Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Creative Counterpart - Executive Vice President

Today we tackle one of the most misunderstood principles in Christian marriage.


Now before you click on out of here, hear me out. Rather, hear out Linda Dillow. She covers the topic in a way that you may not have thought of before. In fact, this chapter revolutionized the way that I thought of submission and roles within the family.

There are a few different ways of looking at these roles. The first one would be that whoever is the most qualified should be the one handling the decisions. If the wife is the smarter, more confident person she may naturally move into the decision making role. The husband, though he may have heard that a husband is supposed to be head of the house, might turn the reins over to the wife as she seems to be doing a good job.

So that works for everyone, right? Well, until the husband starts resenting the wife. It may become a competition where they struggle for power, or even worse, where he tries to get the respect he lacks at home from other places - friends, hobbies, and even other women. And, unfortunately, it also can lead to problems for the wife, who may feel resentful of bearing the burden of running the family. She can lose all respect for her husband for not stepping up. She becomes tired and cranky because she is bearing a burden she isn't meant to bear.

Another way of looking at man/woman roles is thinking that submission means woman is merely a housekeeper. This woman believes that she is not to voice her opinion, not to grow as a person, but lives only to serve her man. She doesn't see her role as that of a creative counterpart, but rather becomes boring and unmotivated. She is unfulfilled as a wife and mother and so begins to complain and becomes contentious.

Here's a better alternative: Instead of competing with each other or complaining to each other, a man and a wife can complete each other. When each takes his or her role and not the other person's, both parties will grow and enjoy their life more.

What we are talking about here is a woman who has chosen to be submissive but who "strives to be capable, intelligent, industrious, organized, efficient, warm, tender, gracious."

Being a helpmate to your husband is not an indictment of inferiority or status, but merely a functional difference. We must not look at the act of being in submission to suggest that God considers us as women to be of lower stature. Christ Himself was in submission to God, and yet they are equal. He did not grasp at His rights, but allowed Himself to submit to the Father in order to accomplish God's will. If it isn't shameful for Christ to be submissive, why would it be for us?

Mrs. Dillow quotes a speech she heard from Henry Brandt which makes the function of each role easy to understand:

"The husband and wife are similar to the President and Executive Vice President of a bank. Both carry heavy responsibility, help make policies, and live in accord with and are limited by the policies. On occasion, when a meeting of the minds is impossible, the President must make the final decision. The husband is the head of the wife, but the relationship should involve loyalty, good will, confidence and deep understanding."

Now, let's be clear - "God never says that your husband has earned the right to be head or that he deserves it. He says that He, God, decided that this was the best plan and therefore asks you to honor the plan. God had many plans available to Him, and He chose this one."

Maybe you are smarter. Maybe you handle the money better. Perhaps he's made some mistakes. You may know your children better. That may all be very true, but God's plan for submission doesn't mean that your husband is somehow superior to you - just that God put in place a chain of command and, for His purposes the husband is at the top of the family flow chart.

Does this mean you sit back, keep quiet and never say a word? Not at all! Offer your opinions respectfully and then let it go. Let your husband make the decision and then live with the consequences. Yes, perhaps he'll make a few mistakes. Yes, it may be uncomfortable for you.

But God may be teaching your husband (and you!) something through any mistakes that are made. If you believe that God is ultimately sovereign, then you have nothing to fear. God will use the good and the bad to make you more like Him.

Submission is a beautiful concept, but one that has come to be considered almost a dirty word. It is still God's plan for the Christian wife, however. If this is something that you struggle with, ask God for His help and be willing to try.

Karen had some very interesting thoughts on this chapter as well, so be sure to go on over there to see what she had to say.


Mom To Six said...

I love this post! I try to remind myself daily the role that God wants me to play in both my marriage and as a mother. Sometimes, I admit, it's difficult, but knowing that in the end God will be glorified is all the reason I need to try and continue on this path.


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