Posts at SSM’s recently elicited very wordy replies (from me), so lengthy in fact that I opted to convert them to my own post, more than one in fact, rather than burden her with such meandering free-association mini-rants.
So, it goes “the Word was with God” – the words are NOT God.
Now before you go getting your thong in your crack let me make it clear that I’m not attempting to instruct anyone on theological matters. I’m terrible at it and wholly unqualified. I’m soliciting a sincere practical examination of what seems a highly impractical counterintuitive Biblical instruction, because it (submission) is one of the most ignored and misused (by both women and men) Biblical instructions.
Sunshine’s articles and many of the comments explore the charge to wives to respect their husbands, with submission counted as the height of respect. I certainly cannot disagree with this on it’s face, but I also cannot help but mutter under my breath: thank God I married a good man, and thank God for the Magisterium. I’m operating wholly informed, at least. A lot of the exceptional exceptionalism that surfaces in these conversations is based on either outright ignorance of Scripture, or a refusal to read it with a lack of personal emotional lens. Sola scriptura no longer means what it means, that it is what it is – most modern adherents aren’t schooled in the nuance of language particular to the Bible, nor are these adherents without agenda, usually, and are prone to a sort of book-worship that complicates rather than clarifies the sufficiency of Christ for our salvation. It’s simply NEVER just about Scripture. We’re not mindless Storm Troopers for the Empire. Right translation in the light of wisdom is crucial, and our failure to consider “Sola” according to whom and “Scriptura” according to which has ushered in the modern subjective bees-in-the-trees interpretive dance version of Bible abuse. It reaches its natural conclusion with women and the morally bankrupt in false headship at the pulpit. Is it any wonder that false headship in the context of marriage is so pervasive?
It comes down to this: DO HIM GOOD AND NOT EVIL ALL THE DAYS OF HIS LIFE.
I can think of no greater disrespect than allowing a person, any person, much less my beloved husband, to consign himself to Hell by using the bald-faced cop-out of decidedly un-holy and un-scriptural capitulation to sin. Submission is obedience, the full Biblical definition of which implies goodness, and holiness, not unqualified “just doing as I was told” – that’s bullshit, full stop, and displays an outrageous void of compassion. A woman is accountable for her own sin or she isn’t, but neither she nor her husband can have it both ways. In her capacity for moral agency, she is to neither tempt him into sin, nor comply with his insistence that she participate in his sin as a co-conspirator. In the instance of unfaithfulness, for a real-life not uncommon example, what woman could count as righteousness ignoring the situation, sitting home and crying and “praying for him” in some sort of fit of door-mattery? Hell no, she should fight for him with the all the guile of femininity (name that tactic) God imbued her with, even if Cheater Peter tells her to knock it off. What if he insists she use birth control? What if he insists she abort their child? Here’s a tricky one – what if he insists she assist his suicide? Each of these things leads to the mans own demise, ironically. Should she entertain such actions as legitimate simply because he asks it? Is that true submission, or merely capitulation, because it’s easier?
A woman’s nature can be a wicked thing, and I mentioned the sin of her tempting her husband into sin first for a very real reason.
More often than not, a refusal to honor the charge of submission is about petty things – what to have for dinner, how much to spend on Christmas, what color to paint the family room, putting knives in the dishwasher, etc. The cumulative effect is a wrong attitude, and often leads to dabbling in areas of authority she ought not. On the other hand, our world is fallen and so are its men. Having more than one barometer for what qualifies as submission, then, is entirely appropriate. The model for submission is found in the symbol for infinity – God and Christ in a never-ending exchange of perfect love and perfect submission converging in perfect unity. None of us can live up to that standard, which is why the command for submission is important at all. It is not a special gift a wife gives her husband, a vain interpretation if there ever was one, it is a gift that God gives to wives, for our purification, for our chance to emulate Christ in what might otherwise devolve into a fruitless power struggle. It is an item we no longer bear the burden of considering, like a steering wheel on a car. Refuse to use it at your peril, but by doing so you acknowledge you’re an idiot and not fit to drive.
There is no relief from abject sin except repentance, but committing mortal sins in the name of wifely submission is no such relief. Because she follows Gods commands, she is entrusted with His gift of submission. No switch flipped at the fulfillment of the New Covenant that darkened the original commandments – rather those were written into our Christian DNA, not just tablets of yore, at the death of Christ. Disobedience to God is not obfuscated nor excused by the charge to submit to ones husband. The oft heard “well, I wasn’t sure, so I went with what he wanted” reflects neither the spirit nor the substance of submission. It is simply offering a performance that looks a bit like submission which is inevitably later revealed as insincere and self-serving.
Wives, submit to your husbands. If you do it right, it will often require you keep your eyes open and your mouth shut, but always YOUR BRAIN TURNED ON, like you take for granted that his will be. It wasn’t meant to be easy. Do him GOOD. Don’t just throw the book at him.