Friday, January 11, 2013
The Hard Thoughts...
There's something I've been trying to write about since my last post, and I have started and deleted and started it again, over and over...it's the hard thoughts. The awkward stigmas.
One part of my mind realizes that these are just "golden calf" issues - things that people focus on and elevate to a level of overwhelming importance, but that are, in the grand scheme of things, neither more nor less important than anything else in a life of faith. Rationally, I realize that I still have to come to terms with these things, and that will require me to go outside of my comfort zone. Real faith though... living a redeemed life, I'm not sure that it should be comfortable. I'm not sure that's the point.
Anyway, the other part of my mind is cringing and wringing its hands at the thought of these issues coming up with my friends or the more liberal side of the family. I know how they feel. I was raised to feel that same way, and I am struggling with a fear of being rejected by them.
But that's not what this blog is about. This is supposed to be a chronicle of my new life as a renewed Christian, and part of it, a big part of it, is going to have to be devoted to dealing with my old life and my old ways.
This is going to be awkward. Awkward, awkward, awkward....but I don't feel like I can move forward with this project until I get these issues out.
I said "obey" in my wedding vows, and it was humiliating.
I did it because I love my husband, and I wanted to make him happy, but I didn't mean it. I grew up with boys. I was always a strong girl. I was always a force to be reckoned with, and I can count on one hand the number of time I have done something I didn't want to do since I left for college. I am stubborn, and I am a know-it-all, and I REALLY hate the idea of not getting my way.
I was wrong.
Scripture isn't misinterpreted when it comes to this. I am commanded to submit to my husband as I would to the Lord. And conversely, Adam is commanded to love me as Christ loves the Church.
Society has twisted this concept to commit all kinds of politically misogynistic atrocities. But this is not, as I understand it, the true meaning of this piece of scripture. Women are not to be objectified and regulated by men because of some kind of God-given superiority. That's how it's been played in the last 2,000 years, but that's not what it means.
First, the relationship is reciprocal - to submit to the Lord is to honor him with a loving heart. To obey, surely, but to obey out of love, not fear or mere obligation. Also, men are commanded to love us as Christ loved his Church - to be self-sacrificing. To give all of themselves for the betterment of the other. In a marriage that abides by these principals, a wife would never feel conflicted about supporting her husband because the husband would consider all things, including his wife's opinion. God views men and women as equal in value, but that does not mean we are the same beings. Even the kind of love that scripture uses to direct us as husbands and wives is tailored to our roles. Men are commanded to love their wives with a self-sacrificing love, but women are commanded to love their husbands with a tender, affectionate love. And quite frankly, this is exactly what Adam and I already want from each other.
When we would fight, it would stem from the same basic issue - we didn't feel that the other person valued us. And I didn't get it. How could he think I didn't value him? Didn't he see how hard I worked to pick up the house or get groceries or take care of the children? Didn't he see all the things I did for him each day?
He didn't get it either. He didn't understand how I could question his love for me. After all, he always made sure to be affectionate, to kiss on me and cuddle. To tell me that I am beautiful. To make sure I knew he desired me.
The problem was, we were doing for each other what we wanted the other person to do for us. I wanted him to take care of things. I wanted to come home to a clean house or a cooked dinner or a set of sleeping babies without it feeling like I had guilted him into it or made it a prerequisite for him getting any kind of love and affection.
He wanted me to love on him. To make him feel wanted and special and desirable. He wanted me to continue being in love with him and appreciating him as a lover and not a roommate.
Does that mean that I don't want affection? No. Does that mean that he doesn't appreciate my picking up the house? No. Of course, there has to be balance. But since we started this new philosophy within our relationship, things have been so much better. So much more peaceful, loving, and harmonious, that I can't believe we didn't do this earlier. We are idiots.
Is this the issue in every relationship? Probably not. It would be silly to generalize or project our problems and their solution onto every couple in the world. However, I can say that no matter what the specifics are, every relationship needs balance. This is not a uniquely Christian concept. Ying and Yang. The comic and the straight man. Jack and Jill. The Jedi and the Sith.
I have come to accept and appreciate that men and women have different roles to play in life. Not more or less valuable roles, just different ones.
Is this copacetic with modern feminism? No. And there's no way to make it be so. Like I said, these are the hard thoughts, and they are ones I have been mulling over and studying about and praying for clarity on for the last several months. And I will continue to do so. This is not the end of these hard thoughts...
...but, they're no longer on the front burner. I feel like, because I've confronted them this much, I am somehow O.K. to start really studying the issues of faith that actually matter - redemption, grace, and salvation.