Know Your Place!

August 20, 2010

Last Friday, I threw in my two cents on a little ongoing debate about female pastors.  You can read it here if you missed it.  While I didn’t comment on whether women should be pastors, I commented on three reasons maybe women shouldn’t be pastors.

We got a lot of great comments.  But I wonder if some of you were holding back.  The comments seemed to be decidedly one sided, saying that women should be pastors.  This is despite the fact that the two biggest denominations in America (Catholics and Southern Baptists) do not allow women to be pastors.

Yes, very few, if any people were willing to go out on that limb and say, “Yeah, there’s something about being a pastor that men are just better suited for,” or even, “I’d just rather listen to a man’s smooth baritone voice rather than a woman’s smooth baritone voice.”

Maybe I have very progressive readers.  But maybe we just don’t like talking about gender roles any more.  That, of course, is why I’m here.  I think we’ve totally messed up the discussion about gender roles.  We oftentimes can’t talk honestly about it.  Here’s why I think that is.

Three Reasons We Can’t Talk About Gender Roles

No One Wants to Look Sexist

First of all, when I say “gender roles,” I don’t mean men being lumberjacks and women making sandwiches for said lumberjacks.  I just mean men and women working harmoniously the way we’re made to work. 

Today, it’s really hard to just have an honest talk about gender roles.  And God (who is now a woman, FYI) help you if you say that maybe men are better suited for certain jobs, or there’s some inherant difference between the sexes.  We’re at the point where just being a man or using the words “gender roles” is sexist.  Being called a sexist is just as bad as being called a racist or a homophobe.  They say that hell has no fury like a woman scorned.  Yep.

Somehow, like racism or homophobia, it seems only certain groups are capable of such things.  Of course, women cannot be sexist.  They can’t sexually harrass male coworkers either, apparently.  The Advocates for Human Rights defines harassment specifically as violating a woman’s rights, because obviously men aren’t human.  (Update in yo face: 30% of sexual harassment cases are against women.)  It’s not sexist for a television commercial to show a woman being the savior of her household while her husband is a drooling halfwit, incapable of basic household tasks, like using a paper towel, pulling his head out of the microwave, or forming complete sentences. 

We’ve Kind of Screwed Up Gender Roles

To be fair, Christianity has done a lot to help people misunderstand what the Bible says about men and women.  That whole “submission” and “head” thing kind of got abused a bit.

I think that’s why so many couples struggle.  Our minds have been poisoned against what the Bible might be really saying about men and women.  Women stop at that word “submission” and flip their lids, and men stop reading at “head” and start spraying testosterone all over their territory.  And what no one realizes is that if people did what they were supposed to do, everyone would get what they wanted.

If women deferred to their husbands, the men would feel respected and would get to be the leaders they want to be.  If men loved their wives the way Paul describes, they’d put their wives’ desires over their own, and she’d feel loved, and get what she wanted.  It’s a big cycle of two people putting the other’s desires above their own.  Plus, they’ll probably have more sex. 

But instead, women are afraid of being a “doormat,” and men are afraid of looking “whipped,” so we’ve kind of reaped what we’ve sown.  Men don’t put their wives first, because she just tries to control him, and women don’t submit to their husbands because he’s not worthy of submitting to.  Both partners try to control the other, so it falls apart.

Once in a while, my wife and I will be having a trivial disagreement, and I’ll bust her chops with the old, “I’m the man, and the Bible says you have to obey me.”  Then I let out a hearty laugh like a pirate.

We Can’t Make Gender Roles Look as Good as Everything Else

It’s no wonder when Christians don’t understand the Bible’s guidelines for gender roles, we’re not going to be able to make them look better than what the world is offering.  

Our culture has tried a lot of things to erase gender differences.  The first thing was to tell women to act more like men.  That was how you get to the top.  I think that’s why shoulder pads were invented…I’ll have to check on that when I’m done here.  Then, men who didn’t want to be sexists were told they should act more like women and “get in touch with their feminine side.”  I don’t even know which side is my feminine side.  Then women were told that all acts of sex were actually rape, and men were told that merely acknowledging women in public will now result in immediate castration.  Then women realized they don’t like men who act like women, and men realized they don’t like women they are scared of.

