"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Only Time the Bible Uses the Word "Authority" (exousia) in the Context of Marriage Should Lead Couples to Cherish Unity

One of the words that is often heard in our evangelical, conservative circles is the English word "authority." Christians are told they must be under the covering of their authority, wives are to be submissive to the authority of their husbands, churches are to obey the authority of their elders, etc... Without doubt, believers are under the headship of Christ as their authority, but is the standard, conservative teaching of male authority over females, or a husband's authority over his wife actually biblical? Most evangelical conservatives claim the husband "has the authority" and the wife is to submit to it. Again, is that biblical?

The often quoted book complementarian book Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanwood (1991), devotes entire chapters to passages like Ephesians 5:21-33, 1 Corinthians 11:3-16. Colossians 3:18-18, and 1 Peter 3:1-7. But the ONLY text in the Bible that actually uses the word "authority" in the context of marriage, 1 Corinthians 7:1-5, is given no consideration. Likewise, in John Piper's book What’s the Difference? Manhood and Womanhood Defined by the Bible (2001) there are two lists of verses dealing with marriage provided, but 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 is not even included (see pages 21,66).

Jon Zens, the author who pointed out to me the above facts, has also written me an email with some interesting insight into I Corinthians 7:1-5 and the Bible's use of the word "authority" (Gr. exousia) in connection to marriage. His conclusions, based on the sacred text itself, may surprise you, but if you truly cherish the teaching of the Bible over man's opinions, they may also change the way you teach on the subject of "authority" within marriage.

First, 1 Cor.7:1-5 is the only place in the NT where the word “authority” (Greek, exousia) is used with reference to marriage. But it is not the authority of the husband over the wife, or vice versa, that is in view, but rather a mutual authority over each other’s body. 1 Corinthians 7:4 states that the wife has authority over her husband’s body. One would think that this would be a hard pill to swallow for those who see “authority” as resting only in the husband’s headship.

Second, Paul states that a couple cannot separate from one another physically unless there is mutual consent (Greek, symphonou). Both parties must agree to the separation or it doesn’t happen. The husband cannot override the wife’s differing viewpoint.

John Piper suggests that “mature masculinity accepts the burden of the final say in disagreements between husband and wife, but does not presume to use it in every instance” (p.32). The problem with a dogmatic statement like this is that it will allow for no exceptions. But 1 Corinthians 7:5 contradicts Piper’s maxim. If the wife disagrees with a physical separation, the husband cannot overrule his wife with the “final choice” (p.33). Such separation can occur only if both husband and wife are in “symphony” (unity) about such an action.

Now if mutual consent applies in an important issue like physical separation from one another for a period of time, wouldn’t it seem proper that coming to one-mindedness would be the broad model for decision-making in a healthy marriage? Piper feels that “in a good marriage decision-making is focused on the husband, but is not unilateral” (p.32). In light of 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 I would suggest that decision-making should focus on finding the Lord’s mind together. Over the years the good ideas, solutions to problems and answers to dilemmas will flow from both husband and the wife as they seek the Lord as a couple for “symphony.”

1 Corinthians 7:5 throws a wrench into the works for those who would include the husband’s “final say” in male headship. Paul teaches that unless the couple can agree on a course of action, it cannot be executed. I suggest that this revelation invites us to re-examine what the husband’s headship really entails (cf. Gordon D. Fee, “1 Corinthians 7:1-7 Revisited,” Paul & the Corinthians: Studies On A Community in Conflict, Trevor J. Burke/J. Keith Elliott, eds., Brill, 2003, pp.197-213).


In His Grace,


Wade Burleson

194 comments:

Darby Livingston said...

I don't think Zens proves his point in this post. He takes an issue that is very specific, intimacy, and broadens it on the basis of: "Now if mutual consent applies in an important issue like physical separation from one another for a period of time, wouldn’t it seem proper that coming to one-mindedness would be the broad model for decision-making in a healthy marriage?"

The reason mutual consent applies in the issue of physical separation is because the text explicitly says it does. But how does this text invalidate Eph 5 or 1 Pet 3?

Wade Burleson said...

Darby,

The reason mutual consent applies in the issue of physical separation is because the text explicitly says it does. But...

Darby, if the only place in Scripture where the word "authority" is used in the context of HUSBAND AND WIFE is the text in question--the text that explicitly teaches mutual consent--then the burden of proof lies not on Zens for his view that a healthy marriage is one that strives for one-mindedness, but on you and others who wish to prove that the husband has "authority" over his wife, makes the decisions, and the wife consents and submits whether she agrees or not.

You prove your position USING ONLY THE TEXT.

Smile,

Wade

P.S. On my way to bed after a long day. Blessings to everyone in the dialogue that ensues.

Darby Livingston said...

"but on you and others who wish to prove that the husband has "authority" over his wife, makes the decisions, and the wife consents and submits whether she agrees or not."

Wade,

The word "authority" in my mind is shorthand for a certain kind of structure. I can see it's an unhelpful term except for in this particular text where the word is actually used. Unlike the books you quote, I devoted a section of my book to this text in which I wrote, "Paul tells us that when it comes to sex, each spouse has authority over the other." In fact, I spent 5 pages on this text and referenced it 4 times in other sections. So I'm not in disagreement with Zens' interpretation of this text.

Now, as for proving my position using only the text: "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Eph. 5:22); Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord" (Col. 3:18); Likewise, wives, be suject to your own husbands" (1 Pet. 3).

I'll remind you that the Colossians text does not have a mutual submission clause preceding the exhortation to wives. I guess the poor Colossian women just had to do what the text said because Paul forgot to mention mutual submission like he did with the Ephesians. :)

I'll further remind you of something in the 1 Peter text. Before Peter tells wives to be subject to their husbands, he writes, "Likewise." The way a wife is to be subject to her husband is like something he's already mentioned. Prior to wives he wrote of slaves being subject to harsh masters and citizens being subject to their governments. He also tells husbands, "Likewise" but not to be subject to their wives. Instead they are to be gentle and honorable to their wives. Why is the distinction so difficult to admit?

