Lead and follow. It’s beautiful. It’s got all that history behind it, it’s THE way the sexes move, on the dance floor, in marriage, in life.
Why would I want to be an egalitarian where the woman leads as much as a man? Have you ever seen a woman lead a man in the waltz? Not a pretty sight.
It works in dancing, so why wouldn’t it work in marriage and the church?
Reason #1- Dancing and Life
I’m a lover of romance, dancing and fairy tales, so the dancing metaphor has always captivated me. But it fails in one key way. Dancing the waltz is not a picture of life.
A male dancer (that sounds way more scandalous than I mean it) knows the steps his partner will be taking, he gently guides her to back-up into the next move by gentle pressure on her hand or waist. The faithful female follows his lead effortlessly and you get a lovely show. Three cheers!
In marriage and in life, no male knows enough to lead a female through all the steps.
If a man thought he could lead a woman in life like he leads a woman on the dance floor no matter how humble and loving he is, I’m afeard he’s bound toward . . .
- Narcissism or delusion, like Drew (Jon Hamm) who thinks he can master any situation despite Liz Lemon’s arguments that he’s a novice. What man could know about all life situations enough to make the final call on his wife’s spiritual growth? (I know what Complementarians will say: “THAT’S why men rely on God.” To which I respond, “Why isn’t the woman permitted to rely on God and make final decisions as well? Isn’t this what it means to be a fellow heir of grace?” 1 Peter 3:7).
- Blind faith (which I cannot find in Scripture) that God has promised to give males more knowledge than females. Proof text THAT.
- Anxiety about when the charade would be up. When will they figure out I really don’t know what I’m doing?
- Isolation because a man can’t let his guard down about not knowing the lead steps without looking foolish. And thereby not a good leader.
If a husband, as complimentarians explain, listens, considers and lovingly consults his wife and then chooses the best Plan B for his family I still say this is less beautiful
A husband, as egalitarians explain, listens, considers and lovingly consults his wife and then together they choose the best Plan B for their family.
Reason #2 – Rubber Stamp or Rowing
In every marriage, complementarians argue, someone will have to have the tie-breaking vote. Complementarian marriages finesse this dictatorial sounding relationship, maintaining the benevolence of the dictator by reducing his tie-breaking vote to 51% (see Emerson and Sharon Eggerich’s book Love and Respect).
But in terms of beauty, what is more attractive, a man taking responsibility for every final decision (lovingly, considerately, sacrificially)
A man and woman feeling free to raise any area of tension with knowledge that no one possesses the rubber stamp to veto funds or emotional support for any outcome?
What is more attractive, a husband who bears the responsibility before God for the growth of his wife’s spirituality
A husband and wife who bear responsibility before God for their own soul’s growth?
What is more attractive, a husband who bears both oars to row his lovely maiden across the lake
A husband who can re-direct his energy toward his own gifts, and row with all he has knowing his wife has picked up the oar beside him and can keep pace with his energy, his will and his direction?
Whether you call submission loving respect or adaptation, Ephesians 5:22 means nothing without the verb borrowed from Ephesians 5:21, the all important verb “submit of oneself.”
“Submit yourself one to another.” Ephesians 5:21
“Wives to your husbands.” Ephesians 5:22 (see NASB for italicized added words in English).
Whatever wives need to do to husbands in verse 22, the husbands and wives are already practicing in verse 21.
Submission is not a Biblical command only made to women or wives.
What is more beautiful, a wife who knows the final vote always goes to the largest shareholder?
A wife who can initiate and persuade, advocate and protect without fearing she is leaving her God-ordained role?
What is more beautiful, a husband who wonders about the mysterious ways of his wife, while his wife knows she is the neck turning the head
A husband who trust his wife to never deal with passive aggression or emotional manipulation (both everlasting tools of the disempowered) because she never need hide her desire to control and guide.
I leave you with one final fantasy.
Have you ever seen a woman of power and intelligence lead a man to bed? (watch Cate Blanchet in Elizabeth for an example)
Have you ever seen a man of power and intelligence lead a woman to bed? (watch Julian Sands in Room with a View for an example)
I’m an advocate for both.
p.s. Of course I also believe egalitarianism is supported by sound reason, scripture and the God of Israel, the creation mandate, Jesus, Paul, et al. But isn’t it nice to know egalitarinaism is beautiful, too?