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:
Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I’m absolutely not a feminist. I reject egalitarian marriage as well as egalitarian church leadership. The Lord gave men positions of authority in family and church. No Christian should argue against that fact.
That said, I’ve recently begun reading about the Patriarchy Movement, and so far I don’t like what I see.
From what I understand, patriarchy stems from the conviction that feminism has hurt our culture. To a large extent, I would agree with that premise. It would be better if mothers stayed at home and homeschooled their children while their husbands worked outside the home.
But patriarchy doesn’t seem to allow for any variation to that model. Drawing from Titus 2:5, they insist that women not work outside the home. Some I’ve read have gone so far as to teach that girls should not go to college, but should instead concentrate on learning domestic arts in preparation for marriage.
John wore his new black suit, and I wore a wedding gown that a friend had generously given me. Both of us had waited decades for this day, often despairing that marriage would pass us by. In less than two weeks, John would turn 53, and my 49th birthday would follow a few weeks after that.
So yes, we endured years of attending weddings. We rejoiced with friends and relatives as they took their vows, always wondering when — if — our turn would ever come. We agonized in prayer, wanting to accept singleness if that was God’s will, even as we begged Him to send us someone “to have and to hold.”
I chose Great Is Thy Faithfulness as one of the songs for our wedding because the Lord so faithfully brought us together and made marriage possible for two people who had been severely physically disabled since childhood. As we sang that hymn, I reflected on God’s goodness in bringing us to that church.
God may not answer all your prayers the way you want Him to. Last I checked, I neither have a puppy nor an apartment in downtown Boston. God’s faithfulness to you may look a great deal different than His faithfulness to me and John. But in whatever way best suits His purposes for you. He doesn’t play favorites. Great is His faithfulness to you, just as it has been great to me.
Originally posted on February 6, 2016, and appropriate for Valentine’s Day.
Each morning, he’d be there promptly at 7:30 to feed his wife. I never really saw her, though I lived at that nursing home for two years, but I knew she was in a “vegetative” state. If she knew he was there, she had no way of showing recognition, so it obviously follows that she couldn’t express appreciation, let alone affection or companionship. He’d feed her, change her Depends, and leave carrying a bag with her soiled diaper. Then he’d return each evening, shortly after 5:00, to feed her supper. Again, he’d leave with a bag.
He was good-looking, probably in his mid-sixties. He could have had an active social life….if he’d chosen to divorce his wife. Instead he’d come to the nursing home seven days a week, always cheerfully, and sometimes with goodies for Read More »
It seemed, to my ten-year-old mind, very reasonable. As I gazed longingly at the cheerful array of packages, all wrapped in decorative red and green paper, I wondered what treasures awaited me. I wasn’t quite sure Mommy had been altogether justified in commanding me to wait. And, after all, it was Christmas Eve, so what difference would it really make if I opened my presents early? I mean, they really were addressed to me!
So, I scooted over to the Christmas tree, and found a present addressed to me from one of the high school girls that volunteered at the school for “orthopedically handicapped” children that I attended. It was a flat package, leading me to conclude that it as a more grown-up gift. The prospect of a grown-up gift reinforced the idea that I was old enough to determine when to open Christmas gifts!