Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Me, A Doormat?

I was reading in Matthew 5 this morning, and a question that I have thought about often once again came to mind. As a believer, what rights do I really have?

"You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you." Matthew 5:38-42

So what does that have to do with being a wife? All my life I have heard women talk about "not being a doormat", meaning not only in general, but in specific reference to their husbands. The more I read my Bible though, I wonder if that is a Biblical concept, or if it is another of feminism's lies. Obviously, our flesh rebels against the idea of letting anyone "walk all over us", but what does the Scripture teach?

"Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. by his wounds you have been healed." 1 Peter 2:18-14 **

Now, I realize that this is speaking specifically to servants, but what are the followers of Christ to be? Servants. Time and again wives are told to honor, respect, and obey their husbands. Where does it speak of rights? As somewhat of an aside, 1 Corinthians does speak of rights ~ "The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does." 1 Corinthians 7:3-4 (emphasis mine)

Now, I don't believe that we should go about demanding our "rights", but there it is. We are often quick to jump on whatever we *think* our rights are, to dig our heels in when we feel we are being trampled upon, but what would our Lord have us do? The Scriptures speak to that which causes our flesh to scream, "It's not fair! That can't be right!" But God's ways are higher than ours. We often cannot see the reason for that to which He calls us.

As a Christian wife, my duty is to lay down my "rights". To sacrifice them upon the altar. Then to serve my husband ~ just or not ~ as Christ would have me serve him. "And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him." Colossians 3:17 To honor and respect him in a way that daily speaks the gospel to him. My husband is a believer, but that does not mean that he doesn't need me to live out the gospel before him. Just because he is saved by grace does not mean that I don't need to live a Christ-like life in relation to him. If your husband is an unbeliever, how much more important is it that you live like this?

"Likewise, wives, be submissive to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives - when they see your respectful and pure conduct." 1 Peter 3:1-2

So, I wonder if "being a doormat" isn't truely a Biblical concept. Only, I wouldn't call it being a doormat, I would call it being Christ-like. Is there some balance between the extremes that is still Biblical? I would not rule out that possibility. I don't have all the answers, but these are some things I have pondered for a while, and when the Scriptures brought them to mind again this morning, I decided to share them here. I would love to know your thoughts on this as well. Let's challenge each other to think and live Biblically, no matter how difficult that might be!

**I do not want to come across as encouraging a wife to stay in an abusive relationship. While I believe that each situation must be taken on a "case by case" basis, I don't believe that it is okay to stay where your life ~ or that of your children ~ is in danger. I *am not* advocating divorce, but a separation with godly counseling would be I believe, a Biblical response to an abusive situation.

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