I am not the most comfortable with labels. It’s not for any profound reason. I wear brands of clothing, and I can promote my favorite brands of anything from restaurants to beer to lipstick, etc. Usually when it comes to categorizing myself or others, however, I get nervous. Admittedly, it’s easier for me to label others than it is to label myself. The reason for my discomfort is that words, labels, and categories all can be very loaded. They can have multiple definitions and they can mean more than what I choose to align myself with.
This week, the conversations is all about Complimentarians and Egalitarians. If I had to choose which one I lean more closely towards, I would say it’s the Egalitarian group. But, that doesn’t mean that I don’t agree with some of the views held by Complimentarians nor that I don’t disagree with some views held by Egalitarians. To be completely honest, I don’t know enough about either to really say what I am or what I am not.
If you are just now reading along, this is my third blog post this week on the topic of Mutuality. For a much more thorough discussion, check out www.rachelheldevans.com and/or follow the discussion on Twitter under the hashtag #mutuality2012.
I am qualifying the use of labels because this post touches a little on the men who hold or find themselves leaning closer to the Egalitarian view within the Church and Christian home. My husband is one of those men. He probably has heard the term ‘Egalitarian’ only a handful of times, but he and I both have found ourselves and our marriage, outside of the Traditional-Conservative-Christian view (Complimentarian) of what that should look like.
For the sake of keeping this blog post readable (not too long) I won’t go into how we found ourselves more comfortable with our roles within our marriage as well as the Church, but I found this story (Thank You Pam!!) to resonate with me and what mine and my husband’s experience has been in finding our place. Thinking back on my own marriage and seeing the journey we have made as a couple got me thinking about Bryan (my husband) and what this all means for him.
Bryan is quiet. He is very much a thinker, but He doesn’t suffer much from ‘foot-in-mouth-syndrome’ like I do. He is patient and waits until just the appropriate time to speak and share. Some of the criticism that husbands of women in leadership receive is that they are passive, and lack courage. Just as women who lead hear that they are not living into God’s best for their lives (God’s best meaning to be quiet, passive, and only have authority over women and young children), our husbands are hearing a similar message. Messages like, you have been led astray by a women, or you have not properly put your women in her place, or the man should be the leader, should be speaking out, should be praying more, and you lack courage.
Words can sting. And I think anytime we are called a coward, it hurts. But it leads to this question: What is Courage? And these are my reflections on what I think courage is.
Courage is laying oneself down for the sake of another. Courage is humbly seeing ourselves as not only man and wife, but also brother and sister in Christ. Courage is encouraging each other, supporting each other in every season of life, working as a team and not as competitors. Courage is following your convictions and seeking after the heart of God, even when others tell you that you are not. Courage is working out your Faith in fear and trembling and finding that Jesus is your anchor, and trusting that that is all that matters.
Courage may mean that you stay at home, take care of your children, support your husband in submission. Courage may mean that you wear a dress down to your ankles daily. Courage may mean that you abstain from alcohol. Courage is following after God, keeping our eyes on Him, realizing that the Cross is what made the way for us to be reconciled and that we all will live out our Faith in diverse ways. Being different takes courage. Laying our reactions, our arguments, and our Christian molds down takes courage. Linking arms with Fundamentalists as well as the Gay Christian Network takes courage.
Jesus was courageous. Jesus hung out with the ‘wrong crowd’. He said taboo things and He made many people feel uncomforatable…not for the sake of reacting, but because their thinking had been skewed. Jesus set the tone for us. He showed us how to love in truth, how to befriend prostitutes as well as Pharisees, and how to have courage.
It takes strength, and support to be a man or a woman and accept the calling God places on our lives. It takes an act of submission to be a man or a woman and speak truth from a pulpit or teach Sunday School, or even serve cookies at the hospitality table. As brothers and sisters we need to support one another, realizing that we are all frightened. We are all wrestling it out and that the wrestling takes on many different forms. Courage comes with multitudes. It doesn’t always mean standing alone. It means recognizing our need for each other, even in our differences.
This is something that I hope to live into more and more. I want to have a heart after God’s. I want to see and appreciate the different gifts and diverse ways in which He works. And as the picture above says, I want to truly live into the idea of being One in Christ.