Biblical Submission in marriage

So. Let’s chat. Or, really, how about if I talk and you read? (Note: just a reminder. If you choose to comment, you choose to engage in conversation with me.)

In swing dancing (or any form of social dancing), there is a leader and a follower. Both dancers are equally important. Both have to be doing their job equally well for the thing to work. Neither one is more important than the other, and neither one is better than the other. But only one leads. And the other one follows.

It would not work for both to lead. Because then there would be confusion, strife, and a lot of arm wrestling. It would not work for both to follow. Again, confusion, strife, and there wouldn’t be much going on – both would be kind of waiting around.

So one person leads. The dance Gods chose the man.

But the man can’ t lead rough. He will hurt the follower and she will stop dancing with him. He can’t run roughshod all over her. And he can’t be too show-offy and neglect the follower. The dance falls apart and is no longer a joy for either dancer, or for watchers.

In lindy, there is room for the follower to play. When she’s not being led, she can do whatever she wants. There’s also room for give and take. If a Randy leads a turn, for example, and I decide to turn two or even three times, he will usually let me and adjust his leading to account for what I’m doing. If he leads something I don’t want to do, I can communicate that with him – nonverbally – and he can decide to make me do it, or to adjust his leading to suit my preferences.

Same with marriage.

Both husband and wife are equally important. Both have to be doing their job equally well for the thing to work. Neither one is more important than the other, and neither one is better than the other. But only one is the leader. And the other one, while not exactly a “follower,” is not the leader.

It would not work for both to lead. Because then there would be confusion, strife, and a lot of arm wrestling. It would not work for both to follow. Again, confusion, strife, and there wouldn’t be much going on – both would be kind of waiting around.

So one person leads. God chose the man.

But the man can’ t lead rough. He will hurt the wife. He can’t run roughshod all over her. And he can’t be too show-offy (aka self-centered) and neglect her. The marriage falls apart and is no longer a joy for either spouse, or for their friends and family.

In marriage, there is room for the wife to play. When she’s not being led, she can do whatever she wants.  (meaning, there are usually SO MANY things that a husband doesn’t give a rat’s ass about. Randy, for example, it’s not that he doesn’t care about all of the child-related things, it’s just that he doesn’t want to do the research and so he’s pretty much delegated all of that to me.) There’s also room for give and take.

In the vast majority of Biblical marriages, the whole Husband is the Head of the Household thing is not even a big deal. I can think of very few times that it’s even been an issue in our house. But there are some times, on important decisions, that we disagree. And when it’s important to have one decision that we both have to respect, the trump card goes to Randy. It’s a responsibility that I think he’d just as soon not have, to be honest. It’s a BIG responsibility.

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8 responses to “Biblical Submission in marriage

  1. Very true. One of these days I will get all my posts moved to the new blog, and you can relink to the last time I ranted on this business. I had forgotten about that being an issue until I was working on the food blog and the shepherd’s pie was broken.

    And, Andrew would absolutely rather not have that responsibility a lot of times, and I am glad I don’t regularly. On the other hand, he passes it off regularly when he doesn’t want to be the bad guy in certain cases, especially those involving his family. It can be terribly frustrating.

  2. I agree. I have a very laid back, easy going husband who lets me make most decisions. I defer to him for really important things and always tell my kids that he’s the boss. He is the leader of our family, but that doesn’t mean that my role as mother/wife/friend isn’t equally as important. Our marriage got a lot easier when he started leading and I was able to take a step back.

  3. good afternoon.

    i am going to have to disagree and site my own marriage as an example of where the man is NOT the head of the household and it works beautifully. and unlike what you post here – there is no strife or arm wrestling or any confusion, etc. we are equal. period.

    and i worry about the message this sends to kids because i think this sort of ideology can carry over into other areas which is how sexism gets started etc. if mom doesn’t make the final decisions at home – that sends a powerful message.

    i don’t want my daughter playing second fiddle in any relationship she has and i want my son to view any mate as equal to him. so that is how we we model that in our family.

    i know i won’t change any minds here which is fine – but i wanted to let you know that we have no issues here contrary to what you posted.

    lynn

  4. But if you take the time to read what I actually said, Lynn, it was that if there is NO leader, or if there are TWO leaders, then there’s confusion, etc. And then, separately, that God chose the man to be the leader.

    If that doesn’t apply to you (what God says about it, or if you for whatever reason don’t think that’s what the Bible says about marriage), then you’re of course welcome to do whatever you want. Regardless of WHO is the leader, SOMEONE has to be, or there is trouble. And only one can be, or there’s trouble. I’m not sure how what you posted as your family situation is in any way “contrary to what [I] posted.”

    I think worries about sexism starting from a Biblical understanding of marriage are very off base. I thought about getting into that in the post above, but ultimately didn’t have time or inclination.

  5. perhaps i did mis-understand.

    i guess my point is, there is no “trump” card in our house and we don’t have an official leader. i guess that was my point. and we are happy as clams.

    sorry for the confusion.

    lynn

    • Sounds like slavery to me. If someone wants to be the slave of a man-that’s their choice. For me, I choose freedom. the vile verses about submission in the bible caused me to leave christianity. Now I am free to worship God in my own way. My God doesn’t feel I am inferior to a man. My God is one of equality. I don’t know why anyone would choose to be a slave

  6. Why do you feel that you are inferior to a man? Is it that you don’t have to make any important choices-that all the choices you make are ones that the head/husband/master allow you to make. I wish women would understand how wonderful they are. The negative view of women in the bible caused my to have very low self-esteem, my goal in life is to prevent that from happening to another girl.

    • It’s interesting that I used phrases like “both equally important” dozens of times in the post, yet you walk away thinking “inferior” and “low self-esteem.” I’m sorry that you feel that way.

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