Jared White
Expressively Publishing on the Open Web Since 1996

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Jared White

How Can a Marriage Work if No One is in Charge?

[While talking with] an acquaintance of mine…he said that, generally, in his marriage, decisions are made together. But if ever there is an important decision they can’t agree on, he makes the final call as leader of the household. His examples of situations where this rule might apply were, “which house to buy, what city to live in, or how many children to have.” I was flabbergasted. He was actually saying that if his wife disagreed with him on which house to live in or how many children they should have, that he would get the final say. This was a much bigger deal than pepperoni or pineapple on your pizza. These were life altering decisions that he would make, knowingly going against his wife’s wishes, because he is a man, and gets the final say.

In some circles within Evangelical Christianity, there exists an ideology known as complementarianism, which claims that in both church and home contexts, God’s will for men and women is that they have different and distinct roles that are “complementary” with each other. This view results in the troubling endorsement of patriarchy—that is, men are to lead and women are to follow their leading.

I appreciated reading this article by Kelly Ladd Bishop because she did an excellent job illustrating just how absurd and offensive this position is to those of us who are egalitarians. Not only do we endorse egalitarianism in marriage, church, and life—we can’t even fathom how to do it any other way. I couldn’t possibly imagine overruling my wife in any sort of important matter. Why in God’s name would I want to? Either we’re a team or we’re not. We do the hard work of building towards consensus in order to move forward (or not) on something vital. It’s not about who’s going to win and who’s going to lose. That’s a sad, sad perspective and simply not a valid portrayal of the deeply relational character of God and of Christ.

#marriage #ecclesiology

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