Are you submitting to the wrong man?
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Would you please read the following articles and tell me what you think? Lately, I have been doing soul searching and deep thinking. Both of these concepts have been mulling around in my mind.
(There's LOTS of other stuff in there too, you know, like...How to teach my toddler to go #2 in the potty now that #1 is nearly mastered? What are we eating for supper? Do I wash my hair during nap time or get up early tomorrow? Floors or laundry? Theological book or fluffy novel for a few minutes before bed?)
In generations past, there was far less talk about “compatibility” and finding the ideal soul-mate. Today we are looking for someone who accepts us as we are and fulfills our desires, and this creates an unrealistic set of expectations that frustrates both the searchers and the searched for.
In John Tierney’s classic humor article “Picky, Picky, Picky” he tries nobly to get us to laugh at the impossible situation our culture has put us in. He recounts many of the reasons his single friends told him they had given up on their recent relationships:
“She mispronounced ‘Goethe.’”
“How could I take him seriously after seeing The Road Less Traveled on his bookshelf?”
“If she would just lose seven pounds.”
“Sure, he’s a partner, but it’s not a big firm. And he wears those short black socks.”
“Well, it started out great ... beautiful face, great body, nice smile. Everything was going fine—until she turned around.” He paused ominously and shook his head. ”... She had dirty elbows.”
In other words, some people in our culture want too much out of a marriage partner. They do not see marriage as two flawed people coming together to create a space of stability, love and consolation, a “haven in a heartless world,” as Christopher Lasch describes it. Rather, they are looking for someone who will accept them as they are, complement their abilities and fulfill their sexual and emotional desires. This will indeed require a woman who is “a novelist/astronaut with a background in fashion modeling,” and the equivalent in a man. A marriage based not on self-denial but on self-fulfillment will require a low- or no-maintenance partner who meets your needs while making almost no claims on you. Simply put—today people are asking far too much in the marriage partner.
You never marry the right person
The Bible explains why the quest for compatibility seems to be so impossible. As a pastor I have spoken to thousands of couples, some working on marriage-seeking, some working on marriage-sustaining and some working on marriage-saving. I’ve heard them say over and over, “Love shouldn’t be this hard, it should come naturally.” In response I always say something like: “Why believe that? Would someone who wants to play professional baseball say, ‘It shouldn’t be so hard to hit a fastball’? Would someone who wants to write the greatest American novel of her generation say, ‘It shouldn’t be hard to create believable characters and compelling narrative’?” The understandable retort is: “But this is not baseball or literature. This is love. Love should just come naturally if two people are compatible, if they are truly soul-mates. “
The Christian answer to this is that no two people are compatible. Duke University Ethics professor Stanley Hauerwas has famously made this point:
Destructive to marriage is the self-fulfillment ethic that assumes marriage and the family are primarily institutions of personal fulfillment, necessary for us to become "whole" and happy. The assumption is that there is someone just right for us to marry and that if we look closely enough we will find the right person. This moral assumption overlooks a crucial aspect to marriage. It fails to appreciate the fact that we always marry the wrong person.
We never know whom we marry; we just think we do. Or even if we first marry the right person, just give it a while and he or she will change. For marriage, being [the enormous thing it is] means we are not the same person after we have entered it. The primary challenge of marriage is learning how to love and care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married.
Hauerwas gives us the first reason that no two people are compatible for marriage, namely, that marriage profoundly changes us. But there is another reason. Any two people who enter into marriage are spiritually broken by sin, which among other things means to be self-centered—living life incurvatus in se. As author Denis de Rougemont said, “Why should neurotic, selfish, immature people suddenly become angels when they fall in love ... ?” That is why a good marriage is more painfully hard to achieve than athletic or artistic prowess. Raw, natural talent does not enable you to play baseball as a pro or write great literature without enduring discipline and enormous work. Why would it be easy to live lovingly and well with another human being in light of what is profoundly wrong within our human nature? Indeed, many people who have mastered athletics and art have failed miserably at marriage. So the biblical doctrine of sin explains why marriage—more than anything else that is good and important in this fallen world—is so painful and hard.
No false choices
The hard times of marriage drive us to experience more of this transforming love of God. But a good marriage will also be a place where we experience more of this kind of transforming love at a human level.
Excerpt from THE MEANING OF MARRIAGE © 2011 by Timothy Keller with Kathy Keller. Published by Dutton, A Member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Excerpted with permission from the publisher. All Rights Reserved.
