An Egalitarian submits


I said I wasn’t going to write anything this weekend, but inspiration knocked and I answered! Plus, I felt like I needed to share these thoughts with you before I could discuss my doubts about feminism and egalitarianism.

NOT me


I, Sarah Moon, the feminist, the egalitarian, the independent, 21st century woman, have a confession to make….

Sometimes I clean my boyfriend’s apartment.

Now, if you think I do so wearing a sun dress and pearls while whistling to that song from Snow White, you’ve got another thing coming (if anything, I play broom guitar while belting out Pink Floyd, but that’s another story). But, believe it or not, there have been a couple of times where my boyfriend came home to a clean apartment, thanks to me.

Totally me!

One of those times was last week. I had recently had a short relapse back into my self-injury addiction and was having a rough time as a result. My boyfriend, being the awesome guy that he is, invited me over, bought me Taco Bell, gave me a shoulder to cry on, allowed me to sleep on his couch, and let me relax (and play his video games) at his razor-blade free house while he was at work the next day.

He went out of his way for me. He took care of me when I was depressed (and I am NOT fun to be around when I am depressed). So, when I was feeling better, I cleaned his apartment out of gratitude for his hospitality.

Because Abraham (yes…my boyfriend’s name is Abraham and my name is Sarah. If you can come up with a joke about that that I haven’t heard before, I’ll be highly impressed!) and I hope to have a Christ-centered marriage in the future, I try to practice the principals for marriage that Paul laid out in Ephesians 5:22-25 (feminist friends, stick with me, and complementarian friends, don’t get too excited)

22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

When Abe gives to me sacrificially (even if he’s only “bearing the cross” of paying for my Taco Bell), I want to respond by giving back to him, just as I want to give back to the Christ who gave sacrificially to me.

Some people stop here. They come to this conclusion- men give, women receive. Men act, women respond. Men lead, women follow.

But I think we need to back up a bit. Yup put those Bibles into reverse and take a look at verse 21.

 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

One another. As in EVERYONE in the body of Christ has got to do some submitting here.

Here’s the thing- we’re ALL called to love like Christ. And we’re ALL called to submit to those who show us Christ-like love. We’re all supposed to give and we’re all supposed to receive gratefully. We’re all supposed to act and we’re all supposed to respond to action. We’re all supposed to lead in some ways and all supposed to follow in others.

I helped my boyfriend move into his new apartment in April. So, he responded by returning the favor when I moved into my new house last month. He even did my dishes.

See? That time I gave and he submitted.

Was that wrong? Does that make me a usurper of male authority? Does it make my boyfriend “whipped?”

No, no, and no! I don’t carry a whip in this relationship, and neither does he. We don’t have to, because there is mutual giving and mutual submission.

Now, sometimes, one gender may have to give more. In Paul’s time, most women had less to give, unfortunately. They had almost no political power and were treated very much like property. Paul must have seen the Spiderman movie, because he recognized that men had more power and therefore gave them more responsibility.

Paul’s words are still relevant today. But things have changed.

Women have more power today than they did (speaking as an American. Tragically, things are even worse than they were in Paul’s day for some countries), and to suggest that women shouldn’t use that power based on Ephesians 5 is to miss Paul’s point which is this:

Give to the weaker vessel. That’s what Christ did.

The “weaker vessel” isn’t always the woman in this culture. In most relationships, a husband will be weaker in some areas of life and a wife will be weaker in others. And, no, there are no areas where a man should be stronger or vise-versa. Gender roles are silly. Individual roles, based on each person’s own strengths and personality, are the way to go!

So, man or woman, husband or wife- if you have something to give the world, give it!

And man or woman, husband or wife- follow the example of those who give to you by giving back.

It’s not about power.

It’s about continuing a cycle of love.


21 thoughts on “An Egalitarian submits

  1. i appreciate your words, and this is how my marriage functions, too. we submit to one another because Christ’s calls us ALL to deny ourselves and love one another. love your spiderman perspective;)

    grace and healing

  2. Pingback: Happy Women’s Equality Day! | Sarah Moon: Christian Skeptic

  3. Loved this post. It echoes so many of the things I’ve been pondering and studying lately. My husband and I are so much happier since we’re allowing our marriage be what it is instead of trying to fit into “biblical” roles. And yes, it’s about submitting to each other out of love–our love for each other and for Christ compels us to be kind and tenderhearted to each other.

