Saturday, September 13, 2008

Husbands Always Sacrifice for Your Wives, No Matter What

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel" Please visit to read chapter one.

Wives submit no matter what. It does not matter if your husband is kind or mean and demanding, if he beats you or calls you names and demeans you in every way he can think of. You are still required to submit to him. Or so the teaching of some groups says. Some, like Bruce Ware, even go so far as to say that domestic violence is caused by the refusal of the wife to submit. If all this isn’t bad enough, folks with this belief also think the wife who refuses to obey her husband’s ridiculous demands is rebelling against none other than God, Himself.

Yet, when a husband demands that his wife submit, in most cases she does everything she can to please him, and he still is not satisfied, increases his demands, and gets angrier and angrier until he lashes out at her and hits her with words, putdowns, threats, intimidation, or physical pain. That marriage does not symbolize Christ and the church in any way. In fact, it is more like Satan turning his evil attacks against the church.

So what is the answer? Did you notice the directive for husbands from that same passage is not stressed by the wife submit group? If it was, it would sound like this. Husbands, love your wives self-sacrificially no matter what. It does not matter if she shirks her responsibilities, calls you names, belittles you, beats you, does not submit to you, or is unfaithful to you. God does not say you are to sacrifice yourself for her only if she meets your expectations. You must always love her unconditionally. The bottom line is that you must sacrifice your own desires for hers. You must give your wife and her desires and needs preference over your own, no matter what. If she is hurtful to you, turn the other cheek. If she is demanding, give her what she asks for and walk the second mile, giving her more of what she wants than she asked for. Always be kind and tender toward her, set aside your sexual preferences to fulfill hers, and bend yourself to fit with her goals and aspirations.

Indeed, if churches taught this one-sided doctrine that implied wives had the blessing of the church to take advantage of their husbands, men would walk out, and cringe at the word ‘love’ just as wives currently cringe at the word ‘submission.’ If every time marriages got embroiled in conflict and husbands went to their pastors for help, and the pastors advised the husbands to sacrifice and give in to their wives, men, too, would believe themselves to be oppressed. If pastors focused their preaching and teaching on requiring sacrificial behavior from the husbands, and had done so for hundreds of years, with only a brief overview of wife submission, perhaps men too would feel that the balance of power between the genders is very unequal.

Or would they? Oddly, focus on the husband’s part is closer to the Bible’s teaching than the one-sided wife submit teaching many churches currently promote. 1 John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.” If we get the order right and make the sacrificial love of husbands the center of attention, the wife’s love and submission are very likely to follow. Indeed, some groups are emphasizing to abusive husbands that they practice self-sacrifice toward their wives, without any expectation of return. And when the husband follows through, the couple ends up with a very happy marriage. (see The page for men is especially helpful.)

Why does this work? As God prophesied to Eve in Genesis 3:16, “Thy desire shall be to thy husband.” Women have a built in desire to please their husbands. So if the church would emphasize the husband’s role of leading out in loving self-sacrifice, servanthood, and nurturance, and the husband would follow through, the wife would respond with a return of the same. The result would be a reality of what is described in Ephesians 5 and other similar passages. Everyone would submit to everyone—including husbands and wives submitting to one another. Then, indeed, our churches would have achieved marriages that truly resemble Christ and the church,(instead of Satan and the church) and as a by-product, a highly reduced divorce rate.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Behind the Hedge: Abuse Done in Secret is not Necessarily Hidden

Behind the Hedge. What does the title of my novel mean? I wanted a title that symbolizes that most family abuse is done in private, behind closed doors. But I wanted something more. Something that symbolizes that abuse is not as private as the abuser thinks it is. Behind the Hedge was a perfect fit. If you’ve ever driven past a hedge, and then walked past it, you’ll understand what I mean. When we drive by, all we see is the hedge. We cannot see what is going on behind it. But when we walk by and try to see through that hedge, we will find places where we can get glimpses of what is on the other side. Sometimes if we move the branches ever so slightly, we can see amazing things on the other side. It just takes a small amount of effort.

Family or domestic violence—even when it is non-physical violence—is that way. When we breeze by, everything looks normal. The husband appears to love his wife, and the wife appears to look up to her husband. If they are church goers, he may have his arm around her in church, and they may stay close together after the service. Both may laugh and joke like anyone else. She may tend to be quiet, and he may be so charming. But if we take the time to slow down and really get to know them, we may find a different story. At first, it is like peeking through a hedge. We get a faint clue that something is not right. He may say something to her or about her that hints at disrespect. She may go out of her way to avoid displeasing him. But at this level it is easy to pass off what we see. To ignore it.

But if we make the effort to know them even better, we may find out that he does not allow her to do what she is educated to do or what she is passionate about. And he may limit her contact with friends or how much money she can spend, but he has expensive toys—perhaps a boat or a classic car, or clothes that are more expensive than hers.

And if we spend more time with them, at some point we will hear him say something demeaning to her or hear him react in a irrational manner, or even hear him verbally tear her to shreds. Then we will look at one another as if to say “What is his problem?” If we are allowed to talk with his wife for any length of time, she will indicate she thinks she is stupid, incapable, or inadequate. But if we ask, we will find she was on the honor roll at school and is very bright. By now, we’d have to be quite dense to not see he is controlling her, and likely abusing her at home.

That is why I put a flowering hedge around the Miller’s yard. I wanted people to see that the fa├žade can be ever so beautiful, but if we care about our fellow humans, we will make the effort to see beyond appearances, to offer understanding and help to those who are being hurt and accountability to the offender. Indeed, abuse done in secret is not necessarily hidden. And those who abuse lose their right to privacy. It is very apparent if we educate ourselves on what to look for and if we take the time to find the places to peer behind the hedge.

Waneta Dawn is the author of Behind the Hedge, A novel.