real life

Christian submissive wives are now a thing. And look who their spokesperson is.

I love faith. I believe in it, and I fiercely defend a persons right to have it.

I pick and choose the parts of Christianity and Catholicism I like and I try to live by them. I am not sure if there is a God or not. I find those people who completely write religion off as “fairytales” or make-believe as offensive as those who tell my kids they will burn in hell because they were born out of wedlock. If you practice what you believe, find comfort in it, and don’t force it on others, then you and I will get along just fine.

Having written that lengthy disclaimer. Let’s get into this, shall we?

I need you to sing the Full House theme song right now. Do it. “Everywhere you look, everywhere you look, there’s a heart, there’s a heart…” (Note if you are under 30 this will prove difficult so I have popped a video in for your edu-tainment.)

Why have I taken you back to late-’80s-early-’90s sitcom heaven? Well, it seems one of the stars of that show has been quietly making a name for herself as an author, weight loss guru… and champion of Christian submissive wives everywhere.

Good times!

Candace Cameron-Bure on Full House

Candace Cameron-Bure A.K.A. DJ Tanner (remember DJ? Remember the crimped hair, the dimples, and Kimmy Gibbler?) believes that a woman should submit to the will of her husband, even if she disagrees with him, and even if she thinks it is to the detriment of her family. Her husband’s word is law, in all situations.

The oldest Tanner daughter has openly stated that she is a Christian submissive wife, a trait that she attributes to the happiness of her marriage.

You may or may not remember another amazing ’80s sitcom called Growing Pains in which Candace’s older brother, Kirk Cameron, played loveable trouble maker Mike Ceever. (Swoon.)

But what you almost definitely do not know is that Kirk grew up to become a right wing Evangelical Fundamentalist Christian, who condemned same sex marriage on CNN, believes that bananas disprove evolution and publicly compared Charles Darwin to Hitler. (I’m taking my swoon back.)

It would appear Kirk has been involved in helping Candace see the “error” of her ways and she has been reborn as a friendly Evangelical Christian. On her website she thanks her bro for rejuvenating her faith by giving her the apocalyptic Left Behind series and a book called The Way of the Master.

She writes on her website, “I saw that I was a horribly bad person by God’s standards”. Candace wrote a book in 2011 called Reshaping it All which was a faith-based guide to weight loss. Yes you read that correctly, a faith-based guide to weight loss.

It is not as simple as asking the Heavenly Father for a flatter stomach and cranking out 10 Hail Marys instead of 10 sit-ups. In the book Candace offers a biblical perspective to appetite and self control. Basically, if you commit your physical issues to God then you are beholden to him, if you cheat on your diet or exercise regime then you need to answer to God.

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Shit Candace, way to take the fun out of a sneaky Snickers after a jog!

It was on the New York Times bestseller list for weeks.

Her new book Balancing it All: My Story of Juggling Priorities and Purpose is a guide to how she goes about balancing all the demands in her life. It has stirred up quite a bit of controversy in the States. In the book, she talks about her big picture priorities, and they are, in this order:

1. God

2. Her husband, who is former professional hockey player Valeri Bure

3. Her children

4. Work.

When discussing the topic of her marriage in her new book, she puts her happy union down to the following:

My husband is a natural-born leader. I quickly learned that I had to find a way of honoring his take-charge personality and not get frustrated about his desire to have the final decision on just about everything. I am not a passive person, but I chose to fall into a more submissive role in our relationship because I wanted to do everything in my power to make my marriage and family work.

I mean sure, I bet her husband is bloody stoked! Who wouldn’t be? ‘Hey babe, are you cool if we always do what I want and I am always right and you will always be agreeable to that? You are? SWEET!’ How much easier would YOUR relationship be if your word was law and no-one ever argued with you? *Stares wistfully off into the distance*

Christian submissive wives
Candace and her husband. (Image via Candace’s website.)

She then goes on to say, “The definition that I’m using with the word submissive is the biblical definition of that… I love that my man is a leader. I want him to lead and be the head of our family. And those major decisions do fall on him.”

The biblical definition she is referring to is the one where Paul said in the New Testament: “Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Savior. Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.” (Ephesians 5: 22-24)

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That would have been how things were at the time. Fast forward a few thousand years and those words are a little out of touch, no?

Even the most devout Bible-lover would agree that some of the things that were written in the context of the times – where it was acceptable to knock back a bloke with a broken wang and rotten plums from the church* – ain’t gonna work now.

In the context of speaking about what God wants, surely he wants a woman to be at her best, brightest and most excellent at all times? He would want her to honour herself in situations of conflict and endurance? That is certainly what I have taken out of religion when I have involved myself with it.

Candace is right on one front: in any relationship submission will need to happen, at some stage, from both partners. In the end you are both submitting to the marriage/relationship, aren’t you? But there is a very distinct difference between mutual submission and demanded submission.

No relationship, faith-infused or otherwise, can flourish and grow if one of the participants is not valued as equally as the other. Because that is what Candace’s husband is saying: ‘my opinion and desires are more heavily weighted than yours’.

‘I am more important than you.’

That isn’t a partnership, that is a dictatorship.

Saying “I do” should not signal the end of your ability to speak up.

I watched countless videos of Candace before writing this piece, I have to say – I really like her. She is engaging, funny, intelligent, charismatic, respectful and joyful.

I admire her commitment to her faith, I just wholeheartedly and with every fibre of my being disagree with her on this particular topic. If this type of approach works for Candace and Valeri then I applaud them and respect their right to live that way, however to say that this is what God wants for every couple is a little questionable.

The God business aside; to infer that a woman needs to shrink and yield to her husband in order for him to happily rule is, in my opinion, a catastrophically flawed concept.

Now if you’ll excuse me I am off to make sure none of the cast members of The Wonder Years, Family Ties or Alf are making any outrageous statements. I just couldn’t handle anymore disappointment on this particular front.

* Deuteronomy 23:1: “He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord.” Yep, they called testicles “stones” even back then! If thou have rotten junk thou shalt not enter the Church y’all.

So, let’s talk about submissive wives. Legitimate marriage strategy or a recipe for disaster?

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