He punched her with red hot angry words, their force spitting in her face.
Submit! You promised you would – so why don’t you?
Submit! Why didn’t I marry a good, Christian wife?
Good Christian wife…?
He had sought her opinion about a decision they faced and she had offered it, unaware it was a spring-loaded gun, waiting to fire when her reply did not match what was already pre-formed in his head.
So the arguments escalated. Like baggage on a conveyor belt, she was spun round and round, his circular arguments destabilising her, dizzying her into confusion. He demanded agreement to HIS thoughts, declaring that these were also HERS and therefore, had already accepted responsibility for them. Despite being fully conscious that the consequences of his absurd, desire-driven decision guaranteed failure, she found herself owning it. Thus, as he forced it onto her, everything would justifiably become her fault, inevitably giving grounds for the yelling, reprimands and punishment.
Submit! You. Only. Think. Of. Yourself.
The staccato of those words ricocheted through her. She stared back in astonishment. The accusation struck at her very core. Had she not been walking on eggshells, mapping his every mood, preempting his needs, thinking ahead, trying to work harder, to do what he wanted, protecting him from igniting his own anger? Trying to please him as a good Christian wife should?
Apparently not. Apparently, he knew her better than she knew herself. He knew her motives, he rewrote her actions. She was self-seeking, self desiring, self-pleasing, never thinking of him or his needs. Wanting to rule like Eve ruled Adam. Confusion started to cloud the conversation, a deep mist on a mountain top, the peak never fully visible, always obscured in part, distorting depth, distorting reality.
Submit! You need to be broken. You need me to break you…
It wasn’t a choice. It was being knocked over by the force of raging cold rushing waters, unable to stand up. It was being thrown downstream against jagged uncaring rocks that tore her flesh, bruising her raw. It was finally being washed ashore, semi-conscious, uncertain of her whereabouts, unclear of the route she had been to get to this point. It was having to get up despite this and walk on again, hiding her bleeding wounds.
So she ‘submitted’. Exhausted and broken by endless arguments in which her every statement was countered, she agreed that what he said was right. She was horribly wrong, she had done wrong, she would support him.
But his anger persisted as he complained that due to her lack of submission, evidenced by the argument SHE had started and escalated, he would have no peace that night. He would now struggle to think clearly at his work the following morning.
As they lay in bed, he prayed for them, asking for patience dealing with an unsubmissive wife whilst her tears stained the dark in silence.
But he did sleep and she carefully crept out to the kitchen where she tore her hands through her hair, sobbing in gasps of breath-racked silence, every muscle aching with the pain of distress. Falteringly she started writing a note, begging forgiveness, agreeing she was useless, a bad wife, no help to him, saying she would leave to give him peace – but in her nightwear she had no idea where to go. Who would listen? Who would understand? Perhaps this was just ‘marriage’ but she just wasn’t a good Christian wife.
Isolated and alone she knew no-one who would help or advise. Even the church had pre-stated its clear doctrinal position. Sermons from the bible she had heard up-held submission. The black words from the bible glinted with a half smile, asking her to place her life in those words of death.
Like black bruises, the words ordered, commanded, conditioned a non-thinking action. The premise discounted the evil of men’s hearts. It was the women who were at fault, needing to be silenced.
The church taught equal but different, though the difference sounded like the iceberg tip of well dressed, white washed, sandbagging misogyny. Women needed ruling. Men only had to love….which they never got wrong. The love-submission pattern gave credence to any husbands desire, regardless, assuming it being equally in the wife’s best interest.
Her tears ran rivulets down her face, dehydrating her soul, smudging her half scrawled note. She crumpled the sodden paper of half-written, acknowledged worthlessness. It fell to the floor. Submit?
Weak with pain, she extracted a knife from a drawer and looked at the sharp blade that promised relief. Pain to relieve pain. Destroy that which was already being destroyed. But aghast at her thoughts of self-destruction, in a moment of clarity instead, she cried out once again.
Crying out to a God who, it seemed, could not hear, who would not see.
A God who punished women by his silence until they learnt to submit.
A God who appointed church leaders who upheld the belief that evil was better ignored than openly grappled with.
A God who decreed man was the champion of his cause.
A God who demanded order.
At any cost.
If you missed them, the previous pieces are here: