Monday, August 15, 2011

On Submitting to One's Husband...

Conservative Christians who take the Bible seriously and live in modern American society have to wrestle with what it means in Ephesians 5:22-24, where God says through St. Paul "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord".

Most of us pastor types who teach this concept are good at pointing out what "submission" DOESN'T mean. It's not that a cowering wife whimpers in fear of her abusive and misogynistic husband. It's not, "honey, get me a beer and rub my feet", "Oh, yes, dear."

We're also pretty good at pointing to the overall principle of Christians submitting to one another (Eph 5:21) out of reverence for Christ.

The rest of the chapter goes on to talk about the Husband's particular role as Christ to his wife. And what does Christ do for his bride, the church? He loves her, protects, nourishes her, and ultimately dies for her. So there is an emphasis on self-sacrifice for the husband that isn't nearly as culturally upstream as the submission.

But none of that tells us directly what this principle of the submissive wife actually looks like in action.

Michelle Bachmann, when asked about submitting to her husband recently, said it basically means "we respect each other". Thus she dodged the question, really, and reinterpreted the distinction of spousal roles with the equalitarian (and oh-so-American) principle of mutual respect. Maybe a good political tactic, but a dreadful theological answer.

So what DOES it mean to submit? What are some positive examples? What kind of thing is a wife called to do that a husband isn't?

No comments: