Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Equally Choked!

Leaving organized religion not only was a big deal in of itself for me, but it presented CGC's with several theological "challenges" as well. The main reason being that I left church and my husband and kids stayed. People within the system didn't quite know how to deal with this fact. It tweaked with their status quo...big time! The reactions ranged from people seeming shocked that we weren't both on "the same page" to some asking overt questions about it. They wondered how it was working out for us, was it a challenge?, were we both ok with not doing the same religious ritual?, (my words.) It became clear to me that people within the church simply weren't comfortable with the fact that I had left and my husband hadn't. It became clear to me that we had broken one of the cardinal rules of the church: Be Ye Equally Yoked.
It dawned on me that within church circles couples are expected to have the same expressions of faith, worship, etc. Heaven forbid that one would feel to seek God outisde of the church and the other remain within the church. I think people were surprised when I told them that my husband and I were perfectly fine with doing different things on Sunday. Honestly, after I left the church our marriage greatly improved. The longer I remained in the church system the more our marriage became, well, equally choked.
So where did the idea come from that husbands and wives need to express their devotion to God in the exact same way? I think the verse about being unequally yoked, (2 Cor 6:14), is the origin of this idea. The kicker is that this verse is talking about being unequally yoked with unbelievers! This has nothing to do with people of the same faith. I would even argue that this verse may not pertain to marriage, (but that is a whole different post.) Another reason I think people were in such a kafuffle over this issue goes back to the verse about wives submitting to their husbands, (Eph 5: 21-22.) I did some research on this verse, in the Greek, and discovered that the part about wives submitting to their husbands is only one example of submission. The verse begins with, "Submit yourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ." It seems to me that this is a mutual submission - wives to husbands, husbands to wives. In our situation I felt strongly that God had spoken to me that it was time to leave organized religion. My husband then submitted to me in my leaving. I then submitted to him staying, (I really wanted him to leave as well, but now have peace with the decission he made at the time.) If we hadn't submitted to each other I think we would have a boat load of tension and stress in our marriage right now!
All through my years of being in the church there was the unspoken rule that husbands and wives need to be on the exact same page spiritually: attend the same church, be involved in the same ministry, etc. I'm now seeing that this is not what God expects for me. There may be couples out there with the same calling of course, but I believe in many cases couples have various callings on their lives and varied expressions of faith. I wonder what would the church look like if more women stepped out of the box religion has put them in and into the ministry God had called them to...


  1. I appreciate this post. I feel frusterated when I want to go to church and my husband doesn't and I love this picture you've painted of submission. I need to submit to his decision to not attend a church service. Although the argument goes, it's ok if we don't go to church but we need to be church together and we tending to not be as intentional as we should. But it's important to grow and be spiritually rooted in the same things, but be free to express those things individually.

  2. In Family Room Media's "Church Outside the Walls" they tackle (to a certain extent) the various translations in regards to the "submit & obey" words. In most cases, a more appropriate translation would be "yield to the persuasion of". In regards to the "wifes submit yourselves to your husband, the whole passage when taken in context is preceeded by Eph. 5:21 (which you have listed here). The "hupotasso" of Eph. 5:21 and the "hoopiko" of Hebrews 13:17 are both based on similar root-words and revolve around the context of a voluntary yielding/"weakening"/stationing of oneself in relationship to another (sorry for going into uber-word geek mode on ya!). It never was never intended to be the "command & control" ICOR (Institutionalized Church, Organized Religion) has made it to be.
    In fact, I would say that you and your husband's "yielding to one another" in this is smack in-line with scripture (and a very good example!).
    As to "leaving" or "staying", I prefer to relate that to ICOR/The Matrix/The System as I view "church" as something being the body of Christ. In other words; as followers of Jesus, we don;t "go" to church or "do" church; We are the church! The size, scope or range of gathering together is not the main issue. The main issue of that is just to gather together in Him to encourage one another. However, part of The Journey also takes us on a "solo pilgrimage". Papa God has a way of connecting us with others if we are but open to His leading.


  3. I'm a bit of a word geek as well Mike - so go for it!! Especially when it comes to issues such as these I like to get as in depth of a definition of the Greek or Hebrew as possible. I love this definition: "yield to the persuasion of." It's so dead on accurate as to how we as spouses, friends, etc. should relate, (in accordance with the apostle's writings.) Thanks for the encouragement on this!

    I completely agree with your definition of church, that we are the church. I suppose I use the verbiage I do at times because I suspect there are most likely those in the system reading this perhaps. At some point I will probably start calling it "the system", "matrix", etc. I do feel that I'm on a bit of a solo journey, but I'm so grateful that God has brought along people like yourself to keep me company.