Friday, March 26, 2010

loop holes, exemptions and other such nonsense

Yesterday at a ballgame I jokingly told my husband we didn't have to leave early. Being the gentlemen that he is, he said he wouldn't keep me away from the ladies' Bible study. So I laughingly told him I didn't need to go that night as the lesson was on submission. (This has been an on-going joke between us as I removed the "to obey" part out of my wedding vows...but that's a story for another time).

This Bible study has been different from anything else I've ever participated in. We meet for a cooking demonstration, have a lesson, then split up to eat the meal "taught" to us while we discuss the lesson. Table talk, I think is what they call it. Last night's lesson was one of the few where everyone at our table could say it applied to us, and as serious as the questions and their implications were, we still found quite a few things to laugh about. But my answer to one of the questions still has me pondering.

The question dealt with how the world's view of feminism has impacted believers. We discussed the fact that many women look for a loop hole in the submission command. If our husbands don't love us like Christ does then we're not required to submit, or if our husband is making a really stupid decision then as his helpmeet we're supposed to not go along with it and "help" him out, etc. And yet, as one of the ladies pointed out, there is not an exemption clause anywhere in that verse. We're to obey it, period. I think many Christian women struggle with this for two reasons. One, we're sinful beings who want our own way. But two, we've sadly seen many poor examples of the verses that follow the one on submission.

My mother taught in a Christian school so we could attend there while I was in middle school. It was also during this time that her "flare-ups" became severe. (It was almost twenty years later before she was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease.) My sisters and I would do her share of the required janitorial work because we knew she was physically unable. Mother would have to elevate her legs and talk us through supper preparations, and she would almost always crash after supper. Many mornings she was physically unable to get up or down, much less bend over to put her shoes on. One day while mopping her classroom, I overhead a group of teachers talking in the hallway. Someone had asked Mom what she was cooking for supper, and Mother responded, "I don't know. Jerry was buying groceries today, so I'll have to wait and see what he got." The ladies were all stunned that my Dad would buy groceries, saying their husbands would consider that woman's work. That same year while at a pastor's conference with my Dad I remember several other pastors being astounded to find out that Dad helped with a good share of the housework at home. They ridiculed him for it a little bit. It made me angry. My Dad was simply being a good and loving husband. There was nothing unmanly about him doing what needed to be done for his family. And yet I hear way too many Christian men talk as if such acts of love are beneath them. When I think of such situations, I understand why so many women want to balk at the very word submission.
But on the other hand, a small part of me wonders if the wives supported the husbands like my Mother supported my Dad, would the husbands be just as supportive and helpful as my Dad was to my Mom?
Submission is something I struggle with regularly. Like both of my grandmothers, I am what my family calls strong-willed. It's not always easy for me to maintain the equilateral triangle in my marriage (in case you've never heard of that one, I'll explain it later). So many times I wind up being the lopsided triangle because of my hard-headedness.
Unless I find some undiscovered exemption clause or loop hole, I figure this will be one of those '' thorn in the flesh" commands that I struggle with performing for the rest of my life. Like my weight, I hope one day it will be under control, but I fear it will be an issue I will always battle.


Jennifer said...

I'd love to be a fly on the wall for other groups discussions!! I too am very, very strong willed, so submission does not come easy.

gypsy@Hebrews11:13 said...

I am a very strong-willed person too (or so Rich tells me), dying to self is an extremely difficult thing for me. It takes constant prayer and focus on God's will and Word and I still fall SO FAR short of the mark. I do wish I had had more time to discuss how much the Feminist Movement has damaged the whole idea of submission- so much so that we as Christian women are threatened anything resembling laying down our pride. Well, we just need a class on that:)

mrs.pabody said...

Steve's grandpa married us and mysteriously left the "to obey" part out for us too.... Thank you for writing from your heart on your blog. I love keeping up with you!!! <3