A Former Feminist on the Fall of Men

The little girl was crying.

She’d been sitting beside her grandma in church but when she turned sad her grandfather scooped her up, a big burly man who barely fit in the pew, and he held her so tender and she leaned her head against his chest and I broke, right there in my chair in the back.

We were singing songs about our Heavenly Father and there’s something about a strong man being a haven for his family. There’s something incredibly beautiful, and rare, about it.

via reckless youth on instagram

The other day our four-year-old son turned to Trent and said, “When I grow up, I want to be big and strong just like you, Daddy, so I can make nice suppers.”

Trent asked me later, “Why wouldn’t he say something like, ‘So I can cut firewood like you Daddy’?” He was laughing, but I understood.

Because it’s the paradox the hurting world is longing for.

A man who knows who he is, and is still willing to serve.

A man who knows the role he’s been given, to protect, to fight for his daughters and sons and wife, to submit to Christ as Jesus submitted to his father, and to provide in a hard-working, selfless kind of way.

A Jesus in the flesh, who both overthrew tables with confidence, and bent down low to wash his disciples’ feet.

It’s called “Sanftmut” in German:  Mut means courage, and Sanft means gentle. So together, it’s the courage to be gentle.

We as women long for both. We long for the man who will take care of us, but not abuse that role. Who will cherish us, not hurt us.

And the church longs for it too.

Over the past few decades there’s been a wind of change that has blown masculinity away. It’s calling manly men wrong. It’s saying men should become like women, and women like men, and kids are confused about their gender and sexuality is a question mark.

Families are broken; there have never been more single mothers and homeless children and fathers are absent from the pews and from their homes, because they’re confused. There’s no place for them anymore.

Yes, patriarchy has hurt countless women and there’s absolutely no excuse for that. And I know there continues to be horrendous situations of abuse, and we are sinful people.

I myself have never been in an abusive relationship, so I cannot speak to those who are, except to say, Get out, honey, and your kids too–take care of yourself, and know I am here for you.

But for the rest of us who are not in abusive relationships, but perhaps have Daddy issues or other wounds, the answer, my friends, is not to rise up and strip men of their calling to lead, but to bow down low and ask God to redeem us as a people.

It’s no secret that I am a former feminist who wrote a very controversial post last spring on servanthood, and even though I never wanted to broach the topic ever again, I felt recently that I needed to: because my heart longs for women to know their true identity as Abba’s daughters, and the PEACE that comes with it, the contentment, which in turn, transforms our families.

God made us male and female and he has a beautiful vision of what those genders can look like. But we’re so busy trying to fix what’s been broken that we’re not letting him work through the brokenness. We’re not giving the Father the platform. 

And our men are hurting. Our boys and girls are hurting. We as women are hurting and our homes are divided because there are two leaders.

The Bible says there is strength in weakness. There is power in being gentle. There is divinity in being a servant. The last shall be first. The first shall be last.

via tumblr

According to Scripture, we as women, are responsible for helping our men discover their full identity in Christ–for believing in them, encouraging them, speaking highly of them in public and in front of our children, praying for them, and respecting what they have to say.

Our men are responsible for taking care of us as Jesus took care of the church. Fighting for their children, providing for their families, praying over their homes and washing their wives’ feet.

And together, we as parents form a church for our children. 

A holy gathering place, where family becomes God’s kingdom, here on earth.


(I know this is not a popular topic. But please, let’s keep the conversation in the comments civil, friends? Thank you… Love, e.)

**Please note, there will be no #imperfectprose link-up this week.**









90 Comments

  1. Who is stripping men of their calling? Why does women asking to lead mean that men can’t? Why is it either/or? Why must there be “two leaders in the home” rather than the “blessed alliance” as Caroline Custis James has so beautifully described in her writing?

    I think when we believe that men are being stripped of calling or cannot lead because women are, we don’t understand God’s vision for both men and women in the home, church, and world. We need bigger imaginations.

    Reply
    • I agree wholeheartedly with this, aprilkarli. I think Jesus wants both to be servants, as well as both to be leaders. Both to submit. It saddens me greatly that Christians are so terribly divided about this. I’m so grateful that we are in a church that welcomes women pastors, and that my daughter has had examples of both men and women who love, lead, and serve. I want her to know that she can do whatever it is God is calling her to do!

      Reply
    • For some reason men will let women lead when they are willing able and wanting to. Perhaps if women would sometimes be willing to step down from a leadership role the right man at the right time will fill that position that perhaps needed to be filled by a man anyway.
      - JDM, a man who is “just sayin’ “

      Reply
    • I totally agree with you, April.

      Reply
    • Hi April, Everything I wrote comes straight from Scripture, from Ephesians, where it says in chapter 5, verses 22-24 (and trust me, this will not be a popular response, but it’s right out of the Bible): “Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now AS THE CHURCH SUBMITS TO CHRIST (capitalized for emphasis), so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” I believe that as we, as a church, submit to Christ–uplifting his name, respecting and honoring him, seeking what he thinks is best and being willing to stand up for him in public and in front of our children, as well as being willing to die to our own “desires” so that we can better serve our families (and Christ) is what God has called us to do as wives. It’s gender specific, because this is what God has asked wives to do. As far as husbands, he asks them to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27) Truly, husbands have the harder job! :) But its all laid out in scripture, and some people will tell you these verses are dated. But it stems from the first chapters of Genesis when God made woman to be a helper for Adam, even before the curse. When the curse happened, man became ruler of woman, and a woman’s desire became for her husband, but Jesus came to redeem that curse–and Ephesians 5 describes what that redemption looks like: a beautiful, holy, humble union, in which no one rules, and both submit–the wife to the husband, and the husband, to Jesus.

      Reply
    • “Ephesians 5 describes what that redemption looks like: a beautiful, holy, humble union, in which no one rules, and both submit–the wife to the husband, and the husband, to Jesus.”

      How can you say that no one rules in this picture? Everything that you believe clearly puts the husband in the role of ruler. A benevolent ruler is still a ruler. If wives are supposed to submit to husbands in everything, but husbands have no such obligation to ever submit to their wives in anything, then obviously the husband is the ruler. It’s a very clear and uneven hierarchy and painting it as anything other than that is dishonest. If this is how you interpret the scriptures, and it works for your relationship, then fine. But please don’t act like it’s feasible for all people, because it isn’t. It really, really isn’t.

      Also, the way you describe it makes it sound like the husband is the mediator between God/Jesus and the wife. Does the wife have no obligation to submit to Jesus? Does Jesus not speak directly to her? Or does she have to go through her husband? That’s a very dangerous message to send to women. I think it can and often does lead women to doubt themselves and their spiritual gifts and think of themselves as being less connected to God than men. It also puts women in a very vulnerable position..Husbands are human. Even the best, most loving and self-sacrificing husband in the world is still a flawed human being who, intentionally are not, has the ability to hurt those he loves. Submitting to Jesus is one thing because Jesus is God and therefore perfect. But submitting to fallible human males? That’s a whoooole other story. And that narrative is precisely why so many women the church continue to be abused. Husband are people. They are not God.

