Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ok.. so I need to sort some things out before I write my paper. And I thought I would bring this out for discussion.. I guess I just feel like it is something I have been struggling to decide for myself.

Like I said in a previous post I am writing a paper for my social identity class. I decided to use my gender identity: woman.. in case you were wondering.

So as I am looking at a few different identity development models I am intrigued. Here is one of them:

Feminist Identity Development Model (FID)- Downing and Roush
Passive Acceptance: Woman accepts dominant societal meaning of traditional gender roles and believes they are advantageous

Revelation: A series of events or experiences propel the woman into a state of dualist thinking in which women are perceived positively and men are perceived negatively

Embeddedness-Emanation: Woman strongly connected to other women, surrounds herself with self affirming women's community in order to strengthen new identity.

Synthesis- Woman achieves an authentic and positive feminist identity in which gender role transcendence is coupled with the evaluation of men on an individual basis.

Active Commitment- Woman commits herself to meaningful action towards feminist goals.

Ok. So that's the model. Right now I have to figure out where, within these stages, I fit. Honestly I don't really know. I think this conversation with myself had taught me a lot about what I see is the role of a "man" more than what I see as the role of a "woman".

I guess the tension I feel is between my own independence and self empowerment and the roles that I feel God has laid out for men and women in marriage. I think that as my own entity, my own person, I am a very confident and strong woman. I don't "need" a man to make me whole, and I definitely believe that typical gender roles aren't set in stone and that different things ascribed to each can transcend from gender to gender. For instance being emotional is not only a womanly thing but also a manly thing. I don't think that a man who knows who he is and how he feels is any less manly than one who is rough and cold (actually to some extent I feel that the emotionally aware male is more man than a closed male.. does that make any sense?)

Despite my sense of self as an empowered, liberated and independent woman.. the tension I feel comes when discussing marriage, relationships etc. Many people get hung up on the verses that say "women submit to your husbands" and assume that means that they should be passive, unchallenging, and quietly accept abuse and the husband's "complete authority". I think that this is a definite misunderstanding of the biblical idea of marriage and submission. For me I read "Offer, give, present, yourselves as a partner to your husband". I don't read submit yourselves to the unquiestionable authority of man because he is man and man is man because he is man. My Bible reads "Womens submit to your wives as is fitting to the Lord." My Remix version reads "Wives, understand and support your husbands by submitting to them in ways that honor the Master" (Both Colossians 3:18) Ephesians 5:22 reads Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord (TNIV) and "Wives understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ." (Remix).. I mean those sound a lot different than the idea that most people have of a domineering man leading the family into destruction. I mean I think the later verses speak to that issue. I mean God has a big commandment for husbands in marriage too. And I often think that for men, this can be quite a daunting task.

Ephesians 5:25-30
Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands out to love their wives as their own bodies, He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, people have never hated their own bodies, but they feed and care for them, just as Christ does the church- for we are members of His body..."

I mean that is huge! Where we are merely commanded to respect, honor and understand, they are commanded to love us like Christ loves the church!!! wow! I think that is an incredible thing.

Another aspect that often gets twisted around is the verse that talks about "Husbands as the head of the family as Christ is head of the church" They use the term "head" referring to the fact that the church is the body of Christ, and Christ is the head etc. I think many look at this verse and see that there are distinct gender roles playing out. For instance the "head" representing intelligence vs. "body" representing work, bearing children, and inability to make any choices. I don't think that this is what Paul was getting at when he wrote this letter. I think it had something to do with roles, but more in the sense of partnership and referring back to the different needs in a family

I have often heard this talked about in the sense that if a partnership has two people who want the completely different things, with the same amount of authority and no outside guidance, nothing will ever get done. This makes me think of a lot of the marriages I know. For me the idea of a partnership and a need for one person to have a different authority makes sense. I guess I think back to OB1 (because all discussions go back to my first class here at SIT on Organizational Behavior.. focusing on interpersonal dynamics in team settings) and the difference between facilitation and leadership. To me the difference is the need or presence for authority and direction. Leaders have the authority to make decisions, although they look to the team to provide decisions, support and debate. Facilitators tend to direct the conversations, check on process, and allow space for decisions to be made as a team, but if there are big decisions to be made and no consensus can be found, typically it is the facilitators job to make the best choice for the team based on the overall vision. I guess for me when I look at the idea of a husband being the "head" of a family.. I look more towards the facilitator role, with a little bit of leader mixed in. I guess the hook (and hope) is that within a faithful Christian family both partners should be looking to Christ as the vision, so even when "consensus" cannot be made, the husbands decision should still line up with the vision of Christ and his desires for that family. This changes a lot. When we think about the fact that both husband and wife are in submission to God first, then why would it be such a horrible thing to "submit" to the husband who should be following God's call (and therefore your own) in the first place. Although the idea of submission has been distorted, and although man's role as husband within Christianity has been distorted (especially after many years of masculine, male dominated institutions and societies), the Truth remains that God himself has set forth the image and example for what a husband looks like. And as a woman, if I were to marry a man who was striving to be that example.. I would not fear this scary thing called submission. Because to me, "supporting and understanding" a man who "cherishes me as Christ cherishes the church" is like allowing God to take control of my life.... he loves me, he wants the best for me, and he has the wisdom to make the right choices in my stead. A man looking to exemplify Paul's idea of "head of the family" will be seeking God's call first for me and my family.. I can't foresee that being a disempowerment, but rather an empowerment to know that I have support, that I can challenge it if I feel it is NOT what God is calling (because ultimately that is the family's vision), and to know that no matter what God is in control of everything anyway. Another tidbit is that God never calls women to submit to abuse, or dominance.. rather he states "submit to your husbands as is fitting to the Lord" and later tells husbands to cherish and not domineer the wives.. anyway.. love is not equal to abuse. Submission does not mean passive acceptance.

Now i need to go relax and watch harry potter before actually writing this paper. ugh. tired

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