Christ does not need us. He doesn’t need us to be happy. He doesn’t need us to be fulfilled…
In the same manner, when a fulfilled, self-sufficient woman marries a man, she doesn’t need her man.
–Pastor Wade Burleson
Feminism tells us women are to be strong and independent, and that it is a sin for a woman to need a man. After all:
A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.
The answer of course is to craft a biblical sounding argument that submitting to husbands is sin and women need to be strong and independent. Egalitarian Pastor Wade Burleson shows how this is done in The Beauty of Loving Your Husband without Needing Him:
Any religion on this earth that refuses to assist women to find their basic needs met in Jesus Christ, any religion that refrains from pointing women to the King of Kings and encourages them to revel in the riches of being “wed to Christ,” and any religion that somehow makes a woman think she needs her husband (spiritually, emotionally, or materially) is a religion that is not based on the infallible Scriptures or the truth of God’s Kingdom. On the other hand, those Christian women who have been set free from the bondage of believing that they need their husbands to meet their basic needs, and then simply love their husbands from the overflow of experientially resting in the love and provisions of Christ, will find a slice of heaven in their homes.
If a wife is contentious, we are told this is not a sign that she is overcome by a rebellious spirit, but that she is submitting too much to, and therefore expecting too much from, her husband:
Angry quarrels, scornful fights, and other efforts to control and manipulate your spouse arise from a desire to have your basic needs met by your mate rather than by your God. God never designed your husband to take His place in your life. Christ alone is your Source of real and lasting love, personal and abiding significance, and unqualified daily security.
A wife who leans on her husband is not being faithful to God:
A woman is to get her significance, security, and love from her union with Jesus Christ, and never a union with any man.
Each of these statements can technically be true. Wives are not to use their husbands as a substitute for God. However, in our feminist age the highest virtue is to not submit, and moreover the spirit of this common feminist argument is not a spirit of submitting to husbands as an act of obedience to God. It is a snare designed to make feminist rebellion seem holy, and biblical submission seem sinful. The insinuation is that sinful wives make their husband or their marriage an idol, and therefore submit to their husbands; godly wives don’t submit, and instead draw boundaries:
To say that a husband’s infidelity does not hurt a wife would be false. To say the wife does not need her husband to be faithful would be true. To say that a husband’s emotional and physical abuse does not hurt a wife would be false. To say that a wife does not need her husband to be kind, loving and gracious would be true. A married woman does not need to be married. She wants to remain married, but she doesn’t need to remain married.
Therefore, if your husband is unfaithful or abusive, confront your husband in love and draw a boundary. Tell your husband that you cannot control his actions, nor is it your desire to control him. Let him know that if he desires another woman, or if he feels the need to abuse you, then you will let him go. You can and will end the marriage because you do not need him.
In many marriages, wives will unintentionally enable their husbands to continue in their addictions or sin because they unintentionally substitute their husbands for Christ. When a wife cannot picture a future without her husband, she has made the picture (marriage) her idol, and lost perspective on the reality that her marriage is intended to represent (her union with Christ).
Pastor Burleson is overt in his egalitarianism, and is very open about his hostility to headship. However, you will see all of the same arguments used with more guile by those who wish to conceal their feminism. Back in January the Baptist Press interviewed Naghmeh Abedini, where she explained that she had to learn not to revere Saeed:
“For most of my marriage, I’d idolized Saeed, and through my fast I was made aware of that and the importance of putting God first, which seems to be Christianity 101 in action,” she said. “This last fast really had me focused on the Lord. It took his imprisonment for me to break that idol and focus on the Lord fully and to see issues that are so hidden.”
The Lord has taught her to forgive and love her husband, she said, while still establishing boundaries in the relationship.
“It was difficult because Saeed was the first person I ever dated, the love of my life, and he still is,” she told BP. “But [I’ve learned] that can’t override my relationship with God and my obedience to God. Obedience to my husband is very important, but when it’s biblical and when it’s healthy…. I’m sure many, many Christians know that, but for me, it was a new lesson to learn.”
Note that like Pastor Burleson she ties this in with the Christian feminist virtue of a wife setting boundaries for her husband, something Naghmeh followed through on with the help of the family court. Naghmeh claims this is about trusting God, suggesting that her choice was to be obedient to and love God or to revere her husband. This is a false dilemma, as the Bible instructs wives to fear/revere their husband as an act of obedience and love to God.
If you look closely at the stories women write about supposedly making their husband an idol, it turns out what they really had done is make themselves an idol. They had elevated their own emotions over both God and their husbands. To the extent that they overcome this it is of course a very good thing, but if in the process they tell themselves or (even worse) other women that the key to happiness is to no longer revere their husbands, they are replacing one sin with another. The solution for an out of control wife is to stop pedestaling herself and her own desires, not to stop revering her husband.