My point is proven with the simple statement of the text if words still have any meaning. Don't use the word authority to describe marriage (except concerning sex) if it makes you uncomfortable. But don't dismiss the texts I've listed as though they're difficult to understand.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Zens said "John Piper suggests that “mature masculinity accepts the burden of the final say in disagreements between husband and wife, but does not presume to use it in every instance” (p.32). The problem with a dogmatic statement like this is that it will allow for no exceptions. But 1 Corinthians 7:5 contradicts Piper’s maxim. If the wife disagrees with a physical separation, the husband cannot overrule his wife with the “final choice” (p.33). Such separation can occur only if both husband and wife are in 'symphony' (unity) about such an action."

If Piper meant a universal with no exceptions by his statement, then I think Zens makes a valid point here.

Darby said "Don't use the word authority to describe marriage (except concerning sex) if it makes you uncomfortable. But don't dismiss the texts I've listed as though they're difficult to understand."

I like this point by Darby. I think I would rather say submission to "leadership", rather than authority myself. Of course, Zens makes a valid point concerning when the word "authority" is actually used and I take note of it. However, I think part of what Darby is getting at is that there is a "pattern" in the New Testament concerning husbands and wives. It's not that we are looking at "one" passage in the New Testament, but a thread of passages that weave through Ephesians, Colossians, and Peter that are "rather harmonious" with one another so that a common theme emerges. I think that carries a lot of weight.

"I don't think Zens proves his point in this post. He takes an issue that is very specific, intimacy, and broadens it..."

I agree with Darby here. Zens takes a particular and tries to make a universal out of it I think. There is a big difference between doing that and basing your belief on the strong doctrinal "imagery of Christ and the church" in Ephesians 5 and the "universal statements" in Eph/Col/1 Pet. I think.

Thy Peace said...

Interesting word translations and their effects ...

Suzanne's Bookshelf [Suzanne McCarthy] > All posts showing "exousia".

Women In Ministry [Cheryl Schatz] > All posts showing "exousia".

Debbie Kaufman said...

Thy Peace: Suzanne's blog is worth the reading.

Darby, Benji: If your interpretation is true then Christian marriages under this design should be the happiest, yet they aren't.

I would also make this charge: Most men and women who teach or believe what you have said do not know what authority means. In other words they don't know where the boundary on that authority ends.

Some teach that this authority ends when a woman is asked to sin by her husband, that God is her final authority. That she should say no to the husband if sin is involved. This causes a lot of confusion and rightfully so.

If you will look in scripture the marriages, beginning with Adam and Eve were mutual. The examples of marriage in scripture help to interpret the scriptures themselves. Paul was breaking things down so that those listeners at the time could understand. Authority being already in place. Women were seen as property(much like they are today in the Christian world).

Debbie Kaufman said...

I would make this observation. Marriage was designed by God as a vehicle in which intimacy and relationship without rules or authority over each other were the purpose. Where both could trust, flourish, grow, by making decisions together. This is the healthy design of marriage given to us by God. Authority or hierarchy being the sinful, unhealthy for marriage.

This is why verse 21 being read along with the rest of Ephesians 5 is a must. It's to be included. This verse sets the tone for the rest of the passage. In fact verses 18-23 in Ephesians 5 is one long sentence and should be read and interpreted that way.

I also have to wonder if in the Greek text there is any verb used in the way submit is used. I question that.

Wade Burleson said...

Debbie,

Some excellent thoughts.

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Darby,

I had not realized you had published a book where you deal with I Corinthians text. I commend you for tackling the text, and I'm not surprised you came up with the same interpretation Zens does. The text is clear.

However, I do have an observation about the following comment you make:

"Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Eph. 5:22); Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord" (Col. 3:18); Likewise, wives, be suject to your own husbands" (1 Pet. 3).

I'll remind you that the Colossians text does not have a mutual submission clause preceding the exhortation to wives. I guess the poor Colossian women just had to do what the text said because Paul forgot to mention mutual submission like he did with the Ephesians. :)


You admit, rightly so, that Paul has already spoken of "mutual submission" (Eph. 5:22). Yet, you seem to dismiss the biblical truth that a husband is to have an attitude of submission, humility and service toward his wife ((Eph. 5:22; I Cor. 7:1-5) because the husband is not mentioned in Colossians 3:18 and I Peter 3).

That's a little like saying that a wife has no obligation to love her husband because when Paul tells husbands to "love your wives" he doesn't mention wives. We would all be in agreement that the wife has as much obligation to love her husband as the husband his wife--even when she is not mentioned specifically. Why? Because the sacred text as already SET THE PRINCIPLE OF MUTUAL LOVE.

So, too, the principle of mutual authority, respected authoirty (equality) and a mutual attitude of submission and service between husband and wife IS ALREADY SET BY THE TEXT (Eph. 5:22, I Cor. 7:1-5).

So, when Paul reminds the wives in Colossai to be of their duty, he does not dismiss husbands from their mutual obligation. Could it be that there were some ladies in the context of his letter that needed to hear what he was saying? Could it be that if Paul were writing to the husbands of the Southern Baptist Convention, his emphasis would be different because the people who need encouraged to stay away from an attitude of domination and control are the husbands?

Hope this makes sense. I do, again, appreciate the way you wrestle with the text.

In His Grace,

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

Benji,

I like your comment. I agree.

I think the husband is to be like a "point man." He is to "lead" like a scout would lead for the army. He puts himself in front to protect the important people who are behind him. He opens himself up for attack to protect the general in the rear. He willingly lays down his life for the people he is "leading."

I like this idea, and if husbands lived like this, there would be no intimidation, domination and control of their spouses -- only love, protection, humilty and servant leadership.

Well done.

Wade

Larry S said...

Something I find striking about 1 Cor. 7 is that its not only marital physical intimacy where the couple are to make mutual decisions. Note verse-5, the couple make a mutual decision to forgo sex for a time in order to focus on their prayer life. There is no hint in the text that the husband as 'leader' is the one to lead or make this important spiritual decision.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

I think your imagery is good and biblical. It goes along with the sacrificial and protective biblical idea of a husband's disposition towards his wife I think.

Perhaps I could give a little more commentary as to how I see it.

It was not long ago when I was following the leadership of a pastor when I was a youth director. He gave me the opportunity to preach on Sunday nights which turned into preaching every Sunday night. I believe that opportunity helped prepare me for the time when I actually began to pastor a church myself.

