Concerning the wedding vows of a submissive wife.

I was taking a gander over at Her Noble Character today (as a side note, check out Olivia at hernoblecharacter.com ) and she had posted an entry about her wedding vows. This took me back a bit to my own wedding, and the words my husband and I said to one another.

It also reminded me of the time I was asked to reconsider my vows for something a little more politically-correct.

Let me just state that I love my family dearly, and I respect their opinions mightily. On the other hand, my family’s religious background isn’t quite as cohesive as my husband’s is. I have everything from Jews to Mormons to Wiccans to Atheists in my bloodline. This is a wonderful thing in one respect, because I grew up with a fondness for learning about world religions and has helped my evangelizing efforts tremendously. Trust me, it’s much easier to talk to people about Jesus when you understand what direction they are coming from in comparison to yours.

On the other hand, it can be quite lonely. Aside from my husband and his family, no one in my family shares my particular beliefs. Frequently I am misunderstood or misrepresented by my family members. So I suppose it should have been no surprise that many were offended by my wedding vows. Why? Because they focused on Christ and headship in a marriage unit.

I don’t honestly know what could be so offensive about the idea of a woman making a conscious choice to follow her husband. In today’s society however, it is not a common idea. This is not to say that I condone a husband using unrighteous dominion over his wife, but then why would you marry a person like that in the first place? I married my husband knowing very well that he always put my interest above his own. It’s much easier to submit when you know that your husband is looking out for you, and not himself.

My husband may not be perfect, but he honestly tries the best he can and that gives me every motivation in the world to follow him and lift him up as the head of my home. He is giving everything into loving me as Christ loves the church. With him trying so hard to hold up his end of the bargain, I don’t find it demeaning or sexist to follow him at all. He is a man of character and love.

I went ahead with the vows I wanted. It’s funny, many of the people who poked fun at our vows when we said them have since become Christians themselves, and now look to us as an example of marriage. I am glad I didn’t give in to the pressure to use different vows at our wedding.

Here is a portion of the ceremony. Our names are noted with stars to protect our privacy.

“The vows you have acknowledged are not to be taken lightly because your marriage will be an example to others of the relationship between Christ and his followers. One of the reasons God created marriage was to illustrate His love, His treatment, His relationship with His people.

Ephesians 5 says,

21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is
the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the
church. 24
As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to yourhusbands in everything.

25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s
word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.

*******, you are to submit to *** because he is the head of your family just as Christ is
the head of His family. The way you love, honor, and serve Wil will be a testimony to
those around you. Your obedience to him will show others how Christians are to obey
Christ. A failure to fulfill your role faithfully will reflect poorly on Christ and His church.
But if you are faithful, others “may see your good deeds and praise your Father in
heaven.”

***, you probably have the tougher of the two jobs. Sure, we like to talk about how a
woman is meant to submit to and obey her husband, but you have to love her like Christ
loves His followers. You have to be Jesus to your wife and those who look at your
marriage. Those are some HUGE shoes to fill. Christ gave up absolutely everything for
the church. He held nothing back. Philippians tells us that He made Himself nothing, He
emptied Himself, and then, in humility, gave up His life on the cross for His people. Your
love for ******** must be nothing short of that. Her needs come before your comfort.
Her honor comes before your pride. Her life comes before your life.

Now I won’t profess to have this down perfectly, but the way you keep your commitment to
******** will speak volumes to others on how Christ loves His people. Your love will be
a testimony of Christ’s love. To fail is to dishonor the love Christ has given to everyone
of us. But if you succeed you will prove the words of 1 John 4:10, “10
This is real love—
not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away
our sins.”

From the very moment you decided to follow Jesus your lives have been testimonies of
His love, but from today on, you have a new responsibility. Your marriage–for good or
bad–will illustrate Christ’s love and relationship with His people.”

Hopefully the two of us are able to work together to fulfill the testimony presented at our wedding. I feel very blessed that we were given the opportunity to witness to our friends and family about the power of Biblical headship, even if it didn’t jive with all of them.

-Housewife at Work

The Dignity of Risk

I want to tell you a little about the work I do.

There is a non-profit organization known as Mosaic, it was started by members of the Lutheran church and is a Christian organization. The mission of this group is to provide adults with intellectual disabilities the opportunity to live independent lives. Many of my clients grew up in institutions where they were treated like chattel, never being allowed to mingle with “normal” people, never given a chance to try anything on their own, always treated like children.

