Friday, April 2, 2010

Gardy as Submissive Husband

Ron Gardenhire, the Minnesota Twins' manager, has very little in common with Madonna, the long-running pop music celebrity. Like her, however, he now often goes by only one name.

Tonight, as the Twins played at Target Field for the first time, I heard Gardy do a hilarious radio commercial for a hardware store chain. It turned on the premise that the man who has the final say about on-field decisions for the Twins is perfectly prepared to defer to his wife's decisions on matters domestic - including, of course, which hardware store to patronize and what to get there.

In other words, a case of separate spheres, as feminist scholars might put it.

As I smiled about Gardy's willingness to be guided by his wife on household purchases and projects, I had to recall my dad, who was equally comfortable with a division of labor of that type. In particular, it reminded me of a sermon I heard him preach in the 1970s on Ephesians, Chapter 5.

Ephesians 5 contains passages that can easily be misinterpreted. "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,"it says in verse 22. Pretty heady words to hear, if you're a husband on a power trip.

Instead of male superiority, my dad offered a persuasive and biblically grounded interpretation calling for mutual submission between partners in a marriage. After all, the much-invoked verse 22 is preceded by this one: "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ."

My dad would have been amused by Gardy's commercial. He might even have used it in a sermon on Ephesians 5, if he were still preaching today.

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