Why Women Want an Equal Partner

by | Aug 19, 2022 | Life, Marriage | 116 comments

Why Women Want an Equal Partner

This has been a strange week on the blog and social media, with a bunch of new male commenters flooding this space complaining about women.

The complaints were prompted by two things: our continued discussion about the Psychology Today article and the fact that women are developing higher standards for husbands (which we also talked about in our podcast this week); and this Fixed It For You:

Fixed it For You Kevin Leman Period

No, Kevin Leman, her period is not a difficult time “for her husband.”

It is a difficult time for her. And if he has difficulty, it’s nothing in comparison to what she is experiencing.

This inability to see life from her point of view is actually quite astounding–and even more astounding to think that he wrote it in a book and announced it to the world.

Is there an inability to see things from women’s point of view in the church?

I have a number of thoughts jumbled in my head, and I’d like to try to express them today as I process our discussions this week.

About 20-30 years ago I remember hearing around election time that conservatives in general have an easier time getting the other side to listen to their message because they understand the liberal message because most media tells the liberal message. Conservatives can articulate the liberal message easier than liberals can articulate the conservative message, and so conservatives can talk to liberals better because there’s an understanding of what they think.

Because the liberal message is articulated more in public, conservatives hear it argued more, while liberals tend to only be exposed to a caricature of the conservative message. 

(This doesn’t hold true anymore with modern politics and the polarization of news outlets, but we did study this decades ago in university when media was different.) 

I think there’s something similar going on with gender.

When people try to explain to me that the Bible says man is the head of the household (which it actually doesn’t), and that man being the head means that he is in charge, and they try to convince me like I’ve never heard this before–it kind of makes me laugh.

Do they not realize that all of us grew up with this our whole lives? We can teach it backwards and forwards. The problem is not that we don’t know the arguments; the problem is that we have heard all the arguments and found them wanting, because we have seen a way to interpret Scripture that pays attention to the original language, the original context, and most importantly, the words and heart of Jesus. And it’s much more faithful to Scripture than proof-texting verses out of context, away from the original language.

The problem is not that I don’t understand their arguments; the problem is that they absolutely will not consider any other ones. They refuse to see with any other point of view, even though we are quite used to looking at this from various points of view.

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And so it is with the conversations we were having on the blog this week.

The comments on the blog and on social media this week were among the most misogynistic I’ve ever had on the blog. (One commenter said something he regrets and he apologized, and so I’m not talking about him). But I had to delete some absolutely horrid ones from men claiming to be Christian, and many of them had the same themes:

Women were selfish. We only wanted to take from men. We had way too high standards for men. But most of all, we didn’t have sympathy for what men went through.

Here’s the thing: I know that this cultural time is a difficult transition for many men. They used to have what was needed in the economy and in society to do well. They were stronger, so they could do the more physical labor.

But what is really needed in today’s economy is people who can work in teams; function well in relationships; have strong verbal and written skills; can think from multiple points of view. Physical skills aren’t required as much. This has meant that the things women have been socialized to excel at are more in demand than the things that men have been socialized to excel at (none of this is biological remember–it’s all socialization, except for the physical skills).

And so women are having an easier time financially supporting themselves than they did in the past. Women are finding that they don’t need to settle for someone just to be looked after, because they can look after themselves.

Therefore, if a woman is going to marry, a man must bring something to the table. He must be a real partner. He must do the emotional labor to carry the relationship too. He needs to carry his share of the household.

A lot of guys fit that bill and more, and they’re excelling and doing wonderfully. There is absolutely nothing biological about being male that means you can’t be emotionally mature and healthy. 

But there is a subset of guys who were not raised to do those sorts of things. That’s not those guys’ faults; that’s largely our culture and their parents. But here we are, and it is what it is.

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So the question is: What do we do about it?

Do you remember the movie Hidden Figures, about the African American women employed by NASA in the 60s who played a significant role in the space race? There’s a great scene where Octavia Spencer’s character, who supervises a number of women, realizes that computers are about to make her and her whole team redundant.

But she also realizes that none of the men at NASA know how to program or work the computer.

So she goes to the library and steals a book on FORTRAN, the computer language (she has to steal because she’s not allowed to check a book out). She figures out how to program that thing, and she teaches her team how to program that thing, and suddenly she and her team are indispensable again.

She realized her skills weren’t needed anymore, and so she took initiative to develop the skills that were necessary.

That’s what women want men to do.

We’re not saying that it’s easy being a man in this period of transition. We’re not saying that men don’t have things to complain about (although, again, we would like men to realize how much harder women have had it, and even to experience period pain for a few days each month, but still be expected to write an exam, do your job, and do all the regular things you do, acting like nothing’s wrong).

We’re just saying that it’s not up to us to fix it for men.

What I was hearing a lot in the comments all across my platforms this week was men saying that women are demanding too much, and only care about themselves. But what they’re really saying is that women should lower our standards, and be with men who don’t make our lives better. We should compensate for the men who make our lives worse.

And what we’re saying is–no.

For  years, women worked their way up the work world with no role models. We figured things out. We formed groups and helped each other.

Men who find themselves at a disadvantage in today’s society can do that too. It isn’t too difficult. Go to therapy to work on any emotional and relational issues you have. Read books on attachment (or read my attachment series!). Find YouTube channels that teach you how to clean and organize. Get a budget. Live independently.

In other words, make yourself an attractive spouse.

It is not women’s job to fix the men they’re with, and for millennia we’ve been asked to do that.

It’s not too much to ask men to do the work first–especially since so many already have, and have shown that men can be amazing partners, amazing fathers, responsible workers, and more. Women want a to be wives and partners; we don’t want to have to mother somebody that isn’t a child.

We can still appreciate the men who are struggling and respect them and be in community with them. But fewer women will be willing to marry men who aren’t bringing something a lot to the table. If men want a wife, increasingly they will have to do the work themselves.

And part of that work means letting go of the entitlement that women are supposed to orient our lives around men. That we’re supposed to make your lives easier, make up for your deficiencies, and see things from your point of view. And, of course, offer sex on demand.

This trend is only going to accelerate.

And it will get worse in the church, because the church is still feeding men’s entitlement. That’s one of the reasons that for the first time women are leaving the church faster than men are. We’re just not interested in compensating for entitled men anymore, and men in the church are more entitled than men outside the church (which is a huge indictment all on its own).

So let’s raise our boys to be emotionally healthy, and to know how to be good partners. Let’s raise the next generation to not see men as the main story, with women as supporting characters, but rather to see all of us running after Jesus, using the gifts the Holy Spirit has given us, and serving together, as partners.

Let’s keep Jesus at the centre, not men at the centre, and then I think this problem will start to get better.

And if men continue to threaten: Well, if women want to be like that, we’ll just check out–I think you’ll find increasingly women will say, “no problem.” That threat isn’t going to work anymore. All it does is help us identify who is toxic. And this week, we identified a lot of it.

Women Want an Equal Partner in a Husband

What do you think? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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116 Comments

  1. n

    Encouraging. I don’t think we are ever going to completely eliminate wolves in sheep’s clothing from churches. But for years I’ve been uneasy that most young women in church really didn’t know what they were getting into when they married, and most older women still seemed way happier when a young woman got engaged, than for any other milestone in her life. And if the marriage imploded, it felt like everything but discipleship of young men was blamed for why the marriage didn’t succeed. And finally some people with platforms who believe the Bible are willing to look at the big holes in discipleship of men. I’m ok with needing to be part of a team that confronts wolves. I wasn’t ok with feeling like I couldn’t even find teammates who would face the holes where the wolves have been actively encouraged to come right in and narcissistically hoover up a whole lot of service and affirmation, at the expense of the real priorities Jesus has asked us to have.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thanks, N! I’m glad you found this helpful. Yes, it has been discouraging, but I do think things are changing.

      Reply
  2. One of them

    I think you badly mid characterized your opponent’s arguments.

    First and foremost, the overwhelming majority of complementarians are not in it for power or the reasons you state. We have studied the word of God inside and out (for the record I was ordained in an egalitarian church and after many years of study and observation found it lacking substantially) and believe God has called and ordained and if we don’t do what He has called we are no better than Jonah, Moses, Peter, Paul or anyone found in scripture who God has given commands to and they have not obeyed. Thankfully those listed saw the light, repented and went about God’s business. We believe you are not being obedient to God to believe as you do.

