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Picked up my C.S. Lewis collection last night (finally).

Started with “The Screwtape Letters” last night, which are the (fictional of course) letters sent by an uncle, a “senior” demon, giving advice to his nephew – also a demon – on procuring a mans soul away from “the Enemy”,and am already about half way through.

“Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing.  Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity he is ours – and the more ‘religious’ (on those terms) the more securely ours.  I could show you pretty cageful down here…”

I could expand on why this particular passage struck me as special at this point and time, but just go turn on the news, go to any dot com news site and see what “meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes and crusades” are taking up the majority of our time and I’ll show you a good number of people who aren’t focusing on the later part of that statement.

Screwtape would be proud.

My last thought on this verse comes from wondering if we haven’t been focusing too much on actions the word “submit” brings to mind.  Especially in a modern type of thought we see this passage in all the, what I will call, the wrong ways it is used.  We see this verse used to control a woman’s actions and decisions from the extent of her education to her type of dress.

As I stated in my previous post I’ve stated my belief that I now see this passage more as a cry for respect, involvement and self-sacrifice.  I would also like to suggest that this passage is also about devotion and for that I choose this particular interpretation of the text.

“Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as to the Lord.”

The addition of the word “yourselves” adds a whole new dimension to the phrase.  If you choose a religious life you are called to do so by being devoted to that religion.  In the Old Testament, Joshua 21:43 it says “to love the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to obey his commands, to hold fast to him and to serve him with all of your heart and all your soul.”

Devotion, by definition, is an “Ardent, often selfless affection and dedication, as to a person or principle.”  If our marriages are supposed to reflect our love of God, than shouldn’t they mirror it in devotion?  If we don’t go into marriage to serve our husbands and wives (remember the next verse says for men to do likewise) with “all of your heart and all of your soul” i.e. submitting “yourselves” then what does that say about your devotion to God?

We are taught from childhood to put all our faith and trust in God.  We are to listen to what He wants and make decisions for our lives from that, even if it means not always getting what we want.  I’m sure many of us can think of a few examples of people getting married for the wrong reasons or with the wrong ideas.  People who think I can still act the same and do all of the same things that I could do before marriage.  I can be married and still be completely independent.  The only thing that is important to me is me and it will stay like that.”  Though we might not know too many people who would say this out-loud, actions often speak louder than words and we see those who don’t want to give up certain aspect of a “single” lifestyle or make career and financial decisions without consulting their partners.

I’m here to say it is not like that.  When you devote yourself to being married, just as when you devote yourself in your religion, you should be saying “I’m ready to give up a little bit of myself.  I am ready to stop the world from revolving around me.  I am ready to make choices based on what is good for us, not just me.  I am ready, even, to change if it is necessary.”

To submit yourselves, to be willing to give yourselves to all the major relationships in your life should be an act of devotion – an “ardent, often selfless affection and dedication, to a person or principle.”

Okay to start off, I’m taking a bit of a risk with this post.  Normally I try to keep religious and political opinions to a minimum, but Elizabeth posted an interesting post this morning of a religious nature, and I’ve had something rattling around in my head of a similar nature that I want to get out.  So here goes my first official religious type post.   As a disclaimer I’d just like to put out there that I’m a Christian, currently trying to find out where she fits in, so any posts on this subject will be Christian in nature.  But I’m not out to try and convert anyone; religion has always been an interesting subject to me and study has always been encouraged in my family.  As my husband says, we attempt not to be blind sheep; when we say we believe X, Y and Z we understand why we believe X, Y and Z.

Okay so here it goes.

So when I got married I wasn’t going through a huge actively religious time in my life, but I dutifully got out my Bible and read some passages.  You know the typical ones like Corinthians and some of that Genesis stuff, but there was one passage that always rubbed me the wrong way and that was good ol’ Ephesians 5:22, you probably know the one even if you don’t read the Bible.  The infamous “Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord.”  It was enough to make my hackles stand on end, if I had hackles that is.

And I thought here’s this one little sentence that’s going to ruin my life.  I have to submit to Ben for everything?  I mean seriously everything?  It’s a little vague, does it just mean about home things and raising children or do I need to get his okay on how I look when I go out of the house and what I say, watch, read?  Excuse me while I run for the door.  I’m not going to let one person have that much control over me; I’m a modern, educated, experienced young woman gosh darn it!

Needless to say I still got married, but I didn’t use this passage as a reading during the ceremony.

This has long been a passage used by many to insist that men get to be dominant and women only submissive little housewives with no opinions of their own and no minds of their own.  In fact, though I can’t currently source it, I believe I remember reading that it was once used as justification against womens suffrage.

There are a few basic was this passage has been translated

1.  Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord.

2.  Wives, yield to your husbands, as you do to the Lord.

3.  Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.

4.  Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord.

In general most of the translations are fairly similar so we must look at the definition of the word “submit”.  A quick punch into dictionary.com gives us this:

Submit

1.  to give over or yield to the power or authority of another (often used reflexively).

2.  to subject to some kind of treatment or influence.

3.  to present for the approval, consideration, or decision of another or others: to submit a plan; to submit an application.

4.  to state or urge with deference; suggest or propose (usually fol. by a clause): I submit that full proof should be required.

So we’ve all seen this passage defined by those top two definitions, but in my mind defining this word in this instances with those two definition justs fuels the the fire for those who’d use this passage for their own gain.  So I suggest using definition#3.

Even taking out the word submit and putting in the definition makes the passage so much more assessable  “Women present for the approval, consideration or approval of your husbands as you do to the Lord.”  Wow, now I feel all warm and fuzzy inside!  I can do that without loosing my modern sensibilities no problem!

So what I do I see this passage asking me to do?

Show Some Respect, Be Equally Involved and Realize It’s Not All About You.

I believe it is encouraging women and men (don’t forget the next passages tells men to do the same and is often overlooked!) to give their marriages and their spouses the same amount of respect they’d give God.  This I got no problem as I see marriage as having three partners; husband, wife and God all equally involved and respected.

I believe it is encouraging husband and wife to be equally involved.  There is no one person who gets more say than the other.  You’ve got to check with the other when you’re making decisions.  Even if we go with the traditional outline of marriage i.e. man as breadwinner and woman as runner of the home we see how this works.  The breadwinner wouldn’t up and leave his job without consulting his wife just as the homemaker wouldn’t order a refurbished kitchen without checking with her husband.  It’s all about the balance and balance helps keep peace.

I believe it is encouraging both to realize “It’s not all about you.”  Yep, guess what, no matter which religion if any you belong to most likely you’re going to realize that marriage is a serious point in your life when it becomes about two people not just about one.  You need to make decisions that not only affect you, but other people now and guess what?  You’re not always going to have the right answer and we can see this from anything on choosing how to combine your furniture, to picking out dinner, to figuring out how to raise kids.  It’s a partnership and partnerships are all about the give and take.

So in brief, just as most of us wouldn’t make a big decision without prayer and consideration, this passage is encouraging husbands and wives to treat their decisions with that same kind of thoughtfulness and consideration.  Just as when we pray about something we feel we want and then receive a sign that it’s not a good decision, we both must be willing to act the same with in a marriage.  Sometimes he’s going to know what’s best., sometimes she is and sometimes neither is going to know what’s best and both should listen to the third partner in their marriage.  However, each must be willing to do and accept the outcome with humility and love.

So now with all my modern thoughts and opinions do I consider myself a submissive wife to my husband, I might loose my feminist card for saying so, but yes I do.  Just as I believe my husband is a submissive husband to me and that we are both submissive to something greater.

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