Friday, October 28, 2011

Headship vs. Synergiship (Earthquakes cont.)

Continued from Earthquakes: What if I got it all wrong? and from Earthquakes: Are Men the Only Leaders?

As I make my way out from under the debris of my old foundation, I find my journey is hardly over.  I stand atop a mound of rubble and filth...the stench of burning rubber, wood and metal all around me.  I look around for any thing that I could possibly recognize...and all I see is the absurdity of what I tried to build my life's foundation on. All the arguments that pointed me to make claims as the following seem completely absurd to me now:

"Marriage is like a dance: both people need to know the steps in order to make it look beautiful...but only one can lead or there is total chaos."

Sounds good - doesn't it?  I always thought so...until recently when I started to play out different scenarios in my head about how this actually plays out in the real world.


Here is what might be happening in the man's mind: What if the leader doesn't know the steps, but knows he is supposed to lead ...what does he need to do?  Does he admit to his inadequacy and look like "less than a man" to his wife and others?  Or does he just bulldoze his way through, hoping no one notices that he is making it up as he goes...especially his wife?  Maybe if he just keeps doing the same dance forcefully enough, she might stumble at the beginning, but soon she will tire of trying to fight his lead and just finally become like putty in his arms, following him wherever he leads...and then they will look graceful and competent as a dancing couple.

And here is the perspective from the woman: What does the follower do if her partner doesn't know the steps?  Does she start to gently lead just in order to make it look like they are all together and don't embarrass themselves in front of the judges?  She doesn't want to admit to anyone that she doesn't think her husband isn't the man he appears to be because she might look too close to a feminist.  No, she does not want to appear that way, so she will just be the woman behind the man...making the calls, the shots, the moves and letting him take credit for her thoughts and feelings.  What's her other choice? To allow him to flounder and make both of them look like fools - and they get voted off in the first night of the competition?

But what's this?  She finds she likes to lead...she's been to school, worked out in the real world where she was a known and competent leader...why can't she maintain this role at home?  He strives to get her respect by clumsily pushing and pulling her along...but in reality she is so tired of him stepping all over her toes and bending her arms in directions they shall not go that she feels no respect for his form of dancing.  Yet, the judges say this is how the dance shall proceed - so where does she go from here?

Man: Wow, she really thought she could help out, trying to take the lead that way?  Who does she think she is...trying to come up with all the shots herself?  That is not how this dance was designed, doesn't she know that?  Those were really good ideas, but no one else needs to know that they weren't mine...and since we are "one" any ways in this dance, I can pull them off as if they were mine.  If she doesn't shape up and start following correctly, how does she expect me to love her when I stepping all over her?


This leads me to my next long line of questions as I wrestle with this idea of how men and women are to fit together.  I do not pretend to know all the answers on this subject...but as I contemplate my own line of questions - I have to ask if it isn't the dancing scenario, is there another better way for man and woman?

These questions arose for me personally as I read some parts of Philip Payne's extensive book Man & Woman, One in Christ: An Exegetical & Theological Study of Paul's Letters:

* Why would God set up a hierarchy when that is already what was going on in culture?  From the time of the fall until the time Jesus came, women were less than citizens in most cultures.  A lot of times they were only beneficial for carrying on the human race.  Women were viewed as incapable of having feelings and thoughts of their own, and their testimony was not valid in court because they were seen as unstable.  If this was already the family structure in the society at large, then why would Jesus continue to propagate this system when he came to abolish the world's way of doing things and set up God's way? The way that things were meant to be BEFORE the fall?

* Why would God want to set up something that has the potential for so much power struggle, abuse of power and diverting our attention from the real work - helping him redeem the world?  
I think the dancing scenario sets this up for us to see what could potentially happen.  If the man has the rightful place as the "head"- then he automatically is "One-up" on the woman.  No matter which way you look at it, that is the fact..he is one-up.  If anyone is "one-up" on another...then that means there is "one-down".  This most likely will set up a struggle for power between the two.  Because the "one-down" feels the difference...especially in this day and age where women have been given authority in every other area of their life...they distinctly feel the tug of their husbands to relinquish their equality in order to put their husbands in their "god-given one-up headship" role.

* Are men afraid of the competition that admitting to women as equals would possibly bring?  Or is it possible that the competition would end and we could get back to business - the Garden of Eden business - and truly flourish as team players...and allow the garden to flourish as well?

* Are women afraid to actually admit they have responsibility for the well being and spiritual life themselves and if they have them, of their families?  Are they not willing to admit this because in the complimentary system it lets them off easy?  And why would men want to be held accountable for ALL of their wives actions?  I have a hard time finding any where in the bible where it says that husbands are accountable for their wives actions...but find lost of instances that each of us are accountable for our own actions.

Is it to be 50/50, 100/0 or 100/100 or something else? What do these percentages mean?  Does it mean you put in 50% and expect 50% back?  Or do you put in 100%, expecting nothing back? (This also seems dangerous as we are told to expect at least 3 things from our marriages: fidelity, security and intimacy.)

* Who is responsible for whom and to whom?
In the complementation view, the circle starts with God in the biggest perimeter, then the man, then the woman, then the children.  Here is a view of this from a gentleman that speaks of this circular system:

►Snippet◄ Christian Complementarism Marriage... by TamilianPonnu

However, my bone with this is a few fold actually:

1) As individuals of age before marriage - we are all responsible first to God.  However, looking at this chart makes me think that women are to put their husbands before God once they are married.  Is this true?  Why is it different for a non or pre-married woman?  They don't live under the authority of their fathers anymore until could possibly this structure also be outdated for our times?  What happens to women who then find themselves single again from divorce or death?  Who is supposed to stand in the middle between them and God if this is the structure we are to follow as the most biblical?

2) Who gets to decide if the man is living in sin?  Does the woman?  If she does, being the closest to this man, then what does she have to do to prove he is living in sin?  If it is the church that gets to decide he isn't acting in good faith, what does the woman have to do in order to prove this to the church?  Yet, the church isn't actually in this picture.  Is that yet another circle that should be above the man, between him and God?  Hmm, this all seems way too confusing for me to follow and a big time and energy sapper.  If everyone was just to follow God and be accountable for their own actions, couldn't we possibly avoid all the he said/she said cruddola and get on with serving God's kingdom?

3) Does anyone have their own unique identity in this set-up - or does everyone have to be melded together for the common good of the husband so that he can properly lead before God?


I used to always think that the saying "the woman behind the man" was such an endearing comment as a woman...that in reality we all know who has the real authority in the world, who was the better sex.  This allowed for me to make sense of what the "horrible" feminist movement had done to men: confuse and usurped the roles of the sexes, given women too much power and reduce men to mere children when it came to carrying out their "god given roles" as leaders in our culture and marriages.  Therefore, women needed to step in and prop up their men...make them look good to all the other people out there in order for them to "feel like men" and have the respect they deserved.  

However, thinking these thoughts now.. it just makes me sick -- for it is so far from what I feel God wants us to strive for in our relationships with each other.  He doesn't want one or the other to be one-up, one-down, one-behind or one-underneath... but both to be truly equal, walking side by side along with Him...taking the focus off ourself and off our partner - and putting our focus onto Him and His kingdom work. 

From what I have learned and observed in truly happy marriages - both inside and outside the Church - it seems you must have two whole people join walk together thru this life - just as they did in the Garden of Eden.

What I don't mean by saying "two whole people" is to imply they are perfect - far from it.  What whole means is they know that they have an end to themselves, they know their boundaries and because of this they are able to own their own stuff...the whole lot of their own stuff and not try to push it off onto their partner.  They can look to their side and see their partner there, walking beside them, holding their hand and encouraging them.  

The husband is not out in front, trying to carry the whole burden for himself, the wife and family.  The husband is not out in front, unable to see when his partner has fallen behind or down.  No, the husband and wife are walking side by side, as in the Garden of Eden.  They attack trials together - instead of attacking each other.  They confront themselves instead of confronting each other... equally owning their own stuff, their own God-given calls and responsibilities, because they know what is theirs and what is not theirs.

I believe this is the picture of marriage God would like us to have.  Does it mean that all marriages will look alike?  Heck no...for there has to be room for individuality and uniqueness based on the individuals in the marriage. 

Does it mean that one or both parties "lose themselves" in the marriage for the sake of the marriage?  Absolutely not...for they knew who they were before the marriage...and as that evolves as they learn more about themselves - there is freedom from the other for this process to take place...and it can only get better from there.  

When this happens, when we stop looking at each other to fulfill only what we ourselves can fulfill with God...then something greater can happen.  What both partners brought into the marriage as 100% of themselves can perhaps be double at the very least, making 200%....or at the very most will have that synergistic effect that I feel God wanted for us in the Garden of Eden.  For He wants us to be fruitful in all areas of our lives...especially when it comes to bringing His kingdom to earth...and we can do this if we get our eyes off of our power struggle between the sexes and back on the prize....

Akiane Prince of Peace

1 comment:

  1. Wow! We wrote some things about marriage that are nearly identical. Mind twins. ;)
    Great post!


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