sex

SEX PARADOX? MAYBE NOT

In Part 1, I explored the main reason why I don’t believe there’s any special kind of paradox found in 1 Corinthians 7:3-4, that instead, it’s just a matter of which spouse is more mature in their holiness and humility.  The definition of a paradox is something that, leads to a conclusion that seems senseless, logically unacceptable, or self-contradictory.  I believe that’s true of lots concepts found in Scripture:

We live when we die (John 11:25)

We are at our strongest when we’re at our weakest (2 Corinthians 12:10)

We get through giving (Acts 20:35)

I don’t believe 1 Corinthians 7:2-4 fits the criteria of a paradox.  In Part 2, I want to build onto that idea.

* * *

In almost every instruction concerning marriage, God follows a pattern.  When He address the couple, He speaks to the wife first1:  Submit to your own husband.  Then secondly, He tells the husband:  Love your own wife.

But, in these particular verses, even though God’s subject is marriage, He’s not using any of the same language that He normally does – words like:

  • Love (agapaō)
  • Reverence (phobeō)
  • Submit (hupotassō)

Switching It Up: 1 Corinthians 7:2-3

In 1 Corinthians 7, God draws our attention by changing the order – He addresses the husband first.  If He was following the established pattern, the verse would read, let each wife have her own husband, and let each man have his own wife.  But God didn’t frame it the same – He reversed the order by addressing the wife second.

THEN in verse 3, He puts an even finer point on His intention when He presses in on the responsibility – He continues aiming at the husband, The husband should fulfill his wife’s sexual needs […].  Again, her responsibility is stated second, like a response to him, and likewise also the wife to her husband.

This isn’t a new method for God – we see Him doing it in the garden, right after the fall.  Both Adam and Eve were hiding from God, but He specifically called-out Adam individually, the one with the responsibility.  He speaks directly to the one who’s accountable for their responsibility at that moment.

Switching It Back: 1 Corinthians 7:4

But at verse 4, God does it again.  He pivots back to His original pattern of addressing the wife first.  His subject has changed.  He’s not talking about desire anymore, but about giving up control, The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does[…].  How does the husband have control over his wife’s body?  He controls the power to seduce her.  She controls the power to succumb to that seduction.

Think about the last time you had sex – when did you have the most authority over your husband’s body?  When he was in crescendo – during his climax/orgasm – and afterwards.  This is the time when, the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.

God isn’t prescribing the rules of who gets to demand or command sex; He’s describing the responses of male and female sexuality, the way He created desire in each of us.  As He drills down on the deepest level of relationship, He’s unfolding a transcendental experience of how sexual desire works: It is cause and effect.

First to Experience Desire

Eve’s creation was a response to a missing component2 in Adam’s life – she’s a responder to his whole being because she’s everything he’s not. 

Adam recognized that there was no one for him through the experience of naming the animals in pairs. He was able to identify an absence, which shows that was looking for something else: his pairing for procreation. He was looking for – her. He had already begun to feel desire first

Husbands go first simply because, more often than not, they’re the first to feel the desire3 for sex.  So, it becomes theirs to plan out, to execute the completion of the task.  All the euphemisms about sex back up this idea, such as – “men are like microwaves and women are like slow cookers” – there’s a reason for those sayings.  They’re all rooted in a fundamental truth: men’s erotic desires are concrete and sit close to the surface – thus easily accessed.  While the erotic desires of women are abstract and buried deep within our emotions, which makes it necessary for them to be drawn out to the surface.

God placed a massive capacity for expressive sexual reciprocity within the heart of women – a veritable red hot burning fire; but a husband will rarely see it unless he’s willing to seduce it to the surface to match his.

Pick-up Artists

Sadly, it’s the PUAs who’ve got it right.  These men know the secret truth about the game of sexual tension – but they use it wrong, that’s why women hate them.  They know that once her fire is ignited, it’s almost impossible to turn off.  Using their masculine energy, they CAUSE sexual tension which generates the EFFECT of female sexual desire.

Logically we know, a woman doesn’t magically change just because she becomes a wife.  Yet there’s this idea perpetuated that says, when a man gets married he now gets a “pass” when it comes to creating that sexual tension – just like in the game of Monopoly: automatically receiving that 200$ for doing nothing more than “passing GO.”

There’s where we find the disparity: female desire is created out of sexual tension.  Yes, it’s a game – a game of cat and mouse, not Monopoly.

