Monday, December 12, 2011

Submission (Part 1)

For a while now, I've been working on a joint blog post with another blogger, Kate of Teaching What is Good. I knew we had different views on this subject, so I thought a conversation would be interesting. For a couple months (interrupted by "real life" on both ends) we corresponded by email, discussing this. What follows is our post. We did not have an outline or plan, just an honest discussion.

Recently, our local newspaper ran a story about submission. Specifically, wives submitting to their husbands. I know this isn't a new idea, but has literally been around for centuries. It's also not an extinct idea, either. I don't agree with this idea, but I really wanted to explore it with someone who does.
Personally, the thought of "submitting" makes my skin crawl. Don't get me wrong - I love my husband very much. I would not have married him if I didn't! I also respect my husband. BUT I don't think that just because he's the man that he has control over me. I see our marriage as a partnership - we make decisions together, having equal input. There are times where I leave the decision up to him if it's something I don't understand, and likewise there are decisions he defers to me. He doesn't tell me what to do, and I don't tell him what to do, either.

Kate: I love dialogue and am very excited to be discussing this topic with Christine. Submission is such a hot topic, and one that, about 32 years ago, gave me the same reaction as it does Christine!

I'd like to start out saying that I COMPLETELY agree with Christine that marriage is a partnership. I believe that we should work as hard as we can to come to unity on decisions before they are made. And I absolutely agree that there will be times when we may disagree and one of us will defer to the other's preference.

So what am I even writing about? I'm writing about the times when we can't come to agreement and the decision is important enough that neither one of us want to defer to the other. We are CONVINCED our way is the right way. What do we do? Maybe you haven't ever gotten to that point in your marriage - and that's great! I had a friend once who said, "For years I always thought I was very submissive until we clashed on something. Then I realized it was only that we were always in agreement!"

For me, the heart of submission comes down to who has the final say when a point of unity cannot be reached and no one wants to defer to the other. And I believe that the final decision rests with the husband. Not because he is better or smarter than I am. Just because that is his responsibility.

Ok, I understand deferring to one another when that other person knows more about the subject, or if one just isn't interested as much. That sounds cold, but we all have things that come up in everyday life that matters to one but not the other. Where to get a part for a vehicle? I don't have a clue which business is better. I do stay away from one chain in particular, but that is based on how they treated me when I was there as a woman by myself, as opposed to when my husband went in with me. As long as we don't buy anything there, I don't care where he gets it. When we were making Sophie's nursery, he left the colors and design up to me.
But what about when it's something important, and you as an intelligent, educated woman just cannot let yourself give in about? Is it right or fair to expect the wife to do that? And what about politics? My husband and I have vastly different views there. If we discussed politics, am I supposed to ignore my own feelings and vote how he prefers? And religion? We were raised in different denominations. It wasn't a problem at first, but once we were going to that church every week and I got to know more about it, the more miserable I became, to the point where we stopped going to church because I hated it so badly. After a couple years of not going at all, my grandmother died and I could see the comfort and support my parents got from their church family, the one I grew up with. I began going to church again with Emma, and now Sophie. We love our church family, and I honestly don't know what we would have done without them when Sophie was hospitilized after she was born. Am I supposed to give all that up because my husband doesn't believe the same way?
Christine, those are CRITICAL issues to discuss and I'm so glad you brought them up. This is absolutely where the rubber meets the road in the question of submission. In an issue I don't care or don't know about, submission is EASY (because it is really just deference to my husband). But with an issue that is very important to me - this is when a deeper exploration of submission is very helpful.
In your first example, I do NOT believe that we have to submit to our husbands in regards to our personal conscience. By that I mean submission does not require me to believe what my husband believes. The government, which is also an authority in my life, gives us all ONE vote. It doesn't give husbands 2 and wives 0. I am called, as a citizen, to vote MY conscience and no one else's. This is a liberty given to me and I do not see anything in the bible that requires me to violate my governing authorities on this matter.
Also, I believe that any husband who tries to DEMAND that his wife to vote HIS conscience does not understand what the bible requires of him as a godly loving and nurturing husband.
When it comes to churches, I think part of a husband’s responsibility is to help his family SOLVE conflicts. If a wife really despises the church they attend, they need to have deep and immediate communication on this issue. They need to discuss what they each consider to be their “non-negotiables” when it comes to a church. I feel very strongly that this is a decision that must be reached TOGETHER and that every opportunity for dialogue must be explored.
If either spouse comes to this discussion with a set and implacable mindset, they have just cut off the opportunity to come to a point of unity and have determined to do damage to the marriage. It may take a long time and much compromise on non-negotiable issues between them, but I feel strongly that going to the same church is the best and healthiest choice for a family. Spiritual unity is also a very important aspect of a healthy marriage.
But here is the key. IF for some reason we are not able to come to a point of unity, I believe that if I submit to my husband’s desire and attend the church HE chooses (knowing my dissatisfaction with it), I can still do so WITH JOY because God gives me the grace to do it. And I pray, and I do NOT take this prayer lightly! I completely surrender this to God in prayer and ask that HE work in both of us to such a degree that we WILL become united on this – either for my heart or my husband’s heart to change.
Eph 5:22 “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.”
I love this verse! It tells me that when I submit to my husband, it is actually the Lord that I am submitting to. It is this knowledge, that I am obeying and honoring God when I submit to my husband, which allows me to do so (when a final decision MUST be made) with joy.

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