Gender Complementarianism Does Not Adequately Address, or Address At All, Incompetent, Loser, Or Incapacitated Men
That gender complementarianism plays a role in domestic violence and cannot effectively deal with it should be beyond dispute at this point, but arguing on those grounds would require another post or two all on its own (or visit A Cry For Justice blog to see numerous examples, and at least one former post of mine for more).
That gender complementarianism is meaningless to divorced, never married, and widowed women, as well as to childless and child-free women (and perhaps to single men as well), should be quite obvious, but is, also, I feel, deserving of a post all on its own, possibly some day.
For now, I want to direct your attention to cases that don’t pertain to domestic violence.
IRRESPONSIBLE, STUPID, OR PHYSICALLY OR MENTALLY INCAPACITATED MEN
I, Daisy, was engaged to a few years to a guy I shall call “Burt” (which was not his real name).
Burt managed to get a high school diploma but never went on to college.
In the first few months when we first began dating, Burt did tell me that he had been tested in school and it was determined that he could not read past a junior high school level.
At the time, I didn’t quite know what that meant, or did not fully appreciate what it meant.
I had gone to college once with a guy who had dyslexia, and though that guy was a slower reader than I was, he was of average intellect. So, I thought, my ex was maybe just telling me he was slower at reading than most people. Did I ever under-estimate things.
Turns out that my ex, Burt, was as dumb as a box of rocks and pretty laissez faire about paying bills on time.
Here is a story or two I shared at another blog before about my ex, and other stories I read about:
My ex, “Burt,” was, in all seriousness (I am not saying this to be cruel) an idiot. The guy could barely read.
I didn’t realize just how dense he was until a few years into our relationship. (I think I was in denial about his very low intellect the first few years we were together, or I had a hard time accepting anyone could be as slow as he was.)
Sometimes my ex would approach me with a letter he got in the mail, or he’d point to a sign on a store’s door, and ask me to read it to him, because he could not read it for himself.
So. To the complementarian in this thread who is promoting complementarian “male headship,” I ask you:
How exactly is it a woman is supposed to have a man lead her and read Scripture to her, if the dude can barely read?
I had to read to my ex, because he was slow. I was more intelligent than my ex.
Please explain to me how it is you think a guy who is so dim-witted should be in charge of, or lead, or teach his girlfriend or wife the Bible – or to do anything else in a leadership capacity?
Is there something inherent in a penis that bestows leadership abilities magically into a man?
(I’m not seeing the “why” explained by complementarian for any of this, the ones who don’t dare run to the “chicks are more easily deceived” rationale – that one no longer plays, for various reasons, such as this one.)
BRAIN DAMAGED OR HAS DEMENTIA
Then, there are men who are in car accidents or who develop dementia.
There was a story online a few years ago about a married couple, where the Marine husband came back from Iraq or Afghanistan literally drooling and in a wheelchair because he had been hit by an I.E.D.
He came back home partially paralyzed, couldn’t talk, and was brain damaged.
When this man came back home, his wife had to take over ALL responsibilities, because the husband was incapable of doing anything anymore.
If I am not mistaken, the story about the Marine who came back home paralyzed and in a wheelchair was promoted on a complementarian site.
The complementarian site was promoting this marriage as a wonder of complementarianism, because even though the wife took over all roles and duties of a stereotypical, traditional husband and wife couple, the complementarians at the site were dishonestly, and strangely, pointing to that marriage as a case of ‘male headship’ done right.
This was even though, in spite of the fact, the wife in that marriage had to take over the “male headship” role, because the husband was mentally and physically incapable of doing so.
I ended my post on the other blog by pointing this out:
One clue to you that complementarianism is unbiblical and is not God-designed, and is rather a misinterpretation and misapplication of the Bible by Christians, is that complementarianism cannot and does not fit every scenario or life stage a man and woman may find him or herself in.
Then there are realities such as this:
The 64-year-old [Angela Townshend] from Bath [Great Britain] describes the loneliness she feels as ‘so intense it makes me impossibly sad to remember how idyllically happy we were’.
Angela is not, however, a widow.
Her 70-year-old husband is still very much a physical presence and huge responsibility in her life.
But serious illness means that the man she married 14 years ago — a second marriage for both of them — is long gone.
In 2006, Ned was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease and, four years later, with Lewy body dementia, which is closely associated with both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.
Since then, the Townshends’ lives have changed beyond recognition and fallen into a familiar routine.
‘Every morning a carer calls at our home to wash and dress my dear husband, but by 9 am he’s asleep again in the chair, leaving me with just my thoughts for company,’ explains Angela.
(end article snippets)
I have never seen complementarians address these issues.
If a woman married a man who ends up with brain damage, dementia, or some other sort of health problem like that, she will have no choice but to take over the “male headship” role that complementarians say God bestows to husbands, or that complementarians imply that men are more gifted, talented, or whatever more, at.
If a woman ends up married to a man who is very uneducated and dim-witted, she will have to, of necessity, end up being the “man” and the “woman” in the relationship.
Had I married my ex, Burt, and had we had the complementarian- approved type marriage, where Burt was the “leader” with the “tie braker vote,” it would have ended in disaster, and probably divorce.
Burt, my ex, was not only stupid but also irresponsible, and I would have ended up being nude, hungry, cold, and living in a cardboard box under a bridge somewhere.
In order to avoid being evicted from homes or apartments and going hungry, had I married Burt, I would have had to have been the responsible one in the relationship, the one who kept tabs on the finances, learned more about investing, balanced the checkbooks, and made sure all the bills were paid on time.
Burt, my ex, was too stupid and irresponsible to be able to carry out even routine “male headship” tasks.
MEN WHO DESCRIBE HOW COMPLEMENTARIAN TEACHINGS MAKE THEM FEEL
In my long hours skimming articles and Tweets on the internet, I have come across comments by men who are physically handicapped, or who have other physical health problems, that render them incapable of holding down a full time job outside of the house, or bodily defending their wives, should an intruder break into their home.
Such men have said that when they hear or read sermons or articles by complementarian men saying that part of being a “male head” is protecting one’s wife, being a manly-man who can fight off intruders, or holding down a full time job and paying all the bills, they feel marginalized, hurt, and/or offended by such teachings.
These men say that, by complementarian standards, they are not “real” men.
OBVIOUSLY SOMETHING VERY WRONG WITH COMPLEMENTARIANISM
There is obviously something very, very wrong with complementarianism in that it does not apply fully across the board to all persons in all situations and life stages.
One does not need to even consult the Bible and argue with complementarians over the koine Greek of some word or another in the New Testament, or dissect and analyze 2,000 year old verses to understand their meaning, to see that complementarianism is riddled with illogical, inconsistent, unfair, or sexist teachings, practices, and assumptions, some of which even conflict with other biblical principles and teachings (such as Matthew 20: 25, 26).
Which in turn makes one realize that complementarians have misapplied the Scriptures: they take a small number of Bible verses and assume that they are timeless directives for all Christians at all times in all societies, when in fact, many of the Bible verses complementarians like to uphold to defend their positions were not intended to be timeless commands but were particular for their own era and culture for which they were written.
If complementarians would acknowledge this, a lot of these inconsistencies would vanish, every one would be at a level playing field, and people – such as wives caring for husbands with brain damage, or paralyzed, married men who live in wheelchairs, or single adults, or domestic violence victims – would not feel and be marginalized or overlooked.