I have debated in my mind over this blog for the last two days. To talk about it or not. To work privately or to open this up as a place for women to speak. To open myself up to criticism or misunderstanding or to not go there. However, as I have had time to think about this, more emails have flooded in and I feel that I cannot stay silent.
In light of Jimmy’s recent blog entry, we have been absolutely blown away at the response we have gotten. The ones that have upset me are the ones we have received from the women. Women whose husbands were leaders in the church and were caught in sin, women who have been degraded directly from the pulpit, and women who have been abused verbally and physically in their private lives while everyone else thinks their husband is a godly man. These women do not know what to do or who to go to. They are good women, love the Lord, and want a good marriage but are so confused on how to handle these things. The advice they are receiving, in my opinion, is not biblical. The amazing part? The men who give them this advice are their pastors. What are some of these pastors caught in down the road? Yes, you guessed it. Immorality. No wonder these women have such trust issues.
It can get very messy when you start to filet the subject of the roles of the husband and the wife. I know in my own marriage, I have read almost every Christian relationship book out there! I desire a wonderful marriage and want to make sure that I am applying myself the best way that I know how! Somehow, deep inside of me, I think that if I am the perfect wife then my marriage will be wonderful! Women feel more in control that way I think. You know the thoughts, “If I do everything like I am supposed to, then I will be able to hold on to that man and he will stay faithful to me.” There is nothing more false or exposing of our insecurities. A marriage based on this is one of fear and tactics, whether we realize it or not.
Allow me to please get personal for a moment as I pick on myself and our own marriage and then make a point. Jimmy and I have had a good marriage. He is selfish and I am stubborn and that has always caused some sparks to fly, but we have loved each other and the Lord and so we get convicted of our fleshly ways and make things right. Since I became paralyzed 3 years ago, the dynamics of our marriage changed. A lot. Jimmy and I have had some major adjustments not just physically, but emotionally and spiritually. It has been quite the journey. We have had to learn, many times by trial and error, what our marriage is all about. He has handled things wrong and I have handled things wrong. However, what has happened, is that we have come in this journey stronger in our roles and our positions. Things that used to seem a little muddy have become considerably clear. There have been things that neither one of us are proud of in our behavior to each other. However, it has been through those painful times of pruning that you can see the beautiful buds of a right relationship springing forth! It makes it worth the pain. One lady I read at some point said this, “When something happens in your marriage, part of the grieving process is that you feel that things will never be the same. The reality is that things were already wrong, and now they have just been revealed.” That really hit home with us. We know that when ugliness hits our marriage, it is because an ugliness has already existed in our hearts. So, allow me to get to the heart of some things.
1. The woman is not the key to the marriage.
The woman is not the key to the marriage. She is a key in the marriage. The husband is also a key in the marriage. Both keys unlock the door of a beautiful relationship. This is true in every other relationship of our lives so why do we make a difference in our marriages? Ladies, the pressure is on us to be the Christians we ought to be. We are to be in love with Jesus Christ. We are to be pleasing Him in all that we do or say. This supersedes pleasing my husband. This pressure that I must be the perfect size, shape, color or whatever else to keep him happy is wrong. I must stay true to the Lord and faithful to Him. In doing so, the Holy Spirit will convict me when I have treated my man wrongly. The Holy Spirit can guide me in my eating habits, health, attitudes and work ethic. This is a huge responsibility that every Christian has across the board. In doing this, I have enough that the Holy Spirit needs me to be working on in my own life, that I do not need to be the Holy Spirit for my husband. Let the Holy Spirit work freely in my life – with no pressure from my husband, and let the Holy Spirit work on my husband – with no pressure from me. This frees up both the husband and wife considerably to work on what God is dealing with them about, and they do not have to be burdened with changing one another. Two keys, working in harmony, to unlock this passageway called marriage.
2. Submission is overrated.
Submission is overrated in much of our preaching. Submission is not overrated in the Word of God, but it is balanced. The lack of balance is not in the Bible – it is in many pulpits! There have been some that I have heard preach on this subject that have a balanced approach but I fear that is far and few between. When Jimmy and I received pre-marriage counseling, our pastor told Jimmy that according to the Bible that Jimmy was to be the leader in our home. However, he continued on to say that as the leader, that meant he was to lead in being the first to say sorry, the leader in being kind even if I wasn’t, the leader in doing right even if I wanted to do wrong, the leader in being a man of God even if I did not want to follow God. Jimmy has taken that to heart most of our marriage.
Much of the preaching, and in some of the books I have read on marriage, have led to the idea that the man is the God of your home. You worship him, you keep him appeased, you offer sacrifices to make him happy and content, and you do not for a moment cross him or question his authority. He is your umbrella of protection and only as long as he is right you will be okay. If he were to stray, you would then be vulnerable to the wiles of the devil. I have a very hard time with this as I am told in the Bible to have no other gods before me. I have never been told in the Word of God that my husband is the authority. The Bible says that he is my head.
