Society has taught and conditioned women to see men as God’s placement over them. As a result, women are expected, commanded and mandated to unconditionally submit to men.
This unconditional submission introduces many irregularities into the psyche of women. For example, although no one trusts anyone without first ascertaining they are dependable, from the moment men and women interact, women are expected to trustingly hand over their decision-making agencies to men because men make the decisions.
As a result, in many close relationships between men and women, women tend to suppress their natural, rational abilities and acuities. Leaving all important decision-making to their male counterparts, because to do otherwise, is to interfere with the ‘natural order.’
But I would argue that the natural order IS that both man and woman are equally gifted with wisdom and intellect as people equally created God’s image (Gen.1:26). Discrepancy of wisdom and intellect is an individual thing, rather than gender based.
I would further argue that the Fall resulted because in that one moment in time, there was no discriminatory, independent use of individual faculties but rather one of unquestionably yielding to or following the other (Gen.3:17a-c). As such, we still deviate from the natural created order by requiring one party to always submit to the other.
The Scriptures teach us to individually exercise the discriminate acceptance of authoritative truth (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim.2:15; 1 Jn. 4) . No where is this more evident than in the narratives of male and female interaction in marriage. We will consider two biblical examples: Sarah and Abraham; Abigail and Nabal.
Whereas most of us would agree that Sarah’s decision to make her slave-girl her husband, Abraham’s concubine was wrong in the first place, we would be shocked to hear God tell Abraham in Genesis 21:12 to listen to Sarah when she wants to evict the slave-girl and her son!
The Scriptures introduced and described Abigail and Nabal thus, “She was an intelligent and beautiful woman, but her husband was surly and mean in his dealings—he was a Calebite” (1 Sam. 25:3b). In this narrative, Abigail saves her family by the independent use of her rational faculties, rather than an unconditional submission to her husband’s lack of acuity.
This narrative is a clear example that wisdom, the ability to lead and make good decisions are not located in gender, but in individuals!
It is also a clear example that a woman can and should override her husband’s faulty decisions and leadership when necessary! This can only be possible IF gender is NOT normative for leadership and decision-making.
The church and society’s practice of demanding unconditional and one-way submission from women robs women of this right to exist as individuals who responsibly use their God-given gifts of rationality and judgment, and prevents them from being the leaders that their families and communities might need.
All my life, I have heard the phrase “Two heads are better than one.” Even the Scriptures affirm the benefit of more than one insight, perspective and counsel (Prov. 11:22, 15:22). Furthermore, Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, has often been used by marriage proponents to argue for marriage over singleness.
In the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the Greek mother, Maria Portokalos, proudly boasts that her husband is the ‘head’ while she is the ‘neck…’
Yet, after marriage, everything complementarian theology teaches is contrary to these Scripture recommendation. Instead of women contributing their thought and intellect to decision-making, it is encouraged to be subdued!
When women surrender their right to use their own judgment, they, their families and consequently, society at large, ultimately bear the negative consequences of the bad decisions that could be made by the men in their lives.
Contrary to faulty teachings, thoughts and expectations, unconditional and one-sided submission is neither proof of love, nor proof of God’s order.
Rather, it is proof of irresponsibility and personal lack of accountability on both sides!
Women can and should make up their own minds, contribute to decision-making and call out and reject any wrong decisions made by anyone (including any man) in her life…
Among many cultures of people of color, men (fathers, brothers, uncles, husbands, etc.) make the decisions and women are supposed to unquestionably submit their agency to these decisions, no matter what. In such cultures it is taboo to question or reject the decisions made by the men of the family or community and this has resulted in much oppression of women, first as daughters, then as sisters, nieces and cousins and then as wives!
Where does a woman of color go to be free in her culture???
Such practices silence women and perpetuate the fallacy that women lacks rational trustworthy faculties of her own and diminishes her humanity. For if she lacks rationality, which is one of the distinguishing characteristics of being a human being, then perhaps she is NOT human, but rather an animal who needs to be led and ordered by men???
But since the Bible tells us that women are human beings too, I would argue that no culture or society support or give voice to a relationship, leadership or system where women are always submitting to and being led by men, but that they should lead ‘together.’
Instead we MUST present a biblical relationship paradigm that affirms the humanity of both men and women. As such…
Both can lead.
Both can exercise individual judgment and follow the path deemed best by either.
Both can and should trust each other’s abilities, not because of gender, but because of individual endowment and ability.
As people of color, we must desist from the practice of indoctrinating men and women about the permanent submission of women to men, as strongly as we refute the teachings of slavery – that infernal belief one should be subject to another because of the color of one’s skin!
People of color must reject and refute indoctrinating men and women about permanent submission of women to men, as we rejected and refuted Adolf Hitler’s Aryanism that sought to subjugate and eliminate people because he believed some nationalities were lesser than others.
People are not more or less than others by virtue of either ethnicity, phenotype or anatomy. And IF women are equally people, then women of all nations, colors and sizes must have an equal place and voice at the table with men of all nations.