I remember very clearly speaking with the pastor before our wedding. We didn’t want “canned” vows but we didn’t want to write our own either. We wanted to add the passage from Ruth where you go, I go, and where you stay, I stay (paraphrase, mine). We wanted our ceremony to convey the love of God and His plan for salvation for anyone attending who might not know Him. And we wanted to make it clear that we were ok with doing things a little differently in our marriage priorities so my husband gave a brief speech on Jesus being willing to wash His disciples’ feet as an act of service before He died for them, and how as my husband, he was saying he would die for me, followed by washing my feet during the ceremony. We had the whole passage from Ephesians 5 read, being sure to include the part about wives respecting their husbands. And our other reading was from Song of Solomon.
At the time, I didn’t know how weird we were.
It was just the place God had led us to – a place somewhere near the beginning of this specific journey which is somewhere in the middle of our overall journey.
Later, as more of our friends started getting married, I paid pretty close attention to the vows. What was said. What was left out. And I was surprised I think at the split in people who left in or took out the word “submit” in their vows. I think I was more surprised by WHO.
Like a woman who has known Jesus her whole life who told me she made the pastor take it out because she would NOT submit to any man.
Or another who is still learning a lot about Jesus but said she couldn’t take it out because there it was in the Bible.
And I think submission gets this terrible rap. Like “O, she submits to her husband. He must be the boss. And she must HAVE to stay at home and she’s probably barefoot and pregnant all of the time and she doesn’t get any money or a car and she just has to be his servant and do whatever he says and have sex whenever he wants.”
Of course there’s the contrary – the wife who rules the roost, her way or the highway, mom’s the boss, dad’s a dummy, I-can-have-it-all-so-I-must-have-it-all-no-matter-what-the -ost, and sex is a weapon to use at my discretion, so push over hunny, I’m here kind of lady.
But I have to get excited when I see what came out yesterday. I love when submission gets discussed in mainstream media. It gives such an opportunity to shed some truth on this often misunderstood biblical discipline. A beloved childhood star writes a book and the interview went like this:
“I love that my man is a leader. I want him to lead and be the head of the family and those decisions, major decisions, do fall on him,” she told HuffPo Live. “It doesn’t mean I don’t voice my opinion. It doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion. I absolutely do. But it is very difficult to have two heads of authority.”
The former “Full House” star wrote a book, “Balancing It All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose,” and wrote, “I quickly learned that I had to find a way of honoring his take-charge personality and not get frustrated about his desire to have the final decision on just about everything. I am not a passive person, but I chose to fall into a more submissive role in our relationship because I wanted to do everything in my power to make my marriage and family work.”
“The definition that I’m using with submissive is the biblical definition,” she explained. “It’s meekness. It is not weakness. It’s strength under control. It’s bridled strength.”
It’s not a black or white, winner and loser, doormat wife to an ogre husband.
It’s a beautiful, biblical testimony of marriage.
It’s (as she says) meekness, not weakness. The desire to complete instead of compete. The love to be a helpmate and the other half.
Ya know, not too long ago, this was the norm. Men and women got married and wives respected and submitted to their husbands. And it wasn’t pretty. It was hard. Marriages weren’t and aren’t fairy tales. But marriages worked. Divorce rates weren’t nearly 50%.
Now that divorce rates are close to 50%, we look around and say that presently, it’s acceptable to get divorced and in the past it wasn’t. That’s why the divorce rates are really higher. If it would have been “ok” before people would have always just got divorced.
This is probably true to some extent. But it’s not isolated to just divorce. The divorce rate is becoming more acceptable now because other aspects of our culture are becoming acceptable now. Things like:
Building a culture where men don’t have to be men and take responsibility.
Building a culture where women use their bodies to control, manipulate, and sell.
Getting married because it feels good, or right, or makes us happy instead of to bring glory to God.
And the list goes on and on.
