I grew up attending church on a semi-regular basis. Although my mom wanted us all to believe in Jesus and be active members in the church, there was never a whole lot of pressure on us to live a “Godly” life. My parents were, and are, a pretty progressive couple when you look at the households they grew up in: both my parents had stay-at-home mothers who adored their husbands and took a traditional motherly role.
Although for a large part of my childhood my mom was a stay-at-home mom, she had several jobs that I can recall. My parents were never the same as their parents were. Although my dad was in the Air Force and my mom spent her time with me and my two siblings, my parents were always a team. When one of us kids got in trouble while my dad was at work, my mom would of course fill my dad in when he arrived home, but they always made decisions on how to punish us together.
Even in 2016, however, there are families who choose to raise their kids in traditional, Christian households. Recently, I saw a diagram showing three umbrellas over top of one another, each one getting progressively smaller than the one above it. The first and biggest umbrella said, “Jesus” on it. The middle umbrella says, “husband” and the things he covers include “spiritually leading the household,” “provide for the family,” and “love wife like Christ loves the church.”
Meanwhile, under the smallest umbrella entitled, “wife” her duties are listed as being “a helper to her husband,” “raise Godly children,” and “submit to husband’s authority.” The bottom of the photo entitles the entire diagram as, “natural order of the family.”
To begin with what I find so troubling with this diagram, I’ll start with the title of the diagram, “natural order of the family.” For one, I view religion in itself as unnatural. Sure, we as humans may have had a natural need to explain things around us with stories of a supernatural being, but that was before science.
Science, as a natural law, tells us that the earth wasn’t molded from clay by an all-powerful being. We weren’t put on this earth 6,000 years ago as many evangelicals like to think. It’s also not natural to view one being as more or less than another simple because of sex and societal expectations of what a woman and a man’s roles are.
The next and probably most personally troubling issue I find with this diagram is the fact the woman is to be “submissive” to her husband. This may have made sense in biblical times, but in 2016 there is no reason to adhere to this traditional societal expectation. Women are now taking on the role of being the head of the household and being the breadwinners, while more husbands are taking on the role of stay-at-home dads. The wife, according to this diagram, is supposed to “raise godly children.” This is putting pressure on the wife to bear her husband’s children, which therefore puts pressure on the husband to create little god-soldiers.
Again, in 2016 there is no need to reproduce. Expectations and pressures towards couples to have children are unnecessary and the idea of not having children is becoming less taboo. As a matter of fact, in my experiences, pressuring one to have children is more taboo than not having children at all.
The expectation of the father to be a provider and leader of the family is simply primitive. As I said before, women are taking on the role of the “head of the household” more often than ever. To expect the husband to take on the role of leader of the household is just as anti-feminist as telling the wife she must be submissive.
What if all a man ever wanted to do was be a stay-at-home dad? According to this diagram, he would be considered a failure if he wasn’t the main “breadwinner.”
Overall, as someone who identifies as agnostic, I feel that running a household based on scripture can be a very toxic thing. While some may find comfort in it and feel that they’re doing the right thing, I believe that the idea that one person in the marriage holds more power than the other can attribute to domestic violence and emotional abuse.
The bible pushes this family structure because overall, women aren’t very valued in Christianity. One can trace back to Genesis where it’s believed that man was made by God, and women were simply made of mans rib. In other areas of the bible, women are often outcast and disrespected to the point of violence.
Deuteronomy 22:28 states that if an unmarried virgin woman is raped and the rapist is caught, it’s not the rape victim’s loss, it’s the father’s. The bible, specifically the Old Testament, view women as property: before the woman is married, she’s the property of her father. Once she’s married, she becomes the property of her husband. In the case of rape, the rapist is, in a sense, defiling the property of another man and therefore “pays” by remaining married to the woman, giving her a “purpose.”
This information from the bible is the basic roots for the toxic ideology that a woman is somehow beneath her husband, and that by being “above him” it would be the same as the man being “owned” by his own property.
Being a Christian is by no means “wrong,” however, I believe it’s important we look at the consequences, side-effects, and root causes of the basic beliefs of Christianity in regards to the “order” of marriage. Many times what seems to be an innocent practice of belief has a sinister heritage when examined closely and from a progressive standpoint.