This past week, when Candace Cameron-Bure's book, "Balancing It all," came out, her statement about "choosing a submissive role" in her marriage, met with some very loud public criticism from those who would criticize her for ignoring the advances of feminism.
To some, "submission" is the dirtiest of dirty words and represents some sort of marital prison, in which women are not allowed to think for themselves and spend their lives attached to hot ovens, wearing high heels, perfect make-up, and pearls, and have to beg their husbands for permission to have an independent thought, a bath, or a bowel movement.
To be clear, if that's what the word submission meant to me, i wouldn't like it either, but this isn't the Dog Whisperer. We're not dogs being taught to remain calm submissive so that we can eat our kibble without fighting; and we're not talking about a culture in which submission means having the pleasure of following your man around 24/7, just far enough behind keep your dress available for cleaning his behind when he does his daily.
What Cameron Bure and other women who have written in recent years, about happy marriages that involve submitting to their husbands (unless there's something untoward happening that we are unaware of) are not talking about Lucille Ball, Caesar Milan, or well, you know... They're talking about the Bible. And before anyone makes any assumptions, let's just look at what the Bible says about marital submission.
The most controversial scripture on marital relationships, that i am aware of, is found in Ephesians 5:22-33. You can look it up and read the whole thing if you like, but let me sum up by telling you what it entails.
1. It starts off with one short and horribly inflammatory sentence, telling wives to submit to their husbands.
2. The next two sentences very briefly explain the comparison of marriage to the spiritual relationship between Jesus and His bride church (a concept i will not attempt to explain here), and then the passage launches into a daunting directive concerning the imperative for husbands to care for their wives as well as they do their own bodies and to love them the same way that Jesus loves the church enough to die for it.
No big deal husbands, just love your wife like Jesus. Sure.
3. Finally, the writer explains that he is making a lot of mysterious comparisons between marriage and Jesus and then sums up for clarity, (my paraphrase), "all the husbands need to love the wives LIKE JESUS (no biggie), and the wives should respect their husbands."
Is that really so hard?
I'm not a scholar or anything, but i really think that husband's got the rougher end of this deal. I mean Jesus IS love! Who can come close to that?!
Just in case the "s" word still really gets your goat, please take notice that the verse right before this passage (Ephesians 5:21) instructs all believers to "submit" to each other. This involves cooperation, not slavery.
See, the thing that feminists - well, lots and lots of people -- have tragically missed, is the amazing power that God placed in a woman and how incredibly beautiful and amazing it is when the loving marital union of a man and a woman, working together, in submission to each other, the woman allowing the man to take the lead, choosing to show him respect and honor by strengthening him with her support, is a team, a partnership, the formula for a sum that equals way more than its parts.
God placed incredible strength in a woman, strength that a man (sorry, we are not all created equal), simply does not have. Incredible and beautiful endurance, strength, ingenuity, and leadership. The ability to "submit" to a man (as unto the Lord if you understand what i'm saying), and by investing the strength of a woman's gentleness and meekness, cause that man's strength to be multiplied and given endurance and staying power. Such a beautiful paradox.
Equally, by withholding such support and denying him the role of leadership (notice this role must be given; it cannot be taken; a woman's strength will not permit true leadership to be taken, even in the event of abuse and dominion, a woman's strength is only minimized, but not led, not made partnership with), she makes him weak-- her partnership with even the kindest, gentlest, most caring husband, weaker still. That is why the writer of Ephesians directs the wife to submit, in order to give the necessary strength to her union, to her family, to her husband. Because no matter what they tell you, men and women are not created equal; they are instead created equally important, with very different roles and strengths, and a man does not have the same ability to submit to the leadership of a woman and thereby give her and their partnership such strength. And he tells the man to care deeply and thoroughly for his wife because a cared-for wife has the capacity to be even stronger still, fueled by the safety of a loving marriage and a true partnership. It's just a snowball from there. Submission.
I know. It's very controversial.