    Second, we don’t agree with your facts. You jump back and forth from inside the church to outside the church that the facts get convoluted. Outside of the church, I agree modern women aren’t choosing marriage with modern men- for their reasons. But modern men aren’t choosing women either. They have found porn, video games, the tinder hookup (dig deep into your dating sites info and you’ll find that most of those sites and most men are looking for casual sex) to be a better alternative than the modern woman. Sad in both cases.

    Men don’t even define loneliness the same. We don’t want what you’d call be unlonely. The entire basis is flawed.

    Todays posts is also off. Men take two days off and the electrical stops flowing, the water stops running and the sewers back up. The cars don’t get fixed and the houses don’t get built. And the bad guys rape, Rob and pillage. Your thesis is one of an upper middle class woman who lives behind a screen and so her reality is distorted badly.

    It’s not that we don’t understand what you’re saying. We do. We just disagree with both its theology and outcome. We believe in obeying God. We don’t like the results your way gives and frankly to be honest we don’t find you honest or trustworthy in the least.

    Reply
    • Cheryl

      Couple questions and points just trying to understand your perspective better….

      “We don’t like the results your way gives” – can you share some specific results from the way Sheila is describing that you don’t like? I’m assuming you may mean egalitarianism?

      “We don’t agree with your facts” – with respect, that’s not how facts work. They don’t require your agreement to be true. She’s speaking to a study that was featured in Psychology Today.

      Curious how complementarianism plays out in your home and church life. What does that look like in your life?

      Last question – from your perspective on complementarianism, I’d love to know more about your experience in how this approach has brought you, your wife, daughters etc. closer to Jesus and fulfilling his commands vs. Egalitarianism. How has complementarianism has positioned your wife and women around you to flourish in their spiritual gifts better than egalitarianism. Examples would be great.

      Thank you so much for continuing the dialogue.

      Reply
      • One of Them

        I will answer your questions if I have assurances it will go through. I won’t waste half an hour of my life for nothing. For those of you who don’t know is that those who disagree have about a 40% chance of their first comment going through and about a 10% chance of any further. The past few days that was slightly better. Most who disagree have just left and stopped trying. I’ve never understood that. If you aren’t tough enough and firm enough in your beliefs to handle anonymous internet comments how are you going to handle it in real life?

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Actually, that’s very untrue. I don’t delete very many. On Facebook, I’ve only ever blocked 140 people in over 14 years. Here, I let about 95% of comments through. But once you say something super misogynistic, I ban you. Pertty quickly. I usually let the first terrible comment through, and then after that–nope. Go write your own blog. I don’t owe you airspace.

          Reply
          • Mara R

            Was kind of waiting to see if One of Them masculinists was capable of leaving a comment that wasn’t misogynistic.

            Guess I’m still waiting.

          • Mara R

            Yes, his response was misogynistic.

            But I’ve seen worse.

          • exwifeofasexaddict

            Sheila, for the record, did you block One Of Them? Or did he walk away.

      • One of them

        Yes, I was referring to equalitarianism.

        First, I want to state I’m more interested in being obedient to the Word of God than I am results in a worldly sense. Most of the NT people, men and women both, had horrible earthly results. Often their families left them or they were martyred after fleeing and living in poverty. They’d be astonished at what we call abuse,hard circumstances and trials on this blog.

        But since we are talking results:
        For the record I was saved, ordained and married in an equalitarian church. I’ve ministered to 1,000+ people over three churches and counseled that many at least in addition. Both sets of our parents are egalitarian.
        The last dozen years we have become complementarians and attended and served in several churches that share those beliefs. I have been regularly involved in marriage ministry across all of those different stops.

        Here is what I have seen in those many stops along the way.

        Smaller families with children that leave the faith in egalitarian churches

        Men who step back in their responsibilities and become apathetic in egalitarian churches.

        Women who step into the vacuum created or that they created

        Lots more church disfunction and back stabbing, biting and gossip- general lack of contentness

        Within a generation or two homosexual behavior first tolerated and then celebrated (same with divorce)

        No less abuse. In fact the worse abuse was female to male in egalitarian marriages in egalitarian churches(since Sheila is bragging about lesbian orgasm rates she might want to be honest about the abuse rate among lesbians which is the highest BY FAR of any type of relationship)

        Generally stronger families in complementarian churches and the best of the bell curve in loving and happy marriages in these churches. Granted the majority of marriages in both left room for improvement.

        Generally, like it or not society and church goes as men go. Just as their are certain things only women can do and do best so there are with men. Most folks just do not want to follow a woman. And In almost every relationship of any kind there is a dominant or leader.

        The more females come to front of society the closer we get to it falling apart. Same with the church. Females do
        not build long term and are too influenced by the here and now feelings to do what needs to be done to have marriages, families, churches and ultimately society thrive.

        Females are no less important, valuable or awesome. My wife and daughter would tell you I sacrifice my life- my dreams, desires, time, energy and health to make sure they are loved,
        cared for, cherished and protected. Just as I’m a crappy female though they make crappy males. Marriage only works no matter the theology of both people have Christ at the center and are willing to love the other long past it hurting. Sometimes for years and decades.

        Every theology only falls apart if the people in it are in it for what they can get out of it. Christianity is about laying down your life for others. To be honest most of your stories that you think are bad sound like a picnic to what I went through as a husband in a then egalitarian marriage early on. And to be clear I am a hard complementarian now, not a soft or apologetic. What is stated here about what we believe and how we treat our wives is false overall.

        I don’t even care if you and your husband want to live egalitarian and are “happy” with it. What I care about is the teaching that vilifies and states what is the overwhelmingly large understanding of scripture that men and women are different and have different roles is wrong. You want to do what you want in your church and marriage- go for it. Just stop making it the end all be all and making it a fight.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          This is so filled with misogynistic tropes I don’t even know where to start. “The more females come to front of society the closer we get to it falling apart. Same with the church. Females do not build long term and are too influenced by the here and now feelings to do what needs to be done to have marriages, families, churches and ultimately society thrive.”

          Actually, countries with females at the head did far better with COVID than countries with men at the head. Numerous studies have shown that companies do far better with a mix on the board than with all men. The idea that women are a detriment to success is just so easily disproven it’s laughable.

          Oh, and I agree that lesbian relationships have high rates of abuse. But we were only talking about orgasm rates. The simple fact is that women orgasm with other women; they don’t with men. That’s all I was saying. The fact that you have to turn it into something else is interesting.

          Of course Christianity is about laying down your life for others. That’s what I’ve been saying! It’s about serving, while we all run after Jesus. It’s not about men saying “I’m in charge, so follow me.” It’s about all of us following Jesus together, as we submit to the Holy Spirit.

          And you again are ignoring stats about abuse being higher in patriarchal circles than egalitarian ones.

          I’ll leave it to others to comment further because I don’t have the emotional bandwidth. But I’m sorry for all the harm you’re doing, and I hope the women in your life find freedom in Christ.

          Reply
          • One of them

            Covid is your example! Have you seen death rates since the vax has been introduced? They are up close to 40%. You dopes willingly took the clot shot and it will kill more than all the wars this earth has ever seen combined and you’re lining up and begging for more. This is the exact reason why you shouldn’t be allowed to lead and you’re using it as an example why you should. Mind blowing.

          • CMT

            Evidence, EVIDENCE, please sir!

            I don’t know where your stats come from, or why women are now responsible for COVID vaccines that were funded and distributed under leaders who happened to be male (in the US anyway).

            I do know that every time I walk into the hospital where I work, I’m grateful to God almighty for that shot.

          • CMT

            I don’t think the word “evidence” means the same thing to you as it does to me.

            This isn’t the place and I don’t have the time or energy to debate vaccines with you. I suspect it would be about as productive as discussing equality.

            “The problem is not that I don’t understand their arguments; the problem is that they absolutely will not consider any other ones” Sheila Gregoire, 2022

          • A

            Even if you are right (you are severely misguided), your lack of compassion, grace, and Christlikenness is not going to convince anyone. Scripture says that it is God’s kindness that leads us to repentance. We do not convince people when we mock and call names. Do you think it’s ok to speak to anyone like you are, let alone your sister in Christ?

