As long as Michael and I have been married, we’ve had this ongoing discussion around gender roles, feminism, marriage, and the Bible. There are so many voices out there, so many opinions on this rather wide and controversial topic. There are some things we have definitely agreed on, like any extreme is probably not right and your ideology has to work in the real world. There are also many areas in which we don’t agree 100% with the ideas we were raised with. The concern now is, are we starting to believe what sounds good to us? Or are we genuinely finding the truth? I know that the Christian life is not supposed to be easy. It is about self-denial and learning to be holy. I suspect that some of the ideas I like are not in line with the Bible, because I know that as a human it is easier to follow what feels good than what is right.
For a bit of background, my husband and I were both homeschooled. We grew up in a fairly conservative church community where it was sort of taken for granted that the husband is the head of the family, that wives are to submit to their husbands, and that children are to obey their parents. This was definitely not Christian Patriarchy. However, through the magazines, blogs, and books I read as a child and as a teen, I was exposed to the ideas of the patriarchy movement and was in some ways drawn to it. By nature I see the world in a black and white way, so the clearly laid out rules and apparent possibility of achieving perfection really appealed to me. As I became an adult, however, things changed. For one thing several leaders of the movement have been exposed for sexual misconduct. For another, I am an independent person who doesn’t like to be told what to do, and for another, I started going to school for child and youth work and realized that patriarchy’s idea of keeping our families pure and unaffected by the world leaves no room for caring for the hurt and broken in society.
I know patriarchy and complementarianism aren’t the same thing, but I also have found that a lot of people who come out of patriarchy also reject complementarianism. It’s hard not to be affected by these ideas. I’ve also always believed or at least absorbed the idea that feminism is a bad thing, that it is destroying families (and thus destroying society) and that it is responsible for the deaths of millions of babies through abortion. This may be true, but at the same time isn’t feminism responsible for my ability to vote? And wouldn’t feminism be a good thing for women in countries where in the judicial system a woman's testimony is only worth half of a man’s?
In light of all this, I have embarked on a research project investigating these topics. This is the purpose statement I am starting out with:
“The purpose of this research paper is to examine the topics of gender roles, the place of women, family structure, etc., including subtopics like modesty, child raising/training, feminism, complementarianism, egalitarianism, patriarchy, the patriarchal evangelical homeschool movement, dating, courting and so on, in order to form a well-grounded philosophy for my own life and family. I take as absolute authority the word of God. Beyond that I hope to examine many sources, taking the good and leaving the bad.”
In the last week or so, I have fallen down a massive rabbit hole of reading blogs written either by people who have left patriarchy or left Christianity all together, or who are stay-at-home daughters or wives. The problem is remembering to take notes and keep track of sources…
I have a big pile of books I plan to use as well as blogs and websites to look into. I am also open to suggestions. In fact, I strongly desire suggestions. Give me your suggestions! I’d also like your opinions, provided they are stated respectfully and without the use of profanity.
*note. this research project is being undertaken as a hobby/ side interest, not a work project. It may take me a long time to finish it.