Life is beautiful and imperfect, a source of wonder and a challenge so complex that it’s good to pause from time to time and check our perspective and priorities against eternal truth. Jim Daly’s blog, Daly Focus, is full of daily insight and wisdom that promises to help you navigate today’s culture.
You've probably heard of Gabrielle "Gabby" Reece, a former Women's Beach Volleyball League star. But you may not be aware that her marriage was headed for divorce, when, as she calls it, “an old fashioned dynamic” mended the relationship. According to this volleyball star’s critics, the dynamic that saved her marriage set back women’s causes 50 years.
What could she have possibly said to provoke such a strong reaction?
All it took was one line from her newest book: “To be truly feminine means being soft, receptive, and – look out, here it comes – submissive.”
After sharing this perspective on national TV in April, Reece swiftly came under fire.
She told the Wall Street Journal that the overwhelming negative reaction was almost enough to keep her hiding in her hotel room the next day. One friend told her she may as well have said she worships the devil.
In today’s culture, gender roles in marriage is a controversial subject and one that’s easily misunderstood. And, regrettably, some men have used the Bible to demean and control their wives in an unbiblical manner. While this is the exception, the perception is damaging to those of us who uphold biblical womanhood.
But I still find the reaction to Reece’s conviction fascinating. She’s a strong, extremely accomplished athlete and businesswoman. When she describes her marriage, it’s clear there’s mutual respect between her and her husband – I don’t see how anyone could conclude she’s a “doormat.”
She says she’s found a lot of strength and happiness in her role. But even the suggestion that a wife should submit to her husband gets her branded an enemy of women’s rights.
Just last week on the Focus on the Family daily broadcast, we interviewed clinical psychologist Dr. Debbie Cherry about biblical submission. It was a great conversation, and she dispelled a number of common myths about the subject. I’d encourage you to listen to it.
What do you think? If you’re a wife who believes strongly in practicing what Reece calls “an old fashioned dynamic” – what many Christians would call a biblical principle – how would you convince a female friend that God’s design is actually best?
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Submit to what, exactly? This is very vague.
I don't find the reaction surprising.
I think culture on the whole takes the worst case scenario. As mentioned, Biblical family structure has been abused in the past leading which has lead to many current trends in popular conception of gender roles.
Without writing volumes, there are two things popular media either doesn't mention or won't mention as they lack a spiritual perspective. The first is the manner in which authority is handed down. The husband's authority is given by God, but not without responsibility and demands. In order for a husband's authority to be fully honored, he must adhere to the requirements that God has set forth.
In the US, we seem to focus on the privilege of authority as it applies to final say. It might be "privilege" if deciding on a vacation spot. We rarely look at the other end of authority. In my own marriage there are decisions that must be made that are the lesser of two evils. There was a time when my wife and I would debate over these things. Eventually we came to the decision that it would be my responsibility to determine certain choices that affect the family as a whole. There are responsibilities she's now taken sole ownership over, but that must flex in accordance with decisions I must make.
Doing my best to be a Godly man, when I make decisions my thoughts aren't about what makes me happy, but what is in the interest of my wife and children. This isn't purely about material needs either. How we help people, how we react to situations. It sounds simplistic, but as many know... it's not.
The second is attitude. As a Christian, we are supposed to be servants... all of us. Now, we also know that doesn't always play out like it should but we SHOULD be held to that standard. Though husbands have authority, we should all recognize that we must also be servants to our children and particularly our wives. Their needs should always be of great concern to us.
All easier said than done of course, but at least for my family it has made an improvement in our relationship. It is also rewarding. Though I can't speak for my wife, I have found greater perspective on what I should be doing as a husband and father, while also finding more confidence in my wife as I trust and rely on her to tend to the responsibilities she has. I also find that I do not resent the tasks she demands of me, because I know and accept them to be my responsibility.
Roles ARE important. I found that I fit the roles I was designed for, very well. Sadly, my own ignorance, coupled with a lot of misinformation during high school and college impeded me for many years.
All I can say to couple who read this in anger would be this:
I never fully trusted my wife, until I HAD to trust her. Before, I was always looking over her shoulder and she over mine. We now count on the other to do what they are supposed to do. It's scary to begin with, but in the two years we've adopted this mode it's only gotten better. There are still disagreements but much less bickering. It's no longer a question of WHO needs to do something or what needs to be done. Certainly we seek each others' opinions but in the end we leave it up to the person who's in charge.
In "stereotypical" fashion, she handles the domain of the house, with the exception of the meals as she just doesn't excel or have interest in that. She handles most of the bills and bank. I deal with the resource flow (read money or the lack thereof), equipment, maintenance (except the lawn, as she enjoys mowing) and family direction (hard to quantify, but think of it as wholeness. Most often this comes into play when dealing with outside issues, such as neighbors or other hostility).
In some ways it's added personal stress, but it's removed a lot of the interpersonal stress between the two of us. There's plenty of room for disagreement, but there's a lot more family time and much less fretting about little stuff.
If a couple are interested in trying this dynamic, I'd recommend getting together with trusted leaders in your church. It's really not rocket science, but there are a lot of dynamics that might need some insight as you consider it.