Dean of Theology, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
Those of us who hold to so-called “traditional gender roles” are often assumed to believe that women should submit to men. This isn’t true.
Indeed, a primary problem in our culture and in our churches isn’t that women aren’t submissive enough to men, but instead that they are far too submissive.
Rirst of all, it just isn’t so that women are called to submit while men are not. In Scripture, every creature is called to submit, often in different ways and at different times. Children are to submit to their parents, although this is certainly a different sort of submission than that envisioned for marriage. Church members are to submit to faithful pastors (Heb. 13:17). All of us are to submit to the governing authorities (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17). Of course, we are all to submit, as creatures, to our God (Jas. 4:7).
And, yes, wives are called to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22; 1 Pet. 3:1-6). But that’s just the point. In the Bible, it is not that women, generally, are to submit to men, generally. Instead, “wives” are to submit “to your own husbands” (1 Pet. 3:1).
Too often in our culture, women and girls are pressured to submit to men, as a category. This is the reason so many women, even feminist women, are consumed with what men, in general, think of them. This is the reason a woman’s value in our society, too often, is defined in terms of sexual attractiveness and availability. Is it any wonder that so many of our girls and women are destroyed by a predatory patriarchy that demeans the dignity and glory of what it means to be a woman?
Submitting to men in general renders it impossible to submit to one’s “own husband.” Submission to one’s husband means faithfulness to him, and to him alone, which means saying “no” to other suitors.
Submission to a right authority always means a corresponding refusal to submit to a false authority. Eve’s submission to the Serpent’s word meant she refused to submit to God’s. On the other hand, Mary’s submission to God’s word about the child within her meant she refused to submit to Herod’s. God repeatedly charges his Bride, the people of Israel, with a refusal to submit to him because they have submitted to the advances of other lovers. The freedom of the gospel means, the apostle tells us, that we “do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Gal. 5:1).
Despite the promise of female empowerment in the present age, the sexual revolution has given us the reverse. Is it really an advance for women that the average high-school male has seen images of women sexually exploited and humiliated on the Internet? Is it really empowerment to have more and more women economically at the mercy of men who freely abandon them and their children, often with little legal recourse?
Is this really a “pro-woman” culture when restaurant chains enable men to pay to ogle women in tight T-shirts while they gobble down chicken wings? How likely is it that a woman with the attractiveness of Henry Kissinger will obtain power or celebrity status in American culture? What about the girl in your community pressured to perform oral sex on a boyfriend -- what is this but a patriarchy brutal enough for a Bronze Age warlord?
In the church it is little better. Too many of our girls and young women are tyrannized by the expectation to look a certain way, to weigh a certain amount, in order to gain the attention of “guys.”
Additionally, too many predatory men have crept in among us, all too willing to exploit young women by pretending to be “spiritual leaders” (2 Tim. 3:1-9; 2 Pet. 2). Do not be deceived: a man who will use spiritual categories for carnal purposes is a man who cannot be trusted with fidelity, with provision, with protection, with the fatherhood of children. The same is true for a man who will not guard the moral sanctity of a woman not, or not yet, his wife.
We have empowered this pagan patriarchy. Fathers assume their responsibility to daughters in this regard starts and stops in walking a bride down an aisle at the end of the process. Pastors refuse to identify and call out spiritually impostors before it’s too late. And through it all we expect our girls and women to be submissive to men in general, rather than to one man in particular.
Women, sexual and emotional purity means a refusal to submit to “men,” in order to submit to your own husband, even one whose name and face you do not yet know. Your closeness with your husband, present or future, means a distance from every man who isn’t, or who possibly might not be, him.
Your beauty is found not in external (and fleeting) youth and “attractiveness” but in the “hidden person of the heart” which “in God’s sight is very precious” (1 Pet. 3:3-4). And it will be beautiful in the sight of a man who is propelled by the Spirit of this God.
Sisters, you owe no submission to Hollywood or to Madison Avenue, or to those who listen to them. Your worth and dignity cannot be defined by them. Stop comparing yourselves to supermodels and porn stars. Stop loathing your body, or your age. Stop feeling inferior to vaporous glamor. You are beautiful.
Sisters, there is no biblical category for “boyfriend” or “lover,” and you owe such designation no submission. In fact, to be submissive to your future husband you must stand back and evaluate, with rigid scrutiny, “Is this the one who is to come, or is there another?” That requires an emotional and physical distance until there is a lifelong covenant made, until you stand before one who is your “own husband.”
Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands as unto the Lord. Yes and Amen. But, women, stop submitting to men.