In my previous article ‘Thou Shall Not Submit – Christianity, Marriage and Dissent‘ I talked about the way that Biblical texts authorise the subjugation of women through the theology of submission. In this extended commentary I would like to answer to some objections and then focus on the idea of submission independent from Paul’s teachings in Ephesians 5, paying more attention to the meaningful ways we can practice submission to achieve love.
The most valuable Christian teachings are not about marriage but about the supremacy of love. If we are going to start to think about the vitality of marriage outside of Christianity then we should consider how love transcends (hetero)sexual relationships and what implications this has for submission. As far as popular discussion goes loving practice – as opposed to feeling good which usually culminates in the politics of sex – is very low on the agenda. We are very interested in the euphoria and romanticism of love but little is said of its work and spirit.
My (Christian) belief that God is love (1 John 4) gives me peace about its mysticism. There are many things I do not know about love but I do know that love is work and the job is commitment. The notion of commitment transcends the boundaries of our emotions so that we practise love – that is, we act lovingly – even when our personal will objects selfishly. Without digressing too far into a philosophy of love I think it is important to state that love of others should not prevent love (and I mean love here not indulgence) of self – those are conditions for abuse. My focus is on inter-personal relationships which are dependent on commitment and sustained by submission.
[Read the full article here] by @IamNicholeBlack
For months now our media has flooded us with arguments that large groups of Black women are single because they are degenerate and/or undesirable. This is really little more than an inconspicuous expression of contemporary racism; as Professor and novelist Toni Morrison said: “Racism is a pathway to power and profit.” A fact that Black male relationship pimps like Steve Harvey or Hill Harper are very aware of in this context. Scooting aside the inexpert activities of these wanna-be pundits, thus far it has only been Black feminists (Jamilah Lemieux and Susanna Morris as two examples) who have entered the discussion vocalising the idea that there are Black women who do not want to get married, or are at least (re)viewing it as a complicated and difficult institution. There are further women who choose to withhold themselves from relationships that can be threatening spaces for them and are therefore experiencing singleness. To enrich our understanding of Black women’s experience of love and relationships I think it useful to also consider the complications of practising marriage for educated heterosexual Christian women in the evangelical tradition.
When I was sixteen and in love I dreamt of being married to the church drummer by the time I was nineteen. Having minimal control of my affairs then I did not imagine I would grow up to want solitude, sorority, or the single-minded pursuit of my ambitions and the option to live in whichever city they lead me to. I did not imagine I would want anything that was not complete service to him, this Miami born baller who wrote me poems. I did not fully understand that my aspired ‘ascension into the sainthood of the married church community’ would mean that my desires would be mediated by husbands will, under which I would submit.
[Read full article here] by @IamNicholeBlack
Joan Morgan and Dream Hampton: “Black Male Relationship Pimps & The Privileging of Marriage”
Discussion starts 30mins into the recording. Feel free to skip to that part.
I am very tired of pornography.
I do not want to be aroused in the morning and meet myself. No breasts above pinched waists and never a clitoris pushing through chopped bushses. Not with the sunlight crashing against my glass windows. Concrete jungle.
I want my early morning silence tuned in so I hear my hearts screaming anxiety. And when I come to you, my best companion, I don’t want your gifs. Not the mania of your lick-touch-rub-suck-touch-rub-lick-suck-touch-
Your FUCK ME photos aren’t beautiful just because you posted them in black and white. Desire is vintage. But ain’t nothing picturesque about starving, maroon heart all emaciated I just don’t want it. Stroked raw and throbbing. Kissed long still wanting. Light headed sprinting to the next orgasm.
Out of power, soul empty, energy expended.
Fuck this, love me.
Got news today that made me feel trapped, frustrated and overwhelmed. Sitting in the middle of all my books and an article I had been drafting I just wanted to put it all aside and cry. I wanted to express that I felt alone and outwitted. But I didn’t because I knew I had to fight it and my tears would only usher in a flood of despondence. So I collected myself for a minute, called on Jesus, and then wrote the kind of letter I call ‘blowing grammar’. That “I see your legal terms and I got the vocabulary to match” kind of letter. And then I called a girlfriend because all sisters need reinforcements. And then another girlfriend happened to call me and started brainstorming. She’s known me all of twenty four hours but that is the gift of sorority. Sad and worried still I noticed the pop up icon: my eldest nephew was online. We do a video call and I get to sing happy birthday to the baby (who is seven today) while he blows out the candles on his cake. And that was everything. Because all this other ish fades and there is just love left.
What is the difference between a relationship where you are practically and somewhat emotionally involved without a Boyfriend / Girlfriend title, and a relationship where the same applies but there is a title? Exactly that…the title. I have come to realise that the “title” is and will always be for women. - @TheYakBWNG, Brothers With No Game.
