Evangelicals & Family
Happy Wife, Happy life!
As ubiquitous as this expression seems to be in the cultural dialect you would think it finds it source directly from the Bible. It would seem to be sure it would be found in red letters because it could be traced to something Jesus Christ said directly, maybe as part of His Sermon on the Mount discourse.
I would submit to you this worldview is part of an overall diabolical plan of the Adversary to marginalize the status and significance of “man”. When “men” are marginalized what you will experience is the breakdown of the family, aberrant behavior in the offspring and an overall collapse of the culture. I believe the relevant data to be on my side and I want to offer an agreement why the problem can be traced, in a large measure, to how the status of manhood has been and increasingly continues to be marginalized in the culture.
I want to stress this is not a misogynistic based worldview. I want to be emphatic that the status and significance of “woman” is sacrosanct. This is not an attempt to demean or take away from vital necessity that woman play in God’s divine plan for human flourishing. I would not be the man of God I am striving to become without the valuable contribution from the women in my life. It goes without saying that would include my dearly beloved late mother and grandmothers, but it goes so far beyond them to include countless aunts, cousins as well as innumerable other females in all types of roles and relationships.
No, I am pro-woman, 100%! I shudder to think how tragic life would be without the contribution of women. Yet, for all of these tremendous contributions I still posit something is seriously amiss in our society when the expression “Happy Wife, Happy Life” is accepted and embraced as a positive worldview because it sends the wrong message.
It sends the message that the key to human flourishing in the home is centered on a positive encounter with the principal female of the home. Now, it certainly should go without saying all right-thinking people would seek a positive encounter with all members of a home and since females would be part of the home one could ask, “what would be the problem” with a Happy Wife, Happy Life worldview.
I believe the problem is multi-faceted:
1) It is narcissistic in nature
2) It is not supported by the Biblical data
3) It is not supported by the Secular data
The expression places an outsized emphasis on one particular component of the family unit instead of realizing the importance of each and every member of the traditional family. What about the husband? Is it not important that he be happy as well? Even though children are in a sense deferential to the mother and father isn’t their happiness an important consideration in the pursuit of human flourishing in the home. Why are women given this place of prominent?
Could this be a means of giving license to pretentious behavior for some women? Surely, all Evangelicals understand and accept the concept of human depravity applies to the female race equally as it applies to males. Would it not be fair to see how some women would abuse this principle and believe it empowered them to get things their way? I fail to see how one could not reach this conclusion understanding human nature as we all do. Again, this is certainly not to say all women would to the greatest degree imbibe in this behavior, but I believe it is safe to say most would far prey at some point. I readily acknowledge every man, at some point, fails in their task to lovingly lead their families so why would it be strange to believe women wouldn’t have the same predilection.
Why isn’t the expression: Happy Master! Happy Everlasting! (I am struggling here but hopefully you get the point!) When would it be appropriate for a female to quote this expression? Who would it be appropriate to quote this expression to? Where would it be appropriate to quote this expression. Of course, if one is embracing a “me focus” worldview then by all means we should embrace this philosophy whole cloth, but I would expect most of us intituitevely know there is something seriously aghast with someone essentially saying the happiness of the home is predicated upon their happiness. If momma ain’t happy then ain’t nobody happy is an expression I have heard numerous times and the disheartening issue for me is that is usually spoken by a male. It has become so ingrained in our culture that many men unwittingly accept this hogwash.
The culture pushes back against what many coins as toxic masculinity and I would be the first to stand with them when this is genuine and found to be true. This abuse of male headship has no place whatsoever and needs to be repudiated loudly and soundly whenever and wherever it is found. Unfortunately, as with most excesses, society attempts to correct one extreme with a response that founds it axis in the polar opposite. So, while feminists lambast (sometimes appropriately and often times inappropriately) toxic masculinity I want to register my lament which is the emasculation of the man.
This emasculation is seen most vividly in how men are portrayed in the entertainment field. I can easily reference the State Farm commercial where in one commercial the man is portrayed as a weak yes man to his wife who is clearly the one who calls the shot in their home. Then there is the AT&T commercial where the husband is at the beauty shop with his wife and his friend calls inquiring if he can go to the movies with him. The husband proceeds to waffle back and forth on whether he is going based on his wife’s inability to make up her mind whether it would be okay for her husband to go or not go. TV Shows like Married with Children and the cartoon The Family Guy portray men as oversexed boobs who it should be considered a miracle if they could string a complete thought together. Homer Simpson is a nincompoop while Marge is the level-headed parent who holds the entire household together is another prime example of the emasculation of man in the entertainment field.
If your view of male headship is equated with toxic masculinity then what is one to do with Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Well, you can choose to portray Him as a congenial Divine figure who is all about love and peace. A toothless deity whose only concern is ensuring our comfort and ease in life. He would never be associated with wrath and He certainly would not impose any obligations upon us. Jesus would certainly be all for women liberation and women empowerment in its broadest application. He most surely would join with the feminists advocating for women in ministry, for women in authority. He would be firmly be in favor of women throwing off the shackles of motherhood in favor of chasing the American corporate dream. Thus, in this model Jesus Christ would be an ardent Pro-Choice advocate. Since man has abused their male headship for such a long time in history Jesus would seek to balance the scales and allow women to have their time as the central figure in the home. Hence, Jesus would have NO problem with Happy Wife, Happy Life! Jesus is always on the side of the oppressed and only wants to see everyone with their equal share of the pie.
