Wednesday, October 12, 2016

The Big Decision

I'm waiting for the "big decision" that my husband has to make in which he has to override everyone else in the family and have the final say.

I frequently get warned about the "big decision" that some people believe is inevitable. When talking with Christian people about marriage, some people believe the husband, as "leader" of the family, will ultimately have to make some big decision that the wife will have to submit to and this will fulfill their "God-given roles" in marriage.

In 37 years of marriage while raising 8 kids, we have never, ever come across the scenario of the "big decision." 

Oh, we've made plenty of big decisions over the years, but we've made them together. If we disagreed over the decision, it was tabled until we could agree. Not once did my husband bring down the hammer and decide we are going to do something I was against.

Because I waited for the big decision and it never came, I have a few thoughts on the subject. Our marriage is one of teamwork and we are co-leaders within our family. Co-leadership is how we formed our family and how we raised 8 kids. I never used the "wait till your father gets home" mentality on my kids because they knew I have as much authority as their dad.

When we were first married, I didn't know I was a full partner in the relationship, so I would sometimes wait to talk to him before I made even small decisions for myself. I was very insecure and the teachings of our church at the time reinforced that. My husband would have none of it, however. He would respond with, "Why are you asking me?" I had no reply for that. I had no idea why I was asking him. I quickly realized that I did not have to give up personal decision making when I got married. I learned what submission is not.

Most people who argue for the big decision do so because they view it as an act of leadership. Even if the husband was the sole leader of the family, what kind of leadership would it be if he could (and did) trump every decision for the entire family for all time? That would not be leadership, that would be dictatorship and dictatorship is not what God has called husbands to. Husbands are commanded to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for it. How did Christ love the church? By sacrificing everything. Everything. He sacrificed everything and set her free.

Many teach that the male leadership in a family is introduced and confirmed in Genesis 3:16, which reads, "Unto the woman He said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee."  They teach this as God's ideal....that Genesis 3:16 is God's ideal. Is it? How could it be? God created an ideal world - the Garden of Eden - then humans brought sin into it and God punished all involved, the serpent, the woman and the man, He cursed the ground and kicked them out of the Garden of Eden.

This is not ideal. When God told Eve that her husband would rule over her, it was not a command to Adam. It was a prediction, a result of sin. A husband ruling over a wife is a result of sin, not a standard God set up to meet. It is not a goal. God was speaking directly to Eve. At no time did He tell Adam to rule over her; He warned her that he would rule over her; that is not a command for her to submit to any type of rule. Some men even take this so far as to think all men are to rule over all women. This quickly became a cultural norm across the planet and women have had to fight for even basic rights even in developed countries. In the USA, women had to fight to vote less than 100 years ago. Many of the women who fought for the right to vote were arrested, punished and some even killed.

However, how far did Christ's work on the cross go? Did he eradicate the curse? Certainly there are still thorns in the ground, yet we have highly effective ways to get rid of them. Certainly many people still till the ground to grow food, but farmers in developing countries have air conditioned tractors, so are not working by the sweat of their brow as much. And farmers are few and far between in developed countries; most people work in climate controlled buildings. Even childbirth is far less painful than it used to be; drugs are a wonder. (This one I know from experience...I've given birth to 8 people, some of them completely pain-free.)

While there is no command for husbands to rule over wives, there is a command for husbands to love their wives as sacrificially as Christ loves the church. This is the goal; this is the command. Those who tout "ruling over" as the goal via Genesis 3:16 are wrong. They are not teaching what the Bible teaches; they are teaching the traditions of men. Do not listen to them. The Garden of Eden was God's ideal. Mankind ruined it by bringing sin into it. God gave us a way to escape, however, and this should be our focus. Men who are focused on the Savior are not preoccupied with submission, rulership and other things that distract from the gospel.

Wives, there is no "big decision" where your husband has to trump everyone else in the family, including you, to show his manliness or perceived headship. Jesus was the ultimate example of submission. He submitted Himself to death....even the death of the cross.....for us. He did not hesitate to listen to, appoint and call women to do His work when He walked this earth. When you find a man who is willing to submit to sacrificing all for you, you have found a real man.

Real men don't tout "headship" or "leadership" in their marriage relationship. Real men sacrifice every single thing for their wives. Everything.