A Few More Thoughts About Submission …
Abuse Here and In Other Countries…
Research accumulated by Buzzle shows that domestic violence is a significant issue for women in America. The following quotes were taken from their website:
- A woman is physically assaulted every nine seconds in the United States according to the Family Violence Prevention Fund Report 1994.
- According to the Surgeon General 1992, relationship/ domestic violence is the leading cause of women injuries in women aged between 15-44 in the United States, which was more than rapes, muggings and automobile incidents when combined together!
- According to Commonwealth Fund survey 1998, Nearly one-third of American women report being physically or sexually abused by a husband or boyfriend at some point in their lives.
- According to the Journal of American Medical Association 1992, Over 50% of women killed in the United Sates were killed by male intimate partners or ex-partners. Also, 22-35% of women visiting medical emergency rooms are there from injuries resulting from ongoing abusive relationships.
- According to the Commonwealth Fund 1993, 3.9 million American women, either married or living with a partner, were physically abused. Also, 20.7 million were emotionally or verbally abused by their partner.
Given the nature of abuse in the West, one significant difference exists: most men and women and our government consider domestic abuse a terrible thing. While domestic abuse is one of the most common crimes in America, police take it very seriously and protect women. I have personally been stalked, assaulted, and filed a restraining order against a man (not my husband, Jim). I understand what it is like to wonder if the man with whom you are in relationship with is going to eventually kill you. I know what it means to wonder if it really is ‘my own fault.’ Thankfully, I found most of the police officers I dealt with extremely helpful and kind. What I see going on in other countries, as compared to the West, however, is appalling. Many of us, abuse victims or not, are completely unaware of what happens in other cultures that is considered, “normal.” The main difference in these other countries, the government, police, and general attitudes of men and even some women in the cultures are completely different. Officials tend to look the other way, ignore complaints, not enforce the laws, and sometimes, do not even recognize some of these things as abusive.
Please pray for other wives in other parts of the world that are enslaved in their marriages. Some women are forced to marry at extremely young ages, even as young as ten and eleven. The law of their religion allows their husbands to beat and rape them. These women can be killed if they leave the faith (including being stoned to death), and sometimes they are killed to encourage other women to obey their husbands. Some of these women not only cover their hair, but are wrapped from head to toe, with only a slit opening barely revealing their eyes. Some of these cultures are still practicing genital mutilation, where a woman (or young girl’s) clitoris is cut, often without anesthetic, and frequently removed completely to “help her become a good wife.” While I recognize that some of these women do not find their situation oppressive, I would like you to imagine for a moment what it would be like to wake up one morning in an environment like theirs.
We, in the West, can vote, shop where we want, have coffee with girlfriends, pursue careers, and enjoy something as simple as the sun upon our skin without a second thought to being beaten by our husbands for these behaviors. Our government and our churches do not consider us “half the value” of a man or as pieces of property, even though the issue of gender differences is still being debated in our country. Even with the existence of this debate, women can find men who disagree with the “submission” passages to marry – here in this country. We can even be married by a female pastor, if we so choose.
Our God, and for the most part, our country and our government consider us significantly more valuable than many other cultures and religions in the world. None of our daughters will undergo forced female genital mutilation. We can choose what we wish to believe, regardless of what our husband believes. Our lives are not at risk if we file for divorce, but many women in other cultures are beaten, submerged in sand and stoned to death, murdered for much less. Without discounting or minimizing the abuse Western women suffer every day (and remember, I have been one of them), I would humbly like to suggest that many of us in the West have no idea what true oppression on a culture-wide scale is, and while some women enduring being considered property and mutilation actually do not believe they are oppressed, many of them do and risk their lives by fleeing and those numbers are growing. I have yet to find a Western woman who does not walk away shocked at how some women are actually treated in the world today. I ask you to join me in praying for these women, that they find their true freedom in Christ, like so many of us have.
When the “submission” passages were written in the texts that constitute the Bible, the Greco-Roman and Middle-Eastern familial practices of the day ran by patriarchal system. Each family was like a small government, similar to what we would now consider a township or small town, with the father being the one in authority, fully responsible for everything and all the people. Slaves, wives, and children were considered property. Some cultures today still run their families this way. The patriarchal system has been prevalent throughout history, and while there is some debate over details surrounding the feelings of women in the midst of these cultures, there is no evidence of a matriarchal (run by women) society in the history books. Unfortunately, even with as much growth as the world has had as a global society, even with laws in place to protect these women, some cultures still violate their rights as humans, as decreed by various laws.