          • Virginia Allen

            Um, why are we talking about the sex lives of lesbians? They’re NOT living for Jesus when they behave that way! IDGARA!

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            I’m merely pointing out that studies show that the problem for orgasm for women is not women, as stats very clearly show.

        • A2bbethany

          She making a big deal out of the diff approaches to marriage, because one has a much higher statical chance of a wife being abused. And not just abused, stuck in abuse for years before getting out. Even if she has supporting family. That was my sister, who was stuck in her cycles of secret abuse for 10 years before she got help and left.
          It took being separated and on the brink of divorce, becoming equalitarian, to save her marriage.(that separation was forced by her restraining order because he’d threatened her life)
          My parents who are complementarian supported whatever she needed to do, and she still has kept it a secret and was killing herself slowly.

          I don’t want her situation to exist. I’m angry that it did, and I believe that teaching that we are equals and should be all living the fruits of the spirit, is the best route. Won’t stop everything, but it stops alienation.

          Reply
        • CMT

          Would just like to point out that you are coming on the site of the folks who have done literally the largest study of evangelical women’s sex and marriage outcomes ever. You are citing tired tropes and your own negative experiences in egalitarian churches as your only evidence that their research conclusions are faulty. This approach is not going to win you any points here.

          As an aside, it does sound like you have had some truly terrible experiences. If your early marriage made you feel that things like spiritual and emotional abuse or marital rape are a picnic, then I’m honestly sorry for you. I do have to question how the belief that all humans are equal could be responsible for your pain. But it sounds like whatever you went through was awful.

          Reply
        • exwifeofasexaddict

          I don’t think you understand what egalitarian means. A relationship where one spouse abuses the other is not egalitarian. People don’t abuse someone they see as their equal.

          As for the rest of your claims, you’re going to need to cite evidence from legit sources like studies listed on the NIH. Otherwise Sheila’s research plus my own experience and that of many friends is going to trump what you say. You sound like a horrible person. (Not an ad hominem, just my observation based on the way you have talked and the poor arguments you have made.)

          Reply
        • exwifeofasexaddict

          Oh, and I think you’re conflating the result of following Jesus and being persecuted for it with the fruit of a theology. Complementarianism is a theology which produces rotten fruit. It’s true that the early Christians were persecuted and suffered greatly. But it wasn’t the fruit of their belief in Jesus that caused the suffering. It was an evil and corrupt outside force.

          Reply
        • Angharad

          “Females …are too influenced by the here and now feelings to do what needs to be done to have marriages, families, churches and ultimately society thrive”

          Says the guy who also said “I don’t agree with your facts”.

          Men who reject facts because they don’t like them are not in a great position to criticise women for being ‘too emotional’.

          Reply
        • Connie

          One of them, I can see what you are saying about the problems of egalitarians, yet I also can see glaringly that these are not true egalitarian beliefs, or rather, they lack the teachings needed toward maturity, big time. The secret is in walking in the Spirit, then the fruit is totally different.

          I see a lot of fear and insecurity, being countered with leaning on your own understanding, taking the reins into your own hands, instead of giving each other freedom to allow the Spirit to teach and guide. Most of us here have been where you are and done what you have, and understand the frustration of the savior complex of having to figure out how to fix it and fix others. We’ve also learned to enter into rest, where we let go of our own agenda and lean heavily on God to do the Savior work, allowing for His timing and grace. We are simply extending an invitation to you to taste and see the freedom He offers.

          Reply
        • Anonymous

          I find it exhausting to see how “one of them” words are being twisted and Sheila’s response. I understand and see what both of you are saying but I think it’s being taken out of context to go as far as saying that he is misogynistic. Men are leaders. There are statics that show if the father goes to church his children and are more likely to be active in going than if just the mother goes.
          Men make a difference. They are what secures a nation. Without strong men, we don’t have strong nations or families. We both have strengths and weaknesses. And honestly, with our culture being torn apart by feminism I can totally see why someone would think our society is falling apart. Not because of the women, but because this liberal feminism is tearing apart males and masculinity.
          We no longer appreciate what men do and how they contribute to a healthy strong society. We can’t even receive a man’s opinion like his without calling him some misogynist. Far be it from me if a man says women can be emotional. I am being sarcastic. As for both of you,
          Your replies are not about understanding one another. It isn’t about love or respect. You both are trying to serve and honor God so why tear each other apart? We have Jesus in common and frankly these are secondary issues. Looks like both your lives are good and God honoring. Your living you life with faith in those beliefs but they aren’t salvation issues. I think each person has a point. Why pit it as a battle against the genders? That’s what drives me nuts reading the comments.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Can you show me how the country is being torn apart by feminism? Or how any country is being torn apart by feminism?

            I think the problem that you’re having is that you’re not seeing that we’re protesting what is actually a grave injustice. That’s what the Bible does–read the Old Testament, and the majority of the time that God is angry it is over injustice.

            Yes, when people think it’s okay to treat women badly I get upset. I think God would too. That doesn’t mean I’m getting further away from God; it means I’m expressing the kind of anger that God does against injustice.

    • Stefanie

      “We don’t like the results your way gives and frankly to be honest we don’t find you honest or trustworthy in the least.”

      Can you explain what you mean here? Because I’ve had the opposite experience. You see, I’ve spent my entire life in very conservative, fundamentalist, complementarian churches and “the results this way gives” have ruined my life. Jesus said that walking the narrow road was supposed to give life, but I only found death. And before you accuse me of not doing it right, I followed ALL the rules. I was the goodiest of all the goody two shoes. My first boyfriend is also my husband. My first kiss ever was at the altar. I followed the “never say no” sex rule. And honestly, I feel like I’m living in hell right now. My marriage is a shell. 11 years of bad sex has given me a case of sexual aversion so that anytime my husband touches me I get turned off. So trying to make sex good for me is not working right now.

      And Sheila has data that says my case is not unique. So can you explain what you mean by “the results your way gives”? Do you mean happy marriages where women enjoy sex? Where children grow up seeing parents not just love, but enjoy each other? Where people don’t have crises of faith because they feel betrayed by God?

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, I should have said that, too, Stefanie. Good point. The data does show that people who believe in hierarchy have worse marriages and a much higher chance of divorce if they practice it. Also, men who believe in hierarchy are more likely to be abusive than men who don’t.

        Reply
        • Laura

          My first (and so far only) marriage sort of followed a hierarchy structure because that’s the way my husband said it should be. He believed being the “head of the household” meant that he could make decisions without consulting me and have sex on demand. It didn’t matter if I was sick, had to get ready for work, or was just super tired. He had that entitlement attitude that was talked about in books like His Needs, Her Needs (a book that was used in our pre-marriage class at church). After 2.5 years of marital hell, I decided enough was enough and did not care about the “God hates divorce” found in the book of Malachi. I believed God wanted me out of that marriage and I am so glad I listened to His Voice and gentle prodding. So you are spot on correct that the hierarchy model in marriages in NOT successful. I just ended up resenting my husband who believed he was superior to me and my needs did not matter to him unless they benefited him.

          Unfortunately, a lot of “well-meaning” Christian women tell me that my ex was just abusing his position as “head of the household” and that a godly man will lead his wife well. But, the thing was, these women could not give any examples on what that meant.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yes, if you’re going to lead someone in a way that’s emotionally healthy, it means you’re actually not going to lead but act as a partner!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      One of them, this is the perfect example of the kind of comment I was talking about.

      What you are essentially saying is, “women need men more than men need women, and men were made to be in charge, and women are wrong for not getting with the program.”

      So let’s dissect this. In terms of loneliness, in doesn’t matter if we don’t define it the same way; I shared studies that show that the group with the highest rate of loneliness and the lowest happiness and the worst mental health is single men. That’s just a fact. (the link is in the Psychology Today article and yesterday’s podcast). By most measures, single women do better than single men. So single women do not need single men as much as single men need single women. That’s also a fact. It’s a big generalization, and does not hold true for each individual, but it is a fact.

      As for the idea that if men take days off life stops, have you ever thought that the same is true for women? Women are the majority of health care workers. If women take two days off, I’d hate to be you having a heart attack.