With that kind of competition, you’d think the simple acknowledgment that men and women are wonderfully different and have different roles would gain acceptance again.  But it hasn’t.  It just can’t get over that word “sexist.”

Plus, have you noticed how comical some people find it to get together with friends or coworkers and complain about their spouses?  No wonder so many people would rather shack up than get married, when half the married people split, and at least half the married ones disrespect their old ladies or idiot husbands behind their backs. 

Until we solve that, men and women aren’t going to have the best relationships in marriages, church, or society.

What’s your take on gender roles, sexism, feminism, or marriage?  If you’re married, have Paul’s recommendations worked for you?  What do we even mean by “gender roles” anyway?  What is a woman’s or a man’s place?  Don’t worry, no cries of sexism will be made.

34 responses to Know Your Place!

  1. i wrote this a few days ago…my take on the gender roles/sexism thing…

    http://tsholo.wordpress.com/2010/08/18/im-a-female-here-me-roar-or-not/

  2. You’ve touched on enough subjects here to write a Doctoral Dissertation. LOL IN essence I agree with you, but as you asked, we all know that intelligence doesn’t care if you are a man or a woman, so if a woman is blessed with intelligence and becomes a doctor, and her husband is a stay at home dad, is that a bad thing? I think not, in fact, I do not believe that cultural standards of one generation, say St. Paul’s, should apply to another generation. Was it not St. Paul who said, “in Christ there is no male nor female?” That sounds like an abolishing of all roles!

    The Bible is the Word of God, and I do not dispute that, but the writers could not have foreseen a time when the moon would be walked on and the very bones in our bodies could be seen in an x-ray. They were constrained by culture, just like we are. We need gender studies because they have taught us about our hidden agendas as males and as females.

    Perhaps it’s not gender roles so much as supporting roles. If I’m at home and you are at work, I’ll see to it you are cared for, but you must see to it that I am taken out and get time away from the children. That applies in male working, or female working.

  3. Yeah people today are so scared of being a sexist so I see the world erasing the very differences between a man and a woman. Ravi Zacharias made a really point. “Men have a particular physical strength over women for a reason and women have a particular charm and sensitivity for a reason.”

    I think you’re right that if married couples wouldn’t flip their lid at words like, “submit” and “head” we’d be in a lot better shape. For instance it says a wife should submit to her husband, well it’d be really really easy for her to do that when her husband is willing to die for her. And it’d be easy for a husband to die for his wife who submits to him. It’s a great love cycle.

    I’ll be honest, I only complain/vent to my dad in law about my wife. And I do that more in a sense of wanting advice, since he raised her, you know, he’s known her longer than I have. But I do my best in the office setting whenever someone complains about their spouse, I’ll whip out something like, “Yeah, my wife made this really awesome chicken dinner last night!” Or whatever. Just to get it away from that kind of thinking.

    And then I think about war. Would I really feel the safest if it was all women on the front lines and being part of the infantry? No I wouldn’t. Why? Because men, like I said earlier, are physically stronger than women.

    My friend made an awesome statement when we were talking about marriage and gender roles. We were talking about how our wives both cry. A lot. Just in their sensitive minds and all. But he said, “I think a married man and woman together make up the personality of God.” It made sense to me anyways.

    nicodemusatnite.blogspot.com

  4. Ephesians Chapter 5:22-46 are my actual wedding vows to my wife. That was 8 years and two children ago, and our household and marriage is just fine. Men are the God ordained leaders of their homes, BUT nobody is going to follow a leader who does not lead by example.

  5. Remember PromiseKeepers? They tried to get men to step up and take a leading role. Did they ever get flack for that! I thought it was a healthy move.

    I believe the Bible is true, but 80% of American Christians who believe in God say they trust their feelings and personal ideas over the Bible. I guess it would be interesting to see the divorce stats on folks that really believe the Bible is authoritative on this issue.

    I am married and my wife prefers that I lead – along with domestic support like taking out the garbage, mowing the lawn and clearing the table. She has her own ideas and ways of working. We discussed our differences before we got married, and we have a lot of opposites that work in our favor. She likes cleaning, I like messing up, she likes to load the dishwasher, I like to empty it. She hates vacuuming; I prefer it over cleaning the bathroom. Sure there are a few things that are annoying. She likes the cabinet doors open, I don’t like stitches, so I close them – stuff like that.

