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The long-awaited answer

March 29, 2012

For me, today has been a momentous day.  Today I found out the definitive answer to a question that has been waiting for more than 40 years to be answered.  Today is my 64th birthday and this morning I was able to sing the lyrics “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64” and wait for an actual answer.  Happily, it turns out that the answer is yes.  Woo-hoo!

OK, a little history here.  The song was written by Paul McCartney of the Beatles when he was 16.  I am sure, at the time, he considered 64 as the age of advanced decrepit senility.  The Beatles recorded it in December, 1966, and it was part of their smash album “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.”  It became oddly popular and has since been covered by more than 20 artists, including John Denver, Russell Brand, Cheap Trick, and Alvin and the Chipmunks. 

Anyway, I am happy to report that, at 64, my wife still claims to need me and is still willing to feed me.  On that latter, as things turn out, I do about half the cooking in our house because that is the way our schedules work out.  It is not some reasoned blow on behalf of egalitarian principles in marriage, it just sort of happened.  I will freely admit that the term “better half” when applied to cooking in our marriage belongs to Peggy.

Did you notice the way that I cleverly slipped in that term “egalitarian?”  That is because it is egalitarianism, along with its counterpart, complementarianism, is what I’ve been thinking about of late.  I do this from the vantage point of a 40-year marriage that for me has been deliriously happy and, as I see it, for Peggy inexplicably happy.  I realize that in many homes that is not the case and sensitive to that reality.

When you are on the mission field issues such as this debate, which can be quite heated, seem hard to comprehend.  In a persecuted church, in a church that is a tiny minority in another culture, among woefully understaffed missions there is simply no time for such discussions.  But when we came back to the U.S. I figured that I better learn about this issue.  This was not so much so that I could take a side, I am not big on “sides”, but so that I could understand the issue.  Happily there is a wealth of information available, particularly on the internet.

One pattern I’ve seen is that it appears that it is not too often egalitarians and complementarians actually sit down to talk to each other.  Each side sets up straw men about what the other believes and attacks them.  I’ve never found a serious egalitarian who actually believes that men and women are exactly alike in everything except the physical, yet that is the point of view complementarians attack.  I’ve never found a serious complementarian who argues for the inferiority of women yet that is what they are attacked for believing.  (By the way, note the word “serious” in both those statements.  On the internet you can always find people who seem all too expert and making their point of view look stupid.)

So how big an issue is this?  How important is it that Peggy and I, in our home, get it right?  Is our salvation at risk?  Are we heretics if we get it wrong?  In a world where sex trafficking, spousal abuse, divorce, pornography, infidelity and the like permeate every culture is female usurping of male roles a critical issue for the church to address?  Many of you know that Peggy is involved in a ministry called Project Hannah, which addresses issues women face around the world, those listed above among them.  If you would like to know more about that ministry you can find here

It is perhaps her role there that makes this debate seem rather inconsequential to us.  But we don’t want to minimize the concerns of those for whom this is important.  So we’ve decided to remain silent on the issue.  We choose not to declare that we are one or the other in our home.  Do we run our home as egalitarians?  Or are we complementarians who, on my orders as leader, have decided to act like egalitarians?  For those of you who know us you are free to watch and decide.

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