I was one of those women, so I will share my experience. I was taught that as a female, I must give up what I thought was best, because a male decreed otherwise. First, my dad, and then my husband. I tried my best, with God's help, to be as perfect as I could. But I often ran out of energy, and the men in my life constantly complained and put me down. No matter how hard I tried, they refused to define me as a valuable person, or my work as a worthy contribution to home or society. It took me years to acknowledge that their decisions usually made life hard and painful for me. But they denied their nastiness and/or told me that was my lot in life because I was born female.
And then I learned that in the Old Testament, Moses instructed husbands to give their wives a writing of divorcement instead of just kicking them out. Further study helped me realize that through Moses, God had instituted a provision for women to free them from their abusive, adulterous, negligent, or disappearing husbands. And the divorce was to free the women so they could marry a different man, one who would love and care for them as God had intended. In other words, instead of divorce being the height of wickedness, divorce was God's gift to women to free them from hard-hearted husbands.
I hugged this knowledge of God's love to my heart. Then I returned to Ephesians 5 and noticed that husbands are never told to boss, rule, or take authority over their wives. Instead they are told to love and sacrifice for them as Christ did for the church. And the Ephesians 5:21 command to everyone to submit, includes husbands. By taking men's reasoning and doctrine out of scripture, my gut sense that something was wrong with the husband authority/wife servant-child doctrine was backed up with REAL scripture. Indeed, controlling, self-serving husbands had God's censure and condemnation, NOT His nod of approval. The men who told me I must submit to their misery-producing behavior and demands because God had instituted this to be so, no longer had a leg to stand on. GOD had provided women freedom from man's cruelty. Men were the ones who had sold me the gospel of God's disdain for women.
Churches are supposed to be God's pipelines, delivering living water and freedom from oppression to everyone. But instead of winding protective and warming tapes around them to insulate them from the world's contempt toward women (and blacks, Jews, the disabled, the poor, etc.) they embraced the icy scorn of the world, welcoming it into their midst and entwining it like barbed wire into their interpretation of scripture, using human reasoning in the process, and claiming their treatment of women and their elevating of males is God-ordered, even while they claim their demoting and promoting role-rules ARE equality.
Women, wives, God loves you so much He provided divorce as an escape from a damaging and destructive marriage partner, whether the abuse is physical, mental, verbal, sexual, economic, social, spiritual, or whatever. Our God is a God of justice.
The fast He has chosen is to “loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke.” Isaiah 58:6God indeed has positive plans for you.
Jeramiah 29:11 (KJV) “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”
As happened with my frozen pipe today, when you gird yourself with the excellent heat tapes of God's REAL word, the refreshing, living water of God's deep abiding love will come gushing through, causing love, joy, and a sense of freedom from bondage to flood your heart and make you want to dance.
Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" See www.wanetadawn.com A Mennonite woman fights to save her family yet keep her faith.