    I don’t really know what sexism is. I love my wife because she is a woman. She’s a great mom, and doesn’t mind a little rough housing. I like it when she wears dresses and things like that. She is a woman – a hard working one. She works part time on a farm, and I work in an office. We both love our work.

    At this point in the game, my needs are met with some time together for coffee before work, a date night with dinner; holding doors and all that romance stuff, an occasional weekend away and some special family vacations.

    I spend a lot of my time working at pleasing her. Recently I had a cancer scare, and we had the “talk.” I discovered that her dream of having a small horse farm was now a priority. We were going to wait for retirement. Well, we’re not. We’ve have been looking for a property over the last few weeks. She can have whatever we can afford.

    So Paul is right, love you wife by sacrificing everything for her, and she’ll be happy flowing with your direction.

    I believe that the role of the wife is like that of the Holy Spirit; if we just take time to listen, they’ll gently point us in the right direction without demanding things.

    My wife is the best thing that ever happened to me.

  6. I admit to writing a long response to the previous post about women as pastors, then losing my nerve and deleting it. I’m so used to getting torn apart for my beliefs at my rather liberal college.
    After growing up in a rather conservative environment in regards to gender roles, I became a self-professed raging feminist for about a year in college pretty much just to shock my parents. After a lot of Bible study, I realized that I actually *did* believe all that stuff about gender roles and patriarchy! Our wedding vows included promises of submission and obedience by me, and headship and Christ-like love by him.

    I think you’ve articulated quite well how having different roles in spiritual and family contexts does not mean that women are worth less than men. In fact, I think acknowledging the different purposes for which God created us allows us to reach our full potential in a way that attempting to do away with gender entirely does not.

    • Well said. As usual, people took the guidelines for gender roles in the Bible, which are quite difficult, and boiled them down to “men work, women have babies,” which isn’t nearly as difficult as mutual submission. All it does is create unnecessary frustration.

  7. http://organizedeveryday.blogspot.com/2010/08/women-living-well.html

    This blog posted a vid yesterday from Rachel Ray about “1950s Wives.” I watched the whole clip. I’m glad it works for them, but i’m equally glad that we have more choices these days. Rather than rigid roles, i really appreciate that my husband is willing to help me in the house & i don’t feel (as much of) a failure by not being able to live up to the standard of “this is what the wife does & this is what the husband does.”

    The best we ever read about marriage is “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work: A Practical Guide from the Country’s Foremost Relationship Expert” by John M. Gottman. He is a university professor & they did years & years of research with couples. He found that he could tell in a short time (minutes) which couples would fail. He called the problem “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” – criticism, contempt, defensiveness, & stonewalling. When he saw these things in a relationship, he knew that they were on the downhill slide. (His book also gives lots of information about bringing back the spark & strengthening your relationship.)

    It seems to me that, in general, gifts do tend to fall in certain patterns. Men & women are different, many studies have shown this to be true. Brain function processing is different, & even at a young age, girl children & boy children will respond differently. I think that men & women – a husband & wife in a marriage – do the best if they recognize their gifts & use them to build the relationship. For some, that would be “traditional” gender roles, but that won’t work as well for others.

    In our house, i actually get to hold the remote 90% of the time. It is because i’m more impatient with commercials & respond much more quickly to skipping over them than does my husband, Duane. This doesn’t seem to bother him at all. To some, this is just not natural. The man is SUPPOSE to have that remote!

    In a similar manner, i think that marriages work best when the two aren’t vying for control, but allow each to work from their gifts & from both strengths & weaknesses. I defer to my husband in areas where i know he has the best knowledge, experience, & expertise. I try to step in in areas of weakness. I believe he does the same for me. (Of course, we do have the problem where our weaknesses tend to fall in the same area, & it is a struggle – not contention, but struggle – to handle those areas.) I haven’t found it very effective to try to defer to his “headship” in areas where he doesn’t have a strong opinion. We don’t seem to follow traditional American gender roles much, but this works very well for us. I’m not sure i see it as gender differences so much as individual differences.

