Dear Traditional North American Church,
It’s been a while since we last talked. Admittedly I have been more of an outside observer than a participant inside your walls over the last year, but I have noticed something that I’d like to bring to your attention,
You tell the women in your congregations to be submissive, that men are the spiritual head of their household. You have created a tradition of male leadership and your opinions about the roles of males and females in good Christian families has been accepted by many as doctrine. I think you may have missed a few things when you choose to hold that idea in a tightly closed fist.
You neglected to tell us that in Genesis when God created Eve He was not creating a servant for Adam. The Hebrew words for “helpmeet” (Which by the way is a word that was coined around about 1604) (Genesis 2:18) are Ezer k’gnedo which means “the help that opposes.”
“The Rabbis explain this term like two posts of equal weight leaned against one another. They stand because of equal force.” (A Year of Biblical Womanhood, Rachel Held Evans).
Eve was not less than Adam. She was created to be his companion, they were intended to mutually exist and support each other.
You’ve left out the background information of Paul’s Letters and given us isolated verses on which to base our marriages. I have never heard an explanation from the pulpit of Greco Roman household codes and how they play into Paul’s views and instructions. I believe this is crucial context to understanding the time and culture Paul wrote in and the pattern of marital relationships back then.
What about Eshet Chayil? Woman of valor! Somewhere along the line you forgot to tell our men about this. Perhaps you didn’t realize that proverbs 31:10-31 is not a prescription for a woman, but praise for a wife from her husband.
Church, some of our marriages are based on these patriarchal teachings that have been upheld so that those with the most power in our society maintain that power. Details have been left out and we have trusted you and your somewhat skewed interpretations of scripture. I know women who started out their holy unions believing that a good Christian wife is submissive in all things and now they are realizing the lack of freedom in their situations.This is a heavy burden to have placed on the women of God.
I am saddened by the worry and heart ache I see in some of my sisters whose natural bent is not to stay quiet and obey. I am saddened that my friends who feel the call to leadership are silenced. I’m saddened by the sermons that are not being preached by women, because they are women and their voices are proclaimed to lack authority when they speaks to the males of our species..
Perhaps it’s time for a few revisions on popular church practices?
I appreciate your attention to these matters Church.
*Please note: I have used the term church here in the broad sense. There are some wonderful, life giving churches out there that lift up and affirm all of their people… for that I applaud you.