I go to a MOPS meeting on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, and am in charge of devotions for this year, so on those Thursdays I'll be posting here what I say there.
A couple of you requested the topic of marriage for today’s devotional: how to be a better wife, support our husbands, and keep the flame alive. While I will talk a little bit about marriage, it’s not going to be the sole focus for this today. There are a lot of marriage how-to books, and I don’t think any of us have not heard the advice to have a “date night” (which can be great in theory but doesn’t always translate into practice).
There’s a lot of discussion about marriage, but specifically about the roles of men and women , in the various internet circles of which I am a part.
Before I started reading many blogs, I really didn’t know that there are a lot of people out there who believe women are pretty much only meant to be wives and mothers. In fact, the most recent issue of Christianity Today was criticized by a man for the cover article called “50 Women to Watch”, because he believed many of these women should not be celebrated for their accomplishments because he believes they are going against what the Bible prescribes as their roles.
In fact, it is the idea of gender roles and the question of what exactly is a Biblical woman that led author Rachel Held Evans on a year-long journey of living by every rule she could find in the Bible that pertained to women.
For example, in her chapter on “Obedience”, she must call her husband Dan“master”. She’d already taken on all of the household chores, which made them both uncomfortable, because previously they’d shared them. In fact, in their marriage, they thought of themselves as and worked together as a team. Nobody was in charge…until Rachel’s project came to practicing “submission” and being unequal to her husband, letting him have the final say in everything. At one point, she followed a list of things from the 1950s that wives should do for their husbands, because, as another author of a marriage book said, this was a biblical list. So among other things, she had to freshen up before he got home, she had to make him comfortable, get him a drink, and make the evening his. The following conversation ensued:
"You know you don't have to do any of this to make me feel more like a man," Dan said at the dinner table as we dined on Martha's chicken piccata and Wal-Mart-brand mixed vegetables. "In fact, treating me like a baby is a little emasculating."
"I know," I aid. "This all feels kinda fake, doesn't it?"
"Yeah, it does."
We ate in silence for a while.
"So what would happen if I ordered you to stop submitting to me?" Dan finally asked, a mischievous grin spreading across his face.
"Well then, I guess I'd have to obey you," I said. (page 214)
I tell this story from this book because for those of us who are primarily stay-at-home-moms, this is often our life: we take care of the kids, the house, do the cooking, cleaning, and laundry, and our husbands.
But, we are not only wives and mothers. We are our own unique selves, created by God with interests, passions, abilities, and gifts that sometimes do not fit into that mold, and we should learn to be able to celebrate who God created us to be and follow His calling within our marriages and families.
In the book How IChanged My Mind About Women in Leadership¸ Tony Campolo contributed an essay in which he talks about how another well-known Christian, spent 15 minutes speaking against Tony because he believed Tony no longer had his wife under subjection, because he and his wife had publicly started dialoguing about their very different beliefs regarding the rights of gays and lesbians.
But, Tony said, "there were others who applauded my willingness to affirm her right to exercise what she believed was her calling. Christian marriage, contended my supporters, should be with persons who are mutually encouraging each other to actualize their God-given potentialities and gifts. I now believe that if I had done otherwise, I would not only have frustrated God's will for Peggy's life, but it would have established an insurmountable wall between us. Besides, as she has lived out her calling to be a Christian leader, she has become more spiritually alive and more interesting as a partner than ever before" (page 78).
In their marriage, Tony and his wife disagreed, but they both were able to affirm and respect the beliefs and passions of each other. I think that this is key. We see in the New Testament that marriage is often described metaphorically as the union of Jesus and the Church, and one of the things that the church—and by that I mean all believers, men and women—is called to do is to exercise their unique gifts.
In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul writes about a variety of gifts (which are not given by God based on gender), and that we are one body with many members. I think that with this image of the church being given gifts, and the church seen as the bride of Christ, we women really have no reason not to exercise our gifts and callings. If we can recognize those things and be all that we are created to be and live up to our callings—which, as Rachel puts it in a blog post—our highest calling isto follow Christ—then we can have the kind of partnership that a marriage is supposed to be.
Now, it’s a lot easier for the guys because they usually get identified first by what they do for their paying job and second as daddy. We moms get identified first as mommy and then secondly as whatever else we might do.
For both of us, we need to identify as Christ-followers first, and then everything else is secondary.
I love being a wife and a mom and being home with my kids—most of the time, anyway! But I also have to exercise the other things that God calls me to do.
Your highest calling is to follow Christ. Listen to the words of Paul about the value of that:
8 More than that, I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and I regard them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but one that comes through faith in Christ,1 the righteousness from God based on faith. 10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the sharing of his sufferings by becoming like him in his death, 11 if somehow I may attain the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained this or have already reached the goal;1 but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Philippians 3:8-12
He has made you his own—He has known since he knit you together in your mother’s womb.
And so I encourage you today to take that leap, take that risk, that that plunge--our theme for the year--into answering God’s call on you as His child—and use how God can work through you to strengthen any relationship you have—with your husband, with your extended family, with your kids, with your friends.