I’ll never forget the day I bought my first washer and dryer.
I was standing in Best Buy talking prices with a man the size of an NFL linebacker. He was enormous, and he seemed pretty tough too. He looked more like a bouncer than a washing machine salesman.
After I had chosen my washer and dryer and began the purchasing process, the salesman needed to take down my information. “First name?” he asked. “Sharon.” “Last name?” “Hodde.”
Upon hearing my last name, the humongous, 250 pound beast of a man looked up at me somewhat quizzically and paused for a moment. Then, out of nowhere, his face broke into a huge smile as he produced a weirdly high pitched giggle.
“Tehehehehe! Your last name is hottie???”
That’s right, for those of you who have never heard my last name pronounced, it sounds like “hottie.” And I have similar experiences to the one just described almost every single day of my life.
Now I’ve gotta admit that I do like my last name. There was a brief stint in elementary school when I hated it–I got tired of hearing the chant, “Sharon Hodde on a potty!”–but after that phase subsided I began to like the quirkiness of it. It’s an instant ice breaker.
I also feel like I’ve carved out an identity with that name. My name appears on two degrees from Duke University, and it appears on numerous articles and devotions that I’ve authored. I am proud of my name and the reputation I have shaped for it.
But even in spite of all these things, I will be changing my name soon. When I get married, I will take on my fiancé’s last name, a practice that is becoming less and less common in the American professional world. Many women who have been single for awhile and have established careers with their maiden names are reluctant to give them up. It’s a way of holding onto their identities and the accomplishments associated with their names.
I can sympathize with that. Sometimes I feel the same way.
But in light of this trend I wanted to write about why I AM going to change my name. You see, I am not doing it for the sake of tradition but for the sake of my faith. There are 2 reasons why I feel led to take my fiancé’s last name, one is Scriptural and the other is theological:
1. Scriptural: In the very first picture of marriage, Eve takes Adam’s name.
In Genesis 2:23 Adam gives Eve the name of “woman.” In Hebrew, this word is a derivation of the word “man.” The word for “man” in Hebrew is “ish” and the word for woman in Hebrew is “ishah.” Upon giving this name, Adam explains the reason behind it: man and woman will join together and become one. The shared name is symbolic of this new union.
That said, I am taking my fiancé’s name because of the example set for us in Scripture and the meaning that it holds. We take the same name because we are becoming one. I take his name because I am coming under his protection and his leadership, just as Eve did with Adam.
2. Theological: Marriage reflects the relationship between Christ and the Church–a unity reflected in Spirit and in name.
Ephesians 5:25 instructs husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. This is a model for married couples. In the same way that a relationship with Christ means an entirely new identity for a believer, an identity that involves taking on the name of Christ, we do the same in marriage. When a woman marries a man, she forsakes her previous identity and becomes one with him.
This does not mean that a woman’s individual personality and interests must disappear, or that she must adopt a bland, cookie-cutter identiy, but it does mean that she thinks about herself differently. Her interests are her husband’s interests, her money is her husband’s money, her time is her husband’s time, and her body is her husband’s body. You’re not just looking out for yourself alone anymore.
What does all of this have to do with the name change? Think about it this way–If you profess Christ in church or when you’re alone in prayer but refuse to be associated with his name in public, then you aren’t fully surrendered to him, are you? You can’t claim to be united with Jesus in spirit if you’re unwilling to be associated with his name in public.
That is why I want to take on my fiancé’s name. Of course there are other ways of reflecting the unity you have with your spouse, such as wearing a wedding ring, but I personally think that one of the best ways to publicly profess my new identity and unity in marriage comes in taking his name.
Again, this does not mean that a woman’s identity should disappear. I am not advocating that at all. But it does mean that we must stamp out any spirit of self-interested independence that would thwart our unity with our husbands, as well as with Christ.
It is for those reasons that I will joyfully be taking on a new name 7 months from now!
(And for the record, my new name will be Sharon Hodde Miller, which works out because I my fiancé is already a “hottie” Miller) 🙂