Walt Disney and Looney Toons popularized the idea of pigs as cute and lovable critters. But Jews of ancient Israel despised them as one of the species that Yahweh declared to be unclean (Leviticus 11:7). Therefore, you can imagine their shock and horror at this proverb of Solomon’s:
As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout So is a beautiful woman who lacks discretion. ~~Proverbs 11:22 (NASB95)
As you can see, Solomon contrasts lovely things with things which completely ruin their beauty. Golden rings, even today, are precious and highly valued, so naturally Jews would deem them as incongruous with the noses of filthy swine. If the image repulses 21st Century Gentiles, surely it would have repulsed Solomon’s original audience. And consequently they would have seen his point even more vividly than we do. Plainly, a lack of discretion destroys any beauty in a woman.
The word “discretion” generally denotes a sense of modesty and appropriate behavior. Scripture teaches that Christian women should cultivate those qualities. For example, take a moment to look at 1 Timothy 2:9-11 and1 Peter 3:1-6. It’s interesting that both passages indicate a relationship between how women ought to dress and how we ought to act.
A romantic proposal and a sparkling diamond ring have a way of filling the mind with thoughts of a long white gown and a church full of flowers. Most girls dream of their wedding day, usually taking mental notes as they attend weddings of friends and family members. Once they say yes, they have a thousand things to plan and organize. Her day to be a fairytale princess is finally arriving, and she has so many details to work out to make her special day perfect.
Weddings indeed should be beautiful. Throughout the following years, couples should look back on their wedding days and remember both their vows of commitment to each other and the joy they experienced as they looked into each other’s eyes and promised to love, honor and cherish as long as they both shall live. In the weeks leading up to her death, John’s mom repeatedly showed me her wedding album, wistfully recounting her happiness. John and I watch our wedding video each year on our anniversary to laugh about his struggle to lift my veil, to relive the intense romantic feelings and to recall the promises we made before the Lord. Certainly, weddings must be such special events that we never forget their wonder.
Sadly, many women invest so much thought and energy into weddings that they neglect to prepare for marriage. Oh, they attend the required premarital counseling sessions with their pastors. Usually. But they don’t always really pay as much attention to those sessions as they pay to the wedding coordinator. After all, the Lord has brought them the perfect guy. What could go wrong? Better to focus on orchestrating the perfect wedding…right?
Sorry for another Flashback Friday, but my week has been crazy. Too much has been going on, leaving me unable to write a full article. I found the following blog post, which I wrote on May 15, 2019, and thought you’d enjoy reading it again:
The early years of my relationship with John overflowed with euphoria. I can remember sitting at my computer and feeling thrilled when an instant message from him popped up on my screen. The first time I visited, we couldn’t keep our eyes off each other.
The day after our wedding, we sang, “Oh What A Beautiful Morning” to each other. We were giddy! People told me that the butterflies would eventually subside. Intellectually, I knew they were right, but my emotions told me a much different story. I simply couldn’t imagine looking at John without feeling butterflies.
I’m not sure when the butterflies flew away. One day I just realized that they had given way to a much more satisfying love. This new love satisfies me even more, for it roots itself in commitment to John and to the Lord.
Loving a husband definitely includes romantic feelings, but we do ourselves a terrible disservice if we limit our understanding of love to butterflies and fireworks. As fun as those things are, they lack the splendid depth of mature married love.
Butterflies don’t stick around when the finances force your husband to cut back on meals out. They flutter away when he can’t stop coughing, and they shy away from his hospital room after cancer surgery. His annoying habits put butterflies to flight — or at least turn them into dull brown moths.
Let’s begin by affirming the Scriptural model that a wife must submit to her husband unless he demands that she disobey God’s Word.
22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything. ~~Ephesians 5:22-24 (NASB95)
Paul leaves no wiggle room for any Christian wife to rebel against her husband, and I don’t want anyone to misconstrue this article as a subtle encouragement toward feminism. Indeed, I pray people will come away from this article with a deeper conviction of a husband’s authority over his wife as well as how sinful it is to interfere with his authority. I have discussed what I’m about to write with my husband, and we completely agree on the perspective I wish to present.
For almost a year, I’ve seen discussions on Twitter promoting an extreme version of patriarchy. Now, patriarchy in and of itself simply means male leadership in the home, the church and society. Society, however, no longer operates on Christian principles, so we really shouldn’t expect non-Christians to adhere to patriarchy. By and large, therefore, wisdom dictates that we limit our conversation to male leadership within Christian marriage and church structure.
Lately, advocates of extreme patriarchy have been tweeting their belief that, if women vote at all, we must vote exactly as our husbands vote. They reason that, because the man is the head of the household, the wife must follow his political convictions in order to preserve family unity. And I see some merit in their argument.
Yet I seriously question whether or not they take the command to submit beyond the boundaries of Scripture. Does the Bible prohibit wives from having convictions that differ from those of their husbands? More importantly, does Scripture allow strangers on social media to impose their views about a couple’s voting decisions on Christians at large?
