As a convinced “Proverbs 31 woman” ~ dedicated to serving the Lord by honoring, supporting, and even “serving” my husband ~ I always understood that according to the biblical teachings of patriarchy, it is actually the husband who assumes ultimate responsibility for his household. (One day, Warren would be standing before the Lord to give an account for his success or failure in leading the family in accordance with God’s revealed Word).
So ~ I believed that while I had only the temporal burden of submitting to my husband’s (often incompetent and wrong-headed) leadership in this life ~ it was Warren who actually bore the weight of responsibility in Eternity ~ where it really counted. This understanding made it easier to defer to Warren’s authority in our home even when it seemed like he was really screwing things up for all of us.
It all sounds so mind-numbingly right and godly as taught by devoted Titus 2 women such as the following excerpt taken from here:
The submission of the wife to her husband is not that of an inferior to a superior. The woman is joint heir (with the man) of God’s promises; she, like the man, bears the image of God and as a Christian will be conformed to Christ’s image. The different roles husband and wife have are by God’s appointment and design. That the woman and man are equal in being is re-enforced by the command to wives. Wives are to submit themselves (reflexive); their submission is voluntary, self-imposed. It is part of their obedience to the Lord; the Lord is the one who commands it, not the husband.
Remember that everyone is to submit to God. As your husband leads your home, it is God to whom he is ultimately responsible. He will have to give an account some day, just as you will have to account for your submission. It is quite liberating to know that God will hold your husband accountable for his decisions, not you. If you are arguing with him over decisions for your family, your root problem is failure to trust God. I would recommend that you do a study of the power and character of God in order to increase your faith in Him.
[Although it’s not actually the point of this post, I want to mention that it was this sort of thinking which allowed me to rationalize away the real harm which was being inflicted on my kids right before my eyes, day after day, year after very, long year. Somehow, I truly was trusting that so long as *I* was doing my part of God’s headship/submission program ~ then even though Warren was falling down on his end of the deal, the Lord would make up the difference ~ the children would be okay ~ and the Greater Story, the picture of Christ and the Church which marriage is intended to represent, would be on full display for our children and all the world to witness.]
I’ve been thinking about this no-win scenario ever since Laura posted her “Amazing Universal Bosch Mixer” story ~ it’s the perfect unwinnable set-up in which Laura was given the responsibility for producing 6 loaves of homemade bread every other day ~ and yet, she was denied the authority to decide precisely HOW to get the job done. Recently, while discussing a similar situation in which Dale automatically chose the knobs for the bathroom cabinets without ever thinking to consult her about what style or color she might like, I expressed my understanding and sympathy for Laura this way:
Here’s how I see the situation. It was YOUR home. Yes, it was Dale’s home as much as it was yours, but the difference is that because of the strict gender roles which you had adopted, the home was actually YOUR domain ~ you were supposed to be the keeper of the home ~ you were supposed to “look well to the ways of your household.” Thus, in all practicality it was YOUR arena ~ it was where you knew what you were doing ~ you’d been doing it for many years ~ performing and managing the everyday tasks of keeping the house running smoothly is something which you had a hell of a lot more experience than Dale ever dreamed of having ~ you put in years and years of trial-by-error, searching out the best way to organize, prepare healthy, nutritious meals, keep up with all that laundry, live on a tight budget ~ and you did all of that all day, every day ~ and YOU WERE GOOD AT IT….
The problem came ~ and what you are resenting about Dale in the example of him choosing the knobs for the bathroom cabinets ~ is that while YOU had a position of responsibility and were expected to carry out certain duties to keep everything running smoothly at home, DALE retained for himself all of the authority ~ he got to tell you not only what to do, but HOW to do it down to the tiniest details ~ all the while expecting you to do your job ~ not YOUR way (which would be according to what suits your particular style, abilities, capitalized on your strengths and compensated for your weaknesses) ~ but instead you had to play YOUR game according to HIS rules. How frustrating. No wonder you were pissed and depressed and defeated.
In our own home, one of the greatest frustrations for Warren was that I was not so good at enforcing the rules he established as the ultimate authority in our home. From my perspective, he made too many rules (he even had a rule about about the proper placement of the silverware in the dish drainer) ~ his rules seemed arbitrary, inflexible, and petty. So ~ when he wasn’t around, I rarely used what little energy I had to make the kids do those things which he expected them to do exactly in the way in which he expected them to be done.
