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Killing an Attitude of Entitlement

February 28, 2014

This post is slightly irregular. Carolyn McCulley has mentioned that she may be closing down her blog, and I wanted to save this post of hers from July 2, 2007, http://solofemininity.blogs.com/posts/2007/07/killing-an-atti.html. The reason that I am copying this post is because so many people insist that I protest only the hard extremes of complementarianism. I want to use this as testimony to the fact that McCulley provides this interview for biblical teaching about this lifestyle. I don’t know how she wrote this without crying, without reading the despair and loss of humanity. I have said enough. But this is what I am protesting.

The series we began in January about the good goal of getting married lives on! Today, I’m pleased to feature an interview with xxxxx, the bride of xxxxxxx and new mother of xxxxx.The goal of these interviews is to help us think both biblically and realistically about marriage and what life is like when the honeymoon is over and the real living begins. I’ve been grateful for the women who have been willing to share their experiences and insights with us.

1. In what area were you the least prepared to be a wife? What would you have done differently as a single woman to prepare for this? Well…the only thing that comes to mind is that I would have spent more time cultivating a biblical view of myself as the “worst of sinners”…recognizing that I am constantly in need of God’s sanctifying grace, that I’m unable to change anything in my own strength, and that I’m never going to be finished with the business of being sanctified. Since becoming a wife, I am much more aware of my sinfulness and my need for a Savior on a daily basis. As a single person it was easy to minimize my sin or not even see certain sins being expressed, because most times there was no context that would squeeze it from me in the way that a marriage relationship does. Seeing my sin more specifically and frequently (and against this person whom I love more than any other!) both surprised me and tempted me to despair and condemnation. I realized that, at least in my life, condemnation and despair are evidences of a reverse type of pride: I would not be despairing unless I had believed myself to be above sinning in that way, and I would not feel condemned unless I were believing the lie that Christ’s sacrifice for me wasn’t enough, like God didn’t really know what he was doing in planning my redemption or that he didn’t know all the ways I was going to sin. Praise God that the grace that saves us is the same grace that leads us and helps us grow for the rest of our Christian lives!

2. What does being a helpmate look like in your marriage? This is a big question, so I can think of a few ways to answer it. Also, after writing out this response, I realized that I should qualify it by saying that I don’t do these things anywhere near faithfully or perfectly. So this is what a helpmate SHOULD look like in my marriage and what I aspire to do!
(1) Praying for him daily and caring for him biblically (pointing him to God) when he is struggling. Actively looking for ways to encourage him and thank him for evidences of grace. Refraining from criticism unless I have spent time in prayer about it and sense the Holy Spirit guiding me to bring it graciously, as an observation, at an appropriate time, and out of pure motives (love for him as opposed to how this will make my life easier or better).
(2) Responding to the priorities he has established in the realms of caring for the home, such as cooking, cleaning, food shopping, errands, and any other tasks he delegates to me. (Perhaps I should mention that in the first year of our marriage, while I was still working full-time, this looked a LOT different than it does now. At that time, the priorities he had for me were different and were realistic given the fact that I was juggling working outside the home with caring for the home.)
(3) In this season, it also means supporting him in the ministry team that he leads.
(4) Regularly sharing my “to do” list with him and asking him if anything should be removed or added, which items are his priorities for me to do, etc. Then, I should do whatever I can to serve him on a daily basis, even if it means that items I’d rather get done don’t get done.
(5) Providing companionship in ways that are meaningful to him. In our marriage this includes things like getting up early to have breakfast with him, not only so I can prepare it for him but also because he appreciates spending a little time with me in the morning. It also includes joyfully greeting him when he comes home at the end of the day, relaxing with him when he desires to relax together (even if my ‘to do’ list beckons), giving him my attention when he wants to talk (even if I am tempted to be distracted by something else).

3. What was the biggest surprise to you after marriage? I think I may have believed that submission, as biblically defined, would be easier than it actually is. I had such a desire to be married, to serve a godly husband, and to learn how to be a godly, submissive wife. So I guess perhaps I thought this strong desire would make me better at it. (Ha ha!) I never anticipated how many times we would disagree on small things, mostly matters of preference, and how I was not at all entitled to have my own way on these things just because they were small, or just because they fell under the category of home management, or for any other reason. (Just to give you an idea, I’m talking about dumb little things like how long to store an opened jar of spaghetti sauce in the fridge before it gets thrown away.) My husband might make a decision at times based on my input, but he’s not obligated to do this. This attitude of ‘entitlement’ to have my own way was probably the biggest thing I had to work to put to death early in our marriage. An important verse for me was Philippians 2:5-8: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” If my Savior, who was in the form of God, humbled himself, took the form of a servant, and obeyed to the point of death, how much more should I, as a weak, sinful person, be willing to humble myself and die to myself and my own preferences daily? I needed to learn to trust that God has sovereignly and lovingly placed me under my husband’s leadership, and that unless his decisions are leading me into sin, I can joyfully follow him knowing that ultimately the Lord has good for both of us in it. This is easier said than done when I think he’s making a poor decision or one that I don’t agree with – but even at those times, or especially at those times, it’s important for me to obey the Lord and submit to my husband. Sometimes, the Lord wants to teach him something through a mistake that he makes. More often, though, I find that he wants to humble me by showing me that what I thought was a mistake was really the path of wisdom!

4. How do you think single woman should pursue/prepare for marriage?
(1) Spend time with married couples or married ladies and ask them these kinds of questions! Also, once they know you well, ask them to tell you what they see in you as the areas where you could most grow in your preparedness for marriage. (Then, make a plan for growing in these areas.)
(2) Involve yourself with godly married couples or families whenever and however possible – this might be by living with them, or serving them by babysitting or other practical ways – not only for the purpose of getting to know them, which is great, but also to get a real-life vision for what God requires in marriage and how it is lived out on a daily basis. (You can also get their help in practical skills where you know you need to grow – whether it’s cooking, cleaning, budgeting, basic home improvement tasks, child care, or whatever other skills might serve your future marriage.)
(3) Practice humble, biblical self-assessment and conflict resolution. In particular, I would say, learn to recognize the sin of sinful judgment in your life. When you are tempted to judge someone, put Matthew 7:1-5 into practice and learn how to find the log that is in your own eye, regardless of how obvious and blatant the sin of others may appear to you. When you are in conflict with another person, be quick to humble yourself, confess your own sin without defending it or accusing them in the process, and ask their forgiveness. Be quick to forgive the other person (whether they ask for it or not) and then work on not keeping a record of their wrongs.
(4) Practice seeking the input of others on decisions ranging from small to large. Then, don’t just ignore it if it doesn’t agree with what you were inclined to decide, but humbly ask yourself if there is any wisdom for you in the counsel you are being given (especially if multiple people are giving you the same counsel!)
(5) Actively look for ways to serve the needs of others ahead of your own. Work to die to your own preferences whenever possible!
(6) Look for ways to encourage the men in your circle to lead. Don’t try to be the ‘leader’ in group situations where there are men present, even if those men might not be the strongest leaders you know. If you really feel like you have unique gifting appropriate for the situation, perhaps ask them what you can do to help, rather than just ‘taking charge’. It will help you to practice a peaceful and gentle spirit in preparation for what it looks like to submit in marriage, and it will encourage growth in their leadership.
(7) Read great books on the biblical role of a wife like Feminine Appeal, The Excellent Wife, The Fruit of Her Hands, and Reforming Marriage. Figure out which parts you can apply to your life as a single woman, and use them to get a realistic vision for what it will look like to be the kind of wife that God requires.
(8) Practice a consistent devotional life, characterized by lots of Scripture reading and application, humble self-evaluation, and prayer for others.

5. What is one thing about men you learned after marriage? I think I have learned, and am learning, that biblical leadership is just as hard for them as biblical submission is for us. (Just look at Genesis 3 – it’s because of the fall, in both cases!) I think I was tempted in the beginning to think that men have it easier than women because as leaders, they have the final say on decisions. But they bear a lot of responsibility in this regard. They are one day going to be held accountable before God for how they led their wife and family. Not to mention the fact that their leadership should be primarily characterized by sacrificial love. So, it isn’t enough for them to just be good decision-makers. God knows their hearts and sees when they are leading sacrificially versus when they are leading from self-interest. But my encouragement to them would be that God’s grace is ever-present and will meet any of them right where they are to help them grow. It really will! God is all about glorifying himself in this process of sanctifying men and making them good Biblical leaders. And furthermore, it is ultimately the shed blood of Jesus that makes them acceptable before God, not how many instances of sacrificial leadership they can point to in their lives.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. February 28, 2014 8:08 pm

    This is awful. “Let’s take away your adult agency, squeeze you into a tiny box, and tell you that any discomfort or resentment you feel is sin.”

  2. Amy permalink
    March 27, 2014 4:09 pm

    Having grown up as a girl at one of SGM’s flagship churches, I have watched women try to live this. What a destructive ideology. They try to colonize women’s souls.

  3. Suzanne McCarthy permalink*
    March 27, 2014 11:33 pm

    Amy,

    I had thought immediately that this women might have attended a SGM church. It’s downright painful to read this stuff.

  4. April 27, 2014 12:24 pm

    I’m glad you preserved this although it is so difficult to read. How anyone can believe this is what Jesus or Paul would want is beyond me. How long to keep a jar in the fridge? Good grief!

  5. April 27, 2014 4:05 pm

    So many people say that I am setting up a straw man, that nobody actually lives like this, but,… Some people do.

  6. April 27, 2014 11:46 pm

    My daughter was at a conference in Tenn last fall and a woman there told her that the women in her church have to sit in the back of the sanctuary and are not allowed to speak unless given permission by a man. So yes, unfortunately people do live like this 😦

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