Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Biblical submission

When Michael and I were newlyweds, we took a dance class at Richland. I can't remember now if we learned East Coast or West Coast swing, but one lesson is still vivid.

Michael and I were doing a difficult (for us) move, and he didn't quite have it right. I did my part correctly and tried to show him what he should be doing. (We actually had a lot of these little struggles during these lesssons.) The instructor came up to us and told ME that I was at fault -- because I was not following Michael's lead. "It doesn't matter whether he's doing the proper steps. You need to let him lead you."

This seems to me like a good metaphor for that really-hard-to-understand concept of Biblical submission. Obviously (I think) women don't have to submit to truly egregious things like abuse or sexual sin. But my dance lesson reminds me of what 1 Peter 3 says about wives being subject to their husbands: "so that even if some [husbands] do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives -- when they see your respectful and pure conduct" (v. 1b, 2).

It's so hard to keep from saying a word! But important: "let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious" (v. 4). To me, that description sounds like the opposite of a woman leading her husband, even if she's right.

John loves "Green Eggs and Ham" -- he frequently asks for "Hammie" -- and I can identify a bit with I-am-Sam, who just won't stop pushing those green eggs and ham on the other guy. What a nag! Even though he's right! The book vindicates his persistence; but it's not exactly the role I want to take in my marriage.

I think that when I try to lead Michael -- not just tell him what I think, but actively try to persuade him, especially in something that really is his business not mine -- I do so because I am afraid that something bad will happen. Peter tells us to follow the example of Sarah, who "obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening" (v. 6).

In dancing, it is more important that the partners are doing the same thing than that they are following the steps perfectly. I suspect that in marriage too, the most important thing is not for me to focus on whether my husband is making all the right moves, but to focus on how well I am following him, and trust God to lead us both in the right direction. And dancing is a lot more fun when you're dancing with, not against, your partner.


Anonymous said...

Kristi -- I've been reading your blog for some time and have really enjoyed it. Then it occurred to me that I hadn't even said hello. It's been a long time -- and much has happened in these past years. Let's catch up via email.
Cindy Drennan

Kristi said...

Cindy! I didn't know you were reading this . . . I'm so glad to know you're here and to get caught up with you. Will send you an email shortly -- I've been wondering what you have been up to.

Ruth said...

I love the way you discuss and uphold this principle, which is so unpopular in our age and our culture.

Anonymous said...

You really hit on an engaging subject, Kristi. One close to every woman's heart. I like the way you develop your thoughts. Your entry on "Biblical Submission" is similar in some ways to something I read today on the process of purification. "You have emotions and feelings and commentaries programmed into your human condition and God sends you wonderful people who push your buttons. That's the gift of [prayer]. God will be sure to send you those people that are going to clean up the cellar. . . . Isn't it glorious. It is a journey for only the courageous. People with courage to be able to allow God to transform the human condition." (The author is talking about contemplative prayer but I changed it to prayer in general. I think it still works.) Good blog.