Torn Curtains

This is a guest post from my friend Charissa Garver.

I have two main concerns with using terms like “soft comp” or saying about couples, “They say they are comp but they are probably egal.” My concerns are: Consent and Christian testimony for Jesus.

I cannot think of a single woman I know personally that was raised in a soft or hard complementarian environment (REALLY hate those terms) that was aware that she had an actual choice that wasn’t choosing sin.

For example, if she *DOES* choose a different path than what her authorities had given her, or if she doesn’t choose the path of submission to either her husband or authorities when told to – she is deciding to “disobey out of a rebellious spirit,” so she is choosing sin.

Therefore, women in any type of complementarianism don’t know that they can have a real choice about how to live their lives. They don’t know that that they have RIGHTS to those choices – there isn’t actual consent.

Their choices are all based in fear.

And this is HUGE to me.

Before my deconstruction was fully solidified and realized, I was talking to my mom, and I said, “All or most of yours and dad’s decisions on parenting were based in fear. Every story I’ve ever heard you tell about dad’s decisions for the kids, for the family, always started out with fears.”

And she reacted very negatively, which made me realize I had hit a nerve.

So I dropped it.

And then I realized later how much fear DOES dictate so many decisions in life, and a reaction to protect ourselves and our children, or loved ones, comes from those fears.

When reading a book written by Christians about Bill Gothard and his movement, MOST of their conclusions were that parents were reacting to fear and running to a solution.

So in lots of situations I do not feel like people were looking for the power play Gothard turned out to be – but they were reacting to fear and looking for a sure answer to those fears. They believe that they are protecting their children, but they get more than they bargained for.

Some leaders tap into that power and become abusive. The abuse ranges vastly… but it is still abuse.  And it harms everyone on some subconscious level, and in some cases it harms in horrific measures.

Because… consent.

If there isn’t an option to give consent, than there is no consent. If a person’s choice is forced, if she is not being given an actual chance to give or withhold consent, she is being abused.

This deeply affects our testimony of Jesus.

When Jesus died he took away the power of the curse upon our lives – he came to set us free – and the temple curtains were torn!!!!!!! They tore!!!!

Jesus’ death tore the curtain separating men and women, making us ALL equal!!! He did this literally and figuratively!!!

If we do not live our freedom (our autonomy, our right to give or withhold consent) and equality in our marriages and in our parenting, and in our broader relationships to all those around us – what testimony are we setting?

We are allowing the torn curtain to be forgotten!

And instead of the ancient curtain we are building walls!!!

Complementarianism takes away the memory of the torn temple curtain and replaces it with a wall of legalism.

It poisons and crushes our testimony of freedom in Christ.

It crushes our testimony of His love for ALL.

So consent. And testimony.

That’s why I am an egalitarian feminist.

Because I want everyone to have the rights to consent, like Jesus did (like my friend Nikki said in her post).

And I want Christians’ testimony to be so off the charts in our love for equality and our love for humans that everyone can see how much it meant for that curtain to be torn. We are ALL standing in front of the Holy of Holies now! No more curtain – no more veil – no more separation – just ALL of us with Jesus – and we are ALL in the presence of our Maker, and we should be standing there in his presence hand in hand, all on our knees, all in awe of him.

THIS should be our focus, rather than worrying about who makes the decisions in the house? Who has the last word? Who the hell cares?!?!!! We are standing in the presence of our Maker!! Every knee shall bow! Every tongue confess, every single one!

And no one is above me in that moment. It’s just me and God. It has nothing to do with my father, mother, husband, brother, sister, pastor etc…

In that moment – in every moment – it’s just me and God.

Praise God. Praise God.

Published by Nikki Holland

I am a Quaker wife, mother, pastor, and writer. I work as the country branch director of a fabulous NGO in Belize City and I recently graduated with an MDiv from Earlham School of Religion. I love my family, and I love my community.

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