Asking for a Friday FAVOR! What Do You Think Belongs In a Book About Mutual Marriages?

So, I have resolved to do it. I am going to write a book proposal.

*trumpets and fanfare*

And I am going to do it on the topic of mutual marriage. Given the enthusiastic response to the Equally Yoked series, I think it’s a book that desperately needs to be written.

I’ve been toying around with the idea for a few weeks, and poring over books on Christian marriage to see what’s out there. I’ve discovered some gems, but one thing that struck me is how solemn the whole genre is. Even the best books seem to run the gambit from in-your-face rule-books about why you stink at being a husband/wife, to mystical treatises on cosmic romance that read like the misgotten offspring of Grudem’s Systematic Theology and one those elf ballads from “Lord of the Rings.” And as I feared, the more egalitarian the books were, the more academic they were. Which is handy if you’re the sort of person who likes to ponder the socio-policial climate of the ancient Roman empire, but they’re not exactly the sort of thing you can hand to your friend at church who is struggling with their marriage. Not unless they, like, have advanced degrees in the classics, or are just really geeky.

My vision is for a book that is practical, readable, and dare I say fun. Unapologetically egalitarian (a lot of the books I read were functionally egalitarian, but stopped short of giving people the resources they need to push back against the prevailing hierarchical mindset), but not overly theological.

Here’s where I need your help. What sort of topics do you think need to be addressed in a book like this? What questions do you have, and what questions are you constantly asked? What issues do Christians struggle with in their marriages, and what resources do they need to begin to address them? Who do you think I should interview for this book, experts (because I am not one, and will need to draw from their knowledge) and otherwise?

Please, please, pretty please, leave your thoughts, questions, and ideas in the comments section, and solicit ideas from others! I’m running away from home next weekend (thank you Aaron!) to start cobbling together an outline, and the comments will be printed out and taken with me, to help guide the process. Thanks for your help!

72 Responses to Asking for a Friday FAVOR! What Do You Think Belongs In a Book About Mutual Marriages?

  1. Charity Erickson February 22, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    Love this. Though it might be scary, I think what we all need is to hear the true, messy, vulnerable stories about what it takes to live out an egalitarian relationship.

    And forming a theology of the “egalitarian pleasure party” might be a nice addition, too 😉

    I’m so excited to see where this project goes!

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 10:36 am #

      Ha–love the “egalitarian pleasure party” angle. 😀 And yes, I agree about needing the true, messy, vulnerable stories. So important!

  2. M.R. February 22, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    While the premise of the book, I understand, is marriage, I think it is important to spend a little time addressing those who are seriously dating or engaged. We read marriage books too!

    I would like to see a short section for seriously dating couples or engaged couples that addresses how one might bring up the topic of mutuality with their significant other for the first time and tips to have a productive conversation about it. (This was super awkward for me)

    An expert to be interviewed: Jackie Roese of The Marcella Project and Irving Bible Church

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 10:34 am #

      Ooh, you are going to like Charity’s Equally Yoked post, coming in 3 weeks! Excellent idea about including a section for dating or engaged couples–thank you!

  3. Ray Khan February 22, 2013 at 10:31 am #

    some ideas:

    how to listen to each other
    When things go wrong
    planning together
    rejoicing and mourning together
    How to build and encourage each other up?
    Forgiveness and forgetting?
    Your attitudes to money
    learning to pray together, without having to do it?
    Its sex Jim, but not as Playboy knows it

    There needs to be something on self awareness, we all come into a marriage with preconceived notions and unarticulated norms of being and doing. These are often challenged (or reinforced in unhealthy ways) in a marriage. This often leads to a lot of give and take and personal growth.

    Sorry it sounds like a wish list

  4. larry February 22, 2013 at 10:36 am #

    Glad you are taking on this project!

    A couple of ideas to consider addressing:

    – The 1 Timothy 2:12 passage (& perhaps a few others) – in layman’s terms. This gets brought up whenever the topic is discussed. People need to have an answer for themselves and to share with others

    – The phenomenon of complementarianism “feeling right” (and conversely, egalitarianism “feeling wrong”) due to one’s cultural upbringing. I think people may mistake this culturally based “feeling” for Holy Spirit conviction if they do not understand where it comes from.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 10:37 am #

      Excellent, excellent, excellent! I think that last point is a HUGE one, and is definitely going to be addressed.