Think Howard Wolowitz from The Big Bang Theory.  Sure, we laugh at him because he’s so bad at it – lecherous, explicit and down-right corny.  You know why it doesn’t work on Penny?  She’s outside his numbered zone so there’s no attraction and – she’s not his wife.  Corny works on wives because the attraction has already been established, otherwise there wouldn’t have been a wedding.

Conversely, if a PUA used the same lack of approach as some husbands do … they too, would never get laid.  It’s not a Christian secret, God created all men with the same aptitude to be sexual aggressors and wired all women to respond to seduction4.

Reducing 1 Corinthians 7:2-4 to prescriptive behaviours that are found within the roles of husband and wife, completely misses what God intends for His description on sexuality.  Instead of bringing sex to life in its fullest substance, a red hot steamy ride in living colour, fully experienced through its power — it gets sanitized through legalism – dehumanized to basics and turned into the most elementary form of sexuality.  I can think of no faster way to kill desire.

 

 

 

NOTES

1-first.  Address the wife first: Ephesians 5:22-33; Colossians 3:18-21; 1 Peter 3:1-7

2-component.  I don’t mean that the wife is an afterthought.  God already knew He was going to create the woman, He was waiting for Adam to realize that he needed her, before God created her.  God said, “it was good” after He finished creating Adam and the animals.  Then, He said it was, “not good that man was alone.”  In order for man to be in “Our” [God’s] image and according to “Our” [God’s] likeness (Genesis 1:26-27) Adam had to be a relational being.  Yes, he could function in the Garden and cultivate it, this was good — but “alone,” he couldn’t be in relationship nor could he populate the Garden.  In order to complete Adam’s creation process, he would be changed from a “he” to a “we”.

3-desire.  There’s a small margin of women that have a higher drive, but it’s rare and usually an anomaly.

4-seduction.  Luke 18:6 – And [his] master praised the dishonest (unjust) manager for acting shrewdly and prudently; for the sons of this age are shrewder and more prudent and wiser in [relation to] their own generation [to their own age and kind] than are the sons of light.  And, Matthew 5:45 – To show that you are the children of your Father Who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the wicked and on the good, and makes the rain fall upon the upright and the wrongdoers [alike].

 

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SEX PARADOX? MAYBE

I recently read a post by John Piper that calls 1 Corinthians 7 “paradoxical counsel to married couples”.  However, as I read further on into the post, he says that it’s the husband who has the power to solve this problem,

“The leadership of the husband is defined by Paul not mainly as demanding his rights but as laying down his life for the good of his wife (Ephesians 5:25).  Therefore, the predominant resolution of the sexual paradox is that the husband gently and tenderly takes the lead in seeking to maximize his wife’s pleasure, taking her longings deeply into account, rather than pressuring her to adapt to his.”

I find the idea of any paradox intriguing and even more so because it’s about sex.  As I was reading his  post, two questions kept popping up for me.  First: Is this really a paradox?  And second: If it is, why is it only the husband who can resolve it; there are two people in a marriage?

At a first read, 1 Corinthians 7:2-4 could sound like a confusing D/s script.  The wife’s the dominant she’s got the authority over her husband, he’s the submissive.  No wait, that’s wrong, it’s the wife that’s the submissive, the husband has the authority …

… back and forth the verses read.

It does seem confusing yet I know that’s never God’s intention with us.  Also, I’m convinced He’s got good reasons for revealing information to us the way that he does.  So, what’s the reason?

Is The Husband Really More Effective?

While John Piper’s interpretation that a godly man, through his role of husband is able to break the paradox – isn’t it just as true, that a godly woman through her role as a wife, possessing equal ability from the same Holy Spirit, could also break the paradox?

Wouldn’t equality indicate that the influence found in the role of a wife would be just as powerful as the strength found in the role of a husband?  Influence and power are completely different kinds of abilities, but that doesn’t make the wife’s influence any less effective in solving the paradox.

Yes, for sure, God fitted the husband’s position with the responsibility to lead in the hierarchy, so he should go first, but it rarely happens that way.  The truth is, due to immaturity from brokenness and living in a world that’s wrecked beyond repair; it takes our whole lives to grow up – not just husbands but also us wives.

