Former child star Kirk Cameron has never been shy discussing his religious beliefs and how people should behave in a marriage. In a recent interview with the Christian Post, Cameron urged women to “submit” to their husbands and follow their leadership.
“Wives are to honor and respect and follow their husband’s lead, not to tell their husband how he ought to be a better husband,” Cameron said. “When each person gets their part right, regardless of how their spouse is treating them, there is hope for real change in their marriage.”
I would argue that real change in a marriage is impossible without open and honest communication, but I’ll get to that later.
Cameron’s statement exposes a commonly held belief among Evangelists, and it’s certainly not the first time I’ve heard of a devout believer advocating for outdated gender roles within a marriage.
It is frustrating that religion in general includes components that treat women as a support system for a man rather than a leader or equal player in the relationship. A one-size-fits-all strategy in making a marriage work doesn’t sound like great advice for someone like me who understands that personalities vary, and that a marital partnership should be about equality as opposed to defined dominant vs. submissive roles.
Also, what happens to women who identify as leaders and want to play a pivotal role in decision making within a relationship? The ever-evolving economic opportunities that women can finally take advantage of has allowed those who identify as leaders to be just that, and it’s fantastic.
I consider myself a leader, and the thought of being submissive to my soon-to-be-husband doesn’t appeal to me at all unless we’re having fun with role-playing or something. That doesn’t mean I want him to be submissive, or that I want to be some authoritarian dictator in our relationship. But I do want us to be equals who can keep it real with one another.
I will honor and respect my husband, but I’ll also call him out when he’s being doofus. I hope he does the same with me. The idea of “not telling him how to be a better husband” is irresponsible advice. Communication is key, and there should be as much openness as possible.
More importantly, look at the dynamic in your relationship and do what’s right for you. Cameron’s advice has the faulty underlying idea that women are submissive by nature while men are the dominant ones. Unlike religion, leadership, dominance and submissiveness don’t have a gender preference.