Friday, December 11, 2009
Who comes up with these sayings? More to the point, whoever believed this was an expected role for a woman? I have heard of cultural disparities but even against some of those, this tag-line seems extreme. In “traditional” Japan, for instance, women walked several paces behind their husbands as a sign of respect. But even more than 50 years ago when this might have been more normal in Japan, women always wore shoes, were frequently out of the home itself, and child rearing was still an important decision – note that not many Japanese families had 10 or 12 siblings. So where does this stuff come from?
The sad part about tag-lines like this; is that some folks believe this to be the ONLY expected role of a woman, and that somehow God set it up that way. Of course this is yet another lie spread by the master of lies who often blames God for the things he initiates. But while most Christians will dismiss this idea of a role as the poop-factory it is, they still cling to a few preconceived ideas about roles we take on in our marriages and the church; i.e. who should have them; and in general our attitude about them.
For instance, the text advising “wives to submit to your own husband’s” is now completely out of favor; mostly because it has been overused, and is rarely quoted completely. Most preachers stop at Ephesians 5:22 and do not continue the thought all the way to verse 25. If they did, they would get a better picture of the kind of “submission” the inspired author (Paul) intended. But in these texts is a key point that has been largely missed by greater Christianity, the role of submission to God. Even the council to wives to submit to their husbands is followed by saying “as unto the Lord”. We tend to ZOOM in on the submission part related to the husband, and forget totally the submission part related to God.
This is our human weakness showing. Men like the idea of a woman having to “give in” to their final authority under the auspices of marriage so this is the part of the text that gets the most attention. But I submit, the first part is null and void without considering the entirety of the advice. Submission to God MUST preempt even the thought of submission to men. Until we are willing to want what God wants, need what God needs, and love how God loves – we are in no position, i.e. we have no ability to submit to each other. Submission of our will to God is the beginning of Salvation. It is the mechanism of our freedom from sin, and our entrance into enlightenment.
Through submitting our will to God, we humble ourselves, and accept His gift – the gift of Salvation – of being saved from our sins and ourselves. This is what God has been longing to give us. It is NOT about going to heaven. It is about being made free from the bondage of sin. To be made free, someone has to do the work, and that someone is NOT you. You cannot. More to the point, you WILL not. Your entire life is proof positive of this. Humans do not have the will to become perfect, let alone the inclination. Most of us are content in the evil we hurt ourselves with. It is a rare thing that the evil produces enough pain in our lives to make us truly crave change. But were we to see evil as it truly is, were we to understand its horrific affects in our lives, in the lives of those we hurt, in the lives of those who care about us and our victims, we would crave to be freed from the evil we are slave to commit.
And this is the gift of Salvation, a freedom from the bondage of sin, that only Christ can create in the human heart and mind. We must allow Him to do so. In order for that to occur, we must submit or yield our evil, carnal, nature, our natural decisions up to God and let Him decide for us, sometimes in spite of us. If we try to keep control over our decisions, we end up making the wrong ones over and over and over again. In order for us to achieve Salvation from evil we must learn to submit. This is our weapon. It is not our strength of character that frees us from sin, but the recognition of our only hope in God. It is His strength, made perfect through our weakness, through our submission. It is His work to eliminate sin in us. We must let Him and stay out of the way.
But the entire process of Salvation depends on our willingness to submit. So of course, the devil targets submission and packages it as the worst of all crimes to commit. Rather than put God in the picture, the devil has only to use the truthful argument that women should NOT be submitting to men. That is actually true, and even Biblical. The text does not say for women to submit to men, it says “to their own husbands”. But it is easy to forget this distinction and maintain the original premise that women should not submit to any man. The devil fosters a spirit of independence in each of us. His intent is not to insure we do not submit to each other, but to make sure we forget to submit to God. Submission to God changes lives.
To further inflame the process, the devil invents tag-lines like the title of this BLOG entry, and then throws it out there as if it were from the Bible itself. He attacks weak minded men who are already prone to chauvinism and gets them to start misusing scripture to beat women over the head with. He tries to associate the first part of the text with the tag-line above and blend them together. But this is all lies, told by the father of lies, intended to keep us ALL from submitting to God. Submission to God brings about the enactment of Salvation in our lives right here and right now.
After yielding up our will to the Lord, we become changed. We begin to see things differently. Where once was arrogance, now we see the wisdom of humility. Where once was only self-interest, we see now the wisdom of truly loving another – to sacrifice at all costs for the happiness of another without any thought of our own gain in the process. This wisdom can only come to the changed heart, to the heart that has been literally re-created by our Creator God. This is what being Born Again truly means. It is not uttering silly sounds that masquerade as a ‘divine’ language while gyrating across the floor claiming to feel the Holy Spirit. That chaos is not a sign of redemption, it is a sign of anarchy. Being Born Again is the process of submitting our will to God, of trusting in Him to save us like a baby must trust its parent to keep it alive. All of our thoughts, all of our desires, all of our habits must be reborn with a new insight. That is being Born Again.
But nothing comes to those who strive to maintain control, which is only an illusion anyway. Women who will NOT submit to their husbands, usually will NOT submit to God either. But the danger is not just for women. Men are counseled in that same text to “love their wives as God loves the church”. Hello!!! Christ literally died a tortured death to redeem His church. He loves it more than His own life. He gave EVERYTHING to it, and for it. But again men are NOT capable of this kind of love, until they too learn to submit their own wills to God. Men cannot understand the beauty of this sacrifice, and the deep fulfillment of the gift of loving someone, until their own minds have been freed of the bondage of evil. Men too must submit, before they are truly capable of loving. But too many men have ignored this prerequisite and defined “loving their wives” to suit their own self interest. In this we miss the blessing the Lord intended, and again misuse His word.
Men want to win the arguments with their wives focusing on the idea that their wives should be submitting, without asking themselves first – why is there an argument in the first place? Is it over money, career, friends, food, or household items? Then no argument could exist, if like Christ did for His church, the husband simply demonstrated His own love for his wife. Where men were meant to lead, was in the spiritual matters of the home. In this area, they were “supposed” to be the authority. Men were to set the example of submission to God, before expecting their wives to see the wisdom of submission to them. It is easy to love a man who submits himself wholly to God, as it easy to love a woman who does the same. But again it is submission to God that BEGINS this process, and for that matter completes it. Without submitting to God first, failure is sure to result.
Once we accept the humility of submission to God, we are far more willing to accept His council in whatever format it comes. The roles we take on in the church can come without expectation if we look first through humbled eyes. When we accept our condition, and our healing, we are thankful for God’s guidance whether it comes from the mouth of a child, or a parent, or a friend, or a stranger, or even an atheist. God can send us guidance through anyone. He is not constricted by prejudices against sex, or age, or race, or even orientation or beliefs systems. He is willing to work for ALL men, and through ANY who are willing to be used. We should not judge the truth by the package it comes in. We should accept the truth and adhere to the council without glorifying the messenger, only the message. Were we to see this, our lives would be so much more full, so much better …