Monday, November 19, 2012

Submission: Round Two

"I read recently that in a world of empowered, capable women, men have become redundant.  What do you think?"

My husband's philosophical question on our walk through Midtown last Sunday morning made me think - and has kept me thinking - about what I posted a few weeks ago about submission in marriage and the many follow-on conversations I've had with friends since.  It made me think about the recent talk in my faith's worldwide semi-annual conference last month related to my husband's question (citing books like "Why Boys Fail" and "The End of Men") wherein it was reported that men's SAT scores were lower than they had been in 40 years.

I think there is a connection between the two - submission within marriage and the declining need/performance of men and boys.

But first, a word on submission.  Submission is not submissiveness.  Yes, as my sister-in-law said via comment, submission has received a bad rap in recent years. Let's analogize this to submission to the Lord.  Faith in the Lord is not blind, and neither is submission to Him.  It requires an active mind and a quest for truth.  We obey while seeking to also understand.  The Lord respects and asks for these desires.

The commandment and covenant I am under to hear the counsel of my husband is, of course, different and similar all in one to the relationship I have with the Lord.  My sweet husband is far from perfect - and he will be the first one to admit it.  And I approach the two relationships very differently.  Unlike with the Lord, my husband and I are equally yoked.  And, when he is not righteous, I am under no obligation to follow.

But when my husband is righteous (of which I remain the judge), even as to things that are big and little, I should seek and follow his counsel.  This is often an iterative process, and if he jumps to a wrong conclusion in providing counsel, it is my obligation to provide more information so he can counsel better.  I, like Eve, have much fruit to bring to the marriage, and I should share that and my different perspective.

This is not to say the burden is always on him to make decisions.  It simply means that, as between equals, he leads discussions.  Whenever I turn to him, he then turns to me in counsel, but we both know who is guiding the ship.  And he never, ever, insists upon this kind of relationship (if he did, I believe that would  be unrightoues) - it only happens when I let it.

I think the counsel and commandment to submit in marriage (a very different connotation than the world provides) is one of the missing pieces in the phenomenon discussed by Elder Christopherson in the talk referred to above.  If women were to recognize righteous men as leaders in the home, I believe those men would perform better at work and in the Church--and their boys would see this and understand and grow into their roles as the next generation of righteous leaders.

You see, I believe one reason for the spiritual make-up and leadership within an equal marriage is that men need to lead, and women need to follow.  Not because there is any chauvenism involved, but because men need for their spiritual and other progression to learn how to lead, and women need to learn how to submit and follow.  The natural man tendency is to not--for both genders.  And I think that is exactly what Satan wants.



  1. Very well done. I remember C.S. Lewis writing in response as to why both sides can't just compromise to find a solution, why does anyone have to "submit." He wrote that surely we should look for compromise, but in a party of 2 if compromise cannot happen then there must be a deciding vote, and Biblically that is given to the man. But why does it have to be given to the man? He responded to that too by asking whether anyone is serious about having it the other way around.

    What would you say on issues that are seemingly righteous but also seem imprudent? For example, your husband wants to adopt but it is not a great time to do it. Just curious.

  2. Adam and I both read your first "submission" post and I think our differing reactions are kind of amusing. He's the one who has a problem with the word "submission" - he insists that we must be equal in the decision-making process for our family, and he would never make a major move of any kind without my full support and agreement. To him, the word "submission" insinuates that he can boss me around and I have to do what he says. I don't know if he's read this post yet, but maybe he'll be a little more comfortable with the word with these further details.

    On the other hand, what you've said in both posts makes perfect sense to me. I can't elaborate on why it makes sense, or add anything further. But I've read both of these and thought, "Yes. Exactly. I'm glad someone else has found the words to say something I have no idea how to explain."

  3. When I read your first post on submission in marriage, I was kind of stunned. I didn't care for it and felt like it was a threat to the council-like co-equal relationship that my husband and I have. But after reading some very vehement stuff from "Mormon feminists" who are up in arms about "not being treated equally" in the Church, and then reading this second post, I guess it's all a matter of comparison and perspective. I really liked this second post, and I think I'd like the first post a bit more if I read it in comparison to comments made by "Mormon feminists." Someone (particularly very well-educated and successful women in the Church) needs to take a stand for femininity and plain old not being angry about the "oppression of women." Thanks, Lorianne!