Going to Seminary | Part 12

by Elouise

Wedding Pic edited, FRASER_S_0011

I’m looking at a 58-page single-spaced paper completed in summer 1974. Authors: D and Elouise. Title: A Biblical View of Women.

Immediate thoughts:

  • I can’t believe we did this!
  • I’m so glad we did this!
  • I will never do anything like this again—not for any amount of money!

D and I have been married nearly 9 years. We have two young children and have just completed our first year of seminary courses.

The purpose of this summer project is to come to a decision about our relationship as husband and wife, male and female. This includes how we’ll think and talk about our marriage. If it isn’t ‘conventional,’ what is it?

As for our research, my anxiety about agreeing to keep faith with our conclusions was unnecessary. There’s no doubt at all. My intuition and experience, along with our research and writing, line up with what we discovered in Scripture. This is in spite of narratives about unhappy male-female relationships and hard-to-read words and images in Scripture about women.

  • We stand before God as human beings created in the full image of God, whether male or female, whether married or single. Marriage doesn’t change this reality. Women are not inferior beings before God or before other human beings.

We decide to describe our relationship as egalitarian. A relationship like this can honor our equal status before God and before each other.

Easier said than done. Working it out is something else. Difficult, often with setbacks, always in need of creative collaboration on sticky issues. Often when we’re feeling vulnerable or unsure of ourselves.

  • God didn’t create cookie-cutter persons or cookie-cutter anything. God loves diversity in every part of creation. Each woman and each man is different. So is every marriage—assuming faithfulness to each other and to God.

The possibilities are limited only by our ability to envision how we’ll live together. This means taking our personalities, strengths, and weaknesses seriously. We need each other, and we need to work out how that looks for us.

From the beginning of our marriage, one of my personal challenges was and still is to speak up. Communicate directly with D instead of assuming he’ll ‘intuit’ what I need. D doesn’t generally ‘intuit’ things. He wants data.

It also means talking things out with him instead of going silent or sulking. Being creative instead of appealing to pre-determined solutions that are a dime a dozen.

D and I came into marriage shaped inside and out by spoken and unspoken assumptions about ‘all real men’ and ‘all real women.’ Churches, friends, movies, billboards, literature—the stereotypic assumptions were and still are everywhere. So is the contempt they can communicate against women and men.

When we began this project I feared we would discover that my father was correct all along. Especially, but not only about me personally. He believed I was rebellious; his mission was to break my will. This would make me a better wife someday. It did not.

  • Each of us is created in God’s image, in God’s likeness. In addition, women don’t get a pass when it comes to responsibility. Just as men don’t get a pass.

D and I are fully responsible for our personal choices and for our joint choices as partners in life. Sadly, it’s much easier to behave as though one of us—designated or not—is God.

  • What God intended for women and for men became something else. What we see in Scripture is similar to all of life. Scripture is primarily about God and God’s mission in this world. Scripture is also a mirror in which we can see ourselves when we’re willing to take a closer look.

Do I recognize myself in Scripture? Or do I secretly believe I’m so far advanced that I couldn’t possibly be that backward, unenlightened, or quick to blame someone else as the real problem. Especially the man to whom I’m married. Or that beautiful serpent.

To be continued….

© Elouise Renich Fraser, 19 January 2016
Wedding photo of us (on the right) with Sister #2 and her husband.