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His ways are above our ways...

I've been reading through Ephesians for a while, studying it a bit at a time. I just got to chapter 5, which includes the "wives submit" bit that the marriage book is focused on. For a bit of comparative reading, I took the same passage out of The Message and I like it a lot:






Ephesians 5:21-32 from The Message

Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another.

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church--a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor--since they're already "one" in marriage.

No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That's how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." This is a huge mystery, and I don't pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.






The first three chapters of the book focused on the husband's role in the Biblical marriage model, basically hammering home from multiple anecdotes, angles, and apologetics, that LEADERSHIP IS NOT DOMINATION--IT IS SERVANTHOOD! (Matthew 23:11-12) And it's not some lip-service-to-servanthood-but-really-domineering-crap, either. (John 13:4-5)

The second three chapters are focused on the wife's role. We're only on chapter 5 (two chapters into wife-role :), but we keep finding good things to stop and think/talk about. I have especially been enjoying how it gives us the opportunity to examine how we both think and feel about relational issues, traditional-role expectation issues, family memories of what has formed our individual psychological developments, and the relevance of religion to modern-day life.


It seems to me like the popular approach to life these days is to follow no one thing in particular, but rather to generally pick and choose bits of philosophy and entertainment as the mood fits. A person builds their own world; objective reality is poo-poohed. I don't know...I'm not so eager to define everything anew for myself. I'd rather find out what works and have some consistent philosophical discussion of why, and base my choices on that. That's not to say that I think I know everything (I obviously don't :), or that I have The Truth, as if everyone had better line up behind me on it or else. I do believe I've found the source of Truth, though...and the rest of life is a journey to a) find out what it is, b) find out if it is True, and c) find out if I understand it well enough to make it real in my own life.


Cool things I've learned in the wife-chapters (the previous discussion here on this book was about some of the cool things I've learned in the husband-chapters) are the following:


  1. Same intrinsic value does not imply same exact function. (i.e. the parts of body: all are valuable to the whole--well, we're still undecided about the appendix, but I have my wild fantasy/sci-fi/religion ideas on that one :)--but there are millions of different functions)

    • Thus, the husband and the wife do not have to fulfill all of the same functions to be equally valuable to each other and to God.

  2. Our culture associates value with authority.
  3. This is crap.
  4. This is not God's value economy. (Matthew 23:11-12, John 13:4-5) God's economy is actually the exact opposite.
  5. Thus, God giving the husband the responsibility to lead means:

    • The husband must sacrifice himself (his own wishes, desires, caprices, domination urges, etc.) for the betterment of his wife and family. He must be the greatest servant, putting himself last in the order of who gets their desires satisfied, and his loved ones first. What guy doesn't cringe from a description like this? Disobedience from God's order leads a man to conclude that God couldn't have meant that...no, He must have meant arbitrary and capricious dominance! Yes! That's what the Bible says! It makes you want to slap these idiots...
    • He represents the family before God and must take personal responsibility for their actions while they are under his care.
    • He must intercede and pray for his family.
    • He must represent God's love (His grace and truth) to his family.
    • A man who truly aims to live as Christ did is a man whom a woman would easily appreciate, love, respect, and honor...and thus want to uphold and support.

  6. And thus, that a wife has the responsibility of upholding and supporting (i.e., not trying to demand from, nag, inviegle, pester, drag around, disdain, mock, gossip about, or otherwise undermine) is a necessary and valuable part of a working relationship and family, and one that does not degrade the intrinsic value of a woman--because God values this kind of mutual service and respect far more than he values who the "boss" is.

    • An aside: as a woman, I also appreciate not being required to be the family representative. (It's the same reason why I'm not particularly bent out of shape over the way God prefers men to lead in spiritual responsibilities. He'll use women, but He wants the men to take on the wearying burden of leading a group of dumb sheep who feel that the pastor ought to be available all hours of the day and night, whether or not he's had a good night sleep in a week, and who call him at 3 in the morning to cry or rant or whatever.)

  7. For anyone who doesn't quite believe that God places less value on authority and more on being the lowliest servant (a theme which runs throughout the entirety of the Bible), check out this example, illustrated perfectly (as usual :) by God Himself:

    1. Christ was submitted to the will of God the Father. (Matthew 26:42)
    2. The Spirit is submitted to the will of Christ. (John 15:26)
    3. Are we then to conclude that Christ has less value than the Creator and that God's Spirit has less value than Christ? No, that's heretical and ridiculous. It's about function. God creates existence as we know it and doesn't hide from us the fact that we can choose to disobey Him. We choose to disobey Him. He already had a plan for that contingency and puts a perfect living representation of Himself on the ground that we can see and touch and feel and come to such conclusions as "this man named Jesus of Nazareth really did walk the earth at some point in human history." Something solid in a world of invisibility. We murder His representation, as expected. He demonstrates that He don't stay dead, and gives us each the opportunity to draw in His Breath (spirit, wind, ruach in Hebrew) of Life and never die.


Comments

2. Our culture associates value with authority.
3. This is crap.


Hear, hear!

For anyone who doesn't quite believe that God doesn't place more value on authority and less on the lowliest servant

Erm, don't you mean "that God doesn't place less value on authority and more on [being] the lowliest servant"? I'm assuming it's just a mistype here...

But I'm really enjoying reading these essays of yours.
Thank you! I have fixed it. :) Glad you like them...I always enjoyed reading the essays on your page. :)
2. Our culture equates value with authority.

Really? I associate value with McDonalds! :-P

(Sorry. It's been a long day. I'm sure somewhere in my head there is a well-thought-out, eloquent response to your post, but at the moment it's being displaced by the first seven notes of "When You Wish Upon A Star", which I have been hearing all day as the Company conduct evacuation drills on each floor. dee-dee-dee-dee, dee-dee-DEE... "Your Attention Please, Guests and Cast Members: This is a drill. Please evacuate the building and follow blah blah blah...")
That would be incredibly annoying. I guess it could have been worse, though. They could have used "It's a Small World".