    The term “gender differences” has come to have a negative response from me (& much of society) because it has often been used to try to put someone in a role where they don’t feel they belong or are very uncomfortable. But i think that happens because those roles have often been a rigid, predetermined something that doesn’t take into account the person’s personality or gifts.

  8. Taking the Bible literally is as dangerous as not taking it at all.

  9. There are absolutely huge differences between the sexes. In fact, if you haven’t read “Why Gender Matters” by Dr. Sax… you need to do that. Like, right now.

    Don’t worry. I’ll wait…

    Done?

    Good.

    See, as Dr. Sax demonstrates so well, the differences in gender–when properly understood–absolutely point to male and female strengths and weaknesses… but those weaknesses are often because of a misunderstanding or missed application of strengths.

    I also completely agree that what Scripture talks about is actually a wonderful reciprocal system of ultimately blessing each other and not this method of “keeping the other down.” …though, my wife and I do joke about that because I won’t get her a car [smile].

    As for pastors and all that… well… I have ideas. I even know where most of them came from [smile]. But, for fear of being misunderstood–and with a realization that God likes to mess with established rules while still maintaining them in general–I’m not going to go into all that hear.

    Yep: Even here I don’t feel comfortable talking directly about gender roles [smile].

    ~Luke

  10. Well, I see your point about how some women have taken it too far (“all acts of sex were actually rape”) and some men believe that “that merely acknowledging women in public will now result in immediate castration,” but I think that’s a small minority.

    From a female point of view who has a really, really, did I mention REALLY hard time with the term submission, I can attest that it comes from a place of fear. Men who advocate Biblical roles have been known to abuse them. Women who are told to submit have often been on the end of that. When you add the fact that men are physically stronger and can harm a woman much more easily than a woman can harm a man, it makes sense that a lot of women jump at the mention of submission.

    I came from a past where women and kids were possessions of the man and the man used that “authority” to inflict a lot of harm. So, men, bear that in mind when you wonder why women are slow to warm to the idea.

    • Absolutely right. It’s no wonder that femimism went so far as to call all sex rape when it was a reaction against using gender roles as a way to keep women and children in their “places.” Men and women are both fallen creatures with a penchant for controlling the other, given the opportunity, I feel.

  11. In college (as an aerospace engineering major), I took a class called “Women in Classical Antiquity” (don’t judge – it fulfilled like three separate CORE requirements). It was a relatively interesting class, certainly worth all the requirements it fulfilled!

    But occasionally the teacher would have us split up into groups and discuss things. I don’t remember the question/topic we were supposed to discuss on this particular day, but somehow we got to talking about gender roles within a family (me and two other ladies, one of whom was heavily pierced and likely playing for another team – both of them were liberal arts majors, I believe). I, the female engineer (who said only boys play with legos?) just matter-of-fact-ly stated how it was absolutely appropriate for men and women to have different roles within a family. Pierced-girl pretty much did a spit take and responded with a shocked “WHAT?!” So I explained, that just like in the military (or even in the classroom), there are hierarchies in place in order to make things work smoothly. That doesn’t make the people under command (or the students) any less important, it just means that they have a different role. But if EVERYONE were in charge, there would be chaos.

    We didn’t have much discussion time after that, but both girls were quiet. I don’t know if they were amazed at my wise & rational thinking or just considered me to be so wildly wrong that they didn’t even know where to start.

  12. The one thing I walk away with from all this: we are all screwed up. The second thing is, I like what you said about more sex…

    (my brain is too hazy to engage in this level of debate this morning)

  13. First, 100 points for “It’s not sexist for a television commercial to show a woman being the savior of her household while her husband is a drooling halfwit, incapable of basic household tasks, like using a paper towel, pulling his head out of the microwave, or forming complete sentences.” Big laughs on that one.

    I love the winsome way you addressed this touchy subject. I also love that you laugh like a pirate when you demand obedience from your wife. If you ask me, humor ranks right up there with love and respect in a healthy marriage.

