A blog post by an American Christian missionary entitled “How To Make Your Wife Submit To Your Authority – 6 Tips” has gone viral around the world.
Written by Caleb Suko in August 2013 for his Suko Family blog, the post has resurfaced again recently as Christian men and women across the world share it as the perfect example of Christian marriage.
“Alright men here’s another post for you! Let’s not beat around the bush, the Bible commands our wives to submit to us!
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. Eph 5:22
Simple commands however are not always easy to follow and sometimes our wives need our help in learning to submit. Thankfully, I have a few good tips for you that will help your wife fulfill her Biblical role.”
So begins this worrying article.
The post exemplifies the insidiousness of this brand of Christian Conservative sexism – while the woman is notionally celebrated, she is simultaneously chastened.
Some of the tips are basic behaviors that would make any man or woman a great partner. The issue here is that instead of doing these things to elevate their wives, men are instructed to do them to subjugate their wives.
The most clear example would be Tip 1 – Become Her Friend. Anyone in a strong and intimate relationship knows this is a winner:
“Make sure she knows that you value her companionship, find ways to relax together and engage her in heartfelt conversation.” Suko writes.
But for Suko, the reason to become her best friend is not simply to edify her, but to make submission easier.
“It will be easier and more pleasant for her to submit to you as a friend than for her to submit to you as a harsh master!”
Anyone, subjected to slavery, would choose a kind master over a harsh. But whether your master is harsh or fair, you are still a slave.
Another tip instructs men to serve their wives:
“When you come through that door after work don’t automatically expect that your wife has waited all day to run circles around you and make sure you are comfortable and well fed.”
A wonderful concept – neither partner should ever take the other’s presence for granted, particularly when a decision has been made that one partner is primarily responsible for the home, and the other for generating income. However, this really doesn’t need to be gendered – and we sure as hell shouldn’t be serving our partner just so they better serve us.
The responses from men and women to the blog are equally concerning, for those inside and outside of the Christian community. All point to the submitted wife as the optimal state for the relationship.
Some men feel they are the channel of God himself in the home:
Another user helpfully points out that husbands should also be ‘encouraging’ their wives to have the right sort of friends:
The next response, from a self-declared pastor, compares women to children.
All these behaviors are ultimately about maintaining male dominance over women.
I have no doubt that these men want to dominate their wives in the kindest, most compassionate way they can – but it is still domination. True partnership rests on equality – equal autonomy, respect and support.
The Power and Control wheel below outlines the kinds of behaviors used by abusive partners to emotionally or physically dominate. Several of the tips in the blog, and the comments in response, fall into the left side of the circle. The problem is, the kinds of flowery language and loving tones used in articles like Suko’s leave people blind to the underlying issue – patriarchal control of women.
But one thing should ring alarm bells in our minds here: the title of the article and the opening lines.
The post is not called “6 Ways To Be A Fabulous Husband,” or “How To Make Sure Your Wife Knows She Is Loved.”
It is called “How To Make Your Wife Submit To Your Authority.”
These men are not seeking to stand next to their wives, but over them. These posts are everywhere, as this simple Google search will attest. Wives being sent to their rooms like children, tips for “training” your woman, men demanding nothing less than complete submission by their female partners – it’s all out there.
The Apartheid-style rules enforced by this brand of Christianity bind men and women into arbitrary and unhelpful roles, and reinforce the most dangerous behaviors in heterosexual relationships. These are the same rules that the Christian Conservative/Evangelical wing of the U.S. Republican party are now working to turn into legislation – making “God’s law” federal law. These groups are busily working the most repressive interpretations of Christian law into the American legal system, and it’s on all liberal, progressive Americans to stop them.
Featured Image via The Samurai Husband