Call me a traditional gal, but I can see that marriage worked this way. I can see that marriages were conducted a certain way and worked.
Submission and respect create an environment where the marriage can thrive.
Another celebrity figure, Gabrielle Reece discusses this in her book My Foot is Too Big for a Glass Slipper where she talks about taking on traditional gender roles to make her marriage work and in an interview said:
“I think because women have the ability to set the tone, that the ultimate strength and showing real power, I believe, is creating that environment,” she said. “I think it’s a sign of strength.’’
A sign of strength, ladies, to give up control and to create an environment where a man can lead and not be ashamed of making mistakes – as we all do – until he gets it right.
I know Ms. Bure is catching so much heat over this one. Don’t we all? When we walk in a way counter to our culture and in tune with our Creator, it puts people on edge. The “difference” becomes obvious and it makes people uncomfortable.
I am so glad this came up. Blessed and honored to be doing what I do and standing up and saying “I want to do my marriage differently than the culture. It is both a challenge and a true joy. I will strive to do this God’s way.”
For people who aren’t believers, this may seem like a stretch. Like a ridiculous notion. But it has a proven track record of efficacy, this respect/submission thing. And if you wonder what the spectrum is between Ruler of the Roost and Doormat, that’s what we do here. I’d be so honored if you’d stay and see what you might learn along the way.
Hearts are changing.
A revival of sorts is starting. And we get to be the grassroots sharing and teaching and praying.
Ephesians 3:20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.
Well written, sweet Leah.
Leah Heffner says
Katie, Thanks. Not me, but to Him alone be the glory!
Mande Williams Kalbfleisch says
I think the feminist movement has made being submissive into being walked all over and sadly as Christians very few of us have stepped up to try and change that. I applaud her for stepping out. Many in women who have the fame and clout to take the stance and be heard are the ones fighting for “women’s rights”. As a biblically submissive wife I don’t feel cheated or walked on at all but my voice would never be heard. I also think that there are many men out there who don’t know Christ who use this to abuse women. Sadly those people also get the media attention.
Leah Heffner says
Mande- Thank you for this comment. I think you are right about who is getting the media attention. I’m glad we can support someone who is getting attention for this. -Leah
LOVE THIS! Thank you so much for sharing, Leah. What a beautiful wedding ceremony. That was so honoring to Christ and His Word!
Leah Heffner says
Peacefulwife- Thank you. God has grown us so much. -Leah
I love reading your posts. Does everyone know that Candace Bure’s brother is Kirk Cameron? He has a fantastic web page with a blog as well that is rich in biblical teaching for this day.
Submission was something I was against for many many years. You mentioned your Christian friend who said she would never submit to any man.. that was me.. until this past year.
My marriage is falling apart due to my lack of respect. Infidelity has occured on BOTH sides now and hurt and anger are the prevailing emotions and NOT the love I so desire and need. I was raised in the church so natually in my time of need I felt drawn back to it. I pray I never stray away again!! This time though, at 36 years old, I am FINALLY getting it.. this idea of submitting and unconditional respect and allowing for and forgiving the mistakes my husband may make..
Here is what I have seen since begining to show the proper respect… The decisions and suggestions of my husband are usually good and right.. while when I balk and try to do my own thing, I fail and he is angry for my lack of respect from not honoring him. When I humbly say I am sorry and do not expect to hear one from him, by the next day he is softened and shows some love.
With NO LOVE earlier in the year to this now where I can see little glimmers of the love we once shared, I know I am doing the right thing and GOd is working in both me and my husband. PRAISE HIM
Leah Heffner says
Tiffanie- I did know she was his sister, but not until the last few years. Small world, I guess. As for your marriage journey, I’m so glad you are here with us! Did you see that Nina is starting to blog her way through The Respect Dare? I encourage you to subscribe to her too (check the bloggers tab in the main menu). I will be joining her as will our blogger for parents of teens. We’re getting back to the basics! So glad you are joining us! -Leah