    As a woman, I’m happy to go on record as one who thinks you’d have to be a twit not to recognize inherent gender differences between men and women, and I don’t just mean their biology. I also believe scripture places men in leadership in the church and in their homes. This can cause a lot of suffering at times (for all the reasons you pointed out), because humans are fallible and selfish and even occasionally stupid, but God has been making it work since the first husband wimped out in the garden, and He still makes it work today. The wife or female church member who finds herself under the authority of a foolish man has direct access to the throne of grace. Redemption shines brightest when we believe God and watch Him do what He’s promised instead of taking matters into our own hands.

    So there you go. As for mutual submission, respect, and placing the other person’s desires above one’s own, I’ve been married for 31 years to a man who could be the poster child for these qualities. At least, he could be now. There were certainly rough patches in our story, but ultimately navigating those together made us stronger and deepened our love. The first and most important lesson I learned as a young bride was to pray for my husband, and it wasn’t just a sweet, godly gesture. If I was going to have to submit to this man, I wanted to know he was following Christ and receiving his marching orders from Him. I’m not by nature submissive or passive, and I know I haven’t always made his leadership role easy, but by God’s grace we’ve survived and flourished. I have no doubt a big part of that success is due to his understanding that leadership doesn’t mean control or micromanagement. It involves wisdom, trust, and delegation. For example, I handle all our finances and am free to make a lot of money-related decisions, because he realizes I’m frugal and better with numbers, and he has the sense to trust me.

    Christ entrusted His bride with unbelievable responsibilities (and, at times, we probably all look at the church and scratch our heads over it). If He, in His perfect wisdom, can do that, men would do well to follow suit, and women would realize having a leader isn’t the same thing as being suppressed.

    Great topic, Matt. I appreciate your willingness to tread into controversial waters, and I love your ability to do so with humility and humor. Thanks.

    • Thanks for motioning prayer. As I read you comment, one can clearly see that godly leadership is not controlling everything. It is working as a team to accomplish the same goal for the benefit of those involved, recognizing weaknesses and strengths, preferring one over the other, resolving conflict, and having a laugh at the expense of our own faults.

      Now if we could get the church to function like that. ;o)

    • Mega points just for using the word ‘twit!’ Oh, and a good point too :)

  14. I’m one of those sexist/old-fashioned/stuck-in-the-second-century kinda guys (though I don’t like those words, so I’ll say I’m a complimentarian). Aside from the fact that it’d just feel weird listening to a woman preach (I used to be So. Baptist and now I go to a doctrinally-conservative/practically-liberal reformed church), I think that the Bible is clear about women being leaders of the church. I don’t buy it when people say that those sections are cultural and outdated in our progressive, 21st Century world today. In 1 Timothy 2:13-14, Paul traces the origins for his own complimentarianistic view back to Adam and Eve. To me, that makes it seem like a general human thing, not a cultural thing.

    Call me sexist, but that’s what I see in the Scriptures. I am not saying that women are lesser than men. Different roles do not in any way mean different value. That’s like the eye saying to the hand, “We don’t need you.” That’s ludicrous.

    It seems there are a lot of egalitarians here, so I’ll ask: how do you explain 1 Timothy 2:13-14? I’m asking out of curiosity, not arrogance or I’m-right-you’re-wrongness. (I may sound arrogant, but teh intarwebz don’t capture my tone. I’m actually quite awesome if you’ve met me in real life.)

  15. Thought provoking…nice post.

  16. I’m not completely sure how I feel about Woman as pastors, but THIS I do know, from experience… the churches where I have been that have several female pastors on staff- deal more with issues such as gossip, back stabbing, division… I know this can happen anywhere… but this is my observation.

  17. I promised 21 years ago to ‘love, honor, respect and obey’ my husband. I had an aunt not long ago still in disbelief over the ‘O’ word! But I submit, he leads, we love. We have issues we have to work through, but if it comes down to the crunch, he’s the one who has to front up to God and so the buck stops with him. Works for us.

