Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Marriage 101: The S Word

I came to uni as a feminist.  I guess I couldn't be considered all that hardcore - I didn't like bras but didn't actually want to burn them - but I believed in women's rights.  The Bible was an outdated, chauvinistic book.  If I ever got married, there was no way 'obey' was going to make its way into the vows.  Submit was a dirty word.

Fast forward a year and a half and I'm sitting at Mid Year Conference (a camp for all of the Christian Unions at all of the unis in Perth), talking to two girls I'd just met.  I'm 19 years old and they're both around my age.  The two girls were discussing how some high school girls they knew were talking at youth group about how they didn't want to submit if they got married one day.
"I don't know why some girls think submitting is so hard," one girl remarked.  The other nodded and I, now in the process of being softened by Jesus to His ways, nodded as well.

Looking back, that conversation seems so ridiculous.  We were all single.  We had NO IDEA what it was like to be a married Christian woman so how could we say submission is so easy?

Submission has been a constant struggle in my marriage.  Although I was only 24 when I got married, I was set in my ways and liked having full control of my life's steering wheel.  I was only prepared to submit if Duncan wanted something that I wanted anyway.

Not only that, I was confused as the what submission looked like practically.  I've already observed a number of different interpretations and practices in Christian marriages:
  • When it comes to major decisions, the husband should have the final say and the wife must go along with it, even if she disagrees. 
  • Then the opposite - submission does not involve the wife not having her say - both husband and wife must come to an agreement before any action is taken.
  • The wife must follow her husband's interpretation of the Bible, even if it is heretical, because he is her spiritual leader.
  • Then the opposite - the husband's role is to lead the wife spiritually, but the wife's ultimate allegiance is to God so she must not follow her husband into heresy.
  • The wife should stay at home, cook, clean and raise the children.  The husband should work.
  • Then the opposite - how each family works is up to them, whether it be both spouses sharing work and child-raising or something else.
  • The wife should not spend money without asking her husband for permission.
  • The husband should initiate quiet times with the wife.
  • The wife must take a real, active interest in the husband's work (especially if it's farming).
  • Being a submissive wife does not mean the wife should turn off her brain or shouldn't think for herself.
All of this coupled with jargon such as 'complimentarian' and 'egalitarian', men spouting off Ephesians 5:22-24 smugly, and hotly debated Bible chapters such as 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 11, 1 Corinthians 14 and 1 Peter 3, no wonder I was confused!

After five and a half years of marriage, I still struggle to follow Duncan's leadership and I forget to encourage him to lead.  Just as I'm learning to be a wife, he's still learning to be a husband.  We need to show each other some grace.

Thankfully I read a book last year which addressed many of my questions, concerns, objections and really nutted through the Bible passages I mentioned above.

Stay tuned for a review.....

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