      Reply
    • I appreciate your reply, Emily. I understand your interpretation of Eph 5, and have studied the scriptures about headship & submission quite a lot, but I disagree with you.

      More important to me is that you didn’t answer my question: Who is stripping men of their calling? Who is saying that if women lead men are no longer able to?

      I simply don’t see it as an either/or situation. I see women and men leading together in a blessed alliance.

      It seems your post is responding or reacting to someone or something. Who or what is it? Feminists? What feminists? I don’t know any feminists who want to strip men of their calling. I don’t know women who want to “hurt men.” I don’t know women who don’t want their fathers/husbands/brothers/sons/uncles/friends to discover their full identity in Christ. The feminists I know do pray for the men in their life, they do respect them, and they do speak highly of them.

      So, who are you talking about or to?

      Reply
    • Straw-feminists that she’s created in her mind, that’s who.

      Reply
    • Thank you for the kindness of your tone, April. I really appreciate that you’re engaging in dialogue and not attacking. That means a lot to me. I know we don’t see eye to eye, so my answers are not going to satisfy you. I have seen a huge movement of women rising up in spiritual feminism, and I don’t see that it aligns with Scripture, April. Not traditional scripture anyway. I know that there are a lot of translations, but we can water anything down to say what we want it to say. Experience should not form theology. That is dangerous, because then our story trumps God’s story. And what I see is us distorting these scriptures which I wrote to you here, saying they’re old-fashioned or out of date, when in fact, it says that men are the head of the house, and women should submit to men. It’s pretty plain and simple, and I know this is not popular, but our homes are falling apart because a) men are not living up to their calling to be Christ-like leaders, and b) women are trying to be the head of the home. A body cannot have two heads. A home cannot either–it will be divided if it has two leaders. So I am talking to all Christian women who believe they can follow Scripture and be the head of the home too–because this is not true. And it is keeping our men from fulfilling their spiritual calling as the leader of the home, while keeping us from our role, too, as the heart of the home. I know you will disagree, but please do so in love. thank you. e.

      Reply
    • The Bible also says slaves to should submit to masters. It’s pretty plain and simple too, but my guess is you don’t think slavery is moral, even though the Bible clearly endorses it.

      You also seem to be unaware that there are plenty of households that follow the husbands-are-head-women-should-submit thing that fall apart too. I actually came across some interesting research put out by the Barna Research Group the other day that said that Christians are actually more likely to divorce than non-Christians. My guess is that there are more Christian households that endorse the patriarchal mindset of husbands leading than non-Christians so what’s up with that?

      Also, the opposite of patriarchy is matriarchy, this is true, but that is not what feminists and egalitarians are endorsing. Did you read Sarah Bessy’s post that was linked below? Her husband is a strong man who is lead his family. But Sarah is leading along side him. It doesn’t have to be women “ruling over” men or men “ruling over” women, In most cases it looks like men and women co-leading their families together, and doing a damn fine job of it.

      Reply
    • *slaves should obey their masters

      Reply
    • **Please note, I was wrong in saying women should submit to men; Ephesians 5 says wives should submit to their husbands, but that (single) women and men should submit to one another. Very sorry about that.**

      Reply
  2. This is so beautiful and such truth in it. I see exactly what you are saying here, Emily, and am so thankful you said it with such grace.

    Reply
  3. Emily, you hit the nail on the head when you said, “but perhaps (we) have Daddy issues or other wounds, the answer, my friends, is not to rise up and strip men of their calling to lead, but to bow down low and ask God to redeem us as a people.”
    I’ve been married 40 years and a Christan all that time….the wounds from my past go deep and affect my relationship with my husband–but not because he’s a bad man, but because I’m broken. And in need of healing. God’s word says to trust and respect your husband-period. The degree to which I entrust myself to my husband’s lead is a picture of how I trust my Jesus to lead and cover and protect…sobering thoughts.
    So very glad you shared my brave friend. Keep up the godly work.
    love you.

    Reply
  4. You know… this hurt to read. (Content warning for sexual violence in this comment.)

    When I was drugged and raped – violently and brutally – by a strange man, feminism is what saved my life.

    The Church told me I was worthless, stupid, spoiled – I was no longer a virgin; I had no more worth as a human being. The Church told me that it was my fault for wearing a skirt (not even a short skirt!), for accepting a drink from him, from not fighting or praying harder. That I was going to hell for what he did to my body.

    Feminism taught me that it had nothing to do with me. That this man was a rapist, that I wasn’t to blame for his actions.

    Feminism taught me that I was loved no matter what. The Church and the patriarchy? Almost drove me to suicide. Feminism is the reason I am here today. Feminism is the state of mind that reminded me that men are capable of more than rape and violence and lies. Feminism – the idea that men and women are equal, and equally *good* – allowed me to trust men again; allowed me to marry a man in the end and daily put my life into his hands.

    No feminist is saying that “manly men are wrong”. Feminism is not to blame for broken families. There is not a single person in the feminist movement who claims that men should not ever lead because women are stepping up. All we are trying to say is that men – and women – are capable of more than their bodies suggest… and perhaps even more than the Church has taught its hurting souls.

    Reply
    • Oh sweet friend. Was it “The Church” who told you were damaged goods after the rape? Or was it a select few professing Christians who really didn’t represent the Body of Christ well at all? Jesus was quite radical in His day in the way He cared for women, loved them into loving themselves. I’m not trying to criticize you at all, it just hurts my heart that those who represented the heart of God loved you so poorly. But they don’t speak for all of us who call ourselves the church. Jesus loves you well.

      Reply
    • Sadly, many Christians, and many Churches, get it wrong. They can be so judgmental, so condemning, breaking the hurting soul that came to them in the first place. We, as a whole, need to understand grace better, and once we do, love can shine through. I’m sorry for what you went through. I’m sorry for the violation that was forced upon you with the rape, and the violation from the Christians you went to for help. Jesus would have never treated you like that. I hope you know that Christians who have a revelation of grace and love would never have treated you like that either.

      Janelle

      Reply
    • Oh sister, I too am so sorry that those that were representing the church to you- and ultimately representing Jesus to you did not love you well. Please know that this is not the heart of Jesus, and that he pursues you with wild abandonment each day. Bless you

      Reply
    • I echo the sorrow here, friend. I’m so desperately sorry for the hurts the church has caused you. By church I mean “the church” which is fallen, broken people. And I completely understand what you’re saying, because for awhile, feminism saved me too. My dad was a pastor in a church, but he neglected me, so for a long time I struggled with anger and rebellion and the form of feminism that stems from daddy issues and hurts over what men have done to us. (I know there are other kinds out there, but this is the kind of feminism I personally have participated in). That said, I had healing prayer this past year in which I met Abba Father and he healed my old wounds and I haven’t been the same sense. I’m praying for the same for you too, for you to encounter the true Abba, apart from who the “church” says he is, and that he will enfold you in his loving arms and never let you go. XOXO

      Reply
    • AMEN to this…bless your heart for all you have gone through. I am sorry you were raped, but I feel like I am part of the “church” who would have NEVER looked at your situation that way. I would never have spoken negative over you or your situation…I would have spoken LIFE and healing and a future and a hope to you…and I would have told you that it was not your fault and that the person that did that to you was in NEED of help and a Savior! May you experience healing that IS possible through God and even “the church”….

      Reply
  5. So much truth…I appreciate that we don’t all agree with what you’ve said. But I do agree and do think men seem to have lost their way and sexuality is all mixed up. My husband has the courage to be gentle and I am learning from him. Thank you Emily. You too are courageous!

    Reply
  6. Yes. I hear what you are saying and there is a delicate balance here between calling and mandate in our relationships with our men and with our God. With our church and the Body as a whole. I think at the core what has gone awry has more to do with the way we define leadership and service. The way we define love and keep it so far from the word sacrifice. Jesus modeled to us all the only way a man ought to lead and yet we cast aside that model as too____________. Ah…there is so much more my heart wants to say because I’ve been where you’ve been and am now where you are and it’s a tough and unpopular place to be. But I’ll stand with you here because I see and hear clearly what you are saying and why. You are right.

    Reply
  7. So awesome that this was your post today. Our sermon at church this morning was 1 Timothy 2, and this is basically what he said. I LOVE your understanding of this topic, Emily, and I love the courage and sensitivity with which you share it. We as a culture are so confused and ready to fight about gender, roles, sexuality, headship, etc. because we do not understand it. And we don’t understand it because we don’t understand God. I could talk for days with you about this subject (actually, add some hot tea and that sounds like quite a nice time!) but I will just say this: when we understand God we can better understand the framework that he lays out for this life. When we live within this framework, we have more joy and freedom than we ever could trying to do things our own way. We aren’t liberated when we do whatever we want…we just become servant to a much lesser master than the One we were created to serve.

    Thank you for speaking biblical truth Emily…especially the tough ones!

    Reply
  8. Emily, I appreciate your courage to speak to this issue. Might I encourage you that, as “a former feminist,” we need your voice now more than ever.

    Reply
  9. It is hard to believe professing Christians are actually arguing her point (which is entirely in line with Scripture) or wielding one or two abusive stories to “disprove” her entire point, when she acknowledged that abuses happen and are never in line with God’s nature or the Church’s assigned mission. There’s missing the forest for the trees, and then there’s jumping up and down, shouting about one particular tree like the rest of the forest doesn’t matter. And Feminism, in several cases, has obviously become an idol for people, no two ways about it. God alone declares you are loved no matter what. When Feminism becomes an idol, it values you for your gender, or what your attitude is toward that gender.

    Reply
    • Addendum: I refer to her previous blogs, rather than just this one and the comments it has generated thus far.

      Reply
  10. Hi Emily,
    You write that: “According to Scripture, we as women, are responsible for helping our men discover their full identity in Christ–for believing in them, encouraging them, speaking highly of them in public and in front of our children, praying for them, and respecting what they have to say.”
    Where is this in Scripture – as in, where is this said to be uniquely a woman’s duty toward men?
    Your description sounds like loving my other people the way that Jesus would :), so I don’t see why it’s gender-specific.

    Reply
    • This was my question as well, specifically the first part of it, about “helping our men discover their full-identity in Christ.”

      Reply
    • Hi friends, This is not going to be a popular response, but the honest answer to this question is Ephesians 5:22-24, “Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now AS THE CHURCH SUBMITS TO CHRIST (capitalized for emphasis), so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” I believe that as we, as a church, submit to Christ–uplifting his name, respecting and honoring him, seeking what he thinks is best and being willing to stand up for him in public and in front of our children, as well as being willing to die to our own “desires” so that we can better serve our families (and Christ) is what God has called us to do as wives. It’s gender specific, because this is what God has asked wives to do. As far as husbands, he asks them to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27) Truly, husbands have the harder job! :) But its all laid out in scripture, and some people will tell you these verses are dated. But it stems from the first chapters of Genesis when God made woman to be a helper for Adam, even before the curse. When the curse happened, man became ruler of woman, and a woman’s desire became for her husband, but Jesus came to redeem that curse–and Ephesians 5 describes what that redemption looks like: a beautiful, holy, humble union, in which no one rules, and both submit–the wife to the husband, and the husband, to Jesus.

      Reply
  11. Keep speaking out, Em, keep writing truth. Love you.

    Reply
  12. Thank you for sharing this Emily. I love your heart and your courage to write the things God calls you to. I pray that you can truly enjoy this sabbath week that the Lord has placed in front of you. Love you friend.

    Reply
  13. So well said, my friend. Thank you for being brave and sharing a topic that can create quite a stir. Blessings to you and yours…

    Reply
  14. This is an important topic and very sensitive for pretty much anyone, I think. Is there any person out there who does not have pain to struggle through from the effects, attitudes, actions, and relationships with others, whether male or female? I have been wrestling with James 1:20 “because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” this morning as I am so aware of all the places and ways I am very angry and rightfully so. Not that anger is wrong “In your anger do not sin” Ephesians 4:26 just that anger alone cannot bring us to the greatest good that God intends, loving fellowship and community with himself and others. I am praying that my anger will help me to be completely honest and vulnerable before God and to let him touch the painful and bring healing, perspective, wholeness and the enabling of His Holy Spirit to be truthful and loving at the same time and to treat any and all persons with the dignity, love and respect that God wants.

    May God help us all to really be able to speak and hear one another in love and to learn and grow into Christ more and more. ” Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” Eph 4:15-16
    I sincerely hope this is helpful and not meaning in any way to sound like some know it all. Without God’s grace right now, my own anger (much of it very justifiable) is going to destroy my relationships with those I love most. And when I read this post, I thought how it fit in with what I am grappling with and am hoping that by sharing these thoughts, verses and prayers, I might be helpful and add to the conversation. May God help us all.

    Reply
  15. Such beautiful truth. Thank you for speaking so clearly and with humbleness of heart and words. If only it were simple…our world is sliding ever so quickly down that slippery slope, and we must grab hold of Christ to survive.

    For your commentor that had the bad experience with the “church”…please keep in mind that a church is nothing more than imperfect people, sinners every single one, gathered together in Christ’s name. Unfortunately, many times those people are judgmental, cold and unloving people with ego problems. As opposite of Christ and His teachings as one can get. We all need a personal relationship with our Creator, not necessarily with a church. Blessings.

    Reply
  16. In our church culture men are called to be like velvet and steel. And for me as a women that puts me under a safety covering of being led and served and loved and cherished and even then sometimes I have to be reminded of my place. Because self protection never leaves my bones even when healing has come to restore and redeem by my Father. Complete trust in the Lord has given me the freedom to trust my husband, to let him serve me and love me and protect me. Good word, Emily! Blessings to you this Thanksgiving week! Love, Rachael @ Inking the Heart

    Reply
  17. It’s always so confusing to me when you write about feminism because absolutely nothing you describe even remotely sounds like the feminism that I know and many others know. The broad brush strokes you paint are almost humorous because they are so out of touch with the reality of many people’s lives. I think it’s sad that your view of feminism is limited to women with “daddy issues” or women who want to be like men (whatever that means). If you are going to write a piece against feminism, I just think it would be helpful if you didn’t rely on stereotypes and misinformation to do so.

    Reply
    • Hi Alyssa, I understand why it confuses you. I only feel qualified to speak about the kind of feminism I personally participated in, which stemmed from daddy issues and hurts from what men had done to me. I know there are other kinds out there, but I personally have not participated in those kinds, and so don’t feel qualified to talk about them. I speak from my own personal testimony, only. And the reason they are “stereotypes” is because many people can relate (as in, there are many women with daddy issues and hurts from men who have also gone through periods of feminism). This is similar to why popular phrases become “cliches” because they resonate with so many people. Bless you, e.

      Reply
    • Hi Emily, I feel that you are confusing “anger towards men” with feminism. It sounds like you went through a (justifiable) angry phase in your life against men – but that is not feminism. Feminists may or may not be angry but feminism is merely recognizing and practicing that women and men have equal rights and if a woman is talented in leading then she can go ahead and lead. Basically feminism is the fight to let women use their talents freely and as they wish.

      Reply
    • Hi po, Yes, I can see why it would seem that I am calling all feminists angry at men, and I’m sorry if that’s the case. Because I know it’s not. And while I was angry for a long time, it wasn’t the anger that made me a feminist, but the belief that I could make my own theology based on my experience. Scripture clearly tells us to submit to authority. God has placed man as the authority of the family since day one in the Garden. This is not a position to be abused, but a calling–nonetheless, we’ve messed it up because we’re sinful and fallen. I hated the word “submit” for years, and decided the Bible was outdated when it came to man’s relationship with woman. It’s only when I received healing prayer back in January that the deep-rooted wounds which had caused my hurts in the first place, began to heal. And suddenly, it was as though I gained new reverence for Scripture and I couldn’t just ignore those verses on authority and order and submission and respect and love which weave their way from Genesis to Revelation. Servanthood is the foundation of the gospel message. So, all this to say, I know feminism is the fight to let women be equal in both rights and talents to men, but I no longer feel the need to participate in that fight, for the freedom I’ve found. e.

      Reply
  18. Like another commenter said above, feminism quite literally saved my life. And I 100% believe it was a God-thing. One of the hardest things about your posts about your views of feminism and gender-roles are that you claim God told you to write them. I wish you would claim your views as your own and stop hiding behind the “I’m just the messenger” role. Because guess what? God spoke to me through feminism. I believe the Spirit moves me to be actively involved in organizations that work for equality for all people.

    Reply
    • I TOTALLY understand. Feminism saved my life too, and saved my faith, and that is why I am a former feminist–because I was there, too, and I get it. But God has done further healing in my life, and brought me to a new place in which I find my full identity as Abba’s daughter and not in an “ism.” But I get it, I really do. I’ve been there.

      Reply
    • You don’t get. You don’t get it at all. No one says you necessarily have to claim the label feminist for yourself, but you seem to have veered in the completely opposite direction towards anti-feminism and the ideas you paint about feminists aren’t even remotely close to what the vast majority of feminists actually believe or what we are are actually like. I’ve been an active feminist for 10 years, involved in all sorts of activism and met many, many people, and not a single person fits what you describe. Your experiences are extremely limited, and I’m not entirely sure what you’re trying to accomplish by throwing the women’s rights movement under the bus, and claiming that it emasculates men and tells men that they apparently can’t be strong or can’t be leaders just simply because some women are also. Not all men are as insecure as you seem to think and many men support the feminist cause, believe it or not. I’m in a relationship with one, and have several male friends and family members who do, as well. So my advice to you would be to please stop writing about feminism from now on. Your understanding of it is embarrassing and wrong, and you shouldn’t speak about things that you clearly don’t understand.

      Reply
    • I’m sorry you feel this way, friend. e.

      Reply
    • But not enough to actually evaluate your beliefs and consider that you might actually be wrong about this stuff, right? Right.

      Reply
    • Thank you, friend. This is the original commenter who wrote about my rape and feminism saving my life. Thank you for standing beside me and backing me up.

      I agree; I believe that God spoke to me through feminism as well: it was never about hating men (or being a “man-wannabe”, as Emily so charmingly put it elsewhere on the page). It was about finding an unconditional love and acceptance that the Christians around me decided to withdraw the minute they found out what happened. I’ve never felt that love from any other group, and I have to believe that it is God-love, my sisters holding me up.

      Sending you some of that same love, because I know exactly how hard it is.

      Reply
  19. The original anon is a different person than the commenters, to clarify.

    Reply
    • I read this today, and I truly believe Sarah Bessey has men’s best interests at heart. She is one of the most loving people I know. But what I wrote above goes for this, too, and that is this: I have seen a huge movement of women rising up in spiritual feminism, and I don’t see that it aligns with Scripture. Not traditional scripture anyway. I know that there are a lot of translations, but we can water anything down to say what we want it to say. Experience should not form theology. That is dangerous, because then our story trumps God’s story. And what I see is us distorting Scriptures like Ephesians 5:22-25, saying they’re old-fashioned or out of date, when in fact, it says that men are the head of the house, and women should submit to men. It’s pretty plain and simple, and I know this is not popular, but our homes are falling apart because a) men are not living up to their calling to be Christ-like leaders, and b) women are trying to be the head of the home. A body cannot have two heads. A home cannot either–it will be divided if it has two leaders. So I am talking to all Christian women who believe they can follow Scripture and be the head of the home too–because this is not true. And it is keeping our men from fulfilling their spiritual calling as the leader of the home, while keeping us from our role, too, as the heart of the home. I know you will disagree, but please do so in love. thank you. e.

      Reply
    • Copy/pasted from above:

      “The Bible also says slaves to should submit to masters. It’s pretty plain and simple too, but my guess is you don’t think slavery is moral, even though the Bible clearly endorses it.

      You also seem to be unaware that there are plenty of households that follow the husbands-are-head-women-should-submit thing that fall apart too. I actually came across some interesting research put out by the Barna Research Group the other day that said that Christians are actually more likely to divorce than non-Christians. My guess is that there are more Christian households that endorse the patriarchal mindset of husbands leading than non-Christians so what’s up with that?”

      Reply
    • *Please note, I made an error; I wrote that Ephesians says women should submit to men, when in fact it says wives should submit to husbands, and (single) women and men should submit to each other. So sorry about that.**

      Reply
  20. I don’t know how you can recognize that patriarchy hurts women, but yet still wholeheartedly endorse it. Does not compute.

    Reply
    • Dear anon, I recognize that men have hurt women, yes, because men–as well as women–are broken and sinful–but I don’t think the patriarchal system is to blame for that. I think our fallenness and sinful nature is. e.

      Reply
    • Yes…I agree, Emily.