Let me tell you something about some of the folks I work with. They can hold jobs. They can cook for themselves. They can volunteer at their churches. Some even can drive and get married, start a family.

But they will never find out unless someone gives them a chance to fail first. 

Sometimes in our efforts to help the disabled we tend to  infantilize them. We overly coddle them to try and make ourselves feel better, because disability makes us uncomfortable. In the end, all we do is unintentionally rob them of their dignity.

In the training I took prior to beginning this line of work we learned about something called “The Dignity of Risk”.  A lot of folks in my town didn’t like the idea of “retarded” people living independently in their communities. They were fearful of someone with Down’s Syndrome or Fragile X or Williams Syndrome living outside of an institution.

“What if they get lost in town?”

‘What if they get too loud during church services?”

“What if they wreck their cars?”

“What if they can’t pay their bills?”

A million of questions similar arose. People weren’t trying to be cruel, but they just didn’t understand that part of being a human being, with or without a disability, is the ability to take risks and learn from them. The non-disabled are given countless opportunities to make decisions, both good and bad. The disabled however, are denied these opportunities.

Below is a transcript written by a parent of a child who has a disability. It serves as the foundation of why I chose the work I chose, and a constant reminder that I am working with people who just happen to have a disability, not disableds who just happen to be people.

I’m not saying those with disabilities may not need our help sometimes, but lets stop “helping” them so much that we hurt them.

God bless,

Housewife at work.

THE DIGNITY OF RISK
(A parent whose son is in a supported work program in Richmond, VA)  
What if you never got to make a mistake?  
What if your money was always kept in an envelope where you couldn’t get it?  
What if you were never given a chance to do well at something?  
What if you were always treated like a child?  
What if your only chance to be with people different from you was with your own family?  
What if the job you did was not useful?  
What if you never got to make a decision?  
What if the only risky thing you could do was to act out?  
What if you couldn’t go outside because the last time you went it rained?  
What if you took the wrong bus once and now you can’t take another one?  
What if you got  into trouble and were sent away  and  you couldn’t come back because  they  always
remember your “trouble”?  
What if you worked and got paid $.46 an hour?  
What if you had to wear your winter coat when it rained because it was all you had?  
What if you had no privacy?  
What if you could do part of the grocery shopping but weren’t allowed to do any because you weren’t able to
do all of the shopping?  
What if you spent three hours every day just waiting?  
What if you grew old and never knew adulthood?  
What if you never got a chance?

Judgement.

I cannot count how many times this has happened.

Yesterday while sitting in class, we got a little off-topic. Somehow or another we got onto the topic of sex before marriage. One classmate (a fellow Christian) asked my opinion on the subject, to which I replied that I followed the biblical principle that sex before marriage is a sin. This particular classmate lives with her boyfriend, which I knew. She became very defensive of my opinion, insisted that her living with her boyfriend before marriage was “okay” because God viewed them as married, then went on to tell me that I was being judgmental by holding this belief, and that I wasn’t allowed to “judge her”.

She is of course referring to the passage in Matthew 7 that reads “Judge not, that ye be not judged”.

Now lets pretend that we were in math class instead. Pretend the teacher asked the class what 2+2 equaled, and she raised her hand and answered “7”. The teacher tells her that she is incorrect, that the right answer is actually “4”.

Is that a judgement? Of course not. The teacher isn’t condemning the student for having the wrong answer. He isn’t making fun of her, or thinking poorly of her for her incorrect answer. He is however, correcting her false way of thinking. How else would she learn and improve herself without someone correcting her? The teacher is not judging the student, but he is correcting her.

I kind of feel the same way when I see someone living in unrepentant sin. This is not to exclude myself, for I am guilty of sin too. On the other hand, part of belonging to a body of believers is having accountability for our actions so that we can evolve and grow closer to the Lord. I certainly don’t think that I am a better Christian or better person than my classmate simply because she is living with her boyfriend, but I do believe that there is a difference between correction and judgement. If someone asks my opinion on a subject that the bible speaks on, I will certainly speak truthfully. That does not mean I am thinking cruel things about the person who disagrees.

Christ had no issues with pointing out those living defiantly in sin, yet he was the one who uttered the often misused statement in regard to judgement. Why? Because he loved his followers and wanted what was best for them while still standing for truth. Christ corrected without judging, and he was the only one who actually had the authority to judge if he wanted to.

