Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Head of Household

It seems that I touched on an intriguing concept in my last post - and I'd like to expand on that. Maybe we could have a continued discussion on the idea of the husband as head of the family.

Last year a dear friend of mine got married and I photographed the wedding as my gift to them. I published a photo book for them, and as I worked on the design, there was ample opportunity to add text in some places.  Knowing my friend as well as I do, I decided to include the scripture selections that they used in their wedding Mass, which included Ephesians 5:22-24
 22 Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
I had the finished publication shipped to work and when it arrived I eagerly opened it and showed a couple co-workers how it turned out.  Imagine my dismay when they exclaimed, "She let them use THAT VERSE at her wedding?!  I made ____ sure that wasn't so much as uttered at MY wedding!"  Then they bantered about how no way would they agree to submit to their husbands, to be head of household.

The more they agreed, the more I shook my head.  I wanted to tell them how wrong they were, but I knew I didn't have the right words at the moment.  I knew that they would just see me as the single woman who didn't really know anything about marriage.  I knew my input would not be well-received in that moment.

But what I wanted to point out was... when you truly believe that your man strives to live for God ... that there is no way you would be afraid of what he might do with that power.  In particular, I wanted to point out that in most translations the verse is, "Husbands should love their wives as Christ loved the Church."   AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH!   Christ died for the church!

It calls for wives to respect and honor their husbands, yes.  But in the same breath, it calls husbands to be worthy of honor and respect.
Makes me wonder why so many people only hear the part that scares them. Is it that we only concern us with the part that makes demands of us? If that is so, then why are there so many men that only notice the part about submission - and not the part that calls them lead generously, to sacrifice themselves?
(actually some do... and that will be another post) 

I have yet to meet the man who I could be confident would lead in this way.  Therefore I am not married.  Quite frankly, sometimes I wonder how everyone else's marriage is doing if they didn't expect and anticipate this arrangement going in.  I mean, if you wouldn't trust your man to lead you - how could you be confident enough to marry him and keep your best interests at heart?  That's scarier to me than submission.


erinannie said...

My first exposure to this scripture and concept was when a woman I was working for attending someone else's wedding. They used the same scripture in the ceremony. When the woman returned to work that week and was gushing about the wedding she really had a lot to say about a a girl "giving up" her life to let her husband wear the pants.
This was truly confusing to me. I came from a family where my father was the head of the household, and I knew it. But I also knew that if he and my mother differed on anything, that they worked it out together. My parents were a team, but my father was the spiritual head of the family.
A lot of people have a problem with women not having the priesthood. And I have trouble explaining why I am okay with only men having the priesthood. My answer is really just that it makes sense. We can't all be the same. We have to have yin and yang, zig and zag, and opposites. We can't all have a penis. We have to have squares and circles. One doesn't make you better than the other. It just makes you a man or a woman. Men get the priesthood. Women get to make babies. Men get to be the head of the union, women get to make it a home.
I almost got married at 19 years old. I'm so glad I didn't. I was 21 before I heard wedding vows really for the first time. I'll never forget it when it hit me that the woman had to submit to her husband. I've never looked at a guy the same since. Do I like him and want to be with him? Sure. Do I think so highly of him that I would trust him and love him enough to submit to him?
Well, I'm single, so there's your answer.
I wrote about this in my column a while back as well - http://www.ldsmag.com/component/zine/article/8527?ac=1
The responses still amaze me.

Heidi said...

I will not marry an unrighteous man. There is nothing in my church doctrine that says that an unrighteous man deserves my respect or "submission". If he is unrighteous, he loses any rights and privileges he may have. It shocks me how many women don't understand that--God doesn't want us to be miserable!

Sarah said...

I grew up on a conservative (protestant) church, so the wives submitting to husbands thing wasn't a "hidden" doctrine (and they were quick to talk about how the husband was to love like Christ loved the church, laying down his life for it). My mother is very strong willed, and while I know that she actively submitted to my father's will occasionally, mostly they worked as a team.

I just recently started reading Rachel Held Evan's blog: http://rachelheldevans.com/ahava-challah and I liked something that was mentioned on there from a an Orthodox Jewish woman (wife of a rabbi): “Oh and for the record,” she noted at the end of her first message, “in Bereshit (Genesis by you) where it talks about the ‘helpmeet,’ the Hebrew is not just ezer, but ezer kenegdo, which literally means ‘the help that opposes.’ The rabbis explain this term like two posts of equal weight leaned against one another. They stand because of equal force.”