Welcome to Being Role Models Monday! This is where Michael and I discuss the roles we play in our home and how they influence our daughter’s view of what a Christian man and a Christian woman are in a family setting. We’re glad you joined us! Please take a look at my original post and our past posts on the subject. If you have a comment or question, please feel free to post it and share!
Recently I read an article on Republican Michele Bachmann’s statement that she was a “submissive wife” and how it affected her candidacy. Now, I am not a Republican. I am not an American. But I am a submissive wife. And this article brought up some very important points that I think need to be addressed a little bit further.
The author of the article is Sady Doyle. She is a very clever writer who discusses gender and sexuality. And while I don’t necessarily agree with everything she has to say, I have respect for her courage to write what she believes and her ability to speak clearly and pointedly.
In short, the article states that, because Michele Bachmann professes to be a submissive wife and looks to her husband for guidance and leadership, allowing him to have the final say in decisions made for her and their family, that she is an inappropriate candidate for the Presidency of the United States. It discusses that she received a post-doctorate degree in tax law at her husband’s bidding, despite the fact that she hates taxes and had no interest in it, but went forward with the degree anyway, because her husband told her to.
Michele Bachmann retreated a little bit, trying to get out of the stereotypical “submissive wife” box by saying that by “submissive” she means “respect, mutual respect”. Sady Doyle then defines submissive, via Professor Google, as actually meaning “unresistingly or humbly obedient” and that “submit” means “to give over or yield to the power or authority of another,” “to yield oneself to the power or authority of another,” and/or “to defer to another’s judgment, opinion, decision, etc.”
Sady Doyle then goes on to discuss various quotes and lines she found on another website that she seemed to find quite appauling and disturbing, discussing the fact that a husband has the right to decide his wife’s employment, time management, the raising of their children,and being available to her husband’s sexual desires.
While I agree with her when she is unimpressed with the site’s dictation to “overlook… verbal abuse” and to try to “be better wives”, I wish to gently point out one very important point in the whole article that got overlooked.
In all cases with submission, no matter what the situation, the wife is to submit to her husband “as you do to the Lord.” Now look what the husband is being compared to. The Lord. Jesus. The wife is to submit to her husband as if he was Jesus.
Now, before you jump to any dramatic conclusions, let’s take a closer look as to what that means for the husband. Our husbands are told to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.” They are to behave towards us as Christ did towards the church. To humbly, tenderly, lovingly, carefully, gently, sacrificially love us. It is not saying that he is Jesus. It is that he is to be like Jesus. In other words, she is to submit to her husband as if he were Jesus.
But think about that context. Were her husband to be Jesus, would he force her to take a degree in something she disliked? Would he force her to have sex with him even though she was uncomfortable or unwilling to be involved? Would Jesus force her to make decisions regarding their children that would put them in harm’s way? Would Jesus tell her to spend her time doing something completely unappealing or inappropriate for her?
The role of a godly (note that word in italics) husband is to be considerate towards their wives and treat them with respect. No good, godly, loving husband would do the things that you are thinking. So many women have such a devistating fear of the word “submission”. We have been beaten to death with the idea that submitting to your husband means you don’t have any thoughts of your own, that you don’t get to make any decisions, that you have no say, that you are a footstool on which he scrapes his shoes.
Jesus wouldn’t do that to you. And neither should your husband.
What most women don’t realize is that if you are married to a good, godly man who loves you, he should only want the best for you! He should have no desire to rule and reign, to dictate to you what you should do simply because it’s his right as the man! That is not a man who is mirroring Jesus. That is a sinful, prideful man.
And guess what, ladies? You don’t have to follow that guy! If he isn’t acting like Jesus, you don’t have to follow him! Why? Because in following his decisions that lead you to stumble, you are falling into sin. And how do you stop from sinning? Stop following a fool and follow Jesus instead. Michele Bachmann’s husband may indeed have alterior motives in his instructions to his wife to get a degree in a subject she hates. He may be pulling the strings and trying to get her into a seat of power that he himself cannot obtain, but that will allow him to have authority over a whole country. But that does not mean he is godly! And a man like that is not a man to be submitted to!
Now, some of you might be saying, “The Bible doesn’t say that. It says to submit to your husbands, no matter what!” Nope, it doesn’t! Want proof? Okay, flip through to the good Ol’ Testament and find the story of Abigail. Abigail was married to an idiot named Nabal (whose name means “fool”). When King David sent a messenger to Nabal asking that his men be treated with kindness when they arrived at his home, Nabal made fun of David for being a shepherd (hey, what’s wrong with being a Sheppard?) and boasted that he wouldn’t show any kindness towards David and his men.
Now, Nabal had, for some bizarre reason, a beautiful and godly wife named Abigail. Now in this case, Nabal is not being a godly man. He is being an idiot, making fun in the face of the king. He’s risking his wealth, his home, his family, for the sake of his pride and his name. So what should Abigail do? Should she sit idly by and let her husband bring ruin down upon his home? Should she say nothing and simply pray in silence for grace? Or should she go against her husband and try to find a solution to his foolishness?
