Since I (Amy) am a scant week postpartum, I’m hosting blogger and Nyack alum, Anel Vicente today! Her story is powerful and moving. . .
I am an Egalitarian woman who dated a Complementarian man. This one difference led to the demise of our relationship. Saying a relationship did not work out because of theological disagreements seems so ignorant to me. It does not seem as the kind of predicament I would ever be in. Yet I was.
I could write paragraphs upon paragraphs about why the relationship failed. I could list all of the Biblical and theological positions we both had. I could even fabricate an answer for you if you are finding yourself in a similar quandary. But at the end of the day, I have to look at myself and what I learned. I have to look at my own mistakes and strive to do it better next time.
My error does not lie in having the relationship. I do not believe we should be the kind of Christian women who dismiss the potential of dating somebody solely based on theological differences. We all have them to a certain extent. Granted, there are some theological positions that are not debatable. Those that deal with Dogma: The death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, The Trinity, the inerrancy of Scripture, etc. But it would be foolish to assume matters of particular doctrines and methods of worship could be fully agreed upon.
Regardless of what our positions were, these are the mistakes I made:
- I Assumed He Was My Enemy
I remember how my ex-boyfriend told me several times that I needed to distinguish between what our beliefs were and who we are as people. Even though he was not the kind of man to disrespect women or diminish them, I categorized him as such. It was difficult for me to believe he was not my enemy when he thought so opposite from me.
- I Got Defensive
I spent more time arguing my case rather than demonstrating my case. I wish I would have known to be the kind of woman who showed how God created us equally capable to teach, preach and lead. I found one too many occasions to defend my theological beliefs and did not attribute enough time to simply be the woman I was created to be. I could have been calmer, more patient and wiser.
- I Got Loud
I wrote an 11 page blog post about every single passage in the Bible that talked about a woman speaking the Word of God to men and leading men. I did it out of anger and frustration. Once again, I did not focus on my relationship and being fully myself in the relationship. Instead I focused on yelling out my position as many times as possible and in as many ways as possible.
- I Gave Up
I gave up on my lifestyle, my wants and desires. After a while I became hopeless and just let it be. I tried to focus on operating as an independent unit. I did not realize I was not just giving up on convincing him. I was also giving up on being myself. I was so depressed by the end of our relationship I could hardly make clear decisions about my own life.
At the end of it all, my ex was not my enemy. He was a human being who has thoughts, ideas and a lifestyle that is different from my own. I could have shown him more grace and understanding. I also understand very well that God is who fights my battles. Truthfully, there was nothing to defend. Being a woman who is called, a woman who preaches and teaches, a woman who bears fruit, is enough. Whoever wants to question the fruit a woman bears is free to do so. I can show anyone willing to learn the Bible passages but I cannot defend what God has already backed up.
The reality is that I could have rested my case as soon as it was not received. I could have discerned that my words would not make a difference after my case was originally presented. The Bible says that in much talk there is much sin (Proverbs 10:19), and I sinned a lot. I said things I should not have said and expressed many things I did not really mean.
Lastly, I should not have given up. I reached a point in the relationship where I believed that being together was more important than being apart. I thought: “Am I really going to be the woman who destroys a relationship because being right is more important than loving the other person regardless?” I did not want to be that woman. I also valued his desires and happiness above my own. I came second.
If I knew then what I know now I would have continued to live my life the way I was living it before I met him. I could have continued to be who I was called to be. I know we tend to do that as women. We prioritize others’ desires and needs above our own. We suffer the consequences and the ones around us do as well. But this was a learning experience. It solidified my position far deeper than being an Egalitarian woman. It also solidified me farther than just being a woman. It solidified me as being me.
I am an Egalitarian woman who dated a Complementarian man. I don’t regret it. I am more of myself than I ever was.
Anel J Vicente is the Director of Intercession and Discipleship at Radiance International Times Square House Of Prayer. She is also a teacher, writer, blogger and spiritual life counselor. Anel is a Nyack College alumna, where she was formed and trained as both a minister and professional. She also works with the youth at Oasis Alliance Church and is passionate about mentoring, teaching and training the upcoming generation of revivalists and world changers.