  18. My husband takes his end of it seriously: to love me as Christ loves the Church. I see that Bob actually has the tougher end of the deal, and he admirably rises to the occasion. First of all, he knows that I don’t mind deferring to him, but I need to be heard out and have my opinions taken seriously. I can deal not having my way, but not with not having my say.
    When two people disagree, someone has to defer in order to maintain peace. Since I know my husband loves me and looks out for my good, I can defer, even if I think another direction should be taken. My peace of mind is important to him, though, and he will look for a way that I can have some.
    If I was married to the sort of man who would not hear me out, I would not be able to submit. I would seethe and fume. But he works on being the sort of husband Paul talks about, so I try to be the wifely complement.
    I did not respond at all to your question about women pastors. I am Catholic, and while I respect and understand the hierarchy’s position on women’s ordination, I don’t want to in any way be disrespectful to women of other denominations who have become pastors and are doing a fine job.
    The Catholic position, btw way, is that Jesus chose 12 male apostles who were ordained at the Last Supper. We can’t ordain women because Jesus didn’t, for whatever the reason. I see my Church’s point. I could also see the point of someone who pointed out other things Jesus didn’t do (use a computer, drive, talk on the phone….), but see it as different, and cannot really explain why. I guess I just felt that since I can’t explain why, I had no business weighing in on the issue, but when you mentioned Catholics in your post, I figured it was no fair for me to just sit back and hide.

  19. I loved the way you explained submission, especially the ending.

    The way my former pastor, who is a male explained the topic of submission to a room full of women of which I was included, was that submission does not involve inequality. In other words, wives don’t have to submit because they are inferior. They, as equals to men, however, need to let the man make the final decision because SOMEONE has to be a leader and God decided that men were to be the leaders. It makes sense to me and doesn’t hurt my tender sense of self worth.

    Submission is very hard. It seems hardest on the dumbest things, like choosing a child’s name or implementing a plan to keep the kids from covering the carpet with toys that does NOT involve getting rid of all their toys. When I have submitted, however, like on the toy issue, my husband eventually realized that his plan wasn’t working and decided to try my idea. There have also been many times when I have submitted and realized that his way was better.

    Gender roles: Women were created to be “helpmeets” to men. I like the KJV word best because “meet” to me implies equality. It also is a very generic word and means that anything we do to help our husbands means we are fulfilling our roles. One woman I know is better at handywork than her husband and ends up doing a lot of the “fixit” roles around the house. But she worked it out with her husband so to make sure that she wasn’t trampling his male identity. I hate dirt, my husband hates clutter. Together, we are a great team. He has taught me how to be organized and I have taught him the blessing of a clean house

    BTW, before I became a homeschooling mom, I was a witness to an incident involving a woman sexually harassing a guy at work. It hadn’t been the first time he had complained about her behavior, so she was fired.

  20. Not only do people not want to look sexist, but as a woman you don’t want to come off as naive and anti-other women. That’s just awkward. Personally, I’m pro female pastors. But it seems like whenever a woman expresses the opposite opinion, other women just kind of pity her and assumes she’s oppressed or brain washed.

    Here’s a real life example that doesn’t involve religion but might be relevant. Healthcare is one field that has recently been adjusting to a realignment of gender stereotypes. Over half of first year med students are women. According to studies, female doctors spend an average of 5 minutes more with patients than male doctors. Some people are saying that women are just BETTER doctors overall, because we’re more compassionate and all that jazz. However, most female physicians polled said they plan to retire by age 55 and many begin working part-time earlier in life, which can cause issues down the road. There’s even been some reverse sexism in medicine. My friend was actually refused for his OBGYN rotation at one hospital in TN this year because he’s a guy; people are assuming lately that men have no business being an OB. (This probably stems from patients requesting female doctors. So maybe the free market decides these things in medicine?)

    The point being that it was a big deal when women first became doctors. People protested, and some still do. But obviously some are very gifted at what they do. But there are still problems that arise simply because women are women and have different plans in life than some of their male colleagues regarding children and family obligations. I think Christianity will have a similar experience with female clergy. They’ll see that women are very talented at pastoring, but they might run into some issues along the way. Only time will tell.

    But I also wouldn’t count on Catholics ordaining women any time soon. I don’t know as much about Baptists, so I’m not sure what’s going on there.

