Over 20 years ago, standing with my husband in the library, I looked at the books on the shelf. “The Gospel of Mary,” and several other books bared their titles at me.
“The gospel of Adam.”
Why weren’t these in the Bible?
I didn’t know what I didn’t know, at the time, and when I asked our Bible study leader, he told me something that wasn’t true – that the council of Nicaea decided. If you are interested in digging into this, here’s more info on the topic.
My decision at the time, was to not read the books on the shelf simply because I didn’t want to confuse myself with what may or may not be true.
I still haven’t read them, by the way.
It’s the same reason I am careful about double checking writers when they say things that are contradictory to what I’ve “always heard,” or been “taught in the church.”
What I’ve always been taught in the church about being a wife goes something like this:
- The husband is responsible for the outcome of the family
- The wife is under her husband’s authority
- The wife’s role is to do what her husband wants, to help and complete him
- The husband is supposed to lead
- The wife is supposed to submit and respect him, regardless of his behavior or salvation status
- The wife is supposed to die to herself to serve her family
- The husband is supposed to love his wife like Christ loved the church
- Matthew 18 is for church discipline issues, not sins against one another in marriage
- A wife’s should be about supporting and encouraging her husband’s dreams, giving up her own, as he is the head
This week, I’m going somewhere that may rattle a few of you, especially if you are a black and white thinker. You probably know I live in the grey of Scripture, that I point out places where the Bible seems to contradict itself, but remind us all that it really doesn’t, because one may be told by the Spirit to do one thing with one person in one situation this time, and the complete opposite the next. The best and most obvious example of this is the two seemingly contradictory Scriptures below from Proverbs 26:4-5:
Do not answer a fool according to his folly, lest you also be like him.
Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.
A great explanation of this “contradiction” is here. Know I believe and experience the Bible as a living document, one that God will use to speak Truth and guidance into the moment of a given day.
The Bible is NOT black and white on everything.
But it does have an answer for every situation.
And you know that I’ve realized that while TOO MANY people teach that Matthew 18 is only for church discipline issues, I don’t buy that – and neither do a ton of other scholars. Just the fact that someone other than the original writer put in the heading “Church Discipline” over the section should alarm us to that NOT being what it was about. Given the entire context of the passages before and after the passages on conflict are dealing with individual conflicts, well, um, HELLO??!!
And I’m also not saying we shouldn’t use those passages in dealing with church issues – but I am saying they apply to ALL relationships, including marriage.
So as a wife, how do we deal with the seemingly contradictory concepts of “confronting a brother in his sin,” but also “submitting to our husbands in everything?”
Having read copious amounts of articles by people much smarter than me, I know the gamut runs from the legalistic “In Everything and Also Into SIN” crowd to the “No One’s Really The Leader” crowd.
I’ve literally blown reams of paper printing this stuff (nearly 50, sorry, need paper to some extent in my life still…working on it…) to study it.
So today, just to get the ball rolling – and YES, this pertains to my promise to talk about The Tip I briefly shared yesterday - I want to lay some ground work first.
And so I’m beginning with questions for YOU – just to whet your appetite and get you thinking…
And understand that these are things I wish I knew 20 years ago – but didn’t. Also know they are things that totally line up with what I believe about The Respect Dare book, all of which is still true, all of which I fully believe was written 100% by Him (unless you find a typo – in which case, I will take responsibility for that).
So here are my questions for you – please chime in on some, on all, or whatever. Use references if possible. And be open to what He might be about to teach you through this – it might just change everything. (and know I’m not going to contradict anything in The Respect Dare or the Bible as we journey! :))
And remember to be respectful as we dialogue.
SO here are my questions:
1) If we are to be “subject to our husbands in everything” Ephesians 5:24-style, how does this not then lead a woman to follow her husband into sin? What verse supports otherwise? I realize many scholars disagree over this. I would like your perspective and how you arrived at what you think, and how it differs from some of the perspectives contained in the below questions and differing perspectives.
2) If the husband is the “head” does that mean a wife is not to provide any instruction to him? Or is she only to use her gentle and quiet spirit (1 Peter 3:1-6) to hopefully influence him?
3) Do you believe Scripture says the husband’s status of salvation is irrelevant and we are to submit regardless? If so, does a wife then NOT speak into a circumstance that is damaging to herself or her children?
3) Research shows that men will live up or down to a woman’s acceptance (non-addressing) of behaviors which are sinful; ie: financial irresponsibility (stewardship), pornography, alcoholism, drug addiction, gaming, harsh verbal behavior with children (name-calling, demeaning, etc.), physically harsh behavior with children or her, philandering, etc. Psychologist and Christian Dr. Kevin Leman has written much on this topic – and encourages woman to not be enablers. He encourages women to start “conflict” (most professionals define this term as addressing a difference of opinion or perspective – not by beginning in a harsh way themselves, however) with their husbands, as does teacher and author Gary Thomas, to name a few. This seems consistent to how God showed up with Abigail (acknowledging truth to David), Esther(not submitting to the law and approaching the king), and Sarah (telling Abraham to get rid of Hagar, as God told Abraham to listen to her), just to mention a few. So do you disagree that a husband is a married woman’s closest brother, and should she (and he, for that matter) not have access to gentle restoration (Galatians 6:1) or even Matthew 18? Research by Gottman indicates these behaviors (called “repairs” save marriages and are necessary and present in literally 100% of healthy marriages – he’s the guy that can predict divorce with a 96% accuracy rating after watching a couple interact – what’s also interesting about him, is that his #1 predictor of divorce is whether or not a man will receive influence from his wife).
4) Do you believe that a wife should help her husband do well relationally with herself, her kids, and even others? Or is he fully equipped to do this on his own? Is it “un-submissive” or “disrespectful” to believe he needs her help? Why or why not?
5) If a husband is responsible for the family, should the wife try to help him do his job well, like a CFO, COO, or VP, alerting him to problems, providing advice, or does she do her job only at his direction over all details, and if he doesn’t know he’s causing a problem, just let God figure it out for him and you stay out of it, because perhaps that’s what faith is? Or could both of these things exist in a marriage?
So… have at it. Can’t wait to see what the discussion entails. Remember to be respectful! And back up your thoughts with Scripture.
If you are parenting small people, you should totally follow Leah and Debbie if you have tweens, teens, or twenty-somethings. Like us on Facebook so you can know when Daughters of Sarah becomes available in video format this year. I’m also active on Twitter as @NinaRoesner. Come join the discussion!
And PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE keep us in our prayers as we walk through the next steps of finishing the work for the video version of Daughters of Sarah!!
Love to you,