Monday, November 30, 2015

ON WOMEN TAKING UP THEIR HUSBANDS' NAMES

    
I like what Elizabeth Elliot says in her book, ‘Let me be a woman’.

 " It is a naive sort of feminism that insists that women prove their ability   to do all things men do."




Let me start with the premise that I have grown up in a ‘female independence era’. You know the generation where we would constantly say as a group in primary school ‘what a man can do a woman can do better’? I am from that generation. My thought patterns were constructed around this notion and my opinions were based on them. And so, in the past year I have been going through a mental deconstruction of sorts. I have been unlearning the teachings of society about gender and learning about God’s take on manhood and womanhood.  Society now has a new label for me, ‘Reformed feminist.’ I particularly liked John Piper’s and Elizabeth Elliot’s teachings on this. Womanhood is beautiful.

Being newly in a relationship, I am still getting used to the idea of a man (who is not family, at least for now) being so concerned about me. You know; wanting to get me home just to make sure I am safe, wanting to be on the side of oncoming vehicles even when we are crossing a two-lane road and him doing all these things without me thinking that he sees me as inferior or less capable to do them by myself.  Femininity has its own limitations and so does masculinity. Being feminine or masculine is a gift bestowed upon us by the creator. It is a state we find ourselves in; we do not choose. Just as we do not choose the families we are born into or the siblings we find in these families.

 In light of these realizations, I have been thinking about names. See, when a woman gets married, she gets a new name. In some sort of way, the woman loses her initial identity to accommodate the identity of the man she is now married to. In fact, a friend from Lesotho  told me that for them, the lady loses both names entirely and takes up the names of the family she is married into.

Ideally, in a feminist nature, I would call this a shortcoming,  unfair and uncalled for. However, in the wake of reading ‘The joy of Christian Manhood and womanhood’, I have come to appreciate my ‘shortcomings’ as a woman; the things that make me 'underprivileged'. And so, in the case of getting new names from a man, I realized that a man bears a great mantle, a mantle that demands that he protects his name, he upholds the value of his name and he takes responsibility for the name he carries. You see, the name does not just belong to himself, it probably belongs to a future or present wife, children and an entire generation. A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver and gold- Proverbs 22:1.

Despite the fact that we as women are unable to give names, we have the exceptional privilege of getting new names; to create a new reputation, to be newly esteemed. This reminds me of the story of Ruth, and how Boaz was her Kinsman redeemer. She got a new name and a new identity. She was no longer a cursed Moabite. Ultimately, it reminds me of Christ and how we have a new name when we are found in Him; redeeming grace. It’s a beautiful thing to be a woman, the representation of Christ’s church and bride here on earth and it’s beautiful to have the opportunity to have a new name, a rebirth of some kind and with new names comes new responsibilities. For instance, if you were to get married into the president’s family today, then your name would change and everywhere you go, people will react in some way when you introduce yourself.


A name carries a lot of weight, a name needs to be taken care of and a name is not just a name, it is a part of you that gives you some form of identity. A name takes time to build and a short time to destroy; just like many things in life. It is my prayer that there will be men in this generation who will stand up for their names and that there will be redeemed women willing to take up these names.

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for this Emma post.." It is my prayer that there will be men in this generation who will stand up for their names and that there will be redeemed women willing to take up these names."
    Baraka tele

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading Sher. For His glory...Baraka piia :-)

      Delete
  2. Great read...I will share this post. However, there is one issue I would like you to address. There are names that do not necessarily have good meaning. I believe you know what I mean. What to do in the case of those? Also, in the case of cross cultural marriages,I do wonder how the kids should be named. Pray tell.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great read...I will share this post. However, there is one issue I would like you to address. There are names that do not necessarily have good meaning. I believe you know what I mean. What to do in the case of those? Also, in the case of cross cultural marriages,I do wonder how the kids should be named. Pray tell.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes Wachira, we talked about this sometime back.
      The good thing with names is that we get to choose our ultimate identity especially in the formative stages of life. I know of people who have dropped their names to adopt an identity they formed over time. But in such a case you have to sign an affidavit and perhaps inform your parents on your decision.
      On naming, I don't think there is a designed way to name children as long as the parents agree and establish their own culture on how to name the children.
      May the Lord constantly be glorified in our writing.

      Delete
  4. This is just..wow. Yes there are shortcomings with each individual leave alone each gender, but never at any point are you underprivileged. Personally i have always abhorred how the bible continually tells women that they are small as you just said as a woman you have accepted that you are underprivileged which is wrong. You have every basic privilege accorded to any other human being by the fact that you are a human being. Two ,women too bear a great mantle in their name,look at Condoleezza Rice, Martha Karua, Oprah Winfrey, Angelina Jolie,Ory Okolloh,these are all women who have earned great prestige based on their original names. They don't need to piggy back on their husbands name to be recognized, if you marry into the presidents family sure there is clout in the name, but the success that name has is not yours,its yours by association .You have to ride on your own steam. i also think there is subtle sexism in this post where you imply that the women who take their husbands names are better or 'redeemed' which i believe is a dangerous message to put across as choosing to take your spouses name is a personal choice that has no bearing on your redemption.Which brings me to the point where you say the new name gives you a new identity and a chance to create a reputation.you have had that chance ever since you were born,Beyonce now doesn't become a completely new person now that she is married,her reputation as a great performer,singer and woman precedes her getting married and she is still those things.marriage is not a rescue mission for you its a partnership. Yes let us be women i love how you started that , let us choose whether to take up the name or not,let us be.let us know that our names are also important, lets not wait to get someone else's name to be successful or complete. A woman too should uphold her name ,look at Anne Waiguru her name has been ruined ,its not only a mans responsibility,we each have a responsibility to ourselves.And No, getting your husbands name should not be a source of esteem, your actions in your own life are your source of esteem...and taking your husbands name should be because you want to not because you have to use Bible verses to convince yourself into it. I respect your opinion but i completely disagree with it. Its my opinion that this post has what we call undertones of sexist religious manipulation and i don't think id share these ideas with women or men in my circle.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I appreciate your feedback Fiona. This post is written from a Biblical and Christian background...My intention is not to coerce women into taking up their husbands' names but to delve into what the significance of taking up those names could be. The 'redeemed' I am talking about is the redeeming Grace every Christian (male or female) experiences through salvation; the new identity established in Christ when we realize that we did nothing to deserve God's illustration of love to us through His son dying on the cross.
      I agree that we also bear a great mantle as women and we also should uphold our names: Deborah and Esther are great Biblical illustrations of this. In any case, a man and a woman are complete beings before they marry and they only come together to complement one another. However, unlike women, men do not take up names. And here I am illustrating that it is so because God wants to remind His bride (the church) that just as women get a new identity, so do we as Christians when we get born again. Taking up of a name should thus not be counted as loss but gain.

      Delete
    2. Wow. You are one wise young lady. Of the James 3:17 kind.

      Delete
    3. Such a kind comment Cynthia....for God's glory

      Delete
    4. I love the biblical aspects of this post Emma. Your responses are also very gentle and Kind. Fiona, I would like to point out that all the names you have mentioned are all not in the bible. If you use the Word of God as your reference point other than just religion and secularism you will see what the author of this article means.

      Delete