The religious argument of the man as the head of the household with 2 equal partners with separate roles really boils down to "separate but equal." I'm with you--I'm not buying it.


I tend to agree that it is oppressive, by definition. I think it's the word "lead" that causes all the trouble. If that word weren't in there I doubt any woman would object to being "served" by a "self-sacrificing" husband. But Christianity (and most other faiths) is generally oppressive to both women and men, including this husband-as-leader doctrine. You completely miss this side of the story.

Oppression is the removal from the individual of the power or right to make significant life choices. If my religion mandated that I always lead in a marriage, I would resent it. (You seem to assume that the benefit always goes to the one leading, but this isn't true.) The interests of the married couple is best served when the couple has flexibility of roles. Who leads may be very dependent upon the circumstance and the comparative strengths/skills of the parties as they relate to those circumstances. I simply could not tolerate a doctrine mandating my role as default full-time leader. Period. Telling husbands they have such a duty is to me oppressive, by definition.

A Pang

People often quote the bit that says the husband must also serve the wife, but that still doesn't negate the verses that say the husband is analogous to Christ and the wife to the Church. If it were truly an equitable relationship you should just as easily be able to have it the other way round.


Sing it sister! That is a GREAT response to the idea that a kind tyrant is alright! I also like the contrast of a lifetime of enforced heirarchy vs a temporary heirarchy.

Have you ever read The Birth of Pleasure? Carol Gilligan writes that love is radical because it disrupts heirarchy. Where there is love there can not be heirarchy and where there is a heirarchy there cannot be real love.

The Happy Feminist

Absolutely, Richard!

(Except the part that the set-up would be okay for women if you just take out the word "lead").

I also don't think that any one has to "lead." Marriage is a small and personal enough endeavor that it doesn't require hierarchy except MAYBE for certain discrete projects.

A Pang

Won't someone close this tag?!

The Happy Feminist

Fixed the tag. I haven't read The Birth of Pleasure. (I am extremely behind on my feminist reading!) But I have to say that I have always felt that hierarchy is antithetical to love. It's harder to see someone else's point of view if you occupy different spots in a hierarchy.

The only exception I can think of is parent-child love but even there I think hierarchy, though necessary, causes the fluorishing of resentments and problems.


I can't believe it, but Richard actually got this right. This kind of Christianity is indeed anti-male. It puts all the pressure and responsibility on the man. This is something I've said for a long time -- traditionalists don't want freedom for men. They want men to fit into a role that is just as narrow as the role they've set for women. Don't these people think God made us individuals for a reason? Not all men are natural leaders, and I don't think there's anything wrong with that. Beta males need love too!

As far as one person taking the lead, that's just common sense. You take the lead at what you're good at. This has nothing to do with religion, but rather efficiency. (Inefficiency is one of my biggest pet peeves.)


Wanting men to fit into a narrow role doesn't mean that Christianity is 'just as oppressive' to one sex as another.

If that word weren't in there I doubt any woman would object to being "served" by a "self-sacrificing" husband.

I can't be the only woman whose first reaction to this idea is 'ew'.


I never used the word oppressive. Not even Richard used the phrase "just as oppressive".

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