My thoughts are all twirled up right now, and I don’t know if I can write anything nearly as eloquent and well-thought-out as Coralie did yesterday, but I’m going to try to express myself and just see what happens.
The first part of this dialogue is here – my reflections on a lesson learned at church on Sunday.
Now that you’re all caught up, it’s my turn again.
I want to start by looking at this idea:
We can tell them all day long that men are to lead and women are to submit, but if they see something different, the words will be meaningless. Nowhere in scripture are we permitted to sin, by stepping out of what the Lord has called us to do, in order for another “good” to be achieved.
While I am able to agree with that -wholeheartedly, in fact!- on paper, I struggle with the real-life meaning & impact of that in this situation. How, exactly, does a woman “submit” to a complete lack of leadership? I do not exaggerate when I say that Gruff would just as soon stay home on a Sunday morning or go out for donuts as he would, make the effort to get up and get us all out the door for church & Sunday School. I do not see prayer, Scripture study, praise music, or any of the other ‘outward expressions of an inner faith’ happening in my home if I simply stop doing all of those things and wait for him to begin them.
Right now, with a 2 year old, I’m sure I could do that — just literally stop it all and “step back” for a year and wait to see what God & Gruff will do. But my question and my worry (and yes, my fear, even though I know that I’m not SUPPOSED to be fearful) is that if there is no eagerness on Gruff’s part, and it falls by the wayside, then in a year what do I have? A husband who is still not interested in becoming a spiritual leader — and a 3.5 year old who’s gotten so out of the routine that now church is a strange new experience. Not only does that vision leave me feeling angry and frustrated, but it scares me.
Nagging only has 2 results: a. total shut down, or b. angry refusal. One of the best ways to NOT get what we want from our husbands is to pester them about it. If leading the family spiritually feels like cleaning his room as a boy every man will run from it.
I think this is the one TINY aspect I’m getting right. After several years of back-and-forth: me nagging for a while, him feeling pressured and refusing, me backing off, him taking small steps, rinse and repeat… we’re at a phase that I’d call “respectful compliance.” He is respectful of my need & desire to be in church, to find a Sunday School class we like, to keep Smooch attending his toddler class. He doesn’t leap out of bed on Sunday mornings with much get-up-and-go, but he does it. I’m respectful of his …what to call it?… lack of fervor, and I don’t press him to do Bible study with me in the evenings, or to dissect the sermon and have a big theological discussion on the way home. I go about my business – I do my own Bible study (okay, as I mentioned earlier, I *occasionally* keep up with my own Bible study), I sing songs and say prayers with Smooch, and I did institute prayer at meals.
I am SURE that there are some parts of your counsel that I need to accept and act on.
You may want to make a commitment to the Lord that you’re going to step back for a year. Commit to take that year to pray for your husband and to pray for yourself, and for your relationship as spouses and parents.
This is the part I’m not sure about:
You will give more glory to the Lord by being obedient through submission than by stepping in and doing tasks the Lord hasn’t asked you to do.
because I do feel that I’m responsible to raise my child with a love for the things of God. If I stop doing anything spiritual in my home because I’m waiting for my husband to do it — yes, he is absolutely going to be held accountable to God for what he doesn’t do in raising his son — but ultimately, so am I. To sit by and let years pass without church, without hearing God’s Word, without talking about His providence and goodness? Doesn’t it seem that that would do more harm?
I think what we’re looking at is ALMOST akin to the struggle of a wife married to an unbeliever. (I’m not saying that Gruff doesn’t believe. But to be brutally honest, he’s not living in a growing, fruit-bearing way right now.) If you are the only adult believer in your home, the task of teaching your children does fall primarily to you. You aren’t exempt from submission; you carry the burden of following the admonition in 1 Peter:
1Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes.
but in such a case, I think that the submission belongs in all the other realms of your family life. For how would you submit spiritually to someone who isn’t on the same spiritual path?
Maybe this is what you were trying to get at when you said you didn’t know exactly what submission would look like for every diverse individual couple — is it? Then again, maybe I’m still just offering up justification and rationalization for doing things the way I’ve figured them out in my head.
I’m sure Coralie & I aren’t the only ones with thoughts on this subject. Care to jump in? I’d love to hear your comments, or read your own posts (if, like me and Coralie, you find that you just get too long-winded to make it a little comment!).