When I was little I had a tradition that every Sunday after church I’d challenge my brothers to wrestling match on our family room floor. I’d come up to them with my fist raised and say, “Put your punchers up!” I was not the brightest kid, because both of my brothers were bigger and older than me by 3 and 5 years. The match would often end with me running to my bedroom crying because I had gotten hurt. Only one of my brothers ever rose to my “punchers up” challenge. He was more physically aggressive and my other brothers was more verbally aggressive. I tell you what, I’d rather take a blow to the gut then to hear some of those hurtful words again. The “punchers up” tradition lasted from around age 8 to age 11. It stopped when I hit puberty. I think my brothers thought I was hiding two grenades under my shirt, and if they accidentally touched me we’d both be blown into smithereens. In order to avoid such a mishap they kept a 3-foot radius distance from me for the duration of my teen years.
In my premarital, young adult life. I remember hearing the verse, “Wives submit to your husbands…” (1 Peter 3:1) Did somebody say, “Put your punchers up!”? Because that’s what I heard. I thought to myself, “Forget that noise! I already have to listen to my parents, my bosses, my teachers, the government. I’m not about to willingly sign myself up to submit to yet another person, especially not some man!” I knew that if I did get married he better be stronger, smarter and worthy of my respect. Well, I ended up finding someone I deemed worthy of my respect. He seemed pretty easy going, so I wasn’t too worried about that submissive crap.
At the wedding rehearsal, the day before our wedding, the pastor was instructing me on what was going to happen after my dad walked me down the isle. “I’m going to ask, ‘Who gives this woman to be married?’ Then your parents will respond, ‘We do,'” instructed the pastor. “Oh no!” I said, “I’m not being given away.” I’m not a piece of property to be given to anybody. I’m not being traded for some cattle like they do in India. “Say, ‘Who presents this woman?” I’m being presented, like an announcer presents the big show. “It’s the same thing,” said the pastor. “No, it’s not.” I’m pretty sure I saw him roll his eyes, but he didn’t say anything else. It’s a good thing, because he would’ve just been wasting his breath.
This morning I went to the women’s Bible study at my church, lead by the pastor’s wife, Kristen Wisen. Can you guess what the topic was? That’s right. Submission. She read, “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands…” Put your punchers up! She made some interesting points and some of the following is from her and some is my original thoughts. You would have to listen to her lesson to decipher between the two.
First off, the Bible says to “submit to your own husband.” If somebody told me to submit and they weren’t my boss, government or pastor, I’d tell him to, “Go suck a toe!” …Yeah, that was my original thought, not Kristen’s. Secondly, the Bible specifies “husband” not “boyfriend.” If you have a boyfriend who is a selfish, control-freak I’d drop him like he’s hot! He has no authority over you and you don’t want to give it to him by marrying him.
I did notice that in each chapter of the Bible that commands wives to submit (Col 3:18, Eph 5:22, 1 Peter 3:3) , a few versus later (Col 3:19, Eph 5:25, 1 Peter 3:7) it commands husbands to love. 1 Peter says, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel…” Weaker? Wait. What!? I think I’m pretty strong. I had to consult the handy-dandy commentary in my purple Bible. It said, “Peter is probably thinking of the general truth that men are physically stronger than women and may be tempted to threaten their wives.” My husband usually wins when we have our knock-out, drag-down, tickling-torture matches, so I guess I can agree with that. Kristen said, “We are like fine china. We should be handled with care.” Well, I don’t know about being fine china, but I’m not indestructible plastic either. If you yell at me there’s a good chance I might cry.
In Eph 5:25 Husbands are called to, “…love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her,” and again in Col 3:16, husbands are to “love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.” The tricky part is that the Bible does not say that the wife doesn’t have to submit when the husband isn’t being loving. As the famous proverb goes, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.” If you have an overbearing husband, let me first say- I’m glad I’m not you! Oh sorry, not helpful? I dated a few jerks before I married my Prince Charming. In a way I’m thankful I dated those jerks, because it has given me a greater appreciation for having the wonderful man I have. I’m trying to make lemonade here! If you are not married to Prince Charming and he is verbally or physically abusive to you, call up your good friend Audrey, and I will come over with my frying pan, and I won’t be cooking anybody eggs! Don’t make me pull a Madea! But seriously, Kristen said there is a limit to the submission thing. She said go to the elders of the church, or if you’re in immediate danger call the police, or as Madea would say “the po-po.” I interned at a women’s shelter and I know how hard it can be to leave someone even if they are abusive. The woman may have no other financial security other than her husband, or she may have been told that she is worthless so often that she now believes she deserves the abuse, or just the fear of the unknown future. Get help.
