On any given Sunday after lunch, you might find Phil washing the dishes he used to cook while Bekah is passed out on the couch. After loading the dishwasher, Phil makes his way outside to check on the garden while Bekah prepares to build something out of plywood.
Now as you read this you might be surprised, but why is that? The #metoo and #churchtoo movement is revealing some core beliefs that are leading to harmful acts towards women and teaching men of integrity how to live toxic lives. An article from Christianity Today suggests one of the major pitfalls in churches or marriages (no matter how progressive one appears) is a held belief in the inferiority of women or the suppression of men’s emotions. The article goes on to show in some marriages leadership is being defined by how rugged or stiff a man appears and that submission is an exclusive call to women. This means in your single days, women, if you ever climbed the corporate ladder, prayed publicly in church, or liked working with your hands, your husband would take over doing those things for you once you’re married. The article closes by reminding us what the Bible actually says about gender roles.
The Bible says in Psalm 139 that “we are wonderfully made” and in Genesis 1:27 that “He made man in his image.” When a woman is uplifted in marriage, she is uplifted to do the things she enjoys. Men, you don’t have to hide your interests because the world doesn’t say it looks like “leadership” to them. Your God sees you and is pleased with you. We also see in Ephesians 5m right before the famous “Wives submit to your husbands, husbands love your wives,” there is a call to everyone to submit to one another. If we keep in mind this idea of “mutual submission,” we find in marriage that couples serve their family by looking to the other person's interest, not out of their own interest or to appease societal norms.
So how do we do this? Well for us, we’ve chosen the path found in a book called Strength Based Marriages. The book helps you take a quiz to find your strengths and uses those results to teach your family how to operate out of who is gifted in what areas. We encourage you to use this approach as a way to uplift where your spouse is gifted and vice versa. We hope that our openness about how gender roles in our marriage dismantle “conservative family values” helps lead others to more healthy marriages. But to be honest, we don’t always have it figured out. We have days where one of us assumes macho stereotypes or demotes qualified women by calling them “girls.” The truth is, the only way we can walk out this journey is one day at a time in a community.
Bekah & Phil Watkins Atlanta, GA