22 June 2018

When Being Egal Complicates Your Life

Women who "convert" from complementarianism to egalitarianism sometimes get a bum rap. They get accused of rebelling, of giving in to worldly feminist influences, of taking the easy way out. What the naysayers usually don't realize is that completely reframing your worldview (and the choices you make based on it) is anything but easy:

1. You have to actually decide what to do with your life. This isn't really an issue for the guys, who are never, ever told that marriage and parenthood is their highest calling. No, this burden is placed squarely on the shoulders of women. As a result, they tend to sell themselves short in multiple areas of life, including career, education, and personal development. Because why spend all that money on a degree if you're not planning to be anything other than a stay at home mom? What's the use of acquiring marketable skills when you'll never need to earn money? (Or so the thinking goes.)

As an egalitarian, you get to take reclaim all of that lost territory. But it won't be easy, especially if a lot of water has passed under the bridge in the meantime.

2. You're responsible for decisions now. If, up to this point, you've taken refuge in deferring to your husband as "the head of the home", guess what -- you can't do that anymore.

You have to fully embrace adult responsibilities, such as paying bills and managing finances. And no, this isn't compatible with the "Biblical advice" that gets drummed into our heads from an early age. "It's not the woman's 'role' to be the breadwinner!" Well, ladies and gents, the real world has a rude awakening in store. If your family should fall behind on rent, mortgage, or utilities, the company to whom you cut the monthly check doesn't care one whit about a woman's alleged Biblical role. They want their money. And, quite frankly, it makes no difference to them what's between the legs of the person who pays it!

Along similar lines...

3. You realize your husband can't be your retirement plan. Egalitarianism brings you face to face with the realization that leaving your future financial stability up to chance isn't the wisest idea you ever had. Not when death, disability, illness, and job loss are such common occurrences.

4. You'll have to relearn marriage and parenting, if applicable. It can be freeing to know that you're no longer enslaved to whatever you were told your "role" is, but depending on what your spouse's views are, this can also cause some friction. If you have children, you may find that the patriarchal, authoritarian "spare the rod and spoil the child" approach no longer works for you (not that it probably did before, either).

5. You might have a harder time reading the Bible. Not actually reading the Bible per se (although that may happen too), but finding a reliable translation that isn't patriarchally biased. (Click here to read An Egalitarian Review of Bible Translations.) You will have to identify and re-program a lot of old, faulty thinking patterns where your approach to Scripture is concerned. You may find that an alarming amount of what you previously took for granted is now up for re-evaluation.

6. You'll probably find yourself on your faith community's "naughty list." Be prepared for people to pray over you -- specifically, that you'll cease and desist your headstrong rebellion against "God's design/creation order." Learn how to deal gracefully with having your salvation questioned. Be prepared to have to uproot and find a new church.

7. Denial is no longer an option. You will see injustice in places you never realized before. You'll go through times when you feel enraged, grieved, and powerless to help yourself or others. You'll have to face up to the fact that maybe you were raised with some incredibly disordered ways of thinking and relating to God, to others, and to yourself. That years -- perhaps decades -- of your life and countless opportunities are lost to you forever because of this. This may be the most difficult of all to accept.

8. You have to get really good at letting things go and trusting. You don't have a "spiritual covering" between you and God anymore. No one can tell you exactly what to do and what not to do in order to "stay within God's perfect will." You're responsible to hear His voice for yourself, and then... "whatever He says to you, do it" (John 2:5). Even if your pastor doesn't agree. Even everybody else thinks you're crazy.

This is really only scratching the surface. Life is crowded with paradoxes, and here's yet another one: The truth hurts, like salt in a wound sometimes. And yet... only Truth can set you free.

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