Thursday, May 17, 2012

Wifely Submission Part VII: Who Makes the Final Decision?

cover art Ladies Home Journal
Who is in the driver's seat in your marriage?
Whenever there is discussion of mutual submission, the bottom line for many is: who makes the final decision? 

Perhaps it is a question of temperament.  Speaking for myself, I am very unselfish about things that don't matter to me.  I will happily defer to my husband when it comes to decisions about cars, electronics and other things that I have no interest in as long as they work.  I certainly don't consider myself a shrew.  But on things that *do* matter to me?  Well, there is a reason that my mom owned copies of The Strong Willed Child in both Spanish and English!  Giving in simply isn't in my nature.  I was sincerely worried when I was younger that I would never find a man that I would genuinely be able to submit to.

The idea of a husband being able to pull a trump card and overrule me simply because he is a man felt wrong, unfair and silly, because it is wrong, unfair and silly.

On the other hand, I would have despised a weak man who gave in resentfully or was intimidated by me.  I wanted us a partner whom I could respect, and who would respect me.  It sounds pretty basic, but I have seen a lot of marriages where it isn't the case, and many churches that are both terrified and enraged by the very idea.

In a mutually submissive relationship, most day to day decisions are made by whoever has the interest, aptitude and responsibility.  So I don't need permission or direction from my husband, just as he doesn't need permission or direction from me, in our own areas of responsibility.  Things like my appearance, activities during the day, care of the children when I am with them, spending money and so on are up to me.  Because we love each other, we are courteous and discuss big things like major purchases and even little things, just because we are both interested.  But neither dictates to the other.

But what about the big issues?  What if there is a major life decision that needs to be made and you disagree?  Inaction until unity.  We both belong to God.  We both love Him and each other.  He led the people of Israel with a fire and a cloud.  He will lead us, too.  So we wait, we pray, we listen and consider.  If necessary, we talk more.  Until there is clear direction from God, we stay where we are and hold off on a decision. 

What if inaction *is* a decision?  Simplistic advice that evades the tough questions provokes uncontrollable eye rolling for me, even if I am the one giving it.  I get that some things are time-sensitive, and that a choice to maintain the status quo *feels* like a decision.

Quite frankly, inaction until unity will only work if both partners are committed to finding a solution.  If they are trying to use this as a tactic to control each other, it is not mutual submission.  If they are determined to work together and seek God, I believe that they will eventually find a solution that satisfies both of them.  Often that will look like a new idea that neither had considered before.  Other times it may look like a change of perspective, as one finds new information that leads to agreement with their partner.

It is *not* a case of one winning and the other losing.  Nor is it a case of both losing (compromise).  If one or both is unsatisfied, it isn't unity. Mutual submission means that both the husband and wife are submitting to each other.  They are acting unselfishly and seeking to find the best for each other.  Rather than trying to impose their own way, they are both exercising their energy and purpose to find God's way for their family.  That may mean at times that they stand in each other's way to prevent going down a wrong path, but ultimately they find unity and act out of love.

Coming soon:  Submission and Abuse

Image credit: jbguess

Read the whole series :)


Lauren Wayne said...

"Inaction until unity." I *love* this phrase, which is new to me. Thank you!

dulce de leche said...

I love it, too! I didn't come up with it. I believe that Crystal Lutton
did. She is the one who first showed me that the Bible does not teach spanking. Her book, Grace Based Living is full of excellent teaching on mutual submission and gentle parenting from a Christian perspective. <3

Anonymous said...

What Bible does Crystal use, just out of curiosity? Is it the same one that does away with all the verses against homosexuality or teaches there really is no hell?

dulce de leche said...

Anonymous, I am not sure which Bible Crystal uses, although I imagine that like me she uses several different languages and translations. However, I am confident that she does not use any that omits any part of the Bible (although she has studied the Hebrew Scriptures extensively, I know that she fully believes the New Testament, as well). She (and I) have a deep reverence for all of God's Word.

If you are referring to The Source, it does not omit references to homosexuality (and actually provides extensive notes on some of the different terms used, particularly references to anal sex). I have not read all of the Revelation or the notes on it, but in the Gospels it does reference Hell.

Unknown said...

Hello Dulce, I have just learned about you and your studies from my daughter. In reading your blog on "Wifely Submission" I am gently stirred, and I feel a refreshing "witness of the Spirit." Thank you so much for your extensive research. Oh that we would have more who would do the same. I appreciate that you explained why there is even a possibility of a different interpretation, that being the advancement of language study in our day. May we be ever ready and willing to hear God's voice guiding us to deeper levels with Him as He opens His Word to our hearts!
I am wondering if you have completed the series on Submission. At the end of the last post, I see you mentioned a coming blog entitled Submission and Abuse. Am I missing finding it? Thank you again for a tender, honest heart wanting to follow God to the deepest rincones!!