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For years now, my wife and I have threatened each other with the prospect of taking Latin dance classes. Believe me. It’s been so long since we’ve gone dancing that this is a real threat!

However, we really do love Latin dance. The flair. The choreography. And, yes, the romance. But we’ve yet to take a class. It’s in our bucket list.

But I’m afraid my wife has stepped up her campaign and gone public. Friday she had lunch with a woman who enjoys salsa with a passion. As it happens, this woman had questions about submission. Objections really. My wife offered her some good responses to her question, but felt she wasn’t really helping our friend that much. Then, somehow, salsa became the subject of conversation. Our friend explained at length how critical a good male leader is in salsa. It makes or breaks the dance. The woman must follow him if the dance is to be enjoyable. After several minutes of our friend’s lecture on male leadership in salsa, my wife very wisely concluded, “So you do understand submission.”

Here are the five lessons my wife deduced from her discussion of salsa:

Submission is hard. It's especially hard when my desire is for my husband's position as head (Genesis 3:16) and I want to pursue a different route than the one he deems best for our family.

Submission is for my husband. There are few ways to encourage my husband more than to show my respect for him as a man by trusting him enough to follow his lead. Of course, the Lord is at work, causing him to lead our family in an honorable way, or causing him to learn hard lessons that could only be learned through his mistakes in leading our family. But I must respect him enough to know that his intentions for our family are good, even when things don't turn out as we'd planned or hoped for.

Submission is for God's glory. He calls me to submit to Him so that the world would have a glimpse of his headship over the church.

Submission is also for my faith. When I would have chosen a different course of action than my husband, I must trust the Lord to work out His good purposes in that situation.

Submission is for my joy. When my husband loves me with a Christ-like love, giving himself for me, taking interest in my spiritual life, showing tender care and love for me, it brings me great joy. Joy in being his wife, and joy in knowing that Christ's love for me is infinitely greater having demonstrated His great love toward me in that while I was still in my sin, He died for me.

Want to know more? Check out her post here.  If I might, I’d really encourage the husbands and men to read this post.  Good stuff for all of us trying to lead well and think well about loving our wives.

Meanwhile, I understand our new friend has offered to give us salsa lessons and take us to a local restaurant that regularly has salsa nights. My feet are hurting already!

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5 thoughts on “My Wife, Salsa, and Submission”

  1. Aimee Byrd says:

    I love this! I will read your wife’s article, but I’m already thinking of all the analogies…stepping on your wife’s toes, dropping her, or the beauty of the dance when you don’t even have to think of the choreography. What great little teachings on male leadership! Thank you, can’t wait to share with my husband. (I’ve been on him for Tango lessons :) )

  2. Dan Staifer says:

    I met my wife doing Lindy Hop Swing in Cincinnati. At first I was a really strong lead and would often pull her shoulders out of her sockets (figuratively of course) because I wanted to show the women who was in control. Many men when they first start out have really passive leads, which causes any woman who had danced longer (like my wife), she also had a tendency to back lead. New female dancers have this same problem because they don’t trust the man enough yet. That has cause fights when he first danced. Tell me how this doesn’t sound like male chauvinism and feminism today?

    Since that time, we have learned to trust one another but it is hard. I’ve learned from her how hard it is to follow without a clear lead and an agreed style of dance. The steps are what we control but the dance rely on us both. From that time, I have always thought that this is a great metaphor for relationship and submission that has only benefited our marriage.

    I say go for it Thabiti! The only downside to social dancing like this is when you become good at dancing (as a man), you feel bad so no to women who want a good dance. Now that I’m married, we stopped dancing for this reason. The sad thing is the only way to get better is dance with others. So as a Christian, it is a catch-22. Keep that in mind if you go and over-communicate with wife to avoid any jealousy.

  3. Emily says:

    This is such an unfortunate belief for a Christian network to be exporting around the world. Life is more complex than one dance… and there are different forms of dance where there isn’t a leader and a follower… and God forbid there are times when you rotate who leads what “dance”… The reality is that this ethic of one-sided submission (female) and one-sided dominion (male) is rooted in the slave culture of the ancient world. This is a harmful misuse of Scripture. The deeper message and trajectory of Scripture was not reinforcing of the “ladder of being” (that gave birth to both slavery and patriarchy) that saturated the ancient world view but rather to liberate people from oppressive structures that undermine the God-given human agency (dominion) of all of us as brothers and sisters, all of us created to dance the dance God has put in our hearts.

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Thabiti Anyabwile

Thabiti Anyabwile is a pastor for Anacostia River Church in southeast Washington, DC and a council member of The Gospel Coalition.

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