Helpmeet or No Help at All?

I have a question for Christian women out there, and it’s a serious one:

Are you actively working to be the helpmeet to your husband you are called to be, or is he simply taking whatever help you choose to give?

To better clarify let me break the question down a little:

Can your husband ask you for assistance in a particular area or task and fully expect and trust you to complete it, even if it is not something you normally tend to or causes you to go out of your way? For example: You typically go to the gym on Monday nights, but because he is travelling on Tuesday your husband asks you to stay home and help him get ready by cooking dinner (which he normally does on Mondays) and getting certain laundry he needs done so he can get to bed early in preparation for a long drive. (the example is oddly specific, but no, is not a situation I am familiar with)

OR

When your husband asks you to stay home you tell him you won’t because you normally go to the gym on Mondays and you don’t want to miss your class but if you get back in time you will see about getting his laundry done and he can order a pizza or something if he doesn’t want to make dinner, but, you are not going to miss your class.

One is an example of helping where he needs it, the other is giving your help where you can spare it. Or, I guess a better description is, one is actually being helpful, the other is not.

My purpose in this post, however, is not to be accusatory, but I guess to find out what a woman’s definition of ‘help’ is. I suppose some ladies would say “Well I help him by keeping the house clean, making his meals and washing his clothes!”, but is that really help or just your daily routine. I mean, it certainly is helpful, but is it helpful to you if your husband goes to work every day, maintains the car and the yard but, when asked if he can help with a specific task he simply says “No”?

Just curious.

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Author: SnapperTrx

Just a guy on the internet.

11 thoughts on “Helpmeet or No Help at All?”

  1. i am a Christian, married woman, and i find this question interesting because i think it goes deeper than marriage. i think it’s broader. let me explain … first with a little background.

    my first marriage sadly ended after 20 years due to his addictive and abusive behavior. i was a single mom for four years with our two beautiful daughters – they were 5 and 7 years old when their dad moved out.

    i have been married to a wonderful man now for 6+ years, and we have a great marriage.

    one of my daughters has special needs. i came from an abusive home, so i didn’t have any support or help with her ever, including while i was a single mom.

    there was a lot of help i could have used, during those years especially. there were even people who wanted to help. but i soon discovered people wanted to help in the ways they perceived i needed help, not in the ways i actually did need help.

    as i’ve lived life and experienced more and talked to people from a plethora of backgrounds with various needs and experiences, i have found this to be true across the board.

    so i wonder if it’s how we, as parents, raise our children … how we, as adults, live as examples to children who are watching what we do. when i help people, do i help them in ways they need help? or do i help them in ways i perceive they need to be helped? i hope and pray and strive to model the former rather than the latter.

    given all that, i did read this to my husband and ask him if he thinks i meet his needs or if i meet my perception of his needs … he said the former 🙂

  2. Ame,

    Thank you for your response! I think you have the dubious honor of being the second person to ever comment on my blog!

    Though I understand where your coming from with your comment I can’t help but point out the difference between receiving help from others and receiving help from our spouses. Other people may offer help in an area they perceive it is needed because they don’t know the whole situation. In the case of husband/wife we are actively telling each other what is needed, so there is little to no mystery or confusion. If I need to have clean work clothes for the next day I can easily ask my wife to do the laundry with ‘x’ pieces of clothing in it. It is a direct request and I think, perhaps, this is why I ask the question I did in my post. Over the past few years I have seen many Christian women, both through the men I meet with at my church and the women I meet through my wife’s friends and church acquaintances, that find it offensive to take a direct request from their husbands. They treat their husbands requests for help like they are an annoyance. Over and over I hear “when I get to it” or “I’m not going out of my way for that.”.

    The bible is clear that both men and women are of equal value in the eyes of our Lord, but that he has established powers and authorities on the earth. One of these authorities is of husband over wife, and it doesn’t beat around the bush about it, either:

    Ephesians 5:22-24
    22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

    This is telling wives to be subject to their husbands in EVERYTHING, not some things. Also, as the church is subject to Christ. If Christ appeared to the church one Sunday morning and said, “Go feed my sheep.” it is insane to think that the members of the church would look at him and tell him, “if we can get to it this morning, but we really have to go on our morning run first, and I am not putting off my morning run for you.”. The example may be a bit on the extreme and goofy side, but you get my point.

    I feel part of the problem is that overall men in the church lately are being belittled by not only church leadership, but by Christian culture altogether. I myself have sat through more than one fathers day message that insists that fathers can do more and, when you deliver the message year after year that fathers can do more it is perceived that fathers are doing enough. Now what woman is going to respect a husband whom she perceives isn’t doing enough and should be doing MORE? Church leadership that delivers this message is cutting off authority at the knees and crippling men as both husbands and fathers. Now I will admit, men are human too and there are some out there that need to get back into walking the narrow path, but the ideal place to deliver this message is not in front of their families. Imagine if you were promoted to a manager at your job, only to have the head of the company come in and, in front of all the people who work under you, berate you and belittle your efforts. Not only would you feel ashamed and embarrassed, but those working under you would likely see you as a dunder-head and would, eventually, begin to question your decisions and may even become outright disobedient. It would be far better if church leadership allowed men with issues to have those issues worked out in men’s groups, for as the bible says:

    Proverbs 27:17
    As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.

    I’m not one for advising women, but I would think that if a woman wouldn’t say something to her boss at work she should definitely not say it to her husband at home. A husband is afforded more respect than a boss, isn’t he? I mean, sure your boss gives you a paycheck, but your husband gives so much more, doesn’t he? Look again at Ephesians 5:

    25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.

    Is a boss commanded to love his employees as his own body? Absolutely not! If he is a Christian he is commanded to treat his employees fairly, but there is nothing that prevents him from firing an employee or speaking harshly to one who is doing a poor job. It just seems that husbands should receive much more respect than they are given, particularly in Christian marriages.

    To get to the point, if wives are being told their husbands aren’t worthy of respect because they don’t do enough, why would they take request for help seriously? Your husband doesn’t do enough, and now he is asking YOU to do MORE! Your plate is already full, but if you get around to it, you can throw him a scrap of your time. The church should not be actively pushing this mindset. It is not biblical.

    I could go on and on, but I will cut this short here. Thank you again, Ame, for your comment. Though my blog is a small one, I am hoping it will become a place where people like you and me can have polite and biblically based conversations on the random thoughts that go through my head. I will be praying for you, that our Lord blesses your household and that conversations here can be used to strengthen the faith and understanding of all who read them.

  3. Snapper,

    I am always very intrigued to see what goes on inside a man’s head, the way he thinks, how that plays out, and you seem to be able to articulate that very well. Overall, I agree, and we’re probably on the same page for most everything. How we process that may look different when discussed, so i appreciate your kind approach, your honesty without direct accusation, without lumping all women together.

    I love blogging and the internet. I think, sometimes, we react to only what we see b/c it takes time to know one and their background and how that reflects in how they articulate thoughts. i will try to share some more background so that hopefully my comments make sense.

    — content edit —

    this is not uncommon in legalistic, super-conservative, christian homes. it is called patriarchy in some circles. in their marriage and those who subscribe to this way of interpreting scriptures, the husband is more of a dictator. the bible says the wife is to obey him, he makes himself the ultimate authority, and without thought to anything but himself, he issues orders and expects everyone around him to obey immediately, without question, without opinion, without thought.

    my late mentor was a beautiful elderly woman whose love for Jesus just radiated out of her whole person, especially through her eyes. she taught me so much through direct one-on-one, verse-by-verse, study on the scripture … but also through her wisdom and example. she would often say, “Ame, in your personality …” she was saying that God gave us each a personality and that He works within how He made us to accomplish His purposes through us.

    while i totally agree with the scripture, i do not interpret it to mean the husband is a dictator in the home and that the rest of us should blindly obey. i do believe that, in marriage, we need to work within each other’s personality and strengths and weaknesses. i do believe the husband is the final authority, and that the respect the wife must have for her husband is unique, but i also believe that there are two, unique personalities within each marriage and that we need to work together within those as we work out our marriage.

    with that … let me reply to some of your comments:

    ~
    “In the case of husband/wife we are actively telling each other what is needed, so there is little to no mystery or confusion.”

    i like to think this is the case in most marriages, but i think this takes a lot of work to get to and to maintain. we may be giving directives, statements of information, lists, but, within the framework of marriage, if the intimacy (on all levels) is out of balance or lacking, the information will not be processed properly. the filters we develop over time within relationships affect how we hear and process. for example, there are times you can look at your wife and the two of you communicate without saying a word. this is a reflection of the intimacy you’ve developed over time. however, if there is an incident, could be between the two of you, could be unrelated to the marriage but affects one of you, this silent communication could be skewed and misinterpreted. when you come together and share the incident and work through it, the communication is then restored.

    i have a dear friend who has been married for some 25-30 years. she has expressed a phase of marriage well. there are times when we’re just ‘off’ in our marriages because marriages are between two fallen people. in her marriage, she and her husband call it being ‘out-of-sync.’ things just don’t flow as smoothly between the two of them. they acknowledge it and work through it, and within time, they’re back in sync.

    ~
    “Over the past few years I have seen many Christian women, both through the men I meet with at my church and the women I meet through my wife’s friends and church acquaintances, that find it offensive to take a direct request from their husbands. They treat their husbands requests for help like they are an annoyance. Over and over I hear “when I get to it” or “I’m not going out of my way for that.”.”

    i agree that women, including Christian women, are often adversarial. i agree that they even encourage that among each other and that often, when together, they do not speak well about their husbands or their marriages. this is wrong.

    i think that it can be playing with fire when we see snippets of behavior and come to a conclusion based on that snippet which is filtered though our own personal lense of experience, though we all do it. if we could see the whole picture, the final analysis might be the same, but it might not.

    does the husband demand from his wife that which she is incapable of? is she just being petty? is she overwhelmed? is she taking on so much she doesn’t have time for her husband?

    there are times when i can easily jump up and wash a load of clothes. there are other times i can’t (we have 3 teenagers between us, one with special needs). my husband and i have developed and maintain a marriage where he can ask me to do things like this last minute and where i will do them for him. we also have such a relationship where i can safely say to him that i cannot do what he wishes but can do plan b. we can discuss it … sometimes his needs mean i rearrange things to accommodate them immediately, sometimes they are such, after we discuss it, that they can wait. there are things, though, that if he were to ask them of me, i simply cannot do them … but he knows me well enough that he wouldn’t ask me to do something like that – or, if he does, he has created a safe place where i can tell him i can’t do it. there are also times he will ask me to do something i’m uncomfortable with, and because i know him and i know he doesn’t take advantage of me, i will step out of my comfort zone and willingly do them.

    ~
    “The bible is clear that both men and women are of equal value in the eyes of our Lord, but that he has established powers and authorities on the earth. One of these authorities is of husband over wife, and it doesn’t beat around the bush about it, either:”

    absolutely. authority with love is crucial, as exampled by God, Himself.

    ~
    “I feel part of the problem is that overall men in the church lately are being belittled by not only church leadership, but by Christian culture altogether.”

    they absolutely are, and women are encouraging it.

    ~
    “Now what woman is going to respect a husband whom she perceives isn’t doing enough and should be doing MORE? Church leadership that delivers this message is cutting off authority at the knees and crippling men as both husbands and fathers.”

    i absolutely agree.

    ~
    “I’m not one for advising women, but I would think that if a woman wouldn’t say something to her boss at work she should definitely not say it to her husband at home. A husband is afforded more respect than a boss, isn’t he? I mean, sure your boss gives you a paycheck, but your husband gives so much more, doesn’t he? Look again at Ephesians 5:”

    this is an interesting analogy but, i think, might be a bit slippery. there is no intimacy in a boss/employee relationship. work is a place where there is a different set of rules and roles than within the intimacy of a marriage and family. i am very glad to read this … it gives me insight into how a man thinks, and i think it is very important.
    ~
    “Is a boss commanded to love his employees as his own body? Absolutely not! If he is a Christian he is commanded to treat his employees fairly, but there is nothing that prevents him from firing an employee or speaking harshly to one who is doing a poor job. It just seems that husbands should receive much more respect than they are given, particularly in Christian marriages.”

    i can see a man thinking the women who work for him give him more respect than his wife. that is certainly problematic on many levels … one being that at home i like to think we are safe enough to simply ‘let our hair down,’ chill, be ourselves … which means we’re raw, vulnerable. they say that when a police officer or a fireman puts on their uniform, they are mentally transformed into that role. when we go to work, we are in a role. when we’re at home, we want to unwind and simple be ourselves. sometimes that’s not very pretty.

    however, a husband does have a clear and distinct need to feel and be respected by his wife. i can tell you that my husband does feel and is respected by me, but the ways in which he experiences that kind of respect from he would not be appropriate in any other setting or relationship except within a marriage.

    so, when a woman is presented with the analogy of a man needing more respect from his wife than his employees/coworkers, she may very well not ‘get’ what he’s saying. she’s thinking that there is not way she is going to show ‘that’ kind of respect to her boss. she’s thinking of all the levels of intimacy within a marriage that should never exist in the workplace.

    ~
    “To get to the point, if wives are being told their husbands aren’t worthy of respect because they don’t do enough, why would they take request for help seriously? Your husband doesn’t do enough, and now he is asking YOU to do MORE! Your plate is already full, but if you get around to it, you can throw him a scrap of your time. The church should not be actively pushing this mindset. It is not biblical.”

    i think all marriages must fight to avoid simply being ‘a scrap of time’ to each other. life floods in, things happen, and while there are certainly seasons where this might be, it is work to keep it from being a way of life. for example, there have been seasons where my special need’s daughter’s needs were such that if i had even a scrap of time to give to anyone or anything else, it was a miracle. to demand anything else from me during those seasons would have been fruitless because i simply could not give it. this is life. the challenge comes when that season, however long or short at the time, ends … and i need to re-establish a more balanced way of life. it.is.hard. it is easier, though, when my husband comes along side me and helps me rather than standing on his throne of authority and demanding i obey him.

    ~
    these are hard times for marriages and for men. it’s easier when we come together to work toward changing that rather than taking sides against one another.

    my dad abused me, my first husband abused me. my therapist once said, “Ame, not every man is your dad.” i am still uncomfortable around men in various situations, and there are areas in my marriage where i struggle. but my beloved husband comes along side me and works with me, within my personality, within my strengths and weaknesses, rather than standing on some throne of authority and demanding i be or become whatever. i like to think, and he says i do, treat him the same … that i come along side him and work with him, within his personality, within his strengths and weaknesses, as we do this marriage and life together.

    btw – i do write occasionally on Amir’s blog over at http://www.singlemind.net/ … you’re welcome to stop by and see what goes on over there. we don’t write nearly as often as we used to, but we still pop up from time-to-time.

  4. Ame,

    Thanks again for your response. You have a very interesting take on the subject and, though I take issue with part of comment, overall you seem to have a level head and a good hold on where you need to be in your relationship with your husband. For that I commend you.

    For the sake of discussion I would like to respond to a couple of key points in your reply. There is no malice in my response and I say this because, in reading comments on the internet, it is very easy to assign a tone to someone while reading, and in cases with subjects such as this I find it easy to sometimes envision the other person ranting and raving at the top of their lungs. That is not me (in this case), but I am an emotive person who tends to use a lot of quotation marks and capitalization for emphasis. Just warning you up front.

    ~
    Your response is intelligent and shows some deep thought, but I must admit that the inclusion of the word ‘patriarchy’ sets off alarms in my head. The modern American church is rife with feminist undertones and this is causing all who are in it much grief. I have already explained how I feel about this in a previous post entitled “Every Christian Woman a Feminist”. Though not as articulate as I would have liked it to be I feel it is true. Feminism is part of our culture now and overall even the most devout Christian wife seems to have a hint of it in her. This, however, is a subject for another time, but is a step toward my main point: Patriarchy is biblical and has been established by God. God is father, Jesus is son. God established husbands over wives and households, placing woman in the position of subjugation. To deny this is to deny scripture. In the case of your story I see no issue. Her husband said “let’s go” and she complied without question. Had she requested to stay a little longer would not have been inappropriate and, at that point, it would have been up to her husband as to whether or not they stayed longer, but it certainly doesn’t sound like she fussed or complained, which would have been sinful and disobedient.

    I am not a complementarian. I believe the bible is the inerrant word of God and that it can be most easily understood and followed when taken at face value where face value is intended (obviously there are parts of scripture that are intended as poetry and song, but most people who have completed high school can easily determine the difference between the two). Man has been established as the authority in the marriage relationship, as I pointed out in my previous response:

    Ephesians 5:
    22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    also:

    1 Peter 3:
    3 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,

    In these verses there are no ‘ifs’ or ‘buts’, the scripture is fairly straightforward, wives are to “submit to their husbands in everything.”. If we define everything we find it means, well, everything! We also see that in Peter that wives are even commanded to submit themselves when their husbands are unbelievers! One who DOES NOT follow Christ at all! To follow up, Peter even points out that Sarah, who intentionally lied AND kept her mouth shut in a bad situation at the behest of her husband, is an EXAMPLE of wives being in proper submission! How then can modern women, who claim to know and love the Lord, add to this with many restrictions:

    1. “He wasn’t following the Lord!”
    2. “I don’t feel loved.”
    3. “Our relationship is ‘off’.”

    The scripture is clear that the husband is the head and the body follows the head, as the church follows Christ with him as it’s head. When our relationship with Christ is ‘off’ are we given license to use that as an excuse for disobedience? Absolutely not! We are instead told to humble ourselves and seek after our God to bring ourselves back into alignment with him.

    Now, as a caveat to this, I am fully aware that men are commanded to love their wives as their own bodies and to live with them “as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” (1 Peter 3:7). As a husband I have been given authority, but that authority must be tempered by the love of Christ, and with understanding that my actions toward those under my authority have direct impact, not only on myself in general, but on my direct relationship with God. To treat my wife with heartless authority is detrimental to my body, mind and spirit, but even heartless authority is no excuse for disobedience on the wife’s part if she is to be in line with Gods commandments, for her obedient subjection is her testimony towards her unsaved husband, that “…they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives…”

    Also, obedience does not mean a wife must sit idly by as her BELIEVING husband commits sin, as the scripture has clear and precise instruction for dealing with another believer who is committing sin.

    I am not accusing you of being a feminist, but I well be up front and admit that I believe 99.9% of Christian women have a feminist streak in them, placed there by the society they have been raised in. Christian women should be able to find this seed and pull it out, root and all, by generous application of the word, but the next part of my response will explain why I don’t believe this is happening.

    Wow, that was a long section…..but once I get rolling, well, you get the picture!

    ~
    I believe you are correct in stating that a wife may not ‘get it’ when her husband says he feels he needs more respect from her. This problem lies squarely at the feet of the women of the church, as, again, scripture is very clear where this training should be coming from:

    Titus 2:
    3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God.

    Looking at this section of scripture we see the older women commanded to teach the younger women, but even before that we see someone else commanded to teach the older women. Who is it that is giving this teaching? Reading further back into Titus 1 we see Paul is speaking regarding the Church! The modern church, however, is so infested with feminism that it is failing to provide this teaching!

    As I stated above, society has planted the seed of feminism in the heart of little girls and, without proper weeding (via the Word), that seed will grow and cause her, and her husband/family, problems later in life. Satan will water this seed at every opportunity, as he does with every seed he plants in us, but if the church is not training us to consistently evaluate ourselves and remove the seeds of disobedience, then we are not being properly equipped for spiritual combat, and we are open to stronger attack. We are commanded not to give the devil a foothold, because a foothold is the first step to infiltration.

    I remember, many years ago, in a previous church my wife and I attended that a guest speaker had given a message on the modesty of women. He was never heard from again! The ladies of the church claimed they were ‘appalled’ and were left ‘feeling horrible’! Rather than suggesting that they ask themselves WHY they felt this way church leadership simply said ‘Well we cant have our ladies feeling like that! Ban him!” and they did! How can the word of God be taught when this is the mindset of the American church? Churches have become businesses, with the main goal getting people in the seats and maintaining a budget rather than espousing the Word and TEACHING people, both men and women!

    ~
    I take umbrage with the way Christians treat the word ‘legalism’ nowadays. I have always understood legalism to mean “adding stipulations to God’s saving grace”. I can say, “By grace you are saved.”, but I cannot add “And you need to make sure you never drink alcohol, never speak a foul word and never…..etc, etc.”. As recently as last week, however, I have seen evidence that even long time Christians seem to think that merely quoting from the bible the words of Jesus is “legalism”. So, suggesting that Jesus stating

    “anyone who divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

    , is not a commandment that the activity displeases God and causes us to sin, but, instead, is “legalistic”. Or reminding a Christian that the bible is very clear that

    “…wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men[a] 10 nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”

    is not a warning from Jesus himself that these activities will BAR US FROM HEAVEN, but instead they are now “legalistic”. I am very much beginning to hate that word, and the wide path to destruction it leads Christians down.

    ~
    Finally (your eyes are likely tired by this point), let me wrap this up with one last observation.

    The modern world is obsessed with intimacy. Christian counselors and marriage assistance is absolutely overrun by it and I perceive this as a problem. As men it is good for us to be intimate with our wives, and not merely physically, but spiritually and mentally as well. The flood of ‘intimacy’ doctrine, however, seems to be causing a burn-out, as men everywhere are told they are NEVER intimate enough. My wife and I have had issues in our life that have caused us to seek counseling as well as attend church marriage functions, so I am well versed in the preaching of ‘into me, see’.

    Men and women in our modern era have it easy. I can travel one-hundred miles away too get to my job, every day, and still be home in time for dinner. Men in days long passed did not enjoy such benefit. If I wanted to work in the time of Christ I would be blessed to be able to work near my home. Depending on the type of work I do I may be blessed to even see my wife after a few weeks at sea, or after a few weeks of travelling to another city and back to deliver items. Because of our ability to be home so much men are held to a standard of DAILY intimacy and DAILY wooing our wives in a feeble attempt to re-win their love EVERY DAY. Do women understand how tiring that gets? Intimacy is of benefit, yes, but like medicine and even water, too much is not a good thing! It becomes very difficult for a man when, after being pumped full of intimacy doctrine, his wife expects every weekend to be full of dinner and dancing, every night to be filled with longing gazes and hours long bouts of talking about the day and feelings. Guys get burned out, yet we are told that intimacy is ‘the key to our wives hearts and obedience’. This is a lie, and not biblical.

    We, as humans, need intimacy. Women need it more than men, but yes, men still need it (some less than others), but if we continue to focus on intimacy as being an excuse for not being obedient to the word of God we are in sin. Lack of intimacy does not give license for wives to be disobedient and disrespectful, nor does it give husbands license to be unloving and totalitarian. I think Christian culture needs to reign back intimacy by about 95% if it seeks to help keep Christian marriages intact, as what they are doing now doesn’t seem to work (since Christian marriages still account for 50% of divorces in the U.S.).

    ~
    Well, that’s it for me, if I keep typing I will probably break my keyboard. I hope I have not overwhelmed you with my wall of text. Please feel free to respond to anything I have said.

  5. “There is no malice in my response and I say this because, in reading comments on the internet, it is very easy to assign a tone to someone while reading, and in cases with subjects such as this I find it easy to sometimes envision the other person ranting and raving at the top of their lungs. That is not me (in this case), but I am an emotive person who tends to use a lot of quotation marks and capitalization for emphasis. Just warning you up front.”

    thank you for stating this.

    i am going to share this with my husband and discuss it with him. he knows me well, and i’d like to see how he perceives me and if what i’m writing is what i’m trying to convey. i’ll let you know.

    your insight on intimacy is intriguing to me. i appreciate you spelling that out as i’ve not thought about it from a male pov.

  6. it was interesting reading through all this with my husband … i love getting inside his mind.

    i cannot condone the patriarch movement, which is enmeshed with the quiverfull movement; the amount of abuse inside is tragic, some of which i have experienced first hand.

    i would be interested, though, in your definition of patriarchy.

    your thoughts on intimacy are insightful, and i had not thought of it before in this way. my husband and i had an interesting discussion on this, and his thoughts align with yours. i wonder if the word is the issue.

    if we put ourselves at the center of concentric circles, God should be in the center, our spouse, if married, the next, our children, if we have them, the next, family the next, and then other social relationships including friends, church, and work. it would be unwise to put work associates, including our boss or subordinates, in the circle reserved for our spouse. though i think i really do understand what you’re trying to say with regards to respect and one’s boss, i think how we speak to our spouses should be different from how we speak to those at work and vice-versa. i would certainly not want my husband relating to those with whom he works on any level in the ways we relate to one another in our marriage. i’m a sahm, but if i did work outside the home, he would not want me to relate to work associates the way i relate to him. what we share is more private and should be guarded and protected. if i treat him the same as i would a boss, there would be a space between us, which is appropriate for a boss/subordinate relationship, but is not for a marriage. i call this place of our marriage, this circle that is closest to my heart, intimacy.

    my husband is big on wanting me to be myself with him. he provides a very safe place for me to do so knowing my dad and first husband abused me. i will not find that safety anywhere else, nor should i. do we meet ALL of each other’s needs? absolutely not. but we are careful to meet the needs each other has, to allow each a very safe place to be ourselves stripped of all other roles, and to be able to share what is important to us. he provides this place. he has created it and insists upon it. i call this intimacy.

    i wonder if love languages could be pulled in here – my husband is big on love languages and how we relate to one another and how we receive love.

  7. Ame,

    This will likely be my last post on this subject. I have enjoyed our conversation, but focusing too much on a single post causes me to neglect some of the other ideas and work that I have. I will check out the links you have posted in the coming week. Also, please feel free to browse around my blog. I have many other posts on my views of Christian women whom, despite my somewhat tongue-in-cheek method of delivery, I love, as they are all sisters in Christ.

    That being said, I will give my final response.

    ~
    If we look at the definition of the word Patriarchy we find it is defined as such:

    “A system of society or government in which the father or eldest male is head of the family and descent is traced through the male line.”

    This definition is not offensive, nor should it be. For thousands of years the system of patriarchy has kept women and children safe and well cared for, as a father was head of his household and responsible for everyone within. The system is not perfect, but not for lack of design, but rather for it’s inclusion of imperfect humanity.

    Modern day feminist definition of patriarchy boils down to “they system by which men attempt to hold women to any type of standard, and prevent them from being as sexually promiscuous as they want.”. Any time a man, or woman, attempts to point out the bad decisions made by a woman the cry is typically “PATRIARCHY!”.

    A perfect example: There is currently, in the news, a pastor who was released from the prisons of Iran. I have followed his situation for a few years through a popular radio host on the AIR1 network. Recently his wife, who has, for many years, advocated for her husbands release and requested prayer from the country, has changed tact. Several months ago she announced that she would no longer be advocating for her husbands release and revealed that, somehow, he had been physically, mentally and sexually abusing her – from his prison cell in Iran. Now, suffice to say that she did indicate that they have had issues in the past that are on record with the police, but to announce such an accusation at a time when he is locked up and unable to respond or defend himself in the eyes of the public was, to me, a jerk move. Well, surprise-surprise he gets released a couple of months later and, as soon as his plane touches terra-firma he is hit with several legal documents that reek of a divorce on the horizon.

    This radio host was quiet for a long time regarding the subject, but finally decided to post something about the issue. I responded in, what I felt, was a level-headed manner with what basically boiled down to:

    “We, as Christians, and Americans, shouldn’t automatically believe that this man is guilty of anything. The timing of his wife’s accusations is odd and, in this country, we are innocent until proven guilty. Let us wait and see what evidence is shown in a court of law.”

