How I Became an Egalitarian: Falling in Love

This is Part 8 in a series that started here.

By this time, I had gone overseas twice for short term missions – the first time, to a large city and the second time, to a rural area in Asia.

As an avid writer, of course, I was actively engaged in blogging about my experiences overseas, my journey with God, lessons he was teaching me, and everything in between.  Every now and then, I received emails from readers who were encouraged by my entries.

And so it was at this time that I received an email from someone who was serving in a similar rural area of Asia as I had served.  His name was Sam and he wrote because he wanted to inquire what city I had gone to and to tell me that he had been blessed by what I had written.  I wrote him back, and from there, we began an email correspondence.

From the start, I knew in my heart that there was something different about Sam.  The more we wrote each other, the more we found that we had more to write.  And God began to show me that this was a significant new friendship that he was giving me — through the uncanny coincidences that we had, through the similar ways that he had shaped our hearts for loving the lost, and then through specific ways that he answered my prayers for Sam’s ministry.

Eventually, we had our first phone conversation.  Though I had not met him yet, by then, I already knew that I was falling in love with him.  Of course, I didn’t dare say it out loud to myself — much less to him.  In that first conversation, we talked about the fact that we had a mutual desire to be more intentional about our friendship as well as many other important topics.

Among the issues that we discussed that day, the topic of women in ministry came up.  I asked him what he thought about women teaching the Bible or being pastors.  He told me that, on the missionary field, he had seen first-hand women teaching and leading and been blessed by it.  He did not think it was unbiblical for women to teach.  He was not sure about women as pastors though.  But he would be supportive of me in my gifts.  Walking away from this conversation, I felt hopeful that we were on the same page about one of the most important issues of my life.

A few months later, as Sam was coming home from his overseas term, we met face-to-face for the first time.  It had become more and more obvious that God was drawing our hearts together, so we decided then that we would pursue a relationship with one another.

And what did dating look like for us?

The only Christian model for dating that we had was a Complementarian pattern set forth by spiritual mentors in our lives as well as authors like Elisabeth Elliot and Joshua Harris.  We both subscribed to the idea that the man was supposed to pursue and lead and the woman was supposed to respond and follow.  We didn’t really question this way of dating, we just tried to fall in line with it, because we believed that it was the Christian way to have a relationship.

It didn’t take us long to experience frustration with this model.   I was often prompting Sam with questions like, “What should we do?  What are we moving towards?  How can we have a spiritual component in our relationship?” while feeling guilty that I was usurping his role.  I felt like I was constantly at odds with how I thought things ought to be and how things really were for us.  Why was it so easy for me to think about the big picture?  Why was it natural for me to lead us spiritually?  Was it okay for me to even prompt him?  Did I need to “hold back” so that I could give him the opportunity to lead us?  Concluding that I needed to try to follow what I thought was the Christian model of letting the man lead, I held back.  For long periods of our relationship, I remained silent and just prayed for him to think of things that I was already thinking about.  It was not easy — but I gave it my full effort — after all, this was the godly way of doing things, wasn’t it?

As time passed, we continued to try to fit this mold.  And despite the underlying sense that something was amiss in terms of the way we were doing things, we were in love and confident that God had led us together.  About six months after we started dating, Sam proposed, and six months after that, we were married!

[If you are interested in the full story of how God led us together, go here.]

Click here for the next part in the series.

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