Marriage and Submission: Do Some Men Need to Remain Single, Celibate and Get a Dog? (Days 134-140 of Quitting the Bible)

Marriage and Submission: Do Some Men Need to Remain Single, Celibate and Get a Dog? (Days 134-140 of Quitting the Bible) November 20, 2018
Photo by David Rangel on Unsplash

Do some men need to consider remaining single, celibate and getting a dog?
I ask because in this age if the best way for a married heterosexual man to relate to his wife is through demanding “submission,” then I think he might want to consider leaving the institution alone.
If he needs obedience and submission so badly, he can adopt a dog and binge watch classics of Dog Whisperer to make it happen.

Now you might wonder, why celibacy?

Since many Christian men seemed to be invested in using religion to control all aspects of women’s bodies, then I invite them to be just as willing to control themselves.

Last week, a two-day long disagreement with my husband reminded me of the issue of submission.
Yes, the discussion lasted two days because some issues do not get resolved in one quick fireside chat.
Heck, sometimes you need to stop, eat, do life, do the hokie pokie and turn yourself around with a fresher perspective.

During our discussion, my husband did not use “submit” and “obey” as some manipulative way of getting his way.

He did not bring it up at all, and being the Bibleless woman that I am in this season, I thought about how he does not spend time in our relationship demanding submission- a concept I have been taught about for years in different churches.

In reality, both of us learned from each other on how to respect and love each other even more.

In this post, I share my reflection on revisiting much of the church’s over-emphasis on Christian submission in marriage.

1. Anti-Foolishness and Pro-Healthy

Christian submission is a favorite topic in lengthy sermon series, classes, online videos, social media posts that one would think that Jesus was Lord and Submission and not Lord in Savior of the Christian faith.

I am not anti-submission. As usual, I am anti-foolishness and pro-healthy.

I find that typical religious teachings go off kilter on women and submission.
One of the primary arguments supporting submission in marriage is that it keeps the relationship in Godly order.
A lot of churches need to table the issue of submission because they are out of order with their concern for keeping order.

Some church leaders seem to get carried away with using scriptures to coerce, manipulate, and control people, instead of learning how to relate in healthy ways.

Even in spaces where leaders mention mutual submission or the ways husbands treat their wives, the bulk of the focus is on these perceived out of control weeple (women + sheep + people). There is much focus on women obeying and submitting in their homes and in churches because… wait for it… God said so.

I have learned that submission does not require relinquishing the use of our abilities, power, and agency.

2. Love Starved or Love Abundant

When we reduce our marriages to scripture-based power struggles, we miss out on an abundance of love and respect.

The disagreement I had with my husband invited us to grow individually and together.

The over-emphasis of submission is a message of scarcity. It is about struggling for power through demands. Whereas, the model of mutual submission, invokes an unlimited amount of love and respect free to give and take. One demands, and the other one inherently attracts.

I have another word that emerged from our disagreement that I offer people to consider before zeroing in on submission: goodness.

Instead of asking about how much your spouse submits to you, consider asking yourself, “how much have I exhibited the goodness of God to my spouse?

3. Follower or a Wife?

Do you want a follower, or do you want a wife?
If you want followers, you can gain them on social media.

If you are a man and the best way you can lead is by telling your wife to “submit,” chances are you want a follower. Submission is not a magical word like “abracadabra” to make a marriage work. Your perspective and framework help determine if you want someone to follow you by coercion or a wife who respects and loves you because she desires to.

Ego requires a woman to perpetually shrink back, stay small, and cower in silence for her husband to feel important. Attaching roles and titles with this approach can lead to abuse of power, disrespect, and a lack of love.

Love and respect are not qualities that we dole out based on gender roles. All people benefit and thrive from both because they are liberating.

I argue that it is possible for men to have this freedom and retain their sense of manhood, without going about it through machismo and chauvinist practices.

It has been said that it is better to marry than to burn. I say to men that it is better to leave women the heck alone if you are going to spend a lifetime burning her nerves with your constant need for control.

Closing:  Living Fully Expressed

Men need to be able to be fully expressed and feel loved in healthy ways. Like different women, numbers do not know how or that they are even dealing with this issue.

Often when they overemphasize submission in marriage, I perceive different men struggling in their gender and spiritual identities. Some even act as if they need to have an exaggerated performance of masculinity to feel powerful. Also, I see men trying to perform social and cultural expectations of masculinity that speak to a deep yearning to feel like something or someone.

Because of these insecurities masked by expressions of strength that they have long learned to perform, their desperation clings to a concept like submission to give them the validation they desire.

These cultural and social molds make sense to the ego. They might appeal to the masculine energy that I argue all of us possess to varying degrees. However, we slowly (or rapidly) starve our souls when we live according to these molds.

We are not living authentically.
When men demand submission, they can’t hear the silent whisper calling them to live more authentically.

When some men struggle with insecurities, you will see an over-reliance on attention to his physical strength, career, appearance, money, and/or possessions to demonstrate to the world that he is worthy. He is hard-pressed to go much more profound because he has not done so for himself.

Like various women, there are a lot of men who really do not know who they are apart from the things they learned that makes them somebody according to social and cultural norms.

When men embrace a journey to know themselves (it is a journey), they do not feel threatened by women in leadership in the church. They would understand that loving and cherishing their wives like they cherish themselves and the way Christ loved the church, would inspire the submission they demand.

We deceive ourselves into thinking it feels more comfortable to stick to what we know than to embrace personal development.

Remember the disagreement my husband and I had? Although we did not enjoy hearing them, we appreciated the critiques because they came with love and the mirror reflected back what was also beautiful and lovely. When you see these mirrors as gifts, marriage can be something that transforms you in ways you would not have ever imagined.

If a man is more invested in preserving his ego than embracing the invitation to grow together in love in marriage, then I know a number he can call to adopt a rescue dog.

No matter the relationship status, please consider the dog.

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  • soter phile

    you said: “Days 134-140 of Quitting the Bible”

    “Do not let this book of the law depart from your mouth, but meditate on it daily and nightly…” (Jsh.1:8)
    “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you…” (Ps.119:11)
    “We do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God…” (Mt.4:4)

    For all your objections to submission, your subtitle reveals the biggest one.
    One might as well say: “thoughts on rejecting food while starving in the desert”

  • 70% of American men ages 20-34 aren’t married and women lose 90% of their ovarian eggs by the age of 30. Maybe now, only caucasian men not receiving Affirmative Action university admissions, scholarships and government mandated hiring and only men being required by law to register for Selective Service or becoming felons, be fined and lose voting rights……isn’t worth it, anymore?
    “I don’t care if I pass your test, I don’t care if I follow your rules. If you can cheat, so can I. I won’t let you beat me unfairly – I’ll beat you unfairly first.” — Ender Wiggin
    (Orson Scott Card, Ender’s Game – Ender’s Saga, #1)