A very interesting connection popped into my head the other day as I was discussing motivations and desires of wives in the marriage and how it relates to submission.
Relational archetypes and more insight into the false godliness of complementarianism theology has a quote I want to build on:
Complementarianism claims that the husband and wife discuss everything and then the husband’s vote is a tie break [if there is disagreement]. What happens in practice is everything is all well and good as long as the husband is making decisions that the wife likes, but when he doesn’t she emotionally manipulates him until she gets her way. Ironically, this is pretty much similar to how things run in egalitarian and most non-feminist but egalitarian relationships and marriages. The only time you have women in charge explicitly is when the woman/wife actually literally says she wears the pants.
On the surface there is the claim that these things are happening, but under the surface they are all the same: disrespect and manipulation tactics are coming a man’s way if he wants something that she disagrees with. That’s why I still think the lines are in the same place. When push comes to shove, the wife is in control or exerts tactics to make sure she gets what she wants.
One aspect I’ve noticed is that the more a husband and wife agree on most everything in the case of complementarianism or other non-feminists structures the more ambiguous it looks to us. However, many of the complementarians will take this as a sign of godliness — “wow, their marriage is so great because they’re in agreement on everything.” If we remember back to CBMW’s definition of headship, their interpretation of Scripture is the husband and wife should agree on everything and if they disagree then the husband gets the tie break.
However, this is not a sign of godliness but just two people getting along well usually by personality and underlying dynamic. When push comes to shove and the husband decides something that his wife doesn’t like, we’ll see how godly she is with her respect and submission. The wives who pass this test of godliness today are definitely in the minority.
Moreover, this incorrect assumption of “godliness by agreement” gives the layperson husband and wives (and even pastors I believe) the wrong impression and makes it much more difficult to have real godliness when there is actually a disagreement. For instance, “we had such a godly marriage until this came up” — no, not really. You agreed with each other a bunch because you have similar personalities and there was no conflict. When conflict came, your real character and ability to honor God was revealed. And it wasn’t pretty.
True headship does not require consulting on every directive because authority is able to be delegated in the Scripture and can be by a husband. For example, if a wife has expertise in a certain area a husband might delegate that to her and also if there are minor decisions like day to day life style he can say I trust your judgment on them.
What is interesting about the concept of agreement as godliness is that that it probably has its roots in liberal/feminist philosophies of tolerance. Liberal tolerance is that we accept everyone for who they are and everyone needs to get along. This is one of the highest forms of “moral” good according to them exemplified in multi-culturalism.
The exception, in this case, being much like the complementarians’ begrudging husband tiebreaker vote, they take it a step further and if you’re not “tolerant” (e.g. not in agreement with their moral code) then it’s their way or the highway. They’ll mock you, cancel you, vandalize your property, dox you, or whatever else. This is a default to being Gentiles understanding of authority.
Matthew 20:25 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Complementarians are so scared of husband authority that they try to marry liberal/feminist philosophies with the Bible instead of believe what Jesus teaches in verses 26-28. Either that or they warp the verses to the ubiquitous “servant leadership” where in practice the husband is a slave to his wife’s feelings of happiness or dissatisfaction.
Imagine Abraham when God told him to go to Canaan: “Well God, I actually like it in Ur way better and don’t want to wander around for dozens of years. I don’t agree with your decision, but since you have the tiebreaker vote I’ll go.”
Or the disciples to Jesus: “Jesus, I don’t like the way you’re doing ministry. I’m too scared to go out with you on the road to minister to other people. But since you have the tiebreak, I guess I’ll try to do it for you.
You’d get laughed out of the room and rightly so. But somehow complementarians endorse this with wives in marriage.