Leslie A has a wonderful talent for turning my brain into a five lane highway. Often, she’ll accomplish this feat by writing something that exposes a subtle sin in my life — like my television viewing choices. In those instances, I’ll initially try to ignore her points until the Holy Spirit forces me to see that He’s used her to work on my sanctification. Over the years, I’ve grown to love her blog precisely because the Lord uses it to challenge me to live in holiness.
Last week, however, the five lane highway Leslie put me on had little to do with sin on my part and everything to do with a topic I have been wrestling with since last September. Her blog post this week didn’t address the topic at all, and in fact my application of it hadn’t occurred to her. Leslie wrote A Warning (and a bit of encouragement, too!) as a response to the overall disintegration of our world. And she certainly hit the nail on the head all the way through her article!
As she wrote about the Hegelian Dialectic, lightbulbs started flashing in my head, sending me racing down all five highway lanes at once. To explain my mental traffic, let me offer a brief definition of the Hegelian Dialectic:
The Hegelian dialectic is the framework for guiding our thoughts and actions into conflicts that lead us to a predetermined solution.
The Hegelian Dialectic will pit parties into extreme, polarizing positions on a given topic until a third party can help them arrive at some sort of consensus that said third party wanted from the beginning. Essentially, it manipulates the opposing parties into seeing their mediator as a final authority. Once consensus has been achieved, dissent is not allowed.
Upon reading Leslie’s explanation of the Hegelian Dialectic, I began driving down the highway on which feminism and extreme patriarchy currently drag race.
As a single woman, I loved Paul’s instructions to husbands.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are parts of His body. ~~Ephesians 5:25-30 (NASB)
I dreamed of marrying a Prince Charming who would devote himself to me, laying aside his wants and needs in order to make me happy. I looked at Ephesians 5:25-30 and envisioned a husband who served me so lavishly that my submission to him would be effortless. In fact, I’d heard a few sermons and Bible Studies on marriage that promised as much. And I couldn’t wait for a Christian husband to love me as Christ loved the church!
By the time John proposed, I was 47, so I’d developed more realistic expectations of marriage. To my surprise, John took Ephesians 5:25 extremely seriously. Even now, as our 19th wedding anniversary is less than three months away, he recites that verse as if it was his singular mission in life. And I praise God for blessing me with a man who loves me so deeply,
But the Lord has convicted me of abusing John’s love. Even worse, He’s convicted me of twisting His command to husbands. In these convictions, I suspect that other wives also misconstrue God’s instructions to husbands in selfish ways.
At our wedding, we had a friend read the apostle Paul’s instructions to husbands and wives:
22 Wives, subject yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are parts of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, as for you individually, each husband is to love his own wife the same as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. ~~Ephesians 5:22-33 (NASB)
The instructions to husbands always seemed straightforward and easy to understand, but I struggled with verse 24. Sure, I got that the Lord commands me to submit to John. But why did He give the Church as a model? From what I could see, the visible church has been bedraggled and rebellious throughout church history, beginning with the congregations in Corinth and Galatia. Certainly, the visible church in the 21st Century exhibits precious little obedience to Christ, preferring to acquiesce to worldliness!
So how can I pattern submission to my husband after the visible church?
John is grIaciously typing this blog post as I dictate to him from bed. Because I cannot type this entry myself, I will not include Scripture quotes or references — doing so would be difficult to teach John. Please don’t interpret this absence of Scripture as an abandonment of God’s Word.
Many nights I lay in bed half praying and half thinking. As someone who struggles with insomnia, I spend many hours in this lovely state of vacillation — and usually it pleases me. Throughout the years, my thoughts have covered a wide variety of topics ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, and often the ridiculous wins out.,
In recent weeks, my nighttime meditations have been a little sublime as I pray for the man sleeping next to me. Usually I begin by thanking the Lord that I am married at all. That gratitude morphs into a time of reflecting on the kind of husband that John is, provoking even greater gratitude.
Bible believing Christians should all agree that a wife’s first and overriding responsibility must be to her home and family. Paul’s words to Titus make this point abundantly clear.
Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good, 4 so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored. ~~Titus 2:3-5 (NASB)
A Christian wife and mother must subject her personal desires and aspirations to the needs of her husband and children. And yes, ladies, that self-sacrifice includes homeschooling children. At least during child-rearing years (and when circumstances allow), a mother should set her career aside in favor of her children.
As we look at the business ventures of the Proverbs 31 woman, therefore, let’s keep in mind that neither I nor the writer of that section of Proverbs would advocate for a woman to seek a career at the expense of her family.
As demonstrated in my last blog post, I question some of the tenets of the Patriarchy Movement. Sadly, in this era of polarization, the assumption is that so much as questioning patriarchy means an embrace of feminism.
I think that’s a false dichotomy.
My husband will be the first to tell you that I’m far from being a feminist. True, I struggle to submit to him as well as I should. But even in confessing my struggles in submission, I agree with Scripture that my responsibility as a wife is to submit to John’s authority as my husband.
At our wedding, we chose Ephesians 5:22-33 as our Scripture reading: