Wives and Sons

When the Bible talks about servants, there are two types that really stand out: wives, and sons. There are daughters, bondservants, soldiers, concubines, chancellors, handmaidens, and plain ol’ slaves, but–if we give weight to the occurrences and stressed relationships of scripture–the wives and sons have it. I think that is because there is a permanence to these relationships that does not exist for others. Slaves can be sold, and soldiers dismissed, but a man’s son is always his son; even if they hate each other. No one else will forget that fact. Sons are marked by their fathers.

Daughters are peculiar. They come about the same way as sons, but when they marry they go through an alchemical process that abjures the daughter (in solicitate of gold) and evokes a wife. It’s magic. And the weirdness continues! Even though the wife follows the husband (because the husband is the head), the husband has joined to the wife–and that means becoming part of her family. Any man who has tried to move his wife across country from her family knows what I’m talking about.

There’s a sort of justification by adoption that occurs. “You wish to take my daughter? Very well: I want a son in return. Oh, there’s only you…well, I guess it will have to be you, then.” Looking on from a distance, and if we had the numinous sight to see the bursts and whorls of magic taking place in a marriage, it would look very much like a man submitting his daughter to a ritual by which she is turned into a much more capable son–a son who can produce more sons and wives.

Additionally, there are two times of real celebration which are remarkably in not keeping with the modern times, and yet irrepressible: marriage, and when a son is born. I was honestly shocked at how much more exuberant everyone was when my son was born. We had three daughters already, but a son is simply celebrated more; which strongly indicates he is valued more–contrary to everything we have been taught, or even might experience when they come of age. More is expected of them. More is expected of wives, too.

A foolish son is ruin to his father,
and a wife’s quarreling is a continual dripping of rain.

House and wealth are inherited from fathers,
but a prudent wife is from the Lord.

Wives can make a man’s house heaven or hell because we expect more of them. Daughters, we hope, can at least be married off so they become some other man’s primary concern…we’ll still see her at Sunday dinners.

So, if you have a wife and she’s not prudent, you can know she’s not of the Lord. What are you going to do about this?

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22 thoughts on “Wives and Sons

  1. Too true. Imprudence in women has long been tolerated by spouses and gone without comment in the Christian circles as a product of us seeking to mirror our “wise” secular peers in their embracing of the “equal and fair” feminism for women. Marriage is about a compromise wherein both parties offer to God and their partner something they could use on their own but choose to dedicate to their spouse and God. This is the process where we are sanctified and find joy in marriage.

    Except this is not so today. Wives are encouraged in their imprudence and men are instead chided and told to shoulder the extra slack or else they would be sinning against their wives. Such sad, sad irony. We must hold to Titus chapter 2 expectations for all parties and assign blame justly and without preference when blame is required.

  2. The irony in this is that I was just trying to convince my husband that we ought to try for another girl. My reasoning is that you just rent the boys..eventually they go leave and cling to someone else. A daughter stays connected and my best chances of being involved in my future grandchildren’s life is through my daughters.

    So perhaps the joy of a daughter differs for women. I love my boys but the odds that they are going to be around in my old age are slim to none and I want to enjoy my twilight surrounded by grandbabies.

  3. @Morticia

    A daughter stays connected and my best chances of being involved in my future grandchildren’s life is through my daughters.

    Yes, exactly. Daughters can get you a son that stays, and begets more sons and wives. Adoptive love is more graceful–grace abounds more–than in natural love.

    So perhaps the joy of a daughter differs for women.

    I would have thought this, too, but that is not my experience…ever.

    Anyway, what I’m alluding to is that, in some way, we innately understand the that we will all individually sons of God and the collective bride of Christ on the other side.

  4. @Mortica

    What I’ve said is far from all there is to say on the subject. Depending on how you take what I’ve said, it can seem like I’m saying sons are better. In the near future, I don’t think it will sound all that kindly to men.

    @GKC

    Thank you.

  5. I’m trying not to be so sensitive as to care whether something seems harsh towards women (trying), I just thought it was somewhat amusing that you should post this right as I am pining for an XX to even out the score board.

    Despite my personal experience, I think I sort of understand the broad theological implications. Sons are born, Wives are made. It reminds me of the Reading the other day…. Jews are direct lineage, but the Gentiles are adopted heirs. I am enjoying the parallels you point out.

