There is a thought and belief going around, mainly among Christians, that is very destructive.
I normally don’t make definitive statements, but I have to about this: Men and women are created equal. Marriage is a partnership, in every sense of that word.
Last week Mark and Grace Driscoll – Pastor Mark is very influential in some circles of Christianity – came to Sacramento to share their thoughts on marriage, love and sex from what they consider the Biblical perspective. While we need to talk about sex, to destigmatize so love-making is not gross and to keep it beautiful so it doesn’t turn into a god, their understanding of the roles of men and women are actually harmful. They are not alone in this belief about marriage and the role of husband and wife. I used to believe this too, but I do not anymore. Many have a particular understanding of some passages of scripture (let alone the way God’s Word – bible here – is to be interacted with) and how we are created as men and women. But these unique roles are actually based in “the world” and not in Jesus Christ.
There’s much written about marriage and men and women in the Bible. I’ll address just a couple of them, but it gets to the heart of the matter, the essence of the Gospel in a world and culture that can strangle the life out of people.
Paul and others wrote the pastoral letters – books written to specific churches in the First CE. In Ephesians and Colossians, typical Roman “household codes” in the description of Christian life are addressed. Both letters address marriage roles for men and women in slightly different ways but both are counter-cultural in a society where men basically owned women in marriage. Paul may have left a “leadership” role for men intact, but the pervasive notion of submitting and love from both husband and wife stand out in his teaching. There’s nothing about how they are created differently, with men in a more powerful position and women as the “weaker sex.” To do that would actually reflect this particular ancient cultural norm Paul was combating!
The problem with reaching for standardized “leadership” roles for men and women from a Christian perspective is that this measure is actually based upon oppressive cultural mores and not Jesus’ gospel. We are all to be respected. We are all to be loved. Equally.
God has created both male and female, but in Christ we are one. To quote another piece of Christian scripture which highlights our equality in God, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
This is freedom. We, men and women (including those who “blur” those lines – Queer, Transgender, etc), are created equal and are one in Christ.
If you need a leader in your marriage, seek Jesus Christ not your mate. Husbands, don’t oppress your wife. Why would you want to do that to her, your love and if you’re fortunate, the mother of your children, anyway?