Rachel Shubin lives on nine acres in rain central (also knows as Portland, OR) with her best friend and husband (married in 1996!), their six delightfully weird kids, and a rotating menagerie of different numbers and species of animals. She spends way too much time on her computer, loves research, and gets generally cranky when people use the rationale “because she’s a woman/wife” to excuse requiring all sorts of crazy things of one half of the population. She has been published in Christian Ethics Today and Travel Post Monthly.
When she’s not researching or writing posts that have way too many words in them or doing her work as Business Manager for her and George’s photography company or managing their big household or caring for her family, she can be found playing Dutch Blitz with her kids, watching movies with her family, hanging out with her husband or friends, daydreaming about travel, working on her upcoming YA sci-fi novel, or sitting in the hot tub (probably in a bikini; the horror!!) reading a book while smoking her pipe and drinking a pineapple mojito.
How I Got to Where I Am
I grew up in a Christian home and have been a Christian since I was four years old (that was in 1979 if you’re counting). My husband and I have been married since 1996, and we have six kids. We’ve had ups and downs (mostly economic in nature), but he’s my best friend and we are happy together, and the kids are all doing well.
Most of the last half of my Christian life was spent in a church that espoused pretty firm gender roles and authority structures, and I didn’t really think too much about it. A few years ago though, I started coming across things that just didn’t work. Women I knew were enduring dreadful things in their marriages and being told that they couldn’t leave and instead that they needed to submit more.
This is not an anomaly unique to one denomination or church. When I started looking for resources to help, I found that the same types of problems and same callous responses were happening everywhere, and the same sets of verses were being used to keep women in place and in harm’s way.
I was horrified! And since I’d heard those same verses used in that same way myself for years, I started to study and think about them. The behavior I saw attributed to those passages was in no way the type of behavior I saw from Christ or even from huge amounts of other writings from Paul, but that was routinely ignored or superseded by these standard interpretations. It didn’t fit.
And so, research. Lots and lots of it. I came to where I am now not because of secular feminism. I came to where I am now from reading the Scripture. From not seeing what isn’t there anymore. Romans and other books have multiple of examples that outline our relationship to the government and our relationships within the church; however, when I went through the passages on marriage and women, they slowly stopped looking like they fit in that category as clearly as they had before. It’s true that submission to authority is all over the Bible. What is also true is love and submission going in all directions among the members of the body of Christ, and slowly the marital relationship started looking more like that and less like the authority relationships. Things like this started to stick out to me more and more: Holy Women Who Hoped In God – I Peter 3:5 and Eve as a strong ally and major problems with the view I had been under (this post is a response to post by the very prolific head of our old denomination and is a pretty good representation of those views). After literally decades of being a Christian, I had a crisis of faith.
What I came to was a realization that the Bible doesn’t encourage either abuse or subjugation of women or wives. Either the understanding of Scripture I had been taught was wrong, or Scripture itself was wrong. As my understand of Scripture slowly changed, my appreciation for it grew.
Many people say they see the influence of secular feminism that tries to say no one has to defer to anyone on anything when they read my posts, but that is not the starting point I’m coming from nor is it what any of the Christian Egalitarian women I have ever read espouse. I came to my views not from reading secular feminist authors, but from reading and studying the Bible iteslf (although it’s true that there is some overlapping interest there, particularly in abuse-related areas and women being encouraged on their own merits as opposed to based on their genitalia). My favorite label describing what I think is Non-Hierarchical Complementarianism. I don’t usually use it because it’s ridiculously long and cumbersome, but it retains the flavor of people fitting together and marital cooperation without insisting upon authority structures based strictly on gender lines.
Please let me know if you would like me to come speak to your local women’s retreat or women’s group about any of these issues. I’m available for engagements!