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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

I just came across Esther's blog post about the purported article entitled “The Good Wife’s Guide” from 1955. (If you haven't yet seen it, you can click on the images on the right. Go ahead, click. You know you want to.) I've seen this a time or two before, but seeing it again got me thinking...

Now, depending on which email version was forwarded to you, this little tidbit of womanly advice supposedly either came from a Home Economics text book or an issue of Housekeeping Monthly. Turns out that neither is true and the authenticity of the article is seriously in question (See Snopes analysis here). Most often the email in question is accompanied by scornful rants about the poor wives who had to endure the misogynistic, abusive and repressive post-war era and extolling the liberated virtues of the modern-day woman.

There are those who equate what the Bible teaches about marriage with the “good wife” depicted in this often circulated article. They claim that it’s a throwback to a time where the wife was nothing more than a subservient, docile, brainless housekeeping slave to her husband. (I’m not all that certain that this good wife stereotype was actually the prevailing post-war marriage paradigm, though I’m sure it has existed to various extents at various points in our history. That’s not really the point.)

What I’ve found is that, for the most part, those who believe that the Bible asserts a similar “good wife” role for women in marriage haven’t really looked very deeply into it for themselves. Rather they rely on bad preaching, false stereotypes, incorrect assumptions or feminist propaganda in order to form their opinions. I often hear a wife’s submission described in terms of subjugation, oppression and loss of self. Likewise a husband’s authority in a marriage is equated with self-serving domination and overbearing control. But none of these is part of the true biblical definition of marriage. Nowhere near.

How about you? Does the term “submission” cause the hackles on your neck to stand up? Does it conjure up Stepford Wife images that make you want to throw out whatever you’ve been told the Bible says about marriage? Do you think of June Cleaver, fastidiously vacuuming in a dress and pearls?

Really, I’d love you hear your thoughts. How does “The Good Wife’s Guide” relate to biblical teaching on marriage? I’ll follow up later this week with some of my thoughts.


Kathleen Quiring | Project M said...

I'm not sure yet where I stand on the whole "submission" thing. I'm still working through it. "Submission" alone doesn't put me on edge -- I think every human being is called to submit and serve whomever he or she comes into contact with. But I'm more wary of the concept of a wife's submission. I just think that the whole idea has been misunderstood and abused throughout history, and we have a twisted notion of the headship of the husband and the submission of the wife. I am trying to find a way to respect and accept the biblical concept of submission without assuming that the traditional take on it is the right one.

Thanks for discussing this topic - it's definitely one worth exploring!

Scott said...

Kathleen, I'm totally with you on the fact that we don't have many very example marriages, past or present, that we can point to as good models of what I think the Bible describes as God's design for marriage. My whole mission with this blog is to try to promote a fresh take on the concept of headship and submission within marriage. I invite you to stick with me as I try to sort it out and to offer your perspective. I respect and value healthy skepticism.

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