      Reply
  21. I am also curious as to why this is so controversial. However, I think it’s because we as women are afraid of submission. We have been hurt by men, and we are too wounded to separate the beauty of what this scripture is saying from the ways broken men have perverted their responsibilities as leaders. Perhaps it is helpful to remember that the scripture about women submitting to their husbands cannot be separated from the scripture about husbands laying down their lives for their wives. There cannot be one without the other. I would argue that it’s not safe to submit to a man unless he intends on laying down his life for his wife. Marriage is meant to represent the unique equal relationship of the Trinity. Jesus was the one who submitted to the Father, yet the Father and the Spirit glorified the Son. So it is in marriage: the wife submits to her husband as he lays down his life for hers. There is no power discrepancy in that, and thus it points back to God’s character and plan to right all our wrongs and remake the world as it should be. If this is offensive, then great! Ask the Spirit why you are triggered. Perhaps He will lead you down a road to facing your fear and walk out a journey with you to be free!

    Reply
  22. Emily,

    Have you read any real arguments for egalitarianism? You say things in the comments like, “It’s pretty plain and simple.” Honestly, if it really was so plain and simple, then why would there be so many different interpretations of the Scriptures?

    And you have implied that egalitarians water down Scripture in order to suit their own desires. But that is not what I do. Not at all. I was an ultra-complementarian for a long time, but as I studied Scripture more (even after I graduated from Bible school), I saw a whole new perspective. Now I can’t read the Scripture any other way.

    Isn’t there a chance that there’s a reason that there are so many disagreements on this topic, and it’s not that we egalitarians/feminists are just selfish and want to suit ourselves?

    My husband and I have a functioning egalitarian marriage. It works, and it works really well when we’re actually a team and united. When things shift toward one person (either myself or my husband), it doesn’t work. It only works beautifully when we are united as one and work together.

    Whether it’s “ideal” or not, our experiences absolutely do have a part in shaping our theology. And wouldn’t it be true that if we both confess Jesus Christ as Lord, that the same Spirit working in you is working in me? Wouldn’t it be better to assume that I am searching for truth just as much as you are, and yet I’ve come to a different conclusion?

    You’re a beautiful writer, Emily, but I think that there are some things that you have misunderstood about feminism/egalitarianism, and you make some people bold statements without understanding toward the other side of the debate. I think it might behoove you to have an open mind about the fact that regardless of how clear you may believe Scripture is, there are others who don’t see it the same way. And just because we have different views does not make me any less of a truth-seeker than you (and vice versa). It might just mean that Scripture may not be as clear as we thought (with historical, literary contexts), and we need to give one another grace and understanding.

    **And just a note, Ephesians 5:22-25 doesn’t say that women should submit to men. It says that wives should submit to husbands. In verse 21 it calls every believer to submit to one another.**

    Reply
    • Thank you Bethany–I apologize deeply for saying that women should submit to men, and have clarified this earlier in the conversation. That was my mistake; I should have been more careful. Yes, it says that wives submit to husbands, but (single) men and women submit to each other. Bethany, I really appreciate you sharing your story and I fully believe you are truth-seeking too. I don’t pretend to know everything; all I am sharing with you is what I am reading in traditional Scripture, and what I’ve been convicted of in my own life. Thank you for your caring tone, and for your openness. Bless you.

      Reply
    • Can you please tell me where you find it in Scripture that specifies it as “single” men and women?

      Reply
    • Emily, if you are convicted of something in your own life, that’s fine. Great. Wonderful. But please do not try to push what works in your life onto everyone else. Other people have their own convictions and ways that of existing in this world that are different from yours. God did not create us to be carbon-copies of one another. We have different lives, different experiences and different relationships. What works for you, might not work for someone else, and vice versa. My marriage is 100% egalitarian and we’ve been going strong for 10 years now. I think we’d actually have more problems if we tried to fit ourselves into complementarian ideals. That’s just not who we are.

      Reply
    • Bethany, by “single” I meant, not married to each other–that is, I would submit to my friends, and they to me, whether or not they’re male or female, but then there are specific guidelines for wives and husbands which only use submission in relation to a wife–meaning, a wife is to respect her husband, while the husband is to cherish and love his wife:

      (Ephesians 5) 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

      25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[c] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

      Reply
    • Yes, I know this Scripture, but I don’t believe verse 21 is just for single people. I believe it is for all believers, regardless of whether they’re married to each other or not. The Scriptures don’t specify marital status in that verse, and therefore I don’t wan to specify it either.

      My husband and I have a give-and-take relationship, and we both submit to (respect) one another. I look at the Ephesians passage through the lens of the historical/cultural context of the time. Paul was specifically pointing out problems in the church of Ephesus which meant that he was pointing out what was going wrong in their marriages as well. I don’t believe this Scripture is supposed to nullify the call for all believers to submit to one another. I absolutely do not believe that once a couple gets married, the husband is no longer supposed to submit to his wife (sister in Christ). That command still stands after the wedding.

      Reply
    • Also, it should be noted that in the original Greek, the word for “submit” is used in verse 21, and it is actually not repeated in verse 22. Instead it says, 21 submit to one another 22 wives to your husbands…etc.

      Reply
    • This is where we differ, friend. I believe this passage, as I explained earlier, applies to us today, as well, in light of Genesis 1-3 where God made woman to be man’s helper, in light of 1 Corinthians 11:9 which says woman was made for man, not man for a woman, and in light of 1 Peter 3:1-6 which says women are to be submissive to their husbands, and husbands, to be kind to their wives as the “weaker” vessel which is really hard, but simply shows that there is indeed a hierarchy and order. We were taken from man’s ribs. We were created to be our husbands helpers. Men are to cherish us and care for us like Christ cared for the church, and we are to submit to them as the church submits to Christ–this is how I view Scripture. But I understand you are reading it as a contextual piece and don’t feel it applies to today’s day and age.

      Reply
    • i see where you’re coming from, but please notice that I didn’t say it doesn’t apply to us today. I believe it applies today as well, but in a different sense. I apply it as a good reminder to respect my husband, but I don’t use it as a specification of roles within a marriage.

      Reply
  23. Emily — You seem to have studied this a lot. So I assume you are aware that the word “helper” used in Genesis is “ezer.” The same word used for God 16 times, and for the nations Israel turned to for military assistance 3 times. The word does not have a soft, weak connotation. It’s a strong, powerful word. Saying women are to be “cherished” is weird. Did Jesus “cherish” the church? Where does Scripture say that? Dying on the cross = cherishing? I’m not sure I see it that way. Or does Jesus call us to battle with powers or darkness? To perform the same miracles he did? To spread the gospel? That the gates of Hell will not prevail against us?

    Our cultural understandings of brides as the sweet, dainty things gets in the way of our understanding of what a bride is sometimes, maybe. Perhaps we’d be better off imagining the “Bride of Christ” as a bridezilla! LOL!!

    I appreciate your dialogue here. But I still just don’t get it. There are some theological gymnastics going on to arrive at the conclusions you (and others) have arrived at. While you accuse egalitarians of “watering down scripture” is is it possible that it’s you who are doing so? By making things so easily black & white and formulaic, maybe *that* is the watering down. After all, it’s easier to just let my husband be in charge than it is for us to figure out how to make decisions together and how to submit to one another, isn’t it?

