I watched a rerun of the TV show Bones the other night. The lead male character was explaining why a teenaged boy who was headed to M.I.T. would all of a sudden drop everything and live homeless as a squatter in an abandoned factory. It was because he was trying to ‘save’ a girl. The female lead asked, ‘How do you know this?’ ‘Because I was a teenaged boy,’ was his reply.
This conversation tells us a lot about human nature. There is something in us that wants to be the savior of the world, but it is an immature something. It is a something that keeps us from getting help, or seeking advice. It is the something that needs to dominate and lord over another person. It is the something that makes us treat the person we are ‘saving’ as if they are nothing, and would have nothing if it were not for us. It is oppressive, not nurturing. It is not trying to help the person do better, confident that they can. It is thinking that they ‘need’ me, and always will. It may be ‘nice’ and involve sacrificing and doing much for another, but it is still looking at the other person as if they are somewhat helpless and cannot possibly survive without you. This may not be exactly what you think, but it is what your actions imply. It is the wrong way to help, or treat another human being.
The conversation also implied that this need to save was ‘immature,’ something boys grew out of as they became men, but how often do we see this attitude preached in the way a man is to be to his wife, forgetting that the Proverbs 31 woman worked and ran a vineyard? She did not need saving. If anything the verses imply that the man needs her. Through her competence she will cause him to be respected and make sure that his household does not suffer. How did this get turned around? She can buy things for herself, and take care of others. What she deserves from him is praise for doing so. She does not need a husband to ‘cover’ her. (He is not her husband yet, remember this is an instruction regarding what to look for in a wife.) Instead she needs a man who will appreciate her and everything she brings into the marriage.
We get into trouble when we try to ‘save’ people. We were not made to navigate this world alone, and we were certainly not made to handle everything for ourselves and another person without help. In Genesis we are told it is not good for man to be alone. Wait, on his own was not good, so what would make us think that him taking full responsibility for two was a good thing? (And I am sure God would have said the same thing about women who try to do it all themselves as well.) The woman is an ‘ezer,’ a help-mate, a strong person that has your back when things get rough. This is not doing it alone, and protecting her from anything that might come her way. This is her helping the man, her husband!
I almost titled this, ‘Needing to be Superman,’ but then I realized that Superman had it right. He did not need to do everything. He saved the person from danger, and then deposited them, and the bad guys in front of law enforcement and left. He knew that his job was to face the extreme and do what he was uniquely suited to do and that was it. Taking care of the person after this was someone else’s task. He was in partnership with the police, doing what they could not, but not doing it all himself. This is more maturity than I thought to find in the ‘Man of Steel.’ Kudos to the comic book artists that understood that even super-heroes did not need to be self-sufficient.
Comments on: "Needing to be Everything…" (3)
The concept that covering someone is saving them intrigues me. The Bible says that God’s banner over us is love. Husbands are to love their wives as Jesus loves the church. God “hides us under his wings” to cover, or protect us. Jesus is our savior and says he didn’t do anything apart from his father. God created man and then woman from man. He set up the model of God covering man, man covering his wife, and husband and wife covering their children–all coming down from God. And the wife is the partner of her husband with an “I’ve got your back” posture. Drawing on all of this, a man covering his wife is a good thing that allows our men to function in their God created role of protector, provider while women function in theirs as their partner by encouraging and nurturing. Alone, we are complete, capable and able to live well fulfilled; together we make an incredible team.
Hi Laura! Thanks for reading. I hope you did not misunderstand me. In re-reading this post I can see how it might look like a straw-man argument against a complementary view point. While I am egalitarian, that was not my intention. I have a sons who were adopted as older children who have needed to work through their views on women. The TV show Bones showed me that this view of men needing to ‘save’ girls, and thinking that ‘covering’ might mean the woman needed the man to micromanage everything was not just an abnormality in my home. There is a point where the protector/ provider instinct can turn into oppression/ control and ownership. In that model the woman becomes an object for the man to use and/or someone extra to take care of, not someone to love. No matter how we read scripture regarding a godly marriage, most would agree that this extreme is not what it says. By the way, I love your explanation of marriage. I would be interested in how you view ‘submission’ in marriage.
Thanks Judy for giving more of your insight on that. I so agree that what you speak of is an extreme and not the way God intended for us to relate in any relationship. I spent many years in an abusive marriage during which time I really struggled with the whole idea of submission and “headship” – the husband being the head of the family. In an abusive situation, telling a woman she should submit to her husband and let him lead can cause more damage and even danger. And it’s true that if a man has the view that a wife is property or someone for him to rescue, or “take care of”(often control is the issue), submission to that can add to the man’s sense of power.
Now that I have married a man who is kind, gentle and truly loves me, I have been able to see the real life application of God’s principles in the best way so the very things that created terror in the past, now create safety and security leaving me free to be more of who I am, not less. Thanks for your provoking thoughts about all of this! Hope we can continue to share. 🙂