White-Knuckling, Navel-Gazing, & Womanhood

A few weeks ago, a very concerned reader came across my article “What About Titus 2?”

He read the part where I said my husband had taken over meal-planning.

This reader  — we’ll call him Jedediah  — was not having it.

Is not getting your husband to do more work because you cannot be bothered being unsupportive?

Or are men and women just gender flexible?

Good old Jed went on to say that my husband doing housework under the guise of sacrificially loving his wife (as he asserted that husbands are commanded to do) was the moral equivalent of a man cross-dressing.

Jed’s reaction to my post was so strong that I went back to read it again. Twice. Just to make sure that I hadn’t painted the picture of Phillip slaving away in a skirt while I lorded over him on the couch, eating bonbons and catching up on America’s Next Top Model.

The Blessed & The Offended

People don’t usually get as uptight as Jed about a little bit of meal-planning, but I have had some pretty intense (often online) conversations about womanhood since starting this blog.

People have called me all kinds of names.

Blessedly, people have also been encouraged. I’ve been getting so many sweet emails. I’m so encouraged that my clumsy journey out of a stereotype is blessing other women who have found themselves traveling the same road.

But for those who aren’t blessed but, are rather, violently offended, I’m often tempted to pose the question: “Why so serious?”

Why So Serious?

Well, first of all, because the Bible is serious. Attacks on any part of the Word of God are no light matter.

In fact, the complementarian battle cry rose up, in large part, because of an attack on what the Bible has to say about womanhood. However, forty years later, we’re still communicating these truths in a battle stance, teeth snarling, claws bared, and the rubber stamp of heresy ready to be popped on any offending forehead.

But not every clarification of biblical truth meets the criteria of an attack.

God’s Word warns us about the lure of being conformed to this world (Romans 12:2). The enemy is crafty enough to mask conforming to this world as “conforming to a specific cultural paradigm that we’ve confused with a Scriptural one and making any questioning of that paradigm tantamount to questioning the Bible.”

Who Are You?

When I first started this blog, I wrote a post about SAHMs vs. career moms.

Somehow, we’ve wrongfully made the home the most significant battle of biblical womanhood. We’ve taken a couple of passages in God’s word and turned them into the entirety of what it means to be a woman. We’ve taken our identities as females and caged them in Titus 2:3-5 and Proverbs 31. We’ve camped out in those passages with something to prove  — either as homemakers or professionals.

I’ve realized again and again just how much stock I had put into my identity as a homemaker.

We do it all the time. We preach that single women can only find worth in marriage and motherhood. We guilt moms who have priorities outside of their four walls. 

The other day, I overheard a group of women conversing about how they submit to their husbands. Almost every one of them gave an example of serving their husband: I try to have dinner ready when he gets home, I rub his feet after a long day, I dress in outfits I know will please him.

None of those are bad things. They’re beautiful acts of service. But is every act of service rendered from wife to husband an example of submission?

Who You Are

Throwing the “submission” label on every single thing a wife does for her husband seems to defeat the entire purpose of the word (as Mary-Beth alluded to in my last post). I will write about at greater length when I get my courage up and more wifely experience under my belt  — check back in ten or twenty years.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for serving my husband in every way that I am able. But, biblically, he’s also all about serving me. And it’s not just because I’m his wife  — I’m also his closest neighbor. Unnecessarily differentiating every act of service between us as wifely submission or husbandly sacrifice lands us right in the weeds of trying to find every ounce of our identity in our roles.

But I am more than Phillip’s wife. And Phillip is more than my husband. We are more than Wynn’s parents. We are blood-bought children of the Most High God.

Priorities Right

Which means that, when someone dares to question my understanding of Titus 2, they’re only questioning one aspect of my Christian walk. Not the entirety of my substance in Christ.

So many women cling so rabidly to their interpretation of these verses.

Some do it from conviction. Some do it out of the shame they’d crumble under if they ever let go. But I think a lot do it because when you question their understanding of those verses, you’re questioning their entire identity as human beings.

Sisters, this just shouldn’t be.

We have purpose and meaning outside of the caricatures we’ve built around our convictions. And when those caricatures crumble, we can actually see the beauty of the convictions they so often mask. We can drop the baggage. We can obey the Word.

White Knuckling & Navel Gazing

Poor Jed was holding onto his caricatures for dear life, his knuckles white from effort. His wife might have been at home having an identity crisis because someone told her that she’s not fulfilling the entirety of her identity by keeping the home.

Jedediah. Jemimah. I’ve been there. 

The cultural baggage we bring to our understanding of biblical womanhood is an idol that is tremendously hard to kill. Especially when we’ve made that idol our identity.

But we don’t have to stay there.

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