05 July 2018

When Being Egal Simplifies Your Life


1. You can use whatever gifts you have. Your designated areas of service and ministry are no longer dictated by "the bits between your legs." You no longer have to consider yourself automatically disqualified, by virtue of your womanhood, from leadership positions or pursuing a full-time career. You're free to explore and develop whatever gifts, abilities, and opportunities you sense God has granted you and is calling you to make use of.

Don't be taken aback when others fail to embrace your new convictions with open arms, however. In fact, since the vast majority of today's churches don't affirm women's equality, you can fully expect to be outnumbered when you take your stand. And yet "If God is for us, who can be against us?" still holds true, and may mean more to you now than it ever has before.

2. You're responsible for your decisions now. Your life choices no longer hang on other people being in the right place at the right time. You don't have to hope a man comes along and marries you so that you can "fulfill your God-given role as wife and homemaker." You can have children (or not) because you want them (or not), not because you feel obligated to "be fruitful and multiply." You don't have to place yourself under a man's authority -- you answer to no one but God. You don't have to cede control to others, and then feel helpless when they don't hold up their end of things.

3. You can know exactly what you have control over and what you don't. This concept is otherwise known as "boundaries", i.e., knowing what falls within your area of responsibility and what doesn't (and then refusing to shoulder the burden of others' responsibilities). Complementarianism encourages women either to take up tasks that don't belong to them (such as picking up after their husbands), or else engage in manipulation tactics to get their way. (If you've ever heard "The husband is the head, but the wife is the neck", or "Respect him so that he'll love you", or "Give him sex so that he'll give you affection", then you know exactly what I'm talking about!) Egalitarianism says you can only control yourself and your own choices, and that you're fully within your rights to expect others to do the same.

4. You worry less. There are far fewer "what ifs" about those aspects of life that you can't control (which are a lot). Here are some worries egalitarianism allows you to cross off your list: (1) how you can experience "God's best plan for your life" if you're not married, (2) or if something happens to your husband, (3) or if you don't have children, (4) or if you don't fit the traditional housewife stereotype, (5) or if your husband earns less money than you do. You no longer have to wonder how you'll get by if your husband isn't "being a spiritual leader", or if you're supposed to just shut up and take it if he's being abusive or unfaithful. (The answer to that is no, by the way.)

5. You can finally take God out of the box. Since you no longer see yourself as confined to a rigid, limiting box, it will become harder to treat God this way as well (and that's a wonderful thing). You may even find Him to be a completely different person than you had previously thought. The change will be a surprise, a relief, a breath of fresh air.

6. You become more open to self-care. Complementarianism conditions us to be suspicious of -- and sometimes downright hostile to -- the idea of self-care. We're taught that the need for regular rest and replenishment is selfish, unreasonable, indulging our flesh, a sign that we aren't fully surrendered to God, or any number of other hurtful and untrue statements. Ironic, when you consider that one of the greatest commandments is "Love your neighbor as yourself": It's pretty darn hard to do that when you have no idea how to love yourself!

7. You're more compassionate. This is the one I find the most amazing when looking at my own life. You know the verse that says, "Blessed are the merciful"? Well, that is not me. Not by nature. I'm ashamed to say that more than once when I've encountered someone in a difficult place, my first thought has been something along the lines of: Well, if they had (or hadn't) done X, they wouldn't have gotten themselves into this mess in the first place!

I still have a long way to go, but I have more compassion for them now than I used to. Compassion for people who have believed lies for way too long -- because I was one of those people. Compassion for those who are silenced and marginalized. Compassion for the ones who don't "fit the mold." Because far too many of us know what it's like to be despised, not for anything we've done, but just for who we are.

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