I feel like the line in Matthew about judgement has become a crutch for people who are living against the guidelines that God has set. I am guilty of this myself. The minute someone offers me some advice that is biblical and contradicts the un-biblical way I am living, I instantly throw out the “quit judging me” quip. This is actually harmful to me, as I am missing out on information and Godly advice that can help me. When I use “judge not” as a defense I am in a sense defending my sin.

This is not to say that some people don’t offer opinions and advice without judgement. They certainly do sometimes, and I have been victim (and perpetrator) of that myself. However, even if someone’s correction DOES come from a place of judgement, that doesn’t mean there isn’t some truth to it. It’s best to take in that information graciously no matter what the intent, because it can still be useful to you in your walk. Pray on it, and read God’s word to see if perhaps a change needs to be made there.

Just something i’ve been pondering on today. Pardon my rambling.

Singing out loud.

People get nervous singing at church.

Even in a church like ours. The music is loud. I mean LOUD. Nobody in that auditorium is going to hear you, and I think most of us attending are pretty much aware of that.

So why don’t most of us sing out loud? Every time the worship pastor stops singing to encourage the churchgoers to sing a verse it becomes a struggle. Pastor Ben is pretty charismatic, but even he has to coax the audience sometimes.

“Come on, you sound good!” he will say

Still nothing out of the mouths of most.

Why?

I know most of us don’t sound like Mariah Carey. Does it matter though? Is that why people don’t want to sing out loud, because they don’t sound good?

Maybe they just don’t like the music that much. Judging by the amount of dancing and clapping i’d say that’s not the problem.

So what is it?

I realized today why so many don’t want to sing the music out loud.

It makes them vulnerable.

Sometimes i’ll be in church worshipping and it will dawn on me how much I cleaned myself up for church that day. How long it took me to pick out the right clothes. The minutes I wasted making sure I don’t just PLOP down in the chairs, but instead gracefully lower myself onto the seat. My previously lax language is instantly cleaned up, with every foul word or judgement noticeably gone from the conversations that I have inside the church doors. I sing in church sure, but every note that I sing in church I strain to hit the right one, to make sure I sound good. If a verse in a song is too high for me to hit, I just pretend the verse doesn’t exist and close my mouth.

Everything has to look neat and presentable. I have to look like a good Christian (whatever that looks like). I can’t look frazzled or downtrodden or vulnerable. We don’t want our brothers and sisters to see us for what we really are. Messy and imperfect and broken and tone deaf.

Why here? Why is it so hard for us to be vulnerable in front of other Christians when it does so much good?

There are two people I envy in church. The first is a girl whose name I don’t know. When I choose a seat in church I always try and sit behind her. It brings me great joy to see her arms stretched out in worship as wide and as high as she can reach them. She sings louder than anyone else in the church, including those with a microphone. She smiles and jumps and sings out loud. Most of the time she sounds pretty darn good. Sometimes she doesn’t, but that’s when I enjoy sitting behind her the most. She just belts the lyrics with every once of air she has in her lungs, and it makes my entire face break into a huge smile.

She sings just for Him. Everyone else be damned. It’s the most beautiful thing i’ve ever seen.

The second person is my husband. He doesn’t sing as loud, but not for a lack of trying. More because he’s so caught up in the beauty of the music that he’s crying. He doesn’t worry about looking tough or manly. He’s too interested in the one-on-one conversation he’s having with God, the conversation just happens to be set to music. He doesn’t wipe the tears away, but it’s also beautiful.

When we walk into church vulnerable and open we are giving God an unlocked door into our hearts. When we let others see us at our most transparent God uses us to inspire others.

Who cares if you can’t sing, or if your hair is a little messed up that day, or if you couldn’t find anything “decent” to wear to church that morning.

Just let yourself become beautiful, messy and vulnerable.

Let yourself sing  out loud in church.

Songs of Sunday

I’m going to try and post all the songs we sing in church on Sundays. My video camera is pretty weak, so i’m just going to put up the YouTube original artist’s version until I land some better tech.

 

Chris Tomlin – Let God Arise

The New Breed and Israel Houghton – You Are Good

Hillsong United – Forever Reign

Planetshakers – Healer

 

Enjoy!

Housewife at Work