Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Equal in essence; different in function

This is a phrase that resonated with me during our pre-marital counseling.  I have struggled with the whole "submissive" attribute - the Biblical quality that wives are supposed to strive to achieve.  Thank goodness for the engagement, so I could figure this thing out. 

I always equated "submissive" to words such as doormat, servant, passive, surrender, silent, obedient and so on and so forth.  See why I've been struggling with this attribute?  It wasn't until I heard this phrase from our pastor that I realized the true meaning.  The true intention of the characteristic that is submission.  It finally clicked for me...equal in essence; different in function. 

Every time I heard or read the word submissive, a hierarchy diagram popped into my head.  T at the top and me underneath.  And this was hard for me to accept.  I even remember at one point hearing a woman at a Bible study tell us young girls that if your husband has an affair, you should forgive him and invite the mistress into your home.  Excuse me?  Not happening.  I think many Christians dwell on interpretation of the Bible and finding ways to support their argument rather than applying its lessons to better the world that we live in.  But that is a whole other topic for a whole other post. 

And while I'm on this random soap box (the whole affair thing made me think of it), I love this definition of forgiveness:  forgiveness is letting go of the hope that the past could have been any different.  i.e.  Husband had an affair (hypothetical situation)...the past can't be different...move on...don't make her a tenant.

Back to submission.  Equal in essence; different in function...I get that.  Both man and wife are human and are equal in essence...in substance.  There is no hierarchy when it comes to humanity.  Our pastor went on to explain that the husband's functions are to love, protect, provide and have the final say in major decisions impacting the family.  Not THE say, the FINAL say.  Our pastor made it very clear that it's important for the husband and wife to counsel together before coming to a conclusion.  This may result in a compromise, it may not.  But ultimately the husband will be judged by God on the decision, not the wife because that is one of her functions. 

The wife's functions are to love, support, respect and help counsel the husband in important decisions.  She is not judged on the final decision, however.  The pastor even went as far to say that if the husband does not fulfill his functions, God will not hear his prayers.  If the husband isn't fulfilling his function that is expected of him, God will not fulfill His function that man expects from Him.  Interesting concept.

I, as a future wife, will also be expected to fulfill my function.  I will support T in his final decisions and lift him up so that he can most efficiently fulfill his role in our marriage.  It won't always be easy; I can be a tad strong-willed to say the least.  But this phrase is one that I will keep fresh on my mind and reference often.  Our marriage will function successfully if we recognize the roles that God designed for us and find ways to help each other achieve these.  I truly believe that.

Clearly artist is not one of my functions...

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