Something has just resonated with me that may relate to other husbands within egalitarian marriages so I will put it out there for your interest and comment.
Within complementarian marriages it is expected that men should take the lead, in both the family and church, because they believe that they are biblically mandated to do so. This can lead to many women within that ordered environment becoming passive and retreating from the active development of their own spiritual walk with God. Even though complementarians believe that men should lead, many of the books that encourage such leadership spend a great deal of time speaking to women about how to help release their men into taking up the mantle of responsibility. This is more evident in some of the dating books where prospective brides are urged to step back and let the men step up in the relationship. Which suggests to me that males are not so ‘hard-wired’ as we are led to believe to fit automatically into that role. Some men, as with some women, are naturally born leaders and initiators possessed with boundless charisma, energy and vision. Humanly speaking, the bulk of us are content to be followers, ready to get behind a worthy, dedicated and wise leader. This should not mean though that our own spiritual development and discernment is shelved and we blindly follow another fallible human being instead of tuning in to the heart of God for ourselves.
Even though I have been in pastoral leadership myself I was never the aggressive leader type. My gifts were more in the area of relational pastoral care with a gentle touch of the prophetic. I was more of a Bible teacher, exhorter and encourager than an inspiring evangelist who demanded a following. Perhaps that is at the heart of why it is I so readily embraced egalitarianism within both the church and the home. I was more than happy to recognise Godly, gifted people of either gender, who were prepared to step up and use their gifts for the glory of God and the extension of his kingdom.
But there could be a down side to that for men like myself. Because I am more willing to step back and be the servant in a situation I run the danger of being too passive, allowing others to override my sense of what may well be right and the more Christ honouring course to take. Egalitarian husbands, like myself, could find themselves being overly passive, just like the complementarian wives I spoke of at the beginning of this post. In freeing their wives to be all they can be under God they may inadvertantly relinquish, or go soft on their own spiritual development and sensitive walk with God. I sense this in my own journey and that is why I’m drawing attention to it here. I’m interested in hearing from other egalitarian men who may have recognised a similar tendency in their own experience.
Egalitarian marriages are meant to express mutuality and shared responsibility but, even though they are soundly biblical, there is the danger that men could fail to share the responsibility equally and unduly burden their gifted spouse. How do we prevent that happening? Let’s hear from you egalitarian men.