    Reply
    • Hi April, Yes, “ezer” is a beautiful word which captures the strength that is in each of us as women, because to be a helper is an incredibly challenging and honorable role, and one that we should take pride in. Men have a different role, and this is good, because ours is unique and fitted to us perfectly as females. There is such strength in being a woman, and we don’t need to be men to find honor in who we are–we don’t need to be treated the same, because we ARE different and this is good! I think the beauty of our differences has been lost in us fighting to be seen as equals. We are equal in value, yes, but not equal in abilities, because we were made for different purposes. I think one of the crimes of the centuries is to diminish the unique womanly power and strength that each of us has, and yes, it’s different from a man’s, but still, so very important. I want to see us as women embrace that uniqueness and take pride in our femininity, in our role as helper, which does not mean what society weakens it to mean, but is a strong place of strength and support alongside our husbands–a place in which we are responsible for the spiritual nurturing and care of our men and children, in addition to a number of other roles.

      Instead of wanting what men have, perhaps we could re-visit our calling as women, and ask God to show us what it means to be made in his image, as a female? We don’t need to reinvent our roles; we just need to ask the Lord to shed light on what his purpose for creating us was/is, and how we can fulfill that in the 21st century.

      I’m not sure how I’m doing theological gymnastics, April. I take the Bible quite literally, and each of the scriptures I pointed out was taken literally. If you could point out where it feels I’m stretching, I’d be grateful. Thank you, too, for engaging in dialogue with me. I long for women to realize their true value and potential as WOMEN, and not as MEN-WANNABES. :)

      Finally, a book I’d like to recommend is “Let Me Be A Woman” by Elizabeth Elliot. Peace, e.

      Reply
    • Emily the problem with your worldview is that not all women are exactly the same. There is not one neat and tidy cookie-cutter way to be a woman. I know you believe that there is, but in all honesty, you are wrong. There are a lot of women in this world who do not possess maternal instincts, who do not have submissive personalities and who, quite frankly, suck at cooking and cleaning. Guess who is one of those women? *raises hand*

      I’ve always known that I would not be a homemaker. This is not because I am rebellious or because I am trying to be like a man (whatever that means) but because I am just trying to be ME. I believe that God created me, not as a cookie-cutter mold of a stereotypical woman, but as a complex and unique individual. I have often struggled with Biblical passages that seem to paint women in the “weaker” position, for his reason, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve realized that there are a lot of cultural baggage that comes with the Bible and the world it was written in. I don’t necessarily pledge allegiance to the Christian religion at this point in my life but I still try to live my life by the teachings of Jesus as best I can because I believe that he had some great things to say while he was here on this earth, and if we all acted more like him, the world would be a better place.

      But Jesus did not tell women to always be secondary to men. He didn’t tell us to be quiet. He did not tell women to get back in kitchen. In a lot of instances he did the opposite. In many ways, and I know you won’t agree, I see Jesus as a feminist figure. He was radically egalitarian and inclusive towards women in a society that often treated them as property, as less than fully human.That inspires me. And it is part of what has given me the freedom to just be myself in this world, without having to fit into a culturally-defined box of how a woman is supposed to be. I’m not June Cleaver and I never will be. And I think God is okay with that.

      Reply
    • Friend, I’m so glad you spoke up and shared your story, and I’m VERY sorry if I gave the impression that all women needed to be homemakers. Goodness, I hate cooking and cleaning too. So I’m very sorry for whatever I said that gave that impression. I do think if we are married, that our role is to support and stand by our husbands, and to respect him and submit, but my husband cooks half the meals in our house and he folds my laundry… because I work too (granted, my office is at home, but we share the house-making role)… I do try to “serve” him by making him lunches but often fail at that too and he just ends up throwing a sandwich together … I think the submission role is much more to do with the heart than to do with any domestic details. Again, I’m sorry for giving off that impression. Bless you, e.

      Reply
    • Emily I’ve heard an awful lot of complementarian authors and leaders preach on these subjects and it seems most often than not, they DO define a huge part of wifely submission as being “keepers at home” aka homemakers. A good number of them seem to be morally opposed to women in the workplace, stating that God calls women to their unique place in the home, and men to their unique place in the workforce, providing financially for their families. This leaves me a little confused, because if you are saying that women do not have to be homemakers and it’s okay for them to work and make money and using their talents, then it sounds to me that you agree very much more with egalitarians and feminists than complementarians, Egalitarians would even agree that it’s important for a wife to submit to her husband, by respecting and serving him, they would just also think that the husband should likewise do those things for his wife. I guess I’m just not understanding why you’re so adamantly opposed to feminism if you think women should be allowed to work, and it’s not wrong for men to contribute to domestic tasks. It seems like a lot of people on your side would say that it is wrong for those things to happen, because they go against our “God ordained” gender roles. Help me out here.

      Reply
    • Hi there, I understand your confusion, except that I do not see anything in Scripture about women not being allowed to work, and I go to Scripture for all of my teachings. I know that sounds simple, but since receiving healing prayer back in January, when much of my wounds from my “daddy issues” were resolved, I’ve found a newfound fear of Scripture, in which, for example, Proverbs 31 talks about the woman not only taking care of her family (which I do strive to do, to the best of my ability, I’m just not very good at it :)) but about her buying fields and planting vineyards; she is very multi-talented, and women are too. I do not believe my husband needs to respect me, but rather, to love me, and take care of me. I do agree that it is the man’s place to provide for his family but if for some reason he’s not able to, then it’s the women’s job to provide, and she does this out of submission to her husband… again, submission I believe is a heart issue. It’s about me laying down my need to control and trusting that my husband is listening to Jesus, and while we DO dialogue with one another about everything, in the end, I try to trust his judgment. I’m not near perfect and learning a lot, but I believe my husband’s role is to submit to Christ, and to seek his wisdom in how to care for his family, while I submit to my husband and care for my family to the best of my ability. Ephesians 5 says my husband is to care for me like Christ cares for the church–and I am to submit to him as the church does to Christ. I hope this helps.

      Reply
    • Thank you for explaining. I don’t agree with you, but your views do seem more well-rounded than some other comps I’ve conversed with, at least. I still find the whole ideology confusing though. Seems like everyone has got their own idea about what wifely submission looks like. I have yet to see the roles of men and women clearly laid out and agreed upon by everyone who holds complementarian views of gender, even though those same people like to insist that it’s all so clear and simple. You’d think if it actually was clear and simple all people would agree on it, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Everyone seems to be making it up as they go. That’s what it looks like from my point of view, anyway.

      Reply
    • I get that, truly. Again, I have not researched what complementarians believe. I’m going to Scripture only, and letting it teach me, so that is probably why you’re confused–I’m not subscribing to any particular “ism” or ideology, just asking Abba Father for wisdom and pouring into the Bible. I have found the book “Let me Be a Woman” by Elizabeth Elliot very useful too. I think at the end of the day, we need to rely on the Holy Spirit, but it would seem clear from Genesis onwards in the Bible that there is a clear order and hierarchy to God’s creation, and as it says in 1 Corinthians, man was not made for woman, but woman for the man. So I am learning what this means in light of Jesus’ sacrifice, in light of the church’s relationship with Christ and Christ’s relationship with the church, and trying not to let people’s personal theologies/ideas get in the way :) Bless you friend.