Now, I believe I had a "disposition" to want to believe what this pastor said from the pulpit. I do not think I had an "axe to grind" against wanting to follow his train of thought as he preached the word. However, there were some things he preached that I could not believe because I did not believe they were biblical. And I do not think I was biblically "bound" to believe those things. If I was bound to believe things that were actually not biblical, then I think that would make the pastor Lord over Lord Jesus in relation to myself.

However, even if I wanted to preach on Sunday morning, I think it would be crossing the line to go up to him and say "you ought to let me preach on Sunday morning instead of you" because he shepherded that church. In other words, even though I should maintain that "Jesus is Lord" in my life, that does not mean I should buck the pastor's leadership in a sense.

Now, when it comes to my own marriage. It was not long ago when there were 2 job offers for my wife. And my wife was looking at one of the job offers, but I talked to her about the other job offer. She told me her thoughts as to why she did not want to take the other job offer and I listened and I suppose we both mused on it for a while.

However, eventually she came to me some days later and told me that she needed to let the employer of the job she wanted know something. And I told her "go for it" basically.

Now, I think that there was balance in that. I think it was good for her to have the freedom to tell me why she did not want to take that job I was talking to her about [without any intimidation on my part] and I also think she was biblical in wanting to follow my lead as well.

Another example would be that when we have a "Bible time" at night with our children, my wife lets me take the lead in reading the Bible stories to the children. In fact, one night as I was reading she was rubbing my back and, I gotta tell ya, it made me feel like a man :).

My wife is an extremely alert person. My grandmother has emphasized her "intelligence". And the teacher my wife works with says she is "like lightning". I respect my wife's mind and my wife respects my leadership. God is good.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Debbie,

"If you will look in scripture the marriages, beginning with Adam and Eve were mutual."

I would say that the approach you take [based off of what I have seen here and in other comment streams] is the same approach the Dispensationalist takes. The dispensationalism you reject.

Both of you, I think, take the approach of interpreting the Old Testament in only its Old Testament context "rigidly" and then bring those rigid interpretations to bear on the New Testament.

That is why the dispensationalist ends up with Israel inheriting the "literal" land. The Dispensationalist could even challenge folks in this way:

"You show me, you show me from its own context [the O.T.] how Israel will not inherit the literal land."

And based on the way you interpret Scripture, I don't think you would have any comeback since you take the same approach he does when it comes to gender. I think you would just have to reject his interpretation "arbitrarily."

In Christ,

Benji

Wade Burleson said...

Benji,

I like your illustration, but I think "authority" in a ministry setting or business setting where a leader is getting paid to lead, but finds that a 'subordinate' becomes insubordinate, is not worthy of comparison to marriage.

A closer metaphor would be co-owners in a multi-million dollar business. Major decisions are made by consensus.

Wade

Wade Burleson said...

But the "leader" of the consortium becomes the point man.

A great analogy of this is seen in the OKC Thunder professional basketball team. Most people don't know there are multiple owners -- but the "leader" or "point man" is a co-owner by the name of Clayton Bennett. He stepped into the line of fire when the team moved from Seattle and took all the heat -- while the others who were equally invested stepped back and admired his leadership, but never once felt like an unequal.

Christiane said...

WHAT GOD HAS JOINED TOGETHER . . .

1 Corinthians 7: 1-7

Directions concerning Marriage

7 Now concerning the matters about which you wrote: ‘It is well for a man not to touch a woman.’
2 But because of cases of sexual immorality, each man should have his own wife and each woman her own husband.
3 The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. 4For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.
5 Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

6 This I say by way of concession, not of command.
7 I wish that all were as I myself am. But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind. "


I like how Wade has emphasized Apostolic teachings that reflect mutual obligation of spouses to respect one another's marital rights. The whole idea of a blessed Christian marriage is that Christ is the Authority in that union.

If you continue to read the teaching into verse seven, you find these words:
". . But each has a particular gift from God, one having one kind and another a different kind. "
Notice how closely these words mirror the biblical descriptions of the Body of Christ, where the members each bring their own gifts to share with one another and to build up their union, with Christ at the head.

The language in verse seven is not a coincidence. It is very telling.

The connections are shown between:

A. the marriage union model (as the two becoming 'one flesh' under the Authority of Christ as the Lord of Life);
and
B. the descriptions of the Body of Christ (we are 'in Him' made one).

The Authority in each model resides in Lord Christ.

Pax Christi,
L's

Wade Burleson said...

L's,

Very, very good.

Wade

Joe Blackmon said...

And based on the way you interpret Scripture, I don't think you would have any comeback since you take the same approach he does when it comes to gender. I think you would just have to reject his interpretation "arbitrarily."

Arbitrary. That is the perfect description of Debbie.

On one hand, Christians need to shut their pie holes about abortion. It's the law and they BETTER get over it. On the other, America has no right to decide who can come into this country and we certainly have no right to deport anybody so those laws HAVE to be changed.

Behind door number one, Christians that say homosexuality is a sin and call people to repent and trust in Christ are guilty of hate-speech. However, behind door number two suggesting that people who trust in something other than faith in Christ alone for salvation--that's ok.

This is what happens when you "feel" your way through life instead of "thinking" and you're fueled by Hillary-Clintonesque "glass ceiling" type of feminist man-hate.

Christiane said...

AN EARLY CHRISTIAN REFLECTS ON MARRIAGE:

" How wonderful the bond between two believers, now one in hope, one in desire, one in discipline, one in the same service!
They are both children of one Father and servants of the same Master, undivided in spirit and flesh, truly two in one flesh. Where the flesh is one, one also is the spirit."

From the writings of Tertullian,
2nd Century A.D.

Corrie said...

Good post, Wade.

It is interesting that the Bible never uses the word authority when it speaks of husbands and wives except for 1 Cor. 7. So often, on women's groups, I hear women talking about how they are to submit to their husband's authority in the bedroom. Are they unaware that no one has the trump card in that area? That a husband has no more authority over his wife's body than she does over his?

Also, a husband is never told to lead his wife. He is told to love her. He is given this model of love by Jesus' own model when he got down on His knees and washed the feet of His disciples.

But, when we hear marriage teachings it is always about women submitting to the man's "authority" and "leadership".

Does a woman not provide leadership to her husband and give him direction, too? Does she not teach him things, also?