    • larry February 23, 2013 at 12:11 pm #


      • Cayden August 17, 2014 at 11:52 am #

        Hey, that post leaves me feeling folhsio. Kudos to you!

    • larry February 23, 2013 at 12:19 pm #

      test 2

  5. Naomi February 22, 2013 at 10:44 am #

    I’ve been looking for something like this, too!

    Is your audience engaged couples or already married couples?

    An egal marriage book with the standard topics is sorely needed (conflict management, in-laws, family planning, sex, household management, etc.)

    Read John Gottman! His research is thorough and excellent–definitely on the academic side and not theological, but he’s the best marriage expert out there.

    Interview egal couples who’ve weathered the storms. Young couples, middle aged couples, old couples. Fill it with stories, peppered with psych and theology.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 11:09 am #

      Thank you for reminding me of Gottman! I’ve been meaning to read him, but forgot to include his stuff in the books I’m collecting for research. My intention was to gear the book mainly toward married couples, but based on the feedback I’m already getting I will definitely include stuff for those considering marriage. Which means more books to collect… 😀

  6. Kathy February 22, 2013 at 11:12 am #

    Love all the ideas listed so far! I think talking about the decision making (why an egalitarian marriage doesn’t need ‘someone to make the final decision’) (a few of us mentioned this in our posts). Also I think the whole ‘spiritual leader’ thing could be dealt with. If the man HAS to be the spiritual leader what happens when he goes into depression (or some other illness) and has no capacity to lead his family? It is so important in a marriage that both are able to spiritually lead and encourage one another.
    All the best for your time away!

    • Naomi February 22, 2013 at 11:33 am #

      Re: who makes the final decision

      Might be worth looking into consensus based decision making methods. People in our society are so trained to rely on hierarchical leadership models (students and teachers, workers and boss, pastor and congregation, president and citizens, etc.) that we often do not learn how to make decisions through consensus. Juries do it though. Why not husbands and wives?

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

      Excellent point–your comment generated a great brainstorming question between Aaron and me.

  7. Tim February 22, 2013 at 11:46 am #

    Yay yay yay! I hope it sells like hotcakes, Jen!

    For a topic, I echo the thing about decision making. Get into how messy it will be when one person doesn’t have veto power, but how thrilling it is to realize that it’s all under God’s pre-existing and eternally-lasting blessing anyway. Marriage isn’t a democracy with votes and vetoes; it’s an organism where the two are one for crying out loud!


    P.S. Yay yay yay! Now go out and propose that book!

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 1:12 pm #

      Good perspectives Tim! And re: marriage being an organism–yes!

      • Susie February 25, 2013 at 9:26 pm #

        Re: collaborative decision-making, I will refer you to Ruth Haley Barton’s book “Pursuing God’s Will Together.” It’s written for leadership teams, but I think could be really useful in a marriage… After all, isn’t a marriage a leadership team (of sorts)?

  8. Beth Lattery February 22, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    A couple books I’m reading right now might interest you, Man and Woman He Created Them – A Theology of the Body by John Paul II, and Man and Woman – A Divine Invention by Alice von Hildebrand. It must be the winter weather my books to read pile is getting taller by the minute and I’m into several at once.
    I pray you have a beautiful, fruitful and peaceful weekend. God has blessed you with a good husband who supports you in your creative work. (I have one of those too! )
    God bless you,

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

      Thank you for the book suggestions, Beth! I will definitely check out the one by John Paul II, at least–I’ve heard great things about it. It seems to me that many of the Catholics I know have a slightly different take on the issue than the distinctions evangelicals make, and I’m looking forward to learning more. Did I ever tell you I did a paper on the prayer life of Benedictine sisters last semester? I got to spend a lot of time with one of the sisters up at St. Scholastica, and was SO blessed by it!

  9. Bonnie Antonich February 22, 2013 at 1:09 pm #

    Hi Jen!
    Have a lot of input I’d like to chat with you about… Too much for a response here!!
    Didn’t hear back from you re: future accommodation last nite ????
    Just wondering …

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

      Yes! I’ve been meaning to call you but have barely been home for the last two days–catching up on the run now! Maybe we can just work out the details via email, since I’m can’t seem to find a few quiet minutes for the phone. Also, I’m wondering if you and Doug might be available for an interview that weeked–it would be a perfect time to do it, if that would work for you!