      Reply
    • I would actually like to say, for the record, that I find it incredibly, incredibly strange that you do not believe your husband should respect you. Shouldn’t all people have respect for each other, especially husbands and wives? And how can you truly love someone if you don’t respect them? To me, love and respect go hand in hand and cannot be separated. I wouldn’t want to be loved by someone who didn’t also respect me. The idea that women don’t need respect from the men in their lives is incredibly dangerous.

      Reply
    • I think this is where the book Love and Respect by Emerson Eggerichs comes in handy, as it explains why women long more for love and men need Respect. I’m not saying my husband doesn’t respect me–he respects what I stand for and who I am, but he speaks to me through the voice of love, because that is what tells me I am special to him. Meanwhile, I am learning to speak to his need to be respected. He LONGS to know I respect him: it feeds his heart much more than expressions of love would. So again, it highlights the differences between men and women: men thrive much more on being respected and looked up to, whereas women thrive (generally) on being cared for and loved. When I say “I love you” to Trent, it doesn’t mean nearly so much as when I say “Thank you for taking care of me, Trent. I appreciate the way you did this and this today.” Whereas, him saying “I love you so much” to me, means the world. I hope this makes some sort of sense.

      Reply
    • I have actually read Love and Respect. I found it incredibly misogynistic and lacking in any real credible sociological research. Emerson Eggerich’s ideas are based on stereotypes and gender essentalism. It might work for some people, but I personally got nothing out of it that I felt would actually be applicable to my life and marriage, and I don’t think I would actually recommend his viewpoint to anyone. Ever.

      I actually find that I thrive best when I’m both being loved and respected as an individual by my husband, and I think he would say the same thing. Maybe your husband is insecure and needs you to prop up his ego by constantly looking to him in reverence, but not all men are like that. Mine certainly isn’t. I say “I love you so much” to him all the time and I don’t think I’ve ever said “thank you for taking care of me”, except maybe on a rare occasion when I was sick and he pampered me by making me tea and gave me back rubs. He doesn’t seem to be suffering as a result. *shrug*

      Reply
    • I understand. I am sorry for painting my husband as insecure, as he’s the most confident person I know. I just know that respect speaks more to him than love. Thank you for this dialogue; I really appreciate your openness and the kindness of your tone. Bless you friend.

      Reply
  24. PS. April, about letting your husband be in charge/submission: I don’t think, personally, it’s easier to let my husband be in charge–everything in me fights to be in charge, but maybe that’s just my personality. So for me, I die to myself every time I respectfully say, “I trust you hon,” but also, I don’t think submission means being a doormat at all. I think it involves a healthy dialogue/conversation in which our husbands die to themselves, too, and listen to us and hear our hearts and then, on behalf of us and our families, make a decision that will best benefit all of us.

    Reply
  25. Dear Emily
    My country, South Africa, is at the moment such a good example of women taking over positions where men would be much more suitable for, like the Minister of Police. My friend, for 20 years I was in an abusive marriage where my husband verbally and emotionally neglected and abused me. But I earnestly started praying for my marriage for I knew that this is what he saw in his home when he grew up and didn’t know any different. When I became ill with Fm/CFS I didn’t receive any support or care from him and I nearly died from lack of medical care. Today I can only thank Jesus for His goodness and grace for He not only saved my husband, but changed his heart completely. We are now happily married for nearly 29 years. What happened with my marriage was a complete miracle.
    Blessings XX
    Mia

    Reply
    • oh Mia. oh. wow. just, amazed here, and humbled, and praising Jesus with you…

      Reply
  26. Hi Emily,

    I read your blog from time to time because I enjoy it, though I may not always agree with it:) Regarding this post, I’ve never understood why some in the Church are so emphatic about a wife submitting to her husband. Yes, that’s what it says in the Bible, but goodness, how many years ago was that? If one wants to be completely literal, then women shouldn’t cut their hair and men should not let their hair grow long.
    Personally, I think the concept of submission shouldn’t be an issue for most mates… hopefully, they get along and come to decisions together. Yes, sometimes there may be a difference of opinion, but typically, the one who is most qualified to make the final decision, makes the final decision. Should a husband submit to her husband in the financial arena if he has no clue how to manage money?
    Anyway, I just don’t get it. But I do appreciate your heart and search for truth.

    Reply
  27. Emily, I would love to hear how you and your husband practically live out your complementarian marriage. Whenever I read posts like this, which make the case for the man as the head of the home, I always wonder what that looks like in real life. Of course, no pressure to share super personal info! But a few examples would be helpful. Thanks so much.

    Reply
    • I would love to write about that some time, Mia. Thank you for inspiring me. Bless you.

      Reply
    • I’m assuming practically there could be meetings for the wife to express her wishes or grievances but by my understanding, whatever the husband says goes… Interestingly, the TV show Big Love, which is about a mormon polygamist family in Utah followed this marriage archetype of “man as leader, decider and head of household”. There are obvious differences between this situation and the one Emily is proposing, but there are also obvious similarities. If you are actually interested in seeing how complementarian marriages play out then you might consider watching this. It’s an interesting window into another worldview. Just a thought.

      Reply
  28. I was raised in a Christian home; however, my home and family life did not resemble yours. I never heard of the terms complementarian or egalitarian until this year. After researching the two if I had to choose a label, I would say my parents marriage would be classified as egalitarian. If I’m not using labels, I would describe my parents’ marriage as an equal partnership. They submitted to each other. I never got the impression growing up that my father made all the decisions or that my mother must submit to him in everything. There was mutual love and respect between them.

    My parents just celebrated their 39th anniversary. They raised 4 daughters. They were my first example of love and they gave us the gift of Jesus Christ because he was always known in our home. Both your post and your comments are extremely puzzling to me, but I realize we are all a product of our experiences. My father loved and respected my mother and vice versa. He respected her intellect, her talents, and her time. I can’t imagine why you would say you don’t need respect. I want respect and love. You stated a home will be divided if it has two leaders. You have to know this blanket statement is not true. Both my parents were leaders and our home was not divided. Likewise, I’m sure you also know just because a marriage practices patriarchy or the man is the head of the house, that is no guarantee the marriage will be happy, successful, long lasting or loving.

    In your comments you repeatedly state you’re merely reading the scriptures traditionally, but you never address the issue of slavery in the scriptures. Why is that? What is the traditional reading of the scriptures? Would you agree that at one time many people argued the traditional reading of the scriptures explicitly endorsed slavery? I’d really be interested in your take on 12 Years A Slave. There’s a lot of religious themes in that movie.

    I really didn’t know people lived or thought the way you do until recently. It’s just not the way I was brought up and it wasn’t taught in the churches I was raised in. No one can tell me I’m not a Christian because I don’t subscribe to their theology. Me and God have been through to much. Your statements, while cordial, definitely give the impression that you have it right and well meaning others have it wrong. For that reason, I decided to post. Because I think you are severely misguided. But I also think if you’ve found peace and this type of submission works for you and your marriage, that’s great. At the end of the day, it’s your marriage and you should be happy. Just don’t think that there aren’t people doing mutual submission, who love God, and our extremely successful and happy in their marriage as well.

