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The Olympic Marriage Metaphor

Thomas Whitley

Ice Skating - McLaughlin_Brubaker_Death_Sp iral

An Olympic Lesson for Husbands and Wives | Desiring God: They do not fight for equality on the ice; they possess it as a given. They are not jostling about fairness. They are focused on doing their part well. No one yells, “Oppressor!” as he leads her around the arena, lifting her up and catapulting her into a triple spin. No one thinks she is belittled as she takes her lead from him, skating backwards to his forward. No one calls for them to be egalitarian. “She should get to throw him into a triple Lutz half the time!”

This blog post has garnered quite a bit of attention since it was post two days ago. Some have been humorous (Rachel Held Evans tweeted the link with the comment, "Egalitarians: Urging female figure skaters to toss male figure skaters through the air since *never*."). Some have been responded more thoroughly (like this post that draws on the author's dancing experience). And some have been more akin to the subject of an email I received about the article, "Really??"

If the author weren't so serious about why complementarianism is THE ONLY APPROPRIATE CHRISTIAN AND BIBLICAL MODEL FOR MARRIAGE, we could laugh at the absurdity of a piece which claims that a man should be the clear masculine leader of his appropriately feminine wife by means of a metaphor that includes men who dance, on ice, wearing make up, and often in costumes that contain beads, rhinestones, feathers, and glitter.

But as it is, John Ensor is serious. His larger point seems to be that pairs ice skating is an appropriate metaphor because everyone who watches it instantly realizes how each skater complements the other perfectly because they understand their roles. Esnor clearly does not fully understand pairs ice skating, as this piece points out. But the part of the blog post that bothered me the most was his suggestion that everyone agrees with his view of pairs ice skating. In truth, many of us realize the systemic sexism involved in many sports and in the Olympics as a whole. With many commentators making comments like, "She's even as good/fast/strong as some men we've seen here in Sochi," even the Olympics, with their high ideals and international appeal, leave a lot to be desired when it comes to promoting true equality.

So, no, I will not be telling my wife that I must now lead here and she must receive me because some guy thinks that pairs ice skating shows some inherent "truth" about how men and women should interact in all facets of life. Pairs ice skating is nothing like marriage, but you know what is a lot like marriage? Marriage.

I think I'll let my wife and I figure out what's best for our marriage and ignore the unsolicited advice of someone who expends so much time and energy on trying to make sure that a male hierarchy is maintained.