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Think partnership


Published: May 09, 2013

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I wish I had a magic wand that I could use to transfer egotistical, traditional patriarchal thinking where who is in charge rules, to let’s lead together. We need to think more about partnership and companionships than headship. We need to talk more about co-leadership in marriage and family rather than emphasizing male headship.

It is my view that co-leadership is a creation design and a post-Calvary mandate. This means that God designed both male and female (Genesis 1) to have equal voice, vote and power. He gave them both dominion over the earth and not over each other. After sin, equality of the genders became flawed. According to Genesis 3 the struggle for power and leadership over others replaced leadership with others. This was the result of sin. However, when Jesus came and died on Calvary, he removed this sinful mandate and reminded us that in Christ we are all one at the Cross. Thus in this post-Calvary and post-modern world gender equality is a spiritual and social mandate.

No one needs to get anxious when we talk about gender equality. It is not about sexual orientation. It is all about equal treatment in all ways of males and females. It is about equal voice, vote, power, pay, respect and honor. Let’s think partnership and not headship. This can change our world.

Partnership is a difficult concept for men to grasp. Why, because it is a male-dominated world. It is my view, as stated earlier, that this was not God’s intent. Why is it so difficult for men to accept that women are their equals and simply that. Religion has played a negative role in creating or sustaining such a concept. This is the painful truth, and not just the Christian faith. One author said that religion is harmful if its tenets and application create the conditions for and perpetuate gender-based discrimination.

Practically all religions in the world are dominated by males, and gender discrimination has its genesis in these religions. How did men and women come to believe, accept and institutionalize gender discrimination? I have answered this question countless times in this column. Here is one answer I have given — Plato, in his Republic, helps give an answer. In this book, Socrates recounts the magnificent myth, a tale that would help the people accept whatever their social status happens to be. The myth went like this: When God created people, He created some with gold in them, some with silver, and some with bronze. Those with gold were to be the guardians, the highest political and social level in the nation. Those with silver would be the auxiliaries, the next level. Finally, those with bronze would be the lowest class. If the people believed this myth, he said, they would be content with whatever their station was in life because it was ordained by God. When asked, "Do you know of any way of making them believe it?" Socrates' response was one of the most frightening, and insightful, in all ancient literature. "Not in the first generation," he said. "But you might succeed in the second and later generations." In other words, give any lie or myth enough time, and eventually people will believe it.

This male dominance syndrome is the root cause for violence against women and children. In order to stop violence against women we need to change the minds of the men. If you are a male reading this article, let the change begin with you. Think of your mothers, sisters, aunts, female friends, as partners and not competitors. Think of them not as junior partners in leadership but senior partners with men in making decisions, leading, and controlling.

Men, we are too preoccupied with being in charge. That has proven to be destructive of the many centuries. Think partnership.

• Barrington H. Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions and comments to barringtonbrennen@gmail.com or visit www.soencouragement.org or call 327-1980.

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