Excerpted from Let Me Be a Woman, by Elisabeth Elliot:
* One thing that makes a marriage work is the acceptance of a divine order. Either there is an order or there is not, and if there is one which is violated disorder is the result - disorder on the deepest level of the personality.
* He (Jesus) could do that (washing the disciples' feet) because He knew who He was and whose He was. He could also face the events of the coming night and day. It was not weakness which enabled him to become a slave. It was not resignation that took Him to Calvary. He has both accepted and willed the Father's will.
* You and I can be steadied, directed, and held by the knowledge of where we came from and where we are going. To know that the whole world moves in harmony at God's bidding is wonderfully stabilizing.
* Men and women are equal, we may say, in having been created by God. Both male and female are created in His image. They bear the divine stamp. They are equally called to obedience and responsibility, but there are difference in the responsibilities. Both Adam and Eve sinned and are equally guilty. Therefore both are equally the objects of God's grace.
* The statement "All men are created equal" is a political one, referring to a single quality for a single purpose. C. S. Lewis called this a "legal fiction," useful, necessary, but not by any means always desirable. Marriage is a place where it doesn't belong at all. Marriage is not a political arena. it is a union of two opposites. It is a confusion to speak of "separate but equal," or "opposite but equal" in referring to this unique union of two people who have become, because they were made different in order that they might thus become, one flesh.
* Our joy is in the very discipline of the thing. The discipline doesn't stifle, it gives power, it makes beauty possible.
* Servants are to submit to their masters, whether they are good or bad, for Christ suffered unjustly and it is His example they are exhorted to follow. Married women are to adapt themselves to their husbands, following the example of Sarah who obeyed Abraham. Husbands are to "try to understand" their wives, honoring them as physically weaker, yet "equally heirs with you of the grace of life."
* Marriage is not a fifty-fifty proposition. As soon as it is thought of as such it becomes a power struggle, with picayune scorekeeping to make sure one doesn't outdo the other.
* Your equalities have been delineated: equally sinners, equally responsible, equally in need of grace, and equally the objects of that grace. That's where the fifty-fifty matter ends. You take up life as husband and wife and you start laying down your lives - not as martyrs, not as doormats or ascetics making a special bid for sainthood, but as two lovers who have needed and received grace, and who know very well that they are going to keep on needing and receiving it every day that they live together.
* Household justice was based on household authority. In marriage, if two mature people love each other, this whole matter of authority is almost entirely a tacit understanding. Remember that lines have been drawn - not by my husband, but by God. I was the one originally created to be a help, not an antagonist.
* There is no competition in a union. ... Each is for the other, pulling with and not against him.
* So there is union in marriage, two separate persons made one in the flesh, and, if they are Christians, one in Christ, subject to His headship. If they are one in Christ, they have not only union but communion, and this is a priceless thing.
* Marriage turns out to be mirror. Each reflects the other, which is bound to be in some degree painful, for none of us can bear too much reality at once.
* Marriage is for most people the first experience in adulthood of common life - of the daily, ordinary, humble doing of duties in close contact with and mutual dependence on another person. Few have had to take responsibility on a day-to-day basis until they marry.
* Acceptance of the divinely ordered hierarchy means acceptance of authority - first of all, God's authority and then those lesser authorities which He has ordained. A husband and wife are both under God, but their positions are not the same. A wife is to submit herself to her husband. The husband's "rank" is given to him by God, as the angels' and animals' ranks are assigned, not chosen or earned. The mature man acknowledges that he did not earn or deserve his place by superior intelligence, virtue, strength, or amiability. The mature woman acknowledges that submission is the will of God for her, and obedience to this will is no more a sign of weakness in her than it was in the Son of Man when He said, "Lo, I come - to do Thy will, O God."
* Submission for the Lord's sake does not amount to servility. It does not lead to self-destruction, the stifling of gifts, personhood, intelligence and spirit.
* God is not asking anybody to become a zero. What was the design of the Creator in everything that He made? He wanted it to be good, that is, perfect, precisely what He meant, free in its being the thing He intended it to be. When He commanded Adam to "subdue" and "have dominion over" the earth He was not commanding him to destroy its meaning or existence. He was, we may say, "orchestrating," giving the lead to one, subduing another, to produce a full harmony for His glory.
* But we have a loving God who arranged things not only for our "best interests" (we're not always eager to have what is "for our own good") but for freedom and for joy.
* And it is the will of God that woman be subordinate to man in marriage. Marriage is used in the Old Testament to express the relation between God and his covenant people and in the New Testament between Christ and the Church. No effort to keep up with the times, to conform to modern social movements or personality cults authorizes us to invert this order. Tremendous heavenly truths are set forth in a wife's subjection to her husband, and the use of this metaphor in the Bible cannot be accidental.
* Husbands, who are to initiate, command, and dominate, are specially commanded to love their wives. It is no ordinary kind of love that it is meant here. They are to love them in two ways - first, ... means self-giving. No man who sets this as the first principle will initiate, command, and dominate in a self-aggrandizing way. His acceptance of the authority God has given him is his obedience to God. His acceptance of the way that authority is to be exercised will prove his love for the woman. Second, he is to love his wife "as his own body," which means he is to nourish and cherish her. ... a nourishing and cherishing love, a love that takes responsibility for the care of her.
* As man's power over woman is restrained by love, woman's power over man is restrained by the command to submit. Any woman knows that she has ways of getting her own way. It is not physical strength that is most powerful. It is not the ability to deal with high-level abstractions. She may be as intelligent as or more intelligent than her husband, she may be more gifted than he is. Whether this is the case or not, she also has "wiles," emotional power, and she has sexual power. These must be restrained. The kind of restraint God asks of her is submission.
* John Calvin wrote, "God is the source of both sexes and hence both of them ought with humility to accept and maintain the condition which the LORD has assigned to them. Let the man exercise his authority with moderation ... Let the woman be satisfied with her state of subjection ... otherwise both of them throw off the yoke of God who has not without good reason appointed this distinction of ranks."
* It is impossible for love not to give, and that giving often means giving over one's own preferences. The husband is not in such a case knowledging his wife's authority. He is laying down his life.