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Umbrella of Authority or Abuse?

by | Mar 19, 2019 | Bill Gothard, Cult, Fundamentalism, Patriarchalism

Today one of my FB friends posted this umbrella picture on the left. It’s not the first time I’ve seen this graphic, in fact, I usually see it every month or so.

On one hand, it looks innocent enough. It’s dripping in Christianese and it seems to support a complementarian view of marriage where everyone has a role to play. While that seems healthy and innocent enough, this graphic is actually quite dangerous, and even heretical. Here’s why:

1. It obliterates the doctrine of the priesthood of believers. ALL believers have equal standing before the Father and have equal access to His throne. A woman’s mediator between herself and God the Father is *Jesus*, not her husband. Men are not the only ones to experience the Holy Spirit’s guidance, women can too.

2. Can a husband not also nurture, teach, or comfort? Can a wife not also provide for the family and lead her children? Marriage is about being team-mates, not managers.

3. In the most basic sense, this graphic isn’t even logical. The only reason a second umbrella would be needed is if the above one is leaky. Jesus doesn’t have holes in his umbrella, so there’s no need for additional umbrellas. ?

4. The umbrella diagram ultimately makes a promise that is simply false: if you stay in your place, and don’t step a toe out of this supposed authority structure, then you will not suffer attack. This is so dangerous!! Ladies, your husband does not protect you from Satan or pain. He is an imperfect person! Only one thing offers protection and that’s JESUS. Even then, as C.S. Lewis eloquently penned, “He is not safe. But He is good.” We have got to stop thinking of Jesus as this magic genie that grants our wishes and makes life all happy and pain free if we’re good enough and if there is suffering going on in our life that must mean we are out of authority and that God is punishing us. Jesus NEVER promised protection from earthly pain. He simply promised that He would walk beside us through the pain, and ultimately, there would be good in the midst of it.

5. Scripture never talks about hiding under hypothetical umbrellas. You know what it talk about? Armor. The Sword of the Spirit. The Shield of Faith. The Helmet of Salvation. This is our protection! Not another flawed human being. Not some stereotypical view of gender roles. Jesus is our armor — our tool to fight the good fight.

So maybe instead of umbrellas we should focus on armor and understanding that battles are messy and difficult, and you can still get injured. But that ultimately, we will win the battle against Satan because Jesus already defeated him 2,000 years ago.

~Em

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About the Author

Emily Elizabeth Anderson is a Christian blogger and rising activist for people who have experienced abuse within a Christian environment.

After growing up in a fundamentalist cult for 23 years and experiencing childhood domestic violence, Emily began her journey to recovery in 2015 and eventually found Jesus to be her ultimate healer. She soon turned her passion for writing into a blog and her story has since been featured on several media outlets including NPR.

She married her best friend, Joshua, in 2020 and together they are passionate about educating on the realities of trauma survival and recovery, as well as supporting survivors they meet through their online community.

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