Some women have been damaged by being suppressed in environments in which submission is taught as un-questioning blind obedience to their father or husband. These women have had their initiative drained from them and are less the persons they could be. Who is to blame for this? I can think of five different entities: the culture, the church, the parents, the husband, and the woman herself.
The culture. Women have more potential for growth in the United States than anywhere on earth. Our culture allows great latitude for women in almost any area. It is better today, in the 22nd century than it has ever been. Yet with privilege comes responsibility. Without the wisdom of the Bible we make stupid mistakes as women and wives, never understanding that we may focus on that winning persona that tends toward successful lives and marriages.
The church. Even today some religious teachers use the pulpit to control with fear. For centuries they have demeaned women with pointed finger at your mother, your grandmother and women in general. A woman is accused if she dares to question their teaching or speak out for any reason. She becomes a threat. A woman who thinks deeply and thoroughly is not “submissive.” A woman is not to question their teachings or “God-given authority”. Does your church hinder you from freedom to discover what you think?
The parents. There are fathers determined to demand complete obedience from their daughters. Since sons are more significant to these men, the daughters (along with many wives) are relegated to servitude. This has been the tradition for generations within Christianity and other religions. When the sensitive nature of a girl is subjected to this controlled, demeaning environment her wholeness is seriously affected. Sparkle, initiative and inspiration are denied these girls. When they move from controlling fathers to husbands of the same attitude, a female created in the image of God may be damaged for life.
The husband. We hear news stories of abused women, women who have been beaten by their husbands. Still others undergo mental abuse year after year being forced into submission like puppets on the end of strings. This type of abuse is rarely reported, but many have suffered it. Some go from a super-controlling Father to a super-controlling husband. Perhaps this happens because she believes this is what all men are supposed to be. If she does not have permission within her conscience to resist this control she retires into a shell. She does not believe she has the right to think for herself. Her alternative freedom is a covert life—a life where she can have a semblance of independence.
The woman herself. Some women have not made the effort to express themselves because they have believed the submission-is-blind-obedience line without question. They have never looked into the Bible for themselves to verify whether it is true. Some dare not offer disagreement fearing he will leave. Some women, timid by nature are uncomfortable speaking up. But when a husband does not hear from his wife how can he know what she is thinking? She must tell him or he will not know. Some men never hear from their wives because she was never encouraged to courageously express her views. With a silently submissive wife, a man with four children really has five children to raise. Even a harsh man needs a courageous wife (or daughter). He will never change if he does not know his demands are oppressive.
What drove me to the Bible for answers was the near collapse of our marriage. My husband, Eric, was university trained, liberal in his thinking, having traveled the world in the United States Navy. Yet he had a healthy view of my need to have an opinion and to speak up. As I bowed and scraped, gave him unquestioned unrestricted decision making power, he had neither counsel to broaden his decisions nor affirmation from me for his point of view. I was steeped in tradition and fear so completely that I became the ultimate “silently submissive wife”. I was afraid of angering God and him. I thought in my head, “I should not challenge his opinions”. What I understood growing up was that God would lead him to make the right decisions. I should not offer my female perspective with any passion. If I dared advise him with counterpart perspective he had no obligation to listen to it anyway, or so I believed. After all, he was “head” in the marriage.
I believed that if I humbled myself to the dust (so to speak), I would please God. The God I was trying to love was an “austere” taskmaster. Through the years I was determined to be a self disciplined, humble wife. What happened instead was that I very nearly lost his respect!
There is good direction in church and cultural traditions but they must stand up to what Scripture says. Remember, when Jesus walked the earth the Scribes and Pharisees were the most correct traditionalists of their day—and they crucified Jesus. Check out your leaders, culture, church, family, husband and yourself. Learn to be a “Berean” (Acts 17:11) and search the Scriptures daily to see if those things you have been taught are so. Discover what you think.
If you have a good idea, remember, it might really be a good idea.
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
• Who else is to blame?
• What is a tradition about women that bothers you?
• What is a tradition about men that bothers you?
• Do you know of a “loose cannon”, a person who has used the Bible to justify some apparently foolish doctrine?
• Who is hindering you from growing whole? You are up against strong forces who will control you!