I don’t want to ‘Lead-Her’

By Jonathan Smith

At times, walking into a ‘religious’ book store feels like a trip into a new-age fantasy store (or the dark ages), or, dare I say, the USA. And when it comes to books on marriage, there are typically two types (both predominantly written by men); those that speak about the need for a women to be the lesser, unequal, weaker, submissive partner in the relationship, and those whose advice is completely misogynistic. I recently came across a new book by one of the more ‘radical and forward thinking’ Christian authors from the USA which failed to break this trend. The book Going All the Way: Preparing for a Marriage That Goes the Distance, by Craig Goeschal, contained a heading that literally made me want to tear the book up. He called his chapter on the husband’s role in a marriage “Lead-Her”; and yes, the premise was that as a man you are the “leader”, so go on and“Lead-Her”.

It is shocking that after all the advances we have seen,so many Christians still allow a cultural understanding and definition of what roles a man and a woman need to have in marriage and society to define themselves and their relationships (see Cobus on the Men’s movement for another example). They have managed to take a message of liberation and again allow it to be filled with one of inequality, all the while claiming it is done in God’s name to add legitimacy. The amount of abuse—physical, emotional and mental—thatoccurs just because a man by birth-right is superior is staggering.

This refutation obviously contains much discussion that goes beyond a mere blog-post; however, this is not the forum to give a detailed critique to the way that many choose to read the Bible (see this for a great rebuttal). Yet, I can say that far too many Christians allow their cultural understandings of the Bible to define what they choose to believe are God-given roles. In many ways, the 1950 ‘American Dream’image of the perfect Stepford wife has become what many see as the “biblical” way God wants married people to behave. This not only has no historical basis, it subverts the very message of Jesus, who treated women as equals and elevated them to the same positions as men.

It’s time we claimed back what marriage is. Marriage is not about power relations. Marriage is not about fulfilling roles that society has set. Marriage is about sharing your life, sharing experiences, sharing love with one person to who you are committed. Commitment, love, patience, growth are some of its cornerstones—not leadership, not submission, not domination.

I am married; and Candi and I are equal. And equality means that very thing, neither of us is above the other because of certain ‘roles’ or inherited rights. We are not living out an Animal Farm scenario where husbands and wives are equal, but husbands are more equal than wives. Our own strengths and weakness in our personal relationship lead us to work, grow and challenge each other. How sad that so many couples, who perhaps have a female who is a leader and a male who prefers to follow, end up living ina  relationshipin which neither of them are being true to who God created them to be.

Let’s stop the rubbish: I don’t want to lead Candi; she doesn’t want to be led. We were created for equality.

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6 thoughts on “I don’t want to ‘Lead-Her’”

  1. I’ve heard many Christians argue that man is meant to be superior to woman because he was created first. Notably, none of those Christians would argue that animals or the Earth are superior to man, having been created before him.

    It’s a very selective reading of the bible. Firstly, there are two creation stories with some key differences. In the first creation story, male and female are created at the same time.

    The second tends to get misread thanks to a translation quirk. ‘Adam’ is not a name; it’s the hebrew word ‘adaam’ which means earth creature. There’s no ‘he’ until ‘she’ comes along in the form of Eve, so it sounds more like one genderless creature was split into two gendered ones.

    I’ve heard other interpretations as well. As the last being to be created, Eve is pinnacle of creation. Once she exists creation is complete. Alternatively it’s also been said that Eve wasn’t created from Adam’s head so that she should rule over him, nor was she created from his foot so that she should be subordinate to him. She was created from his side, to be a companion to him.

    But regardless of how you view the creation stories, there’s still a lot of misogyny in the bible, and that’s just one of many forms of prejudice in the text. I wish we could move beyond religious texts as guides for how to treat each other. We need a humanist guide to ethics, not a system based on punishment and reward from a petty, jealous deity and texts that can be manipulated to empower some while abusing others.


    1. This was a good article and I agree with Lauren. I thought I was the only christian feminist but this has proved to me that there are others out there trying to find a balance with their christianity and feminism. Thank you for the article.


  2. Leading her doesn’t necessarily mean you enforce yourself on another person. In essence women are the weaker vessel, a typical sexiest example”they can bench-press more than man”. When many Christian leaders talk about leading a lady, they mean provide leadership to your wife, be an encouragement to her, Love her as Christ loves the church(that means dying for her) and yes we know in the new testament Paul did right some absurd stuff about women but y’all should understand the setting and type of people Paul was refering to at his times.. Christianity has come a long and to presume that all Christian men are bullies(not in your actual words) is just plain bull(bull brand per say..hehe). Its true marriage is about being equal and doing things together with each others consent.. and lastly God created Man and formed a Women out of a Man, If you aren’t providing for your lady and not taking responsibility(spiritually that is) then you as a man need to be questioned.. That’s why we have such moral decay in our society cause Men neglected they role of being Fathers and Leaders in their respective places..


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