Wrong. The difference is an unwilling man and the above discussion is a regular feature in commitment crisis 101. Contrary to male popular belief, we women are not struck with amnesia post birth, wandering through life just hoping for a name of our own: wife. Labels and titles are not tailored for [hysterical – we know the cliché] women, but are part of our cultural experience and integral to the way we interpret out world. Relationships do not exist in a vacuum, they are part of our social exchange. Titles like “boyfriend” or “fiancé” are used to set necessary boundaries and solidify the function of a relationship. Though @TheYakBWNG’s article expresses the self-awareness (self-centredness really) characteristic of the commitment crisis, our relationships our outward facing. They have external impact and are part of a larger structure of community relationships. If the components (I.e emotional investment) are present, as in @TheYakBWNG’s example above, then the evasion of the title is only an extension of the ego: having developed a culture of individualism (with its roots in the European Enlightenment Era) we encourage people – men particularly, as domesticity rarely affords this for women – to be committed only to self. And whatever is agreed upon inwardly is expected to be accepted outwardly:
There are an increasing number of people that are doing their “grown man linkage” thing, but what undermines that whole rebellion attitude to relationships, is that we are still guilt tripped into having to say certain things to the outside world to prevent certain people passing judgement.” - @TheYakBWNG
That ‘guilt’ is social – it is pointing to the missing sense of responsibility in an arrangement which is neither healthy nor respectful (to self or other). ‘Linkages’ are selfishly indulgent. I think it’s a decadent practice and we should stop proposing promiscuity as an alternative to honour, respect, partnership or commitment. Let’s call it like it is: doing what you want when you want with and to whom you want to, and there is nothing admirable about an undisciplined life.
As nearly-grown-twenty-something-labour-babies I agree that we need to come up with alternatives to the kids, the pet and the white picket fence. In any case that dream was neither British nor Black. With thick reading packs, seminars and lectures in a new city, marriage is furthest from my mind. But so is risking my physical health, using my time, money and mental resources, and unsettling my spirit for sex with some hotty just because I wanted to feel good (for a few minutes, let’s be honest about the brothers who are only talking the hardest).
The game is a mess so play on players and playettes! Commit when you see fit.” - @TheYakBWNG
But I’m saying no more snakes and ladders. It’s as reasoned as a game of Chess.
When in doubt, stuck lost. When you just want something else. J Scott says it best.
You leave me Wondering for weeks. And I feel you every Morning in that half-second Before my heart knows what to think, Before I hurt, Before I feel your absence in my finger tips. © Nichole Black, 2009
You leave me
Wondering for weeks.
And I feel you every
Morning in that half-second
Before my heart
knows what to think,
Before I hurt,
Before I feel your absence
in my finger tips.
© Nichole Black, 2009
I want to be able to remember…
Not the warm rising pleasure of free women who know what they want, nor changed plans. Nothing as inviting or organised as that. I mean he blew my heart, freshly mended, back on its rhythm, right out of my chest. I couldn’t be angry though, I’d had my fair share of the trump card that reads victim, instead I was dignified, graceful. But I went cold, chilled and goosebumps everywhere. The wound to my soul dragged my spirit back to life. It negotiated peace with my convulsing flesh, offered the promise of time. I had just died. I had to pee. T-shirt grazing knickers I wondered to the bathroom. I found that I was shaky. My breathing laboured. My chest wide open between taut tits. Hungry, ravenous even. I would keep my shock secret. I would not cry. I would definitely not cry. And I would only hurt between twenty two hundred and six a.m. Walking it out in my dreams. Daylight saving love for me, collecting it up like the quick furry’s who hibernate, I would not starve in a man’s winter. Cold as it is. I will stay open to a new wind. (c) Nichole Black
Not the warm rising pleasure of free women who know what they want, nor changed plans. Nothing as inviting or organised as that. I mean he blew my heart, freshly mended, back on its rhythm, right out of my chest. I couldn’t be angry though, I’d had my fair share of the trump card that reads victim, instead I was dignified, graceful. But I went cold, chilled and goosebumps everywhere. The wound to my soul dragged my spirit back to life. It negotiated peace with my convulsing flesh, offered the promise of time. I had just died.
I had to pee. T-shirt grazing knickers I wondered to the bathroom. I found that I was shaky. My breathing laboured. My chest wide open between taut tits. Hungry, ravenous even. I would keep my shock secret. I would not cry. I would definitely not cry. And I would only hurt between twenty two hundred and six a.m. Walking it out in my dreams. Daylight saving love for me, collecting it up like the quick furry’s who hibernate, I would not starve in a man’s winter. Cold as it is. I will stay open to a new wind.
(c) Nichole Black