Monday, August 10, 2009

how is your beloved better than the others?

i was speaking to an engaged young woman a couple years ago about the role of a woman in marriage and i noticed her hesitations to read the scriptures in the bible about women and marriage. i asked her why, and her response was that she wasn’t into that whole male domination thing and didn’t like the word submit. likewise i have talked to many married women over the years who still struggle with the same thing: he is not going to tell me what to do. i am an independent woman and i am not going to have someone controlling me.

because of abuses of control in the past, many women in my generation are operating out of fear and grasping at what they imagine to be control of their own lives. unfortunately, operating with the starting point of fear always leads to manipulation: if i am afraid that you will control me, i do everything in my power to create circumstances where that will never happen. when i start to suspect a disruption to my false reality i have created around myself to keep me safe, i will go to any measure, often not overtly, to make sure nothing is changed in this self-created comfort zone. if my security is challenged by someone, i can make them feel guilty and sorry that they ever approached the subject.

this subtle and often difficult to detect way of self-preservation is really manipulation and what is called in the bible witchcraft. and, because of the overuse and misuse of these terms, along with others such as “a jezebel spirit,” many women have made themselves untouchable and unteachable in these areas by putting up a wall when someone tries to approach the subject.

i had the example in my home of something that i did not and still do not see often. my mom was an excellent example to me of what it meant to submit to her husband. my dad is the best example that i know of a husband encouraging his wife to rise to her calling and do everything in her heart to do. growing up my mom led worship, had a career, was very active in many leadership levels at our church and yet she did not have to demand her rights or talk my dad into recognizing her value. i wish this was more often the case, and i was very spoiled by my dad telling me my whole life that i could do anything a boy could do and do it better. i quickly found out that not everyone had the value to either put their marriage as a priority nor serve the calling of their husband or wife. my dad would often tell me that the apostle paul's teaching on submission in marriage were directed at both spouses: both were to love the other to the point of laying down even their lives.

why are so many christian women afraid to dive into what the Lord said about marriage and godliness as a woman? i think i can relate with how i viewed marriage when i was in high school and college. in my teenage years and early twenties i was very leery of marriage and the confines i believed came with it. i too said, “no one is telling me what to do,” fearing i would find a husband who would be much like a task master who would not value who i was as an individual but just want me to serve him without value in return. (bit of an exaggeration, but it is amazing how fear can make one believe all sorts of exaggerations and irrational thoughts to be true.) probably mostly influenced by the spirit of the age and the prevalent message that women could live fuller lives without a husband or children. i thought i would be swept off of my feet by some guy, only for him to change once he had “caught” me, and somehow i would end up stuck in this relationship forever and not ever fulfill my own dream or plans. (i do not believe in divorce as an option in my life.)

i was afraid of the unhappiness i saw in so many marriages, including christian marriages, and i wanted nothing to do with it. though i longed to be known by someone and loved unconditionally, as well as to be able to give this knowing and unconditional love to someone else, i had very little confidence in the reality of it happening in a real relationship that wasn’t dreamed up in my head. plus, all the verses of “submit” and “women shall not speak” made me angry inside. i felt like women were viewed as sub-human and a lesser than of man in much of the church and was convinced that i needed to look out for number one. it wasn’t until the Lord did His work in my heart that i could see a hope for something different than i had maybe seen as an outside observer to many relationships. it wasn't until this point that i realized i didn't need to fight for my rights to live the call on my life.

as women, and really just as people in general, we need to first experience love from the Bridegroom God before we can ever receive love from the bridegroom (or wife if you are a male) in our own home. it is life-changing to believe He loves me when i am dark and imperfect. it changes everything when i believe Him when He says i am lovely. it will change the way i operate, give love, and receive love. it will change the lenses of the glasses with which i view life. this transforming power is what draws me time and time again to the book of the song of solomon.
how is your beloved better than others, most beautiful of women?
how is your beloved better than others, that you charge us so?

song of solomon 5:9
i see this question as the classic question of why should i as a woman give all i am to a man with the possibility that he will abuse it and not treasure it, leaving me hurting and disillusioned? why should we as people, male and female, give all we are to the Man Christ Jesus and surrender the control and autonomy of our lives? the current generation of women seem to believe that we are the first to desire freedom and liberty. we imagine we are the first to be unhappy with the idea of being confined or restricted in some way. but we can see here that it is an age old fear and this is an age old question, regardless of time, generation, or gender. tell me, how do i know that this beloved is better than others that He will not treat me as the others? how could you charge me to lay down my freedom and control of my life for another?

this Bridegroom King, Jesus, has a love so deep and full and amazing that it will not disappoint, like we have been disappointed by others. it is so mysterious that we will never grow bored or tired of discovering it more and more. it is so unconditional that we will become more and more confident and free and liberated within the confines of His love and our relationship. i see my darkness; He calls me lovely. i have been abused by others in the past; He calls me perfect one and treats me with tenderness and kindness. i try to hide behind my veils and walls and safe places of my “boundaries” or “personality,” and He calls me most beautiful of women and asks me to draw near into His chambers and leave all the safety behind. (song of solomon 1).

to obtain this love, so unconditional and so transforming and so freeing, i would willingly lay down my rights to my freedom and control. to experience what every heart yearns for, i would willingly submit, serve, and follow like the beloved. but life isn’t like that right? i mean, a husband is merely a man and men with ultimate unchecked power are prone to evil, right? and if I don’t look out for myself, as i heard a girl friend of mine say in passing the other day in talking about her marriage, who will? he {her husband} will walk all over me.

i am proposing the most ridiculous of answers to this age old struggle of women with leaving our comfort to follow this relationship: i am suggesting that this freedom and love and autonomy we all long for as women, and really as humans male and female alike, is actually found in the act of service, submission, and laying down our lives for someone else.

more to come...



Tammi said...

I admit like most women I too when I was younger thought submission was willing being controlled. But, much before I got married God started to reveal to me what true submission was that it was not based out of fear but love. When I married Zeb I fully realized what this meant. Because he loved me and knew me I would never cease to submit to him and serve him. And it has never been hard! I think God had a great idea when He said "Husbands love your wives" Because when that love flows from the Father there is freedom. I love your blogs Charis, your thoughts continue to inspire me!

Lori Richan said...

Charis - what great thoughts! I'm really proud of you for writing about this subject! You did a beautiful job!! Very thought provoking!! Lori

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...