One thing historians like Yuval Noah Harari have established in their study of the past and human society is the universality of patriarchy. Their finding was that, in every human society from past to present, there seems to be a stable trend of male domination. It is prevalent in every institution — from glass-ceiling, the relegation of the woman’s role to the menial and her subjugation.
What I have found sad, though, is the manifestation of this in the Church and Christian homes. You know the narrative already — a woman must be submissive; the man is the head of the home… A preacher even said recently, and this is me quoting him, ‘a man and a woman may be equal but a husband and wife are not.’
Any attempt to question this line of thought is always deemed as a challenge to God’s Word. And this to me, is hypocritical — this cherry-picking certain parts of the scriptures, holding on to those that agree with our polarity and discarding the ones that don’t. We weave teachings and revelations around the scriptures; it doesn’t matter if our understanding and interpretation of it are subjective or not.
For example, despite the finished works of Christ which should have put an end to tithing, many preachers still collect it and back it up with teachings. Or didn’t Paul say that a woman is not allowed to teach? But today we have women preachers and ministries headed by women that are doing great. We seem to embrace the progressiveness of knowledge and revelation, argue that context should be put into perspective when debating some topics, yet there are some teachings and thoughts that can’t be challenged?
I am not comfortable with faith, with knowledge or revelation that can’t be questioned. We cloaked our inability to question as a form of reverence, but this is why most believers manifest cognitive dissonance, the dissonance of their belief and reality.
There are many ways I could question this subject of submission and the subtle subjugation it often leads to. I can take the premix of context: when and to whom… In that portion of Ephesians that Paul wrote that wives should submit to their husbands, he wrote that slaves should submit to their masters too. Now, this begs a simple question — did Paul supported slavery?
Err… let us put into consideration the definition of gender roles in that time and what it is now — a time when, to a large extent wives depend on the husband, when the man is the primary provider, compared to this present economic climate where both the man and the woman, the husband and the wife are both providers (and in certain cases the woman providing more).
Sometimes, I wonder why Christian men are so particular about submission, why they are so demanding of it. Is it because of their submission to God’s Word or the lubrication of their ego?
So what am I rambling about, you may ask. Am I saying that wives should not submit to their husbands?
Certainly not! Wisdom tells that for every relationship to be successful, there must be submission, honour, love and respect. And so wives must submit.
What I am faulting, though, is this lopsidedness of submission. Is submission the sole duty of the wife alone? Is the wife really unequal to her husband?
What if submission in marriage should be based on the principle of mutuality — the wife submitting and the man submitting too?
I understand why genuine people seem to walk on eggshells when discussing certain topics, but I believed that a God who called his people to reason together with him will have no problem with man applying reason to decipher certain issues.
We cannot discard the place of logic and reason, the place of evolving changing orders and redefinition of gender roles on the premix that we should not question authority. Martin Luther’s protestant revolution was fuelled not only by revelation but by the bravery of a man to question what the authority said something is.
So yes, I am tired of the subtle subjugation of Christian women, the idea that a woman’s purpose is tied to that of her husband’s because she is the helpmeet, as if she can’t have a separate assignment and purpose.
You hear certain teachings in Christian seminars and you get appalled. Only God knows how many women have had to forget their dreams, passion and calling because they have to submit to a man and his purpose, a man who never cared to ask, to know whether his wife has her own expressions — career and ministry wise.
I think it’s time we confront the lopsided teaching of submission with all honesty.