This weekend I’m attending Comic-Con in San Diego. Not only is this the 50th year of the event, but 2019 also marks 80 years since Batman’s inception (see what I did there, Christopher Nolan). Given that I’m a diehard Batman fan, one of the highlights of the trip has been a 68,000-square foot experience honoring the Caped Crusader at the new Comic-Con Museum. There you can don a cowl-shaped helmet and swoop through the streets of Gotham via VR, kapow your way through an interactive punching bag experience, or immerse yourself in one of the many arcade and video games in the Batcave.
All this play-acting got me to thinking about heroes. Who are they and what do they do? Does one need to wear tighty-whities over one’s pants to be a protagonist? Or are there unmasked men among us−men who with the open and close of a phonebooth door would be transformed before our very eyes?
“No, don’t call me a hero. Do you know who the real heroes are? The guys who wake up every morning and go into their normal jobs and get a distress call from the Commissioner and take off their glasses and change into capes and fly around fighting crime. Those are the real heroes.”Dwight Schrute, “The Office”
We’ve all seen the meme: “I’m not saying I’m Batman. I’m just saying no one has ever seen me and Batman in the same room together.” I ask you, ladies, have you ever seen Batman in the same room as your husband? In all sincerity, though, your husband is not only the hero of the household, but the very representation of God to his wife and children (1 Peter 3:5-6). He’s not so different from Batman who devoted himself to an ideal to protect the people of Gotham. So, too, your husband is striving to realize the ideal set forth by Christ.
I know our society scoffs at this−demanding respect be earned rather than given−but the role of husband is a kingly one and all the feminist kicking and screaming won’t change the fact that he has authority over the family by virtue of the position he holds. A king doesn’t lose his kingship when he takes off his crown to go to bed each night. Batman didn’t cease being Batman in the tunnels because Bane wrenched the mask from his face. In the same way, you can attempt to wrest control from your husband or you can choose to submit. Either way, his God-given role will not change.
“I wear a mask. And that mask, it’s not to hide who I am, but to create what I am.”Batman: Broken City
So what is submission? Submission is not a propagandistic tool of the patriarchy. Its picture is not one of a bepearled woman chained to a dishwasher while her husband, hand tucked into his waistband, nurses a beer in front of the TV. Submission is a rightful understanding of the model God has for marriage and how this model speaks to the higher truth of Christ’s relation to His bride, the church. Our interactions with our husbands should be viewed in the context of this framework.
Wives, we are called to submit to our husbands as we would to the Lord just as husbands are called to love as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her. We submit not to fulfill some 1950s picket fence ideal, but out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21-33). If that isn’t compelling enough, consider how Jesus lived a life of submission to the will of the Father (Matthew 26:39).
So how can we encourage our husband in his role as the federal head of the family? In wanting to respect our husband’s authority, how should we behave? What does submission look like practically?
- Refrain from speaking poorly of him to others. (Proverbs 31:11-12)
- Pray for him and his leadership. (Ephesians 6:18)
- Behave modestly through dress and deed. (1 Timothy 2:9-10)
- Don’t stage a coup; follow his direction. (1 Peter 3:1-7)
- Give wise counsel as an adviser. (Genesis 3:17, 1 Timothy 2:13)
- Assist him in fulfilling the creation mandate. (Genesis 1:26-28, 2:18)
My husband doesn’t need to cosplay. He is a superhero in his role as the head of our family. He works a job that is often stressful and mentally draining, and yet he rarely complains. He never raises his voice in disagreements, but practices patience in resolving conflict. He has supported me through times of severe depression when I struggled with suicidal ideation and thought I was losing my mind. In the nearly ten years we’ve been together, he has assembled furniture, paid bills, killed bugs, mowed lawns, and carried innumerable burdens both visible and invisible.
Throughout everything, he is always leading me back to the Word of God, praying for us, reminding us to do our family devotions, encouraging me to be Christ-like in my interactions with friends and family, reproving me when I am not. In a nutshell, he provides for the financial, emotional, and spiritual needs of our family. And yet this summary does not even begin to encompass all the ways, big and small, that he has been a blessing to my life. He may not wear a disguise, but he is continually doing good in the shadows.
“A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a little boy’s shoulders to let him know that the world hadn’t ended.”BatMan, “The Dark Knight Rises”
Obviously, no husband is perfect, but submission does not come as the result of some innate worthiness he possesses but from the desire to obey and serve the Lord in His structuring of marriage. Your husband is not one of your children. He is not a slave designed to feed you grapes and fan you with palm fronds. I encourage you to view him in the light of God’s revelation−as the federal head of your house just as Christ is the federal head of the church. In a society that undermines marriage at every turn, it is more important than ever to remember the hero in the home and enable him in his Biblical position of authority.