    • Becky, my husband and I are trying to do the same thing. Both of us grew up very conservatively (him much moreso than me), and have been struggling with it a LOT, especially since I work and he is currently staying at home looking for a job. We don’t get a lot of support from our families (who tend to view the relationship as flipped, unnatural, and not honoring to God) – but I’ve been finding how much more relaxed I am and happy in my marriage when I stop trying to force us into a box and let us simply be…us.

  4. I like the way you explain this. :) I also like how you explain that Paul wasn’t the woman-hater that a lot of feminists like to paint him as. He was just a man of the times…a very Godly one, who cared deeply about women’s rights.

    A lot of people don’t realize that the commands he gave men were actually intended to HELP women rather than harm them.

    That being said, I had to learn how to appreciate chores when I got married. XD I’m a terribly messy person, but my husband gets stressed out if the sink is full of dishes and there’s too much laundry to be done. lol

    Very excellent post!

  5. ah-yup. Funny how even though husbands are told to love their wives in that passage, but wives aren’t explicitly told to love their husbands, no one ever seems to argue that wives *aren’t supposed* to love their husbands . . .

    • I noticed that too! We just have to respect them, apparently. Also, no one ever points out that Christ submitted himself to the church much more faithfully than the church submitted itself back.

  6. so true! great post. I think that’s what a lot of people [Christian and non] miss about this passage. it’s not about who’s “in charge” or “the man”, it’s about two people who love each other enough to make a partnership. being kind is, I think, one of the most attractive things about a person. so go Abe! and go Sarah! and don’t let him tell anybody you’re his sister….:)
    [sorry, you’ve probably heard that one too]

  7. Good truthful stuff…I have been thinking about that Ephesians passage a lot lately too. It’s amazing how so many people miss the part about EVERYONE submitting to everyone else in Christ. That verse is at the beginning of the passage for a reason.

    Lately Steve-o and I have been hanging out at each other’s apartments. Sometimes we make dinner together. Sometimes I cook for him, and sometimes he cooks for me; just depends on the day and whose house we’re at and how tired we are from work. It’s healthy for the relationship for both people to give in myriad ways; missing out on that beautiful give-and-take because of pride or antiquated gender roles wold be silly and sad.

    P.S. I have been thinking about getting back into blogging by doing a series on why I think God is a feminist…heh heh heh. This is one of the passages I was looking at for that. :)

    • I think one of the reasons so many miss v.21 of Ephesians ad the context it sets is that many of the more evangelical translations have artificially put a section break and even a heading between vv 21 & 22. I think that that misleads because in the Greek the verb translated submit in in v. 21 not in v. 22.

      Unfortunately this has led to facilitation of maintaining erroneous attitudes concerning women and gender roles.

      • I noticed the break too, which I thought was strange considering that the passage was a transition from one thought to the next.

    • you should! that sounds like an interesting topic!

  8. I totally agree. My husband cooks almost all the meals because he can cook and not injure himself like I usually do when I cook. I usually do all the everyday cleaning like the dishes (more of less I am really lazy). Today he cleaned the living room and dust mopped the floor. I am going to clean the kitchen, so it works out more or less. If I had the responsibility of doing all the cleaning I think I would toss everything rather than having to clean it everyweek.

    I married my husband because he understands shared responsibility (well there were other reasons too but that is the relevant one).

  9. I love this…I LOVE THIS. Sometimes you really amaze me with your wisdom, Sarah. Love you!

  10. Excellent post! You certainly have a healthy understanding of what is going on in the Ephesians passage.

    You say it is not about power. How right you are. Paul subverts the power structure. In the concept of mutual submission no one is looked upon or treated as an object. Wives are no longer objectified. We no longer objectify the other. He is calling for a leveling of the playing field where he wife is the strength where the husband is weak and the husband the strength where the wife is weak. I don’t see this as complimentarian because I do not see assigned roles based on gender. Like you I see individual roles based on those strengths and weaknesses.

    It is okay for you to clean your boyfriend’s apartment. If he demanded it, or expected it because it is “women’s work” then maybe not so much. Being nice doesn’t enable gender roles, it is being nice.

    • oh yeah, he would never do that. in fact, when he got home from work he said (jokingly), “Woman, get out of the kitchen! It’s my turn.”

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