Mutual Marriage: Final thoughts
I’ve spent the last few months briefly outlining a biblical case for mutual marriage. The series has primarily addressed marriage from a theological rather than a practical perspective, but there is one practical topic that needs to be addressed briefly as I conclude the series. That is the topic of decision-making in a mutual marriage.
A common argument against a mutual marriage model is that every organization or relationship needs a leader. The “buck” must stop somewhere or decisions cannot be made. Many hierarchalists make this argument because they assume the alternative to hierarchy is democracy. Obviously, a democracy with only two votes is a recipe for disaster. But a mutual marriage is not a democracy, it is a theocracy. Decision-making in a mutual marriage is a matter of prayerful consensus. There is no need for a leader to have the “last word” because that belongs to God. This is the kind of decision-making we see modeled in the New Testament in places like Acts 6, Acts 13 and Acts 15*.
So what happens when a husband and wife pray, yet do not reach consensus? They keep praying until they reach consensus. The idea that a leader is needed to “break ties” betrays either a lack of patience or a lack of faith that God will bring the spouses to a consensus. I believe that God is faithful and able to bring a husband and wife to consensus on any decision if they are patiently seeking God’s direction and willing to yield to it. The key is for each spouse to submit to each other’s best interest and to God rather than seeking their own way as Paul teaches in Philippians 2.
* Acts 15 is a debatable case, to be sure. While some English translations of verse 19 imply James had the final say, there is some debate over the proper translation of the verb. In light of verse 6 and verse 22, I believe James is expressing his opinion, to which the group agreed and decided.
Mutual Marriage: A brief bibliography
A Model for Marriage by Jack and Judith Balswick
The Blue Parakeet by Scot McKnight
Just How Married Do You Want To Be? by Sarah and Jim Sumner
Partners in Marriage and Ministry by Ronald W. Pierce
Together: Reclaiming Co-Leadership in Marriage by Tim and Anne Evans
As Christ Submits to the Church by Alan Padgett
Beyond Sex Roles by Gilbert Bilezikian
Discovering Biblical Equality edited by Ronald W. Pierce and Rebecca Merrill Groothuis
Men and Women in the Church by Sarah Sumner
Not Only A Father by Tim Bulkeley
Paul, Women and Wives by Craig Keener
Slaves, Women, and Homosexuals by William Webb
Women and the Genesis of Christianity by Ben Witherington III
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