Friday, August 17, 2007

Find out what it means to me...

So when you think of Aretha Franklin, you think R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Sock it to me.

As my wonderful wife has pointed out, the most popular Aretha song of all time was actually written by a guy. Not just any guy, but Mr. Sittin'-on-the-Dock-of-the-Bay himself, Otis Redding.

This guy was smooth. He was good looking. The girls loved him. But according to his song, he just wanted respect.

Heck, ask any guy if he'd prefer to be respected or loved, he'll most likely choose respect. It's the way we're raised, and it's the way our brains are wired.

So it should come as no surprise that many guys have a tough time showing love to their wives. Guys often think that the way to show their wives love is to do things for them, earn more money, work harder, buy more other words, by being a guy!


She doesn't want your stuff, she wants YOU.

But...what does she need from you?

Well, most men cannot figure out women at all. Heck, there are men in their 80s who have been married 50 years who still don't understand women.

Since we are often so very clueless, our all-knowing Creator has TOLD us in his Word:

Nevertheless, each one of you must also love his own wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. - Ephesians 5:33

OK, so there's that respect thing again...but we must love her as we love ourselves? Hmmm...

Lets back up...

In the same way husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one has ever hated his own body but he feeds it and takes care of it, just as Christ also does the church, for we are members of his body. For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and will be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. - Ephesians 5:28-31

Wait..."as their own bodies"? "Become one flesh"? That has a familiar ring to it...

Then the Lord God made a woman from the part he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. Then the man said, “This one at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; this one will be called ‘woman, "for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife, and they become a new family. - Genesis 2:22-24

Wow. So from the dawn of time to Jesus' coming and thereafter we have been commanded to love our wives as if she were part of our own bodies...because spiritually she IS part of our own bodies!

But this has limitations, right? I mean, there's some things that a guy just can't put up with. Right?


Consider this....

The Lord said to me, “Go, show love to your wife again, even though she loves another man and continually commits adultery. Likewise, the Lord loves the Israelites although they turn to other gods and love to offer raisin cakes to idols.” So I paid fifteen shekels of silver and about seven bushels of barley to purchase her. Then I told her, “You must live with me many days; you must not commit adultery or have sexual intercourse with another man, and I also will wait for you.” - Hosea 3:1-3
Hold it...time out. God wanted the prophet Hosea to go to his wife, who was not only gone but shacked up with a new guy, and to take her back? And he was not only commanded to take her back, but to LOVE her!

Little did Hosea know that this was setting the stage for a "bridegroom" yet to come.

Jesus loves His people unconditionally and without reservation. He is the bridegroom to His bride (the Church) just as men are the bridegroom to their wives.

He loved us so fully that he left His place in Heaven to come to Earth and live as one of us. He loved us so unconditionally that His sacrifice on the cross paid for ALL our sins, past, present and future, no matter WHAT we do.

So too must men love their wives fully and unconditionally. Only when she feels fully loved can she meet your emotional needs and find out what it means to YOU.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

A Little Respect

What you may not realize is that Aretha Franklin's number one hit song, R.E.S.P.E.C.T., is a cover of a song written by Otis Redding in 1965. Despite the song's popularity and common affiliation with the feminist movement, it was originally written as a song about a man's desire for respect.

"What you want
Honey you've got it
And what you need
Baby you've got it

All I'm asking

Is for a little respect
when I come home" --Otis Redding


Sounds simple enough.

But...In my experience, women tend to place more value on love. We ask, "do you love me?" We spend hours, days, years figuring out ways to be loved or to be loved more. But how much time do we spend figuring out ways to increase the amount of respect we have? Not nearly as much as men.

How does a woman show her man respect?

Remember the Taming of the Shrew? Petruchio insisted on a little respect. Kate had to learn how to give it. The ensuing relationship was built on mutual contribution: Kate learned to respect him, Petruchio learned to love her.

Some interpretations of the play, I'm certain, portray her as a docile, domineered wife. However, in an earlier post on the Shrew, I suggested Kate might show some qualities of a biblically submissive wife. A simple reading of the play may not give that interpretation, but plays are meant to be seen, not read! The Ashland production this year, played to the interpretation that Kate learned to honor her husband, even respect him.

