Sunday, September 24, 2006
She Ain't June, But You Ain't Ward Neither
We had another Moon howlin’ last week. That’s when some friends and I get together and talk about faith, families, politics, music, about anything at all.
We build a fire out near this old barn/shed thingie and plug an iPod into speakers. It is a time for holding each other accountable, a time for talking of things of great import and of no importance at all. Sometimes the moon is up (hence my silly little name for this gathering), sometimes it rains.
When a tough question is asked it is convenient to have a fire to poke, to toss another log on (yes, there are other types of logging on!), grab a moment to gather our thoughts before answering.
Today I’m inviting you to pull a chair close to the fire (try to stay out of the smoke) while I poke the embers, kick unburnt portions in, and deliver a rambling soliloquy about marriage and life.
About once a week someone finds my blog by googling something like:
“Job’s wife” or “How do I make my wife be obedient?” or “Woman’s tongue scriptural reproof”.
Well... let me see if I can answer that sort of question, all in the spirit of sitting around a fire you know... Just some guys talking.
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.
Ah... I see some of you have squirmed a little. Hang in there. I see a few others out there have smiled, and a couple of you puffed up a little, pleased with where this might be going.
It’s that last group I wish to address.
I understand your frustration. Ever since the (mythic) bra burnings of the 60s, the rants of Bella Abzug, and the rise of a myriad of feminist magazines, it seems that the place a man has held in society, perhaps even in his home, has been under attack.
It seems unfair you can’t follow Ward Cleaver’s footsteps into the kitchen to see what June has cooking for dinner. After all, you work hard, you sacrifice your time away from your family, your home, your favorite chair, and dang it, there ought to be some tangible rewards for being forced out of your bear’s den to go and hunt down the proverbial game and fling the bloody carcass on the dining room table.
There is that admonition to your wife for her to submit:
Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
It seems pretty clear.
Wait a moment...
What was that last part? “...as the church submits to Christ...” That passage isn’t just talking about wives. It’s saying we are all supposed to be submitting. Are you a Christ-follower? Do you submit? Do you yield to the authority of the Church (Christ)? Do you recognize the authority of our Lord over you and are you obedient? Check out the plank in your eye, brother. It is pretty easy to say your wife needs to yield, but do you? Do you back down? Cave in? Capitulate? Surrender? Knuckle under?
“Woah! Hey Curious Servant! Where do you get off talking like this? Why don’t you just go back to telling us about your skin problems, or the angst of raising special needs kids, or, ah heck, I can even handle the stuff about your dead kid, but let’s lay off the submit to the church stuff, ok?”
Hmmm... OK. Fair enough. I can move on, but remember, this is just a little chat around a fire, and the rules are that I can say what is on my heart. I can say what is real, in my view, and you can poke the coals, or drop another log into the fire, or go get a beer out of the fridge in the shed, or even make some noises about it getting late and jump in your pickup and go home.
It won’t hurt my feelings. We’re big boys here.
The passage under discussion implies that being the head of the household is a God-given right. There is the view women should just suck it up and do their duty. If they would just be obedient then everything would be fine.
Well, first of all my friend, my brother, she is probably more likely to be obedient to that scriptural admonition if you are truly doing your part.
You see, there is more to that passage:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.
Let’s let the fire crackle a bit...
A bit more...
Love your wife... Make her important. Hold her up, hold her close, hold her dear.
Love your wife.
And it doesn’t stop there. Make her holy. Make her clean. Wash her in scripture. Wash her in prayer. Care for her.
Listen, if you owned a horse you would take care of it! You would curry the snarls in its coat, you would clean its hooves. Treat your wife tenderly. Love her. Don't you think that the person you swore to love until death you do part deserves at least as much?
In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church—
Love her as much as you love your body. How much did Christ love the Church? Enough to be tortured to death for it. Do you love your wife that much? Love her more than you love your body.
Bottom line: You want your wife to submit?
Lead and follow. Lead your family by submitting to the Lord and doing your part.
Enough said. I’m going to grab a beer. Can I get you one?