We both walked away shaking our heads. Both, being Toyin Tomatoe and myself.
Having spent some time at Westfield Stratford (it was my last evening before flying back to Vienna) and having had dinner, we bumped into Timi (name changed). It was the day after my sister’s wedding and I- wondering why he and his wife hadn’t turned up- asked what had happened. Hearing him out, we could not but smile and walk away, shaking our heads.
You know, we were actually on our way out but her lipstick was just too heavy. She insisted it had to match the colour of her red shoes. I kindly asked her to tone it down but she refused; and so I said I wouldn’t go with her like that. I simply could not.
Unsure of whether he was joking or actually serious, I re-asked the question..
Yes. I’m being serious. I couldn’t just leave the house with her looking like that. You see, she had chosen an outfit for me which I wasn’t comfortable with, but because of her I wore it anyway. Me asking her to tone down her lipstick wasn’t asking too much. After-all, it’s not like I said she shouldn’t wear any at all; I just really needed her to tone it down. We weren’t going clubbing, for crying out loud, we were going for a wedding. It was just too embarrassing. We started arguing and then she left. She came back a few minutes later but both our moods had changed and so neither of us bothered anymore. Oh, I know we must have missed so much! Thinking about it pains me but oh well..
What shocked me, however, was not so much the content of his account, as it was the readiness on his part to share it ever so freely. Even if she had indeed refused to submit to his wish, did he really have to tell us (in so much detail)? Apart from the fact that it really was no big deal at all (and certainly not reason enough to miss a close friend’s wedding, in my opinion, that is), am I mistaken to believe the idea to be to make your beloved look good, or at the very least: not make him/her look bad in front of others?
Theirs was a rather obvious case of “Who runs this house?“, but as I really did not feel it was my place to give more or less unsolicited advice, I merely smiled and said “It is well”; waving off any attempt of his to share any more of his wife’s misgivings or their marital issues (they’ve just been married for about two months). Asking what he was about to do, he said he wanted to have dinner at a nearby restaurant; that he fancied something different. He was clearly still upset. Admonishing him to go home and eat his wife’s food, we parted.
All this made me think..
Just a few weeks ago another friend of mine, Tosin (real name) and I discussed the issue of “submission”. Our talk was not so much focused on what the Bible had to say about it [we (hopefully) all know what that is: Galations 5:21-32] but rather how far some people have taken/misunderstood it. What does it really mean to submit to your husband? Tosin was recalling the following incident..
Paul and Ify, a married couple in their mid-forties, got into their car, leaving church, ready to ride back home. Just as they started moving, another male member showed up: he was going to follow them home. Within just a few seconds, as though it was the norm, Paul beckoned his wife to kindly move to the back-seat, thus making room for the other man in the passenger’s seat. Others, looking on, shook their heads. It was not the first time he appeared to have dismissed/sent his wife “to the back”. In the presence of men, she had to leave. It was rather obvious he did not regard women as equal. Or was it?
And that’s what I wanted to know from him: How obvious was it really?
Right then I remembered something similar happening during my last visit to Lagos: Gbolahan (my sister’s fiancé) and I were just parked outside one of his friends’ houses, waiting for his friend to come out so we could all go out. As soon as the said friend showed up, I opened the car door and moved to the back seat. Gbolahan, getting a bit upset, asked me what that was all about? He insisted I came back to the front and took my seat, since it was perfectly okay for his friend to sit at the back. He continued explaining that, perhaps, if we had both come out of the house together, it may have been acceptable for me to sit at the back and allow his friend the front-seat; but seeing as I was seated in the car already, there was no way he would let me get out and move to the back. What for?
This made me think again. It wasn’t my man’s car, so I didn’t actually mind moving to the back-seat. However, I am not sure I’d have been so willing if it had been. And then again, there is a difference between sitting in your (boy)friend’s car and sitting in your husband’s car; to me anyway. I understand the privileges that come with being called someone else’s and would not want to (have to) forfeit those for just another woman or man.. and I do pray my husband understands these privileges and rights too.
Having said that; while I may readily offer to give up my seat, I do not really expect my partner to concede to me doing so. Playing games? I trow not. I’m showing humility, thus giving him the opportunity to show me love, preference and honour. It’s really that simple. But what happens when that love, preference, honour is not shown?
Yes, of course, you submit anyway. Wives submit, husbands love. During Pastor O’s preaching at my sister’s wedding, he said something profound: To the husband-to-be he said, “Love. Not because she deserves it, but because you must. You do not love her because of who she is, but because of who you are.”
To the wife to be he said, “Submit. Not because he is smarter or wiser or more educated than you, but because that is what you must do. You do not submit to him because of who he is, but because of who you are in Christ.”
And what happens when your husband’s request makes little or no sense to you? My friend Timi did not ask his wife to do anything out of the ordinary or anything that would have inconvenienced her; but even if he had, would she have been right to act the way she did? Toyin and I concluded that she was looking for trouble, as his request seemed more than reasonable. Had a female friend told her to tone it down, she would most probably have done so without the slightest opposition. Was she trying to make a point? And if so, what point and why?
As a woman, do you submit to men or exclusively your man? To him or to Christ?
During one of my many discussions with family and friends, someone stated that “Even if your husband asked you to do something evil, you would have to submit to it.” and I vehemently disagreed: my first loyalty is to God and His word. So, what happens when my husband’s and my Lord’s views contradict, you ask? Well, guess that’s why it is important to be with someone who loves the Lord.
It has often been said that men rule with positional power, while women rule with influential power; plus-minus, I totally agree with this statement. In my quest to find out more, however, I stumbled upon some points I -dare say- I agree with even more, and I encourage you to read these too: Seven Misconceptions about (Christian) Submission!
At the end of the day, whether you submit to your husband, or your husband to Christ.. we must all be subject to His Lordship. I only fear the one who submits to no one.