I said I wasn’t going to write anything this weekend, but inspiration knocked and I answered! Plus, I felt like I needed to share these thoughts with you before I could discuss my doubts about feminism and egalitarianism.
I, Sarah Moon, the feminist, the egalitarian, the independent, 21st century woman, have a confession to make….
Sometimes I clean my boyfriend’s apartment.
Now, if you think I do so wearing a sun dress and pearls while whistling to that song from Snow White, you’ve got another thing coming (if anything, I play broom guitar while belting out Pink Floyd, but that’s another story). But, believe it or not, there have been a couple of times where my boyfriend came home to a clean apartment, thanks to me.
One of those times was last week. I had recently had a short relapse back into my self-injury addiction and was having a rough time as a result. My boyfriend, being the awesome guy that he is, invited me over, bought me Taco Bell, gave me a shoulder to cry on, allowed me to sleep on his couch, and let me relax (and play his video games) at his razor-blade free house while he was at work the next day.
He went out of his way for me. He took care of me when I was depressed (and I am NOT fun to be around when I am depressed). So, when I was feeling better, I cleaned his apartment out of gratitude for his hospitality.
Because Abraham (yes…my boyfriend’s name is Abraham and my name is Sarah. If you can come up with a joke about that that I haven’t heard before, I’ll be highly impressed!) and I hope to have a Christ-centered marriage in the future, I try to practice the principals for marriage that Paul laid out in Ephesians 5:22-25 (feminist friends, stick with me, and complementarian friends, don’t get too excited)
22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her
When Abe gives to me sacrificially (even if he’s only “bearing the cross” of paying for my Taco Bell), I want to respond by giving back to him, just as I want to give back to the Christ who gave sacrificially to me.
Some people stop here. They come to this conclusion- men give, women receive. Men act, women respond. Men lead, women follow.
But I think we need to back up a bit. Yup put those Bibles into reverse and take a look at verse 21.
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
One another. As in EVERYONE in the body of Christ has got to do some submitting here.
Here’s the thing- we’re ALL called to love like Christ. And we’re ALL called to submit to those who show us Christ-like love. We’re all supposed to give and we’re all supposed to receive gratefully. We’re all supposed to act and we’re all supposed to respond to action. We’re all supposed to lead in some ways and all supposed to follow in others.
I helped my boyfriend move into his new apartment in April. So, he responded by returning the favor when I moved into my new house last month. He even did my dishes.
See? That time I gave and he submitted.
Was that wrong? Does that make me a usurper of male authority? Does it make my boyfriend “whipped?”
No, no, and no! I don’t carry a whip in this relationship, and neither does he. We don’t have to, because there is mutual giving and mutual submission.
Now, sometimes, one gender may have to give more. In Paul’s time, most women had less to give, unfortunately. They had almost no political power and were treated very much like property. Paul must have seen the Spiderman movie, because he recognized that men had more power and therefore gave them more responsibility.
Paul’s words are still relevant today. But things have changed.
Women have more power today than they did (speaking as an American. Tragically, things are even worse than they were in Paul’s day for some countries), and to suggest that women shouldn’t use that power based on Ephesians 5 is to miss Paul’s point which is this:
Give to the weaker vessel. That’s what Christ did.
The “weaker vessel” isn’t always the woman in this culture. In most relationships, a husband will be weaker in some areas of life and a wife will be weaker in others. And, no, there are no areas where a man should be stronger or vise-versa. Gender roles are silly. Individual roles, based on each person’s own strengths and personality, are the way to go!
So, man or woman, husband or wife- if you have something to give the world, give it!
And man or woman, husband or wife- follow the example of those who give to you by giving back.
It’s not about power.
It’s about continuing a cycle of love.