Friday, May 13, 2011

Faith Friday: Wives, Submit

Ephesians 5:22-24
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

Is anybody surprised that I have a HUGE problem with this verse?  No?  I wonder why not lol.  Anyway, on to what has prompted this Faith Friday post.

As I'm sure everyone has gathered from reading this blog, I don't really get out of the house much anymore.  Really, there are only a few regular outings in my week--grocery store, church, water aerobics and Sit & Stitch.  I know, my life is a thrill a minute!  Anyways, out of those four, Sit&Stitch and water aerobics are really the only places that I find myself interacting with non-family-and-close-friend people on a personal level.  That said, I do consider some of the folks that I'm getting to know as friends.  We talk about our lives and enjoy each others' company.  So, generally, we know about major events and sometimes even get the stories behind them.  For instance, this past week, on of these wonderful people told me that she and her husband of 13 years are getting a divorce.

I was shocked.  I mean, I know it happens fairly regularly in this day and age, but this chick is so bubbly and upbeat.  She's always positive and smiling and a lot of fun to be around.  I couldn't believe that someone would divorce her.  Then I found out it was actually the other way around--she was divorcing him.  We talked about it for a bit--actually, I just listened.  It seemed like she needed someone to talk to, and I was more than happy to be there for her in that capacity.  I'm sure there were many issues that she didn't discuss with me, but there was one that I think might have been either a core or a major contributing factor:  
Ephesians 5:22-24. 

I hear the objections now.  How can a Bible verse cause divorce?  Well, it's not so much the verse as it is the way the verse is wielded by well-meaning (and sometimes not-so-well-meaning) church-goers.

Back to my friend.  She and her husband got married fairly young.  Going into their marriage, she was told with (to me) appalling regularity and seriousness that a "good Christian wife submits to her husband in ALL THINGS".  And she took that very much to heart, wanting to be both a good Christian and a good wife.  So, for the past 13 years, she submitted to her husband in pretty much anything.  According to her, the last time she stood up and told him no on a decision was 8 years ago.  She truly believed that this was the right thing to do, and did her best to live up to this (to me) ridiculous standard--right up until the point where it almost broke her.  And then she got out before she completely lost herself.

I can't help but wonder how her marriage might have been different without the emphasis on Ephesians 5:22-24, and wonder how many women out there have erased their own personalities and desires and opinions because of the misuse of this verse.  With that in mind, here are my problems with the way "Wives, submit" is used.

1)  This verse reflects the patriarchal society that Ephesians was written in, NOT the actual will of God.
God created Adam AND Eve in His own image (Gen. 1).  Eve was created as Adam's companion, his helper.  In other words, his partner.  Yes, God used Adam's rib, but in no way was that meant to make Eve subservient.  Instead, it was to illustrate the intimate connection between husband and wife--bone of bone and flesh of flesh.  Also, when God blessed mankind (Gen. 1) and gave mankind dominion over the earth and all the critters, He spoke to BOTH Adam AND Eve.  God treated man and woman as equals and partners.  It wasn't until the introduction of human society and culture that the emphasis on wives being subordinate to husbands came into play.

2)  The emphasis put on this verse by certain churches and church-goers demands that the wife deny who God made her to be.
Submitting to another person in all things means that you are denying yourself.  When you must let someone else dictate what happens in your life, you must stifle your own wants, ideas, and opinions.  God created each of us to be ourselves, so why in the world would He suddenly demand that we deny how He created us just because we enter into the bonds of matrimony?  That just makes no sense at all.

3)  People use this verse to insist that the only way to have a happy, successful Godly marriage is for the husband to be the head of the household in all things.
In regards to Ephesians 5:22-24 defining a Godly marriage, see my above two points.  In regards to having a happy, successful marriage--obviously that's not the case.  For my friend, following this verse's strictures led to a marriage that was anything but.  Most of the marriages that I know that are truly happy and successful function because the wife and husband are partners that compromise with one another when they disagree.

4)  Everyone seems to forget the second part of these instructions:  Ephesians 5:25-33.
This is where husbands are instructed to love their wives as Jesus loved the church and as they love their own bodies.  First of all, Jesus loved PEOPLE--as in individuals.  Also, I don't know about the men y'all know, but the men in my life would be seriously pissed off if they were expected to completely give up control over their decisions and their lives to another person.  So, if husbands truly love their wives as they love themselves, then they should love them as the individuals they are AND want their wives to feel free to express themselves--which goes completely against Ephesians 5:22-24.

So, to conclude, I see Ephesians 5:22-24 as a verse that tells us more about the culture at the time and actually has nothing to do with God's will for marriage.  I hate that this verse has been the cause of women completely giving up themselves as individuals for the sake of marriage.  Even more, I hate that it has undermined marriages that could have been happy and successful if they had been entered into with the understanding that God actually created man and woman to enter into marriage as each others' helper and partner.


Post a Comment

Thanks for stopping by!
I love reading your thoughts about my posts, so please leave a comment!
I'll either respond here or come comment back on your blog, promise! ;-)


Related Posts with Thumbnails