Be subordinate to one another out of reverence for Christ. // Ephesians 5:21
I used to bristle at the scripture found in the first selection for today’s reading. As a young woman, I would sit in the pew wondering how the priest was going to justify the words of Saint Paul who told men and women how to act and treat one another. The word “subordinate” was used not just once, but three times. What about the words respect or love? “Why doesn’t he expressly write that I deserve respect?” I would fume.
And then I met a man, fell in love, got married, and started a family.
In the last two decades together and as our family has matured, the words have taken upon a new meaning. Although they all have things in common with one another, our daughters are different from our sons in many ways, and my husband and I interact with them differently as a result.
All of my children need both love and respect, but the boys seem to receive love in a special manner through the respect I give them. When I show the girls love in their own ways, they feel valued, cherished, and respected. My children also are learning that there is uniqueness in interacting with mom and dad. They have grown to realize that disrespecting their father is the quickest means to gaining a punishment, whereas the way to break my heart is to make me feel unloved.
Saint Paul didn’t tell men to disrespect their wives or tell women to stop loving their husbands. Rather, he merely turned to focus on the interaction towards love and respect in differential ways because we are different. And different is good.
There is a special beauty that is to be found in living a life where we put the needs of another first as a real expression of love and respect for that person. In the most simple way, we are subordinate to one another when we open the door for a stranger or allow someone to pass ahead of us in line. We are choosing to let someone else go first or to be first. Being subordinate in other more difficult ways, holding our tongue when we want to rant or listening when we want to respond in anger, really can require a heavy dose of God’s grace.
However, offering ourselves freely as a gift in the moment can itself be a true expression not just of love of neighbor but of love of God.Put the needs of another first. // @maryruthhackett Click To Tweet