Wives, submit to your husbands,
As to the Lord.
— Ephesians 5:22
OH boy, I'm in trouble now, having used that quote from the Bible to open my weekly rant, as opposed to the customary words from the Bard himself. But as good as Shakespeare was, he still couldn't hold a candle to the words from the Good Book. And as old folks say, those words are gospel.
But should we really take all the words from the Holy Book to mean exactly what they say? Should wives actually submit to their husbands and obey them unconditionally? Well, based on what some eminent theologians say, that should be so. Women should submit to their men. After all, the man is the head of the household.
Well, blow me down and tickle me purple, is the Bible really promoting chauvinistic ideas? Are women truly the negroes of the world? That term was not coined by me, but was said by a famous militant feminist who asked if women were supposed to be relegated to the status of negroes of the time, back in the day of state institutionalised racism. Enslaved, shackled, and second-class citizens.
I must admit that the first time I heard this 'woman submit' statement was at a friend's wedding many years ago. At first I thought the pastor was joking, but he was very serious as he looked at the bride and spat out the words to her. "Submit woman, submit to your husband." So I looked it up in the Bible, and sure enough, there it was. We'll explore this more, right after these responses to my footnote about the recent airline debacle.
I totally agree with your sentiments regarding the recent Caribbean Airlines crack-up in Guyana. I was in that country along with some fellow musicians, and happened to see the wreck, broken in two like a dead bird. It hurt my heart to see it, knowing that the Air Ja logo was still on the plane, and knowing the brilliant safety record of Air Jamaica. Now someone else has tarnished this. Just like you, I have flown often on tours, but never ever expected this in our region. I thank God that no one died, but a little piece of me died when I saw that broken bird.
I agree with your comments about Air Jamaica and Caribbean Airlines. I am a frequent flyer and started flying with Air Jamaica in 1972 and have survived numerous delays and plenty teasing from my relatives and friends when I used to defend Air Jamaica.
My main reason for sticking with them was that once that plane took off, I felt safe. Up to the end of their tenure, Air Jamaica's safety record was outstanding, and the landings were perfect most of the time. Since the beginning of June, I have flown four round trips with Caribbean Airlines, and I'm still waiting for a smooth landing. I was not a happy traveller, and I'm flying with them next week and will pray for a smooth and safe landing.
I was in church a few weeks ago (yes, I do go to church) and a noted psychologist and counsellor gave a brilliant talk on the role of women, and in particular that passage about women submitting to their husbands. This, of course, sparked and fanned the flames of debate and discussion, for many modern- day women took umbrage, offence and were downright disgusted with the notion that women should submit to their husbands.
But most pastors are resolute in their defence of that passage in the Bible, and often include it in wedding vows, unless asked by the bride to omit it. Notice I said, bride and not the groom, for very few husbands would choose to delete that verse... unless their wives told them to do so. "Pastor, please take out that verse from the vows... my fiancée says so." And thus beginneth the lesson of the man losing his place.
The verse even goes further, stating, "Wives submit yourselves to your husbands, as unto the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church." But it also states, "Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loves the church and gave himself to it."
But I can see where some men take the whole submission thing out of context and declare that their wives must submit unconditionally to them, regardless of what. "See it there, parson, backed by the Bible, that you must do as I say and submit." Now that's where the fun and games begin, for the modern wife is not going to stand for that.
"Submit to my husband? Nonsense, utter rubbish." What I found interesting was that many counsellors and pastors also defend this stance and tell couples this at pre- and post-marital counselling sessions. But you know me, I'll always jump to the defence of the women.
A question was asked, "What if a wife wanted a better job with a higher-paying position, but the husband disagreed, what should she do?" Well, the answer from the eminent counsellor knocked me for a loop, for he said that she should not take the job and adhere to her husband's wishes. That I cannot go along with, for it assumes that the husband is a noble and honourable man of integrity, bereft of all frailties such as bad mind, envy, jealousy and low self-esteem.
If the job entailed plenty out-of-town or overseas travelling, I could understand, but many men are just bad mind and don't want their wives to progress beyond them because they think that it makes them look bad. They fear that if she goes too far up the corporate ladder he'll be left behind, so he prefers that she remain a cashier in the store, than be a manager or even own the store one day.
Some men are even offended if their wives drive a better car than they do. "Imagine, she driving Benz and I driving this little car. It nuh right."
Then there is the question of submitting to the man and giving him all that you earn. Here we go again, why should a woman work her tail off, then go home and hand over all he money to a husband who refuses to get a job? The popular cartoon Andy Capp highlights this concept, but it happens in real life too, and we all know it, with the man looking at his wife with Bible in hand and saying, "Wives are to submit to their husbands, give me the money."
But it's in the bedroom where the pulling and tugging and games of dominance and submission are played out. When the question was asked if wives should submit to their husband's demands, regardless of how kinky and perverse they may sound, the answer was more sobering. "If his demands go against the morality or legality of the country, then the wife has the right to refuse."
So if he wants to bring in a third party for a threesome, or explore some orifice 'where the sun don't shine', then she has the right to say no. As for the question of forcing himself on her, the jury is still out on that one, for some schools of thought say that a wife's body belongs to her husband, but some states in the USA have passed laws that decree that a husband can actually be charged with raping his wife.
So see it there, he just can't do what he wants to her and cite Bible verse about submission. "Submit to you and do what... because the Bible says that I must submit? Just take your whips, chain, fowl feather and that goat out of the bedroom."
Who remembers that calypso song, Die with my Dignity? It tells the tale of what men want to do with women to satisfy their lust, but the woman says, "No way." Now let's hope that the women won't take this as licence to refuse their men sex, for Lord knows, many women are just eager for an excuse to deny their men. Plus they are often reluctant to try anything new. "It's missionary position and that's that... I am NOT turning over."
Even the question about raising children came up, as many men felt that a wife should submit to his terms and raise the children as he sees fit. Way back in the past, a man reigned supreme, and his children and his wife had to do exactly as he said, or they would be flogged, equally.
The husband was the true head and sovereign of the household and his word was law. Wives even called their husbands father, or Mr as they bowed in submission. But times have changed, and with it the interpretation of some of the phrases from the Bible. Remember, there are verses in the Bible that condone slavery, fathers killing their sons and even incest, so we must be careful what we read and foist on each other.
A man must be the head of his household yes, but this submission of his wife is another matter. We must view this with an open mind and adapt with the times. More time.
Footnote: I cannot stop harping about our brilliant theatre, movies, and us being the cultural centre of the Caribbean. Nowhere else in the region will you see so many plays being staged at one time, ranging from the so-called 'roots theatre' to the classics.
Well, I saw two local productions recently which reaffirmed my faith in our artistic acumen and made me proud. One was the play Charlie's Angels, which pitted three women against one man and which had the audience in stitches, even as the underlying theme was a slice of Jamaican life and most instructive. And the other was the feature-length movie, Ghett'A Life which did us proud.
I must admit that at first I wasn't too keen to watch it, as I grew weary of these ghetto, inner-city-only movies coming out of Jamaica, but this one was brilliant, with a wonderful message. So I'm happy that I went. The storyline, cinematography, acting and overall production were excellent.
No wonder it won an award at the Cannes Film Festival. And it was an all-Jamaican production too, from writer to producer to director. I try to see all of our Jamaican movies and plays, for we are the cultural hub of the Caribbean and we do like to laugh at ourselves.