Editor’s note: At the Mighty Men Conference hosted recently near Castlegar, the keynote speaker encouraged participants to espouse the late-ancient household code that includes wives “submitting” to husbands. Because the speaker had elsewhere voiced strong anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments, a group protested the conference.
Thousands of years ago, when the books of the Bible were written, women were not legal persons. Women were the property of their fathers, brothers, or husbands. The writers of the Bible knew nothing else. They would have had trouble imagining a world where all people have struggled for equal rights regardless of gender (or race or class or sexual orientation or citizenship, for that matter). We now know better.
We now know that all people deserve equal rights.
Some men are uncomfortable with the trends in recent decades (or centuries, even) wherein women have gained power. Some men experience the empowerment of women as the disempowerment of men. This is because some men’s power was actually a power over other people. Some men feel threatened by the idea that sharing power actually allows more people to find meaning and fulfilment in life. Some men feel threatened by the idea that sharing power allows us, as a society, or civilization, or species, to overcome immense adversity and to solve problems were were once thought insoluble.
When men exercise power with women (or trans people or children), wonderful things can happen. Specifically, people are free of the bonds that held them back from loving, or from being the most compassionate version of themselves.
When a household exercises power with one another (rather than power over one another), these households becomeplaces of love and kindness, where men, women, children, and all feel empowered to solve the challenges that come their way. A lost job? We’ve got this, together! A sickness or death in the family? We can handle this, together! Worry and anxiety about the future? We’ll work through this, together. That’s what a household exercising power with one another allows.
Seeing power as a zero sum game – ie. when people struggle to gain power over another – is a scarcity mindset that holds us all back. A scarcity mindset forces us to live in fear that someone (even an imaginary someone) is always after something we have. Fear, envy, jealousy – these are the offspring of a scarcity mindset.
Seeing power as something to be harnessed and shared with another is an abundance mindset that frees us to be fully loved and to love fully. An abundance mindset frees us from fear. An abundance mindset allows us to care collectively for our resources. An abundance mindset invites diversity as a source of creativity and innovation so that we can solve the challenges before us.
The Bible makes many claims about God and Jesus. One thing that is consistent throughout the New Testament is that Jesus encouraged us to embody an abundance mindset. There is enough love in the world (previously they thought love was limited). There is enough food in the world (previously they shared with only their tribe). There is enough security in the world (previously they knew only to hate their enemies). Jesus invited those deemed unworthy in his specific context – women, tax collectors, the diseased – to break bread with him, showing there is enough for all. There is even enough power for us all to share, regardless of a millennia-old household code written by someone without a family of his own.
Anyone who teaches fear or power over (such as inviting women to submit to husbands or parents to physically abuse children for alleged pedagogical purposes) is teaching a scarcity mindset that completely opposes the teachings of Jesus. They justify these things with pull-quotes written by people like Paul and Paul’s followers – people who are not Jesus. They quote words from two thousand or more years ago, before we knew that women are full persons, fully endowed with every human right.
We have the capacity for much more than the desire for power over, which a scarcity mindset creates. Men need not fear – there is enough power and love for all. In fact, even men are better off when power in the household or in society is shared and seen as power with one another to overcome whatever challenge comes our way. Fear teaches a zero-sum game. Abundance teaches there is enough for all.
Let us be brave and embrace an abundance mindset because there is more than enough power and love for all. The truly mighty man is the one who embraces compassion, wisdom, and abundance as the cornerstones of the loving household.