Anne and I recently had a conversation with a married friend who has a traditional/hierarchical/complementarian marriage perspective. His fallible interpretation of a handful of controversial Bible texts includes a husband having authority over his wife. He questioned our “co-leadership” marriage position, stating; “God is a God of order, someone has to wear-the-pants—and in my marriage that’s me!”
We explained that we try to live our marriage based on God’s original marriage design—in the beginning.
Before sin entered the story both the man and woman were created in the image of God—they were intrinsically equal (Genesis 1:27). And both the man and woman were given the procreation and dominion mandates—they were functionally equal (Genesis 1:28).
If God’s original marriage design included the husband having a measure of authority, being a spiritual cover, or the designated leader over his wife—God never mentions it in the Creation story.
Review the text, after creating humans God addressed the plurality of persons. He blessed both the man and woman (Genesis 1:28a). He declared the miracle of two becoming one (Genesis 2:24). And the mystery of a married couple being naked without shame (Genesis 2:25).
In the beginning … God never commanded the woman to submit to or obey the man. Male rulership, patriarchy, misogyny, hierarchy, sexism, forced female subordination, and later marriage views (hierarchical- traditional- complementarian) all came after sin entered the story.
Let’s briefly review different marriage views:
+ In the male rulership marriage view (Gen.3:16)—gender trumps.
+ In the hierarchical/traditional/complementarian marriage views—gender trumps.
+ In the egalitarian marriage view as we currently understand it, functional equality and mutuality are highly valued.
The decisions making process includes: couples compromising by seeking middle ground; deciding to defer the matter to a trusted third party after agreeing to abide to his/her decision; or if a decision affects one spouse more than the other, the spouse who has more at stake in the decision should have more to say in it.
In the egalitarian marriage view—pre-agreed on process trumps.
God’s original marriage design (what we call co-leadership) is similar to the egalitarian marriage view because functional equality and mutuality are highly valued. However, a couple’s main focus is including God as they both I.O.T.L. (inquire of the Lord). And they wait for both the husband and wife to have green-lights from God before making decisions. In co-leadership—God trumps.
Back to my friend’s statement; someone has to wear-the-pants in a marriage. We explained that after being married forty years, and passionately living out equality/mutuality/co-leadership principles, we have found that our marriage works best—and is by far the most joyful—when figuratively speaking neither of us wears any pants!
Tim+Anne Evans have been married forty years and continue to passionately explore God’s marriage mystery of two becoming one. They are both ordained ministers and each have master and doctor of practical ministries diplomas from Wagner Leadership Institute. They are parents, grandparents, spiritual parents, authors, and pastoral counselors. Their book; “TOGETHER Reclaiming Co-Leadership in Marriage” focuses on marriage … in the beginning. Tim is a retired fire chief; Anne is a licensed nurse and certified life purpose coach. Together they co-lead REAL LIFE Ministries full time. Find out more at www.TimPlusAnne.com.
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