So what is this submission thing supposed to look like? I’m still figuring that one out, but I do have a couple of personal examples. Curious? Well for starters, when I first told my husband I was thinking about starting a blog I expected him to say something like, “You totally should! It’d be a great creative outlet for you.” Instead, it was more like, “What are you going to write about? Nothing personal about our marriage, right?” I replied, “Well, nothing too embarrassing.” He was still hesitant so I told him that if I had a post that was questionable I’d have him proofread it first. He is definitely going to have to proofread this one!
Another example is when we first got married I figured I would have to cautiously approach the toilet in the middle of the night to make sure the toilet seat was down. Remember I grew up with two brothers? I fell in several times. But Steve was raised differently than I was. His momma trained him to not only put the toilet seat down but also the LID! This was completely foreign to me. My dad’s philosophy was, “If it’s yellow let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down.” I know right, gross! I never bought into that philosophy … Well, okay. I’m feeling guilty here. To be honest, when I was pregnant with my second child I had to pee 5x during the night. I didn’t want to wake everybody up, so I only flushed the 5th time. *sigh of relief* A weight has been lifted off me. Thank you Jesus! But seriously, even though my husband usually didn’t say anything, I could tell he was annoyed every time he saw that black hole staring back at him. God convicted me, of all things, a toilet lid!
Let’s face it, sometimes it’s nice not to have to make all of the decisions. Steve has to carry the burden of being the spiritual leader of the home. I love it when he initiates us to do a devotion together and when he initiates we pray together. I know this sounds cheesy, but my soul feels lighter when he does.
One of the examples of submission *cough*, *barf a little in my mouth* that Kristen gave was to let the man find the parking spot. After giving her husbands instructions on how to drive he sarcastically said, “I’m so glad you’re here. I’d probably be driving around in circles if it weren’t for you.” She also told him, “Don’t you know you’re not supposed to park next to a big, unmarked van? I could get abducted!” He wittily responded, “That’s what I was hoping for.” She says their love language is sarcasm. I’m sure Steve has felt that way all the times I told him, “Pull through! Pull through! That way you don’t have to reverse out of the parking spot.” I think this frustration generates from my own inability to reverse. I inherited it from my mother. I parked behind her once. That was a $3,400 mistake! Praise God, for full-cover insurance, or I’d have been driving a crushed pop-can-of-a-car for a while.
There was one big decision I knew Steve had to make the final say on. We were offered the position of being youth leaders at a small church nearby. It didn’t come with a salary, but it came with a really cute house in a great neighborhood. At the time we had a one-bedroom apartment in the ghetto, and we were expecting our first child. The pastor new we wanted that house something fierce and he held it over our noses like bacon to a starving dog. The position required that we would be at the church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday night, and Saturday night. Now I know I need Jesus, but that’s a lot of church! Steve was working a ton of overtime back then, so basically all of his free time would be at the church. We were honored to be offered the position, but neither of us were okay with not having any family time. We respected the pastor and his family greatly, and we certainly didn’t want to disappoint him, but God’s “peace that surpasses all understanding” didn’t surpass us like we had prayed. Steve made the final call, and after a one month trial period, he broke it off. It was terrible, like breaking up with a beloved boyfriend that you just weren’t meant for. We felt such relief afterwards, and I was so proud of Steve for stepping up.
I’m not sure how things will go down when there is a big family decision to be made and I disagree with my husband. Like what if he decides he wants to change professions and be a dairy farmer in Kentucky? I’d have to milk cows for a living, and I can’t even drink milk! Or what if he decided he wanted to be a Cage Fighter in New York? I’d have to nurse his wounds and pretend that his cauliflower ears didn’t freak me out. Or what if … okay, I’m done. But seriously, I’m sure God will help me submit. See! I used the word and I didn’t even put my punchers up. This is progress people!
*This messaged was approved by the hubby. He also, showed me how to add links :] **Also, yes, that is a picture of me when I was a wee little one 😉