The idea of submission is neither a cultural norm nor an accepted virtue. The human heart, untouched by God’s grace in salvation, naturally wants things its way and the voice of culture screams to us at every turn that getting what we want is most important.
If you embrace the theological position that God the Son is eternally (read “permanently”) subordinate to God the Father and then ground your belief that submission of the wife to the husband is permanently true because of this theological position, then what does Mt. 22:30 mean?
Language matters. It impacts our ideas. It reflects our biases. It influences those we speak to. As I sang on Christmas Eve that all men are to employ their songs, the picture in my head was of men singing praises to God. Not one woman was among “all men” in my own imagination! It’s crucial that women see ourselves in what we sing, in what we read, and in what we hear.
The oppression of women spans centuries and borders. In virtually every country and culture in the world, women have less-than-equal status to men and they are often relegated to subservient and submissive roles. Women suffer from domestic violence, job barriers, lack of control over their bodies, and fewer options for healthcare. They often do not have a voice in matters as broad as politics or as narrow as what happens within their own families.
Complementarianism framed our world, even before we knew what it was called. Yet the practice of complementarianism troubled us. It troubled us so much that we finally decided to challenge it. The Making of Biblical Womanhood tells this story.
What the example of Deborah reveals about gender authority: As women have gained increased influence in society, and as Bible scholars offer a consistent egalitarian interpretation of Scripture, gender traditionalists have had to work harder and more creatively to justify the subordination of women within the church and family—even to themselves.
Often, those outside of the social justice activist community can feel overwhelmed by the concepts and terminology of justice work. Many Christians want to understand these terms and concepts so they can do justice well in their communities and in the world.