A few weeks ago, I dug out my old prayer journals from years ago. I began journaling to God, when I gave my life to Jesus as a 13-year-old. I have always had a great desire to be married, even as a little girl. I basically had three interests as a teenager and young woman: Jesus, shopping at Forever 21, and BOYS.
As I read through some of my journals from age 13 to 22, I could not help but laugh at my obsession with finding “the one.”
As a woman who grew up in the conservative evangelical church, I believed that I needed to find a husband who would be my spiritual leader and whom I could respect enough to submit to.
What is interesting is that my minister parents never taught me to look for this. Gender roles were not something my family practiced. My parents were equal partners in ministry and business; there was no subordination whatsoever, and they both financially provided for our family.
My mom led our family in her strong areas and my dad led our family in his strong areas. They rarely fought about anything, at least not in front of my sister and me. Today, they have been married for almost 40 years, still hold hands, and smile at each other as if they were married yesterday.
Yet, even with their excellent example of an egalitarian marriage, I still somehow got it into my head that I was supposed to marry a spiritual leader that I could submit to.
As a teenager, I was probably the strongest Christian leader in my high school, and definitely one of the strongest Christian leaders in my whole town. I remember thinking to myself, “How will I ever find a man that is a stronger spiritual leader than I am?”
As a naturally strong-willed and deeply spiritual teen, I thought that I needed to find a guy who was more strong-willed and more spiritual than I was. In fact, I broke up with my high school sweetheart because I didn’t think he was “the one” to tame me.
I went to Bible school at Christ for the Nations in Dallas, TX, where I roomed with Kari Jobe my first semester. Maybe you have heard of her? A strong female leader indeed; one who sings God’s Word over both women and men, and leads a creative team of both women and men (including her husband).
At CFNI I thought for sure I would find this ideal “spiritual leader,” whom I could get behind and support. There were a few guys there that I would say were on my level of “spiritual leaderness,” but either I was not attracted to them, or they were not attracted to me.
I knew from an early age that I was called to devote my life to ministry, so I knew that I had to marry a man who felt he could do the same. My nature has always been particular, from the men I chose, to the brand of ice cream I eat. I also knew that I was not looking to date just to date. I did that in high school, and it was a disaster that ended in two broken hearts.
I decided at 18 years old that the next guy I seriously dated, would be the man I married, which proved to be one of the wisest decisions I had ever made.
So, from age 18 to 22, I did not have any boyfriends. Sometimes a guy would like me, and we would grab coffee or whatever, but I was petrified of getting involved with any guy who was not “the one.”
As a sensitive soul, I could not emotionally handle another breakup from a serious relationship.
I also knew how much I enjoyed physical affection, and wanted to avoid the temptation to give my virginity away to the wrong man. It was important to me that my husband be the first person I had sex with. I knew from my far from perfect high school relationship how damaging a physical relationship can be, when it is outside of the context of marriage.
I graduated from Southwestern Assemblies of God University, in Waxahachie, TX, in 2006. I had gained a Bachelors in Church Ministries, but no husband-to-be. I took advantage of my single life; I traveled to Europe to follow the footsteps of the Apostle Paul, and spent two weeks in the uncivilized mountains of Papua New Guinea to serve the poor and spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
Yet, even with all of the exciting things I got to do as a young single woman, my heart cry was to be married.
I spent one year teaching 7th grade in a small Christian private school, because I could not find a job in ministry. Many pastoral positions would say, “only men should apply” or “we are looking for God’s man for the job.” I had no desire to be a children’s minister, so I got a job teaching Junior High.
Quite honestly, I didn’t really care if those kids learned mathematics; I was more interested in giving them an experience with Jesus. So I planned a spiritual retreat for the whole junior high, and focused much of my energy on teaching them the Bible. I was called to be a minister, not a junior high teacher, but I made the best of it.
Since it seemed the evangelical church did not want me as a minister because I was born female, I went to graduate school. I thought that I would try to become a Church History & Theology professor. In the back of my mind though, I hoped that if I had a master’s degree, someone would overlook my gender and give me a chance to be faithful to my calling. I also hoped that I would find “the one” who would be my “spiritual leader.”
To be honest, I did not even know what a husband being my “spiritual leader” would look like, except that he would lead us in Bible devotions, prayer, and possibly make “final decisions.” The fantasy I had was not fully developed, but I knew that I was looking for a man that was close to morally perfect, stronger-willed than me, and even more interested in God and ministry than I was.
Yet, at 22 years old, it was becoming increasingly clear that the man I was searching for did not exist. There was, however, one young man that captured my attention. First of all, his look was not right. I was looking to marry someone with a tan complexion and dark features, not a blond with blue eyes. But I found myself wildly attracted to him.
Secondly, he was not studying the right subject. I was looking for a man in the divinity school that I was in, not a man about to graduate with his master’s degree in government. Yet, I found myself intrigued with this man’s intellect. To make matters worse, this man told me he was a democrat. WHAT?! I had never even heard of a Christian democrat before. Is it even possible to be both a Christian and a democrat?!
At the time, I was a part-time youth director at a small Presbyterian church, so I invited this so-called “Christian democrat” to help me with my youth group. This was sort of our first date. The youth and I were spending an evening serving at-risk women and children, and I was blown away by how this young man related to the youth, how he interacted with the women, and how he played with the children.
This was a good sign that he would be able to handle a life of ministry, but he was far from a “spiritual leader” at that time. I watched him drink one too many beers and say one too many cuss words. This was not the morally almost-perfect guy I was looking for. Yet, deep down, I knew he was good. Really, really good.
I had known guys from Bible school, training to be ministers, who would have never touched alcohol, said a cuss word, or voted as democrats – men that the evangelical world would have given an A+ to in their ability to be a “spiritual leader” – but they were mostly arrogant, self-righteous, prideful know-it-alls. I knew I could never marry one of these types.
The truth is, I was falling in love with the blond-haired, blue-eyed, cussin’, drinkin’, Christian democrat, and it terrified me. The more I knew his heart, the more I loved him. The more I loved him, the more anxious I became. He was ruining all of my plans and busting all of my bubbles.
I remember calling my mom in tears, “What do I do, mom? He is not who I was looking for. Right now, I am more of a spiritual leader than he is, but he is so deeply good and truly loves Jesus. Am I sinning to love him? To date him? To marry him?”
That day, my mom gave me the wisest marriage advice that I have ever heard: “Jory, it boils down to these two questions. One, does he love Jesus? Two, does he love you more than he loves himself?”
Could it really be this simple? Could I let go of all my Christian fantasies & ideals for true love? What do the scriptures say? Am I being faithful to the written Word of God, if I let myself fully love this man?
When I studied the Bible with my eyes wide open, I realized the following:
-The Bible never calls husbands the “spiritual leader.”
-The Bible never says that husbands are supposed to make all the “final decisions.”
-The Bible calls husbands and wives to mutually submit to one another.
Mingling of Souls, by Matt Chandler, heavily leans on the ideas that husbands are the spiritual leaders, husbands do make all final decisions, and wives are to submit to their husbands more than husbands are to submit to their wives. These are not clear biblical principles.
I enjoyed the book, and I think it is loaded with wisdom and many biblical points, but I know from experience the turmoil that a young woman faces when she is a strong spiritual leader, but desperately wants to please God by marrying an even stronger spiritual leader.
In my 32 years of life, I have yet to meet a suitable man who is a stronger spiritual leader than I am. Often, a woman will shrink herself, make herself smaller than she actually is, so a man can “lead” her. Women generally thrive in spirituality, and some women are natural leaders, and God wants us to grow with our husbands by our sides, not make ourselves smaller in passion, voice, value, or spiritual authority.
Our spiritual authority comes from the Holy Spirit, and the Spirit that lives inside of Christian women is of no less power or authority than the Spirit that lives inside Christian men. When we try to make ourselves less powerful than we actually are, in hopes of finding a husband to lead us, we quench the Spirit inside of us, and all that Spirit wants to do through us to expand God’s Kingdom.
Any theology that casts all men as leaders and all women as followers is simply unbiblical. Just ask Judge Deborah, who led men and women into both literal and spiritual battle (Judges 4). Don’t allow anyone to tell you that Judge Deborah was God’s second choice and only chosen because no man would stand up (the Bible never even insinuates this).
No, friends, Judge Deborah was born to be a warrior, and so are many other women filled with the Spirit of God.
Judge Deborah defied societal gender roles, because she had but one spiritual leader, the great “I Am.” Scripture tells us that Judge Deborah was married, but did her husband lead her or God’s people into battle? No, because he was not the one God chose to lead.
God chose a woman, who spent her days sitting under a tree, prophesying and preaching to whomever would listen. I imagine the men in those days would not let her in their pulpits, but who needs a pulpit when we can preach the truth of freedom into existence wherever we are standing.
We need no finite man to lead us, whether we are single or married, because we follow but one man, and His name is Jesus Christ. He is jealous for our love and is calling us back to Him.
Yes, Ephesians 5 calls husbands, “the head of the wife,” but even the Apostle Paul calls this metaphor, symbolic of unity, a “great mystery.” The word “head” is referring to a literal head (not “authority over”). We know this because in the same passage, wives are symbolically referred to as “the body.”
Matt Chandler left out Ephesians 5 verse 21 when he mentioned this passage. Verse 21, which calls for husbands and wives to submit to one another, must go with verses 22 & 23, because it provides the verb “submit,” for verses 22-23, when this passage is read in the original Greek language.
To have a biblical & functional marriage, a husband and a wife must submit to one another. Think of it this way: a head must submit to its body, or the body will slowly die. If the head ignores the body’s needs, such as hunger and thirst, both the body and the head will break down.
Complementarianism has emphasized female submission and male leadership, but the Bible has called husbands and wives to submit to one another, just as all believers are meant to submit to one another. Unjust hierarchies and subordination, as found in complementarian gender roles, are harmful because they are a great threat to unity. Let’s be honest, no one really wants to be at the bottom of any hierarchy.
Further, “leadership” is a spiritual gift, that not all men are given.
The gift of leadership is given to whom the Spirit chooses, men and women alike. First Corinthians 12 lists many gifts that the Spirit gives those who are part of the Body of Christ. Among those gifts, leadership, apostleship, teaching, and pastoring are named gifts, and there is no mention of those gifts being based on gender. In fact, we see a female apostle named Junia, whom Paul calls “outstanding among the apostles (Rom. 16:7).”
In New Testament times, the role of Apostle was of much greater authority than the role of “pastor.”
Don’t let anyone explain Junia away; she was God’s chosen leader and highly favored by the Apostle Paul. But didn’t Paul tell women to be silent in the Church and that they are not to have authority over men (1 Tim. 2:12)? Yes, he did, but that command was directed to this one church because many of the women in that church were spreading false teachings.
We know that Paul’s command in 1 Timothy 2:12 was not ever supposed to be taken as a universal and timeless command.
We know this because Paul praised female Bible teachers, house church leaders, an apostle, and a deacon. Paul even praises the preacher, Priscilla, in the New Testament, and mentions her name before her husband’s name 5 times out of 7 times. This would have been a big deal in an extreme patriarchal society. It tells us that Paul probably saw her as more of the minister than her husband.
I am fairly certain that the Apostle Paul would roll over in his grave if he knew how evangelical leaders are silencing and limiting half of Jesus’ Church, in the name of “male headship,” “creation order,” and “church offices.”
Does it sound like Jesus to slow the efforts of spreading the gospel, by telling women they are not permitted to lead men or teach the Bible to men? Or does this sound more like the Pharisees and Sadducees, who were more concerned with making up “biblical laws” to control and oppress people, than loving and lifting the vulnerable and marginalized?
Remember, it was Jesus who praised Mary over her sister, Martha, for sitting at His feet as His highly favored student (a posture reserved for men alone in that religious culture). While Martha sought to get Mary back in her place, Jesus sided with His deeply beloved disciple (Luke 10:38-42).
There is not one Bible verse that says that husbands are to make final decisions.
In fact, there is not one Bible verse that says women cannot be pastors. But didn’t God create woman to be man’s helper? Yes, God did, but we must understand that this word “helper” in ancient Hebrew is the word “ezer.” This word does not denote an assistant or subordinate type of helper. The word ezer is used twice to describe the first woman, and 16 times to describe, “God as our helper,” throughout the Old Testament. Is God a subordinate type of helper to humans?
Ezer should be translated as a strong, suitable, corresponding, powerful partner. Ezer is a warrior, always ready to go to battle against the enemy with the truth of God’s Word! Woman is made in the image of God. Is part of God’s image of less authority or weaker than another part of God’s image?
We do not see any type of subordination between man and woman until the fall of humankind (when Adam and Eve disobeyed God). Part of Eve’s consequences for sin were that she will desire a husband, and that he will rule over her (Gen. 3:16).
Sisters, listen to me, you are more than finding a husband. You were created for more, and Jesus Christ has broken the power of sin’s consequences over our lives (Rom. 6:14; Gal. 3:13; Ps. 107:14; Rom. 8:2). You are not prone to deception. You have been given the mind of Christ and you can trust your feminine intuition (1 Cor. 2:16).
You are not prone to deceiving men. You are an honest and good daughter of the most high God. You are not prone to bucking against submission any more than any other human. Your femininity is not tainted. You are redeemed by the blood of the lamb and you are whole with or without a man (1 Peter 1:19).
God has redeemed and is redeeming a woman’s rightful place, right beside man, equal in both worth & spiritual authority.
Know who you are, ezer, and you will attract a guy who is secure in his manhood, even if he does not fit the evangelical mold. A man who loves you like Christ loves the Church will never limit your potential, squash your “unapproved” spiritual gifts, or be intimidated by your boisterous personality. In fact, he will empower you to do even greater things than he, just as Jesus did for us, His beloved bride (John 14:12).
Be careful, you just might end up marrying a democrat.
For More Biblical & Historical Evidence, Read Jory Micah’s Masters Thesis
(Jory Micah Holds a Masters Degree in Biblical Studies from Regent University – a Conservative Evangelical Seminary)
See Jory’s Other Post Concerning “Mingling of Souls” Conferences: