The internet has started making me feel like a pariah lately. I guess I don’t get out much. I keep running into all these freak-out posts about complementarianism and patriarchy. And I’m like what, I liiiike patriarchy. I guess I should have paid more attention to the changing of the seasons, because now I’m apparently relegated to the back of the bus with Doug Phillips and Roosh V. I didn’t realize I was so naughty. I suppose I’ve taken my backwards views for granted for too long. Whenever I hear the word “patriarchy,” I’m more inclined to get all warm and fuzzy inside. I didn’t realize I was supposed to experience a sharp inhale of breath and grab a pitchfork. My pitiable confusion must somehow stem from the fact that I had a wonderful father, stalwart pastors, and am married to the BEST man ever. Pretty much hand picked for me by God Himself (since He likes me so much). In which case, if you are selling anything on male headship, I breathlessly charge to the front of the line and beg for you to sign me up. Crazy me.
I guess I never bought into the “men are bad, women are good” tagline. I don’t think patriarchy is the problem of our age. And I’m afraid I know a little too much about women to find our universal victim-hood convincing. (Being one has kind of ruined it for me.) I mean, don’t we get to divorce our deadbeat husband on a whim, argue with him, threaten him, hold out on him, and eventually bend his bigoted will until he becomes a shell of a man, crying himself to sleep in the corner of the attic? Comeon, you know you got it in you. Men don’t stand a chance. And I personally don’t find them threatening. Women, on the other hand, scare me to death. A la, Eve, Delilah, Tamar, Cozbi, Athaliah, Jezebel….yeah, don’t act like you don’t have options in your dark little bag of tricks. Weaker sex, hardy har har. I don’t trust you for a second.
Okay, so I could be a pessimist. But don’t say I didn’t warn you.
One of the things I often end up talking about with my children is a man’s tendency to abdicate and woman’s tendency to steamroll anything that stands in her way. This sin comes up a lot. I always have to encourage the boys to step forward and take responsibility, and I’m always having to tell Jael to sheathe her claws before someone loses an eye. I remind her that we don’t want girls who fight with boys, but the kind of girls the boys want to protect, even if it means a fight. I then tell her that a strong woman controls herself, but a weak woman loses it. It’s always easier to have our own way than to tow the line. In other words, submission isn’t for sissies. Submission is for strong women. Submission that is forced on a weak woman isn’t submission and shouldn’t be touted as such. Neither is it Biblical. It’s just bullying. Godly submission has to be given. And no man can make you give it, because frankly, we’re made of sterner stuff.
I think the world wants us to think of patriarchy as a bunch of totalitarians marching about demanding things of us. I don’t think so. Maybe in our imaginations or somewhere in Texas. But in real life, I haven’t met any. However, I do know a lot of well meaning, if not somewhat complacent husbands who do what they can to keep their woman happy. Even if they have no idea how (there is no reason to it), and eventually settle for keeping her not pissed off. It’s not marital bliss, but at least the death toll remains low. Fortunately, men seem particularly well suited to the path of least resistance. They can live a long time under this exacting standard of marital mediocrity. I am starting to wonder though if real, potent, sacrificial male leadership is only possible as the bi-product, of godly, happy, content, thankful, submissive women. Because the odds of men getting it up by themselves seem to be slim to none. I mean, maybe it sometimes happens the other way around, but I would say that it’s easier for a godly woman to produce a great man, than it is for a man, no matter how great, to tame a shrew. Good. Luck. With. That.
As we all know, in marriage the man is called to lay himself down for his wife, and his family, in different ways than the wife is called to lay herself down for her husband. You all know the “different but equal” drill. But I’m going to say that it’s not equal at all. I’m going to say ours is better. Girls do, in fact, rule the world. The only question is whether it will either be for good or for evil. The feminists invite us to fear men, to throw off authority, and to stand up for ourselves. But Christ invites us to partake in the glory of the ages, the submission of Christ. And by doing so, we become a catalyst to change the world. Through our peace, our homes, our families, and our men. Submission is powerful. The feminists have their interest-serving agenda backwards. Because it is the first who will be last, the last will be first, and he who seeks to save his life will lose it.
The world uses fear and the vilification of patriarchy to point all available guns at the only thing that can threaten it – godly submission. The effect of their efforts is that we now instinctively speak of submission with qualifiers and apologies. Our leaders have all but become muted. But it is our secret weapon. It is our strength. Rediscover it. We serve a God who gave it all away, and won the world. I have been surprised to find that intentional submission has become a source of joy. Whenever I find instances where I can submit to my husband I am secretly excited. I feel like slapping my hand and saying, “Stop it! You’re so bad.” But it’s true. Once I began to approach submission, not as a burden, but as an honor and a privilege, it started to return to me as joy. And I was shocked. “Hi my name is Miranda Otto, and I love submitting to my own husband.” There, I said it. And as we all know, the first step to recovery is acceptance.
When you serve a great God and are married to a good man, there is nothing better than the beauty of submission. Not just in the little, everyday instances. But in the life of peace, oneness, and security it creates. This is where it is all at. And I would not trade it for petty squabbles or any of my “rights.” I mean, what price would you pay for a God who has your back, and a man who has given you his life, and the calm that ensues? This is everything. This is where I plant my feet and roll up my sleeves. I don’t see male headship as a prison. I see it as my exoskeleton. A loved, protected, and secure woman isn’t oppressed. She is empowered, and more than that, she empowers. Of course, maybe you get your kicks in other ways. Go ahead. But if you’re a Christian woman, married to a godly man, and you read Ephesians 5, Titus 2, or Colossians 3 – I would encourage you to embrace it. If it sounds harsh in the ears of the world, that just makes it more authentic. It only makes it more dangerous.