I had another Adventure in the World of Female Submission not long ago. Even though the incident was ultimately inconsequential, it stuck with me.
Allow me to back up for a moment. To be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with my hair. It’s very thick and wavy, bordering on curly. Trust me, it is a Giant Pain in the Ass. When my hair is long, most days I just put it up so I don’t have to deal with it. My hair reacts to every minor change in humidity. If it’s too wet, it frizzes. If it’s too dry, it frizzes. If you’ve ever seen those old ads for Chia Pets, that is an accurate description of what my hair does. When my hair is short, I have to go to a lot of extra trouble to style it because I don’t have the option of hiding it in a ponytail or clip. On the other hand, because my hair is semi-curly, it holds its shape well (especially if I use enough hairspray).
Not long ago, for reasons I’d rather not go into in a blog post, I was forced to cut off most of my hair, which had previously been just past shoulder length. It was fairly disappointing, especially considering that now I can’t just conceal a bad hair day by putting it up. Thankfully, most people seem to have responded positively to my new ‘do. There are, however, a select few very rude people who seem to think that hairstyle is a sign of deeper unrest in a person’s life.
One such person posed this bizarre question: “Does your husband mind that you cut it short?”
I was so startled by the query that I think I mumbled something like, “No, not really.” Wow, that was a brilliant response.
What I should have said was, “Why on Earth should my husband care what I do with my hair?” My husband is not in charge of my hair. What I do with it is not his decision. And what I do with my hair has nothing to do with whether or not I am submitting to his authority in our home, which seems to have been the underlying sentiment.
Because that it what the whole conversation reminded me of. That in all things, I must consult with and answer to my husband, as he is my “head” in our home. The funny thing is, I am not convinced that we even have much of an idea what that means.
I remember asking, back in high school, what “submission” meant. One of the men at my church responded, “The way we handle it is that whenever there is a major decision to make, and we don’t agree, we just go with my opinion.”
So, instead of talking about it, making compromises, negotiating, or listening to each other, he just makes a decision and she goes along with it. I suppose if that works for them, more power to ’em. But what if the choice he is making is utterly wrong? Or sinful? Or causes unnecessary pain and loss in her life? Would he even listen to her side, or would he just plow though with it and refuse any of her counsel?
Too many people seem to want to return to the values of the 1950s. Christians, particularly those around my age and about ten years older, believe that the ’50s embody the kind of wholesome values that our society is now lacking. This includes a picture of family life that bears striking resemblance to “Leave It to Beaver.” In that universe, Dad is a strong, “manly” man who works hard to provide for his family. Mom is a gentle, nurturing woman who actually enjoys spending her day in an apron. In that world, Mom would *always* consult with Dad about her hairstyle and whether he would prefer that she leave it long.
The reality is that we don’t live in that place. Nor should we. It is not some sign of spiritual distress that I make my own decisions regarding my hair, or that my husband has far better housework skills than I. We aren’t somehow failing to keep God’s commandments about marriage because we make decisions together, or that—gasp—I sometimes take the lead.
The truth is, God knows what we need in a mate. I happen to be a woman with a bold streak and a fiery temper. God knew I needed, and provided for me, a man who is generally my opposite, in terms of personality. And, most importantly, this works for us. I am so blessed to be married to someone like my husband. We fit together; we work. Not once has he ever said to me that I need to be more womanly, and I have never said that he needs to “be a man.” We both believe that we are the people God intended us to be, and we have the marriage God intended us to have.
As long as society, or our friends, or the church keep pushing for men to have authority over their wives in all things and for women to submit willingly in all things, we will never make progress. Women will still be paid less for the same jobs. Women will be barred from serving in certain roles in the church. Women will be seen as weaker, less intelligent, and less capable.
We need to stop asking women every time they make a change in their lives whether or not their husbands approve.