Jesus Christ ushered in change for women by treating them as equal heirs to the throne. He went out of His way to reveal His deity to women – and interacted first with a woman after His resurrection. We should not, as Christian women, question our worth. Our Lord has clearly defined us as precious to Him – and clearly stated that we were created in God’s image along with men. The Bible also clearly instructs men in new, radical behaviors toward their wives and communicates our new status, as compared to the patriarchal practices of Jesus’ time and before. I happen to have a different view of the way the texts are lived out, however, than most. It seems to me, (and keep in mind, I am not a formally trained Bible scholar) but based on our interaction with wives since 2006, “mutual submission” seems to be an end result for married spiritually mature couples. It occurs when a husband is fully committed and fully submitted to God, and a wife is also. Both spouses have the same order of attention: God first, spouse second, children third, others fourth. This is God’s ideal. But regardless of what our husband is doing, we still need to keep our focus on what God would have us do, instead of justifying our lack of obedience by someone else’s.
The Bible clearly tells all believers to put God first. For a woman to put God under her husband in authority would indicate a lack of obedience to God on her part. When both spouses are fully submitted to God first, obeying the Bible, they are creating a culture within their marriage where they are trying to serve the other. Leadership, as defined by the Bible, gives the husband a servant’s status. Jesus clearly told those wanting to “be first,” that they would be last. When we fight for “leadership” in our homes, we are going counter to Christ’s teachings. Waiting for our husband to start serving first also does not improve our marriage. Someone has to go first. We encourage the wife to do so, because it removes the “competition” element from the marriage for the man, and makes it easy for our husband to serve as leader.
Having said all of that, I still fully believe humans prefer hierarchy in organizations, and when we are in a situation where we are unable to agree on a course of action in marriage (which tends to seldom actually occur after we figure out how to communicate respectfully), our husband is the decision maker because wives are told to submit. Nowhere, however, does the Bible teach us to not be our husband’s friend, in fact, just the opposite is true. In Titus 2:3-4, the word, “love” is “phileo,” which is the friendship kind of love, and is used in a direct reference to how wives should treat their husbands. The Bible also says, “wounds from a friend can be trusted,” in Proverbs 27:6. This also implies that to be a good friend, sometimes we answer a question honestly, even if it hurts our friend. So the fallacy of “agreeing with whatever he says,” is really a misnomer, one which causes women to be doormats, and creates a climate in the marriage where her husband will struggle with respecting her.
The question we have to ask ourselves is not whether it is right for our husband to be in a position of authority – this has been established by God in the Bible. The real question is will we accept the Word of God as a living document of Truth, believing that the translations we have currently are what He knew we would have at this time in history, relative to our current circumstances, and submit to Him under those conditions? I do not have an issue with discussing these things, encouraging the discovery of Truth, but I do know that God knows these are the texts we have now.
For me, regardless of whether one holds an “egalitarian” or “complementarian” view of Scripture interpretation, when one studies human interaction, the differences between men and women at a physiological and psychological level; respect, love, and submission make perfect sense in the way the Bible advises. I also happen to have seen, from personal experience and from anecdotal evidence shared by hundreds of women that a wife’s respect, love, and submission (as communicated through the behaviors in The Respect Dare for Married Women, Daughters of Sarah®, and this book) have a huge impact on a marriage.
They just work.
This should not surprise us, because God’s advice to wives is to respect and submit to their husbands. When a wife goes from being her husband’s competition or mother to his life partner, cheerleader, and best friend, with her identity wrapped up in what God thinks of her instead of others’ opinions, God works a dramatic change in a man’s heart most of the time. I love how Gary Thomas, author of Sacred Influence puts it: “Some women never rise above a sinful propensity to define themselves according to their likability — or acceptance — by men. Unfortunately, some men seem to have an ultrasensitive spiritual radar that picks up on this. They somehow intuit a woman’s spiritual neediness and will exploit it for their own ends. Because of Christ’s work and the conquering power of the Holy Spirit, however, Christian women can be set free from such psychological dependency and destruction. Listen to a passage from 1 Corinthians 7, as rendered by Eugene Peterson in The Message: ‘And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life’ (verse 17). Did you catch that last line? God, not your marital status, defines your life. Is this true of you? The more it is, the more success you will have in moving your man, because weak women usually forfeit their influence. … If someone you really respect, greatly admire, and enjoy spending time with comes to you with a concern, aren’t you going to give their words extra thought? Aren’t you at least going to consider that they may have a point, and that you need to pay attention? Of course you are. This explains why the type of woman who moves her man is a woman who also impresses her man.”
God, not man, should define you. And if He does, all of your relationships will change for the better. If you have any questions about this, please see the “Who Am I?” tab at the top of this page.
Dare you to share where you are on your journey today! Comment or share, subscribe if you haven’t yet. We’re so glad you are here! The journey is better with you on it!
Love to you,
I love how you say that God not man should define us. Sometimes it’s hard to step over the thoughts of man into the value that God places on us.
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