Evangelical Wives & Patriarchy

In the New York Times Magazine, Molley Worthen has written an interesting piece on feminism within the evangelical community.  Its focus is on Priscilla Shirer, who is married with children and makes a great deal of money writing books, producing videos, and giving talks.  She is, in other words, the primary breadwinner and might thus be said to be head of her household.  Despite her status, her main teaching theme is submission, especially to husbands:

[S]he stresses that in a biblical home and church, the man is the head and the woman must submit. She steers women away from the “feminist activists” who tell women to “do your own thing, make your own decisions and never let a man slow you down,” as she puts it. “Satan will do everything in his power to get us to take the lead in our homes.”

Upon reading about Shirer’s life (and others mentioned in the article), it appears that their family lives do not have all that much to do with submission to husbands; instead, it appears that the husbands and wives are playing equal roles in family duties and confer with one another about family decisions.  It sounds like any healthy functioning marriage, whether secular or religious.

When asked to give an example of a dispute in which she deferred to her husband, the best that Shirer could muster was what to name their baby boy.  The husband prevailed.  If this is submission — rather than a routine matter of compromise — it appears that evangelical women have re-defined submission.  Good for them.

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