When Paul and I selected our marriage vows and scripture readings, we both avoided Ephesians 5:24, which reads, "Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything."
The idea of submission, which dictionary.com defines as " to give over or yield to the power or authority of another" rubbed us both the wrong way. Paul certainly does not see himself as an "authority" figure, nor do I consider myself to be in need of guidance. This kind of relationship is like an unbalanced see-saw--somebody is bound to get hurt, and neither person is having a good time.
So, submit to my husband? I might as well vacuum in pearls and high heels.
Of course, the joke's on me, as it so often is when I attempt to out-smart God. I'm far from a Biblical scholar, but this is the way I've come to accept this passage, rather than hide from it:
The WHOLE POINT of the Christian life is: It's not about you. This, naturally, should extend to marriage. This doesn't mean that you allow your husband to treat you poorly or disrespectfully. What it does mean is that wives AND husbands should try to think of their spouses' needs before their own. You should yield your natural selfishness to meet the needs of the person you love.
An example: I get up with the boys every day of the week. I get them dressed and fed and started on their merry little way. Every. Day. Sometimes, I really would prefer to roll over, ignore their little noises, and return to my dream featuring Antonio Banderas (the back-in-the-day version).
Before you feel too sorry for me, let me add that the reason I always get up with the kids is that by the time they wake up, usually around 7:00 AM, Paul has already run eight miles, completed his forty-minute commute to work, and is sitting in his chair at work.
Yet, on Sunday morning, the ONE MORNING A WEEK* that Paul is not required to wake up before dawn, I lie in bed, listening to Joel's grunts and moans, and silently beg Paul to get his butt out of bed.
This morning, though, it kind of hit me---allowing my hard-working husband a bit of sleep is an act of kindness, an opportunity for me to submit to his needs rather than focusing on my own.
It's not about his gender. I don't let him sleep in because he's the man, and is thus more deserving of sleep. (As somebody that breastfed twice, I believe that the scales of lost sleep will NEVER be fully balanced.) Rather, I let him sleep because I love him, and part of love means letting the selfishness die, one kind choice at a time.
When I think of the ways that Paul submits to me---allowing me time on the computer while he plays with the boys outside, cooking dinner while I retire to my room with a trashy magazine, never grumbling when I take a girls' night (or weekend)---I know that I am fortunate indeed.
Marriage--and parenthood for that manner---is another opportunity to become closer to God, and I will submit that this is a very good thing.
That being said---I still wish that the Bible asked husbands and wives to submit to each other---most versions ask the wives to submit and the husbands to respect. Anybody have any insights or experiences to share regarding this sticking point?
*He does his long runs (20+ miles) on Saturdays, and needs to wake up before dawn so he doesn't die of heat exhaustion. True story---on Saturday, it was so muggy out that he lost FIVE pounds by the end of his run. He started at 150, ended at 145. And yes, he drank a TON of water.