The Real World Experience

I think most Christians would agree that John Piper is a well-developed believer and a pretty mature husband, so I mean no disrespect.  I agree with him when he says that stalemates in marriage “are real life.”  But, when he presents that there’s only one solution — and that it’s found, only in the husband’s role, he’s omitting the possibility that the wife’s role might be just as valid to solve this paradox.

It’s confusing for some wives to hear that this paradox can only be solved by the husband.  The reality for some wives, is that their husbands don’t have the maturity to recognize that they’re the head and bear the responsibility of leadership.  To those wives, a one-sided solution is a completely unworkable proposition.

Sacrificially Serving the Lord

There’s an alternative for wives when their husbands won’t step up to the responsibility of leadership – it’s just not a popular alternative:  Biblical Wifely Submission.  It’s sad that postmodernism doesn’t understand the power that submission wields.  In marriage we can’t just sit in a state of perpetual “stalemate” without devolving into a toxic mess – it will inevitably lead to divorce.

When the husband is more mature, then the solution of, laying down his life for the good of his wife ” will work.  This is commonly known as servant-leader.  In John Piper’s example, it’s the husband that’s more mature, which makes him capable of leading with a servant’s heart.

On the other hand, when the wife is the more mature spouse, she will act fully within her role of wife and be willing to sacrifice herself to break the stalemate.  The wife will be laying down her life for the good of her husband”  As the more mature spouse, she is just as capable of submitting with a servant’s heart.

How would it look if the wife was more mature?  Let’s stick with the original application that John Piper used, but instead, giving equal ability to the wife:

“The leadership submission of the husband wife is defined by Paul not mainly as demanding his her rights but as laying down his her life for the good of his her wife husband (Ephesians 5:25 24).  Therefore, the predominant an equal resolution of the sexual paradox is that the husband wife gently respectfully and tenderly willingly takes gives the lead in seeking to maximize his her wife’s husband’s pleasure, taking her his longings deeply into account, rather than pressuring her him to adapt to his hers.”

Competition of Self-sacrifice

At the end of his post, John Piper concludes,

It is resolved in the mystery of love that discovers even here, when our physical pleasure is more prominent than anywhere else, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). There is a holy and humble and self-sacrificing competition to make the other maximally glad. The logical stalemate is broken by the miracle of grace: With God all things are possible.

He’s saying that the paradox is solved by the correct leadership of the husband — what I’m saying, is that it can also be solved by the correct submission of the wife.   It’s not a competition or a race for the role of who will lead and who will submit…it’s a competition of who fulfils their own role first.  The question is, Who will go first in this competition of self-sacrificing?

Clear to See

Often, this verse is erroneously quoted as some kind of baseline for mutual submission – the removal of all power and authority.  A cursory read makes it look like there’s absence of power — it seems like one statement cancels out the other:

  • the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. He owes her.
  • the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. She owes him.

I don’t think God’s intended outcome is mutual submission, a stalemate or confusion; I think the intention is to sift the heart of a person, through a relationship of the closest proximity – one flesh, to expose their heart.  It’s an example of a verse that enables the selfish spouse enough rope to hang their flesh (Romans 12:19-21), and the mature spouse (or perhaps, the less selfish one) an opportunity to grow in a bit more grace.

SOUL-ution

Ask the Lord to show you if your the one with the noose around your neck. Or, if you’ve been humble enough to submit by laying down your life for the good of your husband.

 

 

Part 2:  Sex Paradox?  Maybe Not

 

Serving through sex (Part 2 – Serving is not submission)

serving through sex

First of all, my apologies to those following this series. My delay in posting is because I’m having a difficult time keyboarding. I’ve completely damaged the muscles in my back – the one supporting the shoulders (trapezius) – and as a result am only able to type for about 10 mins at a time before they start to ache and then burn. Not only that, but my kitchen work has been seriously affected as well. I’m one of the those people who finds it very difficult to sit still … day after ….day, in order to recover; because this recovery must be done while I lay on my back (pun intended, sort of 😉 ) Anyway, all I can do at the moment is read. That’s it. No note taking and researching or writing.

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In Part 1 I explored the difference between the attitudes of have to have sex and want to have sex. When our mindset is “I have to have sex” we set ourselves up to serving the rules and the law: Being obligated. But when our mindset is “I want to have sex,” we can experience the same powerful transformation that Jesus demonstrated in the garden of Gethsemane: Our hearts will be changed through adapting to God’s plans.

