Will and Jada didn’t ask for your trash take on their marriage. So, spare us.
I probably spend too much time using social media. Many of us do. I’m not saying that to justify my overuse. It’s just a fact. Sometimes, it’s a completely empty experience. I’m scrolling and scrolling. I’m watching IQ-erasing videos. I’m liking posts that I don’t agree with.
Sometimes, though, I come across something truly spectacular, like this clip of Will Smith talking about one time when Jada cussed at him in front of his son(Starts @ 13:07).
If you don’t have time to watch, I’ll summarize:
She cussed. He bonged her with a newspaper. They took their debate into another room. He told her if she had to talk like that to him ever then they couldn’t be together because of his fears of domestic violence from his own life experience. He then explained they would go on to never use profanity with each other for the years they’ve been married after a lot of self investment, therapy and commitment.
Not too long after watching that awesome clip, I came across a repost of the same clip. The publisher shared the video with this added comment:
“This is a great example of what it means for wives to submit to their husbands. He put his foot down and she followed his lead. They’ve been good ever since. We follow strong minded men not weaklings”.
I felt sick to my stomach. I couldn’t figure out why at first. I really wanted to retort, but I knew that anything I said would’ve been out of misunderstood anger rather than truly trying to achieve some kind of understanding. So, I said nothing.
I got back to work. My quick social media binge ended abruptly, but I was still bothered.
Ephesians 5:22 — Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as to the lord.
How many times have you heard this in a sermon? How many times have you seen it orated? You know how it goes. There’s a pulpit with a guy behind it, gallivanting from one side of the congregation to the other looking for confirmation that they understand and agree with him. Wives submit to your husbands. Women, do as the man says and everything will be okay. Men, be somewhat better leaders. That’s the message.
I’ve seen this performance a few times at many different sermons. Rarely, though, have I heard this chapter performed in its entirety, which includes a whole bunch of other important points to note, like —
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
Funny, when you read Ephesians Chapter 5 in its entirety, you quickly find there are more instructions for what a husband should do for his wife than the other way around. Yet, somehow culturally, we’ve become fixated on what the woman should do.
When assessed aside, the 22nd verse looks like a call to aspiring wives to submit to the will of men, but a second glance at the whole piece requires this only within the bounds of selfless love from the husband, as The Christ sacrificed himself so notably in the Gospels.
A few days after watching Will’s visit to Red Table Talk and reading that incendiary comment, I figured out what had bothered me so deeply. Nothing in Will and Jada’s exchange had anything to do with submission. He voiced a requirement. She, initially, didn’t get it. He explained his reasoning. She sought to validate it, and then they found some common ground. I’m sure there was much more to it, but that’s not for me to know. It’s their life, and they did mention there was a whole lot of therapy and transparency along the way. But that exchange said nothing about submission. It did say everything about partnership and trust.
Blind submission is not trust. Patriarchy is not partnership. You may have trust issues and had a patriarchal world view bestowed upon you by your family or whomever, but please, for the sake of sound social debate and decency, do not attach your charlie fox trot worldview onto this gem. What Will and Jada offered to us in this exchange is pure relationship gold, a roadmap to achieving alignment sensibly in your relationship. They didn’t use a Bible verse. He didn’t give a sermon. He said plainly, “We figured it out”.
If there’s anything to take away from St. Paul’s letter to the church of Ephesus, it’s that the ball is in his court, not hers. Selflessness and sacrifice for his wife are required if he aspires model his love life within true Christian principles and not the patriarchal mold put forth by generations of men who used gospel to enact disenfranchisement of women.