As with man we have opted for a version of Jesus Christ that strips Him of genuine manhood. We have sissified our portrayal of Jesus. I understood that word alone is divisive, but I still use the word intentionally to arrest the audience’s attention. While society sees traditional manhood as toxic I understand it solely as a biblically based anthropology. There is a uniqueness to being male and there is sinfulness attached to men who do not carry themselves in ways that uniquely defines them as a male. Some of them would be terms like rugged, rough, tough, hard-charging, aggressive, physical to name just a few. Women can have some of these characteristics in uniquely contextualized scenarios, but I would NEVER want my wife to have these markers as distinctive features of her ethos. I do not want a rugged or physical spouse. I certainly do not want a rough wife. I raised my son to be all of these markers and many more. Yet, I consciously and intentionally did not raise my two daughters to adopt any of these as essential components of their disposition.
This philosophy is not sexism or any other aberrant “ism.” This worldview is grounded in understanding man and women are different in function yet equal in essence. Some may not realize it but it is a sin for a man to exhibit characteristics that are generally accepted as female in nature. The Apostle Paul recorded in his letter to the Corinthian Church (1 Corinthians 6:9).
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind. (King James Bible)
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals. (New American Standard Bible).
We had an expression in the Army when we wanted to express our appreciation for the good ole days. It went, “When men were men and dinosaurs roamed the Earth.” I understand much has changed and our history is riddled with male patterns of abuse. There was a time when women could not own property, be witnesses in court and could not vote. Yet, I again submit it is equally inappropriate to respond to one gross extreme with yet another gross extreme in the opposite direction.
Whatever one may want to imagine about the masculinity of Jesus Christ I know without a shadow of a doubt it was 100% in alignment with whatever was culturally acceptable at that time. You can be sure there was never any dispute or blurring of the lines regarding Jesus Christ’s actions, dress or demeanor. I teach in a high school and there are several males who clearly express and carry themselves in an effeminate manner to include makeup. I understand it is a new time and I do not advocate violence, but these students would have not survived in my high school when I was growing up.
There is much more I can say regarding the Biblical data but suffice to say the Bible NEVER postulates the success of the home is predicated on pleasing the female leader. If anything, the wife is explicitly commanded to submit to her husband’s headship so I would find it incongruous to ensure my spouse is fulfilling her God ordained role as my helpmate but making first making sure she is happy to ensure our family could experience human flourishing.
Yet, there is research that gives rise to the man being the crucial member of the family that significantly impacts the ability of the family to experience whether human flourishing takes place or not. One research revealed after a 30-year study that the greatest factor contributing to whether the offspring of a home grow up to become an adult positing faith in Jesus Christ as an adult is a “warm relationship” with the father in the home. Conversely, other studies show the common denominator amongst people incarcerated is a lack of “warm relationship” with the father in the home. Even if we did not have access to this type of data we could still surmise as much from anecdotal evidence. You watch shows about prostitutes or runaways and you often see girls with “Daddy” issues. You watch shows about men in prison and you often find them to have poor paternal backgrounds.
Satan knows if he wants to rips apart the family he must do so by first binding the strong man. That is why I believe the Achilles heel in the family is not likely to be the husband oppressing the wife (though it certainly does happen and again when that is found to be the case then men should be the first to safeguard all and any abused individuals). No, I believe Satan has not significantly altered his playbook first employed in the garden with Adam & Eve. He will beguile the weaker sex and use her. Pay close attention to how our culture views maleness. On one hand a strong man will be considered toxic. Men who are assertive and hold to traditional values will be seen as the oppressor and a relic from the past that must be discarded. Insist on male headship in the home and in the church and you will be labeled as misogynistic. That is the actual charge many in the feminist movement lay at the feet of the Apostle Paul when he teaches on the proper decorum for women in the house of God in texts like 1 Timothy Chapter Two.
I am man and I am proud yet if I was a female I would still be proud because BOTH are created in the image of God and BOTH are equally of the same value and worth. Because I am man I understand it was and will always be my job to provide and protect my family. Though my children are essentially grown and on their own it is still my job to lead my family (with much wisdom and discernment) in the fear and admonition of God. As time continues that will function as the Grandpa but it is a role exclusively ordained by God to be executed by me, not my wife. A servant leader to be darned sure but a LEADER nonetheless.
You can call it toxic masculinity if you want but I understand it as none other than Biblical fidelity to God’s creative order. When men act in a fashion consistent with the Biblical revelation they will do so in a manner that is decisive but not dour, assertive but never abusive, direct but never domineering and powerfully persuasive but not punitively pulverizing.
I reject any attempt to marginalize man as well as any attempt to oppress or not treat women as equal partner in the divine pursuit to achieve human flourishing. That will only be done to the extent that the man is honored in the home and understood to be the chief factor in whether the progeny comes to faith in Christ or comes to experiences an aberrant lifestyle of one fashion or another.
I know with a hot button topic like this not all will agree and that is to be expected and welcomed. My only response is if you disagree share where you believe my logic is faulty.
Do you find the expression Happy Wife! Happy Life! of no real consequence one way or the other.
Do you believe this to be the case where I am finding the bogey man where no bogey man actually exists? If so, I would love to hear from you why you believe that to be the case.
Do you believe we have swung the pendulum too far in the other direction? It seems like the female always have to be in charge nowadays. I like the TV show FBI and who is the agent in charge? A woman. Who reports to her? A man. The latest Fast & Furious movie which featured Dwyane “The Rock” Johnson and Idris Elba had as the protagonist: a woman.
Until then Keep your Hands to the Plow and Seek to Serve for an Audience of One!
PS. I am seeking to secure a publish a book I have written concerning Evangelical’s political engagement. I hope to write from two perspectives: the first, an African American perspective and second from a Caucasian perspective. Whether you come to agree or disagree is not my chief concern or interest. My interest is simply to ask you to join with me seeking God’s will in the matter. I realize if this be NOT the will of God nothing will come of the matter and that will have to be well with my soul as He is Sovereign and only does what redounds to His Glory and my good.