*The following article is an excerpt from an unpublished manuscript I’ve written for young women.
Who would have imagined that television’s affect would be so significant in forming the character of a culture! Yet clearly, huge changes evolved between the old “Dick Van Dyke Show,” “The Cosby Show,” and subsequent television sitcoms, that reflects very obvious changes in the ideology of the American home.
Remember the family-oriented shows of the 60’s? They portrayed a husband and wife unity where the husband demonstrated leadership and offered protection, both physically and emotionally, to his wife and children. Children themselves were respectful and obedient to their parents, and regarded their dads as role models, true leaders in their homes.
However, while many applauded the clever and witty humor of Bill Cosby, I remember feeling uneasily disturbed as I saw episodes of the Cosby Show unravel a very distinct evolution in the roles of family members. The mother, a successful professional career woman, emerged as the true leader, wise and multi-skilled, while the dad provided mere comic relief. I remember one episode in which the dad attempted to enforce a decision that went against the grain of what the other family members thought should be the proper direction, so the mother initiated a family vote. The father, of course, was shut down through the process of family democracy.
Woven within a cute and funny context of a happy family situation, changes deviating from Biblical order were gradually introduced in such a pleasant and palatable way that the American culture– even Christian culture– swallowed it whole.
But ideas have consequences. Always. Every time man deviates from the standard of living that is set out for us in the Bible, he suffers the consequences. When democracy– defined as ‘rule of the people’– was introduced as an even better idea than the ‘antiquated’ ideas in the Bible, it changed the course and direction of a whole culture, and now we find ourselves drowning in a sea of cultural deviation. Women began to question why they needed to ‘submit’ to men, when they were just as intelligent, organized, and capable–in fact, more intelligent, organized, and capable. (Remember the song from Annie Get Your Gun, “Anything you can do, I can do better…” ? Cute, right? Easy to swallow, seemingly harmless…)
What used to work as a unit– a man and a women together, each fulfilling their individual, God-given roles to make the complete whole– deviated to become competition against each other, perpetually attempting to prove the superiority of one over the other. Eventually, it led to what we’re seeing today, each sex having determined that they don’t really need the other at all, thank you very much. Not even to form family units.
Undeniably, men and women are different, each with distinct strengths and weaknesses common to their sex. Clearly, by nature, the very character of a woman is different from the character of the man, and nowhere will the difference become more evident than in marriage! It should not be a surprise that, yes, opposites do seem to attract.
When I first met my husband more than 37 years ago, I was strongly attracted to his adventurous spirit and strong leadership. Though I didn’t recognize it at the time, I was attracted to the very character traits that were weak in me. He completed me! However, those exact traits that so irresistibly attracted me to him became the very source of conflict between us after we were married! Dan would constantly pursue adventure, while I timidly dragged my feet behind him, worrying (and probably complaining) all the way.
It took years for me to recognize that by his constant pushing and prodding, despite my resistance, I had expanded my horizons and accomplished goals that never would have happened had I been left on my own. And because of my timidity, Dan himself had honed the art of tempering his passion and enthusiasm for risks and adventure to a fine skill. And he had learned much about patience in the process, I am sure!
In marriage, the husband and wife must make a lifetime effort of learning to work together, not against each other; to complete, not compete against each other; to push the other toward fulfilling the highest potential in what God has called them to do, not to prove the superiority of one over the other.
In the second chapter of Titus, Paul seemed to identify some weaknesses common to women. He instructed the older women to live in such a way that their behavior would reflect holy living, that by their words and their actions, they would be capable of teaching good things to younger women that would enhance their marriages. These older women were to teach the younger ones how to avoid the problems that would become stumbling blocks, and become destructive to the testimony of Christ and the church.
Paul condensed the many characteristics of a Godly women into just a comprehensive few, and instructed the older women in the church to teach them to the younger women. These are likely the purest form of what God requires in a Kingdom wife as the qualities imperative to her nature. As we embrace these and practice them as the characteristics of godliness that He requires of us, we will truly become marked with the testimony of God’s Kingdom shown to a very needy world all around us.
“Train the young women to… be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled” (Titus 2:5).
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