My older sister, Tozi, told me the funniest story the other day. In the early American colonies, it was against the law for wives to talk back to their husbands. Such offensives were punishable by the dunking stool. The culprit was strapped to the stool and publicly humiliated by being dunked into a vat of cold water. I laughed so hard as both my sister and I imagined having to live in “those days”. “Lad’s don’t bother unstrapping me, I suspect I’ll be here again soon, so let me save you the trouble. In fact you might as well drown me, while you’re at it”. We are both married (20+ years for her, 12 years for me) and could never imagine living in a world where we couldn’t “talk back” to our husbands.
Does that make us rebellious disrespectful wives? Women who haven’t understood the mandate “…submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22)? To some perhaps, but after 12 years of marriage I’ve come to realize the value of the role “wife”. Thank you Jesus I’m not the head, my husband has that role. Like God did in the Garden of Eden, he’ll ask my husband first for an accounting of our family. I’d rather not have that headache. But who has ever heard of a neck-less head? A dismembered head, hovering above a body, sending down unquestioned, untested mandates that are to be obeyed without question. And yet I feel that in so many ways, our Christian culture does just that — forgets and diminishes the role of the wife. Straps our roles onto the dunking chair and attempts to drown out our voices.
We get caught up in the Genesis tragedy, looking at how it all went wrong. And inevitably we throw out the baby with the bath water. We miss the subtext that outlines our roles as husbands and wives. Women are not forgiven for Eve’s sin. The take home messages from Genesis 3 seem to be that “poor” Adam’s abetting sin was that he “…listened to [his] wife” (vs. 17). And her problem was that “…she gave… some fruit…” (vs. 12). My argument is that Genesis 3 illustrates the abuse of God given roles: namely that as a “wife-giver” and “husband-listener”. They disobeyed God and in doing so, they perverted their roles in each other lives. And in true human form, the gift of our relationship roles gets sacrificed in our attempts to pay penance—and again the real problem is ignored–namely disobedience and non-reliance on our God.
From this story, I see that as a wife, my role is to give to my husband. I give help, I give advice, I give my opinion on our direction. Eve’s sin wasn’t that she gave, it is what she chose to give that was the problem. She gave to Adam out of her disobedience–her disobedience was the problem, not her giving. And yet time and time again we stop giving, believing it’s the godly thing to do. We swallow our tongues; silence our God given voices. And in doing this, we perpetuate our disobedience (the REAL problem in Eden). We are disobedient when we abdicate our role as givers in our families and most especially in our husbands´ lives. Let’s just take care that what we give, leads to life and is guided by the Holy Spirit. I’m his neck and he’s my head. I turn him and he leads me.
So ladies, lets refuse the dunking stool as we fearfully and with reverence to our God, obey and open our mouths and gift our husbands with our voices!
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