Want to be submissive tonight

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I came from an academically driven, equality-oriented, all-female high school. I was now studying in a majority-male college. And I was repulsed. I had three problems with this passage. The first was that wives should submit. I knew women were just as competent as men. My second problem was with the idea that wives should submit to their husbands as to the Lord.

It is one thing to submit to Jesus Christ, the self-sacrificing King of the universe. It is quite another to offer that kind of submission to a fallible, sinful man. Jesus, in countercultural gospel fashion, had elevated women.

Want to be submissive tonight

Paul, it seemed, had pushed them down. At first, I tried to explain the shock away. But the command for wives to submit occurs three times in the New Testament see also Col. But when I trained my lens on the command to husbands, the Ephesians passage came into focus. How did Christ love the church? By dying on a cross; by giving himself, naked and bleeding, to suffer for her; by putting her needs above his own; by sacrificing everything for her. I asked myself how I would feel if this were the command to wives.

Ephesians is sometimes critiqued as a mandate for spousal abuse. Tragically, it has been misused that way. But the command to husbands makes that reading impossible. How much more easily could an abuser twist a verse calling his wife to suffer for him, to give herself up for him, to die for him? When I realized the lens for this teaching was the lens of the gospel itself, it started making sense. If the message of Jesus is true, no one comes to the table with rights.

Want to be submissive tonight

The only way to enter is flat on your face. Male or female, if we grasp at our right to self-determination, we must reject Jesus, because he calls us to submit to him completely. With this lens in place, I saw that God created sex and marriage as a telescope to give us a glimpse of his star-sized desire for intimacy with us.

Our roles in this great marriage are not interchangeable: Jesus gives himself for us, Christians male or female follow his lead. Ultimately, my marriage is not about me and my husband any more than Romeo and Juliet is about the actors playing the title roles. Recognizing that marriage at its best points to a much greater reality relieves the pressure on all concerned.

First, it depressurizes single people. We live in a world where sexual and romantic fulfillment are paraded as ultimate goods. But within a Christian framework, missing marriage and gaining Christ is like missing out on playing with dolls asbut growing up to have a real baby. When we are fully enjoying the ultimate relationship, no one will lament for the loss of the scale model.

It also takes the pressure off married people. Of course, we have the challenge of playing our roles in the drama.

Want to be submissive tonight

But we need not worry about whether we married the right person, or why our marriages are not flinging us to a constant state of Nirvana. In one sense, human marriage is deed to disappoint. It leaves us longing for more, and that longing points us to the ultimate reality of which the best marriage is a scale model. Ephesians 5 used to repulse me. Now it convicts me and calls me toward Jesus: the true husband who satisfies my needs, the one man who truly deserves my submission. Some suggest that women are natural followers, while men are natural leaders.

But the primary command to men is to love, not to lead, and I have never heard anyone argue that men are naturally better at loving. Some claim that men need respect while women need love, or that we are given commands corresponding to natural deficiencies: Women are better at love; men are better at respect.

But to look at human history and say that men naturally respect women is to stick your head in the sand with a blindfold on! At best, these claims about male and female psychology are generalizations. At worst, they cause needless offense and give way to exceptions: If these commands are given because wives are naturally more submissive, and I find that I am a more natural leader than my husband, does that mean we can switch roles?

Ephesians 5 grounds our roles in marriage not in gendered psychology but Christ-centered theology. I have been married for a decade, and I am not naturally submissive. I am naturally leadership-oriented. I hold a PhD and a seminary degree, and I am the trained debater of the family. Thank God, I married a man who celebrates this!

Yet it is a daily challenge to remember my role in this drama and notice opportunities to submit to my husband as to the Lordnot because I am naturally more or less submissive or because he is more or less naturally loving, but because Jesus went to the cross for me. Paul is clear elsewhere that men cannot abdicate their responsibility to ensure that their families are provided for. But this does not mean the husband must be the primary breadwinner.

In biblical terms, the value of work is measured not in dollars but in service. Indeed, Jesus himself, the archetypal leader, did Want to be submissive tonight earn money, and he was financially Want to be submissive tonight on some of his female followers Luke —3. This is no return to Victorian values. Rather, it is a call to pay attention to the character of Christ. He had strength to calm storms, summon angel armies, and defeat death. But his arms held little children, his words elevated women, and his hands reached out to heal the sick. Jesus drove traders out of the temple with a whip.

But he tenderly welcomed the outcast and weak. After he had been mocked, beaten, and abused by his guards, Jesus was displayed to the crowds wearing a crown of thorns and a purple robe to ridicule his kingly claim.

Want to be submissive tonight

These words drip with irony. Jesus, beaten and humiliated out of love for his people, was and is the perfect man. Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here. To unlock this article for your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below. To share this article with your friends, use any of the social share buttons on our site, or simply copy the link below.

Inspire the World. Jacquelyn Manchester. Sections Home. Rene Padilla Coronavirus John Stott. Subscribe Member Benefits Give a Gift. Subscribers receive full access to the archives. Book Awards. I used to be repulsed by Ephesians 5. Rebecca McLaughlin December 10, Image: Illustration by Mallory Rentsch. Gospel Roles At first, I tried to explain the shock away. Article continues below. Free Newsletters Get the best from CT editors, delivered straight to your inbox!

Want to be submissive tonight

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Want to be submissive tonight

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When a Woman Submits