  6. Now I found your comments a bit more confusing. I assume my daughter will go and marry into another line. I love her dearly but there will be a time when she won’t be a “Chesterton” while my son will be one forever. He is younger, but he is my heir. I expect both sets of grandkids over when the time comes (both have been warned that their parents had too few children too late…and they haven’t even breached ten years of age yet). However, I expect one set to be “mine” in a special way.

  7. Well, there is a cliche that women have:

    A son is yours until he takes a wife
    A daughter is yours for the rest of your life.

    I see what Morticia is saying. A mother feels that she will remain connected to her daughter after the girl marries, but a son will be more independent and more connected to his wife’s family. That might not be true in all cultures but it is rather true in ours.

    But a son carries on the father’s name, so perhaps in some ways a man feels more connected to his son. I’m only guessing, since we have been richly blessed with daughters but have no sons.

  8. “When the Bible talks about servants, there are two types that really stand out: wives, and sons.”

    Also interesting is how the father-son and husband-wife relationships are the two most common biblical metaphors for understanding the God-humanity relationship. The implications are pretty staggering.

  9. @GKC

    Now I found your comments a bit more confusing. I assume my daughter will go and marry into another line. I love her dearly but there will be a time when she won’t be a “Chesterton” while my son will be one forever. […] However, I expect one set to be “mine” in a special way.

    Your son will be a Chesterton forever, but he will be a Chesterton planted in another family. Your daughter will, under the same spell, remain with you, but become a “Xxxxxxxx”.

    Your heir will husband other fields and flocks; reaping where you did not sow.

    @SSM

    Yes, the kinship of the sexes is to be expected. You have a lot of excitement in your future.

    @Simon Grey

    You’re picking up what I’m putting down.

  10. Well hello. I have had a huge learning curve about all this. The only child of a (mostly) single mom, I married into a massive family, where my 4 kids are now part of a grandchild cohort that numbers greater than 30. What with all that, Ive experienced so much marriage and parental inter relating between families along with raising exactly 2 of each, boy/girl which is amazing.

    I was onto the allegory also, I do hope though that you will speak further into it because its easy to, as I have already done in this comment, go the direction of temporal familial intercourse and not ponder the other. It takes a while to unravel, which I realize is your style.

  11. A mother feels that she will remain connected to her daughter after the girl marries, but a son will be more independent and more connected to his wife’s family. That might not be true in all cultures but it is rather true in ours.

    We are more plugged in to my husband’s family than we are to mine, but I suspect that’s a consequence of my never having had my natural mother around, and the shortcomings of step families that Empath mentioned. My family of origin is disjointed in myriad ways due to my father’s marital history.

    But yes, I admit that I expect my daughters to remain connected to me, but am prepared for another reality as well, having lived it.

    My father respects my husband’s opinion and judgement as much as (in most cases more than) he does his own sons.

  12. Simon Grey wrote:

    Also interesting is how the father-son and husband-wife relationships are the two most common biblical metaphors for understanding the God-humanity relationship. The implications are pretty staggering.

    Will you expound on that? What are the implications?

  13. As persons we tend to be related to God as sons (ie sons by adoption). As a group we are almost always feminine (ie the Bride of Christ). I’ve mentioned it before but I think there is something to be said about Lewis’ picturing the angels as more masculine when they are next to men and more feminine when next to God (as he does very strongly in Perelandra). BTW looking forward to seeing you in a few hours Cane.

  14. @SSM- I will be brief at this forum, and will address your question in greater depth at my own blog.

    To start, it is important to remember that man is created in the image of God (Gen.1:26-27). The ideal human is one whose light reflects the glory of God (Matt. 5:16-17). As the moon reflects the brightness and glory of the sun, so to does man reflect the brightness and glory of God. And as the moon is the lesser light and the sun is the greater light, so to is Man deserving of lesser glory and God deserving of greater glory. What we can draw from this is that human character, and human behavior, and human emotions, and human motivations, and so on, all reflect God’s character, behavior, emotions, motivations, and so on. We do not reflect it perfectly, precisely, or completely clearly, but we reflect it nonetheless.

    There are a variety of ways in which man reflects God, and our reflections of God our seen in our human relationships. This means that we do not grasp God directly, but indirectly. (Notice how the Bible is fundamentally a book about God, but hardly spends any time talking about him directly? That is because we cannot, in our human state, completely grasp god in his entirety. This is one of the reasons why Moses was not able to view God directly, but instead was only allowed to view his back.) Thus, we can have some understanding of God through our understanding of human relationships.

