Monday, August 14, 2006

The Man of the House

I try not to be controversial on this blog. But I'm going to make an exception today. Although, hopefully, in the end, you won't think it controversial.

But recently I heard a story about a husband and his wife. A true story. One going on right now. Now, this husband and wife are Christians, and as any good Christian knows, the "husband is the head of the wife" and "wives, submit to your husbands." And so, in good Christian form, this husband is over-bearing and controlling.

Thing is about this that makes me mad is that while the words are from the Bible, and therefore mandated in Christianity, there seems to be a bit of misunderstanding as to what it means. It is the interpretation above, however, that turns a great many away from Christianity, or at least turns people away from truly accepting what the Bible has to say. They become selective, picking and choosing what parts they will follow. Wives and submission, however, don't make the cut.

But this husband...and a great many other husbands, Christian and not alike...has it wrong. Because when the Bible talks about the husband being the head of the wife, it isn't placing man into a place of control. It isn't giving a man permission to dictate that his wife waits on him day and night. It is placing responsibility on the man. It is saying, "Listen, you man, you...straighten up. You have a responsibility, so you'd better take heed."

Imagine a business where the man running the company doesn't actually do work. He simply orders people around. Sure, he is the man in charge, but that kind of behavior isn't really being the head of a company, is it? And if he keeps it up, all he'll accomplish is annoying his employees. The company will go nowhere.

A marriage works the same way. A husband must lead by example. Just as the company president leads by example. He has moved up through the ranks, learning as he went.

Which brings us to that little issue of submission. See, the problem is that the Bible doesn't just say wives should submit to their husbands. It actually says everyone should submit to each other. Not only that, but in the original Greek, it doesn't actually say, "Wives, submit to your husbands." Rather, it is a continuation from the previous sentence that should read more like this:

Submit one to another. Wives, to your husbands...

Wives had the unfortuate honor of being the first example given of that "submitting". But jump down a paragraph, and you get to the next example. Husbands. Yep. Husbands are to submit to their wives. Not only so, but the explanation of how a husband is to submit is actually more severe. It alludes to a self-sacrificial love. It talks about that responsibility with being the head. The one who will face the consequences of choices made, even to the point of death.

Nowhere in the scripture do we see husbands ordering wives around, being controlling, etc. And nowhere is submission a one-way street.

It ails me when I hear about relationships that justify all kinds of power struggles, or wives being squashed under the thumbs of their husbands. Come on, men. Step up. Be a man. If you aren't loving your wife every day, being self-sacrificial on her behalf, being responsible enough to ensure your marriage is stronger today than it was yesterday, then you risk jeopardizing the truly beautiful relationship you should be having.

And, of course, it goes beyond the husband/wife relationship. The Bible seems to recognize the struggle with power men have, even with their own children. It talks about fathers not exasperating their children. Exasperate. I cringe when I think about that, because I can't help but think to times in my own life where I'm certain I've exasperated them, when I briefly lose sight of the fact that I'm dealing with little people, not just "kids".

Listen to your wives and children, men. Listen to them, love them, encourage them. Help them to grow, to be stronger people. When you are doing that is when you are being the "head" of the household.


Angie said...

AMEN Ryan! Thank you so much. I am so glad that someone else out there has the nerve to stand up and give the true meaning of that scripture. I get just as sick as you do of hearing and seeing husbands making sure their wives submit. I have a wonderful husband who gets it. I am ever grateful to the good Lord above for him. As I am sure your wife is grateful for you as well. Very well spoken and not controversial at all.

art-sweet said...

I'm not a Christian, but I will refer back to this post when dealing with people who misread the bible in this way. Very intelligent and well-written.


RyanBruner said...

Well, two sides of the coin don't see this as controversial...whew!

And art-sweet...I don't recall having seen you around my blog. Perhaps you've been a silent reader. Anyhow, welcome...thanks for dropping by!