The preface, presented to add depth to the hearing of the play, even suggested Shakespeare's England may have known a few things about biblical submission. The point is: Kate did not roll over and play the doormat and is not to be mistaken for Ibsen's Nora Helmer.*

Why mention Kate again? Because she learned a few things about speaking to her husband and to others about her husband.

Just like Kate, most women I know have a way with words. Most importantly, we know how to cut with words, but that same ability allows us to build up with words. Perhaps the first step in showing our husbands respect is watching our words--how we speak to him, about him, and for him.

"She opens her mouth with wisdom, and loving instruction
is on her tongue."
--Proverbs 31:26

For more information about the issues of love and respect check out the book by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs called Love & Respect.

*Nora Helmer is the protagonist of Henrik Ibsen's play
A Doll's House. In Ibsen's play, Nora is the quintessential oppressed wife. She was a possession of her husband, not his partner. The marriage relationship served to dehumanize her and rob her of her own identity.

Monday, August 6, 2007

A Tendering in the Storm

I am currently reading Jane Kirkpatrick's A Tendering in the Storm. The story is written from the perspectives of two main characters: Emma Giesy and Loisa Keil.

Originally part of the same close-knit religious community, these two German women have traveled across the rugged Oregon trail arriving in the Northwest in the mid 1850's. But their paths have taken them in different directions. [Read A Clearing in the Wild, book one in the Change and Cherish series, to find out what divides the flock.]

Louisa and her husband, leader of the community, continue on to settle in the Aurora Mills area, near present day Portland, Oregon. Louisa is struggling to put the death of her son into the context of her life. He lives on in her, and she now seeks to understand what sin she committed to warrant his death. Her very nature is absolute submission to her husband.

Emma Giesy, remains in Willapa--Washington territory--with her husband and small family. She desires the freedom to speak her mind, explore the wisdom she feels brimming inside and to live independently, at least a little, from the religious family that surrounds her. She dares to believe women are more than quiet servants to their men, and hopes that they may even be equal in the eyes of the Lord.

The novel is based on a true story; filled with historical detail and vivid true-to-life characters. The women come alive, as you walk alongside their exploration of fear, vulnerability and strength. Mrs. Kirkpatrick weaves the natural beauty and spirit of the Northwest into every chapter. Words and images (oystering, the ocean, the swaying lantern to name a few) are chosen with a deftness that conveys the import of the landscape on the lives of these women.

Emma Giesy explains about the inner strength of a woman: "It's something I've learned about myself since coming here. What we can do on the inside isn't always reflected by what's on the outside."

"Sounds like an oyster shell..." Her friend Mary replied.

As I continue to read, I expect that we will see more of what Emma, and Louisa for that matter, are really made of--on the inside.

Jane Kirkpatrick is the best-selling author of two nonfiction books and twelve historical novels, including A Clearing in the Wild and the acclaimed Kinship and Courage series. Her award-winning essays and articles have appeared in more than fifty publications, including Daily Guideposts and Decision. A winner of the coveted Western Heritage Wrangler Award, Jane is a licensed clinical social worker as well as an internationally recognized speaker and inspirational retreat leader. She and her husband, Jerry, ranch 160 acres in eastern Oregon.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Shakespeare on Submission Part II

Shakespeare, a proponent of submission? Verily!

In the Taming of the Shrew, the play builds to a pivotal moment: the three newly married gentleman engage in a little good natured ribbing which results in a wager. The wager is meant to determine the most "obedient wife." Of the three, Katharina is the only one to come when her husband bids. She is then sent to retrieve the other wives and she admonishes them:

"Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,

Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks and true obedience;
Too little payment for so great a debt....

And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,

And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
Or seek for rule, supremacy and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love and obey...."

Forsooth, dear Kate! Obedience? Service? Kneeling?

You must be kidding.

But she's not. Check out what another writing says about submission:

"Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything." Ephesians 5:22-24 NET Bible

Kate is not so far wrong after all.

