Friday, May 02, 2008
A Wife's Role
Today over at Leslie’s place we’re discussing chapter 6 of The Excellent Wife, which talks about the wife’s role. I had a very hard time with this chapter. I’m just being honest. In fact, I went to my husband and my dad to ask them about the part that bothered me on this one. Also, true confession, I usually try to write my post first and then read Leslie’s and other people’s posts on the chapter. This time, I cheated and looked at what Leslie had to say first. Seems she was a little frustrated with this chapter, also, and you can read why on her blog.
Here’s my feeble attempt to blog about chapter 6. I agree with the basic, underlying premise that a wife is to submit to her husband in a biblical Christian marriage and that he is to be the head of the home and she is his helper suitable. I do understand, accept and want to model that in my marriage. Where I had trouble with this chapter was Peace’s discussion of the wife glorifying the husband as he glorifies God and the diagram that went with that discussion. I had to read ahead to the next chapter where she discusses Christ being the wife’s heart and the discussion of idols in the heart to reassure myself of where this was heading, so I think I get what is being said, and that it isn’t what I first thought.
Where I’m having a problem is the use of the word “glorify.” To me, that word has a very narrow and specific meaning, and it is to worship, bring honor and glory to. God will not share His glory with another. I am primarily accountable to Christ, as my Lord, King and Savior in how well I live out the role He has for me in my marriage to Drew. I think the husband and wife both should have as their motive to be to glorify Christ. I am not saying that Mrs. Peace is arguing for something different, but I have a hard time thinking that the arrow of glory goes toward my husband while not pointing to Christ, as the diagram showed. I think the arrow of glory should point to Christ for both husband and wife, and then it should be carefully explained what each person’s role is in giving Him glory within the context of marriage. Now, how we go about glorifying Christ is what we need to discuss. The husband is to love his wife sacrificially as Christ loves the Church. The wife is to submit to her husband as unto the Lord. In learning to live out that model, we both glorify Christ. We have different roles in fulfilling that ultimate goal, glorifying Christ, but that is to be both of our motivations. I think, bottom line, that this is actually what Mrs. Peace is saying in this discussion, especially after peeking ahead and skimming the next chapter, but, like Leslie, I would have liked a fuller explanation of what she meant here.
My dad made the interesting observation that the only command Paul seems to deduce from that passage in 1 Corinthians 11:7 is that men are to have their heads uncovered and women to have them covered when they pray and that men are to have short hair and women to have long hair. That, obviously wasn’t the point of the discussion in this chapter, and, as a little aside to stir up thought, I’ve never really heard a good discussion of this topic (head coverings) and why we don’t do it today, except to say that it was probably a cultural thing, and that may very well be. Not to get off on a rabbit trail, but I have wondered about it before. Spiritually speaking, my husband is my covering, as a wife, and it could fall under the category of women not exercising authority over men in the Church.
I have been doing some thinking about how well I practice this submission to my husband’s leadership and how well I understand what it might mean to obey him. That’s a hard thing. I like how Leslie pointed out that when we think this is hard we need to remember that as Christians, we are called to sacrificial lives. I really do want what is best for my husband, that, in essence, is what real love is – not thinking primarily about my own comfort and selfishness, but actively seeking his best. I realized today that I don’t do this very well. For example, we have a pile of clothes in the floor in our room that need to go to the dry cleaners. One outfit for me and when Drew saw my outfit there last week, he asked me if that was waiting to go to the cleaners. I told him it was and that I just hadn’t gotten there with it yet. He asked if I’d take some of his shirts and pants when I go. I said I would. It’s been a week and I still haven’t taken those clothes. Granted, I truly forgot to take them, I wasn’t willfully making him wait, but, still, the effect is that I still haven’t taken care of a very reasonable thing he asked me so nicely to do. When I walked past that pile this morning and remembered, again, that I really needed to get them to the cleaners, the thought struck me that, though Drew has not said another word about his clothes, it really isn’t right that I’ve let them sit so long. It is lazy and selfish of me not to just take them the next time I go out. So, they are now in the front seat of the car and I’ll drop them off when I go out this afternoon.
To sum up, I think a lot of this whole submission thing really could be covered by being courteous and taking to heart 1 Corinthians 13 and applying true biblical, selfless love and looking for specific ways to help my husband and looking beyond just what I want all the time and thinking purposely how to help him and how to minister to him. I think I do understand what Mrs. Peace is teaching, but I would have liked a better explanation in this chapter, I think. So, that’s where I am today as I continue to work out in my own understanding what it means to be a biblical, Christ-centered wife.