“Do you want a divorce?” My husband was momentarily speechless. From the earliest days of our marriage, we struggled with sex. By the time I asked the question that so shocked my husband, it was apparent that we couldn’t resolve the issue by talking to each other or to our friends or by reading books.
Christians are used to hearing about Joseph and Mary, usually around Christmas. Then, they’re the supporting cast, and Jesus is the focus. They certainly don’t often come up in conversations about Christian marriage. Perhaps they should. If we pay attention, Joseph and Mary point us toward what makes a good marriage.
Growing up in a complementarian, Baptist church environment, I thought I knew exactly what God expected a Christian wife to be. I was confident that a good Christian wife keeps her house clean and orderly; it is to be her hard-working husband’s haven. She ensures that her husband comes home to a homemade meal every evening. She stays out of the financial affairs of the home because her husband is the breadwinner. She obeys him without question. She supports him no matter what. She does not complain. She does not rebel. She is her husband’s faithful (albeit often silent and invisible) helper.
As I wrote this article, I was en route to a conference for Air Force Reserve chaplains. Only three hours before, I received a call from my baby's pre-school. They informed me that my daughter was running a fever and needed to go home. I rushed to pick her up, take her to the pediatrician, and drop her and her antibiotics prescription off with my husband so I could get to the airport in time to catch my flight.
Each time I read Ephesians, I shuddered inwardly upon reading Chapter 5: “Wives submit to your husbands.” This passage was a neon light blinding me to the rest of the book. I felt the same shame when I read other passages with directives to women regarding silence, submission or authority. The worst was 1 Timothy 2, which implied that a woman could not be trusted with God’s word because of Eve’s deception. “Why, Father, did you make women this way?” I asked again and again.
For too long, I’ve made excuses for not being present and for being less than a full partner in the life of my family. To be a father means to not just hope for a world where my wife and daughters can flourish; it means helping to bring that world into being.