Well, her husband certainly isn’t behaving like Jesus. He’s not being graceful, he’s not being forgiving, he’s not being generous, he’s not being kind. And so, no, she doesn’t have to submit to him. Instead, she goes before David and pleads for his forgiveness and saves not only herself, but her whole household. Well, all except Nabal. He took a stroke and was paralyzed for ten days, and then died.
Want another piece of scripture where it says that you don’t have to submit to your husband? Okay then. In 1 Corinthians, Paul tells us “do not cause anyone to stumble”. In other words, we are to be careful that we do not cause others to sin. This can be taken in two ways: First, that our husbands do not cause us to sin, and second, that we do not need to follow someone who is going to teach us to stumble. God teaches us to let our husbands have the final say, but only so long as he isn’t causing us to stumble. If he’s leading us down the wrong, sinful path, you can put the brakes on and say, “Oh no, I’m not going that way! I’m going this way! This is the way Jesus is going!”
Sady makes a lot of great points within this article, and brings a point that is quite obviously overlooked to the surface with this statement. “As this quote demonstrates, Michele Bachmann’s professional life is firmly under her husband’s control.” She goes on to say “Ultimately, Michele’s choice to “submit” to Marcus Bachmann is her choice; all we can do is hope that she is physically safe within her marriage. [Side note: I bristled at this line. Not all wives who submit to their husbands are the victims of marital abuse. We do not marry ogres and thugs. But that’s another story.] But we can also acknowledge that her subordination precludes her from exercising authority. Michele can treat Marcus like a God all she likes. Michele can let Marcus make every single personal and professional decision for her. But what she cannot do is insist that the American people treat Marcus the same way. We didn’t marry the man; nor will we elect him. When one woman’s “submission” stands to affect the policies of an entire country, it is perfectly within our rights to say that it has gone too far.”
In that sense, I agree with her wholeheartedly. If Michele Bachmann is following the leadership of Marcus Bachmann in any and all decisions being made, then she does not necessarily have the right to lead the country, because in that instance, she would not being leading the country — her husband would. And that is a lie. If we wanted to vote for Marcus Bachmann, he should be the one running, not his wife.
But that does not mean that being a submissive wife means you role over and play dead every time your husband commands it. You are not a dog. You are an equal helpmate to your husband. You are to submit to him, so long as his actions mirror that of Jesus. When he starts to tell you to do things that you know are not in the teachings of the Lord, you do not have to follow him. Because a good man, a godly man, wouldn’t ask that of his wife.
Photo Credit: Flood
- I want to eat… roasted chicken… done in a bundt pan. This is so clever!
- I want to read… a lovely story about a little English nanny.
- I want to listen to… some gritty 40s crime drama with Sam Space, Detective. Oh how I wish radio dramas were still en vogue.
- I want to dream… of a bunch of house dresses with big beautiful circle skirts.
- I want to enjoy… being a good wife.
- I want to discuss… what are some ways you pray for your husband?
- I want to experience… growing my own herbs… in mason jars! Brilliant, and so simple!
- I want to remember… that just because I’m trying to grow my hair out doesn’t mean I have to have ugly hairstyles. I can enjoy pretty hair accessories like headbands and cute styles.
- I want to make… this beautiful rug — it’s crocheted from old t-shirts. Might give me a good reason to start saving them!
- I want to quote… this very humbling quote about aging. Very good to read on my birthday (yesterday!). See the bottom of the post.
Photo Credit: GD Tabor
- I want to eat… this amazing looking cauliflower soup. Good thing cauliflower is still in season!
- I want to read… all the delightful stories posted by Robyn on Minimalist Knitter. She knits. And she gives to charity. What’s not to love?
- I want to listen to… this funny little folk song by The Red Clay Ramblers. This is definitely for anyone who is a dog lover.
- I want to dream… about a minimalist wardrobe. Since the addition of the gifted clothes I received from my aunt, I really have to go through and purge my wardrobe down again.
- I want to enjoy… clean, innocent comedy. Some of my favorite comedians can make you laugh and never utter a foul word or tell an off color joke.
- I want to discuss… what is your life verse?
- I want to experience… the smile on my daughter’s face when she gets to build her very first snowman. Quite frankly, that’s one of the very few reasons I am actually looking forward to snow this year. (And if you know me at all, you know that is a glaring detour from my normal view on snow.)
- I want to remember… watching all my favorite holiday shows in the days leading up to the holiday season.
- I want to make… some of these brilliant and easy homemade art supplies. I’m especially intrigued by the homemade sidewalk chalk to take with Naomi and I on a lovely autumn walk.
- I want to quote… some simple words of wisdom from Albert Einstein.