Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Christmas Card Issue

Stephen and I, like many of you, have been receiving Christmas cards over the past few weeks.  I myself never send them out.  It's just something I don't think of.  But if I did, I would make a point of addressing each envelope the way I like to receive them.

When Stephen and I got married, I was hesitant to take his last name.  Honestly, one of the reasons* I did is that it's much simpler to spell than my maiden name.  I'm very proud of my maiden name, and I'm very much my own person, so it was difficult to change a part of what used to identify me.  So on our wedding day, I was insistent that our pastor introduce us a certain way.  I drilled him about it for weeks so that he would remember.  Because, on my wedding day, I didn't want to become Mrs. Stephen LastName.  I'm becoming his wife, but I'm retaining my identity and individuality.  So my pastor introduced us as Mr. and Mrs. Stephen and Rachel LastName.

This is something I'm pretty passionate about, and the Christmas card thing always brings it out of me again.  A few people (those not of my generation) have sent cards addressed to Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Lastname.  I know it was considered proper back in the day... but why can't we just be Stephen and Rachel?  Why do I have to lose my first name, too?  Every time I get a card addressed this way, I feel like feminism never happened.  My husband would never relegate me to an extension of himself- why does it seem like so many other people do?

Christmas is about celebrating the birth of Christ, who is the true source of my identity, and no one can take that away from me.  I look past the envelope and appreciate the card and the thought behind it.  It's not even the individuals that sent the ill-addressed card that I'm offended by.  It's the whole concept of "Mr. and Mrs. Man" that offends me.  Thankfully, this concept seems to be on its way out.

Sort of a strange thing to write about on Christmas Eve... it's just where my mind is this morning.

*Mostly, I took Stephen's name because I love him, wanted to honor him, and I believe in biblical submission to my husband.  This means he does everything with my best interests in mind and puts me before himself, so when I defer to him I can trust him to make wise choices for us.  It does NOT mean that he treats me like shit, takes advantage of me, or acts as my ruler and master.  Ephesians 5:22 says, "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord..."  But a few verses later, Paul instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church, who gave himself up for us: "...husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies."  Lots of people know that Christians believe the wife has to submit and respect her husband.  What most of them don't realize is that he has to sacrifice himself and love his wife unconditionally.  The wonderful thing is, I married a man who really lives this way.

I guess this post turned out to be more Christmas appropriate than I originally planned.  Jesus was born for the sole purpose of dying for you.  He gave up His throne, became a man, and lived a perfect life, just so He could die and rise again.  He did this because He loves you (YOU!) and He wants you (yes, YOU!) to be with him forever.  He's not pointing His finger at you, or shaking His head in disappointment, or angry about the things you've done wrong.  Maybe that's what your dad did... but Jesus isn't like any other man!  He's 100% filled with unconditional, unchanging love for you.  I hope you encounter the real Jesus this Christmas.


Janella said...

My sentiments exactly!

Anonymous said...

It is interesting to see how some people distort scripture into meaning what they want it to say. If we were to look at what Christ was saying it was radical to say a woman had a choice to submitt, this he was promoting simply by instructing it. Also woman are directed to respect their husband, and men to love their wives. Women love instinctually and men respect instinctually. Think about it.

RachelRenae said...

Becki, that is a GREAT point!

Jen said...

I agree. I cringe with the old-fashioned naming that relegates women to extensions of their husbands. In the 1930s there was one woman whose husband took her last name, and what a scandal it was. I wouldn't go that far, but it's not a sin to be Mrs. Rachel Lastname.