Monday, August 15, 2011

Submit to Your Husband?

The media, which likes to portray itself as tolerant and progressive, is showing its bias against women and politicians of faith. We are seeing that clearly with the treatment of Michele Bachmann. For example, recently a reporter asked her if she would be “submissive” to her husband if she were to be elected president. Obviously it was a loaded question that showed the reporter’s bias, and it was clearly aimed at tripping her up. Bachmann handled the question with dignity and accuracy.

Although I suspect that reporter couldn’t cite the biblical references, he was referring to Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18, and 1 Peter 3:1-2. Bachmann’s response to his question was right on: “submission” in this case means to show respect. Below is an excerpt from a sermon I gave on that very subject a few years ago:

Needs of a Woman

The two biggest needs for women are love and security. They sort of go hand in hand, because if a woman feels genuinely loved, she will also feel secure. In the passages in the Bible concerning marriage, what are men told to do? “Love your wife.”

Ephesians 5:25a: Husbands, love your wives… NRSV
1 Peter 3:7a: Husbands, in the same way, show consideration for your wives in your life together… NRSV
Colossians 3:19: Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. NRSV

Women are naturally more loving, but the husbands need to be told to love their wives. This means that the men, while willing to die for their families if necessary, must also demonstrate their love in ways that are meaningful to women.

These include self-sacrificing acts (like devoting more time to the family), giving up some of the things you used to do for the good of the marriage, frequent outward signs of affection (and not just when you want something), remembering her birthday, your anniversary, and other important dates, surprising her with something thoughtful on occasion, and buying her an expensive diamond (OK, we can skip the diamond – besides, it is meaningless if your heart isn’t in it, and they can tell).

Needs of a Man

What do men want? The other thing that men want most is respect. Women want respect too, of course, but it is a very high priority for men, even though they might not even realize it. You may love a man, but if you act as if you don’t respect him, the relationship is in serious trouble.

Nowhere in the Bible does it tell wives to love their husbands. Women love – that’s what they do. But they don’t always respect. I just read three verses from those sections of the New Testament having to do with marriage and family relationships. The corresponding commands for wives in those sections have to do with respect. God, our Creator, knows that men need respect, because that’s how God made them. As I read these three verses, look beyond the words, and see what is really behind them:

Ephesians 5:22a: Wives, be subject to your husbands… NRSV
1 Peter 3:1a: Wives, in the same way, accept the authority of your husbands… NRSV
Colossians 3:18: Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. NRSV

Looking behind the words of these verses, what are they really saying? We can see that respect is at the heart of the matter. While husbands today don’t have the same kind of authority over the family that men had in the times of the Roman Empire, they still need to be respected. Yet our culture puts down men and many wives disrespect their husbands. Maybe if men were respected more, they would rise to the occasion and be more deserving of that respect.

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