about my career related 'when will I finally be an OT' nightmares, my most frequent cry for help is this:

"God, I don't know how to be a wife!!"

And I often times feel pathetic for crying out like that when theres multiple bibles all over the house illustrating some brillaint examples of wives and some truly heinous examples as well as stories of women who do their best, still sin, screw up, anger themselves, their husbands and others, my faveorite of course being the history of Sarah. "The mother of our faith" as the apostle Peter says. REALLY?? You've got to be joking. What about Rahab or Ruth for crying out loud.. Those are exemplary women who showed obvious faith. Where in the bible does it say Sarah was faithful?

  • This is a woman, who laughed at God. In case you didnt know, thats not a good idea.
  • This is the woman who got so frustrated at Gods timing that she took matters into her own hands and gave her husband a mistress, and when that blew up in her face she then blamed him! Because of a woman taking matters into her own hands instead of waiting on Gods timing there were two heirs instead of one, boys who grew up resenting and hating each other and as a result their descendants have pretty much forever been fighting ever since (Arabs and Jews).
  • This woman as a result of this mistake, instead of repented, coveted another woman and started abusing her instead.
  • When her husband tried to save his own skin and lied about her being his sister to the Pharaoh, no where does it say "Sarah replied, 'Abe you're acting like an idiot."
"For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. " - 1 Peter 3:5-6

No offence, Peter but why on earth did you use Sarah as an example for biblical submission? All her mistakes were due to fear.

Because of course part of being a christian wife is submission right?

Tonight was a fantastic example. After being tight with our money for a while and stressing out over our budget, I thought I had no right to ask to be taken out on a date (NOT one held at McDonalds), but I couldnt help but long for Steven to just get up and take me somewhere as a treat no matter how cheap. And while I was out in the garden weeding and getting my hands and knees filthy, he quietly plans to take me to a restaurant and movie.
I submit to that!

I think Peter used Sarah as an illustration as christian wife material not because she was the annoyingly perfect housewife from Proverbs 31 but because she was the noisy, argumentative, sarcastic, sinning and fearful wife of a faithful man was also was far from perfect. He chose her because she was imperfect and in need of grace.

That gives me hope.
Yes, Sarah started the Middle East conflict, but its not how you start but how you finish. When Sarah died, the bible says that Abe was distraught and mourned for months. And from Sarah came a lineage of unlikely  women like her -

A blackmailer/extortioner (Tamar)
A prostitute/traitor (Rahab)
A widow from a pagan family with a legacy of incest (Ruth)
An adulteress and co-conspirator of murder (Bathsheba)
A poor, illiterate teenage peasant girl (Mary)

I love how God redeemed these women and gave them the honour of being the mother and maternal descendants of Jesus Christ.

The submission thing. Some women hate the very word. When I put submission + Jesus = I see love.
When I see Husband + Wife(submissive) = I am afraid. And I have every right to be. Women have the right to be fearful of submitting to a husband who they don't trust to have their interests and welfare first. That is why I exhort women who are dating to hold the men they are considering as a husband to a very high standard - Gods standard. If a man properly worships the God of the bible and desires to imitate Jesus Christ, then the number one thing on his list of things to do as a husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church and human kind. Sacrificially lay his life down for her, lead her, love her, encourage her, convict her, support her, provide for her. If you receive that as a wife then submitting to that kind of husband becomes not so hard as the world thinks.`

Of course thats easier said than done. I only have to look around and see the world isn't perfect like that. Thats why the theology of sin makes so much sense to me. How can we not believe in sin? My husband doesn't always love and lead and encourage and convict perfectly. I don't always submit, love, support, build up as a I should do. Sometimes Steven gets lazy and ambivalent and I get arrogant and controlling. But our love for God never goes away. If we have dry periods, its because of the support and community of our church family that we stick at it. Even if we don't feel like it, the discipline of bible reading and study pushes us on through our tough spots. In painful times its when we reacquaint our knees with the carpet and cry out to God like a child calls for their loving Dad that helps, and He always comes. And in the periods of overflow and joyful faith in our marriage, the prayer and bible study and serving each other and leading and submitting becomes a honorable joy not a burden

So I make it my business to make this equation:

Steven (submitting to Jesus= sacrificing for Melody) + Melody (submitting to Steven) = That can definitely work.

I heard a fantastic sermon on wives and submission by Pastor Mark Driscoll once, he made some excellent points on what is and isnt godly submission in a marriage:

Submission doesn't mean:
  • A husband is in ultimate authority.
  • A wife does not have independent thoughts. 
  • A wife does not seek to influence her husband. 
  • A wife must obey her husband’s command to sin. 
  • A wife is less intelligent or competent than her husband
Submission does mean:
  • A husband and wife are equal with complementary roles like a right and a left hand. 
  • Wives are to submit like Jesus did in Gethsemane (Luke 22:42). 
  • Husbands are to lovingly lead like Jesus does the Church (Eph. 5:25). 
  • A single woman should only marry a man she can follow. 
  • Christian marriage should illustrate the Trinity and the gospel.

Help me Dad. Help me to give up my pain and fear to you. Help me to give up my self righteousness, arrogance and firery tongue. Encourage and tell me how to comfort and rebuke while knowing the difference when to do the other. Please open my ears and eyes.

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