It was recently explained to me that when two people get married the woman should obey the man and the man should always do what is best for the woman and that the woman should not have any trouble or doubts about obeying the man because the man would not do anything that wasn’t in the woman’s best interest. I should stop here and out myself. I was an atheist for 24 years before i became a devoted Christian. Men have been feeding me the word “obey” for a long time but never in the name of God and my response was never willing. I think that the people i’ve been talking to recently are very far from where my actual beliefs lie, so it does not surprise me that i find their views a bit extreme or that we dont agree on some matters. However, someone very close to me, someone i consider family, recently said to me, “But you understand though that when two people do get married God does intend for the woman to obey the man.” I thought about that for a second. It was in all the religious rhetoric…it was in marriage vows…i knew that this notion existed. It just left a very bitter taste in my mouth and i couldn’t yet put my finger on why. The man who had wished me to “obey” recently had a number of ideas about how i was to live my life and what i should look like. The notion was that i should do everything he asked because God himself was telling the man that this was what was best for me through the pages of the bible. As i sat and tried to bridge the gap between something i saw as radical and not for me and my friend/family member’s statement, i realized that the reason i could not swallow the word “obey” was simple. The whole system was designed to be absolute with the addition of that word “obey”. It cemented everything into place and in doing so constructed a rather effective prison around the woman. The only man i know of that is infallible is Jesus. The only entity that knows all there is to know and is never wrong is God himself. So with that said, humans are interpreting the bible. They dont inherently understand everything it has to offer. People spend their lifetimes studying the bible and on their dying day they are still learning. So, i have a problem with the word “obey” because there is no system in which the wife is allowed to challenge the husband’s interpretation of God’s messages. Someone recently told me i can’t wear makeup or cut my hair and i’m supposed to believe that was a direct message to him from God about God’s will for my life. Plenty of men have either accidentally or knowingly misinterpreted the words printed in the bible. In consenting to marriage and taking vows i would also be changing my own relationship with God. I too pray. Men are not the only ones seeking communication with and guidance from God. God may say to me that i have more important things to do in life than worry about makeup one way or another and that makeup is not even almost on the docket of things Jesus is worried about governing in my life. Jesus may say to me as an answer to my prayer for guidance that he is more interested in my actions and how i am living his word by extending grace to others. However, if i am married, then my husband’s interpretation of his spiritual message from God trumps mine, as he is the head and i am the hair. The hierarchy goes: God, husband, wife. So, if i would like to speak with God, i can do so through my husband and he will tell me what God says for the both of us. A younger me would be tempted to reject this system entirely for i see no way in which it benefits me. I can cut down my own trees, fix my own plumbing, tar my own roof. I don’t need a man to do the chores around my property or change my car tire so perhaps i look at the addition of a middle man between me and my savior without rose colored glasses. I don’t see the reason i should welcome an absence of a direct line of communication between myself and that which i pray to. I am also quite infertile, so the notion that i need a husband for procreation purposes is lost on me as well. There is one and only one reason that i would seek companionship, and that is to have someone else to share the joys and sorrows of life with. To have someone next to me that i could point to a tree frog, a sunset, or a deer and say “look at that”. To have someone else who i could also watch enjoy the agarita berries or the mulberries in spring. This small plus, however, is not worth losing my direct line of communication with God, and so now for the first time understanding that’s what a christian marriage entails… i am willing to submit to God. I am not willing to submit to man. I am not meant to be a help mate and marriage is not for me. I enjoy my minister’s sermons. I enjoy my devotionals. I enjoy my bible study podcasts and supplemental religious books and youtube sermons. I consume content whenever the opportunity arises and there is nothing in my life that i value more than the act of sifting through that content and writing in my journal the bits and pieces of clarity that are born from that. I pray to God daily and i see God in everything around me. I have not rejected God. I simply don’t want to give up my current method of communication with God, my current method of deciphering what he intends me to spend my time on, and swap that for a system in which i am merely a passenger. Right now i am at the steering wheel and God is my gps system. I wish not to change this arrangement. Historically, i have always left the door open for the idea that i might meet someone kind who also believed in God’s grace and helped others when it didnt hurt him to do so, who had an appreciation for the wilderness and would like to live in the country. Someone with a sense of humor but the ability to be serious when the situation called for it. Someone gentle. I dont think i ever had an accurate understanding of what marriage entailed. Now that i’ve dissected the words contained in traditional marriage vows and i understand what is being pledged, it does not matter if such a man comes along; now or in my nineties. I want to speak directly with God. I will not accept a middle man for that line of communication. I will leave marriage for others. As for me, i will serve God happily as a spinster for the rest of my days and my wish for others is only that they find what path feels right for them and follow it with joy and conviction.