Discussion of marital roles can get rather heated, especially in Christian circles. But honestly, it’s something that influences every marriage, Christian or not. And even in the 21st century, the views are across the board.
Some people still believe that a wife’s only role should be as a homemaker and mother, while the husband is the breadwinner. Others believe that a woman isn’t fulfilled unless she works outside of the home and that it is possible to have it all. Some think a dad staying at home as the main caregiver is awesome, others view it as emasculating.
Some believe that a woman should always take her husband’s last name. Others believe that this is sexist and a woman should keep her last name. Some interpret the Bible as saying that the husband is the leader of the household and therefore women should submit to their husbands. Others believe that these passages are a reflection of the patriarchy of the time and that marriage is about mutual submission.
Generally these different opinions fall into one of two camps: those believing in egalitarian or complementarian marriage, although there are definitely a wide range of beliefs in each. Complementarians believe that men and women have different roles in marriage which complement each other, while egalitarians believe that husbands and wives have equal roles and share responsibilities in marriage.
Today I’ve invited two bloggers that I’ve been following for a while to share their opposing views on marital roles. Although their views differ, these ladies often pair up on their blogs, so there’s no bitter rivalry here.
Brita Long of Belle Brita
Brita is a Christian feminist libertarian and I enjoy visiting her blog for posts on Christian feminism, modesty culture, and living with a chronic illness. She identifies as an egalitarian and decided not to take her husband’s last name. Here’s her take on marital roles:
Charlene Maugeri of Enduring All Things
Charlene blogs about keeping God first and your husband second, and I love reading her blog for posts about marriage and applying faith in a practical way. She identifies as a complementarian and believes the Bible calls her to submit to husband. Here’s her take on marital roles:
“I believe that my husband and I have different, yet complementary roles in our marriage. This mostly comes from Ephesians 5:22-33. Let me start by saying that wives submitting to their husbands ONLY WORKS when the husband loves the wife as Christ loves the church. It only works when the husband doesn’t take advantage of the situation and turn it into the world’s definition of submission. What is the world’s definition? Oppression. What is the Biblical definition? Meekness, as opposed to weakness. If this is the case, then the wife can submit to her husband without qualms because the husband loves her and gives his all for her and does everything with her needs and wants in mind.
My husband listens to me. My opinion matters to him. Sometimes he even bends to my will. Imagine that! But if we were ever in a situation where we just could not agree on something, I would take on the responsibility of submitting to his choices because I trust him and respect him and I know he loves me and has my best interest at heart. We haven’t come across a situation like that but I’m sure we will as our family grows and we experience more life together. Here is a fun little comic that I think illustrates my points here pretty well. Also, here is a blog post I wrote last year about this topic in case you want to read more.”
So what do I think? My husband and I have an egalitarian marriage. I believe that my husband and I should have equal say in the decisions that are important to us. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t compromise involved. I see marriage as a partnership in which there is give and take.
Being an egalitarian and a feminist influences my belief that couples should be able to choose what works for them in their marriage, as long as there is mutual love and respect and no abuse taking place. For me, that means that I want to be a stay at home mom that also works part time from home. I want my husband and I to share responsibilities around our home, based on what we are each good at, not based on our genders. It means that even though I enjoy cooking, if I don’t feel like it some nights, we can get Grubhub without me feeling like a bad wife.