I am a feminist. I know, I know. That sounds really bad because some people who call themselves feminists hate everyone who isn’t a feminist, and some of them hate wearing clothes. I am not one of those. I would much rather wear clothes, and I don’t hate anyone. When I say I am a feminist, this is what I mean. I mean that women are just as capable as men to fill roles that seem to be more masculine. I do fully understand that men are biologically built to be stronger, fitter, more capable of hard labor than women. Yes, men are generally better at digging holes in the ground or carrying pianos. And that is ok. To say that men are usually physically stronger than most women is not a chauvinistic thing to say, it is simply true. But here is where it can get tender. Do men make better doctors, lawyers, CEO’s? Nope, that opinion is chauvinistic. It is an opinion that has been breeding for years, as women have been pampered, babied, refused admittance to college, and maybe turned away from certain professional positions based solely on their gender. You know what else? Women still get paid less than men in certain positions, even if they accomplish the same amount of work in the same amount of time. This is unacceptable, especially in a world full of women who carry so much potential.
There are even chauvinistic tendencies in the church. I know, I know, gasp. It is even probably more accurate to say that there are even more chauvinistic tendencies in the church and in highly conservative circles. Now before you cry heresy, please hear me out.
One thing that is spoken of regularly in conservative circles, is submission. If you have older friends, older relatives, or have watched old movies, you are probably very familiar with this concept. Basically, it portrays the woman being weak—to some degree, whether it be conversationally, physically, spiritually—and the man maintaining some kind of dominance over her. And this isn’t kept exclusively in marriages. There are men who believe that all women need to be subordinate to them simply because they are male, and the women are female. This, however, is not the case. And, submission to the point of losing one’s own conscience or soul in the process is not biblical. It does not create or foster a healthy, God-honoring marriage, it can lead to an unhealthy view of the opposite sex, and it is not kind or loving.
Yes, the Bible teaches that wives need to submit to their husbands, but the scripture shows that this is a two-way street. Ephesians 5 teaches about this relationship, and the need for a healthy give and take from both parties. Verse 22 says; “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.” See that? Wives submit to your own husbands. That means, those of you women who are married need to submit to your husbands, not other men who think they deserve to be “worshiped.” The word “own” here also refers to a husband and wife owning each other. The husband owns the wife, and the wife also owns the husband. It is a partnership, not a hierarchy. Verse 31 says; “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” The two shall become one, not the man shall rule the wife. They are to be one, to be a team, to serve the Lord together as one unit. And sometimes serving the Lord well means disagreeing with one another. What if the husband is making a decision that he thinks is right, but it does not sit well with the wife? Maybe she has a conscience that is more tender, maybe she has more life experience, maybe she has more clarity about the situation, the list goes on. What would you do? Would you sit and say nothing while your husband make a potentially unwise decision? That might sound like the right option for a wife if she is trying to submit to the authority of her husband. But that is not living in a respectful partnership. The wife, especially as a sister in Christ that is also her husband’s main support system, should take him aside and tell him her concerns. Ideally, the husband would be the spiritual leader of the home. That is something that comes about in a godly man when he is looking toward getting married, and that is something to look for. But sometimes, the wife will know the scriptures better, be able to understand certain concepts better, or even have better discernment. No one should dismiss the input of a woman solely based on her sex, but rather on the validity and truthfulness of what she says or believes to be true. A woman is just as much of a fully functioning human as a man. All of you will most likely agree with that. You’re probably thinking, “Of course they are. Why wouldn’t I think that?” Well, a lot of people do not act as though they think that. There are a lot of hierarchy’s in our society, our churches, our homes. Sure, they are not all detrimental to women, but many of them are.
Men and women are both made in the image of God. They both deserve respect. I do think that there are certain roles men are better suited for, as there are some roles women are better suited for. But as a rule, human beings shouldn’t be excluded, if they are qualified, for anything based on their gender alone. Women shouldn’t be paid less simply because they are women. Women shouldn’t be afraid or ashamed to report any kind of sexual abuse. Women shouldn’t feel as though they won’t be taken seriously just because they are women. No woman should ever be made to feel as though it is her fault if she is assaulted in any way, no matter how she was dressed. There are places for wisdom and discernment for sure, but that is a different discussion.
We need to treat all human beings better truly. But women have been treated wrongly for too long, oppressed for too long, taught to remain silent for too long. We need a generation of women who grow up strong, kind, intelligent, and who love their Savior. How can we cultivate that in the circles we have influence in?