Darby Livingston said...

Debbie, thanks for the interaction. I'll respond to a few things. I write matter-of-factly, as you do, so please don't think I'm frustrated or trying to "put you in your place" or anything like that. :) You wrote:

"Darby, Benji: If your interpretation is true then Christian marriages under this design should be the happiest, yet they aren't."

1) That is simply your opinion, and 2) Even if it were true, it wouldn't automatically invalidate my interpretation.

Your wrote:

"If you will look in scripture the marriages, beginning with Adam and Eve were mutual. The examples of marriage in scripture help to interpret the scriptures themselves."

I realize Benji replied to this, but I see it differently. Your statement simply couldn't be proven from the historical texts. Who do you have in mind? Abraham and his wife who called him Sir and followed him in saying she was his sister to save his sorry skin? Isaac, who had to be fooled by his wife to give the birthright to the correct son? Why didn't she just say no to Isaac if it was mutual? Why the manipulation? Jacob, who had two sisters fighting for his affection? David who had multiple wives including Bathsheba after he killed her husband? Where is the mutuality you speak of? It's actually the opposite. And even if you could give an example or two, it still doesn't disprove the texts I quoted from Paul.

You wrote:

"I would make this observation. Marriage was designed by God as a vehicle in which intimacy and relationship without rules or authority over each other were the purpose. Where both could trust, flourish, grow, by making decisions together. This is the healthy design of marriage given to us by God. Authority or hierarchy being the sinful, unhealthy for marriage."

From which text(s)are you getting this? The text I quote from Eph 5 gives the exact purpose for marriage: It is to be a universally understood picture of Christ and his church. The wife takes her relational cues from the church and the husband takes his relational cues from Christ. It's plainly there.

Darby Livingston said...

Corrie,

Your words are always so carefully balanced that it's difficult to refute, even when one knows you disagree. Your comment is spot on.

1) Wives are to submit to their husband's authority in the bedroom, in the same way that husbands are to submit to their wife's authority in the bedroom. It is truly a mutual covenant of companionship.

2) Though there is no "Thou shalt lead" text concerning husbands, there is something the wives are to be subject to or the whole concept makes no sense. Leadership is wrapped up in the command for husbands to love like Christ. Christ lead through service and the husband should do likewise.

3) I am always harder on the man than the woman. I tell men to be the kind of servant to their wives that make the wives happy to follow their lead. My own wife would say she is subject to me, but there is no such thing as a "rule" in our house that she has to abide by. In fact, on a daily basis, she pretty much runs the show in terms of household efficiency. When she says she needs milk, I say, "2% or whole?"

Benji Ramsaur said...

Darby,

I'm not saying I agree with Debbie's Old Testament interpretations. However, what I am saying is that when one interprets the Old Testament without allowing the New Testament to control one's interpretations, then one can end up not letting the New Testament speak because one maybe having rigid and erroneous O.T. interpretations control their interpretation of the N.T.

I'm not saying the two Testaments contradict each other. But I am saying that trying to allow the New Testament to control Old Testament interpretations rather than vice versa is the safer road to take IMO.

Darby Livingston said...

I agree with you Benji. When I said I disagree with you to Debbie, I meant I disagree with her being able to find many examples of mutual marriages in the OT. IOW, it seemed to me that you accepted her premise. That's what I disagreed with. I don't accept her premise that OT marriage showed mutuality.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

"...I think 'authority' in a ministry setting or business setting where a leader is getting paid to lead, but finds that a 'subordinate' becomes insubordinate, is not worthy of comparison to marriage."

But the leadership of a pastor is not based on him getting "paid." Even if he was not getting paid [or myself], I still think it would have been crossing the line to do what I talked about in the above comment.

"He stepped into the line of fire when the team moved from Seattle and took all the heat -- while the others who were equally invested stepped back and admired his leadership, but never once felt like an unequal."

But that would "still" be introducing an "unequal" function in the relationship. "Why couldn't the 'woman' in the marriage relationship step into the line of fire?" I could hear the egal say.

In the thinking of the egal if I'm not mistaken, there can be "no different nuanced functions" at all. I think the egal is committed to--The man leads, the woman leads. The man serves, the woman serves. The man sacrifices, the woman sacrifices. The man submits to exactly the same thing [or things] the woman submits to. The man respects, the woman respects. No nuance. No difference. Nothing unique arises from the functions between Christ and the church. All the same. All generic. All equal.

Good discussion going on here I think.

Darby Livingston said...

"Nothing unique arises from the functions between Christ and the church."

That's the greatest tragedy of all, I think. Too often men want to "rule the roost" instead of love their wives because they refuse to see that their "headship" is to mirror that of Christ's.

And too often in response, women want to throw away the whole idea of distinctive roles because they refuse to see that their "submission" is to mirror that of the church.

But whatever is said of husbands and wives must be said of Christ and the church, because that's the exact example that Paul uses in Eph 5. This is what too many on both sides neglect to explore.

Alan Paul said...

Perhaps... that's really only one verse vs. the others Paul writes in the areas you mentioned in your post that seem to say differently. Paul also instructs that no woman have authority over a man in the context of deacons and elders - but then commends a woman deacon (I am assuming Phoebe had authority in the church and therefore over men) elsewhere in the NT and then there are the mentions of woman authority figures (as judges, deacons, etc.) in the OT. I do not rely on any person's interpretations of any of these passages - I am not even sure of my own! I do not accept any spiritual authority over me other than Christ Himself and I don't expect my wife to either. While she sometimes defers to me - and sometimes it's often that she defers to me, we always discuss and make decisions together - and that's even if she leaves it to me.

Wade Burleson said...

Benji,

In the thinking of the egal if I'm not mistaken, there can be "no different nuanced functions" at all. I think the egal is committed to--The man leads, the woman leads. The man serves, the woman serves. The man sacrifices, the woman sacrifices. The man submits to exactly the same thing [or things] the woman submits to. The man respects, the woman respects. No nuance. No difference. Nothing unique arises from the functions between Christ and the church. All the same. All generic. All equal.

Good point.

Frankly, I would agree with the egals here.

For example, if Clay Bennett had been Cassandra Bennett--the same principle would have applied when it comes to the leadership of the point person for a consortium of owners.

