“The reason why many are still troubled, still seeking, still making little forward progress is because they haven’t yet come to the end of themselves. We’re still trying to give orders, and interfering with God’s work within us.”
I want to preface this piece by addressing the church only; meaning church people. The group that sings songs, and waves their arms in the air, and drinks coffee in their church cafe like a barfly during happy hour the local El Torrito restaurant. Yeah, those people. I am also breaking this down into two parts. Part 1 will be a brief introduction to submission and women’s roles. Part 2 will be about men’s responses to those roles.
Have you ever heard married women in your church circle say phrases like, “I must respect my husbands wishes”? What about, “Oh no, I don’t do <insert things women want to do here> because my husband doesn’t like it”? Or what about those women who make it a point to make sure you know how submissive they are to their husbands? They wear their submissiveness like a scarlet badge of courage or something. Or, taking it an offensive step further: those confused women that strive to be the “Proverbs 31 wife”, an obvious unobtainable goal. Yet, this model has become an idol in the church. The women worship it because the men have taught them to; and rather striving to please God, they end up maiming their souls trying to please themselves. All the while, thinking they are please God and each other.
In the past month or so, I have been following Jory Micah on Twitter. She followed me, probably spam, and I followed her back because I always follow spammers. Jory Micah is outrageous in some of the things she says. It takes the power of a thousand suns for me not to respond to everything this woman spews. She is a(n) (in)famous, self proclaimed, feminist, Christian blogger widely recognized by Christian women (who share her same views of feminism) and angry male theologians in the Christian blogging circles. There are a few out there, but she has the loudest voice. While I don’t agree with 1000% of the things she says, I still have to say that she has very good reason to have this pissed off, “all men in the church are pigs” attitude.
I think things like submissiveness and the “Proverbs 31 wife” all harmfully misinterpreted in the church. Moreover, they are misinterpreted by men because of the Biblical roles given to men and women by God in terms of who is supposed to teach who. In Jory’s case, she’s throwing her middle finger at every man in the church that says, “Women are to be this way only”; and she is doing it in the name of God. Can you blame her?! She discusses her reasons on her website. It’s worth a look to see the type of women who are leading other women into the messy culture of the church, with banners raised high.
Let me start with the Basics: What does the word submission mean and where is this trendy, misunderstood, stepford wife, wannabe philosophy coming from? This is the text book definition of the word submission:
- the action or fact of accepting or yielding to a superior force or to the will or authority of another person.
Regarding the definition of submission: what sticks out to me the most is the absolute definition of the word notated as “the action of accepting or yielding to a superior force.” Let me break that down in words that stick out to me: Accepting, yielding, superior force.
Now, let’s look at the guts of every Christian marriage Bible study:
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
-Ephesians 5:22-24 (ESV)
I want to make this a little more interesting. I am going to use the words used to define “submission” in the passage from Ephesians:
22 Wives, yield to your own superior force, as to the Lord. 23 For the superior force is the authority of the wife even as Christ is the superior force of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. 24 Now as the church is accepting to Christ, so also wives should be accepting of everything to their superior force or authority.
-Ephesians 5:22-24 (ESV)
As a woman, who would want to live like that? No one would. I mean, it sounds okay because some Jesus and church were thrown in there. But let’s be real, it’s hard to keep Jesus anywhere with someone who wants power or thinks they deserve power. Yet, we have these women who are extremely proud of being submissive in this way – or at least they pretend to be. (Pretending is an art you learn over the years in church. It’s key to survival, since the littlest of sins could send you into shunning status.)
But, think about this: if these women, who are pretending, are in survival mode, this puts the husband on an entirely different level. With the husband on a separate level, which is obviously an elevated one, it makes things very difficult for the woman to be human, being the lower of the two. Rather, she is looked at as a slab of meat waiting to be mated with, always working, always cooking, always taking care of the kids and she can’t say a word. Instead, she goes to church forcing herself to brag about how great and Godly her husband is and how she loves serving him. This is so sad, so tragic, and such a waste of the true gift God has bestowed upon the husband.
Most men and women in the church have taken God’s definition of submission and replaced it with Webster’s definition of submission; and they’ve taken it and run with it – in opposite directions. I am not saying every marriage is like this, or every church teaches men to treat their wives as slaves or whatever. I am saying that this is an epidemic in the church. A cancer that is critical enough to cause someone like Jory Micah to step up to the plate and say, “What the hell is going on?! Oh no boy, you ain’t doin’ this, mmmm mmm, nope!” This should never have happened, this is not how God designed us to interact with each other; especially in the church. Granted, a lot of things in the church can’t be avoided, but sexism should not be one of them. So now we have these factions of women in the church: the pretentious submissives, the confused in-the-middle don’t know what to do types, and the stiff middle fingered pant suit ladies. It’s a beautiful, hot, mess.
Ephesians 5:22-24 is the submissive response a woman should give naturally to her husband, only if he is doing what God has commanded Him to do. Bearing in mind also, using God’s definition of submission; which is a Holy Spirit gift of submissiveness not forced by any man.
In Part 2 of this blog, I want to discuss what I think the solution is and also point out marriages and scenarios that I have seen where women are treated equally and appreciated for who God made them, rather than what we are schooled to believe God made women for. I also want to get back into this passage in Ephesians and take it to the next level for men with my interpretation of it.
I will leave you with this to think about for next week and make sure to start off with this statement: I believe, without a shadow of a doubt, that if there is a Proverbs 31 for women, then there is an Ephesians 5 man.