Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Proverbs 31 Wife/Being Submissive

Tuesday, October 18, 2011
I admit it. Whenever I hear someone say, or read somewhere, "the Proverbs 31" wife, my eyes roll so far back into my head. Here we go. I for one thinks there are way too many "instructions" out there for the woman and not nearly enough out there for our men. This is why when I read about the 1 Timothy man here, it really did resonate with me and I agree with every single thing she wrote. Nevertheless every time I still hear that P31 woman thing, I cringe. The whole thing always remind me of this song:




Yes. Nigerians I feel especially love the P31 verses because I think it caters very nicely to our "Mommy Martyr"/"Saint Wife" way of life around these parts. All of this contributes to my cringing and eye-rolling.

Let's consider the verses if we can for a moment. First of all, it seems a bit out of place doesn't it? Out of nowhere, like it was tacked on at the last minute, or after a while. This is furthered by the fact that it's the last chapter in Proverbs. But be that as it may, I've also tried to find out more about the context and the writer. P31 is supposed to have been written of an advice of King Lemuel's mother to the King. Many biblical scholars believe that King Lemuel was the same as King Solomon. In that case, the words of P31 are Bathsheba's advice to her son. It is said that she gave this advice to Solomon after a drunken revelry in which he woke up late the next morning, and in waking him up is when Bathsheba gave him this "oracle" or advice. The context I find really illuminates the chapter. Bathsheba essentially admonishing her son over his drunkenness (and possibly womanizing) and in the same breath encouraging him to find a wife of "noble character". So although Solomon is indeed King, and a blessed one at that (1 Kings 10:23) his mother still desires him to have a hardworking wife, trustworthy, charitable, creative, etc. Or, perhaps since Solomon did have many wives, she was just admonishing him to remember the good works of his wife/wives (Pharaoh's daughter?). In the last verse it says "Give her the reward she has earned..."

So there, to me that is the context. For me, I don't want to be Martyr Wife, or Saint Mommy. I just want to be the best person I can be, which does fall in with the P31 woman, but it's not a burden or ghost or yolk that I carry about upon my shoulders. I just want to be a good person. A credit to my husband and children, one who has respect from the community because of her character, good works, and honor brought upon her by the standing of her husband "at the city gates".

Now on being submissive, for some reason many people bring that up also when they talk about the P31 woman, though being submissive is not mentioned anywhere in that chapter. It is mentioned elsewhere in the bible though. Submissive. That is also another word that whenever it creeps into conversations about marriage, my eyes do their thing again or I just cringe. I had to deal with this after I got engaged. What did I believe? and How can it be realistically actioned while still staying true to myself? I reasoned that I agree that there cannot be two masters to a ship. There can only be one master. One person who's word carries a bit more weight in family matters, one person to make the final decision: Yea or Nay. I want my husband to be the head of the household, to enjoy all the honor and respect that position brings. That can never be compromised by anybody. If that is to be so to the outside world, then that has to be so first in our home. This reasoning gave me peace. To me that's what "submit to the authority of your husband" means. I remember having this conversation with Bo when we were talking about role expectations in a marriage. I told him, you are the authority in this home, you are the head of this family, there's respect and honor in it, but there's also responsibility with it. And always remember that the power of your authority comes from my relinquishing that position to you (as directed and empowered by God, but actioned by me all the same). You must love, honor, and respect me for that act. He agreed, and honestly we've never really talked about it since then. I know my husband and I are on the same page, I know he carries me along fully in EVERY single decision, we are equal partners in every thing and every way, yet I know and he knows, that when it comes down to it, he's the decision maker, he's the trump card.

25 comments:

Anonymous said...

Kemi, again very lovely post, it is so on point! Thanks. Can I please request ur email, need to ask you something.

Kemi said...

Thanks! My email is blogkemi@gmail.com.

Niki said...