The reason many of us have of a hard time wrapping our minds around this juxtaposition is because we try to reason in our flesh that we need to understand what God is asking of us before we do it. We wrestle with thoughts like:

  • “If it would just make sense then I could adapt.” Or,
  • “If I just knew how this was going to turn out.” Or,
  • “If I do this, how can I be sure that it will be fair?”

Or at the very least, we want to be assured that our spouse won’t take advantage of us in the slightest. It seems we want some kind of guarantee before stepping out in faith. In more lucid moments that are free of conflict, we know this is an oxymoron.

Yet, that is precisely what happened in the exchange between Jesus and God – from an earthly perspective, Jesus got the unfair shake:

But the fact is, it was our pains he carried – our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him – our sins! –Isaiah 53

In Luke 22:42a, Jesus clearly expresses that execution is not His preferred course of action: please take this cup of suffering away from me. But then in the second part of the verse His change of heart is evident, Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.

 “YET” is the morph from head to heart!

The question we have to ask is how, how did Jesus make this mental shift? The answer: love. He placed His love for God so far above Himself that He was willing to do anything for Him, even to be executed. He demonstrated that love by trusting God. He didn’t need to understand God’s will to want it, He just knew that God is trustworthy and His ways are always excellent.

Love doesn’t say:

  • I will obey and serve with a grin & bear it type of attitude
  • I will obey and serve because it’s what is required & necessary or what I should do

What love does say is, I want to do whatever Your will is.

Serving is for one another not marriage

Service is what we give to others and it’s a great thing. In fact, we are told to serve our brothers and sisters with agape love. For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another.–Galatians 5:13

Even done willingly– it’s still a have to. But, when you’ve adapted your heart, your mind is completely renewed, but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideas and its new attitude], (Romans 12:2).

Substituting the word served sexually in place of submitted sexually is an effort to equalize so that serving looks the same in all relationships. No more or less. All the same. But the truth is, all relationships are not the same, nor are they equal to each other.

Marriage is distinct and completely UNlike any other relationship. No other bond is referred to as a huge mystery, a living and visible demonstration of Christ and His Church. And no other relationship commences by a covenant with God Himself. Therefore, no other relationship carries the weight of glory that marriage does.

As such,

God requires much more from us in marriage

than any other relationship.

Submission is for her OWN

A wife is never told to serve her husband, but to submit to him. Replacing serve for the word submit is a mental twist so the heart doesn’t actually have to fully yield to the complete change at the deepest level of relating: becoming one flesh. The flesh seeks to hold onto even the smallest vestige of itself, while at the same time appearing to be altered.

The closeness of the marriage relationship presses in on each spouse in its own way, forcing* us to give way to the spirit over the flesh. The majority of this pressure comes from living in a dual relationship. With both of us being members of Christ’s body, this means that I have a brother in Christ that I am bound to because he is also my husband; I’m Darrell’s sister spiritually and at the same time his wife in the natural. Yes, I serve my brother in Christ, but it is equal to serving any of my brothers (and sisters) in Christ.

However, in marriage I submit to my own husband. In all of the references regarding submission in marriage God added the little word idios meaning own**, signifying that the submission to this particular brother is separate, different and unique to him alone.

Serving is an act – it doesn’t require change between one performance of obligation and the next. When we lump serving in marriage together with all other Christian serving we only blur the uniqueness of the one-flesh purpose between husband and wife and diminish the value of sex. Serving through sex is a method for a wife to compartmentalize the act itself. She will be able to have sex and at the same time not be fully engaged: only as much as she has to be.

God hasn’t defined exemptions for submission that depend on what area of marriage you are talking about. Submission in the bedroom is no different than submission in the kitchen or the living room, or any other area of the home that the marriage lives in.

When I trust that God’s ways are excellent I will adapt to His plan for marriage. The submission of my whole self in marriage will demonstrate to God that I am all in. Nothing will be held back. I won’t be stuck in the mindset of having to serve my brother through sex. Instead, my transformed heart will want to have sex with my husband.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

*Forcing: Job 5:18; Psalm 51:8; Isaiah 60:10; Lamentations 3:32

**OWN: Ephesians 5:22; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:15.

Serving through sex (Part 1 – Adaptability)

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I’ve heard a few times about the idea of ‘serving’ your husband through sex because it’s a need he has. I don’t like that view or the term ‘serving’ as it relates to sex and as the weeks rolled by, I saw it again and again. Every time I saw it, I liked it less and less. This term, serving in the context [of sex] has the slight nuance of obligation (see duty, onus, burden, and liability) to it.

