The aged women likewise, that they be in behavior as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
When I read this passage, I paraphrase it something like this, "You, woman, if you do not do these things, will be blaspheming the word of God." I can't say with authority what it means to blaspheme the word of God, but I'm pretty sure it is bad and that I don't want to be associated with that. As a young woman, it was my duty to learn these things from the aged women, and as an aged woman it is my duty, yes, my duty, to not only control my behavior in these areas but to teach the young women to do the same.
Before I even begin to analyze what behaviors are required and proscribed I must acknowledge this is talking to me and about me and that this is a relevant and serious matter. Otherwise, I would be asserting that this passage has no modern relevance and serves only as a window on women of the past. And I would be asserting that with no authority and it seems sort of nonsensical to say that God no longer wants women to love their husbands and children, which I would be saying if I say that women do not need to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands. To deny that some parts are applicable is to deny that any of it is applicable.
This text was brought to mind today by reading this post at Rational Male. Tomasi is a blogger within the so-called "manosphere", sometimes referred to as "Game" bloggers. For those unfamiliar with that world, some of the terminology in the blog post and the comments may be unfamiliar and the post may sound a bit harsh on women when read outside of the context of other blogs posts and outside a basic understanding of Game Theory. But even a woman unfamiliar with androsphere blogging can grasp the basic notion that wives tend to be unkind towards their husbands when husbands are ill or injured. The post and comments engage in some analysis of why wives are like this, which is interesting to me, although not entirely relevant to the thoughts I'm sharing here. Women act that way because their feelings are dictating their behavior, regardless of the source of those feelings. My concern is this: Does that sort of behavior (lack of empathy and even unkindness towards an injured husband) fall under the scope of the above Scripture and therefore result in a wife blaspheming the word of God?
Being the solipsist that I am, I consulted my own feelings on the matter and attempted to understand why I might behave in that manner and whether it results in a failure to love my husband. As I read Tomasi I found myself wanting to ask, "Well, well, what about when a wife is sick? How is she treated?" I can say that in a very real sense, people, little people, could die if their mother doesn't get out of bed and do her job every day. Her job being to watch the little people. It doesn't matter if she is sick. It doesn't matter if she has a broken leg. Babies need to be fed, toddlers need to be supervised. When mommy is ill, does her husband get a day off from work? No, he has to do his duty, which is to go to work. Or maybe daddy is in the military and is gone for an extended period of time. For this reason, when a husband is ill or injured, the wife is probably thinking that she is doing him no favor to permit him to shirk. Unlike a wife, and more like a mother, she probably thinks that she can shame him into overcoming the pain. "Man up!" After all, that is what the wife must do, and it hasn't killed her yet.
In spite of being able to offer what seems (to me) a very rational explanation for why I might not be empathetic or even sympathetic with my husband when he is ill, I can't help but notice that it just isn't loving. It doesn't show my affection for him. It doesn't show my concern for his well-being. That means that I am not loving him nor teaching young women how to love their husbands when I behave in that manner. I am blaspheming the word of God. "Ouch" doesn't begin to express how hurt I am to discover this. It could be that this requires repentance in sackcloth and ashes. Lord, forgive me!
I can't recommend enough this blog post by Sunshine Mary on What to do when your husband is injured or ill. Read it and learn. If your husband is seriously wounded, you may even need to get an older woman or two to encourage you and to check your faithfulness in this matter. This can be a marriage killer if you aren't diligent to nurture your marriage through such a difficult circumstance.
There are aspects of Game that explain why women lose interest in their husbands when husbands show weakness. It wouldn't hurt Christian women to learn these things in order to be better equipped to identify them when they crop up. Regardless, you have the Scriptures and you must continually ask yourself, "Am I loving my husband?" If you aren't sure, maybe you should ask him. But don't do it unless you are prepared for what he might say.
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