I find the 'women being submissive to men' thing very odd. It seems a very human thing to try to put limits on what God can do and who He can do things through. Are we really saying that the presence of ovaries means that God won't use a particular person to do his bidding? God doesn't limit us, it seems wrong that we should seek to do it to one another. Am I wrong?”
This was the opening statement in a conversation I had with a woman who was expressing her opinions about submission. She had read my previous blog post about this subject and was troubled by it. Our conversation progressed into what I perceive to be a conversation that most women would have these days.
“This is a common question and a concept that is often abused by men who don't understand it!” I said.
She replied with valid points, “It's an interesting one, I agree. I was worried after writing that I'd appeared rude - I hope not! Anyway, I've discussed this at length with my husband. He married me because he wanted a partner, someone to go through life together with. He didn't want to bear the responsibility or carry the load alone, which is what this 'submission' idea seems to advocate. At the airport we have a suitcase each and our daughter carries the cabin baggage! There are times when he takes a decision and I submit (his job taking us away from friends and family to a new town for example - I didn't want to, but in that case I submitted to what he wanted) and there are other times when I feel that something is right and he will bend, adapt (the word 'submit' is such a passive one, I don't want to apply it to my husband!) to enable me to do what I need to (adapting his work to facilitate my promotion, for example). We have different strengths, and at different times we compromise for one another. That's what the teamwork of marriage is about. We do it together - we give and take. We don't submit and we don't dominate. I'm not saying our way is right for every couple, but I think the idea of BOTH partners submitting to the marriage, rather than the wife submitting to the husband, is the key.”
Valid points but I continued to keep the debate alive to hear more about her views.
“I agree with everything you have said! We are partners in life. One thing is true though, a man desperately needs to feel respected. Submission is simply a way of showing respect don't you think? To me submission means mostly not being argumentative but to actually listen to my husband - something I am not very good at! It sounds like you have a wonderful and balanced marriage which is why this conversation probably isn't necessary for you, but some marriages could seriously do with a bit of submission. It's horrible to see how some women treat their husbands and make them look small. That is probably where a bit of submission could do wonders.”
She replied with, “I agree - but loud obnoxious bullying men are pretty grim too! It just interests me, this whole 'woman's place' thing. It used to cause me huge problems with the church. Why was I to submit? Why did a Y chromosome make a man responsible for me? Why was his opinion more important than mine? I worry less now, because we've worked out a position that works for us, but I'm still uncomfortable with the "have penis, will dominate" angle!”
Things were getting heated but it was good to be getting to the bottom of it. I continued with the conversation.
“It's not so much 'will dominate' as much as will protect and be stronger, more logical, less emotional, etc. The Y chromosome definitely uses a different part of the brain, I recently read about the science behind how our brain develops - fascinating - I am sure you already know it as you are a science teacher and could probably teach me a thing or two about chromosomes.
We are both equal but one is designed to fulfil a certain role and the other a different role, based on our differences in both brain and body development. It's simply different not one better than the other.
Doesn't it make sense that if we, man and woman, are built differently both in brain and body, that we are intended for different purposes in a relationship and that being equal in every aspect would limit us tremendously?”
“I agree about the differences, and that therefore trying to be the same as each other is pointless. However, I still don't think it’s right to determine a role in a relationship based on any one aspect. As for the Corinthians letter, I think Paul was writing at a specific time, to a particular church which was having a specific problem - I'm wary of extrapolating the advice he gave in that situation to personal relationships 2000 years later. I think the key point is the one I made earlier - BOTH partners need to submit to the relationship. Once we all learn to think about the good of our families and our marriages before our own desires we will be building happier homes and societies.”
Interesting don’t you think? It would be so easy for us to debate our way into equal rights and we could comfortably justify that we should not submit in the way we think we should. We could talk our way out of just about anything in the Bible but the fact remains that a woman is to submit to her husband by her own free will. She has to choose to submit to him. I don’t feel like less of a woman because I am a submissive wife. Actually, it’s quite the contrary, I feel like more of a woman because I chose to submit. I feel freer and more beautiful. What are your thoughts on this subject?