Thursday, April 23, 2009

Overcoming the Gender Effect of the Fall I

Complementarians cite numerous NT Bible verses (like this, this, this and this) for their approach to male domination in Christian marriage. Is that what's really intended by those scriptures? I don't believe it is, and I think, generally, that kind of thinking is based on a faulty understanding of gender, it's place in God's plan, and the far reaching implications of our redemption in Christ Jesus (see the link in the title).

That the scriptures command wives to submit to their husbands is beyond doubt. That, however, is not the same as saying to husbands, "rule over your wives." That is the assumption (and it most certainly is an assumption) I see in the complementarian approach to Christian marriage. It leads to the unfortunate and faulty conclusion that Jesus' passion and resurrection may have cured many of the ills of the Fall in the here and now, but it didn't get near the gender consequences of it.

Eve, and all women through her were cursed to live in this natural world under the physical and societal domination of their husbands, though they would have an inward desire to master those men. Since the Fall, it has been natural for women to desire to maneuver, manipulate, and manage their dominant husbands. Even in the church world, this reality has been the fodder of the humor mill, as attested in old jokes like Aisle, Altar, Hymn. But Jesus changes all that!

From my particular egalitarian viewpoint the NT commands to wives to submit to their husbands actually prove the point: they merely say to Christian women, "don't do that kind of thing, you have been redeemed from the curse. Stop trying to master your husbands and submit to your partnership with them." The battle of wills in the Christian household is one gender effect of the the Fall that must be overcome!