Saturday, December 18, 2010

Loving Your Husband

Here you are, ready and eager to read another portion of my random thoughts that I dish out on a fairly inconsistent basis. But, before you continue, I have to warn you: This post is not about babies. Or birth control. Or a lack thereof. It's not even about children or parenting! I must give a secondary warning, but this is just for Sean: This post does include some mention of the awesomeness of my husband. Feel free to gag now and get it over with.

As I know that some people reading this probably don't have the same beliefs that I do, I'd like to summarize those. I believe that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God, given to us as His revealed knowledge to all of us, inspired by the Holy Spirit and meant to guide us, primarily, to our understanding of our own sinfulness and knowledge of Jesus Christ as God and faith in Him and His sacrificial love and death on our behalf as the only way of salvation from our sin and from eternal punishment (see Romans 3:23, John 3:16, and Eph. 2:8). This post, though applicable to all, is primarily focused at those who would agree with me in these beliefs.

Given my trust in God, His love, and my high esteem of the Bible, I take literally the concept that men and women have different roles in this life. In marriage, men are called to love their wives and protect them, and women are called to submit to their husbands and respect them.

BUT, given these specified roles, there's something that has struck a raw nerve with me over the last year and a half. I've noticed that men often have a really hard time admitting their weaknesses and mistakes, taking personal responsibility for them, and asking others for forgiveness. (Don't get me wrong, women. We have a hard time with this, too.) If left with this difficulty, they are prone to arrogance, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, and a lack of love and grace for others around them. Not a pretty picture, and certainly not a good position from which to be representing Christ in a marriage -- or to others, for that matter.

David, on the other hand, is pretty darn good (though not perfect, Sean -- no husband worship here!!) at, at least eventually, admitting his sin and repenting for it.

I've seen the weakness described above first-hand, magnified in all its ugliness, a few times over the last year and a half, and I've seen the destruction it has wrought in its path. It's been heart-breaking, to say the least, as these men -- who have so bullishly sought to destroy all who have lovingly reached out to help them -- have been men that are at least professing faith in Christ and lives that have been transformed by Him.

But none of this is at the heart of my ramblings here.

This post is for wives, with a very serious warning for all of us to be diligent in the role God has given to us. You see, at least in two of the situations I have referenced above, the actions of the wives of these men have left me nauseous, physically wanting to puke. A lot. These wives have both watched their husbands be lovingly corrected by godly leadership and refuse to repent for their sinfulness. Yet both these women have, presumably in the name of love, submission, and loyalty, patted their husbands on their backs and "lovingly" supported them in their self-worship. And in doing so, these women have proved themselves to be the epitome of adulteresses, lacking anything close to love and reverence for their husbands or the God they claim for their salvation. And for this, I pity their husbands and them, for they know not the joy and freedom of repentance nor the loving faithfulness of a godly spouse.

Women, we should be prayerfully, humbly, lovingly, and yes, privately exhorting our husbands to godliness. If our husbands are saved by grace, we can have confidence that the same God who saved them will continue to sanctify them. Yet God uses His children as sanctifying agents in each other's lives, and we are to be sanctifying agents in our husbands' lives. A wife is the one person God gives to a husband for him to cleave to and become one with. We can either love him in a way that helps him draw closer to God, or we can hate him in a way that enables him in his love for the idols of his heart. Seriously -- what kind of wife are you?

Most who know me know that I think my husband is about the most amazing husband a gal could have. (Sorry, gals--he's taken!!) And I definitely am very convinced that he's the one that got the short end of this marriage. But David is not perfect. He's in the process of sanctification along with the rest of us. But over the years, I've seen him grow dramatically in the area of being able to more quickly recognize his sin against God and others, repent, and ask forgiveness. Dramatically. And though I'm FAR from perfect and have a long way to grow in this area myself, I can see how God has used me as a sanctifying agent in this area of David's life.

There are many practical angles I could expand on, but this post is too long already. I would like to conclude by noting that saying things like, "I'm sorry if I hurt you" or "I'm sorry that you were offended" don't indicate real repentance. If one is not actually acknowledging sinful behavior and actively, with the grace of God, turning away from it, saying "sorry" in a way that turns the responsibility away from oneself and onto someone else is fake, to say the least. God empowers His people to righteousness through humility expressed in repentance. "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).


Sharon said...

Hey -- my only thought is that b/c of a faithful wife's submissive disposition to her husband it can be hard to see his sin as sin if it's not totally clear or he's good at convincing her of his justification. Maybe?

Christina said...

@Sharon -- I think that's a good thing to be aware of in any of our relationships with people that we love. Our tendency, I think, would be to justify the actions of people that we love (and ourselves, for that matter) instead of considering their actions and the fruit of their actions based on biblical standards. Whereas the sin was quite obvious to everyone else in the examples I mentioned above, the warning signs are often ignored for the sake of peace/comfort.

