Thursday, December 13, 2012

Is it a Woman's Duty?

I read a blog post that really socked me between the eyes today - it was about staying attractive for your husband and how that's an obligation for all Christian women.  It suggested that God created men to be visual in terms of attraction and that all men desire to have wives that are put-together, in shape, dress nicely and have nice hair.    What say ye, fellow Christian wives?  Do you feel spiritually obligated to dress to please your husband?  To be or stay slender?  For me, the idea is completely foreign.  Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not a slovenly person by nature.  I'm not a woman who wears pajamas all day or doesn't brush her teeth or hair.  But I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that my husband absolutely adores me and finds me as attractive now, 15 years later, as he did the day we met, when I was a fresh-faced 18 year old girl.  My husband is generous with words and affection - it's just his nature.  Probably a day hasn't gone by in our 14 year marriage where he hasn't told me that he loves me (and not in a generic way, but in a passion-filled way).  Is this abnormal?  To me it doesn't seem so, but I did grow up exposed to my grandparents' marriages and my own parents' marriage in which the whole world could see a husband absolutely devoted to his wife in body, mind and soul.  For that, I'm truly, truly grateful to God.  I think living the example of a healthy, loving marriage is one of the best gifts you can give to your children.  Now, the other part of the post that bothered me was the raising of thinness (because I think we all understand that "in shape" is PC-speak for not fat) to a biblical ideal for women.  Our culture's obsession with slimness is decidedly unbiblical.  Gluttony is a state of mind in which physical needs take precedence over spiritual needs and it's entirely possible for a thin woman to be gluttonous.  A woman's weight is, I would argue, the most determinative factor of her value in our current culture.  There's even been studies that show that, if given the choice, women would by and large choose having a thin frame over wealth, intelligence, even love!  Should Christian women really be promoting such a cultural mindset?  I don't think so.  Of course it's possible for secular cultural values to line up with biblical values, but I think that's rare, and any time we are promoting something, specifically as a Christian virtue, and it lines up with the zeitgeist of the time, we'd better cross all of our ts and dot all of our is to make absolutely sure that we aren't allowing our cultural conditioning to creep into our biblical interpretations.  But back to marriage and a wife's obligation to her spouse.  Honestly, while I'm sure that the author of the post and those who agree have good intentions, I suggest that in putting the idea of physical attraction and womanly beauty on a pedestal they are missing the far deeper, more spiritual meaning of godly marriage.  I'll wrap up with German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer's sermon on marriage - in my opinion quite possibly the best words on the subject ever written:

Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God's holy ordinance, through which he wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom.
In your love, you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, an office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.
As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of marriage above the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.

2 comments:

KM Logan said...

I read the same post, and felt very much the same way.

The problem with blogs is you do lose a lot in translation, and if words aren't chosen VERY carefully, then something can be taken as mean spirited when it isn't meant to be.

I left a comment saying that it was a good post but it needed a "BUT" at the end. Looking nice for your husband is important BUT being kind to your husband is more important.

I'm actually currently working on a book about beauty from a biblical perspective. Yes the Bible mentions a woman's beauty, but it mentions a woman's heart and attitude much more.

The blog post you mentioned pulled a scripture from Proverbs 31 proving that that woman cared about her clothes. It's funny I read that passage just this week and when I got there I made a note in my Bible that said "Only one verse in this whole passage talks about looks, the rest is about character."

That should be our attitude, yes it's thoughtful to look nice for our husband's but it's not the be-all-end-all.

Love your thoughts I'll be writing a post about this one too : )

KM Logan @ www.lessonsfromivy.com

The Merry Band of Fife said...

KM - Thank you for your post. I'll be sure to check out your own blog to read your thoughts too. I spoke to my husband and some dear like-minded friends about this who all agree - I view my husband and he views me through the "blinders" of marriage. We see beauty in each other because we WILL (through the grace of God) to see beauty. Seeing beauty is an active choice on the part of the viewer, not the one being viewed. We do the same with our children. Without this component of marriage, I know I would feel consigned to a life of fear that my husband would always be looking for the next best thing and that I would never be good enough (because let's be frank - there's always going to someone better looking than you, even if you are relatively attractive). How terrible that would be!

In Christ,
Melissa