Saturday, January 12, 2008

Guarantee: Wife Submissive; Husband Stays

The next guarantee to address: If I'm a submissive wife, my husband will never leave.

This was a very popular belief and teaching in certain Christian circles a few years back. I was a believer and a teacher of this so-called truth; I don't think I did, and I hope I didn't present it as a guarantee. But I realize how it could have been heard and could have easily been taken as God's promise or God's guarantee.

I could write volumes of examples of how I began to question what I was reading and interpreting from scripture. My earliest remembrance of a hard-to-answer counseling question was back in the seventies when two women came to my home and said their husbands were insisting they go to wife-swapping parties, which was the craze at the time. All four were believers and the husbands were demanding submission. That was a hard one!

Another example that stands out was when a youth minister's wife from another church came to my home for counseling. She threw three seminar notebooks on my dining room table, a blue one, a red one, and a brown one. I had attended each of those seminars. This young mother's youth minister husband had just run away with one of the girls in the youth group. This wife/mother yelled at me that she had done everything those notebooks had told her to do and asked how could this happen. This also was a very hard one!

Does the Bible say that if I as a wife am submissive that my husband will be faithful to me and never leave me for another woman? 

The short answer is no.

The long answer is hard to concisely state. Perhaps summarizing some truths I've learned along the way will help convey my changed view of what the Bible is saying:
  • Each person, male or female, husband or wife, will answer to God for his/her individual life. One will not answer for another.
  • As I wrote in an earlier post, a goal of a godly marriage should be a desire; my attainable goal must be to be a godly wife because that doesn't depend on someone else to achieve.
  • My mate's choices are his alone. He will answer and be responsible, as I will for mine.
  • Each in the marriage must respect himself/herself and be responsible. Then show respect to the other.
Granted, these bulleted statements are randomly listed and in no order, but they all played a part in my changed understanding. 

Reality check: I am told in scripture, Ephesians 5:33, to respect or reverence my husband. What I've learned is that I cannot give what I do not have. I must first respect myself before I can give respect. That one principle of life is a changer. If a person learns to respect himself/herself even as God respects their person, thought patterns and behavior will almost always change. Respect for myself and seeing myself as God sees me enables me to live in grace and truth with a partner, respecting and loving him. 

Nowhere in scripture can one find a guarantee that if a wife is submissive, her husband will never leave. 

Husbands leave. Wives leave. No guarantees do we have about our marriage partner.

Guarantees we do have: As a believer I know God loves me and He will never leave me. Hebrews 13:5, Amplified: …for He (God) Himself has said, I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. [I will] not, [I will] not, [I will] not in any degree leave you helpless, nor forsake nor let [you] down, [relax My hold on you].–Assuredly not!  
MB
 

7 comments:

DT Boy said...

I agree that each one of is responsible for their own actions. I also believe that I will be held responsible for the situations I place my wife in. In other words, I should treat my wife in such a way that best allows her to become the kind of woman and wife God wants her to be.

I believe this to be true even outside of marriage. As a minister I am called to do all that I can help lead God's people in the direction He wants them to go. I think we see this kind of picture of duel responsibility in Ezekiel 3:18-21. Once again we should never use someone's else actions (or lack of) as an excuse to sin.

Rebel4Reality said...

DT, Thanks for your comments. You say, "I will be held responsible for the situations I place my wife in." Do you think that statement holds true for her also; i.e., the situations she might place you in? For each of us in all of our relationships? Or do you think that's uniquely for the husband to wife relationship?
Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Nice to meet you. MB

DT Boy said...

Nice to meet you Mrs. Burleson.

I actually think it applies to all of our relationships. I think the Ezekiel passage I mentioned speaks to this idea. We also see those in leadership positions being held accountable for the sins of the people under them.

In marriage though I think the level of accountability increases due to the unique relationship the husband and wife share.

Brett & Kelly Burleson said...

I love reading your posts. They really make me stop and think. Just wish I had more time these days to really take it all in. SOON.

Keep them coming. I read them every day!
KB

Rex Ray said...

Mary,
You did well on this post. This ‘wives submit business’ has gone too far as in the 1998 revision of the BFM.

Did the mother of Sampson ‘submit’ to her husband when he said they would die since they had seen God? No. She straighten him out with some facts. (Judges 13:23)

As you have pointed out that each person will be responsible for their actions before God.

This had better make Mrs. Patterson think when she said that she submitted to her husband even when he was wrong…that he would be responsible before God.

Submitting to someone if they’re morally wrong is not doing God’s will.

Debbie Kaufman said...

This is so good Mary. Of course I knew it would be. If more women would grasp this it would save a lot of heart ache and frustration. It's why looking to Christ alone for everything, including our joy, is essential.

Rex Ray said...

Mary,
What was the total curse God put upon man and woman for their sin of eating the tree of knowledge?

“…Your desire will be for your husband, yet he will dominate you.” (Genesis 3:16 Holman) “…and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (King James)

Many people, especially men, think this is a command of God to do his will. They rejoice that the wife will desire him and he is the boss. But in real life, it doesn’t work that way. It’s like the doctor telling the wife:

“I’ve examined your husband. He’s in such a fragile state he will die if he gets upset. So you must do everything he wants to prevent that.”
“What did the doctor say?”
“He said you’re going to die.”

It has been brought out on Wade’s blog the real meaning of Genesis 3:16. The word “desire” is the same as the “desire” that the devil wanted of Cain in Genesis 4:6:

“…sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Holman)
“…Sin is crouching at the door, eager to control you. But you must subdue it and be its master.” (New Living Translation)

“Eager to control you” is a clearer meaning of “desire” in this verse.

Likewise the NLT is clearer in Genesis 3:16: “…And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you.”

This is a curse that is only resolved by both husband and wife coming to God through believing in his Son as their Savior and Lord. They inter a ‘partnership’ where they both submit to each other.

“…submitting to one another in the fear of Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21 Holman)
“And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (NLT)

Of course, other scriptures by Paul may seem to contradict this submitting to one another. Some of his statements are more than hard to understand and I start to wonder is God talking or man talking? Such as:

1. “But she will be saved through childbearing, if she continues in faith, love, and holiness, with good sense.” (1 Timothy 2:15) vs. “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is God’s gift.” (Ephesians 2:8)

2. "The younger widows should not be on the list, because their physical desires will over-power their devotion to Christ and they will want to remarry. Then they would be guilty of breaking their previous pledge. And if they are on the list, they will learn to be lazy and will spend their time gossiping from house to house, meddling in other people’s business and talking about things they shouldn’t.” vs. “So I advise these younger widows to marry again, have children, and take care of their own homes…” (1 Timothy 5:11-14 NLT)

Paul said a widow had to be 60 etc. to get on the list to be helped by the church. We might ask Paul why would young widows, wanting to remarry, over-power their devotion to Christ, and what was their previous pledge. Paul seems to have a very low esteem of young widows.