    Reply
  29. Hi Emily,

    Gender isn’t as straightforward and binary as you seem to think. Maleness and femaleness do exist on a continuum, both psychologically and *physically* speaking. I was born with androgen (testosterone) insensitivity syndrome. I have a X and Y chromosome. I have high levels of testosterone in my body, the same amount, in fact, as the average man. However, my body cannot respond to it the way other men’s bodies do. Technically I am “male” (XY and high testosterone) yet physically I appear female. I have breasts and a shallow (not “true”) vagina. I lack a uterus. I have no ovaries to produce estrogen. What then, does this make me? What do you think my place should be? What is God’s plan for me? I ask this sincerely :) as this is something I have struggled with as an intersex person. Your post talks about how God made two types (male and female), yet clearly there are other types that are not commonly thought about or known (ie: true hermaphrodites have a penis and vagina as well as testes and ovaries, all in the same person!).

    Having experienced this myself, I am more sensitive to the range of identities that exist in the world. Being apart of intersex networks and support systems I have met many individuals who are clearly male and female (physically and psychologically). Many of these people are androgynous (having male and female characters and orientations). What are your thoughts on people like me? How can we fit into the Christian paradigm?

    Note: I thought others may benefit from this story so I have chosen to post this anonymously (I do not wish to create a permanent record that reveals my medical history to people who may know me).

    Reply
  30. I’ll just put these here, they seem fitting given the content of this post. I think these represent what happens when this whole men = special leader people thing is blindly accepted. These are probably extreme examples, but they are still examples that poke holes into the arguments made for female submission.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2013/12/05/pat-robertson-tells-woman-something-in-your-character-makes-men-abuse-you/

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/lovejoyfeminism/2013/12/the-rest-of-the-maranatha-story.html

    The obvious rebuttal to these will be that Godly men would not treat their women in these ways, they are misunderstanding the scripture and abusing this power and privilege which God has given them. However, even if this is the case this still reveals one fatal flaw with the promotion of female submission: Women in these relationships are literally left hanging on a precipice where they are forced to rely on the kindness of men for their well being. When men are made de facto leaders, women are left with no agency. They are left without choice or ability to protect themselves from the potentially devastating choices of other human beings. What advice then does this complementarian movement have to offer women? Apparently, chose your husband well. Look for someone who is moral. Someone who is just. Someone who will cherish you. Oh, and pray that never changes over the next 50+ years.

    Reply
  31. Thank you Emily for this article. I appreciate you broaching this subject. I know you put a lot of thought into. I do agree with most of what you are saying. I will add that as a husband and father, as well as leader of the home, I have the awesome responsibility of being directly answerable to God for the way my family has been raised. That is something that I cannot take lightly. I would also say that your husband has to respect you. Although he can respect you and not love you, he can’t love you if he does not respect you.Thank you again. And God bless.

    Reply
  32. I’ve been married to my husband for over 11 years. I started out as a complimentarian I think (using the descriptions I’ve read here for definition.) Although my husband came from a home in which is mother worked full time throughout his childhood and then went on to become a pastor, I pushed him to allow me to stay home and raise my babies and pushed him to be a traditional breadwinner. I read a book or two by Elizabeth Elliot which really influenced me to accept this “he rules, I submit” model. I think he liked it pretty well but because I stuffed all my own desires in favor of all his, he became demanding and boarderline abusive. He’s a good man, a faithful husband in so many ways- but clearly something was not working right between us. I discovered that I MUST demand respect from my husband or his human nature will take over, not because he’s evil but because he’s human. I was giving him too much power and likening it to an order (or request) passed down from hubby was an order from God, mentality- (aside from doing something I knew was sinful, considered it, God’s will, judgement, whatever when we disagreed and I deferred to him.) I’m sure there are Godly men out there who would have loved having a submissive wife, taken over and never let their “leadership” get out of hand. But I’m not married to one of those. He’s a believer. Maybe he doesn’t walk with God as closely as he should. After 10 years, I am standing up for myself and my children when I see something that is unjust or harsh happening, I speak up now. I let him know in no uncertain terms that I will not stay in the room to be yelled at or berated in front of our children. I will take myself and my children right out of the house and down the road if he get’s out of line. I have to. Boundaries is what they call it. I wish I could live with my head in the sand and blindly trust in my husbands ultimate desire for my wellbeing and goodness towards me… but I can’t. God’s goodness, YES. But not his- not like he’s seeking out my destruction or to tear me down but it could get that way if I didn’t stand up and demand respect. I feel like when we (the church) bring up the scriptures to women that they are to submit to their husbands, we really forget to mention that it also says to submit to one another. That things are and can be so much more complicated than the assumption that if a woman does her part, of course the man is going to live up to the godly, loving part all the time. And I know you didn’t say that directly- I’m just going on the stereotypes of the church in general here. I’ve let my husband make mistakes. I’ve been submissive. And for the most part, I really feel like I still am modeling that submissiveness to my children- but it’s not so cut and dried for me. And I think we do women in the church a disservice when we don’t address the more complicated scenarios because it can so easily lead to a woman allowing her husband to be hurtful to the family and maybe even abusive, and leading a woman to feel that she should be quiet and accept this behavior and also that if she finds herself in this position, the church will not support her. Just my thoughts.

    Reply
  33. Also… what about the strong female leaders in the Bible like Deborah? See the book of Judges. Clearly she not only led men, but a whole nation to victory in war- and was endorsed by God to do so even as a married women. I am all for male leadership and as a woman, leaving space for a man to lead. I once stepped down from our churches core team for this reason. But there are times where women play a critical role in leadership, even over men, and do so biblically. It seems like rehashing the same message “wives submit to your husbands” while ignoring the rest of the Bible, we are trying to put women (or God himself, depending on how you look at it) in a box that says women were designed to look, act, behave, in a certain role that excludes any exceptions to a preconceived rule- when in fact, there was more room for interpretation of female roles given by God if you consider the context of the entire Bible and not just one part. I’m not saying wives shouldn’t submit, I’m just saying that somehow, that same passage should be congruous with the whole of Scripture and if you are going to apply that one bit (submit to your husbands in everything) as a motto for your life to be followed without exception, you are taking it out of context and applying it in a way God never intended. We need to appreciate the Grace and Truth that characterizes the whole of Scripture and understand that God doesn’t serve up easy formula’s that guarantee our success in life, marriage or relationships- but also, neither are we defined by the law except to point out our need for a Saviour and that Christ fulfilled the law. So let’s set stereotypes aside, give ourselves and each other a health dose of Grace and freedom in Christ to pursue God’s best for us as indidviduals and women even if that doesn’t look quite like we imagined it would or should. Let’s let servant leadership characterize us as women and mothers without letting it lead us into legalism.

    Reply

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Beyonce-ism And The New Kind Of Womanhood - emily t. wierenga | emily t. wierenga - […] I am not a feminist. But I do believe in the value of women, in the same way that …

i'm so glad you're here, friend. how are you?