So the Bible clearly says that women are to be submissive to men.
The verse that most often comes up when people (almost always men) are talking about the importance of submission (of women, to them) comes from 1 Peter, chapter 3.
“Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives.”
This verse has, at times, been taken so wildly out of context it’s just crazy. A week or so ago, I read a blog which referenced a man explaining that books like “50 Shades of Grey” come from a woman’s desire to be put in her proper place, under the total domination of a man. Women are, according to him, designed to be conquered, invaded, and dominated.
Uh… yeah. I have to respectfully (or not) disagree. Strongly!
The verse above is written in the middle of a fascinating and very encouraging letter. Peter was writing to 1st century Christians who had not grown up in the Jewish faith, as had Jesus and his disciples.
He speaks of how extraordinary it is to him that these people, who had never seen Jesus, believed with as much, or more, faith as the people who’d walked with him.
He goes on to encourage them to live in such a way that others will notice that there is something that sets them apart. He tells them to “be self-controlled… do not conform to the evil desires… be holy.” By living in such a way, they will be sharing the Good News of Jesus without ever needing to speak.
That’s a whole blog post in itself! How many Christians do you know who’s lives are so much different, so purely and honestly lived that, just by watching them, people are led to God? Sadly, I bet not many.
Peter then tells them that they should “Submit… for the Lord’s sake, to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, or to governors… for it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men. Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil…. Show proper respect to everyone.”
Just because you don’t like the ruler of the land, you are not given permission by God to be disrespectful. Hmmm…. Are all Christians currently showing the proper respect to the current ruler, whether they agree with all of his decisions or not? Again… a whole other can of worms.
So the context is that we all have our place in life.
Everyone has someone “over” them.
The slave has a master, the worker has his employer, the governor is sent by the king and the king must answer to God.
“In the same way…”
wives are to be submissive to their husbands.
This does NOT say that women are to be submissive to men.
Wives are to be submissive to their husbands.
Just as the employer and his worker have entered into a partnership, so have the wife and her husband.
Someone has to be the head.
Here in the USA, we live in a republic… no taxation without representation and all that, right?
But there are still ranking government officials, police officers, employers, teachers and others that we must submit to.
Well, because someone has to be in charge. If no one is in charge, there are times when nothing will get done. Someone has to make “the final call” sometimes. And sometimes, there just isn’t agreement. When that happens, those of us who are in the submissive position have to deal with the decisions made by those in charge.
What if everyone who didn’t like the tax laws just stopped submitting to them?
We’d have no roads, no schools, no fire fighters, no clean water…. It would be chaos. Someone “at the top” has to decide what’s truly important and make it happen and the rest of us need to deal with it. Is it OK to respectfully disagree? To ask for change? To voice our opinions? Absolutely. But, in the end, we must submit to the final decisions of our leaders.
But wait! There’s more!
After Peter tells the wives to be submissive he gives the husbands an extraordinary mission.
“Husbands in the same way (there’s that statement again) be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”
Husbands are not told to “rule and dominate, conquer and invade” their wives! Quite the opposite!
Husbands should be considerate.
Husbands should treat their wives with respect.
An interesting note, the word, “weaker” is a pretty literal translation. And I think that’s valid. There are exceptions, I know. But, as a rule, women are physically smaller, slower and weaker than men.
The word, “respect” could also be translated, “with great honor.” “Value.” “Nobility.” “An item of great cost.”
Have you ever seen a professional in a museum handle a piece of art? It is delicate, fragile, and priceless and it is ONLY handled with the greatest of love and care.
THAT is how husbands are told to treat their wives.
FURTHER, husbands and wives are made equals in receiving the gifts of God.
God loves them both. God has given them BOTH showers of blessings. Including the blessing of a life together.
What happens if a husband doesn’t do this?
Well, the indication is that if the husband turns a deaf ear to his wife, likewise God will turn a deaf ear to him.
Can you guess what Peter says next?
“Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another. Be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.”
This is not an instruction for women to lie down and act as door mats. This is a guideline for harmony.
Wives, submit to your husband as the head of your household.
Husbands, be a respectful and considerate head of the house.
God desires only for us to live in peace and love.
Why would any of us NOT want that?
We should, each of us, in our place (husband, wife, mother, child, ruler, employer, servant), be ALWAYS an example of God’s love and peace.
We should shine, in our places, and be content.
In that way, those around us will come to do the same and can you imagine how beautiful the world will be then?
If Thou Indeed Derive Thy Light From Heaven
by William Wordsworth
If thou indeed derive thy light from Heaven,
Then, to the measure of that heaven-born light,
Shine, Poet! in thy place, and be content: —
The stars pre-eminent in magnitude,
And they that from the zenith dart their beams,
(Visible though they be to half the earth,
Though half a sphere be conscious of their brightness)
Are yet of no diviner origin,
No purer essence, than the one that burns,
Like an untended watch-fire on the ridge
Of some dark mountain; or than those which seem
Humbly to hang, like twinkling winter lamps,
Among the branches of the leafless trees.
All are the undying offspring of one Sire:
Then, to the measure of the light vouchsafed,
Shine, Poet! in thy place, and be content.