Cowering, Submissive Female? Not me. Not you, either.

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As a professional writer, I skim through a lot of blogs, and a general, recurring theme of conservative, female, Christian writers is a blend of Ephesians 5: 22-24 and Titus 2: 3-5.

Marriage is a dance, and it takes two people actively moving and working together to create beauty. Evening Waltz, original oil painting by Steve Henderson of Steve Henderson Fine Art.

If you don’t recognize these verses, you are Christian, and you are female, then you’re either remarkably obtuse or enviably free. These are the famous, or infamous, “submit yourselves to your husband” verses trotted out and waved around to all women of marriageable age, and the import is that we need to shut up, put up, and give in to what our man has to say about everything, because he’s in charge, you know.
Well yes, he is. I’ve been married to my Norwegian Artist for 31 years, and he’s the CEO of our family, which includes an actual company, incidentally. But I’m the president, and neither our company (Steve Henderson Fine Art) nor our family enjoys success without my active, pointed, professional, and aggressive involvement in day to day affairs. This involves not only working closely with my husband, but disagreeing with him now and then, or pointing out that as I know more about a particular subject than he does, then this is one case where I take the lead.

According to the Titus 2 people, however (some women identify themselves by this appellation, introducing themselves along the lines of, “I’m Genevieve, and I’m a Titus 2 Woman”), I am in the wrong, my attitude being “strong willed” and disobedient, terms that should only be used — with extreme discretion — when talking about a child, or a dog, but not a full-grown adult woman.

“Ephesians 5:22 says, ‘Submit yourself to your husband as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife,'” the Titus-twosers intone. For some reason, they always stop around there, totally ignoring that the majority of the section, verses 25 through 33, addresses the responsibilities of the husband, and the chapter before the “Wives, Submit” verse discusses how believers interact with, and submit to, one another, regardless of their gender or marital status.

And submit, incidentally, does not mean, “obey.” We left the 17th century several hundred years ago.

As daughters of God, we can enjoy freedom and joy in Christ, if we don’t bind ourselves up with knots of our own making. Ocean Breeze, original oil painting and licensed open edition print by Steve Henderson.

“It doesn’t matter what God says to the husbands,” T-2’s aver. “It is your responsibility to accede your will, your opinions, and your dreams to your husband. He is in complete charge of everything, and if you do not give him control over your life and activities — except cleaning the toilets — you can’t expect him to love you as Christ loved the church.”

I have heard some women blame other women — strong-willed, disobedient sorts — for the husband’s lack of success because of the wife’s lack of passivity, mistakenly seen as submission. She speaks up. She has an opinion. She manages the family finances because she’s the one who swipes the debit card and knows where the money needs to go. But her husband can’t succeed because she isn’t submissive enough.

This attitude is not only misguided, it is an insult to the man as much as it is to the woman, implying that he is so weak that he can’t handle a woman who doesn’t give in to everything he thinks and says.

Adam and Eve were partners, a man and a woman who faced the world side by side with God in between. And while women are described as “the weaker vessel,” 1 Peter 3: 7 encourages our husbands to treat us with respect and consideration — something that does not happen when we wait upon him as if he were the master and we were the servant.

After 31 years of marriage, this is the advice I would give younger women, which Titus 2:5 admonishes to be “self-controlled, and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands” — He’s the boss. But you’re not an employee. You are his partner, and he can’t make it without you, the way that you can’t make it without him. You need each other, and you owe one another mutual respect, faithfulness, encouragement, and love.

It will take the gifts and abilities of both of you, tempered with grace, to make it in this cold, brutal world, and he needs your support and loyalty. Give it to him. But remember that, in addition to being your husband’s wife, you are Abraham’s daughter and the child of the King. Conduct yourself with dignity, self-respect, and confidence. Your husband deserves no less.

About Carolyn
Carolyn Henderson is a lifestyle writer whose blog, This Woman Writes, addresses finances, homeschooling, family life, 21st century Christianity, and eating decent food. Her BeliefNet blog, Commonsense Christianity, delves more deeply into what it means to live like a Christian — male or female — in a world that encourages conformity, obedience, and lack of independent thought.
Carolyn is the author of two books, Live Happily on Less: 52 Ways to Renovate Your Life and Lifestyle and Grammar Despair: Quick, simple solutions to problems like, “Do I Say Him and Me or He and I?” She is the manager of Steve Henderson Fine Art which she co-owns with her husband, fine art painter Steve Henderson.