      And what happened when COVID hit and all the children came home? By and large women cared for them. Women’s work increased to a huge extent. Men are able to keep working because women are doing the behind the scenes jobs that allow them to.

      And I also agree with obeying God. How is anything that I said not obeying God?

      I am glad that men like you do not want to marry women who are strong and who follow Jesus first. That means those women will end up far happier than if they do marry men who show the kinds of attitudes you have.

      Reply
      • Codec

        As C.S Lewis once said “The homemaker is the ultimate job all others are built around it”

        The simple truth is as a young single man I have accomplished a lot , but none of that would have been possible without my mother, my grandparents, my friends, and even my enemies.

        I am just one guy on this strange hero’s jouney, this egress, this strange marathon of life. I know in many ways I must grieve God. I also have heard though that God enjoys forgiving people.

        I do bot know if I will have a romantic relationship or not. I do know however that before this blog I did not know about vaginismus or the abuses of Gothard or even the good being done in saving children from sexual abuse in marriages to men four times their age.

        Shiela is someone who tells men that use porn that they are not monsters,that their libido can be their friend,that they are not freaks for finding women beatiful, that maybemen and womens differences in arousal and fantasy are not enemies to be vanquished but things to be understood and redeemed.

        I sometimes wonder how shiela can seem to understand young men so well when she does not have a son as far as I know.

        Honestly, I want to see her discuss the psychology of fantasy, how people become healthy, what it means to feel safe, etc.

        Shiela just seems gracious. It is nice.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Thank you, Codec! Interesting you talk about fantasy. I was corresponding with Jay Stringer yesterday, and I’d like to have him on the podcast to talk about just that. It will still be a while, and we haven’t set a date yet, but I will try!

          Thanks for being so gracious.

          Reply
          • Codec

            I read Stringers book a while back. I need to reread it.

      • Kelly

        As you know, I’m an RN who works in a hospital. If we stopped working for just ONE day, the hospital would have to shut down. Nurses make the hospital run. Not the doctors or the CEOs.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Yep. Emergency Rooms are shutting across Ontario right now largely because of the lack of nurses.

          Reply
    • Kay

      I was a strong complementarian until the day I discovered the arguments for it are identical to what Christians in the South used to justify slavery as biblical too. They are correct in saying slavery is biblical. That doesn’t mean it was right or good. Sometimes secular society leads the way with what is right ahead of certain Christians screaming and kicking that the oppressed belong in chains.

      Any theology that stifles human flourishing and leads people into depression and suicidal ideation cannot be of God. The moment I rejected complementarianism was the moment my depression lifted; I could not fit into the boxes men stuffed me into. This theology asks women (and men) to shrink, not thrive. And we are fed up. Millions of us. The fruit is rotten.

      So we will grow and flourish elsewhere.

      Reply
      • Laura

        Kay,

        I agree 100% with this: “This theology asks women (and men) to shrink, not thrive. And we are fed up. Millions of us. The fruit is rotten.”

        I always felt like there was a small piece of turd in the teachings of complementarianism (didn’t even know that was a word to what has been taught for years until last year). It was like the Christians I knew were saying that it’s so small you would not know it’s there so just focus on the teachings of Jesus. Yet, they still adhered to comp theology. Jesus never once talked about hierarchy in relationships.

        I’m fed up with this and would much rather stay single than be with a man who’s not right for me just so I’m not alone.

        Reply
    • Lea

      Are you really thinking women are off for not wanting to date your version of men? They don’t sound very appealing.

      I love how you gloss over womens reasons as if it irrelevant.? I’m sure to your perspective it is.

      Men tend to be the ones complaining when women won’t date them. Obviously they are bothered by it.

      The rest is taking credit for everything anyone has done in society, and isn’t about relationships. Single women can hire out or learn to do anything they done know. Just like everyone else.

      Reply
      • John Doe

        Lea,

        I have seen women complain about ‘where have all the good men gone’?

        I think that a huge part of the issues that men have with dating that is that they are afraid of rejection. This is in dating and marriage. I have struggled with fear of rejection my entire life, mainly because I think that I have abandonment issues from childhood.

        It has been a hurtle for me when I have been in looking for work. I have read studies that it takes 100 applications to get 1 positive response. That is a lot of rejection! And it can be hard to not take it personally.

        I don’t think that most women realize how scary it is to put yourself out there. Men are expected to make the first move, so the power to accept or reject is in the women’s hands. And that continues throughout the relationship.

        And with the current environment post-#MeToo, men are not sure what would be acceptable since it can vary from person to person.

        Women have a lot more power in the dating market today than men do.

        Reply
        • CMT

          “I don’t think that most women realize how scary it is to put yourself out there. ”

          Women fear rejection too, you know. Probably not in the same way generally, because as you say, much of society still expects men to initiate in dating. And it’s true that relationships require vulnerability and that’s truly scary at times. But let’s be honest, shying away from relationships out of fear of rejection or vulnerability is a marker of, well, a need for emotional growth. Which is kind of what this whole discourse has been about.

          I also have to point out that while it’s very true men run emotional risks in “putting themselves out there,” women “putting themselves out there” risk getting harassed or raped as well as getting rejected.

          Reply
    • Angharad

      I’m probably wasting my time here, but on the chance that One of Them is willing to consider another point of view…

      “…we don’t agree with your facts.” I REALLY hope you are not one of those complementarians who hold to the view that woman are emotional and men are logical. Because ‘facts’ aren’t something you agree or disagree with. They just are. What you are disagreeing with is Sheila’s interpretation of those facts.

      “Men take two days off and the electrical stops flowing, the water stops running and the sewers back up. The cars don’t get fixed and the houses don’t get built. And the bad guys rape, Rob and pillage.”

      Are you not aware that there are women electricians, mechanics, builders, water treatment operatives…? And that women serve as police officers? If you haven’t realised this, then I’m not sure you are in a position to judge Sheila for having a ‘distorted view of reality’…

      Reply
    • exwifeofasexaddict

      If you believe so hard in scripture, how about “live with her in an understanding way” and realize that her period and postpartum is harder for her than it is for you and not demand sexual favors like a petulant child, and instead offer comfort to her for a few days. I think YOU have mischaracterized the argument. Sheila is asking for men to be mature, not for women to be selfish.

      Reply
  3. Jen

    Interesting how this is from “ONE of them” but this author uses “We” throughout. Who is the WE? This comment is filled with entitlement. It reminds me of Big Brother in 1984. “We” is always watching and judging because “We” has the power to control the narrative.

    Sheila, your points about everyone having been exposed to the male narrative – the male’s point of view- for millennia are really important to women and men seeing and hearing each other. There really is an Old Boys’ Club, and how can there not be when only one side of the story has been told for so many years? It’s really not anyone’s fault when they are entitled. They don’t know anything different. But it is important to listen to others and understand their experience – to choose to drop
    the entitlement. If you can’t do that and you can’t even recognize that you’re closed-minded, well, that’s sad. It’s the closed mindedness and the unwillingness to walk in another’s shoes that I think you are suggesting women are saying no to. The world has been about and for men (HISstory). Women are here, too. Women are living and following Jesus. We are created in His image. We are not just what the kids call NPC (non-playable characters).

    Reply
    • John Doe

      Jen,

      The narrative would be more accurately described as ‘those in power view’. Often they are men, but are also a select, elevated group that is disconnected from the rank and file.

      It is only in the last two hundred years that our leaders have begun to be stepping out of the average population but there is still a lot of elitism even today.

      I have worked in the services industry for most of my life. I guarantee that my experiences and views are different from those that work in academia, the military or IT.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Yes, very true! My husband and I talk about this a lot. One of the reasons that women are more emotionally in tune with others is because we don’t have the power that men do, and so we have to watch what others are feeling to make sure we’re okay in a way that boys don’t.

        If it were switched and women had power over men, you’d see the opposite. It’s not that women are better than men; it’s that power and elitism do change you, and often for the worse.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          I also think this is what Jesus meant in Matthew 20:25-28–about how it’s the Gentiles who worry about who is power and who try to lord authority over others; but it isn’t to be that way with us. Because we are to serve, just as Jesus did. Our focus is not on being in charge; it’s on serving others as we follow Christ. If we all did that, we’d be so much better off.

          Reply
        • Codec

          This might sound weird, but what you just said reminds me of a quote from Conan The Barbarian.

          ” Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without getting their skulls split open”

          If you never have to deal with the consequences that words and actions have is it any surprise that you will be lacking in courtesy?

          Reply
          • Connie

            This brought to mind a scene in Madea’s Family Reunion about breakfast oatmeal and a frying pan. 🙂

        • n

          Sheila, do you have a full post about this yet? I’d really like to be able to send one to people, especially people still saying women have inferior spaghetti brains and men brains are like waffles and can’t make as much connection. I lived in the Northeast US for many years and I knew many women there who werent very good at alertness to others’ emotions or “reading a room”. They grew up in an area with long lasting feminist attitudes and with enough safety both at home and out socially, that they just didn’t have to focus much on that skill the way women in the Southern US have to, for survival. (but these less-perceptive women usually were eager to be caring, once people were blunt with them about an emotional need.). It was very refreshing.

          Reply
    • Sarah

      Your use of HIStory brought to my mind the musical Six, a feminist take on the six wives of Henry the Eighth. That talks about history versus HERstory — very fun, I recommend

      Reply
    • Virginia Allen

      His story means it’s about God our Almighty Creator!

      Reply
  4. Tori

    You’ve mentioned before the importance of examining the fruit that is born of our doctrines and interpretations of Scripture to help determine whether it’s actually Godly or not. I said something to you on Instagram a few weeks back about iron sharpening iron (or NOT sharpening, in this case) and we all talked about it on Facebook. I think this is where the two meet. Church teaching throughout history, including but not limited to today’s evangelical culture, have centered men’s comfort- to the point that women have been told that challenging men in any way is sinful. However, we grow, change, and get better as people when we are challenged, any teacher or personal trainer can tell you that. And now…here we are. Women have been DOING THE WORK and men have not and now there’s a disconnect. There is much talk of how Gen Z is showing up to college and the work force unprepared for life because their “helicopter moms” have always swooped in and protected them when things got tough. Same thing has happened with men. Women have been told to swoop in and protect them from discomfort, to make sure they’re never challenged and now…yeah. So the fruit is rotten here, men have been done a terrible, TERRIBLE disservice.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I absolutely agree! I wish men could see that too. They have been done a terrible disservice. The number of men who are really quite emotionally cut off and not able to have healthy relationships because they were never taught how to identify their emotions is just very sad. I know a number of men that my girls were close to as teens who aren’t able to find relationships because they’re looking for someone that they can lead, and girls are not interested in someone swooping in and telling them everything they’re doing wrong. We all want a partner that we can grow with. It’s just sad.

      Reply
      • Mara R

        I wish that these men could see that they have been done a terrible disservice, one that needs to be remedied through the proper means. And one that people can feel empathy and compassion concerning.

        Rather that seeing that they have been done a terrible disservice and now it’s time to get angry, bitter, scapegoat women, call women Jezebels, and go attack women (who are also still working through their own issues.)

        We all have a lot of stuff to work through. It’s okay to get angry and it’s okay to express anger and have back and forth conversation where we hash things out.

        What’s not okay is mercilessly beating down people who disagree with you or parts of your philosophy. This solves nothing except to stoke up the raging fire.

        We didn’t start the fire.
        It was always burning since the world’s been turning
        We didn’t start the fire
        No, we didn’t light it, but we tried to fight it.

        Putting the fire out should not involve oppressing people.
        But it does require standing up to bullies, oppressors, and oppressive doctrine.

        Reply
    • Laura

      As a part-time writing tutor at a community college, I see this a lot. This younger generation does not seem to be as motivated to succeed. They are used to getting things without having to put in the work because their parents coddle them. They get brand spanking new cars when they get their driver’s license, get paid great wages for their first jobs, and spend more time on their phones than helping out around the house. Thankfully, that’s not all young people. There are just more of them than there were in my Generation X. At 46, I never owned a brand new car (I have a 2014 model which I bought in 2017). I saved money instead of taking out loans for college.

      Reply
  5. John Doe

    I think that one issue that has not been discussed is to give men and boys outlets for their innate physicality. Now, what do I mean by that? I mean the apparent need for men and boys to do physical things. Often physically challenging. Sports would be one example.

    You can also see that in the type of jobs were men are overwhelmingly represented. Construction, military and law enforcement are all physically demanding occupations.

    For my boys, I have 4 sons (we were not blessed with any daughters), they are constantly running around and engaging in rough and tumble play. Jordan Peterson has talked about the need for this type of play for children’s development, both boys and girls.

    However, boys appear to need more of it to learn about things like fair play and boundaries. This type of play is being reduced more and more in schools. Academics are being heavily encouraged at the expense of opportunities for children to have outlets for their energy. Anyone who has young children will know what I mean. Boys, in general, have a harder time than girls do stilling at a desk for 6 – 8 hours a day.

    Another issue that is important is father absence. If a boy, specifically, grows up without a father, they have a harder time knowing what it is to be a man. Even if there is a father in the home, if he is emotionally distant, like my dad was, it is not as helpful if he is engaged with his children. My experience has driven me to be as engaged with my boys as possible. I coach baseball and I am a trail guide on Trail Life, its an off shoot of the Boy Scouts.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! I think these are both really important.

      For a while I homeschooled my nephew, and I found that all the kids did better if some of our learning took place while they were being physical. So we’d do spelling words while they were skipping rope, or count by 3s or 9s or 6s while they were doing jumping jacks. It worked so much better than having them sit at a table all the time. And we spent a lot of time outdoors. I do think that’s a big problem that’s missing from so many kids’ lives, especially in the inner cities where there isn’t as much “out doors”.

      And, yes, father absence is a HUGE issue for everyone. We need to do such a better job at teaching men to be responsible; teaching girls self-worth so they’re less likely to have sex with boys who aren’t ready to be fathers; teaching both about red flags and consent so that all sex is consensual, etc.

      And helping young women choose stable men to marry, absolutely. There is a big problem with father absence, and I do think it starts with how we teach our kids. It’s a huge problem.

      Reply
    • Codec

      As a young man I love a lot of things that can be considered many and things considered more feminine.

      I used to larp and it was super fun and I would love to get back into it. I want to get vack into martial arts. I love stuff like Conan the Barbarian, Beowulf, Irish Mythology, Norse mythology, The Epic of Gilgamesh, Fist of the North Star etc.

      I also find myself enjoying things like scented wax, some shoujo stuff like Rumiko Takahashi or Sailor moon, soft fabrics, snuggles, and sometimes just venting my frustrations.

      People are fascinating multifaceted beings. If i did not have the women in my life that I do I would not be the man I am or even most likely the man i hope to become.

      Why are so many men into videogames sports and dnd? Because they are outlets for creativity, camaraderie, ingenuity, physicality, aristry, etc. They give people aspirations you can overcome that boss, if you are clever you will get out of the dungeon with the loot, if you work together you can accomplish something. What is more though is that men and women can and often do enjoy these games. Sometimes they olay together and brimg different perspectives. It is fun.

      Reply
      • CM

        Codec,

        You sound so much like my husband (a wonderful man!) when I met him.
        He struggled a lot as a young man becauee he did not look like “the average guy” but with God’s grace found his way and is now happy.
        We laugh sometimes at how weird we both are and how “lucky” we are to have found each other.

        I hope you’ll find your path too.
        Knowing and accepting yourself as you are, and still be able to ever grow, is a huge green flag for any relationship and you seem to display that!

        Reply
      • Sarah

        The thing is, the arts used to be super male dominated so a century it wouldn’t have been un-masculine (nor do I think it is inherently so, at all!) to be into literature esp mythology. It’s funny how society has changed to the degree that men are made to feel that enjoying literature is feminine. The Inklings were an all-male book club, after all — though my book club at work is mostly female.

        What I’m saying is, good on you, and what you enjoy isn’t inherently gendered. As an English Lit major turned editor, I’m glad you do 🙂

        Reply
        • EOF

          Good points. A century ago, “novel reading” was one of the things on a checklist that a husband could put his wife away into a mental asylum. (There were all kinds of ridiculous things men could use to send them away for life in a mental institute, including “hysteria.”) Thank God those days are long gone.

          Reply
        • Angharad

          Yes, and embroidery used to be regarded as a male skill, not a female one!

          Reply
    • Angharad

      I’ve been involved in working with children for years, and it’s sad to see how both boys and girls are now so used to being on their screens all the time that they are losing the ability and inclination to carry out more physical tasks. I find that when you ask a group to cut something out with scissors, most 10 year olds have the kind of ability that 20 years ago would have been seen in a 6 year old. And I’m increasingly asked for disposable gloves when using paint, glue, clay or anything ‘messy’ – kids are just not used to doing stuff with their hands any more, which is so sad. As for any game that involves running, jumping, climbing – not interested. It’s so sad.

      I contrast that to my old school teachers, who would teach us math by getting us running across the playground and working out how many metres we could run per minute, or measuring the length of the wall.

      Reply
      • Codec

        I played with shaving cream as a kid. Learned some math by baking. Games are great at teaching people skills.

        Reply
    • exwifeofasexaddict

      I agree there should be more opportunity for kids to move during the school day. But there are sports opportunities GALORE outside of school. And I don’t think it would solve the problem Sheila is addressing in this post.

      As for father absence, it’s only good for kids to be around their dads if their dads are good men. If they’re dangerous, or abusive, or narcissists, etc, it is worse for kids to be around them. Which brings us back to the issue of healthy men. So I guess the answer is for women to only have kids with healthy men, which means lots of women and men will remain single.

      Reply
  6. Anne with an E

    I went on a date yesterday with a guy who asked me how I figure out if a guy is dateable or not. I said that if he has no close relationships–family or friends–that is a red flag because he either lacks the skills to connect emotionally, has a character deficiency, or some insecurity that keeps him from letting himself be known. I’m not willing to be the sole source of emotional connection in my partner’s life. Humor is another one; if he doesn’t laugh at my jokes (I’m honestly hilarious) he probably “can’t hang” as the kids say. The ability to take another’s perspective is HUGE!

    Reply
    • Abby

      Yes! When I met my husband one of the biggest green flags was his genuine friendships with people who are healthy and the way he relates will to his family.

      Reply
      • Codec

        I do not have a lot of super deep friendships, but my family and coworkers consider me to be one of the most reliable people they know.

        Reply
        • Anne with an E

          That’s great! Reliability is a huge green flag. My curiosity would move to what is the reason behind lacking close relationships (not just friends but family, too). A lot of my male friends talk about how difficult it is to form friendships with other men, but that’s only half the population 🙂

          Reply
          • Codec

            I am a friendly guy. Part of it is that I find it hard to put myself out there.

  7. Connie

    I mentioned this topic to my husband this morning. He did not grow up in church, and his dad taught him not to give a woman an inch, or she’d take a mile, so his thinking and his treatment of me in 17 years married to me has been a huge issue. Just so you know where he’s coming from.
    I asked him why it was so hard for men to see themselves as equal to women, and to mature emotionally. His answer:
    1. Change is work.
    2. What’s in it for me? If I don’t think that I will get a good return for my effort, forget it.

    I have been listening to the BEMA podcasts, which try to read the Bible from a Jewish point of view. What they bring out often is that God is looking for someone to partner with who knows how to stop (as in reigning in our creativity and desires), and who does what is right just because it is right.

    Reply
  8. Laura

    Any time I have expressed to other Christians (mainly women) that I want an equal partner, not a leader, I am met with shock or quiet hostility (not sure what the right word is for this). It’s like they don’t know what to say or how to handle an independent, single woman like myself. For years, I felt like I have been a liability to potential dates. After leaving an abusive marriage based on a hierarchal structure 20 years ago, I resolved that if I ever married again, I wanted someone who considered me an equal and not my head. Unfortunately, I got sucked into purity culture teachings and toxic church teachings about marriage, sex, and gender roles (not even biblical). I questioned those things and often wondered why God would want someone like me to become less than if I ever married.

    I have gotten to a point within the last two years that I am DONE caring about what other Christians think. If they want to call me a heretic, unbiblical, and act like they’re worried for my soul, go ahead. I just know that hierarchal marriage is NOT of Christ. If a marriage is about power structure and someone having to break the tie, then where’s the unity that God called for?

    I have come to realize that if a man cannot handle my independent spirit, intelligence, and my boldness, then he’s not the right man for me. The right man will encourage me and want me to do better with or without him. My dad was one of the greatest men ever because he would tell me that I am more than capable of taking care of myself and I don’t need a man for that. If I want a man, it is to enhance my life, not detract from it. The right man will not allow me to lose myself to him.

    Reply
    • EOF

      So much this: “I just know that hierarchal marriage is NOT of Christ. If a marriage is about power structure and someone having to break the tie, then where’s the unity that God called for?”

      Not only that, but Jesus spent so much of his ministry lifting women up, but the church has spent the last 2000 years trying to undo his efforts:

      Jesus doesn’t call the church servants, but friends. (Jn 15:15)

      Matthew 20:25-28: “Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 26 Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

      Gal. 3:28: “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

      Reply
    • exwifeofasexaddict

      I set up a profile on a Christian dating site. I said was egalitarian and wanted a man to be my partner, not my leader. One guy messaged me, no wonder you’re divorced. I could have written a novel about the actual reasons I’m divorced, but he wouldn’t have listened. I just blocked him.

      Reply
      • Laura

        There are some jerks on Christian dating sites just as much as there are on secular dating sites. Good thing you blocked this guy.

        Reply
  9. Sarah

    Amen Sheila! Louder for the people in the back! 👏🏻

    Reply
  10. CMT

    “The comments on the blog and on social media this week were among the most misogynistic I’ve ever had on the blog”

    Why is this?? You’ve said challenging things before. Yet this conversation seemed to really polarize people. Its so odd. Your podcast yesterday was mostly really inspiring and uplifting. The stories of women fighting injustice and hurtful ideologies were so good! I came to the comments to talk about that but ended up joining an argument about why men’s emotional problems aren’t women’s fault. Why does this debate keep sucking up all the oxygen in the room?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I sure wish it didn’t! I thought the stories of the young women who made that short film and the women in Africa were amazing too!

      Reply
  11. NL

    Sunday, our pastor was speaking on the passage in James that says of any is sick he should call the elders to pray. After admittung honestly that he struggles with what he calls “magic religion,” his interpretation of the oil used was: “it was a patriarchical society, so this book was written PRIMARILY TO MEN, and men like to do and fix things, so the oil gave them something to do and feel like they were fixing things.” I was so taken aback by being literally excluded from a book of the Bible, not to mention the apparent deceit and manipulation charge leveled at God, I couldn’t even think what to say.
    In his defense, this pastor chronically struggles with talking off the top of his head and letting his tongue get beyond his brain. His biggest fault appears to be being irresponsible in his speech- with further thought he sometimes corrects his lapses. But obviously, this is a deeply held understanding of his, if it came so easily to the fore.
    (Are we leaving the church? No, not yet. No place to go. And I still feel community and service are important. Am I going to say something to him ?….Hopefully? Conflict is not my strong suit.)
    However, my point is- how far disenfranchisement in the church can go! Apparently, the only passages written to women are Proverbs 31 and the headship verses? With that mindset, why should we think there would be fair teaching on marriage?

    Reply
    • NL

      Sorry for the “of” (if) and “admittung” (admitting). I missed those.

      Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Excellent question, NL. I’m sorry your pastor said that. Some people are not equipped to lead a church. To lead you have to be humble and think outside your own point of view.

      Reply
      • NL

        And as you have pointed out before- doesn’t this attitude denigrate men? Like, men aren’t capable of just trusting God, so God had to make up something for them do? Men aren’t capable of maturity, so God gave them women? There are SO MANY problems with this.

        Reply
  12. Gabe deGarmeaux

    “There is absolutely nothing biological about being male that means you can’t be emotionally mature and healthy.”

    A commitment to growing emotionally healthy and mature is an incredibly reasonable standard for men. It’s a standard that requires humility and vulnerability. Our relationship with God and others can only truly flourish when we are growing emotionally mature and healthy. The call to action literally benefits all parties involved. Resistance to health, growth, and personal and relational wholeness is a refusal to be humble and vulnerable which is simply unChrist-like.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Gabe. Exactly! Jesus called us to humility. Why is it that those who claim His name so often resist his call?

      Reply
      • n

        Sheila, I think Jesus is often used by people who are relieved to hear that they matter just as much as people born into wealth or royalty. But they don’t want to hear the next steps of noblesse oblige, of how they are called to come and be princes and princesses but then also serve in a (spiritual) military that sacrifices, and fasts, and *listens* to people who report abuse, and welcomes children individually and personally, even though meeting their needs is not always pleasant in a worldly sense. I grew up in the midst of a ton of authoritarianism and shallow application of the Bible in Texas. I escaped to another state for a while, but had to come back to Texas for health reasons and it was devastating how little listening church people were still doing, even though I could recommend scholarly, well-evidenced resources. I’m completely unsurprised by how awful a lot of these authors and ministries have behaved as you’ve tried to get them to consider actual research supported with evidence. They fall into a mindset that people who are deeply suffering, are to blame for their suffering. How else can they keep enjoying their mansions and expensive hobbies that they’ve convinced themselves God wants them to have? I think a lot of the warning in the Gospels about the deceitfulness of riches… there’s a whole lot of that deception happening in Texas, and it breaks my heart.

        Reply
  13. Rachel

    Okay, a good follow-up to this is allll the good resources – if they exist – for those of us with tween/teen boys! 😉 Since we as parents are coming out of the fundie/subjugation of women culture, the time feels short as we parents try to get our stuff together before the boys fly the coop.

    Reply
  14. A2bbethany

    I think the fear and terror of ” being slowly corrupted by the world”, is so engrained without thinking about it, into a conservative’s childhood. That makes being open minded to even considering other veiws or another way to do something, potentially life shattering.

    For myself, I realized in a practical way, if you can’t challenge it, it’s an idol. Because following Jesus is a relationship, not a strict rule book. And I’ve seen people of so extremely varied personal beliefs, all following him. And I believe they give him a witness unique to themselves and it’s beautiful.
    This way of believing means that I pray about everything and decide what’s right for myself alone. I don’t try to make decisions for the entire church or the future of Christianity.
    And while I don’t think personal walk overrides scripture, I don’t bother trying to become an expert on everything before deciding through praying how I’m going to do this section of life.
    This lead me to believing that I’m an equal to my husband and any verses seemingly directed at men, Also apply to me. There’s a few rare verses only pointed at one gender.

    Reply
  15. EOF

    Is there a page anywhere with ways we can respond to people who spout off complementarianism/hierarchy/patriarchy?

    I’ve been studying and believe in full equality between the sexes (I hate to admit how long it took me to shake my old beliefs) but I still lack the skills to articulate it, whether verbally or in writing. It would be so helpful to have a FAQ sheet to refer to.

    For example, in a FB group I’m some guy posted this thing about how both leadership and submission are challenges we’re called to, and then he went on to quote all of the wife submission verses and nothing about men how men are called to love. (Hardly surprising.) I really wanted to reply, but felt like anything I said would be lacking. Although nobody else replied to his post either, so maybe that’s the best – him seeing that nobody’s paying attention to him and his superiority??

    But it would be helpful to have something to equip women (and men) to respond to situations like that.

    Reply
    • CMT

      This is clear and concise:

      https://margmowczko.com/biblical-case-for-egalitarianism/

      I hate that it is so difficult to have varying opinions in churchland. IRL I have been confronted with an awkward situation recently. A parachurch ministry where I want to volunteer is asking everyone to sign a statement of faith which explicitly includes male headship in marriage (which is not relevant to the task at hand at all imo). I think I’m going to say something like this:

      “I’m with you on the apostles creed part of the statement. Pretty much all Christians agree on that. But marriage, well, many of us sincerely hold very different beliefs about that, and I disagree with you. I don’t need to try to change your mind, and I don’t think this difference of belief will keep us from working together on something we both care about. I just can’t sign saying I believe something I don’t.”

      Then the ball is in their court. I’m not sure what will happen 🤞

      Reply
      • EOF

        Thank you, CMT.

        Reply
      • Laura

        Stick to your guns and don’t compromise.

        Reply
  16. Mara R

    One of Them Masculinists (OOTM): “To be honest most of your stories that you think are bad sound like a picnic to what I went through as a husband in a then egalitarian marriage early on. And to be clear I am a hard complementarian now, not a soft or apologetic.”

    Aaaaaaand here it is.

    First off, I do not doubt that Mr. OOTM went through a very bad abusive marriage that happened to be egalitarian. Can only guess that the wife was a Narc. Sociopath, or Psychopath. Or something else.

    And this abuse is what is forming his theology.

    Just like my abuse has made me take a giant step back to try to figure out what’s going on here.

    But, anyway, this is not uncommon for a man to claim that he is making decisions rationally when the heart of it is emotion, fear, and feelings of vulnerability.

    Mr. OOTM was in a vulnerable position being abused by a psychopath and decided that the way to defend himself is to turn hard comp in order to make himself invulnerable and at the top of the food chain while disarming and making defenseless all women. Makes sense. Since he can’t get back at the psychopath, he will place all other women in her place and reduce their authority, all the while incorrectly using the Bible to bolster his position.

    I’ve meet men like this before on blogs and discussion boards. Shoot. I even met a daughter who was being abused by her mother was chasing after patriarchy doctrine because she believed that if her father knew his authority, he could rise up and protect the daughter. I don’t think she heard me when I said that her father doesn’t need the backing of the patriarchy to step up and protect. He could and should do it regardless. Just like a woman seeing her children abused by the husband doesn’t need matriarchy to protect her babies. But I digress.

    My point, long and short, is that Narcs. Sociopaths, and Psychopaths (or whatever the former Mrs. OOTM is) exist everywhere in all sexes, races, and ethnicities. The existence of these undiagnosed personality and brain disorders are tragic to those married to them. But it is better to acknowledge them and work from there rather than to build and entire doctrine and philosophy that is the antithesis of the Way, the Truth, and the Light that Jesus showed us in the Gospels.

    Mr. OOTM. I am sorry for what you have suffered. And I hope you find enough healing in your life that you stop holding women accountable for the damage done to you and you will overcome the blind spot that you have concerning this.

    Reply
    • CMT

      You weren’t the only one thinking along these lines.

      It’s actually a terrible shame, and I say that with not an ounce of snark.

      Reply
      • Mara R

        I agree. And deep down, I feel like a lot of anger between the sexes expressed in these areas has a lot to do with the abuses of Narcs, Sociopaths, and Psychopaths.

        I think those of us abused by personality or brain disorders have a lot of anger and healing to work through and may be taking it out on each other in places like these.

        The Narcs, Sociopaths, and Psychopaths have moved onto new targets to abuse. They’ve moved on to use and hurt more people because that’s what they do. Like Mr. OOTM’s former Mrs.

        Reply
    • EOF

      That’s a very interesting point and makes a lot of sense. I missed that part of his comment, but did think he sound a LOT like my husband when he was abusive toward me. And my husband HAD been badly abused by an ex in his pre-church days. I always felt like he married me to make the female “race” (for lack of a better word) pay for everything his ex put him through.

      Believe, I did pay for the abuse he suffered. That and much, much more. And I’m still paying, as I live with PTSD while I heal and learn to move on. Although, rather than make anyone pay for what I suffered for well over a decade, I want to heal. I want to do what I can to help my kids heal from what they’ve also suffered from my husband’s unstable days. (I did everything in power at the time to protect them, despite the church’s horrid advice, telling me that divorce would be sin and I’d go to hell. Luckily they’re young enough that they weren’t exposed to too much of that before he changed, although I do realize that any exposure is too much. At this point all I can offer is help to heal.)

      Instead of making anyone pay for the abuse I suffered, I want to learn and understand the REAL truth from the Bible. I want to grow closer to God and restore my broken relationship with him. He’s the only one who has proven to fully care about me and take care of me.

      Reply
      • Mara R

        Absolutely.

        You are wanting to go the way of the Wounded Healer. As far as I can tell you are succeeding.

        The Wounded Healer is a misunderstood and misused concept. But when understood and applied properly, it is deep and powerful.

        http://frombitterwaterstosweet.blogspot.com/2010/12/wounded-healer.html

        Link at the bottom of this post no long goes where it should. But what can I say? This post is almost 12 years old.

        We should all aspire to be healers rather than controllers. I wish that Mr. OOTM would move from being a controller and attacker of women to being a healer.

        I talk about how harsh I can be on places like this. But mostly my harshness come out when I’m trying to protect healing spaces. When ignorant men want to spew harmful rhetoric on the wounded women here, I will get in the faces of those men. And I won’t back down. The healing space is sacred and worth protecting. And Jesus is the ultimate Healer of the broken-hearted, binding up their wounds. One of His names is Jehovah Rapha.

        Reply
  17. Mara R

    Mr. OOTM: “Females …are too influenced by the here and now feelings to do what needs to be done to have marriages, families, churches and ultimately society thrive”

    Hhm. I guess I’ve met way too many men who are too influenced by their feelings to do what needs to be done to have marriages, families, churches and society survive.

    To me, this is one of the biggest lies of the soft comp, hard comp, and the patriarchy.

    In fact, one of my children took a great big step back from the faith because the church told him this lie. They told him that the reason that women can’t be pastors is because they are too emotional.

    Well, this wasn’t what he saw in real life and in real time. Between his father and myself, his father was far more emotional than I ever was. He cried often and raged even more. In fact, my children gave me the nick name “Robot Mom” because of how little emotion I showed.

    Back when I was still married and had children at home, I took a job at a residential treatment center for troubled youth. And at that time we were allowed to read their social histories so I read a few. They were awful.

    Anyway, one time while I was home sitting on the back deck, my mind wandered over to one of those social histories and I just started crying. My daughter happened to walk outside and see me and she became immediately concerned, like ‘is there an asteroid on it’s way to kill us all? My mom never cries. What is going on?’ kind of concerned.

    I explained to her that I was crying for one of my girls (at the agency) and told her how sad I was that there was no one to protect her like I protected my own children.

    Anyway, Mr. OOTM. You are allowed to believe this lie all you want. I’m sure that you desperately need it along with twisted Bible interpretation to bolster your bias and prejudice against women. Just know that I know, and my children know, by our own life and experiences, that it is a straight up lie.

    Men can be very emotional.

    Women can be very rational.

    Reply
    • K

      Yes my husband is way more emotional than I am.

      Reply
    • Laura

      Mara R,

      I just read your blog post and totally agree. Patriarchy has no benefits for women and children; it’s all about the men getting their way and thinking they are high and mighty. I had just finished reading “Quiverfull” by Kathryn Joyce. Doug Phillips was mentioned in this book because his now defunct Vision Forum advocated for Quiverfull culture such as the homeschooling movement and stay-at-home daughters until marriage.

      Reply
      • Mara R

        Full disclosure.

        I used to homeschool. But that was before the patriarchy saw a chance to make money and control the women who started the movement, at least in my area.

        During the last few years homeschooling, I actually sent money to the Home School Legal Defense Fund, Phillips group for legal protection (due to fear mongering by the patriarchy). That was before I knew any better.

        It was difficult to see the movement that hard working women started to benefit their struggling children taken over by the jackals of patriarchy.

        Reply
  18. Boone

    As I look back on my 33 years of marriage I’d have to say that we’ve been heavily egalitarian all the way through. See, I wasn’t looking for a woman to boss around. I wanted a smart educated well read woman that I could converse with on a variety of topics. I wanted a woman that shared my interests and was hungry to learn. I found one.
    Over the years we’ve pitched in together to run a farm, a business and a law practice. We’ve raised and educated three well rounded successful children who are all happily married and starting their own traditions.
    Through it all we’ve respected each other. We both try to consider the other’s feelings in everything we do.
    Last Wednesday I got a call from a friend that runs our local hardware store. He told me that he had just gotten something in with me in mind and no, it wasn’t in 16 gauge and it was never going to be made in 16 gauge.
    Now, a few years ago the CZ USA company introduced a double barrel shotgun. It had a straight English walnut stock, double triggers and changeable chokes. I wanted one in the worst way but I wanted a 16 gauge. I waited and waited for CZ to come out with a 16 gauge and then CZ quit making the gun so I never got one.
    Now, a lot of spouses (of both sexes) that I know would have just gone and bought it and never said anything about it. That’s just wrong. It’s disrespectful and it’s not loving. I called my wife up and told her the whole story and said that I’d like to buy the gun. She asked if it was a 16 and I said no it’s a 20 gauge. She told me to go get it before it got sold, get two boxes of shells and we’d shoot some skeet after supper. We’ll I got the gun. She tried it and said that was like my old Ithaca 20 gauge that she bird hunts with. The stock was about two inches too long and the barrels were also a little long.
    When we went in I got on CZ’s web site and found that they make a 20 gauge Bobwhite called the Intermediate. Same gun but the stock and the barrels are two inches shorter. Her gun will be here the end of Sept. No I didn’t tell her. It’s a surprise.

    Reply
    • Jo R

      Woot! That’s awesome, Boone! I hope she doesn’t read Sheila’s blog and so blows her own surprise! 😊😊😊

      Reply
  19. GCB

    I was thinking of this piece as I was working today—along with Psychology Today’s report last week about the rise of single (and lonely) men—and I realized how many parallels there are between women opting out of dating and marriage, especially in the church; and people, especially women, refusing to have children because of climate change.

    We’ve been living through these kinds of environments and these kinds of options, presented as normal and nothing to be challenged, not even when all of its harms and dangers have been proven and requests and invitations have been made to think of something else. As we’ve grown and lived through worse and worse, learning from these situations too, we’re finally understanding how horrible we’ve had it and how we’re meant to seek better instead of just accepting these things (especially in the name of “contentment”) and how God wants better for us too. When the people holding the most influence and power and leading the discussion are doing nothing in response to these needs over and over and over again, lots of those begging people will decide to give up and focus their energy elsewhere, because they can’t afford to put their lives on hold when there’s no evidence of change.

    Many Christian People I’ve come across have likened refusing to have babies due to global warming as hopeless, despairing and selfish. One ministry I used to follow even responded “saving souls is more important than saving the planet.”

    I’m sure that selfishness, hopelessness and despair play into these decisions in many aspects of the situation. But frankly, I don’t see what love there is in encouraging women to carry on and accept this culture and treatment as normal. We shouldn’t.

    Reply
    • GCB

      And as a final note…

      I’ve seen plenty of women who’ve refused to have babies due to the climate change express their openness to adopting or fostering kids instead.

      Women who stay single can often afford more time for missions, work, and for assisting their friends and extended family. Some even work together with friends to help them raise their kids instead of romantic or sexual partners.

      We CAN find other ways to love others and enrich our lives.
      We CAN find other solutions.
      We CAN demand better and move on when it’s not given to us.

      Reply
      • Comment

        I didn’t want to have children because I was scared to death about what they would have to endure or what would happen to them. I didn’t want them to go through some of the things I did. I felt I was saving a life or two. I was being selfless.

        Reply
  20. Mara R

    I guess One of Them is done talking to us. He fired his missiles and then left, not interested in anything we had to say in response.

    Or maybe he did try to leave responses, but they were even more misogynist than what he had written in his first few comments so Sheila didn’t let them through.

    Oh well. If I have time, I may or may not address one more thing One of Them said. No sure. Still getting used to this new format. It’s a good one and definitely better than the old one. But I’m still getting used to it.

    Reply
  21. SB

    Didn’t anyone think that the way the Bible was interpreted against women was causing women to abandon church, faith, and God? As a teenage girl, I could not stomach worshiping a god that seemed to prefer men over women. I couldn’t understand why a god who was said to create all in HIS image and love and cherish them all would hate and disregard women so openly. I wasn’t a great church goer anyway but those thoughts kept me away from church and faith and God for years (I’m 47 now). Sheila’s website and books have helped open my eyes a little but it’s very hard to change the beliefs I grew up with about men, women, and God.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I understand, SB. It is really difficult sometimes.

      Reply
  22. Paul

    Men love your wives, women submit to your husbands. The marriage reflects the relationship between Jesus and the church. Jesus is the head, and He loves the church, which submits to His lordship. Trying to corrupt the basics of marriage is misleading people. No wonder there’s such a high divorce rate in Western countries. Let men be men, and women be women. None is lower in value, but there’s a Divine order and purpose for each spouse in a marriage. Feel free to block me.

    Reply

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