Annie Thomas is a science teacher (and, I’m guessing, an atheist) who has recently written about her trip to an evangelical Christian “marriage-strengthening event.”
The event, hosted by Kirk Cameron (yes, the kid from the Growing Pains), promised Bible-based instruction for how couples could strengthen and protect their marriage. Apparently, what this entails is the wives submitting to their husbands, and the husbands embracing their role as the leader, or “Jesus,” of the marriage. Some words from Cameron:
If something is wrong with a company, go to the CEO. If something is wrong with a team, go to the coach. Us men have been given by God the role of leadership.
Also (to the men):
When you married, you signed up to play the role of Jesus Christ to your wife. To the point of warring against sin. To treasure her, so she will be spotless and blameless.
Cameron is correct in saying that this view is Bible-based. He cites 1 Peter 3:7.
Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
I would add that the Bible has plenty of similar things to say about the place of women in society and marriage.
There are more interesting details on the event in Thomas’ report (such as how the men received secret MANCARDS(™) which they were instructed not to show their wives.) Here I will just note that the teaching that women were created by God to be submissive to the greater authority of men is by no means a fringe view in Christianity. This teaching can be found in Catholicism and many Evangelical groups (as well as in Islam and some branches of Judaism).
More importantly, these ideas aren’t just academic, but we can see through events such as Cameron’s that this misogyny is accepted and practiced by large numbers of people. How many men and women are living worse lives because of their religion? The seriousness of the problem, at least in the United States, is brought home to me by a quote from someone running for the highest office in the land. Here is Michele Bachmann, a female leader who stands as a potential role model for young women around the country, declaring:
The Lord says: Be submissive, wives. You are to be submissive to your husbands.
Yes, this is a problem.