For almost four years now I have worked at the same Starbucks right off I-65 across from Traders Point Church. At first, I was one of two Christians but now I’m happy to say that more of us have begun a ministry there. At Starbucks, I’ve had many interesting conversations with my coworkers about current events and their worldviews. What I found to be the most common was that God has always opened doors. A conversation that happened about a month ago is one that has struck me the most in our culture today: equality.
At work, one of my friends, who is a strong feminist and prochoice atheist, asked me about feminism. Now she knows I’m a Christian, I make it quite known, but she never brought it up until a few weeks ago. We were talking about equal rights when she asked me how I can be a feminist for gender equality and still be a Christian. What a great question! My answer, how can’t I support equality and be a Christian? The two go hand in hand.
She knew the basics of what she had heard, except twisted around for years, of wives submitting to their husband. Colossians 3:18-19 give us very explicit instructions. Wives submit to your husband and husbands love your wife. When my friend heard this passage she instantly thought this meant women were meant to be walked all over. To the contrary it meant we are to be supportive, edifying and loving. It means we are to be cherished. When she asked me the purpose of being submissive I was all too happy to point her to 1 Peter. So, in the tiny dish filled back room of Starbucks we huddled over the desk and my dimly lit phone to read a passage from the Bible. I lead her through 1 Peter 3:1-6.
Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2 when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3 Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. 4 Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight. 5 For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, 6 like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
I was happy to discuss what this meant in the 21st century where everything is self-focused and all about seeing social flaws. I pointed out that when a wife is submissive to her husband then the inner beauty of God is shown to the whole world. She then asked me a pretty tough question, “How is being submissive and equal not a paradox?” Ironically enough I’d had a conversation with my pastor over this very same subject the week before.
My pastor told me that when a wife is equal with her husband she is able to be submissive. In her equality, she is willing to let her husband lead the house as the Lord intended. When spouses are equal the husband leads but he wants his wife’s support, he values her opinion and appreciates her ability to be a jewel of God with a gentle and quiet spirit as verse four says. My friend was startled at my pastor’s answer and asked how we could trust men to be like this. It’s simple, if a man loves God he will not abuse his household power, but use it to help the family grow.
The man is meant to be the leader of the family unit, which is something our culture has lost in this age. This doesn’t mean the man controls everything, it means he supports and loves his family and leads them closer to God. As a woman I know it’s my job the support the godly men in my life and help them grow into the leaders they are meant to be. When I’m submissive the them, I’m submissive to God. When I support the godly men in my life they in turn support me and help lead me closer to God. It’s a circle of trust and love.
So, I’d say submission isn’t the problem in the 21st century. I’d say the problem is not being willing to let God show you the way through a support system that means letting others come first. I encourage women, be equal with men, and take advantage of that freedom in equality to be a support system for the men in your life. I encourage men, don’t be afraid to let a woman be your equal, if she truly loves God she will not try to be the head honcho, she will use her equality to voice her opinion then help lead you in the way the Lord has prepared for both of you.
Heather Gordon, Student in Impact at IUPUI