  21. I apologize in advance… this will likely be a long comment….

    Wasn’t Paul trained in part by Priscilla (a woman) and her husband, Aquila? At the very least, it is clear they were both important in correcting Apollos in some areas. So, at least as a husband and wife pair, a woman can be used to instruct or lead a man. If it is true that they helped train up Paul, it makes you wonder if the experience was so bad he made the comment that he doesn’t allow women to teach a man…. hah hah hah. 😉

    As to the submit/head of the house issue…. I agree with the mutual submission that was mentioned…. and also that if men would lead and love their wives as the church, then wives would submit to their leadership, endless cycle. My husband and I are on the same page with this….that the husband does lead and the wife submit…but that this “submit” is taken too far in some circles. We have been part of a group of believers that seemed to think that submit meant that the wives never got to leave the house (because then the husband would have to babysit his own kids), they could talk to them like servants (“get me a sandwich woman”) and that they didn’t have to listen to any of their ideas. When one the husbands was physically abusive, it was his wife’s fault, because she had interests outside of the house (teaching exercise classes at the Y….). Sigh. It concerns me that, until we start understanding what ‘submit’ and ‘head’ really mean, these passages will just be abused.

    Sidenote: When God told Eve that as she would yearn for her husband but he would rule over her, that was part of the curse. If we are redeemed by Christ, aren’t we free from that?

    My husband treats me like I’m the best thing to ever grace this earth, despite being intimately aware of my numerous faults…. so I know that if he decised to make a decision that goes against my advise and council, he truly believes it’s in my best interest.

    In our 8 years of marriage, there is only one time when my husband had to pull the “head of household” (HoH)card. Generally speaking, in most areas we weren’t in complete agreement, one of us felt much more strongly about the issue, so the other would defer to that one, regardless of gender. The aforementioned one time he pulled the HoH card was actually this summer, and it involved leaving the ministry we were apart of for the last 7 years and moving to another part of the country. Fortunately, shortly after the decision was made, I realized he was correct and it was the right thing to do. I also realized I was very glad that I didn’t have to be the one to make the decision. Sometimes it is a relief not to be the one responsible for the final word. I can readily admit that.

  22. I’ll point out that in my own observation (so clearly this is not going to represent 100% of people, but a definite portion):

    men look up to other men, and from what i understand they tend to gravitate to strong male leaders. Most women I know do not have a problem with male leadership (unless they feel it is being abused)

    While some men may feel comfortable working under female leadership as long as that woman is leading appropriately,
    some (perhaps a majority) of women are inherently competitive; instead of looking up to female leadership, we feel threatened by it (myself included, unfortunately) and are immediately critical. Also, the prettier the woman the less she is trusted. (this is not rational thinking, mind you. Pretty women are just as capable as everyone else, it is just the way they are recieved that is different.)

    For example, Sarah Palin is way too pretty to be Vice President. Do a google image search and look at how many photoshopped pictures there are of her with massive cleavage or in a bikini. Then do a search of Hillary Clinton and notice no one has photoshopped her into a bikini. Also check out Michelle Obama, who is exalted for being a beautiful, intelligent, supportive wife and see that while she shows cleavage, it’s not photoshopped and she isn’t ripped apart for it. She is allowed to be attractive AND have influence.

  23. It sounds like none of the women in your life have been raped, at least that you know of, or you wouldn’t be so smug and flippant with a remark like, “then women were told that all acts of sex were actually rape.” I hope you’ll never have an occassion to regret that statement, but I pray you’ll have the discernment to regret and repent from that attitude, anyway.

    Which brings me, I guess, to something you left out, about why it’s so difficult to discuss “gender roles,” and that’s the millennia of violent dominance perpetuated by patriarchal hegemony, men on women. Do you realize that the 19th Amendment is only 90 years old!? I know people older than that! There’s a lot more to it than the epistles of Paul and third-wave feminism.

    • So I’ve been thinking (angrily) about this post since I read it, and it dawned on me that you believe that feminists or feminism or somebody, somewhere, actually says or has said that “all sex is rape.” So, I Googled that, and I suggest you do the same. The best I can tell is that this is a scare tactic used to discredit feminism.

    • A public apology to Matt, with whom I still disagree on this issue, but for whom I now have genuine respect. I’m sorry for assuming the worst regarding your intentions, Matt.

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