Feminism as an ideological school of thought frowns on gender inequalities and advocates for its egalitarian nature as a principle. Just recently, an avowed Minister and teacher of the gospel, Pastor Enoch Adejare Adeboye raised eulogies and encomiums on his wife of many years for still cooking his meals, cutting his nails and being a virtuous woman in humility and respect. The revered man of God was however lashed and criticised by feminists for the statements, with deep sense that there are better things for the woman at home and probably, daddy G.O should have been doing those things himself as activities in the kitchen are not exclusive preserve of the women folk, thereby advocating for equality in sharing the roles at home. To the feminists, mummy G.O has been subjected to slavery or servitude in the home. In this article, I want examine the headship in the family and society within the ambit of the bible and the place of a woman.
Prominent religious doctrines in Nigeria and in many parts of the world advocate for the headship of the man in any facet of our lives both at home, church, mosque, and society generally, as enshrined in the holy books. The following biblical verses emphasise the headship of the home and the society:
1. Ephesians 5:23 - for the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body and is himself its saviour.
2. 1 Timothy 2:11-15 - Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man, rather she is to remain quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Even ....
3. Ephesians 5:22 - Wives submit to your own husbands as the Lords.
4. 1 Corinthians 11:3 - But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ , the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.
With the above biblical authorities, is it possible for the wife of a pastor or a deeply rooted christian devotee to be a feminist or a gender equality campaigner and adherent bearing in mind God's direct injunction in these verses? Won't it run contrary? What exactly is God's primary aim in these verses? Does He (God) want to put the women folk in purdah or in seclusion? Does God want to make our female folks irrelevant within the homes and societies? My answer is CAPITAL NO! However, the mind of the Lord has been misinterpreted and misapplied by many religious organizations, socialites, political and social organizations, and interest groups especially feminists.
I read on the internet about a year and half ago how a certain Eastern country of the world, just allowed their women the right to own and drive a car despite many years of its existence and independence. In this country, women fundamental human right has been trapped upon. This is wrong and condemnable. However, the Fundamental Human right of a woman is quite different from her role within the family as culturally, socially and religiously known. This day, many of such roles are now been wished away on the alter of gender equality and feminist reasonings. And in my experience, this has badly affected the institution of marriage as many homes have collapsed as women are seriously challenging their position and roles within the family as debased and exclusive. Questioning the rationale, they are pushing for the balance and fair share of the authority in the homes.
As there cannot be two captains in a ship, there cannot be two people of coordinate powers in a home or society, hence the headship of a man in the home. The headship at the homestead, translates to the community headship. The leadership of a woman according to the mind of God is the Submission, direction and Approval from the husband. When this is fulfilled, then the woman can take leadership to any length. The biblical references above do not imply overbearing authority over the wife or women in the society. However, the woman will goof if she unilateral takes up the leadership stand without consulting the husband. The woman can be a prophet and pastor just like Deborah, the wife of Lappidot in the bible. But Deborah consulted her husband well before taking the step and many other steps for counsel and approval. I have an example of a Professor (Mrs) Afolayan of the Department of Geography, University of Ibadan who claims her husband is the first editor of all her publications. But in many cases today, the reverse is the matter.
The bible says: Submitting to one another in the fear of God. Ephesians 5:21.
This verse emphasise the headship of a man but a need to see the wife as an authority to be submitted to as well. Therefore Submission to each other and leadership at home is not one-sided.
How does a man submit to the wife?
1. As a man, you need to tell the man where you are going and where you are at all time.
2. She deserved to know all projects you are doing
3. No secret is kept from her
4. Management of the home is in her hand including the man's resources etc
We have been having women heading and leading organizations very well and even excellently in our present societies. We have had Mrs, Sirleaf Johnson being the president of Liberia in post-civil war times, Angele Markel as Germany Prime Minister, Our own Okonjo Iweala leading world Monetary Organizations, Obi Ezekwesili, Madam Yusuf leading BBOG, women leading many different military and medical operations and getting amiable results. Don't let me forget Margret Thatcher of Great Britain, The Queen herself, our own Grace Allele Williams who headed a University as a Vice Chancellor, Mrs Alloy Muktar, the first female Chief Judge of Nigeria and many others heading different High courts in Nigeria and overseas. Just recently, the first female combatant commissioned helicopter Pilot died, she is indeed one of the many faces of leading women in the world despite her age and at the time of her death.
The relevance of a woman in the society is sine qua non, I mean in the public place and at home. However, that public show of power and authority is derived from the strength and power of headship given to the man as the husband at home. This implies that the woman can take even bigger responsibilities in the society than the husband but must seek the man's counsel, opinion, direction and approval. Without these, every actions of the woman however highly placed, celebrated and recognized, it is against the mind of God and ordinance. What gives credense to a woman's actions in the society is the husband's acceptance and approval, even as a prophet or pastor. You remember Eve in the garden of Eden? If Eve had waited for the counsel, direction and Approval of Adam being the head, they wouldn't have been sent out of the garden. Anyway, the nature of our women as precocious, impetuous, feeble and fickle minded often dictate and affect many of their actions and decisions.
FATOKI Victor B.A (Hons), M.A Ife
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