Submission doesn't just begin in marriage.
It all goes back to the Gospel. Submission is commanded by God (Eph.5:22,24; Col.3:18) and based on the created order (1 Cor.11:8-12) because it is part of God's design to reflect the relationship between Christ and the church (Eph.5:22-23). For these reasons, submission is not degrading or 'an old nigerian tradition'. It is God-gloryfying. It is a principle we see in the very nature of God Himself in the Trinity. The Father and the Son relate to one another as a father and son relate to one another in a human family: the father directs and has authority over the son, and the son obeys and is responsive to the directions of the father. The Holy Spirit is obedient to the directives of both the Father and the Son.
The relationship between a man and a woman in marriage is supposed to reflect this aspect of the Trinity. Therefore the husband has authority over the wife in marriage just as the Father has authority over the Son in the Trinity. The husband's role is parallel to that of God the Father and the wife's role is parallel to that of God the Son. Moreover just as Father and Son are equal in deity and importance and personhood, so the husband and wife are equal in hhumanity and iimportance and personhood.
Men and women though equal before God are created for different roles and purposes.
The Proverbs 31 woman is a guideline of biblical womanhood/feminity for ALL women irrespective of season of life and marital status. Women who are unmarried reflect this model by submiting to other authority God has placed in their lives e.g, His Word, i.e the Bible, parents, spiritual leaders such as pastors and elders in their church and bosse's at work. Beliieve it or not men are also called to submit to this list afterall when they submit to authority they are also modeling the relationship between Christ and the church but in marriage they are to be submitted to. The bigger picture and perhaps a better understanding can be found in the whole book of Ephesians in the Bible.

LadyNgo said...

I agree with you and your eye rolls lol. The whole submission thing has always been one that truly made me gag but when you really think about it, i think most of our hang-ups have to do with that submission being misused and abused. As femi-nazi as i can be, I still want my husband to be the head of the household as he should be, but he obviously has to be the right person. Can't submit to just any old body. If i don't feel like you have the family's best interest at heart, or that you truly value me and my view, how can i let you lead me?

Anonymous said...

Kemi - yes this is your opinion but when it comes to the bible it's NOT a matter of Opinion.. eye rolling and ext. has no place or validity when it comes to the WORD of God see it's not base on opinion and the truth NEEDS no explanation or justification from man! If you do believe in the BIBLE which is the question here it has nothing to do with culture - stop putting your people down (oh I'm a Christian American who was once engaged and 31 years old) build your sisters up! you are no better off from your "cultural" sister if you know what I mean( believe you me you come and LIVE here in the states people will see you as JUST THAT a Nigerian girl!! So don’t get it twisted) not because you have an education and a husband (I'm educated as well and works for the Government I’m one of the few females working in my industry) and single by choice) what we have now can ALL be gone tomorrow it's hard to attain but we are one mistake from losing everything! I encourage you to write post that builds your sisters and help them find ways to liberate themselves BUT we all can't go around thinking oh my way of life is right and the others aren't but “supposingly” we are all Christians and are all suppose to get along in Heaven? But can't treat each other the same on earth? Oh give me a break!! Anyway back to the topic at hand! I totally agree with Nikki! You are sooooo on point!!!
Kemi your husband IS the head of your household Weather you had agreed or based on your writing it seems you ADVICED him on What roles was ok with you for him to play???” I told him, you are the authority in this home, you are the head of this family, there's respect and honor in it, but there's also responsibility with it. And always remember that the power of your authority comes from my relinquishing that position to you” are you serious?? You told him?
The word of God is his commands and not suggestions or matter of decisions for you and your “eye rolling” choices…
Submission is what God commands not suggests I understand people get it all hyped up and at times go overboard but in those times why don’t you chime in and try to explain to your sisters and brothers and not do the eye rolling ext.!! God’s word is not up for discussion either you believe the ENTIRE Bible or you don’t- it’s not ooh I’m going to pick and chose what I feel….
Sorry if I sound mean really wasn’t trying to nor will I be going back and forth with others who comments after this…but I’m SOOO not feeling this post that you wrote…
Blessings!

Anonymous said...

Nikki I totally agree with you

Kemi said...

@Niki, thanks for contributing to the post. I don't think I've said anything contrary to what you wrote. I did indeed add the context to P31. I like to have context. :-)

@LadyNgo, I do see your point of view. It's always discussed in such a dogmatic manner I feel. However I will say, if I didn't feel my partner has the family's interest at heart at all times, I probably wouldn't have married him. What do you think?

@Anon1, thanks for commenting! I've said many times one of the reasons I write this blog is to further discussions. I appreciate the time it took you to comment, really. Thanks for your advice on building up women, that's certainly something I'd want to do.

Yes I do advice my husband, and he takes my advice into consideration. Yes, we do discuss things and he hears me out and takes my feelings into consideration. That's the kind of marriage we have and we're happily married and it is possible for those that desire that kind of relationship. I told him is simply in the context of he asked me how I feel, what I believe, and I how I see things, and I answered. That is, the past tense of tell, to speak, to answer. It is not at all a command, that is your inference i'm afraid.

Lastly, God's word is up for discussion. I discuss it ALL the time with my husband, with my family, with my church community, with friends. That's me! By the way, whether I believe in the Bible is not what's "in question here". Not in the least. If my husband or my loved ones questioned that, then perhaps, but unfortunately that priviledge is not extended to the blogworld.

@Anon2, so do I! :-)

Shereen said...

loved the post....although not ready for marriage, thinking about women and submission in marriage always makes me ugh as well...like how am i going to survive when the time comes for marriage and the person decide he is the head of the household....because unlike you, i will have such a difficult time telling my husband he holds the "trump card"....u must be a really secure woman or really and truly believe in your husband and his love to give him such a privilege to lead your family without him abusing it

http://heartwide0pen.blogspot.com/

Sugabelly said...

Niki and Anon please fall back.

HoneyDame said...

Thank you very much Kemi!!!
I have always been and will always be an advocate for being objective about what we hear and read, the Bible inclusive.

Will come back when I have more time to "talk"

Fluffycutething said...

Funny i've been thinking all morning about this submission matters. really wondering where to draw the line between submission and stupidity. And also when the head of house i.e husband isnt pulling his weight or making the right choices do we still submit???

Just wondering anyway...

Jemima said...

Hello Kemi, I just passed the versatile blogger award to you, please check my blog for details cheers :)

isokenalfa said...

I think everything boils down to interpretation, eye rolling and other symptoms induced by the word submission and the mention of the Proverbs 31 woman is understandable because as well intentioned as people are they have over emphasized their points. Yes women should have virtue and be hardworking, yes we should submit to the man we 'choose' to marry, but like Kemi said what about the roles a man should play? Also should we feel bad cause submission is a struggle? Nope I don't think so. To each his own do what works for you

In the midst of her said...

Hey kemi, I almost swallowed my tongue when I saw you had mentioned my post here. Lol! Submission is a hard pill for most to swallow; but like almost every pure thing God made, It's been adulterated by the world and the crazy add ons man has placed on it. at the end of the day, its still a beautiful thing

Myne Whitman said...

I don't know if you understand what GBAM means, you've said it all. :)

Jemima said...

i came back and wrote a pretty long comment yesterday, i can't seemed to find it, am not sure it posted.. ..geez!

Jemima said...

Okay i have a little free time now, let me see if i can remember most of what i wrote..i think what kemi was sharing was her own perspective and not 'doctrine' so disagreements should be done nicely..i decided to comment because of the question by fluffycutething, i was almost 100% sure she was married when i saw that question (she is )...submission is hard, and for me one of the cons is the fact that one still has to submit even when the hubby is not doing right, very difficult but it can be done,anyone who is married will tell you that men who listen to advise are rare (or am i the only one?)...a preacher told me a longtime ago, that the name change after the vows have been said is not a ceremony, it fully indicates that you have now taken up the man's destiny (among other things), his way is the one recognized now and all the things that make up the woman are now subject to the man..but unfortunately many men have taken advantage of the role of women in a marriage , and really to answer cutefluffythings question,do we still submit when the man is acting up?, the answer is YES ( my husband will love to read this) there really is nothing you can do except to pray for your man and try to talk to him respectfully , not easy but it really is the godly way..that is why it is important to marry a 'God fearing' man, note i did not say a 'church going' man.if singles knew the real deal about marriage they would not rush into it, and they would do better than marry cos he is tall dark, and handsome with a good job( i judge no one i did it too), i even wanted an English surname ...i will also agree with does who say men just harp on women submitting without playing their own role, it's true men don't really know what headship means in God's book...i recommend a book called point man by Steve Farrar , if you are interested in knowing more http://www.stevefarrar.com/...i should stop here , this is too long again... oh i am 35 years next birthday and i have been married for just 6 years and counting...

