The biblical problem is described in our first post on this topic and it would be advisable to read that one first before continuing in the series. The quotes we are using to present Ms. Evans’, (and people like her), views come from he blog post titled The Absurd Legalism of Gender Roles found at the following link: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/absurd-legalism-gender-roles-submission-piper
We continue with her next point:
Not surprisingly, trying to force first century societal norms onto modern-day marriages has proven…complicated…even among those who subscribe to this approach. I remember countless conversations in the dorm rooms of my conservative Christian college about how to defer to a guy as the “spiritual leader” in a relationship, an ideal that far too often resulted in women deliberately diminishing their own gifts, ideas, and dreams in an effort to better play second fiddle.
Nobody is forcing Ms. Evans or anyone else to follow first century societal norms. What is written in the Bible concerning the conduct of husbands and wives in marriage, and conduct of the members of God’s church, is GOD SAYING ‘this is how I want marriage to be done.’ It is not a patriarchal society/cultural influence upon scripture; it is not a conspiracy of men trying to force their ideas upon couples; it is not evil trying to get people to disobey God.
The instructions that we have in the Bible come from God alone and he has set the rules for how he wants his institution of marriage to abide by. God is not forcing anyone to follow these rules, for he has given couples free choice to obey or not.
Ms. Evans’ words imply that she thinks that marriage was different in the first century than it is now. She would be wrong for marriage has not changed since God created it.Nor have the rules changed. If anything has changed it is the attitude of those who do not want to obey God and do marriage his way. If those women diminished their own gifts, then they did so out of misunderstanding what the term ‘helpmeet’ means and how it applies to a marriage.
First, the word is not limited to the woman only doing the domestic chores around the house. Second, that word does not say that a woman cannot be educated. Third, the application of that word does not stop women from exercising their spiritual gifts or talents. To be a great helpmeet to their spouses, women need to be correctly education, get wisdom and understanding as Proverbs teaches, obtain the fruits of the spirit and so on. They need to do this in order to help their husbands lead the family by providing correct information to him, giving him wise counsel, understanding his problems and helping him solve them
It is misguided thinking to claim that women have to exercise their spiritual gifts in the church alone.They have their home as well to minister to their husbands and families. Too many people think that they can only minister in a professional or church setting but that is far from the reality as unbelievers need to experience God and they won’t if spiritual gifts are restricted to the church setting only.
If there is anyone forcing their ways upon others, it is people like Ms. Evans who think that their ideas trump God’s instructions to wives. For some reason they think they know better than God on how to run a family and ignore his instructions in favor of those ideas they prefer. They want to lead instead of following and that is a problem for God has already established who is the leader of the family.
One’s gifts are not diminished if they ‘play second fiddle’. That is like saying a substitute player has diminished his skills because he is not a starter. The logic behind such statements are ridiculous and misapplied. people just do not understand how to conduct themselves in marriage or they have been taught by those who have bad ideas about husbands and wives but they are never to old to learn the truth and make changes in their lives, though they cannot change God’s rules.
Forced gender roles impacts relationships in countless negative ways, but the one I want to unpack here is the way this form of legalism can hamper honest communication between spouses by requiring women to “influence” their husbands without ever actually leading them.
If there are forced gender roles, then maybe Ms. Evans should look at secular culture and see where those ideas came from. While Sarah and other biblical women may not have led their families and did a lot of the cooking, you will also find that they did other things as well. Sarah ruled her slaves, Esther saved her people and on the list can go. The people with blinders on are those like Ms. Evans who refuse to see how broad a life biblical women actually lead.
What we see in Ms. Evans’ words is her dislike for domestic chores.She has concluded that being restricted to non-leadership roles has made her into a slave and she resents that. It is a mistaken conclusion to make and one made from limited reasoning. She seems to not understand what the word ‘influence’ means. Providing wise counsel is influencing a husband but it is providing him with the right information so that he can make the best decision for his family. Husbands may not have all the facts and his wife should see that and help him find out all the pertinent details before making a decision that is disastrous for the family.
Women need to speak up to help keep their family from ruin. This is not influencing or taking leadership but normal family life. BUT the wife needs to make sure she has the right information and the right wisdom and understanding and not speaking purely out of her selfish desire or is under the influence of evil or well-meaning people who do not pay the cost if things go wrong.
The wife needs to learn that she has to have the truth as well. Speaking up is more than just giving a subjective opinion.There is a reason Solomon throughout the Book of Proverbs tells his readers to get wisdom and understanding. Understanding will help men and women grasp what their roles entail and help them be content with them. It will also help them see what is the true definition of the word submit and lead them to practice their marriage the way God wants it to be done, keeping them away from such bad and useless arguments presented by Ms. Evans and people like her.
Understanding also tells the couple that God set the rules for marriage and that he did not give humans any authority to change those rules.The rules did not come from a patriarchal society or culture but from the most holy God who knows what is right and wrong. He wants to keep his people from the latter but sadly too many people opt for the latter because they cannot accept and follow his rules. They prefer the secular way over God’s way.
Marriage is complicated enough without adding disobedience to God’s rules to the mix. Ms. Evans and people like her seem to want marriage their way andnot God’s and that is not smart nor wise. Nor is it being a good helpmeet.