I’d been taught to always be polite so as long as he talked I listened. Finally I said, “I couldn’t spend this much money without talking to my husband first anyway.”
Yes, he even had an answer for that one. “Don’t you think it’s about time you learned how to make decisions on your own?”
He had finally gone too far. “How we run our marriage is our business, not yours,” I replied and hung up. He found out in short order that my acceptance of my husband’s authority didn’t mean I was spineless.
Too many women today seem to think it does, and worse, care far too much about what other people think about them. I feel the same way about that as I do about men who won’t help with child care and housework because, “That’s woman’s work.” Shakespeare put it best: “Methinks thou doth protest too much.” It takes strength to submit; weakness cannot overcome the natural tendency to want attention and power.
Sarah comes to mind. In a misguided attempt to help God fulfill his promises to Abraham, she and Abraham arranged a surrogate mother. Hagar was “her handmaid,” Gen 16:1,3, a personal servant of Sarah’s, not a simple slave girl who would have been under Abraham’s authority (Growth of the Seed, Nathan Ward). When Hagar’s attitude toward Sarah eroded into hateful disrespect—“her mistress became despised in her eyes” v 4—Sarah was ready to throw her out. At that time, in that culture, Hagar as her handmaid was her business, not Abraham’s. Yet Sarah, in her submission as a wife, still went to Abraham first. Even he said, “Behold, your maid is in your hands. Do what you think is best,” v 6.
Please note, the surrogacy arrangement did not change Hagar’s status. She is still called “handmaid” by the writer and by God (21:12), and the angel of Jehovah told her she was wrong to have fled, that the right thing was to return to her mistress (16:7-9), just as it was for Onesimus to return to Philemon. Sarah did not have to ask Abraham for permission, but she went the extra mile in her submission to him.
So how am I doing at this submission business? Do my friends know that my husband is the head of the house, or would they throw their heads back in gales of laughter at the very thought? Am I embarrassed to say, “I need to talk with my husband,” before making a major decision?
Even the New Testament recognizes that a woman has a realm of authority in the home. Widows are to remarry and “rule the household,” 1 Tim 5:14. That word “rule” is not the same Greek word as the one in 3:4, elders should “rule well their own household.” The word in 5:14 is one that means “manage [the home specifically] under a master.” Just as the store manager does not expect to be micromanaged by the owner of the business, he still understands that he must ultimately answer to that owner. Would anyone expect otherwise?
It is time to stop being cowed by our increasingly godless culture, afraid to admit that we actually believe what the Bible says about unpopular things. The next time someone insults you for your voluntary subjection to your husband, show them just how much spine you do have.
For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening, 1 Peter 3:5-6