one3snapshot said...

Kemi, please don't mind Anon1. Some of us do appreciate your opinions.

It's very sad that people like that actually represent majority of the population.

Anonymous said...

one3 and exactly what is that? ppl who do not want to "water down" the gospel because they don't want to follow scripture?? Please get a life!

Kemi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kemi said...

@Shereen, thanks for commenting. Honestly, it's first a search within yourself and an understanding of where you stand regarding that issue. Then if you're a Christian you want to work out also how where you stand fits in with what the Bible says and how best to reconcile that. Then pray truly that God gives you the grace to be the sort of woman and wife He's created you to be, and also strength for your husband to the be the sort of man and husband He's created him to be. In practical terms, I think these are things you should know before you say Yes to marrying anybody. A man shows himself clearly before marriage, it's up to you to see it, or to ignore the signs and go ahead anyway. I don't think I can be "yolked" with a man who I didn't respect his decisions and opinions on just about everything.

@Sugabelly, ;-)

@HoneyDame, still waiting for you to come back!

@Fluffycutething, when you make a decision, stand by it I think. Again for me I really thought about it, and when I came to a conclusion, I was confident and comfortable with it. Honestly, I don't even think about it or review it, the only time I'm thinking about submission is whenever someone else has brought it up. My husband has only used "executive power" maybe once or twice, and in those instances, I was completely confused and/or indecisive anyway so someone HAD to step up and make a decision. Otherwise we talk about and make decisions jointly on everything.

@Isoken, thanks so much for your comments. You said what I wanted to say but even more succinctly: don't feel bad or deny that it's a struggle, accept it and work through it and find a solution that works for YOU and your partner.

@In the midst, of course, your post is one of my all-time favorite posts in blogworld. I've mentioned it a few times before. Thanks for posting!

@Myne, thanks :-)

@Jemima, thanks for coming back and re-posting. Not sure what happened! I smiled when I read your post. I want to say to people as well that if you knew what marriage really was, the practical every-dayness of it, you wouldn't mind waiting to enter it. I have by the Grace of God, what I think is a pretty darn good marriage, but the amount of emotional maturity required is astounding. Absolutely no one can tell you about it until you enter it. I always say to my friends that when they get married, they'll come back to me and say "Kemi, why didn't you tell me!!!" :-) The absolute best way to prepare is to marry a man with substance in the first place. Like you said, not so much on outward things that can change, but the character and make up of the man. If before you marry you know this is a respectable man, a 1 Timothy man, shall we say, then everything else becomes significantly easier. I was lucky that God humbled me and opened my eyes regarding my husband.

@one3, Thanks for your comment. It really meant a lot to me. :-)

@Anon3, if you want to reach people, you're going to have to learn to communicate respectfully. Otherwise, ALL we see is condescending, meanness, anger, negativity, impatience, and a general lack of willingness to listen.

Anonymous said...

Kemi, I'm sorry not trying to be those things sorry if my remarks came off that way...

Please accept my apology..

Sincerely

Anon3

Anonymous said...

So Anon3 should comment respectfully but I don't see any mention of sugabelly's comment at Niki and Anon3, rather you appear to applude it.

bisola said...

lol i just love this blog ...to everyman is own me i agree firmly with kemi. kemi u couldnt have said it better... 3 gbosa for u

Niki said...

Read this article and thought of your post:

http://www.gty.org/resources/articles/A168

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