As a Christian feminist, I often feel conflicted regarding how to view my husband. As a feminist, I’m told to view my husband as my equal. I believe whole-heartedly in this and I do view my husband as my equal. But I have found that among feminists, it is sometimes unpopular to praise your husband simply because of his gender. So, I find myself reserved in communicating my admiration of him. On the other hand, I’m told by conservative Christians that I am to view my husband as my authority, my “head,” the protector of my fragile/weaker frame, and the ruler of our home. So, for me to communicate that my respect for my husband exists outside of this hierarchal and patriarchal framework, I am deemed “not a good Christian wife”. Thus, I’m left perplexed in how I should view him.
When I look at my marriage, I try not to view it through the lens of gender.
It is hard for me to type that statement because I do not believe the answer to gender inequality is to eliminate gender identity. I do understand that it is difficult to determine what is male and what is female simply by looking at the surface of a person. Our society is slowly learning that gender is determined by more than a person’s anatomical make-up. Even though this difficulty exists, I believe that we will do ourselves a disservice if we try to eliminate gender identity all-together. Within our gender identity lies more opportunity for diversity.
For some, acknowledging the differences in one another is negative; because the belief is that we are predisposed to ranking that which is different, thus creating a hierarchal system. The claim is that some differences are good, some are bad, and some are better than others. But, I believe these differences should exist solely in-and-of themselves. I should be able to acknowledge that my husband is male and that I am female, and just let that be. The fact that my husband is male does not make him superior to me, just as I am not superior to him simply because I am female. The same can be said of all differences.
With that being said, in my marriage, I do not believe our gender to be pertinent. While, yes, the fact that my husband is male makes up a part of who he is, the overall enjoyment I receive from his personhood goes so far beyond his gender identity.
I believe I should be able to verbally communicate my love and admiration for him with the understanding that this exists outside of his identity as a male. For me to withhold my praise and admiration simply because of his gender would mean that I, myself, am partaking in gender injustice. Not to mention that I would be missing out on celebrating the person my husband is.
In the same way, I should be able to communicate that my respect for my husband can and does exist outside of the fact that he is male. This does not make me a less-than-ideal Christian wife. I believe that this actually makes me a better Christian wife, because my respect for my husband is not out of obligation or solely founded upon his gender identity. My respect for my husband stems from who he is on the inside, which I believe to be Christ-like.
When I look at my husband, I view him through the lens of companionship. What I see in him is the friendship we have cultivated. I see the daughter we co-parent. I see the son who will soon join our family. I see what sets fire to his bones. I see what causes a frown on his brow. I see the memories he has shared with me from his childhood. I see the family that has helped create the person he is today. I see him, Jonathan; the entirety of his personhood. Not simply Jonathan, who is male, but Jonathan who is my husband, and my companion.