I see no reason, at all, to preclude the wife of taking the forefront, being the scout, taking the lead, etc... to protect the husband she loves.

I could probably give a few illustrations of this actually happening in history.

In other words, the egals may have a point!

:)

In His Grace,

wade

Darby Livingston said...

"I see no reason, at all, to preclude the wife of taking the forefront, being the scout, taking the lead, etc... to protect the husband she loves."

You think this is how Christ loved the church? So you and Rachelle take turns investigating bumps in the night? :)

Christiane said...

Sometimes a wife is bound by her sacred marriage vows to take the lead in the marriage.
Sometimes a husband is bound by his sacred marriage vows to take the lead in the marriage.

Their vows, which are taken before God, are sacred:
'for better or for worse', . . .
'in sickness and in health' . .


For those of you who live long enough, you know that there are times when one spouse must assume the lead out of unavoidable and sometimes tragic circumstances: cancer, prolonged illness and recovery, or terminal illness. Not to mention profoundly sad situations where a spouse begins to lose their memory and they are in great fear and great need for the help of the other spouse. We pray for people in these circumstances daily.

If marriage is anything at all, it is the gift of total service to the needs of the other if the other becomes helpless. Illness and tragedy may befall a husband as well as a wife.
Whether one is husband, or wife, there will come times of helplessness and dependency.
A Christian wife may spend the last remaining years of her marriage as 'the one in charge' as she makes all decisions and supervises the care of her beloved spouse.

It was never about 'control'.

It was always about love, and commitment, and service.

Sometimes it is good 'to make present again' the scene where Christ washes the feet of His Disciples. He models a humility that, if followed, will strengthen all Christians in their ways with one another.

Caritas Christi,
L's

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

While I do not agree with everything from the CBMW website, I think the logic here is tight:

http://www.cbmw.org/Blog/Posts/Is-There-Mutual-Submission-in-Ephesians-5

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

Just wanted to encourage you to not get hung up on the particular word "authority" that they use, but notice the basic argument that they give.

Wade Burleson said...

Darby,

(Wade said) "I see no reason, at all, to preclude the wife of taking the forefront, being the scout, taking the lead, etc... to protect the husband she loves."

(Darby responded) "You think this is how Christ loved the church? So you and Rachelle take turns investigating bumps in the night?"
:)

Laughing.

Not at all. I promise you I investigate those things that go bump in the night.

But, when it comes to investigating, defending and being the point person in terms of medical needs for our family, it is my wife, not I, who takes the point.

I think leading is dependent upon gifts, grace and mutual agreement.

:)

Wade Burleson said...

Benji,

Thanks.

I am familiar with their views. What I find interesting is that most complementarian pastors live in marriages that are functionally egalitarian, but they teach "authority" all the time -- as if they have it and their spouse doesn't.

I am just suggesting we view "authority" the way Scripture does.

True authority comes from service, humility and Christian submission.

Just the opposite of the way the world views it.

wade

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

"Frankly, I would agree with the egals here."

I think that's like saying the text in Ephesians reads like this:

"submit to one another; wives, submit to your husbands; husbands, submit to your wives--PERIOD...wives, reverence your husbands; husbands, reverence your wives--PERIOD...wives, love your husbands; husbands, love your wives--PERIOD"

While I know that this is not what the text literally says in full, this seems to be basically what you are taking it to mean. Or that it can't basically mean anything more than this line of thinking. Do you really not see Paul teaching anything more nuanced than this?

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

Do you find a logical "hole" in their argument?

"What I find interesting is that most complementarian pastors live in marriages that are functionally egalitarian, but they teach 'authority' all the time -- as if they have it and their spouse doesn't."

I don't think so brother. Do you really think that when these pastors possibly sit down for family devotionals, they don't practice leading in those family devotionals [for example]?

I am going to make an assumption here that I believe could be wrong. So I am just going to go ahead and admit it up front.

Here it is: I suspect that if a male comp is not basically heavy handed with his wife, but is instead gentle and loving, then you think he is living like an egal.

Wade Burleson said...

Benji,

:)

My wife and I "sat down" for family devotionals for years, and my wife would read, pray, encourage, etc... as much as I--and we were complementarian.

Smile.

The kids had a hard time listening to us both.

Of course, Foxe's Book of Martyrs is not the typical fare for kids under 10.

Wade Burleson said...

Benji,

""submit to one another; wives, submit to your husbands; husbands, submit to your wives--PERIOD...wives, reverence your husbands; husbands, reverence your wives--PERIOD...wives, love your husbands; husbands, love your wives--PERIOD" (I Benji 2:6).

That ain't half bad!

:)

Seriously, I think the instructions above are found throughout the Scriptures.

Of course, the word "submit" is defined, by Scripture, as a desire to serve, an attitude of humility, and a spirit of sacrifice for the person whom you serve. Biblically, submission has nothing to do with superiority, but rather, a spirit of humble sacrifice for another person.

Jesus "submitted" Himself to the church with that definition. Most folks define "submit" as "bowing under the orders of a superior."

Wade

Tim Marsh said...

Corrie wrote:

"Also, a husband is never told to lead his wife. He is told to love her. He is given this model of love by Jesus' own model when he got down on His knees and washed the feet of His disciples."

When we read the texts on marriage with this in mind, they are actually some of the most beautiful in the Bible, not just on the topic of marriage.

Thanks for a great post and a good comment!

Tim Marsh said...

Pastor Wade and Benji,

I would argue that it is two ways of saying the same thing that would not have been culturally offensive to First Century ears.

Eph 5:25ff leaves no doubt.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

I see. I'm sure every other comp couple you think functioning as egal does the exact same thing:)

Also, while I understand that you are not yet perfected into the image of Christ, I have a difficult time seeing you being "worldly" towards your wife when you were a comp as well.

Anyway, if you want to actually interact with the argument on the CBMW that I gave [in either this comment stream or in a later post], then I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

In Christ,

Benji

Tim Marsh said...

Sorry, comments are vague...I meant that the charges to husband and wife are two different ways of saying the same thing.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Wade,

"Biblically, submission has nothing to do with superiority, but rather, a spirit of humble sacrifice for another person."

So, if the wife is supposed to "sacrifice" for the husband, then how did the church "sacrifice" for Christ [which would have to be the basis for the supposed submission of the wife in Eph. 5 for this to work]?