And really, if you look at the entire context of the play, what has she learned? Perhaps, that being a shrew is pretty nasty business. It is not the way to "win friends, and influence people." But when you consider the overarching theme of disguise, it is interesting to consider who concealed themselves the most fruitfully.

Katharina put on the guise of a shrew, her mode of dealing with the inequity of her father's excessive and cosseting treatment of her sister. Bianca put on the guise of an obedient and charming woman, her way of winning a prized husband. But who gains the most in the end?

When Petruchio sets out to woo his wife, he decides the best course of action is to kill her with kindness.
(Act IV Scene 1) His harsh words are not directed to her, but rather rails and flails on her behalf. Always insuring her comfort and care. He praises her wit and beauty and emphasizes her value.

Petruchio's methods could be construed as an attempt to break Kate's will. But nothing could be farther from the truth! He compares his plan to the taming of a hawk. Falconry does not seek to break the spirit of the bird, but redirects the hawk's natural impulses. Her fiery spirit is one of the things that drew him to her from the beginning, he has no desire to put it out.

Petruchio adopts the guise of the shrew. From his behavior, Katharina sees herself in a new way. And despite his pretense she experiences, first hand, the equity of the next verse in Ephesians.

"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her;" Ephesians 5:25 Net Bible

Katharina's reprimand to the other wives ends. She turns to her husband and says:
"My hand is ready; may it do him ease."

Petruchio replies:
"Why there's a wench. Come on and kiss me Kate."

And she does.

One more thing. Skip down a few lines, past the pained musings of the other husbands, and read Petruchio's final lines,

"Come, Kate, we'll to bed.

We three are married, but you two are sped.
Twas I won the wager, [To LUCENTIO.]
though you hit the white;
And, being a winner.
God give you good night!"

In the OSF production (summer 2007) the players left little doubt to the meaning of these words. Petruchio and Kate leave hand in hand. Smiles on their faces and a impish wink from Kate to the other brides.

Has he tamed her? Or loved her?

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Shakespeare on Submission

Although some critics insist The Taming of the Shrew no longer has a place in our modern, forward thinking culture, playgoers flock to its presentation. This past weekend, my husband and I attended the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and heard the Shrew in the Elizabethan theatre with nearly twelve hundred other playgoers.

First, a little background and summary for the
Shrew. A shrew is a small "mouselike insectivorous" mammal.


A mouse?

Yes. That was the original, and enduring definition. The word was adapted along the way to mean a "spiteful person" (c. 1250), "wicked, or dangerous," and "evil or scolding" person. And it meant a
male. Not until 1386 was the term applied to a woman. It is possible even that Shakespeare's creation had some hand in refining the word to become the term we associate most often with a nagging, scolding, violent-tempered woman.

And so begins the play, with a shrew. Or more specifically the play begins with an "induction." The induction frames the play, and sets up the players as a vision or dream watched by a man named Christopher Sly. The theme introduced here is: beware of appearances.

The conflict is evident from the beginning: The merchant Baptista has two beautiful daughters--Bianca, lovely and desirable and Katharina, lovely, but despicable. He insists he must marry off his eldest daughter Katharina before he will give Bianca away in marriage.

Bianca's suitors agree the only way to succeed in their pursuit is to find a man who is willing to take the fair Kate for his wife. Petruchio, a fortune hunting man of Padua, enters and agrees to woo the maid.
What follows is a cacophony of concealment and deception. Bianca's suitors don complicated disguises to wheedle themselves into her and her father's good graces.

Petruchio begins the difficult task of taming Katharina and arranging for their impending marriage.
In the end, Petruchio and Katharina are quite happily married. Bianca has married Lucentio, a man of Pisa, and another of her suitors has found contentment by marrying a widow. It is in the final scenes that we see who the real "shrew" is.
  • Could it be the fiery Katharina who scolded and screeched all of her life?
  • The fair and docile Bianca who was evidently a victim of her sister's rages?
  • Or perhaps the father who favored one daughter over the other?
In the final lines we have Shakespeare's view of submission through Katharina's closing monologue...and this is where we will begin in part two of this post.