      • Bonnie Antonich February 22, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

        Sounds great but need to check on timing with Doug…Which weekend then, the weekend after this one?and are you for sure planning on using cabin??

        • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 2:00 pm #

          Yes, next weekend–March 1-3. If I could stay there, that would be great–otherwise I’ll head to Ashland, which works well to!

  10. Becky February 22, 2013 at 1:10 pm #

    I like to think that there is something of a paucity of egalitarian marriage books because our marriages are not prone to as many problems as the patriarchal ones are. :) Blessings to you as you write your book, it sounds very promising!

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 1:18 pm #

      LOL! I don’t know about that, but maybe. 😀 Or maybe just different sorts of problems. I think it’s because so many egalitarians ARE academics, who came to the idea through a lot of study. “The masses” are still typically taught complementarianism, from a theological perspective anyway, although I think many (most?) healthy Christian marriages nowadays are functionally egalitarian.

  11. Angela February 22, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    Can I preorder a case? lol Becky makes a great point that’s worth looking into: the number of egalitarian marriage books – what might be the reason for that? I don’t think her idea is so far-fetched. Here’s something: it’s all well and good for a couple to ‘talk mutuality’ before the marriage, but then some funny shift takes place after the vows. I think of your recent post by Karen Beattie where, underlying it all, each had his and her own agendas (for lack of a better word) once they got married. Involuntarily, she had this idea he should be taking care of her, etc. and had to almost physically pull herself up by the bootstraps and say, “Hey, we’re in this together!” Another stickler is the argument that the only reason women ‘go egalitarian’ is that a woman’s rebellious nature won’t allow for her to submit, which is precisely why “God” put those submission verses in the Bible to begin with. Don’t forget to address personality differences, in that, if a couple by nature is more prone to complementarian or egalitarian, is that what ought to prevail OR does the Bible really instruct so much in the vein of mutuality that our roles is to mature by interdependence which, in some cases, means to step outside of comfort zones. Am I making sense? As it stands right now, 17 years of a very difficult marriage is slowly but pretty surely going down the tubes. Had I known enough to get out of the oppressive circles I was in to know that what I experienced was not just me being rebellious, but knowing there was a better way, I would have started this journey years ago. Oh, one more thing: men’s and women’s roles. It may be like beating a dead horse, but what does it really mean for a man to be a man or a woman to be a woman? Or, as you (or Rachel Held Evans) posted in her article, is it a matter of individuality? Am I feminine because I’m a woman or is feminine a cultural label? Masculine? I read a sample of the book you recently recommended – 10 Lies Men Believe – and I was disappointed because it remained rather superficial instead of delving into the fears men really have, he reasons they cling to the false ideas of what it means to be a man. Of course, that was an Amazon sample, I didn’t read the whole thing, but it somehow missed the mark. Since this is obviously going to be a Christian book, you’ll want to address various church traditions that help or hinder this process of mutuality. Whatever you do, don’t generalize, Jenny :) Yet leave personal examples to a minimum. In other words, there are still folks who will make this prescriptive. Speak in terms of strengths and weaknesses without using either stereotypical or purposely astereotypical examples. HTH – so exciting!

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 6:09 pm #

      Great, great thoughts Angela, here and below! Yes, you made complete sense, and I think that personality can have a lot to do with how egalitarianism/complementarianism plays out in a marriage. Sorry to hear things aren’t going so hot for your marriage right now. :-(

      Re. J. Lee Grady’s books, what I like about them is that they ARE very simple, but that can backfire, too, if it’s not what you’re looking for.