Kristen said...

Darby Livingston said:

"Now, as for proving my position using only the text: "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord" (Eph. 5:22); Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord" (Col. 3:18); Likewise, wives, be suject to your own husbands" (1 Pet. 3).

I'll remind you that the Colossians text does not have a mutual submission clause preceding the exhortation to wives. I guess the poor Colossian women just had to do what the text said because Paul forgot to mention mutual submission like he did with the Ephesians. :)"

So here are my questions: If the word "submit" (hupotasso- hope I'm spelling that right) implies, of necessity, an authority-subordinate relationship between the one submitting and the one submitted to, then why are all Christians told to submit to one another in the first place? And why does Paul appear to differentiate the husband-wife relationship by the conspicuous absence of the word "obey" (hupokoete, I believe) which appears in the parent-child and master-slave sections?

Thy Peace said...

Some posts of this blog that are relevant to these discussions ...

An Exhaustive Study on the Meaning of "Head:" Are Women Really Free To Function Freely? [JULY 13, 2009].

God Calls Patriarchal Headship A Sinful Desire [JULY 02, 2009].

Are the Sisters Free to Function? by Jon Zens [APRIL 19, 2007].

I Know Who's The Boss - Message 3 [JANUARY 10, 2007].

Kristen said...

Benji said,

"So, if the wife is supposed to "sacrifice" for the husband, then how did the church "sacrifice" for Christ [which would have to be the basis for the supposed submission of the wife in Eph. 5 for this to work]?"

But Christ said "take up your cross and follow me." If that's not sacrifice, I don't know what is.

Benji Ramsaur said...

All egals on planet earth:),

I asked "So, if the wife is supposed to "sacrifice" for the husband, then how did the church "sacrifice" for Christ [which would have to be the basis for the supposed submission of the wife in Eph. 5 for this to work]?"

I want to follow up on that. If you guys define submission as sacrifice for/benefitting another, then either:

A. Somehow you have to show how the church does this for Christ.

or

B. Reject that Paul is using the imagery of the church in relationship to Christ as a basis for how the wife is to relate to her husband.

Now, if y'all choose "B", then I ask you this:

"Why did Paul bother bringing in the imagery of the church's relationship to Christ in the first place?"

Benji Ramsaur said...

Kristen,

"But Christ said 'take up your cross and follow me.' If that's not sacrifice, I don't know what is."

Yes, we are to "die to self-centeredness" and follow/obey Master Jesus, but that is not sacrifice for the benefit of Christ. Christ rejected the idea of anyone "serving" [in the sense of helping or benefitting Him] in Mark 10:45.

In the Greek, you have the "deacon" thing going on there. However, elsewhere in the New Testament the idea is that of being a "slave" to Master Jesus, not a "deacon" [unless someone can find it] to Jesus.

Darby Livingston said...

Kristen, you wrote:

"So here are my questions: If the word "submit" (hupotasso- hope I'm spelling that right) implies, of necessity, an authority-subordinate relationship between the one submitting and the one submitted to, then why are all Christians told to submit to one another in the first place?"

Please allow me to turn your question around before answering it: If everyone is supposed to submit to everyone in exactly the same way, then why did Paul waste the ink after verse 21?

I don't think it's necessary to see submission as an authority-subordinate relationship. It's better to see the word as to place in order. IOW, there's an orderly fashion to the Christian household. The husband submits to his wife by loving his wife and giving himself up for her. That's his submission.

You wrote:

"And why does Paul appear to differentiate the husband-wife relationship by the conspicuous absence of the word "obey" (hupokoete, I believe) which appears in the parent-child and master-slave sections?"

The answer I think is clear: wives are neither children nor slaves and better not be treated as such. However, it is interesting to note that Peter does use the same word that Paul uses for children and slaves when he tells Christian wives to follow Sarah's example when she obeyed (same word) Abraham and called him lord.

ezekiel said...

Good conversation guys. Here is my 2 cents worth.

Having been in and still in an on going almost never ending daily struggle with my beloved spouse over many of the topics you guys are adressing I wonder what happens if we look at Ephesians 5:25? The pattern suggested seems to be to do it like He does.

If that is the case then going by Paul's writings in so many different letters, it is an unconditional covenant (I don't remember my vows or hers having anything like "IF you will I will" in them) to love her, no matter what she does. There are no rules or demands upon her other than expressed in Gal 5:13-14.

If we love our wife as Christ loves His church, don't we give her the same freedom that He gives us? The same unconditional love, blessings and continual care?

If she rebels against our rules and our authority is she really doing anything that His bride hasn't done to Him? And how does He handle that? More love?

Are we as men acting more like Christ or more like Moses when we read Paul's writings? Are they the law now? When She realizes she has the freedom that she has, what will she do? Is she fighting the same thing Israel did for much the same reason. Laws that they couldn't follow? Laws that we can't either?

Kristen said...

Benji, we appear to have posted simultaneously. See my answer to your question, above.

Benji Ramsaur said...

"If everyone is supposed to submit to everyone in exactly the same way, then why did Paul waste the ink after verse 21?"

I think that is a great point Darby.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Kristen,

I answered you here: Fri Dec 11, 06:23:00 PM 2009

In Christ,

Benji

Lydia said...

"But whatever is said of husbands and wives must be said of Christ and the church, because that's the exact example that Paul uses in Eph 5. This is what too many on both sides neglect to explore."

Expound on that in daily application.

Are you saying the husband is a type of Christ to his wife? do you think it is your job to sanctify you wife as that verse is interpreted by many non egals?

And what about verse 33 where the word 'reverence' or 'respect' is really "phobeo"which is mostly translated as 'fear'.

The interlinear says 'that she may be fearing the 'aner'.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Ezekiel,

Those are some interesting thoughts brother. I think I would say that while the church is not perfect, she still responds by voluntarily following Christ "in love".

She loves-in-following in response to His love-in-sacrifice in other words. Hence, I think that seems like a good way to think about the marriage relationship.

The husband sacrificially loving his wife and the wife responding by "wanting" to follow his lead in love.

That's a lot different from the husband merely saying "hey, I'm the head, listen to me".

Thank you for commenting.

