I’ve never been a fan of internet lists that claim to give bullet pointed advice. I find them too defiant, too rooted in absolute truths and untruths. I learned several years ago the world is full of gray and anything that appears in black and white is almost always being viewed through a filter of life experience. I used to hate it. But then Sarah Bessey lent her voice to my feelings when I read how she found peace when she learned to live in the tension, in the moment when the best answer is sometimes “I don’t know for sure” and well, ever since then I’ve been ok with the gray.
Despite my disdain for lists, I read them occasionally, particularly the ones that make their rounds on Facebook. Just last week, I read “10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry” and it flooded me with emotions. (Go read it before you continue if you haven’t.)
I was surprised to find myself represented in his list, a few times.
I was shocked that someone would say “Scripture informs us that God created man first chronologically for the sake of authority!” and not mean it satirically.
I was sad to fine so many women agreeing with him in the comments (at first.)
I was disheartened to find his use of scripture to support his ideas so base. The writer went to seminary yet seems to have little regard for the context in which many of “those verses” are written.
And then I laughed and read it to a few friends (because laughter is how I initially handle uncomfortable emotions.)
Part of the reason it makes me so uncomfortable is because I love a lot of people who agree with him and to publicly come out and say – I THINK THIS IS SO WRONG – it makes my stomach drop and tears form in my eyes and I think “what if I can’t say what I mean to say and I ruin the best chance I’ve got to explain myself?”
It’s much easier to read this list to friends who I know will agree so we can poke fun at it than it is to write this and say I believe that man AND woman were created in the image of God and I want us to be equal, not the same, but equal in life, in church, in home and in the world.
To put it simply, I disagree with this blog post on a fundamental level. The author, Stephen Kim, subscribes to a theory of partnership called complementarianism and I, well I don’t. It is this belief that the many of his points stem from and the reason I had such a visceral reaction to his post.
Here’s the thing, if we expect women in our society to be subject to any man, we place them in a category where they are also subject to a multitude of abuses. We cannot expect to raise women who are strong willed and confident in life and who are also expected to bend to their husband’s will simply because he’s a man. Those two personalities cannot coexist. You sacrifice one for the other.
In fact, in a follow up blog post to this one, Dr Kim speaks on what the purpose of marriage is and mentions how a wife should not deny her husband sex and even goes as far to say if a woman is “not in the mood” she should “give it to him anyway.” No still means no, even when you’re married and a man who respects his wife as a person should acknowledge that. The idea that a man is owed sex by his wife and that a woman should perform when called upon is a prime example of the different kinds of abuse the subjugation of women can cause.
I will not follow my (theoretical) future husband blindly, instead I may choose to follow him in support because I love him, because we agreed to do this thing called life together. I would expect him to do the same for me. Maybe we will take risks, or live comfortably in a cute suburban house, but whatever we may do we will do together, as a team.
Do you see the difference?
In the same way that I believe God bestowed us each with the free will to choose him, I believe he expects us, and asks of us, to choose one another. To sacrifice a piece of yourself (or your ideal life) for someone you love – whether that’s your husband, your wife, your child or your friend.
The idea of free will and choice is extremely important. An action born of obligation does not yield the same result as one made by free will. And if you could choose what kind of actions you inspired in your partner, wouldn’t you want them to act because they love and respect you, not because they feel as if they have to?
In addition,inviting discussion and debate into your home is not an attempt to “usurp his authority” rather it is a valuable tool to deepen your relationship and to learn to appreciate not just what makes you alike, but what makes you different. To love someone is to learn to compromise.
I will never be “subject and obedient” to any man simply because he is a man. I will accept and respect the leadership of men (and women) who are more knowledgeable than me, who have more experience and desire for me to learn from them. There are a handful of people in my life, male and female, who I would not question if they asked something of me – but this is obedience born of love, of free will, not of obligation. There is no growth in a relationship where all power moves in one direction, it is in the ebb and flow that we find the ability to honor one another.
And in case you were wondering, I’m a feminist “older woman” who sometimes shows off my shoulder tattoo with immodest dress, isn’t quite ready for children, and has a touch of wander-lust. 😉
Interested in learning about egalitarian beliefs? Or strong women in the Bible? Go visit the Junia Project.