June Cleaver is not in the Bible.
I feel I need to make this point only because I was reading a popular Christian blog for women this week, and the author told readers that instead of waiting for the perfect man, they needed to prepare to be the perfect wife.
After I picked my jaw up off the floor, here came the next blow: Laugh when his jokes aren’t funny, and straighten his tie every morning.
Now, I read this article only because it had a good title, something like “your husband is not your god”—which I think is a message Christian women need to hear. Loudly and often.
But somehow it morphed from “your husband is not your god” into “make yourself into the perfect wife,” and it made me want to cry.
So, let me follow the great premise of “your husband is not your god” with something I think is exponentially better:
ONLY GOD IS YOUR GOD.
And at the foot of the Cross, it’s level ground.
Nobody is better than anybody else.
We are neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, just one in Christ. (Galatians 3:28)
Live in that truth and let it set you free.
You and your husband? You are just two adults in a relationship together.
You love him. You do not worship him. Your husband is not your god.
Turn your eyes upon Jesus and soak up your value and worth—the power and love and sound mind that are all yours, right now.
Then, as the Beloved of God:
- Have good boundaries.
- Use good judgement.
- Expect fairness.
- Expect to be heard and respected and appreciated.
I’m not saying be mean.
I’m not saying be a demanding, high-maintenance princess.
Far from it.
I’m saying, be two adults in a relationship with each other.
If your marriage is not a place of love and care and respect and personal empowerment for both you and your husband, then I would say it falls short of God’s best hopes.
And He’s not OK with that.
Worse, if your marriage is a place where you are put down and neglected, if, God forbid, you’re verbally, emotionally, physically or sexually abused?
God is absolutely enraged on your behalf.
There is no possible way we can believe that God is somehow OK with women and children being mistreated within a supposedly Christian marriage.
Anybody who teaches that is in for the kinds of things Jesus says to people who abuse their power over others, like: Go ahead and chop off your hands and feet if they’re causing you to harm a weaker person (Matthew 18:8).
My dear friends, if your marriage is in one of those bad places, God is absolutely not OK with it.
Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise.
And guess what, no amount of laughing at bad jokes and no amount of tie-straightening is going to fix it.
Yes, be nice, be fair, be respectful, hear and appreciate your partner.
But you are NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE BAD BEHAVIOR OF ANOTHER PERSON.
If your husband is behaving badly, it is HIS JOB to work on that. It is HIS JOB to repent and change and grow and do better.
Here’s the thing. When we live in pretend, we get to have pretend relationships. That’s bad for us. But it’s also bad for our husbands. The bad behavior hurts us, sure, but it devastates their souls, too.
We don’t do anybody any favors when we stand aside and let evil prosper.
When we tell the truth and have good boundaries, we’re standing on the side of righteousness, NOT somehow sinning against God.
I don’t know what you’re going to ultimately choose to do, in a bad marriage. I have friends who leave. I have friends who stay. I have wept with both. There are sacrifices either way, and sadness and loss and pain. I don’t think there is Only One Right Answer.
Here’s what you do: You weigh those decisions as the Beloved.
You let God be your God, no matter what.
I know what we’re afraid of.
We’re afraid that our husbands aren’t capable of being any better.
We’re afraid that if we try to be real, if we set boundaries, everything will fall apart and we’ll be left with less than nothing.
And yes, indeed, that could happen. It is terrifying and sad when a marriage ends. I hate it.
But it is wonderful and miraculous when something fake breaks into something real and true and soul-nurturing.
I think it’s worth taking a chance on real.
And, darling girl, if the worst happens, God, the owner of Real Love, is your God.
And since God is your God, all is well.
I was thinking of this quote from Julian of Norwich:
“All shall be well, and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well.”
When I googled that quote, I also found this one:
“If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love.”
And that’s what it means when God is our God.
For more from Kay, check out her book As Soon As I Fell: A Memoir.