    Overall the response was good, but there were several women who’s only response was that I was a misogynist and, literally, “CRUSH THE PATRIARCHY!”

    Now, understand, all I was advocating for was that we give the man a fair shot before condemning him. By this time people – CHRISTIANS – were posting responses that they would never have prayed for this pastors release if they had known he was a wife-beater. NEVER. HAVE. PRAYED. FOR. HIM. In their minds they had already become judge, jury and executioner, and determined this man was not even worthy of being released from a prison where he was beaten daily and suffered at the hands of people who hate Christians simply for being Christians. What a heartless and Godless thing to say.

    Now, take note that all I did was point out that there is a possibility that the wife is not telling the whole truth. I had also made plainly clear that her charges should be taken seriously, but not BELIEVED right off hand. There is a difference! To take her charges seriously is to properly investigate them, verify them and take the appropriate steps to administer punishment on her husband if he is guilty. To believe her means to bypass the steps of verification and to simply say that he is guilty based on the charges. By merely suggesting this I was denigrated as a horrible person, a rape-enabler and an overall awful human being.

    (a long example, I know, but really the best I can do, to date).

    Now, this next section of comment is one that you may take offense to, as I am going to be extremely blunt, but everything I say is true and proven through data collection and statistics. I will provide links where I can.

    ~
    Patriarchy has, again, been in place and worked for thousands of years. There have been abuses of the system, true, but such is the case with any and every system set upon this earth. Even Christ himself has been used incorrectly by men. It’s because we are fallen and imperfect people, not because Christ has failed.

    Overall the world was a much better place under patriarchy and the inclusion of women into areas typically kept by men has been disastrous.

    Point #1: Society in general has suffered greatly because the loosening of patriarchy and the inclusion of women being able to vote. Janet Bloomfield at her site http://www.judgybitch.com (don’t be offended by the name, she is very intelligent, but also extremely blunt in her delivery) has done an excellent number of posts on why women should not be allowed to vote, pointing out that shortly after women received the ability to vote government spending and involvement in the lives of every day citizens GREATLY INCREASED! Why? Because overall women are creatures who value safety and security over risk and venture, and they see the government as the ultimate security net! This thinking has been a great contributor to our current situation in the United States – the creation of a near socialist state!

    Point #2: Patriarchy kept young girls in their fathers homes until they were married, either by premade marriage agreements or through the process of courtship. Modern day dating has proven to be a nightmare, contributing to a rampant explosion in promiscuity for both men and women, as well as a number of other issues like the spread of sexually transmitted disease, unwanted children, abortion – the list can go on and on. In old patriarchal societies young girls were not allowed to just hang out with random men they met on the street and allowed to be alone with them on a ‘date’, where no one keeps watch on what is going on or what they are doing. Even Christian kids, devout as they may be, find themselves at the mercy of their hormones when they end up alone with one another and things get moving. Patriarchy helped to prevent that. Not entirely, no, but it did have a stymying effect.

    Point #3: Patriarchy helped to ensure that young boys grew into men and young girls into women. Though a woman could leave her husband if she wanted (though the bible seems to indicate that only men could divorce their wives, not vice versa), to do so for frivolous reasons was not a smart move. Yes, if a woman’s husband was physically or sexually abusing her she could leave and probably expect that there would be forces in place to assist her and her children in 1)keeping her husband at bay and 2)being able to survive without his help, but overall women maintained the home and worked from home. Outside the home they would have found it very difficult to maintain the same lifestyle they could if they living in their husbands household. Modern feminism tells women they are stupid for getting married and living with a man. This has contributed to an explosion of single-mother homes that don’t function correctly. Statistics show that both boys and girls who grow up in homes without a father suffer greatly from a number of issues including increased probability of drug use, increased number of suicides, increased probability of committing crime, and the list goes on. Now part of this stems from, yes, irresponsible men that simply leave their families for one reason or another, but in the past fifty years the number of woman initiated divorces has skyrocketed, as has the number of births out of wedlock! The loosening of patriarchal values in society has allowed women to basically try to ‘go it on their own’ with disastrous results. At face value it sounds like a great and much needed idea, but in action it doesn’t work. Modern career women are lamenting the fact that, looking back over a lifetime of school, work and achievement, they have nothing of value! Degrees and accolades do not comfort you on your death bed, and they have given up their child bearing, family growing years to college and employers. they have been told they can ‘do it all’, but nothing could be further from the truth. We all have limited time on this rock called Earth, and our bodies are at a prime for only so long. Rather than raising children in the prime of their life, when they have energy, women are trying to wait until their later years, when raising children is thousands of times more difficult. And to make matters worse, they have lost their external luster. Yes, as bad as it sounds, their outer beauty has begun to fade and the handsome men that used to woo them in their late teens and early twenties are gone, leaving groups of men that aren’t interested in a family with an older women, but only sex, which has lead to the recent creation of the ‘cougar’ generation. I have seen several older women who, desperate for children, have proclaimed that they would find one way or another to get pregnant, and raise the child on their own if they have to. It is a dangerous game.

