Do Male-dominated Views of Marriage Still Exist in the Church?

By CCD contributor: Li Daonan, October 19, 2018 10:10 AM

A ring sits on a Bible.

Auntie Li worships in the same church as me. Actually, we were baptized together. Auntie Li, a devout Christian, always goes to the church early to help arrange for every Sunday service. She is enthusiastic about everything in the church.

Auntie Li always says that while a Christian man could marry a woman without considering her belief, for he is the one leading the family, and would not be misled by his wife, a Christian woman must marry a Christian man ...

Well, as convinced as she is.

Li came to the church a few years ago when she was at the bottom of her life after she had got divorced. In the church, many people prayed tearing for her, a stranger, and she was so touched that she burst into tears. One day, she decided to convert to Christianity. After joining a catechism class, she was baptized on Christmas.

Her daughter lives with her at an apartment she had got after divorce. Her daughter went to the church with her and joined in the youth meetings. The daughter then got a job after graduation from a college and was not quite into Christianity; but, she still went to the church with her mother to spare Auntie Li's hard feelings.

Worsening of relations between Auntie Li and her daughter came in a sudden.

One day, in the church, Auntie Li and her daughter prayed on their knees on the floor. Auntie Li prayed that God would make her daughter's conversion to Christianity happen, her future boyfriend to be a Christian, and, more importantly, change her notions about marriage.

Her daughter, after hearing what Auntie Li prayed to God, rushed away immediately without considering her mother's feelings. Then, it was discovered that the daughter had a boyfriend who was her classmate in college. He looked general and worked hard. They loved each other.

However, Auntie Li could not accept his rural origin and humble family financial situation. Auntie Li was worried that this only child could not afford housing in the city and had to take care of his old parents in the village. What was more important to Auntie Li was that he was not Christian and he, thus, could not resist temptation and, because of it, her daughter's marriage would end up as a tragedy. Auntie Li hoped that her daughter would marry a devout Christian with a good family background and good financial situation.

A sister, over 50, who leads the church, is unmarried. She didn't find such a good man as Auntie Li mentioned before her blossom age slipped away. Then she came across Christianity. She thought that she was the chosen one to serve God as a virgin. This preacher taught us that women must be very careful with mate choosing and find a devout Christians because a wife should be obedient to her husband as the Bible indicated and, therefore, she would not be led in the wrong way by her husband.

Lili, the daughter of Madam Li, my neighbor, after farming in our home village once she graduated from a middle school, went to work in a factory of some city. There she fell in love and in a relationship with a rural man from western China. However, their relationship was opposed by Lili's family because the man's remote western rural family background indicated his limited financial capability and their inability to know what life their daughter would live or whether she would be bullied.

The common ground among Auntie Li, the preacher, and Lili's mother is that they were very picky about their daughter's spouses. They defined Mr. Right as the one with good income and good family background and considered that their daughters should be committed to such men's care.

The traditional view of marriage is that a woman should commit her life to her husband and live with his parents once she gets married.

A good husband must be the one that can afford living security, thus financial capability comes the first among various indices.

Marriage and, thus, mate choosing, are very important for women in the pre-modern society dominated by men. In The Butterfly Lovers, a tragic tale that has been passed down for hundreds of years, the parents of Zhu Yingtai has to marry her to Ma Wencai, an heir from a rich family, without any care to broken-hearted Liang Shanbo, whom Zhu Yingtai loves.

In Romance of the Sui-Tang Empires, the capitalist parents of poor Xue Rengui's future wife disown her when she decides to get married to Xue.

In a male-dominated society where women are dependent on men, a woman tends to choose a financially secure man. Once she gets a divorce, she would live a very hard life since the occupations and resources for women are insufficient.

In a developed and resourceful modern society, women could be independent from marriage and men. This is the reason for high divorce rates. The rate in rural areas once exceeded that of cities at the time when they rushed to work in urban areas because they could now say no to an arranged marriage and live their own life.

However, for Auntie Li and my neighbor, women are born to be dependent on men. This is the root of the conflicts with their daughters. Their daughters want to take charge of their own marriage. In their opinion, love comes first, and money can be earned by hard working. The daughters insist that they are looking for lives rather than bank accounts.

Jesus said he came to bring a sword, rather than peace, and to turn a daughter against her mother. Actually, daughters and mothers, today are not as close as before, for they are not dependent on their mothers as well as on men and marriage. They have their own lives and make their own choices.

- Translated by Lin Changfeng



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