Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Ephesians 5: My Experience

Ephesians Chapter 5 (NRSV)
21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. 24 Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27 so as to present the church to himself in splendor, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind--yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32 This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. 33 Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

I suppose my response to Darwin's Ephesians 5 request is in itself an act of submission; it goes against my innate laziness to put up a post (you really don't know how serious I'm being here), but I love my husband and honor his requests, usually, unless they involve appeals to call the movers... Apparently I'd written on this before, but upon re-reading that post I found it deathly dull, so I hope I can be more engaging now.

The lesser injunction of wifely submission is subsumed in Paul's larger points: "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ." (5:21) and "Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband." (5:33) The first of these is directed toward all Christians; the second, toward both spouses. I should say that personally, this passage has never been a stumbling block or even much of an issue for me. I've no doubt that there are gonzo guys out there who give husbands a bad name by being overbearing or controlling or just plain jerky, but my husband falls into none of those categories. I don't find it onerous to consult him or ask his advice. However, he's never "ordered" me to do anything, and our relationship as adults is such that he never will.

Every marriage faces hard choices, however. Here, a bit of pseudo-fiction I composed myself, several months ago, in the midst of our recent job change. Names are eliminated to protect the melodramatic.
There once was a woman whose husband was considering moving to California for a job, but the woman didn't really want to go to California, despite the fact that the job was at IdealDreamCorp. and would have been an perfect fit for her husband. The woman was just sick at the thought of California, but she didn't want her husband to see how unhappy she was, so she choked it down, shutting herself off from him in the process. The family moved to California and had to live at in a small, ugly house (in California), but the husband was happy at work, finding great intellectual companionship and doing awesome stuff. Meanwhile the woman grew more and more unhappy: her house was small, the kids were crazy, there were no Real Catholics (tm) and she couldn't write on the internet about how unhappy she was because she wanted to hide it from her husband, because she didn't want him to be unhappy by how unhappy she was. She began avoiding him so he wouldn't discover this secret, and she sunk into a funk and couldn't get out of it, and he met someone more interesting and not so moody at work, and the woman and her husband got divorced and it was SO TERRIBLE...
Oh, the pathos! Was it really so much more interesting to be divorced (in some future alternate non-reality) than to trust that my husband, who loves me as Christ loves his Church, would do what was best for our family? Was there really so much for the divorced mother of many children that I would even want to imagine such a life of isolation? Quentin Tarantino once said so eloquently in Pulp Fiction, "I don't want to get f%^ing divorced!" I concurred, completely.

And that slap of reality across the tear-streaked face of my maudlin story was enough to pull me up short and make me reassess my life in the clear light of truth. So I went to Darwin and said (honestly) that I thought that I could probably live in California, if that seemed like the right choice for him to make for our family. That statement of submission (if that's what you want to call it) freed him to look at the job and the situation through his own eyes, instead of with the nagging fear of my total disapproval behind him (though that was probably in play too, since he's not a jerk) and to see the negative aspects of the area and the warning notes in the interview. He took the difficult and humbling step of turning down the position despite being a clear front-runner.

Difficult and humbling steps: the same steps that Christ took on the way to Calvary, as he gave Himself up out of love for His Church.

And yes, I "submitted" the whole silly story to Darwin, my own humbling step.

7 comments:

Betty Beguiles said...

LOVE this post, Mrs. Darwin. :)

bearing said...

I love it too.

Dorian Speed said...

Me three.

Donna Jannuzzi said...

I've been following this conversation via bearing's blog... I feel kind of weird about that; like I've been listening in on a private conversation, since you all obviously know each other so well. But, I suppose it's not really private since you're having this conversation in public? :)

What you said about this passage not having ever been a stumbling block for you is true for me as well and I enjoyed reading your post.

As for your pseudofiction. That is not so much pseudofiction for me - as it is something that really did happen to us. Well, minus the shutting down, the infidelity and the divorce. :) But my husband really did take a job in California after I had said, "I trust you and I will go wherever you lead us - except California." Not his fault, but that really was where the best opportunity was for him (and hence our family). You know, I'll be honest and say that it was very hard for me at first. I think that what finally brought me some peace of mind (and of spirit) was the realization, not so much that I needed to "submit" to my husband's will, but that I needed to submit to God's.

As to the economic question that keeps being brought up, I see that in much the same way. My staying-at-home is not so much an act of submission on my part towards my husband, but rather an act of dying-to-self according to God's will for me. I *could* work outside the home and together we could be earning almost twice as much income as we are now, but I honestly don't think that is what God is calling me to do. There are definitely aspects of this particular vocation that I find difficult (for an example, I am an introvert to what I think are two extroverts... hard sometimes), but I think this is my path to sanctification. Or something like it, I hope.

cliff said...

Interesting way to have resolved your fears & desires.

mrsdarwin said...

Donna, thanks for reading! We were very blessed to have another job opportunity close to my family in Ohio, which we ended up taking -- but at the time, that door had seemed closed to us, so it really was an act of faith for my husband to turn down the California position. I make it sound like this big desperate thing, although it's not like we had no job at all. It had just become clear that it was time to move on.

I should also point out something that occurred to me after I posted this: at the time I was composing my pseudo-fiction, I was also four weeks post-partum. So hormones may have played a large role in my emotional state.

I want to write about that whole decision process (eventually, when I have time) because it made me question a lot of my assumptions about how a successful marriage ought to work. One of these days, readers, when we're settled...

Jenny said...

As I read your account, your hormonal post-partum status was the first thing I thought about. That first month is one big irrational hormonal meltdown for me. But I hate being called hormonal, so I didn't say anything. :)