Friday, February 08, 2008

Teaching Women to Submit

A few years ago I met a young Anglican priest who worked in a small village on the outer reaches of our society. It was a town immersed in financial depression and alcoholism. The priest noticed that on Saturdy evenings in the summer, a group of young women met and sat to talk on his doorstep. They did not knock on the door, they did not attract his attention, they sat on the steps until late into the night, talking.

It was not until some time later that he was told that the porch of the priest is the place of sanctuary for women. It is the place to go to avoid being raped and beaten. It was only available to the women who had no children or could leave their children in a safe place to sleep.

How many women are there even now, who need a place of sanctuary. And what does the church actually offer?

I was overwhelmed recently to read a book in which the author tells this story about himself. He was translating the Bible for a group that had never had it, and coming to a passage on submission, he realized that he could put this into action and use it to teach.

A young couple that he knew were living in violence, and now the translator felt himself to be empowered to take the man aside and tell him he must love his wife. And the wife, he comforted her with these words - you must submit.

I wish the story had a better ending. I wish this book had not been written in the last few years. I wish that every minister knew that he or she exists to tell women that they are not "under authority" but that everyone submits within the proper framework of a mutual and healthy relationship.


Psalmist said...

Suzanne, can you provide a link? I heard sometime back about this book, but never did read it myself. I know that many advocates for patriarchy are writing a lot of pretty hideous things about unilateral submission in marriage; I like to know where to link to prove it.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I told them I was working on Titus 2:5 where wives are instructed to be "good housewives [and] submit to their husbands". I asked my sister if she lived this way; her response was a mumbled negative. I turned to my brother-in-law and communicated the idea of verse 6, "urge the young men to be self-controlled". This young man had a violent temper and the verse grabbed his attention. I then encouraged both of them to act in a manner that would not allow others to criticize their behaviour, prayed with them and extracted a promise to return to their village and work on their relationship.

by Daniel Shaw 1988

Transculturation: The Cultural Factor in Translation and Other Communication Tasks

He explains that they are not his biological relatives but members of the group where he is working. I have no doubt that this young woman was living with violence.

Psalmist said...

Thanks, Suzanne.

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