In Christ,

Benji

Lydia said...

B. Reject that Paul is using the imagery of the church in relationship to Christ as a basis for how the wife is to relate to her husband.

Now, if y'all choose "B", then I ask you this:

"Why did Paul bother bringing in the imagery of the church's relationship to Christ in the first place?"

Fri Dec 11, 06:17:00 PM 2009

You are assuming the imagery means authority in this context. It is a metaphor for sacrifice. Not authority.

Are you also alluding that Ephesians 5:21 exempts husbands? That would mean that at church a man is to submit to both male and female believers except his wife. That is kind of strange.

Lydia said...

"I see no reason, at all, to preclude the wife of taking the forefront, being the scout, taking the lead, etc... to protect the husband she loves."

This is something my mom had to do while my dad lay dying for 3 years at home. So, one could say, well circumstances change the meaning...but then that would mean there is no universal rule for the husband being leader.

I also know a woman police officer married to a computer genius. She investigates the bumps in the night. :o)

Darby Livingston said...

I find that view pushing the limits of the text at the very least. Husbands are not a "type" of Christ because the real Christ has come. I think Paul is simply showing both the manner of his love (gave himself up for her) and the motivation of that love (so that he might present the church to himself in splendor).

He then says, In the same way, husbands...

I think Christ is definitely the example for the husband, and the church is the example for the wife; but I find that in verse 32 moreso than in the preceding verses.

I think 33 is Paul's way of getting back to his point because he went off on the "mystery" talk for a few sentences. I think it's his way of recapitulating the point he already made in 22, but why he chose a different word there, I'm not sure.

Peter O'Brien writes in his commentary: "Here, too, 'fear' is a better rendering than 'reverence' or 'respect'. But it is no slavish fear that is in view. Rather, the wife's fear of her husband, which reflects the fear of believers who are subordinate to those in authority over them (v. 21), recognizes his God-given position as head."

I'm no Greek scholar. He is. I'm not sure.

Lydia said...

"If everyone is supposed to submit to everyone in exactly the same way, then why did Paul waste the ink after verse 21?"

I think that is a great point Darby.

Fri Dec 11, 06:42:00 PM 2009

Wives did not have to voluntarily submit to their husbands in the 1st Century because they were chattel. Being owned by both father or husband. Voluntarily submitting was a step up for them.


Also above in a comment someone used the OT as a blueprint for male behavior. Bad idea.

You guys are going to have to give up the worldly preeminance of "leader" and focus on servant. It is a deadly sin trap for ya. :o(

Darby Livingston said...

"Expound on that in daily application."

On a daily basis, husbands must give themselves (their bodies, their words, their agendas, their time, their resources, the entirety of their being under Christ) to their wives as a blessing. That's the manner of Christ-like love of a husband.

What could possibly motivate such a sacrifice (even though most husbands refuse to live up to it)? Husbands expect the fruit of their love to overflow in respectful submission to those blessings, thus providing a well-ordered and harmonious household. That's the motivation of Christ-like love of a husband.

Lydia,

If this text is taught properly, the greatest burden by far falls on the husband. Unfortunately, it isn't always taught properly.

Wade Burleson said...

Folks, great discussion. I am entering a busy night and two days of ministry. I will be unable to comment further, but be assured, I will read every comment.

Thanks to all for the wisdom and grace displayed in each comment.

Wade

Lydia said...

If this text is taught properly, the greatest burden by far falls on the husband. Unfortunately, it isn't always taught properly.

Fri Dec 11, 07:14:00 PM 2009

Darby, again, this negates other scripture that says we must all bear one another's burdens.

And Debbie was right about the intentions of male/female unity before the fall of a 'one flesh union'. There is no hierarchy implied in 'one flesh union'.

Lydia said...

"I think 33 is Paul's way of getting back to his point because he went off on the "mystery" talk for a few sentences. I think it's his way of recapitulating the point he already made in 22, but why he chose a different word there, I'm not sure.
"

It is definitely fear. And I think it is in there for the same reason slaves are told to obey their masters.

Darby Livingston said...

"It is definitely fear. And I think it is in there for the same reason slaves are told to obey their masters."

So you agree with the quote of O'Brien then?

Kristen said...

Benji said,

"Yes, we are to 'die to self-centeredness' and follow/obey Master Jesus, but that is not sacrifice for the benefit of Christ."

Most of us in the West don't understand sacrifice for Christ. Those under anti-Christian governments understand it very well. Paul understood it well when he said he was "completing what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ." The early Church martyrs understood it. "Sacrifice" frequently means more than dying to self-centeredness. It means dying.

How can it possibly be said that martyrdom is not a sacrifice for the benefit of Christ? Just because He needs nothing in His divine Person, doesn't mean we can't sacrifice to His work.

Darby said,

"If everyone is supposed to submit to everyone in exactly the same way, then why did Paul waste the ink after verse 21?"

Paul was revising the Roman household codes. His readers would have understood that. He was doing it in a radical new way that required those in the superior position to do more than just assert their authority, as the Roman codes decreed. Paul was telling Christians how to live, in a practical sense, in a non-Christian world. He did not advocate the overthrow of the system, but rather changed attitudes and hearts within it. This does not mean the system was being upheld or ratified as God's will for all time.

I can't find it now, but someone mentioned the word "obey" in the 1 Peter passage about Sarah "obeying" Abraham. But the 1 Peter passage is about husbands who "obey not the word." The context is all about Christians' behavior towards those in authority in that society. Peter was giving advice to women married to unbelieving husbands, about following Sarah's example. He still does not directly tell Christian wives to "obey," merely to follow the example of Sarah, who obeyed, and God protected her even when Abraham messed up. The whole Abraham-Sarah story needs to be taken into account, not just Sarah's obedience. The point, again, is how to live as Christians in a patriarchal society-- not a ratification of that society's mores as if they were God's will.

At another point in that story, God specifically tells Abraham to obey Sarah! In the question of Hagar, Abraham was told "do whatever your wife Sarah tells you." So Sarah didn't unilaterally obey Abraham all the time.

These passages are all about Christians exercising wisdom in how to live in the world-- not about curtailing women's freedom. Women in that day didn't have much freedom; but the Epistles give them more freedom than they'd ever had before. They were no longer their husbands' property, but fellow-heirs.

