Violet asked for a post on submission, and I do love requests, so I am compelled to completely humiliate myself here in her honor. Also, it’s a huge stumbling block for non believers, something that often keeps them away from faith, so it’s an issue that runs close to my heart.
First off there are two kinds of submission, submitting to God, which is pretty much what you have to do to come to faith in the first place. There are no shortcuts there, no way around it, the very first step is to submit to the fact that you are a sinner and in need of a Savior. Yes, it is a very humbling thing, and God is far above you, but there is no Savior more worthy.
There are some over laps between submitting to God and submitting in the context of marriage, but Violet is asking specifically about wives submitting to husbands, something many feminists and non believers find appalling. It doesn’t seem appalling to me at all, but it just happened rather gently without much thought on my part.
Outside of the context of faith, submission is just simple biology at play. When you are a child and you slip your hand into your father’s, you just trigger his natural protective nature. A child submits to their parent for protection, wisdom, guidance. When you are overloaded with groceries and some man opens the door for you and helps you with your bags, that is what is happening, too. It’s no great secret that most men tend to respond protectively, helpfully, kindly, to what they perceive as feminine. The entire biological equation was designed this way, women have babies and men protect and provide, so as to ensure the success of those children. You see this same dynamic going on all over the biological world. It is innate to who we are. I’m laughing here, but it is also not an altogether unpleasant design from my end of things.
In Lessons for Christian Ladies Violet said, “I don’t believe for one minute that you submit to your husband. You manipulate your husband, perhaps in the guise of submission, but even then, I’m sceptical.”
Perhaps there is some slight truth to that, although as far as manipulation goes, not so much. I simply soften myself and he responds accordingly. The gentler I am, the gentler he is. The more I honor him, the more he honors me. The more I elevate him, the more generous he is with himself. The more I sacrifice, the more he compensates. It’s a very reflective dance, a give and take. There is a benefit for me there. There is a payoff. The alternative is to not yield, to resist, to go to battle, to try to force and control things. That’s the opposite of submission and it can make your home a war zone.
It’s perfectly reasonable for Violet to doubt I submit to anything, because I can be rather fierce, intense, strong-willed. I’m not exactly a doormat. Neither is my husband. We are strong personalities and it was a battleground when we first got together. I’m not sure which one of us is more stubborn, it’s a pretty close match. I’ve written a few times about pitching things at his head. He learned how to duck early on. At some point I realized he couldn’t fight back, not really, because his honor just wouldn’t let him. And than I felt just awful, because this isn’t a fair fight, the rules are different for him and I. Every time I threw a fit it was like stomping on that honor, exploiting his protective nature, taking advantage of something I had no right to take advantage of.
The very fact that he had a protective nature at all, surprised me. I was never taught these things. I grew up within atheism and feminism and it is all about women as equal, but equal really means dominant, in control of men at all times, with a powerful back up plan such as divorce, the legal system, separate money, one foot out the door and don’t ever let him forget it.
Violet went on to say, “submission is essentially not forcing someone to do something against their will.”
Yes, that is a part of it, but it even goes beyond that, too. It is submitting to someone elses honor, to their authority, to their right to have things their way, too. It is accommodation, constant forgiveness, and a willingness to be open-minded to the possibility that he may perceive things differently than I do, and that he may even have some wisdom there that I don’t posses. Often this has proven to be true. I may be rather smart, but sometimes his much more direct and compartmentalized approach is the right one.
If you read my blog there is evidence of the struggles with submission that I have had in nearly every post. Hubby was born here only a few miles from our home, he is bound to this land, it is important to him. I jokingly call it the 9th circuit of hell. It is not my favorite place in the whole world. We live here because this is his home, his people, and it matters to him. Yes, I could probably force the issue, but that would deprive him of what he needs, what makes him happy. So daily I submit to where we live. Some days are better than others.
My mother, who I have had a long and rocky relationship with, wound up needing a place to live, and that was not going to be at our house. Over the course of many weeks however, it became apparent that this was important to hubby. That while I may well have been willing to leave her to find her own way, he simply could not. Spiritually, emotionally, he felt responsible for not only her, but for me too. That was probably the most difficult thing I have ever tried to submit to. A few times I considered bailing on the whole idea of marriage entirely. One awful day things got so bad I was going to just drive to Seaworld because they have fish there. Never mind that it’s a 3 day drive. You know you have truly lost your mind when ideas like that start to make sense.
There have been multiple, major submission challenges in the course of my marriage, involving rather complex emotional issues that nearly cracked me. So, submission is not just a superficial idea, it really is a tried and true trial by fire in my life. I yield frequently to make this marriage work.
The thing is, we now live in a very female dominated system so many women will not even submit to the very idea of marriage itself. Some will not even put the name of their children’s father on a birth certificate, least they risk not having complete control over those children. Full control over the children, means complete control over the men. Women in the heat of the moment, will call the cops on perfectly reasonable men, simply to avail themselves of all the power to be found there. There are false accusations, constant threats used as leverage, power now in the hands of women, which can be exploited and abused. And it is! “You’ll never see your children again, I’ll destroy you, I’ll send you to jail,” all these things are being said to men everyday, men we are supposed to be loving, having an investment in, a commitment with. Marriage is on the decline, families are broken, and it’s wrecking havoc on every aspect of society.
There are multiple reasons why families are being torn apart. The whole marital structure is surrounded on all sides and under relentless attack from one direction or another, but one reason that it is failing is the march of feminism teaching women no surrender, no retreat, and no matter how good some guy is, never let go of complete control. But feminism is only one part of the story. There are also plenty of domineering men who have exploited the entire dynamic, given submission a bad name, and made women fearful and unable to trust. Nothing happens in a vacuum.
I have to yield to make this marriage work. That is a biblical value, and lo and behold it actually works. I think it could work in a lot of marriages. I have a hard time imagining how marriage could work without it.
It is kind of funny to have a former feminist writing about submission, but God always seems to get the last laugh.