I really don't think a submissive disposition toward a husband is really the blinding factor, though. In fact, being biblically submissive requires much wisdom and discernment.

cd said...

I need more on this notion of biblical submission - because you know all I have is secular understandings that I'm willing to set aside for the sake of open debate and education. ;)

Can there be feminist submission to one's husband?

And do these roles affect how you raise your girls vs. your boys?

(All this is honest curiosity, no lefty-snarking - promise! :)

Christina said...

@Christiana -- Great question! I'm thinking I'll have to do another blog post to adequately answer, so you might have to give me a couple more days to do so. =)

My short answer to the feminist submission question would be that it depends on your definition of feminism. Knowing you, I believe you would define it as women being equal in value to men. With that definition, I believe I could make a strong argument for a biblical stance of "feminist submission."

But, unfortunately, many define feminism, at least in practice/action, as women being superior to men. I can not find any biblical allowance for that concept.

Sharon said...

Yay, more posts!

My suggested title:

"Paul was a feminist"

see Eph 5:25

Christina said...

@Christiana --Just in case you think I've forgotten about this, I haven't!! Here's a couple articles you could chew on, if you have the time:

cd said...

And I'm late to return to the party ;)

What about women are superior to SOME men? haha. No, I think equal is a fine standard. Thanks for the links, I will read them now!

cd said...

I'm not sure I can get past my own understanding of the diction used to describe the submissive practice. Submit to my husband's authority and support his leadership, etc, I mean, I get supporting his decisions on things as I would expect him to do with my decisions (when they affect the person) and presenting a united front in parenting (I'm sure playing mom against dad or dad against mom is coming sooner than I may hope, right?).

But helping him carry his leadership through if it is wrong (aside from sin)? Really? Why?

And this? I straight up don't get this:""The end of the day" is the phrase we use to refer to the actual decision as it is made. At "the end of the day" I am the one responsible before God to make a decision that suits the best interests of our family."

How is the wife not responsible before God as well? Seems a strange sort of absolution.

From relatively little research - I freely admit - it seems like, to borrow the during the day/end of the day discussion framework - if the wife "wins" on her points, the man makes a decision that agrees with her points, but sometimes they don't agree and go with his side. Which is, like, normal compromise in a marriage, right? Sometimes we go his way, sometimes he goes are way. This seems like it's set up to make the man feel better, feel in control, and I don't like pandering. That's the word I'm looking for - like it's institutional pandering to make the husband feel like "aw, see honey, good decision making!"

It seems like perhaps spouses should be submissive to each other the way, really, all people should be. In a "God First, Others Second, I am third" kind of way. If you're doing what's right by god and others, then you'll probably come out okay.

This, though, is interesting: "I don’t flourish when you are passive and I have to make sure the family works." Okay, so this I understand - if this is a very involved way to get husbands to step the heck up so, like, EVERYTHING isn't on us, then that's great. Like, make some dinner and pay attention to the mail and the bills, dude, 'cause I'm also busy. ;)

Christina said...

@Christiana -- Wow. We really should just have you over for dinner or something sometime so we can chat all this through! (Or maybe meet at Ernestos again sometime. Hmmm... =))

I definitely have opinions on all your points, but it all basically points back to one: At this point in my life, I have much more confidence in God's perfection than my own. I've tried my ways. They are messed up. (You have been eye witness to that truth!) And I'm so thankful that God has given me a way, through His Son, to be reconciled to Him and to trust in Him, especially in light of my messed-upness.

Also, I have much more confidence in the Bible being God's Word and authority on issues than I do on me figuring out what makes most sense to me. Because like I said before, when I trust in myself, I'm, uh, messed up.

That being said, it's not that this is just some random set of rules that might work for some and might not work for others. He is God, He really did create us all, and He really does know what's best. I don't believe that one can do God's will without first submitting to God as God, accepting His forgiveness offered through Jesus, and in doing so, being enabled by the Holy Spirit to do what is right. That is the heart of God's will and just trying to follow the rules apart from embracing that truth leads to ultimate collapse.

But, I do find that in submitting to God (and in reference to the topic at hand, submitting to my husband), what didn't necessarily make sense to me before starts making a lot more sense. (His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts -- His are so much better.)

I don't know if it was in one of the articles I linked to or not, but I've seen a wife's submission to her husband compared to someone leaning all their body weight against you. You naturally, instinctively, put your whole body weight back against them to support the two of you. God puts a huge responsibility on both men and women, and a woman submitting to her husband in a godly fashion does put a healthy pressure on him to, in your words, "step the heck up."

But it's not always easy and not always immediate. That's where a bigger trust in the bigger picture -- that God's love is evident and His grace is sufficient -- and that these things are ultimately done for God and for His glory and not our own purposes or reasons, becomes so critically important.

cd said...

We'll call it the Margaritas and Marital Models Meet-Up. ;)

Christina said...

=) Deal!