Much of the service focussed on Pauls’ letter to the Ephesians dealing with submission and it revolved entirely around the women’s position to such an extent that one might be forgiven for asking if the pastor had a fear of powerful women!
The implications of female submissiveness was carefully spelt out, including leaving important decisions to the husband. The dangers of self-assertion were highlighted with the warning that marriages are failing because women are refusing to submit.
After a while, I started to wonder if the pastor would have time to clarify the man’s role. Finally, he said it. The husband must love his wife like Christ loved the church. And that was it! Nothing more. No need to spell out what this means in terms of self-sacrifice, submission and self-denial. No need to define in practical terms what being Christ-like actually means for a man in today’s society.
The irony is that in a patriarchal society women are brought up learning what being submissive means. They don’t need it spelt out to them. They live it. On the contrary, it is the men, who muscle their way through situations, who need to be taught the lessons of Christ’s submission.
The bias of the male church leaders suggests they are not really serious about what they’re saying. As men, they enjoy their power and, like an animal protecting its place within the pack, will instinctively fight to keep their position of privilege.
This expression of Christianity, instead of challenging orthodoxy, has become a reactionary tool in maintaining the status quo. Through a particular reading of a text, supposedly authorised by divine authority, it ensures that the mere act of a women questioning this wisdom is, in itself, an act of insolence and disobedience against the divine.
The danger to patriarchy is within the woman. That’s why her subjugation must be complete and complicit.