As a woman, I believe that anything with two heads is a monster. There are times when we cannot come to an agreement on something and he makes the final decision. There are things that God leads him to lead our family in. He is the final decision maker but he is not superior. A husband and a wife are a team that respect one another, listen to one another, learn from one another, sharpen one another and keep each other accountable for our actions. My husband is my best friend, my greatest cheerleader, the one I want to talk to about things first, the one I love to spend time with, and the one I love to wake up with each morning. But he is not my god. I don’t want him to be. He doesn’t want to be. God doesn’t want him to be. He will fail me and disappoint me if I hold him in that position and that in turn will distort my image of my true God. If I let him be a man – just a man, and he lets me be a woman, then we can grow and learn together without any pressure of perfection. Perfection only belongs to God.
Submission is very important for the woman….and the man. We both are to be submitted to God first, to each other second, and finally in times of leadership and direction for this team we call the Reagan family, I am to be submissive to his headship.
3. Calling a spade a spade.
Now let’s get to the nitty-gritty of the hard situations. This is where it is so vital that you be in the proper place with your relationship with God. You will need to cry out for wisdom and guidance every step of the way. There are so many variations of stories that are horrifying, it is not possible to address each unique situation. However, there are some guidelines that I want to share so that if you are in one of these situations, you will not feel alone or that you are doing wrong.
First of all, if a man is one person in private and another in public, then you are dealing with a hypocrite. Christ had a lot to say about hypocrites and none of it was positive. Just because you are someone’s wife, it in no way means that you have to live in hypocrisy. Please refer to the leadership of the Holy Spirit and do not allow a petty indifference to define hypocrisy. I am referring to men who are involved in secret sins (that only wives know about), who are angry and violent men with their families, and are living private lives that their family knows but people in the church would never believe. This happens much more often than you think.
Secondly, get rid of the guilt. These men have commanded their families to stay silent. They have accused their wives of being unsubmissive if they talk about it. They have passed guilt out like candy saying that you will destroy their ministries or positions. They have threatened, begged, cried or any other thing they can think of to keep you from blowing their cover. Women are afraid to speak up because they really do worry about being unsubmissive and then being wrong with God themselves. The last thing they want to do is to destroy ministries and people’s lives by revealing the secret lives of their hypocritical husbands. I have heard some men preach with such anger in the pulpit, I just want to hug their wives after the service and tell them that I am sorry for what they must live with. My plea to you is to drop the guilt! You will not destroy anything. He has destroyed everything by his unspiritual actions.
Ladies, sometimes love must be tough. A mother that continues to give her son money because he begs and cries, knowing that he will buy drugs with it, is not a loving mother. She is an enabler helping him to do the very thing that will eventually destroy him. It is no different with our husbands. If we allow them to be hypocritical, and stay silent about it, then we are helping them to destroy themselves and everything that they once held precious. I do not believe that most of these men were wicked from the beginning. I think that with the help of the devil, pride and selfishness have taken root. They hate themselves and the lack of control in their lives. The way they feel better is to make everyone around them feel worse. Do NOT buy into this behavior. Free yourself from the guilt that you are somehow to blame. Even if you were the worst wife in the world, they still have a personal responsibility before God to do right. That is what true leadership is all about.
Lastly, make the hard decision. Call them out on their behavior. Make a list of healthy guidelines and let them know that this is how it will be or you will blow their cover. This is not blackmail. This is tough love. Most men, by nature, want whatever will be the best advantage for them. Men know that they need accountability because they know their own temptations. If you write out your guidelines on paper, then that makes it real clear. It also helps you avoid the temptation of being his personal Gestapo or his mother who he has to come to for permission all the time. Remember, the key here is “healthy” guidelines. This refers to his health, your health and the health of your marriage so keep that in mind as you set this up. He will get angry, he will load more guilt, he will accuse you of all sorts of things. Don’t argue. Don’t debate. Don’t get emotional. State it and then live it. He will know you mean it and it will scare the hound dog out of him. The last thing he wants is exposed.
Before you think I have went off the deep end, let me say this. Matthew 18 tells us what to do when there is sin against us involving another person. We are to go to them one on one. If that doesn’t work, we are to take others with us and talk to them. If that doesn’t work, we are to take it before the church. The passages in the Bible that talk about marriage are not the only passages that refer to marriage. All of the Bible is to us and for us – even in our marriages! The Fruit of the Spirit, the “Golden Rule”, the Beatitudes, and yes, even Matthew 18 refer to our marriages. If God said that if something cannot be taken care of in private to bring it to light, then God understands the human need of accountability. Wives, this refers to our marriages.
If you are in a situation and you feel that your pastor will not listen to you and help you with your husband, then do not despair. If you are a Pastor’s wife and feel helpless, you are not alone. There is help out there. You must make the first move to get it though. If all else fails, please contact us and we will help as the Lord leads us. If you are in a church, and your pastor is the one who is attacking and violent in the pulpit, then please hug his wife. She needs your help.
Jimmy has written biblical reasoning with a chart that compliments this post, in his post entitled “Hey Guys…”