    The relationship that subjects have with kings, or that slaves have with masters, that sons have with fathers, that babies have with mothers, that plaintiffs and bailiffs have with judges, that wives have with husbands, and so on, all reveal some aspect of God’s character. We all have an intuitive understanding of how these relationships should ideally exist. As such, we are capable of understanding whether someone is a good king, father, husband, judge, etc. When we someone who is a good king, father, husband, judge, etc. we have a brief and incomplete glimpse at God. This is intentional and it is by design.

    Understanding the nature of human relationships, which most people have the innate urge to do, enables all men to have an intuitive, albeit imperfect understanding of God. Again, we are made in his image, and therefore reflect God in a limited way.

    It is also important that people embrace their humanity. The men and women listed in God’s hall of faith were all human. They had the weaknesses and failures that all of us have. They didn’t deny or suppress their natures, but simply lived as humans that loved and trusted in God.

    Humans are inferior to God (Isaiah uses the metaphor of the heavens being above the earth to explain God’s superiority to Man). In like manner, Woman is inferior to Man. Man causes God no amount of trouble and vexation by his often irrational and emotional behavior. In like manner, Woman causes Man no amount of trouble and vexation by her often irrational and emotional behavior. Men often wonder if women are worth all the trouble they cause. God often wonders if man is worth all the trouble he causes. If we were simply being logical, we would generally conclude in both instances that the answer is no. But we are not simply logic machines, and neither is God. Therefore, God loves Man and desires a relationship with him even though this desire doesn’t often make sense and doesn’t seem to be worth it.

    The father-son relationship is similar, but more emotionally complex, and I do not have the right experience with it, and therefore cannot develop a deep enough understanding of it. Essentially, though, children are often foolish, irresponsible, and misguided, not to mention ignorant and stupid. And yet, the innocence and clarity of the love that they have for their fathers is what motivates men to sacrifice everything they have–even their lives–for their children. And so while children can be extremely frustrating, and in constant need of discipline, their guileless, innocent, unabashed love for daddy can cover a multitude of sins, and break a father’s heart. In some way, this mirrors the feelings that God has towards Man.

    the implications of this theology are manifold, but in the interest of brevity I will simply go though a few of them. In the first place, it becomes essential that we stop focusing on obeying rules and instead focus on loving one another. God is love (a very profound statement, and frightening and hopeful in its implications), and we as his children are expected to be love as well (Eph. 5:1. “imitate God as dear children…”) While obedience is a component of love, it is helpful to remember that obedience isn’t mere rule-keeping; you must adhere to the spirit of the rule, and not just the letter.

    Another implication is that we can best understand God by observing relationships. A good husband will teach us more about God than the best preacher ever could. A good father will teach his children more about God than all the Sunday school classes of ten thousand lifetimes ever could. A good king will teach his citizens more about God than a parish priest ever could. And so on.

    A final implication to consider is that God is not all that different from man, at least in the sense of being relatable. He feels everything that we feel, but perhaps with more realness. My ability to describe this is extremely limited, and the closest I can get to an explanation is The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis when he describes the new Narnia as being more real that the Narnia that it replaced. I highly recommend reading that book, especially for the last chapter. Your heart will ache with a desire that cannot be described, or satisfied on this earth.

    I hope this answer, limited as it is, helps you in some way. I will endeavor to explain further on my own blog, but I cannot promise that more words will yield greater clarity.

    To get a better sense of what I’m trying to say, read this short story I posted on my blog. Perhaps this will help to show what I mean by learning about God from human relationships:

    http://grandallusions.wordpress.com/2013/03/07/grace/

  15. Very Nice, Simon.

    My addition..these parallels also explains why supplicating beta behavior in men is like witchcraft. Because “Eve” and therefore “Woman” signifies the created..putting her status above man is like putting the status of the created world above the created. This is what witchcraft does..manipulates the forces of nature for its own ends rather than submitting to God.

  16. @Morticia- thanks. The Man-Woman relationship is an extremely useful metaphor.

    @SSM- I changed my mind. I will not be addressing the question further at my blog, at least in the near future. This subject is more complex and demanding than I can handle at this point in time.

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