Beautiful Submission

BeautifulSubmission

At the age of eighteen I joined the US Army and entered basic training. We arrived at Fort Dix each of us so very differently dressed and with different lengths of hair. Some were loud, some quiet. There were slobs, neat freaks and everything in between. We piled off the bus looking like a bag of civilian laundry dumped in the middle of a military museum.

Eight weeks later those young men look like a unit marching with precision, it is masculine beauty to see a unified force.

Hupotasso is the Greek word translated as submission and was a military term though not always used in that context. It simply means to order under.

Though obedience is important for submission, it is insufficient. Trust is a needed ingredient and it is that combination of trust and obedience that makes it beautiful. It is the trust and obey that that brings unity. When I started basic training the company that I was assigned to had a temporary drill sergeant. though we didn’t know that at the time, and we had the reputation of being the worst company in the battalion. Moral was low and there was lots of in fighting so it was a struggle to work together. Then our drill sergeant returned from training that he had been attending and began to set things in order. He was a tall, quiet Jamaican man that didn’t get up in your face like some of the others,  instead he pushed as as a group. He encouraged us to help each other succeed. We were encouraged to push ourselves and he taught us and made us sing as we marched. In time moral improved, we pushed ourselves and each other and in the end he and we, had the unity that makes a great team. We trusted him and were quick to obey. With trust, respect becomes more natural and so he was the most respected drill sergeant in the battalion and certainly the one I respected the most.

Now on to marriage. Submission has become a dirty word and to me that is sad. Respectful submission has the power to bring unity. It can melt a cold heart, encourage responsibility and invoke empathy. I Peter: 1 In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, 2 as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior. I have used this principal to survive egotistical authorities in the army and in the civilian workplace and with men and women I did not trust. I put my trust in God and prayed for them, so all the ingredients were in place to work towards unity. Don’t get me wrong it is not a magical formula, there have been times when I was asked to go against God’s commands and I had to make a respectful appeal and even that did not always work out and I had to except the consequences.

The end goal of love, respect and submission as taught about in Ephesians 5 is a one flesh unity that is a beautiful thing to all who witness it. When a couple dances together of one heart and mind each playing their part it is truly a beautiful thing. I really love the trapeze duos  as a picture of this dynamic.

 

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Covering Confrontation

It has been over a month since I wrote my post about Struggling with conviction – Head Coverings . During that time a couple from an orphanage we support in India came to visit and make a report to our church. The husband made his report with his wife by his side and then our pastor came up to pray for them. The wife calmly lifted her head covering from around her neck to cover her hair before the prayer and the expression on her face was so reverential, an expression that I thought of as beautiful submission.

That day I was sure that this symbol was something good and helpful for spiritual growth in a similar way to communion, which is covered in the same chapter; I Corinthians 11. The Corinthian church in their spiritual immaturity were in the first case ignoring one custom and making a mockery of the other.

I know I have gotten off track. I decided to talk to my wife on our Sunday afternoon walk. I told her about how I had been struggling with these convictions off and on over the last decade and had gone back to excepting the excuses that most every one else was making to ignore the head covering custom. I told her about watching it in action that Sunday when the couple from India visited and how beautiful I thought the symbolism was. And talked about how we should bring this symbolic custom back. She said nothing and continued to say nothing as if I had never spoken of this.

The next morning I left the head coverings I had bought in plain sight on top of her dresser and left for work. Finally on Friday night she asked to talk and she showed me this article at Bible.org

But the only part she wanted me to look at was this paragraph:

Today, however, the situation is quite different, at least in the West. For a woman to wear a head covering7 would seem to be a distinctively humiliating experience. Many women–even biblically submissive wives–resist the notion precisely because they feel awkward and self-conscious. But the head covering in Paul’s day was intended only to display the woman’s subordination, not her humiliation.

I replied with, I understand that you could feel this way but I think you will get sympathy where I will probably get ridiculed. I won’t go into the emotional storm that went on for the next 20 minutes but it ended with her finally conceding that she wasn’t closed to the notion and she asked if she could talk to her friends and pray about it. I agreed to that because this is a public action and those conversations are inevitable.

