I once dated a self-proclaimed feminist. But one day she surprised me when she said she also thinks submission to a husband is absolutely essential. I just looked at her, confused, probably with a really dumb look on my face.
It turned out she wasn’t being duplicitous. In fact, as I got to know her, I began to see her as one of the wisest and most well-thought-out people I know.
Basically, she got me thinking that the common error lies in letting marriage become a power play to get what we each want. She thought that when it is done right, God uses this particular dynamic in marriage to show us something about the nature of the love between Him and His people. And He wants it done that way in marriage because it is something we wouldn’t otherwise see to demonstrate God’s nature. The physically stronger sacrificially caring for one with beauty worth dying for (the beauty of the whole person, not just physical). Therefore, I think she would say, submission to a husband was made to show something beautiful and had very little to do with injustice to women. In fact the way he set it up it seems a little bit less fair for the men, (unless they abuse it).
Without the power, the beauty could not be protected. Without the beauty the power has nothing worth protecting. I think she would say, both are a unique and beautiful way of loving, which reflects the divine model, that wouldn’t be as well demonstrated if both roles were the same.
And maybe in some areas the roles are flip flopped.
I’ve never been married and I’d probably suck at it because I’m resistant to setting myself aside to serve someone else, but I’m guessing in marriage there are a lot of blurred lines. I’m a pretty tender-hearted man, and I’ve dated some amazingly strong women. And I’m guessing in those cases we borrow parts of each role from each other to make it work. Maybe your wife makes the decisions in the area of money because she’s stronger in that. Or maybe your husband makes decisions in the area of child raising, because he has a better instinct in that. And they lead sacrificially in each of those roles. The part that matters is that we do our role at our own expense to better love the other. But the idea is that ‘power over’ and ‘submission under’ are not bad because they are meant to show different kinds of trust and sacrifice for the other.
And it seems even the physical interaction between man and women is a cool symbol of God’s interaction with us. In the most intimate moments of loving, God puts something inside of us that births new life in us.
But like all of God’s fascinatingly unique systems in creation, the system is easily turned bad by selfish mankind. Instead of living into it, we flawed men have abused our power and brave women have resisted submitting so they could stand up against that injustice. And I’m guessing that’s why feminism has generally had a beef with Biblical marriage; we’ve abused the power and given God a bad name.
I don’t think God uses his power to abuse us for his own gain, like we sometimes do to each other. He uses his power to show his love for us, and He was killed for it so that we will be able to trust new areas of our hearts to him. He has made a beauty and a love worth fighting for, and it is us.
Raw Spoon, 4-12-15