These days it can be dangerous to talk about a husband leading his family and a wife submitting to that leadership. To modern ears it sounds patriarchal. Sexist. Arrogant. Fundamentalist. As if, somehow, the husband is superior to the wife and therefore gets to lead the wife. Saying that you believe in the different roles of a husband and a wife is sort of like saying you believe in slavery. People assume that only a tyrannical husband and a doormat wife would hold to such things.
These people have obviously not met my wife Jen.
Jen is very competent. She currently stays home with our two girls, Charis and Ella. Ella, who is 20 months old, is currently in a stage that I like to call “rampage mode”. She is constantly crying, grabbing, throwing, and saying, “No!” She is the cutest human tornado that I’ve ever met. In spite of having to constantly monitor our two girls, Jen also manages to keep our house clean, keep me out of the hobo clothes I would wear on my own, and prepare fantastic meals. She paints, decorates, and pays bills. I love Jen so much, and honestly can’t imagine how I would function without her.
In many ways Jen is more self-controlled than I am. She is more compassionate and thoughtful. She relates to people better than I do and figures out creative ways to serve people. She isn’t nearly as cynical or sarcastic as I am. And she looks better than I do. A lot better.
Trust me, I’m not superior to Jen. In fact, I would venture to say that in many, many ways, she is very superior to me.
I have a feeling that the husband of the Proverbs 31 woman felt the same way. That woman was an avalanche of productivity and skill. She worked with her hands, labored in the early morning, bought and planted land, made profitable merchandise, served the needy, clothed her household, spoke wisdom and kindness, and was praised by her children. When did this woman ever sleep?
Jen and I understand that God himself gives men and women different roles to fulfill. These roles are not based on any sort of innate abilities found within the husband or wife. They aren’t rooted in a patriarchal system that exalted men over women. They don’t place the woman in a servile role to the husband. Rather, they are God-ordained roles that bring him honor and glory.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior…Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…
Submission ain’t about superiority. Jen, and many other women in my church, are a testimony to that. Submission is about fulfilling God’s call for the glory of God.
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