I sat back heavily in my chair, my eyebrows raised in shock at the conversation swirling around me.
“Yeah, I don’t need a guy to open my door. I’m perfectly capable!”
“I know what you mean. I get offended when a guy holds a door open for me to walk through. It’s degrading.”
“And what about pulling your chair out for you?”
“Ugghhh…that is so annoying!”
One of the three guys in my Literary Criticism class looked at me in puzzled dismay. I could tell Brett felt the same surprise I felt, but in addition to his surprise, Brett suddenly found himself muzzled by his gender.
I spoke up, hesitantly, “I don’t think guys think we’re incapable of opening doors; I just think they’re trying to be kind and thoughtful.”
Brett and Dan thanked me with their eyes, their chests exhaling in relief.
“Yeah,” Brett tiptoed, “I never meant to offend anyone. I just — wow — this is really surprising.”
The dialogue launched from there into an extensive revelation of what many girls in my class believed was wrong with our patriarchal society. They resented letting guys pay for dates, giving up their last names because of marriage, and being expected to submit in a marital relationship. In short, I heard them bellowing the ever popular and highly secular cry for “equality” — whatever that means.
I wasn’t really surprised by the arguments themselves. What did surprise me was that they were echoing within the walls of a Christian college. Why are Christian women swallowing the feminist line?
As a woman, I do not see how things like opening the door for me demeans or debases me. Just the opposite. If men treat women with respect, they will open doors, scoot back chairs, and offer to pay for meals. By such actions men put someone else’s needs above their own, thus indicating value.
God created male and female in His image, which means they were created equal, but not necessarily the same. Too often people assume “equal” means “same,” but of course it doesn’t. A pound of feathers is equal to a pound of potatoes, but feathers aren’t potatoes. So why try to lump men and women into all the same category?
Women who set out on vendettas against men, hoping to prove their equality, miss the point entirely. God created Eve as a companion for Adam, not a competitor. Adam and Eve seemed to understand this and consequently took delight in each other. But feminism, while accomplishing many good things, has unfortunately thrown men and women into the bullring, pitted against each other.
The Christian ideology of submission in marriage too often finds itself swept under the “old-fashioned-rule-our-grandparents-used-to -follow” rug. This stems from a gross misunderstanding of what submission looks like in its pure form. Passages of Scripture dealing with submission can be taken out of context. I’ve encountered many women who buck against Colossians 3:18’s admonition for wives to submit to their husbands. And yet the verses prior to verse 18 instruct all Christians to bear with and forgive one another and to treat each other with compassion, kindness, humility and patience. In 1 Corinthians 12:25, Paul outlines God’s design that every part of the body of Christ have equal concern for each other and in Ephesians 5:21 it says to “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
The biblical admonition to submit applies to everyone and needs to be placed within the framework of the Bible as a whole. “Submission” does not translate into a tug-of-war of power versus helplessness. Yet many Christians struggle to see how the practice of compromise and selfless giving in a relationship won’t simply squelch their individuality.
In any relationship, both people must respect each other in order for the relationship to grow. This includes not keeping track of who has had to give up what and how often. Selfishness cultivates mistrust and an inability to give, simply for the sake of giving, will cause a relationship to eventually choke itself to death. The greatest relationships start on a foundation of sacrificial giving, which in turn creates love and consequently a desire to submit.
A common fear among women is that men will use submission as a power trip, setting themselves up as almighty dictators. Submission, as outlined in the Bible, does not promote tyranny. Men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church. Jesus Christ died because of His love for us and I don’t know of any woman who wouldn’t want to be loved by a man who was willing to die for her. And if a man were willing to die for his wife, would she not naturally love and respect him in return?
In a strangely ironic twist, I heard the same girls in my literature class who berated door opening and submission complain about weak men. They cried for “real” men, men who stood up for what they believed and who respected women. In essence, they wanted the knight in shining armor, but they certainly weren’t going to sit behind him on his horse and play the part of the fair damsel, who prior to his arrival was not in distress, but merely waiting for a more opportune moment to escape. Give each woman her own horse and armor — just make sure to keep the dragons away. The idea hardly seems fair.
When taken in the proper biblical context, submission makes sense. It is in the confluence of feminist propaganda and mainstream secular ideologies that submission takes on a sour flavor with a bitter aftertaste. As Christians, we should understand the meaning of submission and embrace it in all our relationships — a testimony to the selfless love of Christ we all share.
Copyright 2002 Dana Ryan. All rights reserved.