My first feeling is, serving appears to be something you do for the benefit of someone else. In this context, its serve your husband sex for his benefit. And although that might seem right (Proverbs 14:12); somehow it rings false. I think this whole idea of a wife serving her husband sex is an approach that will backfire in the end.

So I want to peel back this idea and see what it exposes.

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When I let the word serving roll around in my mind, the first thing I’m faced with is a choice: have to OR want to; along with a whiff of resistance – it seems like serving could almost, be placating*.

*to appease or pacify, especially by concessions or conciliatory gestures

*soothe, assuage, mollify.

How did Jesus view serving? If God is renewing my mind to be like Christ’s, then I can look to His example. When God requested that Jesus go to the cross:

  • Did Jesus do it to appease or pacify God?
  • Was His agreement to God’s plan a conciliatory gesture?

Jesus wasn’t double minded. He wasn’t thinking, “Omg!! You want me to do what!? Do I have to?” But speaking out, “I want to do this.” I don’t think so. On the contrary, Jesus grabbed a-hold of God’s idea and adapted His own will to God’s plan of the cross.

HAVE TO / WANT TO

When Jesus saw there was no other way, He adapted immediately to God’s plan. This morphed His have to into the want to (Luke 22:42). When Jesus chose to adapt to God’s plan for His life, as hard as it was, His heart was no longer divided between have to / want to, and the human part of His mind was renewed (Romans 12:2) and it showed in His willingness. God’s plan became Jesus’ plan – they were united.

Adapting enables the flesh to grow up*. Adapting is what changes the stoic ‘have to’ in our flesh of obedience into the loving ‘want to’ in our spirit. (Ezekiel 11:19)

SCENARIO 1: What would you think? Someone who’s serving at church in the nursery because it‘s a need, but they have no interest in children. They’ve been watching your kids for about 6 months and then you overhear a conversation they are having outside of the church on their cell phone. They don’t really like kids that much. Sure they are cute and everything, but it’s not really what you’d like to be doing. However, you feel God will bless you because there is such a need for it – and there was no one else to do it. Would you really feel comfortable and happy with your kids there? Or would you feel better with overhearing a conversation of someone who said, that they really loved kids, in fact they just enrolled in a child care course because their heart really is for kids – they want to.  Or, scenario 2.

SCENARIO 2: You’ve got this good friend who you‘ve been sharing your life with. You meet every 2 weeks for a coffee and a chat. You’ve become very good friends and feel comfortable in sharing your struggles in marriage with her. You need to drop off something at a different friend’s house and your other friend (the one you’ve been confiding to) is there. They are out on the back deck and don’t know you are there. You decide to surprise/scare them by quietly sneaking up to the gate and barging through with a big smile on your face. NO intentions of eaves dropping – because you completely trust both of these women. But as you approach the gate you hear … not what you expected. Your deeper friend is sharing how she really enjoys your company except when you share about your problems in marriage. She finishes her conversation by saying that, it’s what friends do for each other, they serve each other and this is her Christian duty to serve in their friendship.

See, it doesn’t leave you with a true feeling of warmth and care — it’s not authentic.  It is truth … from the obedience of the mind — but not genuine.

Is it just semantics? I don’t know. Let’s try a different angle and drive it down a little deeper into our own personal experience. Look at the flip-side, from ‘serving’ him sexually (his need) to ‘serving’ her relationally (her need).

SCENARIO 3:  You overhear your husband talking to a friend, “I took her [his wife] out for dinner and a movie last night. I didn’t really feel like it, after the day I had I would rather have unplugged into a book or movie, but God says Christian serving is good, and this kind of serving falls on the husband’s shoulders because God made her with this need, so I ‘loved’ her by SERVING her.”  What a shock to hear; you were thinking that you really had a great time of relational intimacy.

If I over-heard that conversation I wouldn’t be feelin the love. I wouldn’t get a sense of being genuinely engaged in a real relationship of any depth; but more of having been appeased.

He is in the mindset of “I have to” not “I want to.” It feels deceitful and is an affront because when we read, For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25), we know God didn’t mean for Christ to love the church through conciliatory gestures.  Have to is serving. Want to is loving. I don’t want my husband to have to love me; I want him to want to love me.

So, back to the sex of it … as long as I feel that I am serving my husband through sex, it will always be a conciliatory gesture and never authentic genuine love.

***IT IS ADAPTABILITY THAT CHANGES THE HEART FROM HAVE TO SERVE INTO WANT TO LOVE***

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Part 2 – Submission is not serving. Serving is not submission.

 

 

 

*Did the God part of Jesus need to grow up His flesh? Probably not, as the God part of His nature was completely mature all ready. However, the part that was fully human need the flesh contended with. This is part of the testing and suffering that He had to endure to be the first born among many. Jesus lead the way, in demonstration with His own life, to show us what it really means to obey with the right heart.

The beauty of submission

Have you ever had a song get stuck in your head?  How about one that peeves you?  It’s not a blatantly graphic song, it just rubs you the wrong way.

For me, it’s 3 Dressed Up As A 9, a song by Trooper. It has been popping into my head since its release way back when.  Normally I would just get peeved briefly and then dismiss it, but this time it kept resurfacing.

It was especially irritating this time because I was studying the controversial subject of submission in marriage and didn’t like the continued interruption.  It seems the more I understand about submission the further out of step I become with the world, while the growth with God, unity in our marriage, and the oneness with Darrell become greater.  The contrast is difficult but also very intriguing.

Admittedly, I used to misconstrue this song as superficial:  she’s not as good looking as she’s made herself up to be, ‘nuff’ said.  Up would go my defensive hairs as I shut down my mind to the rest of the words.

Unable to ignore the song, I opened my computer and googled the lyrics. Pushing past that familiar prickly rise, my eyebrows shot up as I was following along with the words, “OHHH… maybe he’s talking about something else – not merely her looks.”

Although probably not a song about the heart of submission and almost certainly not a Christian song, there may be a bit of truth to extract.  The link for the song is here, if you want to listen to it.  If not, here are the lyrics:

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Skin deep is shallow

At first glance, this woman appears to be the epitome of beauty; but as she draws closer to him and he has the chance to listen to her, something else starts to surface from within her. She has spent a lot of time and cash on her outer shell, while completely neglecting her inner woman – the heart of real feminine beauty.

  • She looked better when she was 20 feet away.  He doesn’t want to be close to her, in her sphere of influence.
  • She is something nice to admire – from afar.  Not going to get involved because she’ll not be good for him – she’ll end up being a waste of his time.
  • Socially, she appears to be like all other women – she fits in with the rest and that’s the problem.
  • Now she’s closer than 20 feet away.    Words, tones, and mannerisms surface.  What comes out of her is what’s inside. She suits herself only, which doesn’t suit him.
  • Move along. You can’t tempt me with all that Decollete you paid so much for.  You can’t use it to cover up what you really are.
  • He is realizing that she is completely superficial and lacking in depth of woman.

She’s a 3 dressed up as a 9

As I got to the end of the song, my first impression of ‘slightly interested’ had changed to surprise.  This song actually matches what I just read in 1 Peter 3 – how did I miss THIS before!?

There is inner work and outer to do: 1 Peter 3:1-6:

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Strategic placement

In verse 3, it’s easy to see from the word [merely] that God isn’t saying, “don’t do this,” but rather, “don’t over-do this.”  Sometimes in the argument of whether wives should ‘beautify/adorn’ themselves, or how much is too much, we miss the bigger picture of God’s strategic placement of this verse.

He sandwiches it smack-dab in the middle of a whole bunch of instructions on submission.  Why, God?  Why put it there? Wouldn’t it have made better sense placed near the verse about, dressing like a guy? (Deut. 22:5)  Or even the one on dressing modestly?” (1 Tim 2:9-10)

Seriously, what does braided hair and barrettes have to do with submissionGod now had my attention.  I had moved from curiously interested to excitement!

This could be big!  It’s like God is saying, “pay attention. The things you do to the outside of your body aren’t nearly as important as how you treat your husband. That treatment comes from the inside of you.  In the shift between verses 3 and 4, God is connecting the dots for us:  submission is what your husband will find beautiful, not the frosting on the outside.

WOWZERS – Look at the ratio of inner to outer:

FIVE to ONE.

