Generation Cedar

feetThe night hour brought me an epiphany…nights have a way of doing that.

A nagging question:  “How could it be that the concept of “headship” and submission in a marriage–Scriptural hierarchy–call it what you want, how could this idea be so vehemently controversial?”

Those who oppose it do so with passion; those who embrace it do so with equal passion.

Are we even talking about the same thing?

I think not.

Here’s my epiphany…

Unless your eyes have been opened to understand the truth of God’s Word, it doesn’t make sense.  It even angers.

But if you do understand it, then you know that almost all of Christianity is a PARADOX…and herein lies the confusion.

From the very appearance of our Savior–some expecting a conquering King, and still waiting, God revealed His love in the humblest way, doing everything opposite of what we would have done.

The whole language of Scripture is irony:

“If you want to live, you must die.”

“If you want to be first you must be last.”

“If you want to be greatest of all, you must become least of all.”

And it is within this same, human-baffling wisdom that we find the instruction to husbands and wives so difficult to embrace…

In commanding my husband to be “head” of our home, God was asking him to become the “foot”, figuratively speaking.  And He left no doubt about His request:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Gave Himself up.  In every way. 

Does that sound like the man-domineering decree that so many assert the Bible teaches?  Does that sound like a husband growling his dinner requests as he sits with his feet propped up?

Christ gave his life!  Day in, day out, spending every ounce of himself for those He loved.  And husbands are commanded to do the same.

The truth is, husbands were given the most dauting, bone-chilling role on the planet…and no woman should covet it.

My husband daily lays down his life for me.  I guess that’s why I have such a hard time understanding why “biblical submission” is so offensive.  It is not hard for me to obey GOD, by willfully acknowledging my husband as my loving head…it’s the irony that as such, he dies to himself that I may live.  What woman can balk at that?

Granted, many men and women do NOT understand this irony, and do abuse what they have misinterpreted from Scripture.  It is sad, and awful, and I think the church shoulders a heavy responsibility in teaching truth to men about their roles.

But here’s the crux…and hear me carefully…that is NO reason to abandon the principle that is right and good and life to marriage.

Many who have seen a man abuse a woman instantly blame the paradigm for the abuse…this is wrong-headed and hurts everyone in the end.

It would be the same as abandoning the use of any life-giving medication because some abuse it by taking too much and killing themselves.  Bad example, but maybe you get the point.  The medicine is GOOD; the problem lies with the abuser. 

God has a beautiful blueprint–full of irony as it is, and when we submit to HIM, and that blueprint, as husbands and wives, He will do a wonderful work in our lives. 

After all, He is the Designer.

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22 Responses

  1. Kelly…I posted a nice long comment to you, but it never posted. I’ve been having trouble lately with the commenter…I know others have, too. Dunno if it’s fixable.

  2. Well put, Kelly. I would only add one thing: I think that what many modern women struggle with in the concept of husbandly headship is not abuse, which I think all of us would admit is hardly the norm even in times and places where male headship has been upheld by law, but rather the devaluation of women on the basis of their being female. We have been seen as mentally and physically inferior to men, emotionally unstable, irrational, incapable of logical thought, incapable of understanding politics or any subject matter of great depth, untrustworthy in giving testimony, and many other horrible, demeaning fallacies. It is, therefore, vitally important that we understand that a husband is granted authority by God not due to any superiority on his part by vitue of being male. Scripture says that both men and women were created equally in the image of God. We are equal in our capacities of thought and in our inner strength as human beings. Misunderstanding of this, I think, has been the biggest abuse against womankind that has sprung from a misinterpretation of Scripture.

    Anyway, all that said, I’m still a stay-at-home wife and mother who is daily learning to submit more to her beloved husband. Go figure. God’s ways are not our ways.

    ~Bethany

  3. Great post! I was thinking a lot off the same things earlier this week as I read responses to Doug Phillips review of Quiverfull: Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement.

    Misinterpretation and abuse of the scriptures is never an excuse to abandon God’s commands.