Many, many times as we discussed Warren’s rules and why they weren’t being enforced, I would explain to him how it is that what seemed absolutely essential to him (DO NOT take inside toys outside or outside toys inside) were not so important to me (what about when the kids got a really creative idea and “just had” to bring something from inside outdoors to complete whatever project they were so caught up with ~ couldn’t we be a little flexible in order to encourage the children’s ingenuity?) ~ Warren would see my point, and agree with me ~ but if he were to back down after having already made his pronouncement as “head of the home” ~ then he would lose face and the kids would know that it was really Mom who’s in charge.
Forgive my Trekkie allusions here, but in the heat of the battle with “all hands on deck” and the enemy closing in ~ this headship/submission program is way more frustrating and disheartening than any Kobayashi Maru exercise even the most imaginative sci-fi writer could dream up.
But wait ~ it gets worse.
Not only was this no-win scenario played out on the earthly domain in the day-to-day running of our home ~ but, more consequentially, in the spiritual realm, I dedicated my heart, mind, soul and strength to this same unwinnable situation for more than 25 years of my life.
You see, I gave my life to Jesus when I was 17 years old ~ from then on, He became my Everything ~ and my own wants, preferences, and desires really did not enter into the equation. I was taught to “lean not on my own understanding,” ~ told that my heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked ~ I believed that God’s thoughts are not my thoughts and His ways are not my ways. No way was I living for myself ~ my “old man” was passed away and I was a new creature in Christ.
In my own wisdom, I probably would not have had so many children. I most likely wouldn’t have married Warren ~ knowing that I loved my independence and could have enjoyed a romantic relationship without having to move in with a man and commit my life to him. If I did marry Warren ~ my own understanding would have soon led me to either find some real solutions by getting him some medical /mental health attention ~ or else, when he became more difficult, more controlling, more petty ~ I’d have figured out that we are incompatible and filed for divorce. I definitely would have pursued my education ~ studied philosophy and psychology ~ maybe I would have ended up as an women’s advocate at a local abuse shelter.
But ~ once I had Jesus in my heart, I was so glad that early-on I was saved from my own selfish ways and natural desires. The “broad path” of whatever appealed to me may have led to pleasure and happiness for a season ~ but as a Believer, I understood that real and lasting joy could only come from living my life consistently for God. So ~ as a committed Christian, He had absolute authority over my life. To me, that meant searching the scriptures to discover His revealed will, exposing myself to sound bible teaching, seeking out godly “Titus 2” women who would teach, mentor, and hold me accountable ~ and it also meant submitting to my earthly authority ~ that is, to my husband.
If, after many years of total, sold-out dedication to the Lord, you’d have asked me what *I* liked, what *I* wanted, what interested *me* ~ I couldn’t have really told you, because I had died to myself daily ~ I constantly lived by John the Baptist’s example, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” That was me … or more accurately, that was not me ~ because there was so little of me left ~ I’d given my all to Jesus.
So then after living for Him for 25+ years, when Angel tried to kill herself and I could no longer make excuses for Warren ~ when I filed for divorce in order to protect the six younger children who were still at home ~ when I realized that I no longer believed in the One I’d served all those many years …. well, that’s because *I* had been following a cult, because *I* had been living a legalistic life not actually based on the correct interpretation of the bible, because *I* had tried to do it all in my own strength, because *I* didn’t really have a genuine, living relationship with Jesus ~ I only thought I was a born-again Believer loving, obeying and living for the Lord ~ but obviously, something was really messed up or else He would have worked everything out for good according to His purposes.
So, all the responsibility for the disaster which befell my family ~ all of it goes to *me.* I did it His way ~ but when it didn’t work out ~ that wasn’t His fault. The failure was mine.
Beam me out of here, Scotty ~ this battle’s rigged and we’re all going down and there’s no way I can win.
What’d you mean, the transporter is jammed and you can’t lock onto my signal?
Okay ~ well, so long as there’s no escaping this scene, I guess I’ll just confess. Yes ~ I have been responsible for much* of the dysfunction and abuse.
(*Not all ~ Warren, “the Church,” our twisted, patriarchal society ~ and several others who shall not remain nameless as I continue to tell my story ~ as well as some less-obvious culprits, and I ~ together we share the blame. The undoing of our family was honestly a group effort.)
I can clearly see now how I created my own No-Win Scenario by willingly abdicating all authority ~ I gave up my personal power to choose, to decide, to be me and follow my heart ~ follow my instincts as a mother and as a human being ~ I allowed “God” and Warren to make the decisions so that, ultimately, I could place the blame in their laps for whatever results did not work out so well.
So ~ I understand that I set my own trap. Still, I’m not at all sure that I can share cadet James T. Kirk’s confidence as he reprograms the Federation training simulation and then boldly declares, “I don’t believe in no-win situations.”