I remember that Christmas when what I wanted most in the whole world was to be having a baby. We had been hoping to have children for a while, but after some tests we were waiting for an appointment with fertility specialists. It was November when we got the news that conceiving on our own might not be possible, and I was devastated. As Christmas got closer, the last thing I wanted to hear about was pregnancy and babies – and here we were entering a season where a story involving those exact things was all around me.
As both a woman in ministry, and a mom, I often feel like I live in tension.
I’m sure all working moms feel this tension. There’s a constant pull between pastor-me, and mom-me. I have moments where I feel like I’m not using my gifts to the fullest, like I’m not living up to my calling, like I’m not doing all that I could be doing. I look at others, and I feel that twinge of jealousy. How are they doing it? What choices have they made? What is different in their lives?
I thought my dreams were about to come true when I [finally] got married. I left my family, friends, and my job as a pastor in Canada to move to the U.S. for love. I had waited a long time to meet a guy I could partner with in ministry. My American husband had wooed me with his discourse of our shared theological studies, passion for church work, and a vision of us as a happily married couple in ministry together. Babies would complete the picture of our Christian nuclear family. After our vows, I was shocked to immediately find myself in a different kind of nuclear situation: domestic violence.
I should have realized it long ago; I should have recognized the signs.
But I didn’t. I suppose I was so lost in my own ideas that I didn’t notice. My husband and I were both raised in complementarian or patriarchal homes. Both of us were taught that the man was the head of the home, the priest and leader of the family, and that the woman was to submit to his leadership. He was wise to take her counsel, but the ultimate decision lay with him. He, as the man, made the final decision. And the wife submitted.
Soon after our 8th anniversary, we began homeschooling our children. The homeschooling community is, by and large, staunchly patriarchal. I threw myself into the whole scene. Women were to be raised to be keepers at home; there would be no careers for my daughters. I still remember my 5 year old daughter throwing herself on the couch in tears when she realized I didn’t support her desire to become a doctor.
How to Be Egalitarian with a Complementarian Spouse. Well you cry a lot, sometimes, especially in the beginning. You both get mad and accuse the other of not being the person you married. You get into theological fistfights.. You sit opposite each other on the kitchen floor and joust back and forth with “Well how come we care about the prohibition of women teaching but not women wearing gold jewelry?” and “Well despite Jesus being so countercultural in his treatment of women, why were The Twelve all men?”
In 2015, a few months before my wedding, I wrote a blog for the Junia Project titled, 6 Things Egalitarian Marriage is Not. At that point, I had only a theological and biblical understanding of egalitarian marriage. Today, Ryan and I are just just shy of our 2 year anniversary, and I’ve got some egalitarian newlywed experience to offer as a sequel. Two different, individual people coming together to live as one flesh, come to find, is a process! It’s all too easy to live in the world of “me, myself, and I” when it comes to feelings, thoughts, opinions, and decisions. I continue to learn what it means to be “us”, and that what I do always has a direct effect on my husband. With that said, these are the relational dynamics that I’ve found to reveal whether or not an egalitarian marriage is underway.
“I’m looking for book recommendations that are egalitarian friendly and address the subjects of manhood and masculinity. I can’t find anything and our men’s ministry leaders are asking me. Please help!! Thank you!!” B.
An interesting thing happened on the way to writing this post. Since I am not a man, I asked eight men for book suggestions and got back ZERO recommendations. Not because they don’t care about the topic, but because 1) they were not aware of any resources on this, or 2) because there has not been much interest in studying “biblical manhood” in their circles. ALL of them told me they were very interested in anything we could find! It is encouraging that manhood and masculinity are not “hot topics” in church circles that support the shared leadership of men and women in ministry and socials contexts. But there is still a need to provide resources for churches that push back against the harmful “authentic manhood” rhetoric that is popular in some Christian circles today. Here are three books that would work well for individual or group study and are written from an egalitarian perspective.
Eugene Hung is a talented writer and fierce advocate for women. He recently started a new blog –feministasiandad.com – and we can’t get enough! He graciously let us repost this from his site so we could share it with all of you and spread the word about his inspiring new blog. Check it out and give him […]
On the third Wednesday of each month I set up camp in a conference room at the hospital where I work. I set out water bottles, a tray of cookies, and boxes of tissue. I post signs throughout the hallway, and then sit down and wait. As the clock nears 6:00 pm they start to arrive – the surviving spouses of the hospice patients I have served. Sometimes they smile when they see me, other times they make it through the door just barely, a bewildered and tired look in their eyes.
It seems odd that I, a 29 year old with less than 5 years of marriage under my belt, would be tasked with running a support group for bereaved spouses. In reality I do very little to ease the burden of grief. I give group members permission to talk about their loved ones and their loss. I sit and bear witness; sometimes I have to tell myself to stay and be present, and other times I am captivated and drink in their stories.
The latter was the case with a man who attended my group in March. He was old enough to be my parent and then some, but by far the youngest person in the group. He was also the most reserved.
It’s wedding season! Today Katie Manning shares some creative ways she and her husband, Jon, applied their egalitarian values to the engagement and wedding experience. At the end of the post is a link to our free resource for planning an egalitarian wedding ceremony. Here’s Katie: As my husband and I approach our 12th wedding anniversary, and as we’re attending another round of friends’ weddings this summer, I find myself thinking again about the many ways “traditional” engagements and weddings in the U.S. still rely on symbols and rituals that portray women as property to be exchanged between men.
So to celebrate our anniversary, here are some things that worked for Jon and I when we wanted our engagement and wedding to reflect our egalitarian relationship. THE PROPOSALS – The final “s” in this heading is not a typo. Jon and I had been dating for over two years and knew we wanted to get married. I decided to propose. He needed a new Bible, so I got him one as a Valentine’s Day gift, and inside I placed a homemade bookmark that said some lovely things and concluded, “Will you marry me?” His face was beaming.
Today would have been my parent’s 61st wedding anniversary. Mom passed away from complications due to Alzheimer’s two years ago and significant dates always trigger reflection on her life and her marriage to the wonderful man who is my dad. Today that reflection centered on the fact that while their marriage was traditional in […]
Ephesians 5:21-33 is often cited as a proof text to endorse male leadership in the home.
In this text, wives are instructed to submit to their husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. Pretty clear, right?
Well, perhaps not. As with the other passages, we need to consider the broader context to discern what’s going on.
The most important thing to notice is that the relationship between husbands and wives is not the main theme that Paul is addressing.
When I first met my husband, I wanted nothing to do with him. For a start, he was a Sydney Anglican, and I was a Pentecostal. While both Christian traditions, this meant (in my mind at least) that while my church believed women and men were equally suited to ministry, his considered men teachers and leaders, but women assistants and helpers. The Sydney diocese was known for its “Headship Theology”. I had experienced plenty of misogyny in my life and didn’t want any more.
Tim was a popular worship leader and youth music director in his Anglican Church. And he wasn’t concerned by these differences. Following our first meeting, he told all his friends that I was going to marry him, and I got the nickname “the wife”. That felt awkward.
I’m a southern girl, the middle child, one of three daughters in my family of five. My daddy gloried in raising up three, strong-willed women. He taught us early on to assert ourselves, with frequent reminders to never let anyone walk all over us, to stand up for ourselves because we mattered. He believed we could do anything we set our minds to, challenging us and giving his all as he raced us around the go-cart track, pushing us to play our best during family basketball games, never taking it easy because we were girls.
I admired my dad and longed for his approval, and there was never a moment from my childhood, adolescence, or adulthood when I didn’t receive it. When meeting others, he introduced my sisters and me with the pride of an Olympian, placing his arm around our shoulders and smiling down on us, his three gold medals.
Was it then I became an Egalitarian? Did my dad’s ability to see beyond my gender to my soul shape my views on my place in the world?
I sat down across the table from her. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and I was excited to catch up. She was a youth pastor, one of those with an obvious call on her life for ministry. But as I looked into her eyes, I could see she was worn out. She […]