As a teenager, I led numerous Bible studies. In my grandparents’ basement several peers and I worked through the book of Galatians. In Oral Esplund’s living room it was the Lord’s prayer. On Sunday afternoons during my senior year of high school, it was random selections provided by a small group of women who were often ostracized. For whatever reason, I enjoyed reading/studying the Bible for all of its interesting complexities and helping others examine it.
And there was one complexity that baffled me: why were there a few verses strung here and there that seemed to indicate women were not or should not be leaders, especially in good Christian homes. Why was I somehow inferior, I wondered?
It has been a few years, ok, it has been MANY years since my Bible thumping days in my hometown, and yet, in many evangelical and conservative Christian circles, the idea that wives should submit to husbands continues as a well-worn litmus test. Most recently, this can be seen in the candidacy of Michelle Bachmann.
Bachmann’s response to Byron York’s question about whether she, as president, would submit to her husband reveals the dilemma many evangelicals have. On the one hand, many try to argue that submission is something that is intended to be mutual, and therefore, really isn’t a problem. This is, I think, what Bachmann suggested when she said “submission means respect.” What often goes without close scrutiny, however, is that there is a difference between submission and respect and this fundamental difference is the diminished reality many women quietly endure.
How many women lead unhappy and unfulfilled lives because they are desperately seeking to be less than who they were created to be? How much good in the world goes undone because patriarchy maintains its hold under the label submission?
Wouldn’t it be a breath of fresh air if the Michele Bachmanns who have proven themselves highly capable in the secular world (which isn’t to say that I agree with even an iota of Bachmann’s platform) would turn this energy to a deconstruction of a tradition that has been sold to them under the auspices of Christian values?