  • In verse 1 God is talking about what it is:  It is submission.
  • Then in verse 2 He moves to how it will look:  This is how submission looks.
  • Now in verse 3 the brake gets pressed at a stop sign: THIS doesn’t have anything to do with submission – don’t be fooled.
  • Then, in His usual style, God segues back into the main topic of submission by contrasting the two verses at that stop sign.  It’s brilliant!!  It isn’t until after verse 3, after He has stopped us and gotten our attention that He interjects the word beauty linking it to His main theme – submission.
  • Then in verse 5 He joins it even deeper using the words: beauty, submission, and husband.  He links beauty and submission to your husband!
  • And to finish in verse 6, God doesn’t leave us hanging.  We’ve been given a real life practical example:  SARAH

How I got tripped up 

Often what I wanted to do, was to accept those FIVE references as a … ‘good’ heart kind of thing, much like what is instructed in 1 Timothy 2:9-10, a caring and generous wife woman – rather than an instruction for marriage.   I mean obviously it’s about marriage right?  But there was that darn verse 3 that kept tripping me up.  A good and caring person as I defined it – with the good deeds as instructed from 1 Tim 2:9-10. See the subtle slip there?  If I’m doing good deeds and I’m a caring and generous person in the hidden person of the heart – God knows, right?  If I don’t over-do on the outer person, God knows, right?  See the slip again?

God isn’t talking about the hidden person of my heart as it relates to anyone else or good deeds – like He is in 1 Tim 2 – but only as it relates to my own husband.  He isn’t talking about what kind of mom I am, how much time I spend feeding the poor, cleaning the church, working in the nursery, ministering to neighbors, or any other number of righteous outward actions.

He’s addressing marriage and speaking directly to how a wife relates to her own husband – how she treats him and how she will appear in his eyes.  Verses 1 through 6 are about submission – heart issues for wives.  But in the middle, ever so quietly, God slips in a single warning:  Be careful that you don’t over focus on this.

Bait and switch

To your husband, your true femininity, your real beauty, is not about buying the right brand of make-up and applying it like a true makeup artist on the set of a movie, going to the hair salon every three weeks so your hair is perfectly colored and coiffed, or making sure that your fashions, jewelry, perfume, nails, etc., are the most up-to-date. We women like to be pretty and decorate ourselves. This is part of our femininity, and it’s how God made females. But none if this is more important than a surrendered heart, and it can’t replace one. Not in your husband’s eyes.

Satan uses a single verse to twist and ruin the other 5.  Remember, a little bit of leaven permeates the whole loaf.  Satan wants us to over-focus on what’s not [merely] important.  Here’s the mental ‘switch’ I think he’s after:  if we over-do on the outward stuff, it’s almost like we are surrendering because it’s… well… girlie stuff – we are enhancing our femininity, so we somehow think that this is surrendering.  It isn’t.

So, who do I suit?

The last verse of the song is the clearest for me:  Well, you can say what you like, be what you want to be, you can suit yourself, baby, but you do not suit me.

Do you suit your husband? Or do you say what you like and be what you want to be?  Does he find you beautiful because of your submissive heart?  Or have you put all your thoughts, time and energy in your décolleté?

God didn’t say, “Wives, suit yourselves.”  He said suit your [own] husbands.  He tells us to submit because He knows our husbands will be attracted to that very thing in us – it draws them.  I’m not denying the visual aspect of men, it’s definitely there, but it’s not how well you fill out that new sweater that he adores in you, it’s your surrendered heart.

Décolleté doesn’t have the power or longevity for year after year after year of marriage, but submission [true submission] increases in power. In turn, this power increases attraction to the depth of capturing your husband’s heart.

 

Pearls and dust mites

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I had to laugh at this; now track with me here:  I was reading a post at the blog do not disturb  it is about sex being a priority in our marriages.  It was, as usual, full of insight.  The response to this post that made me laugh (and go down the June Cleaver track) was a comment from Beth at messy marriage , she replied:  “Amen! Kick that “to-do” list to the side and “do” your spouse!”

And this is where my mind went:

June Cleaver had it all wrong.  Why don the pearls for the vacuum cleaner and the dust mites?  Sometimes people get it all wrong — and we follow‘em.  Misguided by myth, poor women who bought this idea.  I say, stay in sweats and T’s while completing this segment of the job description, the domestics.  Leave the pearls hidden away until they can be of real benefit, then crack’em out – to glorify the gift that is all of you!  Dress down to dress up!

 Drape yourself in pearls,

Then grab onto his nozzle – a piece of equipment that can do you some good!

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 … then get to the “to-do” list!

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