    ~
    I will finish with this, then I will be done with this thread overall. I am interested in reading your response, however, as both you and your husband sound like level headed and intelligent people.

    Patriarchy, overall, is a form of an authoritative system. Because it can be abused does not mean that it is not good for society and needs to be destroyed. We are all aware that authoritative powers, since the beginning of time, can be used for wrong purpose, yet we would (almost) all agree that cities need police, companies need bosses and countries need governments. JUST BECAUSE AUTHORITY CAN BE ABUSED DOES NOT MEAN IT IS BAD! It means there are bad people who have authority, and even this can be mitigated through a process of careful screening and vetting. Women who complain about patriarchy would do well to review their criteria for what they want in a man. If previous men in their lives have caused them grief, it may be due to the fact that they have very lax standards in their men. Again, this is not always the case, as men are certainly not all angels. The problem is that women nowadays are told they are nearly infallible and nothing they do is wrong. It’s always the fault of men. This mindset requires no introspection and thus causes no need to change wrong behavior, thus the cycle perpetuates itself over and over again, from generation to generation.

    ~
    I am happy to hear that your husband allows you to be yourself, as it should be. And, no, we can never meet every need of our spouses, nor anyone else on this planet. Only Christ can meet all of our needs.

    ~
    Personally I am not big on the ‘Love Languages’, though I have heard that it works well for some people. To me it seemingly adds another layer of complexity to simple scripture, as we start to focus on looking for whether or not our spouses are ‘speaking’ our language, or whether or not we are ‘speaking’ theirs. Scripture is so simple: “wives respect your husbands, husbands love your wives”. It’s a beautiful thing, really.

    Best to you and yours. We will lift you and your family in prayer that the Lord of all creation bless you with wisdom, provision and love.

  8. i pretty much agree with all you have defined as ‘patriarchy.’ i wish the term had not been so abused in certain groups (which i won’t go into since you need to move on) where the head male is raised to a place of absolute dictator and no one else has or is allowed any thought or desire that contradicts or even perceives to contradict with the head male.

    i am not for dictatorial marriages where the wife is not allowed thought or value and who is only accepted if she adheres to her husband in everything … every idea, every thought, and is not allowed to ever have an opinion or to be her own person on any level.

    i do believe God placed women under the authority of men, and with that freedom as the head of the family also comes the responsibility. it’s a very safe place for a woman to be. i also believe there is something uniquely powerful in the prayers of a man for his wife and children and household – that he provides a covering for his family. and our girls, especially, know they are welcome to live with us as long as they like.

    ~
    the love languages, like the term ‘patriarchy,’ simply define things in ways some people understand better … based on personality, learning style, history, etc. i don’t see them as dictating how one should love another, i simply see them as giving insight into how one naturally receives love. i don’t see it as something meant to keep a record of … simply a way to understand each other and to be able to reach one another’s heart in ways that are meaningful to them. for example, i know people who simply do not like to be touched much, at all. i have a college friend who had ideas of marriage that included cuddling when sleeping, but her husband doesn’t like to be touched when sleeping, so they don’t touch when sleeping. i know others who not only thrive on physical touch but they have a real need for it. these kinds of things are important to know about those whom we love.

    another example, i have a daughter who feels deeply loved by me when we go out to eat together. we don’t have to go often, and we don’t have to spend hours in a restaurant. but if we go out to eat, just the two of us, every week or so, she feels deeply loved by me, and it is unconsciously reflected in her behavior. she has learned to identify this as she has gotten older so that when she needs time with me, she knows how to ask. my step son feels loved when i listen to him. and to be honest, the young man is a talker … and while i think i’m a pretty good listener, he challenges my limits! i’ve learned to tell him when my brain is maxed out and need a break in ways that still confirm he is loved (he’s brilliant, and although i’m not unintelligent, he still can run circles around me on many issues).

    while it is important for a wife to respect her husband, it is imperative that she respect *her* husband. for example, one husband might feel respected when his wife keeps the house in perfect order while another husband likes his things as they are – kind of a mad-scientist, piles everywhere, kind of order. i know one wife who thought she would organize her husband’s stuff early in her marriage to help him out … she only did that once :). i know some men who want their wives to have everything planned; i know others who feel affronted if their wife plans everything. the love languages, terms like patriarchy, and other such things, help us to define things … but they shouldn’t drive them.

    may you love your wife in ways she, personally, feels loved by you. may your wife respect you in ways you, personally, feel respected by her. and ditto for my marriage with my husband.

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