Friday, April 03, 2009

practical submission

What exactly do people mean by complementarian and hierarchical marriages? This has been hacked to death theoretically. But it is pretty simple to find a practical guide to this lifestyle these days. I have found two recently.

First, on Boundless, in this post, the implication is that the husband decides -
  • how many children the wife bears
  • whether to home school
  • whether the wife works
  • what church they attend
  • where they live
  • what house to buy
  • how to invest
  • what kind of medical treatment a dying child should have
  • and so on
Mark Driscoll confirms most things on this list in his sermon on marriage and women. Naturally it isn't much of a marriage if the wife makes all these decisions on her own either. That is no better. There has to be mutual responsibility and give and take.

I don't think that the church uses scripture in any way to say that these decisions belong to the wife alone. So, in my view, within the Christian community, there are only two major positions. Either option one, these things need to be decided by mutually respectful agreement; or option two, the husband has the right to override the wife and make the decision by himself. I don't see a third major option.

So, my interest in this is how the Bible is being used to support option two, where the husband has "final say."

If there were a teaching which made the wife supreme over the husband, and if it were supported by the Bible, then I would be concerned about that too. I understand the difficulty for husbands when the reproductive capacity of their wife is simply denied them, that is, if she refuses sexual relations, refuses to have children although this was previously a mutual understanding, or she refuses to live with her husband. In these cases, I believe it is better to divorce. That's just my opinion. But I don't think a lifetime of suffering for either husband or wife is God-honouring.

In this summary, I view the complementarian marriage, the hierarchical marriage and the traditional marriage as variations on a theme. I am not concerned about how many chldren a family have, whether they home school, or whether the wife works. The concern is about who has the right to make these decisions.

There is more and more on the internet on this issue all the time. I'll mention a few who write on this issue.

Waneta Dawn
Kathryn Joyce
Quivering Daughters
No longer quivering
Sovereign Grace Survivors
Because It Matters
Christian Coalition against Domestic Abuse

In addition to this there is the "leaving the fold" phenomenon as Christians simply move from faith to agnosticism. There is some thoughtful writing here that I will link to in future.

The way I see my part is that I wish to show how the arguments for a hierarchical marriage are constructed by fallible humans by misusing both scripture texts and modern scientific research. I do not believe that either one of these should be used to influence or coerce a woman into accepting subordination.


Kate Johnson said...

leaving the fold is more common than most people would believe. When I worked for a secular agency and did speaking engagements and seminars in various houses of worship (including non-Christian) I was saddened by the number of women in the non-Christian churches who would tell me they used to attend Christian churches... until they came forward about being abused and were told to submit more and that they had no recourse but to stay and try to be a better wife. So they left their abusive situations... and their churches... to find a place to feel accepted and to belong. They found them OUTSIDE the Christian church. How sad is that? It was a huge impetus for doing what I am doing now with CCADA. THIS MUST CHANGE and I believe God's heart is broken and grieved by such behavior.

Gem said...

Thank you, Sue.

It helps so much to be able to go online and meet people who totally understand the bondage of embracing those teachings (that list from Boundless and Driscoll). I lived it, and you are right- a wife's voice must be respected when it comes to decisions which will change her life and that of the children.

Mara Reid said...

I am also greatly saddened by the exodus from the church caused by stirring in false, bitter doctines of men into the pure living water that Jesus wants to give both men and women.

Just saddened.

And huge segments of the church have their heads in the sand and refuse to see.
They continue to blame feminism when it is really the opposite that is troubling the church.