I remember when I was 15 years old, during the early days of my interest in the Bible, I told my boyfriend at the time “I will NEVER submit to you.” Although I did not grow up in a family of churchgoers, I knew the Church asked women to submit to their husband.
And I did not care for this outdated, macho, absurd practice.
Ten years later…
I am in a Muslim country for a missionary project. Here, men can be extremely insistent with white women: they whistle and stare at us, call us like dogs and even follow us with their car. For safety reasons, women in our group are prohibited from navigating the streets alone. Our schedule is full: between a daily moment with God, meetings to pray, biblical studies and time for evangelization, we don’t have much time to breathe. Our only day off during the week is well-welcomed and this time, the boys will use it to sleep and “chill” (that’s what they told me). A few moments after our conversation, a girl from the group asks Daniel: “Would you come to the market with me during our day off? I’d like to get some souvenirs.” Daniel looks at me, then at her: “Would it really make you happy?” She nodded. “Okay, I will go with you.” I am in awe for witnessing the 18 year-old guy sacrifice his day off to make his friend happy. Later that week, the girls in the group and I are meeting at our place (men live in another apartment). Two boys from the group arrived without knocking; they had a break between meetings and wanted to visit us. Noticing that we were busy, they went to the kitchen and fifteen minutes later, left in silence. Once the meeting was over, I went to the kitchen to notice they cleaned the dishes. Once again, I am in awe, but this time, I feel touched. As if a ball of kindness was being applied to an open wound, a rigid part of my heart.
Here’s a passage often quoted in relation to women’s submission: “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” (Ephesians 5:22-24)
And here’s what follows immediately: “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body.” (Ephesians 5:25-30)
It can sound somewhat mystic, but loving like Jesus has loved, in the biblical context, signifies to be willing to give one’s life for the other. So if the Bible says it’s important to accept leadership from a man who is willing to sacrifice himself for me and put all my interests first, then it changes everything.
At that moment, I discovered a part of me that I did not know: my princess heart. This part that appreciates, somehow, being taken care of.
Today, even if I do not go to church, this teaching is well engraved in me and I continue to live it, in my own way. I encourage my partner to lead, while still allowing me to put forth the leadership within me. I offer a space for which men are often deprived in our society in Quebec. Let me tell you that in a society where we have castrated men to take our place as women, the result is surprising!
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