The second Sunday after this she surprised me by wearing a head covering even though she never got around to talking to her friends.

Strange Imagery / Customs

Imagine a marriage proposal. What are the images that come to mind? Most likely you picture a man down on one knee before his love with a ring in his out stretched hand.

I have spent over a decade prayerfully stripping away the influence of this world from my faith in Jesus Christ. There has been more ways the surrounding culture has influenced my mind and heart than I ever would have thought.

I remember daydreaming about proposing to my girlfriend. Imagining many different ways, locations and settings. One thing was always the same, getting down on one knee like a knight before royalty. Now that just seems like such strange custom for a couple.

In the Bible we see the imagery of the church being the bride of our Lord. It gives me a queasy feeling to imagine our Lord taking a knee to ask to be my Lord. When he takes a knee to wash the filth from my feet, it is different, it is humbling and incites reverence in me. But for a proposal? I would think even if you are an egalitarian this custom should seem strange to petition a woman as if she were your sovereign.

I have come to believe that chivalry / courtly love and it’s customs need to be expunged from our christian walk.

Refreshing Father’s day sermon

Pastor began the sermon reading an article written by Jen Hatmaker that talked about how the parents of littles think they have so much control over how their children will turn out and the parents of bigs know better.

He went on to talk about how in modern parenting there are so many books and “experts” telling us how to parent “right”.  This was followed by talking about when his kids were little and he was reading all those books by Dobson and the others popular at the time and how his Dad told him “you know we didn’t have all that, we just went to the Bible.”  The take away summary being;  All the books and resources are a distraction and leads to us putting God in a box.

Additional notes:

“If they turn out right it is God’s Grace and if they don’t, do not give up.”
“If God could not win our love with power, neither can we.”
“Let it go guys.” I think he is talking about regrets and guilt.
“Lift up holy hands. You have a father that wants to heal your hearts.”

In short; Pastor gave an encouraging sermon with no hint of the “Man Up” spirit.

Apparently a couple of wives had asked our pastor not to beat up the men this year. Yes, he actually said that.

The Redistribution of Authority

At times I find myself nostalgic for a time I never knew except through reading. A time most would decry as totalitarian and barbaric. When God setup the laws for his chosen people it was laws of patriarchy. Men had more rights than the world allows today.

The right of family governance is probably the most notable. Men could form a family, protect, guide and discipline with few restrictions compared to modern law.

  1. A father could choose a husband for his daughter. Of course, depending on the kind of man he was this may not be good for her, but are women really doing any better making the choice for themselves. In marriage traditions this right is symbolized by the father giving the bride away but even this is fading away as it has lost all meaning.
  2. A man could nullify the oath of his wife or daughter. Making oaths are serious business and it was understood that a women was more likely to make a rash oath based on feelings that could be a detriment to the family. Interestingly this was still acknowledged in our culture just 50 years ago when a woman could not get a credit card without the consent of a male relative.
  3. A man could keep his wife. Sure she could run away but he had the authority to bring her back if he wanted.

This is a small sampling of rights that God’s law gave men that we no longer have because they were stolen by those in power. Power that is corrupt seeks more power, more authority but there is a finite amount of authority to go around so it must be taken by force or manipulation. In God’s law the goal was to strengthen families not the government. And God warned them that once they had a king he would take from their families. This is what happens, the powers that be want to educate your children and lessen our authority in the home with the end result being broken homes and a more malleable populace.   As much as I would like to see America great again I don’t think it can happen unless we can get enough freedom to make our families great. Call me old fashioned but I still think father knows best. At twenty I didn’t believe that but after 30 years of marriage and six children I have become more like my earthly father and striving to be more like my heavenly Father. Benevolent, loving and to be feared.

Struggling with conviction – Head Coverings

Recently on the Biblical Gender Roles blog was a post on head coverings. This has been something that has pricked my conscience from time to time over the last three decades. Then I would go to the Bible, then the commentators, ask a pastor and then the internet.

I have never really heard any convincing arguments concerning why the church has abandoned this practice.

I Corinthians 11 KJV

3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered. 7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. 9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God. 13 Judge in yourselves*: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? 14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? 15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering. 16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

It seems to me we are shameful for abandoning this practice.