  4. Bethany, you hit the nail on the head. I would add that it’s not just misinterpretations of Scripture that have led to “the devaluation of women on the basis of their being female” (as you so aptly described the problem.) Such devaluation was also common in pre-Christian societies. If we look at Roman history, for example, or Greek history, women in those societies were valued far less than women in early Christian gatherings. These stereotypes – ingrained in human cultures for generations – did not, unfortunately, disappear with the advent of Christianity. Rather, people twisted the beautiful concept of husband headship of the family to provide yet another “justification” for treating women as inferior, irrational, etc. and thus undeserving of respect.
    I pray that more families will see that the fact that some have attempted to use ideas to justify their own sinful behaviors does not warrant throwing out the whole concept. Our sinful behaviors are just that – our own sins – they do not show that God’s plans are somehow bad, just that we have failed to live up to His standards for us…

  5. Luci- I totally agree. I didn’t intend to imply that this devaluation is unique to Christianity. It has been present in every culture throughout history. You’re quite right in saying that misinterpretation of Scripture just provided another “justification” for what already existed.
    ~Bethany

  6. I have to say, I find these biblical patriarchy blogs absolutely *fascinating.* I disagree with almost every word, and yet I can’t look away.

  7. I think she means that you are kind of a freak in her eyes, Kelly. Not that she is “searching.”

  8. Too funny!! I agree with Kelly – that the Holy Spirit is doing a work with B. When I was in high school (public) my mom and I used to make soooooo much fun of my aunt and uncle and their two kids. “Weirdos!!” we used to say – they home schooled, home churched, actually hung out at their home, kept animals… And now 20 years later I find myself home schooling, home churching, pregnant with #9, 9 dairy goats, 50 chickens, 3 horses and a donkey — Now who’s the weirdo!!! Love it!

  9. It’s also interesting to note how Jesus spent a lot of time ministering to women and treated them with great tenderness. Such a great example for our men! 🙂

    Selflessness by both husband and wife = joyful marriage. That’s what it’s all about!

  10. Bethany H – don’t make fun – the saddest day of my life (well, not really, but like the 50th saddest) was just a few weeks ago, when I bought raffle tickets for a Jerusalem donkey – I actually cried when I found out I didn’t win. The family who did already has a camel! I think it was rigged!

    …as I read this, I’m definitely a weirdo….

  11. Well said Kelly. However, I think many take the biblical concept of husband headship out of context, or just try to deny its existence all together. Either way, you end-up with an unbalanced view of marriage roles and guidelines for both husband and wife.

  12. Pastor has been preaching through the Beatitudes and reminds us each week that the qualities are not natural but God given to those who trust in him and the blessings flow from them.
    As you pointed out – so it is with every biblical precept.
    Thank you for this post.

  13. No, I’m certainly not interested in living my life this way! 🙂 I value being treated as an equal partner by my husband, and he prefers it this way, too. It’s just interesting to me, is all.

    I grew up in churches and among people that believed that this kind of complementarian relationship is the only biblical choice. But the actual couples I saw who lived this out AND were happy and enjoyed each other and their relationship were few. I actually can’t think of any, including my parents.

    I don’t think that this way of thinking about women uses our God-given gifts appropriately. Why are women defined SOLELY as wives, daughters, and mothers, while men are not SOLELY husbands, sons and fathers but have other chosen roles through their jobs and in the church? I think significant talent is being wasted here. It’s really a shame.

    Just some thoughts.

  14. B-

    Your last comment reveals that you still didn’t get what Kelly was writing about. Husband and wives are EQUAL partners, but with different roles. The man’s role is to serve and lay down his life for his wife, it’s a paradox because this role is called “headship”. But it certainly isn’t “headship” the way the world views it, but instead “servanthood”.

    Why do you think women are SOLELY defined as wives, daughters and mothers? If you read Kelly’s post again, I think you will see that is not mentioned. That is a preceception that you brought to the discussion. It is not biblical or what Kelly said. Read Proverbs 31, I think you will see a very talented woman whose gifts are not wasted. That is the type of woman we (those who practice male “headship”) are trying to copy. Not necessarily with her exact gifts but with our own. I hope that makes sense.
    God Bless, keep looking!

