Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Wives, Submit To Your Husbands

Mid June is always what we in our family call "Trent Appreciation Week." June 15: Trent's Birthday. Always within a few days of (or on) his birthday: Father's Day. June 18: our wedding anniversary. I guess we just like to celebrate a lot of things at once in our family, since Elizabeth was also born the day after Christmas.

I met my husband in marching band when I was 15 years old. He was a year older than me in high school so I thought I was sooooo cool to be with an "older" guy. We were sort of set up by mutual friends, and things just started gaining momentum from there.

I like to think that we had two "phases" of our courtship: our pre-breakup phase and our post-breakup phase. I wrote a bit about our post-breakup phase here, but I'll summarize our pre-breakup phase in two words:

Immature and selfish.
(Okay that's three words, but just don't pay attention to the "and" because it doesn't count.)

I will take most of the blame for this one. In high school, I was incredibly self centered, emotional, and over reacted to most situations. Of course, I still constantly struggle with these issues, but I like to think I've calmed down considerably as I've aged and gained more life experience. I suppose most high schoolers are all like this in some way. (And, by the way, this is a reason that I no longer agree with dating before the age of 18...but that's for another blog post) But I feel like I thought about myself far more than most other people. I was always mad at him about something. Honestly, the fact that this amazing man put up with me for so many years like that is, in itself, proof of God's existence and daily grace in our lives.

We broke up my freshman year of college. I was still self centered, and was wondering "why oh why am I so unhappy?" When I finally came to my senses, and realized that WOW, Earth does not revolve around me, everything clicked. I realized how blind I had been to this Christ-like man who is now my husband.

I realized what love really is. It's not a feeling or an emotion. Sure, those "warm fuzzy feelings" can be a product of love. But it's not what love is. Love is unchanging. Love is constant. Love is sacrifice.  Love is GOD. I know God loves me, but I don't always "feel it." I love God, but more often than not, I say my daily prayers with irritation because I'd rather be doing something else. I love my husband and he loves me, but we don't always feel lovey dovey oh my gosh I can't believe you're mine you're the best person EVER.

On our anniversary, I'd love to go on and on about how amazing my husband is, and maybe I will in another post. But for today, I want to talk about love and marriage, what I've learned, and what Scripture tells us about it.

My favorite Bible passage about love and marriage is the one many people tend to skip over because it makes them feel uncomfortable:

21 Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. 
22 Wives should be subordinate to their husbands as to the Lord. 
23 For the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. 
24 As the church is subordinate to Christ, so wives should be subordinate to their husbands in everything.  
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ loved the church and handed himself over for her 
26 to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, 
27 that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 
28 So [also] husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.  
29 For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it, even as Christ does the church,  
30 because we are members of his body. 
31 “For this reason a man shall leave [his] father and [his] mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 
32 This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.  
33 In any case, each one of you should love his wife as himself, and the wife should respect her husband.

Let's break it down, shall we?
(Don't worry, I won't start dancing. Trust me, you don't want to see me doing that. EVER.)

21, 22: What does the word "subordinate" mean? Sub = under. Ordinate comes from the word ordain, which means "to decree." Decree = an official order issued by a legal authority.
In this case, the authority is God. God has given us each an order, or a mission, to complete. So, subordinate = under the mission. Wives, we are called to be "under the mission" of our husbands. In other words, we are called to support our husband's mission.

23, 24: Note the second part of verse 23: the husband is head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church, he himself the savior of the body. We must ask ourselves: how is Christ head of the Church? Is it in a dominating, overbearing way, with the members of His Church cowering down before him? No. It is the complete opposite.

This is telling us wives to support our husband's mission, just as the Church supports Christ's mission. So what the heck is our husband's mission? Read on:

25: Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and handed himself over for her. How did Christ love the Church? He died for it. He sacrificed his entire life for the Church. Husbands, your mission is to sacrifice your entire life for your wife. You must give all of yourself to your wife: Mind, body, and soul. Kind of a tall order.

26, 27: Sanctify = make holy. Husbands, you must help your wives become holy so that "she might be holy and without blemish." Wives, we must help our husbands become holy so that he "might present himself to the Church in splendor." This is our duty to each other.

28, 29, 30: Think about marital intercourse. When done in the way God intended, the husband and the wife are not thinking merely of their own satisfaction. They are also wanting their spouse to experience the joy they themselves experience. This includes the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts of sex. Take that example and branch it out to all areas of marriage. We are not called to think only of ourselves. "He who loves his wife loves himself." In order to fulfill our mission in marriage, we must think of our spouse before ourselves. In this way, we will be fully participating in the marital union, just as members of the Body of Christ participate with Christ.

31, 32: The two shall become one. When husbands and wives fulfill their duties out of love for each other in the way Christ commanded, they will be a sign of Christ's love for others. They will work harmoniously together and with each other. Christ=husbands, Church=wives. It all makes sense when it's put together.

33: Summary of everything St. Paul just said (because most of us are pretty dense and we need to hear things multiple times)

This is not, as many people think, a chauvinistic, anti-woman, outdated way of thinking. In fact, it is more "pro woman" than any other feminist philosophy out there. Wives, we must expect that our husbands are willing to sacrifice everything for us. And in return, we must support and accept their mission to love us. This is hard for women to do. To let our husbands love us. How many of you have scoffed when your husband compliments your appearance? "Ugh, I look like I just got hit by a garbage truck right now." I know I have. How many of you have a difficult time believing your husband when he says he loves you? Or when he tells you what you mean to him? Or when he says he would rather be with you than anyone else? Many of us do. Because many of us, deep down, are insecure. God knows this. And he tells us that it is our duty to let our husbands love us.

As Bishop Fulton Sheen once said, it takes three to get married (It's a great book, by the way). None of this is possible without the grace of God. These are difficult orders to live by. But I can tell you from my short three years of marriage that when I think of my husband before myself, I am at peace. I show my love for him in that way, and he shows me his love, too.

There's a funny bumper sticker out there that says: "Marriage isn't a word. It's a sentence." This bumper sticker, intending to be funny, actually couldn't be closer to the truth. Marriage is not just a word. It's an order. Just as priests are ordained to serve us, their Church, married people are ordained to serve their spouses.

So wives, we should thank God for giving us the opportunity to "submit" to our husbands. Rather than fight it and view it as a way to degrade women, we should look at it for what it is: a gift of love.

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