When you look beyond your own limited experiences, it’s easier to see others more objectively, as much as that is possible for anyone. You concede that another person’s adherence to an identical principle may look different from yours, yet no less righteous. This is hard for those of us who embrace Biblical truth. We tend to think that those who believe as we do should be easily discernible as one of our own.
I used to agree with that, but I see it differently now. As much as I disagree with progressive politics and economics, I now believe a person can be a sincere Christian and an economic socialist. Social issues are different for obvious reasons, but my point is that political litmus tests of Christianity signify a failure to properly reverence and understand of the nature of our faith.
Christ commands us to make disciples of all people then challenges us that despite our differences, we are identifiable as His by the love we demonstrate to each another. We prefer uniformity, so we struggle. We struggle to force those who believe what we believe into boxes so that we can know within a few minutes whether we are dealing with friend or foe. Uniformity offers us a quick shortcut. We like shortcuts.
Factor into this the highly social nature of women, how we relate to one another, and our innate desire to belong. We devise our own versions of litmus tests to mark friends or foes, sinners and saints. Hence, we have “mommy wars” and “mean girls”, even among Christians. We pretend these are discussions about the right and godly way to do things, but they mostly aren’t.
I can’t currently recall male equivalents to the feminine struggles outlined above. Manhood demands one deal with friends and foes alike, so boys learn to do that from an early age, with less drive to squeeze one another into ideological boxes. Leave aside -for now- the trend of Internet groups and other oddities which emerged at the intersection of technology and the decimation of natural sex roles. That’s a new phenomenon, and I am thinking of a Christian principle which predates all of these things.
It’s the principle of wifely submission. I’m not going to say what women are used to hearing on the topic. In fact, I’m letting the wisdom of a friend speak instead.
A while back, after a candid and stimulating private conversation, I asked Hearthie to share her thoughts on the types of wives men desire and what a wife’s submission to her husband might look like depending on those needs. Every one of these types of wives can be a Biblical submissive wife. She often won’t match the ideal of the Christian wife as touted by NeoTrads or Christo-feminists, but if she is being the wife her husband needs, she is obeying Scripture.
I have met few women with more passion for the Bible or conviction on submission than Hearthie, so I was especially appreciative of her insights:
Different men want different things in women. When we, as women, are told that “all men want X” that’s not necessarily true. And if you’ve got no X in your personality/looks to build on, you’re just going to get all frustrated. What you should be doing (if unmarried) is building on your best characteristics and learning to be flexible.
So far, this is the list of the types of wives I’ve come up with: (most women incorporate some/all of these characteristics, it’s a weighted thing, not an absolute)
Solace: Life is hard. Wife is soft. This is the wife that exists primarily to comfort you, whose very being is respite from the battle. The men that pick this sort of women usually have had some sort of conflict (physical conflict) in their lives. Soldiers, police, guys who *used* to live in the hood? Yep. Sweet faced wives who can cook and make a house into a home, who are low drama, low conflict.
Stimulation: Most of the gents who pick this sort of wife tend to be very intelligent. They want someone interesting to watch, someone who breaks the tedium. My mom is absolutely this type of wife. “Hey honey, do you want to go to China?” Yep. The bouncy wife, always enthusiastic, always finding new things to see, to do, to participate in. High energy, likes projects, hates sitting still.
Go read the rest. It’s straightforward and not boring. I won’t have much to add to it.
As a firm believer in the principle of marital hierarchy and wifely submission, the best advice I can offer a single woman is to marry someone to whom you can adapt in ways that won’t require you pretend to be someone you’re not at your core. If you’re a woman who is best at providing solace, for example, turning yourself inside out to snag a guy best served by a woman who is good at status presentation- for the sake of simply having a man- is a very bad idea.
Marriage can be challenging enough without adding that to the mix and buying into the notion that every man wants a quiet, shrinking violet of a woman in a long skirt, polishing shiny sinks, baking bread and waiting for him to give her instructions for the day is a recipe for disaster. Not just for you, but him too. You need to be flexible as needs emerge, but our personalities tend to be pretty much what they are by adulthood.
This is why I beat the drum so loudly that rather than fall into the trap of believing that there is a one size fits all approach to being a good Christian wife, you’d best take your cues from your own husband. There are things my husband loves that another woman’s husband might loathe. How is it helpful to tell her to give her man what mine needs?
The proper character of a Christian wife is universal, clear as crystal, black and white. The things on which she expends her time and energy, however, are best left to be worked out between her and her own husband.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as unto the Lord. ~Ephesians 5:22 [emphasis added]