  15. I guess all I wanted to do was de-lurk briefly to say hello and express my interest in the kinds of things discussed on this blog. I know all your arguments, and you probably know all of mine. If you are happy in your marriages as submissive wives, then terrific! I’m happy in my (egalitarian) marriage, too, and I wouldn’t dream of telling anyone that they were doing it wrong if it made both of the partners involved feel loved and supported.

    I just find it sad when people feel *forced* by their churches into ways of relating to each other that don’t always work for everyone. In my opinion, there is more than one “right” model for Christian marriage.

    Anyway. I’ll go back from whence I came. 🙂

  16. My husband daily lays down his life for me. I guess that’s why I have such a hard time understanding why “biblical submission” is so offensive. It is not hard for me to obey GOD, by willfully acknowledging my husband as my loving head…it’s the irony that as such, he dies to himself that I may live. What woman can balk at that?

    I had to giggle at this paragraph, because I think you answered your ‘hard time understanding’ part!

    People are encouraged to live the man-domineering decree, and that is why people could find it offensive. The presentation isn’t what your husband is living, but quite the opposite. They are NOT given the proper definition, and are told that they are ‘less than’. Hence the offense!

    lol it’s easy to get offended when the wrong views of roles within the home are given. In that atmosphere you aren’t challenged to question, but to hush as well. I think we have all read preachers dripping with manipulative comments about how you don’t question otherwise you would upsurping, etc.

    God does have a beautiful blueprint, but sadly alot of churches don’t present it properly.

  17. Mrs Kelly, thanks for writing this. So often all we hear about is the woman’s responsibility. I have been struggling the last several months with the idea of Biblical headship etc. I am starting to realize that I have been so confused because of how people take this teaching out of context so often.

    Just so that you know where I stand, I absolutely 100% believe that the Bible teaches a woman is to be in submission to her husband. Since my salvation I have not doubted that.

    HOWEVER…when my husband treats me wrongly, makes me feel devalued etc, it is hard to practice what is right. It’s hard when our church will constantly tell me I’m a rebellious woman (I don’t WANT to be a rebellious woman) because I disagree with my husband. Now, something you need to know about my husband…he is NOT afraid of me disagreeing with him, and he does NOT want me to pretend to agree with him when I don’t. He says that would be lying.

    Our church constantly teaches on how a woman needs to be submissive etc, but we do NOT hear teaching on how a man is to LOVE his wife as Christ loved the church.

    I have struggled with this for months, especially when my husband has (and he admits it) treated me wrongly. I have figured one thing out. Our church tells us women that we need to treat our husbands like kings etc. I believe we should treat our husbands right. HOWEVER…what I have figured out is this: they are asking for me to glorify a man, my husband. My goal as a woman should be to glorify God, and by glorifying God by obeying Him about submission to my husband will ultimately be good for my husband. But I need to do it for GOD not my husband. That’s a big hurdle for me.

    Another thing my church teaches that I disagree with is that my husband is my spiritual priest etc. I’m sorry, but that goes against the Bible. The Bible says that there is ONE mediator between God and man, the man CHRIST JESUS. My husband is not Christ, so he is not my mediator.

    My husband and I both believe that I am equal just with a different role. Sometimes it is hard though when you have others telling you that you are not allowed to further develop your intelligence in certain areas because it is wrong for you to want to learn something your husband doesn’t know anything about. I have actually been told that Biblically I am not allowed to know more than my husband about anything, and that if I do, it is not valid and should not be brought up in a discussion of deciding what to do in a particular instance.

    So, I’m still slightly confused and sometimes it’s hard, but I think I am getting there, slowly.

  18. Good for you, Mrs. W. I often see husbands given too much responsibility for a man, and my one complaint with the more normal kind of headship (not the one that requires him to be your “priest”) is the idea that he gets the final say in everything by virtue of sex.

    Kelly’s views here are closer to mine. What’s really scary is when you see guys saying their wives respond sexually to dominant acts, and then deny that husbands are servant-leaders because, “That’s just a label trying to undermine their authority!”

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