For some people, reading a post like this one from 9Marks – http://www.9marks.org/blog/she-questions-potential-pastor%E2%80%99s-wife gets them all combative. It’s a list of questions geared toward assessing whether or not a woman will make a good pastor’s wife.
For starters, the list is a good one for pastors’ wives or for any wives for that matter. The questions are about issues of the heart and gets to the root of why wives become bitter in the first place. The questions, and all the disclaimers before them for those who just skipped all that, are excellent for anyone who is getting married to consider about the person they are marrying and to really know the kind of person they are with – the character and nobility of the person and not just a superficial checklist.
So anyone who takes issue with the list has to be asked the question, why? Why are you upset by it? Are they not valid questions to be asked of you if you profess to be a follower of Christ and the Gospel?
But even more directly to the point was one comment I read that really was glaringly evident of the condition of the heart. The poster wrote “Riiiight. ‘Cause 9marks churches need to judge women more. Perfect.”
This hurt my heart a little bit for two reasons. One was that clearly this woman has been deeply wounded by either 9marks specifically or by a church or series of churches/pastors in the past. She obviously has deep seated bitterness toward others, men in particular, who are supposed to be there to help her, protect her, fight for her, and lead her. Yes lead her.
But the other reason it really broke my heart was that she saw a list of questions like this as judgment. It made me think of someone who reads the 10 commandments and says, that’s all impossible and you suck for making me read it. We find nothing but judgment in the list and the accusations are not found without merit.
Other commenters went on to say how the list was unfair or incomplete. I couldn’t help but wonder if a woman had written it if it would have been received differently. Perhaps, but it’s hard to say now. What I do think happens is that we don’t want to be held to any standards. Standards are so old school. Post modern thought has taken such a deep hold of us, even those of us who claim the gospel truth, that we shirk all personal accountability.
And I think that’s what it boils down to. Don’t point your finger at me, buddy, you got 4 more fingers pointing back at you. Isn’t that what we were told to say on the school playground? Or better yet, I know you are but what am I? It’s juvenile, and I for one hope that I can consistently put away childish things. Instead of looking at a list of questions like this as accusations or a list of impossible demands, I look at it as guidelines to check myself on, to see if there is any “wicked way” in me and to look to grace to rise above the average human responses. And really at the end of the day, the kind of person who reacts and whines and does all the things this list is pointing to is the kind of person who will make a terrible wife no matter what her husband does for a living.
It’s like those people who wear too much perfume or cologne and you can still smell them long after they’re gone – the ones who stir up discontent, quarrels, point fingers, play the comparison game with others. It’s a long laundry list for the type of woman who either feels threatened by it and lashes out against it, or those who feel overwhelmed and defeated by trying to be the perfect little wifey.
But when we find ourselves oppressed by a list, we have to ask ourselves if it’s the list that accuses us or is it a mirror and we accuse only ourselves? Are we willing to look at ourselves honestly and seek with all our hearts to become better than we were yesterday or even an hour ago? And are we willing to let God work on us, to break us of our arrogance and self-centeredness – because the truth is that both reactions are self-centered – to be more accepting and loving and beautiful to Him? My prayer is that I will always be a beautiful fragrance to my God first, to my husband, to his ministry and to all who are close enough to smell me, sometimes literally, and not a stinky sock.