Friday, August 12, 2011

Is Submission A Form Of Respect In A Christian Marriage?

The Iowa Straw Poll Debate came and went with nothing really turning up that hasn't been heard before.  The candidates stuck to their typical reality-bending, non-factual arguments (some of which have literally been debunked publicly by experts and analysts on their respective subjects) and, as always, their fearmongering.  But the award for "best shitty answer on-the-fly" has to go to Congresswoman Bachmann.  For some back story on her answer, let's turn to this quick, two minute video.  Pay really close attention from the 30 second mark on.  

"From there, my husband said, 'Now you need to go get a post-doctorate degree in tax law'.  Tax law?  I hate taxes.  Why should I go and do something like that?  But the Lord says, 'Be submissive.'  Wives, you are to be submissive to your husband... I was going to be faithful to what God was calling me to do through my husband."

If that video isn't crazy enough standing on the quote above, then I turn your attention to the end when she specifically states that she had no desire to be a politician, but God made her do it.  God made her do it.  Can I ask you something?  Why is it then when God asks you to do something, it's okay, but when the "voices in your head" ask you to do something, you're labeled as a schizophrenic psychopath that needs to be locked up in a treatment center?  How does one know the difference between the voices and The Voice?

Anyway, back to my point.  The quote above was brought up at Iowa's debate last night when Byron York asked her if she would be submissive to her husband if she were elected president.  Bachmann paused and thanked Byron for the question (although everyone watching knew that she was damning him to an eternity in Hell), before answering, "Marcus and I will have been married for 33 years this September 10th."  She then went on to say that, to her and her husband, being submissive "means respect."  "I respect my husband, and he respects me as his wife.  That's how we operate our marriage.  We respect each other.  We love each other."  

That last part is all fine and dandy.  I believe that she loves her husband, and I believe that she believes that he loves her back (it's hard not to ignore the strong, persuading rumor floating around that he is, in fact, a long-time closeted homosexual).  What bothers me, from the standpoint of an English major, is Bachmann's ability - and really all hardcore Republican/Conservative's ability - to twist the meaning of words to suit them in ways that the right words, which are usually negative, cannot.  See my post on Oak Park, Michigan's adventure with the vegetable garden, in which Kevin Rulkowski toys around with the word "suitable" to make it synonymous with the word "common" (Hint: The two words have no common ground).

For more, allow me to give you the dictionary definition of "submit" (as "submissive" brings you to its transitive and intransitive verb form) and "respect" according to Merriam-Webster.

- Trns. Verb "Submit" - (a) To yield to governance or authority.  (b) To subject to a condition, treatment, or operation.
-Intransitive Verb "Submit" - (a) To permit oneself to be subjected to something.  (b) To defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another.
-Synonyms (words with similar meanings) of "Submissive" - Obedient, conformable, compliant, amenable, biddable, docile.

- Noun "Respect" - (a) High or special regard. (b) An act of giving particular attention.
- Verb "Respect" - (a) To consider worthy of high regard.
- Synonyms of "Respect" - Appreciate, regard, admire, consider, esteem.

Now, I have to ask, how are these two words possibly related to each other, keeping in mind that we are talking about a supposedly loving husband and wife?  Being submissive does not mean being respectful, it means you are a pet with an owner who you respect in the same way that dogs or cats respects their owners - they rely on you for food and shelter.  Bachmann can replace "submissive" with any positive word she wants, but what was said cannot be taken back.  It's clear about how things go in the Bachmann household, and I for one don't want to wonder who is pulling the presidential strings if she were to get elected.  "Is this law President Bachmann's doing?  Or was it created by First Lady Marcus Bachmann?"

No thank you.  I'm all for a strong spousal figure to stand beside the president, but not one that the president "submits" to.  As expressed in the video above, Michele Bachmann's husband told her to make career choices that she didn't want to make, but ultimately made them anyway because it was her job as a wife to submit.  That right there is obedience.  That is not respect.  She might respect him for who he is as a person but, again, the issue at hand is whether or not submissive is synonymous with respect.

Words have definitions - meanings - for a reason.  While they change over time with cultural and sociological influences, I don't believe that one relatively misguided individual has the authority to link words together at the drop of a dime.  The Iowa audience may have been happy with your answer, but I, congresswoman, certainly am not.

"... for the Bible tells me so..."

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