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Saturday, February 21, 2015

Actually, I wanted a husband who would be my spiritual leader

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This adorable post from Libby Anne, What I Love about My Feminist Husband, got me thinking. She writes that when she was young, she believed a wife is supposed to be submissive to her husband, but now she is very happy to instead have a partner who treats her as an equal, who supports and values her.

I, too, always assumed that I was supposed to be submissive to my hypothetical future husband. I was always taught that “the man is the spiritual leader” and it MUST be this way in order to have a healthy marriage.

And actually, I wanted to find a guy who could be my spiritual leader.

I wanted someone who would always be right. Always make good decisions, without ever needing me to challenge or question him. I wished for a man who would have all the answers, who could explain the stuff I didn’t understand about God and Christianity, and in a way that actually made sense and addressed my questions. I wanted someone who didn’t need me to help him. He would do everything right and I wouldn’t have to worry about anything. I’d never have to disagree or argue with him because he would be so obviously wise and right about everything.

Nobody ever gave me a clear answer on what “the man is the spiritual leader” would actually look like, but seriously, in my case it must look like that, like someone who is always right, always making good decisions without any need for input. He would need to be like that in order to be a spiritual leader for me specifically, because I know the bible so well already, and I’ve done evangelism and started bible study groups and everything. I can be a spiritual leader, so if a guy is going to lead me, he must be even more spiritual and knowledgeable. He must be perfect. He must be so religious and so amazing that he would never have any need to submit himself to my own deep insight and my knowledge of Christianity. If that were not the case, then “the man is the spiritual leader” would not work at all; it would be much much better to have both of us as equals who help each other.

I’m a feminist, but I have to tell you guys, I want to submit. Because the only way I would submit would be if I trusted that this person’s judgment was infallible, that he would never make a mistake, that he would never need me to double-check or challenge him. If that were the case, then wow, life would be so easy! That would be great!

But (do I even need to say this?) there is no human being who is like that. There is no one who can be a perfect spiritual leader. And honestly, it’s ridiculous to have this kind of expectations when considering a potential boyfriend, who’s a normal human being with faults and weaknesses.

For those of us who get married in the real world, we marry people who are people, who have good points and bad points, who sometimes feel strong and confident and sometimes feel like they’re just muddling through life in a state of confusion.

It does no one any good to say that every woman would be healthy in a relationship where she must always submit, where she can never be “the spiritual leader.” In my case, such a relationship would only be possible if the guy were perfect and knew everything.

Yeah, wouldn’t it be nice if I could find a man who was qualified to be my spiritual leader. But there are none. Men are just people.

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For those of you who would like to leave a comment telling me “no no Perfect Number, you completely misunderstood what ‘the man is the spiritual leader’ means!” then by all means, go right ahead and define it clearly for me, because no one ever has. Here is what constitutes a clear definition:

1. Give an example of a possible situation in which the husband did XYZ because of reasons ABC, and how the wife submitted.

2. Now imagine that the roles were reversed: what if the wife did XYZ for reasons ABC? Should the husband submit? (Would you use a different word than “submit” because it’s a man? Wow that’s sexist [and illogical!], get out of my comment section.) Would some kind of contradiction arise such that this situation, where the roles are reversed, could never occur? If not, you have not given an example of why, in every heterosexual marriage, it should be the case that the husband is the leader and the wife submits.

1 comment:

  1. I always wanted not a leader, but someone who could encourage me in my faith - whichI've realized doesn't necessarily mean Christian (although for personal reasons I'd like that).
    But, yeah, direct obedience sounds so...simple... unlike real life.

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