      I’m going to be mining your comments as I go through my process–SO much good stuff here! And I’ll try not to generalize. 😀

  12. Angela February 22, 2013 at 3:18 pm #

    More thoughts… I don’t know that I would be so quick to label many or most Christian marriages today as egalitarian UNLESS you want to show that the complementarian ones are actualy egalitarian. Even though most Christians are not blatant supporters of the new patriarchy, what was a fringe movement is surreptitiously making its way into mainstream. I have many dear couple friends who do not see the contradiction in their espousal of mutuality under the guise of hierarchy. (And they, of course, never use these terms… it’s more ‘authority’ and ‘submission’. It’s like partnership is a bad word.) It just doesn’t work, but they don’t see it, and these are Bible school graduates (which maybe says something right there, who knows?) And while I really resonated with much of the language of Gerald Ford’s Equally Yoked post, the author he cites, Terrence Real, while perhaps engaging and right on, never appeals to my faith. Because we’re going to talk about equality, it’s going to seem like it’s the men who are needing to give so much more. You know, for me, the kind of book I want to read of course needs to be based on what the kingdom of God is supposed to look like in my marriage relationship, and what do I use as an example of that? One of Dr. Real’s book recommendations is by bell hooks whose message seems radical – I’d love to see how we reconcile that with Jesus’ radical message or completely disregard it because it lacks grace. (I don’t know one way or the other, but these are considerations since the argument is always that egalitarianism is a new socio-cultural phenomenon and not based on the teachings of the Bible. Or is it?) And will you write a book that will hit home where it needs to but also be universal in its appeal? We want ALL couples no matter their country of origin, ethnicity, socio-economic status, generation (my husband is 27 years older than I am – that’s a whole different story) to be able to realize that this isn’t a pie-in-the-sky for just some lucky folks, but something attainable for us all, because it is to this that we are called.

    • fiddlrts February 23, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

      The point Jenny made was not that most Christian marriages are egalitarian. They probably are not. What she actually said – and I wholeheartedly agree – is that the vast majority of *truly healthy* Christian marriages are *functionally* egalitarian. In other words, think of the truly great marriages you have seen. Chances are, the couple, whatever they said, ended up making decisions together. And both brought an attitude of service and love, rather than of hierarchy.

      (I’m thinking here of my parents, among others, who talk the complementarian line, but act egalitarian. And have for nearly 40 years.)

      • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 23, 2013 at 8:24 pm #

        That’s absolutely right. I actually think, in those scenarios, that any harm that comes from the complementarian position tends to come more to the individual feeling like they have to conform to a particular role, than it does to the marriage itself.

  13. Becky's husband February 22, 2013 at 3:37 pm #

    Throw the guys some red meat, too. Maybe Aaron could write a chapter from his perspective.

    Just as egalitarian women have to put up with complementarians telling her she should not do X,Y, and Z because that’s her husband’s role, egalitarian men hears complementarians telling him he’s failing his God, his wife, and his family if he doesn’t do X,Y, and Z. It’s incredibly annoying.

    (No, an egalitarian marriage is not wimpy or emasculating; it frees him to follow Christ just as much as it frees the wife. An egalitarian husband is not shirking his responsibilities if he’s not exercising dominion over his family. Etc…)

    • Tim February 22, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

      Yeah, what he said.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 4:16 pm #

      Hear hear! Aaron and I were just discussing that–that will definitely make it in there, although I’m going to have to recruit some man-help to pull it off. :-)

    • Aaron Armstrong February 23, 2013 at 9:57 am #

      I believe that one of the under-discussed aspects of complementarianism is how it negatively impacts men. I also think that men who are examining a mutual marriage, can benefit from some input on the “What does that look like day-to-day?” questions. You can check out my contribution to the Equally Yolked series soon.

  14. Gerald Ford February 22, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

    I sure hope you write the book. I have one at present and another (called Marriage Minutes) coming out in a few more weeks. I think one of the most pressing issues for the egalitarian couple is their method of decision making, especially when they seem to be at an impasse. The common patriarchal view is that the husband breaks the tie. The egalitarian couple can reject that method, but then what do they replace this with…

    Looking forward to your book.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 6:15 pm #

      Thanks Gerald! Yeah, the decision-making question seems to be a big one!

  15. Ryan Robinson February 22, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

    I don’t really have suggestions but I’d love to read it once it is out. My wife of almost six months and I got a few Christian marriage books between the engagement and the wedding. They all at some point make sure to expound how a complementarian framework is necessary for a healthy marriage. And then we have a hard time giving much respect to anything else they’re saying even though a lot of it is good.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

      That is frustrating, isn’t it? I noticed that too–even books that were functionally egalitarian gave lip service to hierarchy. *sigh*

      • Angela February 22, 2013 at 7:20 pm #


  16. Natalie Trust February 22, 2013 at 6:08 pm #

    I’m not exactly sure how to phrase this…

    Basically, having experienced abuse and betrayal in my first marriage, an egalitarian relationship is the only kind I am capable of having. So I guess I’d like to read how positive egalitarian marriages can be in creating bonds of trust. From complementarians, I hear a lot of “trust God that your husband will trust Him so that you can trust your husband.”

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 22, 2013 at 6:13 pm #

      I think you phrased it just fine. :-) There will be a LOT of talk about abuse, dominance, codependence (the unhealty kind) etc. in this book. That issue is one of the primary reasons I am engaging the topic–the church’s interpretation of gender roles, etc., have been hurting and oppressing people for WAY too long now, and we need to stand up and shout “enough!” No more of this nonsense in the name of Jesus!!!

  17. Lydia February 22, 2013 at 9:35 pm #

    Decision making
    Power plays
    Cognitive dissonance
    Communication skills

    Can’t wait!

  18. erin a. February 22, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    Oh, yes! I’m excited for you, Jenny, and for me & the rest of us who will read your book!
    Let’s see…. The only marriage book that I really loved and recommend to others is Jim & Sarah Sumner’s “Just How Married do You Want to Be? – practicing oneness in marriage” Have you read that one? The picture of unity was great. They do not believe in Hierarchy, though they don’t say they are Egalitarian, either. I think Mutual would fit their view.
    Anyway. I think the oneness and unity mystery is the major “thing” with marriage, and yet is rarely spoken of, unless it is in a co-dependency, unhealthy fashion.
    I read Women, Men & the Bible by Virginia Mollenkott. Her talking about the Carnal vs. Christian way of relating is hugely important. Will we live & wallow in the results of our fall in Eden, or will we except the redemption offered by Jesus & redeem our relationships?

    I still really want to write a post for your series, super bad. How long are you running it for? I haven’t had the focused time to get it out of my head and typed out.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 23, 2013 at 9:47 am #

      Thanks for the book suggestions! I haven’t read the Sumner’s, though I’ve heard of it, and wasn’t sure what their perspective was. I’ll check it out!

      I hope to run the Equally Yoked series all year, and there’s plenty of room. I had been scheduling the posts as they come in, but if you want, I could just give you a date, probably for late spring. Shoot me an email?

  19. Jen C February 23, 2013 at 12:00 am #

    I would like to read something about transforming a complementarian marriage into a mutual/egalitarian one. After over 20 years we have recently changed course. What a relief! For both of us. :)

    Would like some help explaining our new ideas to our mostly complementarian friends.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 23, 2013 at 9:51 am #

      Ooh, that’s a HUGE one, I think! Transitioning from a complementarian marriage to an egal one. And maybe even a “cheat sheet” section on how to communicate with friends about the changes in your views–egalitarianism 101. :-) I think that’s a big issue. So many people haven’t been exposed to egalitarian theology at ALL, so it can be bewildering to them and seem anti-biblical and “slippery slope.”

  20. Sharon Roberts February 23, 2013 at 5:08 am #

    Listening, to each other. Getting out shared interests andfree time with friends.

    A male perspective would give the book a dimension that others seem to neglect.

  21. Jessi February 23, 2013 at 9:36 am #

    We get questions a lot about how it looks/plays out that I am the senior pastor of our church…people say “well how does that work, for you to be ‘in authority over’ him in that setting, but then… what happens at home?” It seems like the most absurd question to us, but people seem to really struggle with it…

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 23, 2013 at 9:59 am #

      That is so funny. :-) I’ve come to think that there are definitely issues of personality at play in people who talk a lot about things like authority, submission, etc.–some people really want established lines of command, while others prefer flat relational structures. So maybe, a section about personality, ego, and leadership? I’m trying to figure out how to quantify this, because you raise a GREAT point that I’ve seen in action. What is at the root of that concern or insecurity? Hmm.

      • Jessi February 23, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

        The aspect of personality isn’t something I’ve thought of before, but you could definitely be on to something there. Most of the time I have assumed it came from a fear of being ‘unscriptural’. The ironic thing is, often the people processing it are (or claim to be) “OK” with women in ministry…but they can’t seem to reconcile the idea of a woman being ‘over’ her husband… I think at the root is a misunderstanding of Kingdom leadership, in that, if you want to look at it as being a leader, what it actually means is ‘chief server’…which, in essence takes away the real need to view it as hierarchy… But, it’s a messy tangled ball that I still am trying to figure out how to sort out in a clear, concise way… We can trip over entire concepts (mutual submission, servant leadership), in order to hang onto ‘words’…submit, respect, etc. I don’t know… Hmmm is about where I’m at with it. 😀

  22. Tim February 23, 2013 at 10:45 am #

    This isn’t necessarily specific to egalitarian marriage, but I think it’s important, so I’m going to say it anyway. Many of the Christian marriage books I’ve read assume a slightly modified version of the modern, Western conception of marriage as being all about finding the one you love, and spending your life in love with them. Along the way, you need tips/skills help to keep the fire going (Christians put a bit of a spin on it in suggesting that pretty much everyone should get married and that marriage is largely about having kids).

    I’d like to see a book where the underlying assumption is that everyday life in marriage is about actively building an intimate, loving relationship with the one you’ve committed to, maturing together, and blessing your community together. While I fully support marrying someone you already love, this has only (relatively) recently been an option in marriage. The Bible’s timeless and much broader focus concerning marriage is much more on loving the one you’ve married.

    One perspective makes marriage about preserving young love and hoping it will grow; the other about actively building and multiplying it.

    Especially with regards to appearance and sex, I find that complementarian books, more than others, make the assumption that in order for the love to be preserved, women need to continue looking like they did when they were 20 (one book recommended plastic surgery to keep your husband faithful). If they don’t, men are bound to find them unappealing and will look elsewhere. I think that the marriage “roles” tend to simply be a formalized cementing of our natural/learned selfish ways of being. They seek to manipulate our selfishness, rather than doing the hard work of building love and character, and being renewed with the mind of Christ.

    My two cents.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 23, 2013 at 11:01 am #

      Excellent, excellent thoughts. Worth WAY more than two cents. :-) What you said about some complementarian books catering to our selfish nature–yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

  23. buddyglass February 23, 2013 at 5:31 pm #

    I’d be interested to hear your answer to the same question I usually ask the other side (but flipped):

    In practice, how would a mutual marriage differ from a non-hyperbolized complementarian marriage between two otherwise loving, self-sacrificing and godly individuals?

    Typically, when giving their distinctives, both sides like to contrast their view of marriage with a caricature of the opposing side’s view. That doesn’t seem very constructive.

    • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 23, 2013 at 8:28 pm #

      Excellent point! I will be making that point that in many cases, they are virtually indistinguishable, and, frankly, functionally egalitarian. Many complementarian leaders would agree with me on that, to their chagrin.

      • buddyglass February 24, 2013 at 8:51 am #

        That’s my take on it as well. When you have a complementarian husband who is loving his wife “as Christ loved the church” (Eph. 5:25) then he is naturally going to view his wife’s wellbeing as more important than his own. If he wants paper and she wants plastic then plastic it is.

        The rough categories listed on this page might be helpful as a point of reference:

        Scroll down to the bulleted list that starts with “Patriarchal”. This is the caricature some egalitarians like to use when contrasting egalitarianism with complementarianism. Moderate complementarians then (rightly) respond, “But that’s not what we’re saying at all!”

        Its probably worth mentioning the extreme view since it is in fact held by a small minority. My suggestion was just to focus on contrasting “mutual marriage” with the kind of marriage someone in category 3 from the list on that page (“Moderate complementarians”) would have.

        If you can make the case that mutual marriage is closer to the biblical ideal than a “moderate complementarian” marriage then that’s much more compelling than simply showing that it’s preferable to extreme patriarchy.

        • Jenny Rae Armstrong February 24, 2013 at 9:30 am #

          I couldn’t agree more, and I really appreciated Warnock’s post–I actually wrote a few in response to it when it came out! My goal with this book would not necessarily be to convince people to stop being complementarian–I think a good biblical case can be made for both soft complementarinism and egalitarianism. But one thing that I do see, and that I have experienced, is that complementarianism can sometimes–sometimes–breed legalism and shame if a person doesn’t feel that they are living up to the role their belief system prescribes, and can also cause a lot of tension for women and men who feel called to something different than what their teachers prescribe for their gender. I have seen that dynamic damage many, many marriages–many of which would be good, healthy marriages otherwise–and if I could point people toward freedom from that, I would be a happy woman, no matter what their theological leanings.

          • buddyglass February 24, 2013 at 10:52 am #


    • Karess August 18, 2014 at 12:20 am #

      You’ve got to be kidding me-it’s so trplsaarentny clear now!

  24. Patty February 23, 2013 at 8:10 pm #

    1. The joy of not being locked into anyone elses roles-just the ones we and God have given us.
    2. The freedom to move in and out of wage earning, in and out of the work place, .
    3. The freedom for men as well not to be conformed to certain roles so especially the freedom for the artistic, poetic, and not so leader-like (fake role) men.
    4. How to deal with people who make assumptions about your marriage.
    5. How to live with grace and love and kindness to those who think your husband is weak and the woman is a ball-buster.
    6. The peace of loving a whole human being-not a role.

    Probably wil have more.

  25. Amanda B. February 25, 2013 at 3:33 am #

    I would love to see you write about having right, biblical expectations about marriage/one’s spouse.

    As a single person, I’ve observed a lot of my female friends talk about wanting a husband because they want someone who will lead them, take care of them, handle all the hard things for them, etc. I’ve had a couple of good guy friends who had rocky dating relationships with immature women, precisely because the women’s immaturity made them seem like they would be easy to lead, and thus, less intimidating to pursue.

    It seems to me that misguided expectations here can cause anyone problems, but unspoken (and even incorrectly formulated) complementarian expectations can specifically disadvantage quieter men and/or take-charge women.

    I’m sure there’s also a lot that could be said about expectations that both complementarians and egalitarians would agree on–things like not expecting from your spouse the sort of fulfillment that only comes from God. But I would still love to see that sort of thing written from a definitively egalitarian viewpoint.

  26. brambonius February 27, 2013 at 2:18 am #

    A tip: write from the POV that your view is the most normal one in the world and try to explain it as good as possible, sometimes comparing it to others, but don’t try to defend yourself all the time. Being defensive weakens your message and it can be a waste of space if you’re defending yourself all the time. Giving too much attention to those who disagree is a way of affriming them…

    (I have that problem sometimes with Dan Brennans book about cross-gender friends, that I like a lot btw)

    And oh, cross-gender friendship might be an interesting topic to write about too…

  27. Jay February 27, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

    Because of the long history of male dominance, the gender roles are so fixed in culture that many of them are taken for granted. Often women seeking equality are seen as radical feminists. (Not that I have any problem with the word feminist, just that many do) In building a mutual marriage it is important within the relationship as well as how the relationship is projected to others, that the husband is proactive in the support given to the wife. One of the most important results of this proactive support is that it helps to remove any image that the woman is demanding equality, but rather, the man is taking the initiative in promoting and breaking old gender assumptions.

  28. Mim March 1, 2013 at 1:56 am #

    Something about resisting the pressure to conform when you’re steeped in an environment of romanticised female submissiveness. It’s easy to feel like all of the church is against you, and that attitude isn’t health for the continuation of the relationship or fellowship with the church.

    • Tim March 1, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

      “romanticised female submissiveness” – Perfectly put, Mim!


      • Mim March 3, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

        Thanks Tim, it’s so true- I tried to explain to a married friend once how if/ when the Lord wants me to marry, I’d want to marry someone who was as unafraid to use the submit word to describe how he wanted to relate to me as I would want to be for him. I got a blank look.

  29. Marion March 12, 2013 at 8:35 am #

    the trouble is, while chain of command/hierarchy is still agreed with/used (as in some posts above), even promoted in local and national ‘churches’ (denominations and non-denominations), how can we, with integrity, authenticity, power, decry, write against, teach differently re. when it spills over into teaching about marriage, relationships?
    i.e. I sincerely share this – we need to see the Bigger picture of what the New Covenant was meant to bring/restore from what the Fall brought – in all things (the restoration of all things – Acts 3?)

  30. Lacey April 2, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    Are you still taking suggestions? See how super behind I am? ( :p). I know you’ve already had your writing retreat and all that, and your book will be awesome with or without my input. Can’t wait to follow its progress!

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