So why does the Church's attitude today seem to be all about restricting and subordinating women? Could that really be God's intention? He told husbands to treat their wives as Christ treated the church when He laid down His own privilege and raised her up with Him to be glorious. The passage doesn't talk about Christ's lordship over the church-- it talks about the way He raises the church up with Him.

Should not husbands be laying down their privilege and raising their wives up to be glorious with them? Why do they instead insist on it being all about authority?

Lydia said...

So you agree with the quote of O'Brien then?

Fri Dec 11, 08:06:00 PM 2009

Not all the way. He erroneously maps the husband to the same fear as fear of God. (And Head does not mean authority, so he errs there, too)

If it were to be an authority/follower relationship in marriage it would not be submit but obey.

I believe he uses the word phobeo for the same reason he uses obey with slaves. It is the historical context and good advice. Wives had no where else to go and could not escape an unloving authortarian husband or father.

Look at how O'Brien contradicts himself:

Peter O'Brien writes in his commentary: "Here, too, 'fear' is a better rendering than 'reverence' or 'respect'. But it is no slavish fear that is in view. Rather, the wife's fear of her husband, which reflects the fear of believers who are subordinate to those in authority over them (v. 21), recognizes his God-given position as head."

That IS a "slavish" fear! Because no where in scripture is it said the husband is in authority over his wife. That is the part you guys read into it by your erroneous interpretation of Kephale.

Think about it. Slaves are told to obey their masters but in another place they are told to win their freedom if they can. And in another place, Paul counsels a believing slave owner to treat his runaway as a brother in Christ. That is historical context for the time. I believe something similar is going on about wives.

Lydia said...

Kristen, Good points. Much of this came alive and made much more sense after studying the household codes of that time.

Submit was a step up for women. And yes, we are co-heirs in EVERYTHING.

Christiane said...

From a letter by Tertullian, an Early Church Father, to his wife, ca. 202 A.D.

" How beautiful, then, the marriage of two Christians, two who are one in hope, one in desire, one in the way of life they follow, one in the religion they practice.

They are as brother and sister, both servants of the same Master. Nothing divides them, either in flesh or in Spirit. They are in very truth, two in one flesh; and where there is but one flesh there is also but one spirit.

They pray together, they worship together, they fast together; instructing one another, encouraging one another, strengthening one another.

Side by side they face difficulties and persecution, share their consolations. They have no secrets from one another, they never shun each other's company; they never bring sorrow to each other's hearts… Psalms and hymns they sing to one another.

Hearing and seeing this, Christ rejoices. To such as these He gives His peace. Where there are two together, there also He is present, and where He is, there evil is not."

Darby Livingston said...

"Because no where in scripture is it said the husband is in authority over his wife."

Ahh, you sure about that?

Darby Livingston said...

"I believe he uses the word phobeo for the same reason he uses obey with slaves. It is the historical context and good advice."

So your understanding of Paul has him telling women to fear their husband's tyranny and when they get a chance, try to gain their freedom?

Christiane said...

I don't know about the circumstances of Baptist marriage contracts, but in my Church, the marriage sacrament is based on mutual consent, free from coercion.

Our catechism teaches that marriage between Christian people must not be afflicted by the evil and the sin of 'a spirit of domination' which leads to disharmony in the union.
Such a 'spirit of domination' is considered destructive, and therefore sinful.

What exactly DOES the baptist church teach its young people about the sanctity of marriage? Is there any specific teaching, or is there a variety of teachings based on a variety of interpretations of Holy Scripture?

Caritas,
L's

Kristen said...

Nowhere in Scripture is the husband TOLD to be in authority over his wife.

The fact that the husband "is" in authority is from the Curse. "He shall rule over you" was said to the woman. But God did not then turn to the man and say, "See that you rule over her."

Benji Ramsaur said...

Kristen,

Whether one dies literally or not is not the point. The point is that sacrifice [no matter how small or great] does not "benefit" Christ [Mark 10:45].

It brings glory to God in Christ and can be a great witness to the lost, but it does not "help" Jesus.

Therefore, egals have to come up with some way of the church sacrificing/serving Jesus which does not benefit Jesus and thus some way in which wives sacrifice/serve their husbands which does not benefit them. Will egals say that the wives submission to their husbands does not benefit them, but glorifies them?

Now, I do not know whether you are Calvinistic or not. However, for egals who are, I think they will not be able to allow the idea that the church can benefit Jesus by sacrificng for Him without sacrificing their Calvinistic doctrine of Theism [which includes the idea that God is absolutely independent of the creation and not in need of anything from the creation even though His people can please Him and glorify Him].

God Bless,

Benji

Mara Reid said...

Darby: "Ahh, you sure about that?"

Yep. Produce that verse and then I won't be able to be so sure about it.

Darby: "So your understanding of Paul has him telling women to fear their husband's tyranny and when they get a chance, try to gain their freedom?"

IF you were in a situation where you were subject to any kind of tyranny, whether it be employment, an oppressive government, or even a marriage to an abusive woman one and a quarter times your size, do you think it would be wrong to try to gain some sort of freedom from that tyranny?

I can't guess what your answer would be.

But my question is no more strange than yours.

Oh, and if my husband was a tyrannt and I feared for my life (phobos, phobia, whatever), yes, I'd be looking for a way to freedom.
And if we were subject to teaching on marriage that would encourage the 'inner-tyrant' ;) in my husband, yep, I'd be looking to get as far away from that teaching as I could.
Because we are all called to freedom and commanded not to be subject again to a yoke of slavery.

Now, Darby, I 'get' that I could be completely misunderstanding what you are asking about. So I hope if I missed your point (and I probably did) that you can lay things out a little better for me.

Thanks.

Mara Reid said...

Benji: "Whether one dies literally or not is not the point. The point is that sacrifice [no matter how small or great] does not "benefit" Christ [Mark 10:45]."

Okay, I think I get what you are saying.
But my question then is, do wives make sacrifices for their husbands that actually benefit their husbands or do they just bring glory to them?

I know husbands make sacrifices that actually benefit their wives. But is it possible fot it to go the other way. And if so, what does that do to the verses in question and the point of your point? :)

Suzanne McCarthy said...

"So your understanding of Paul has him telling women to fear their husband's tyranny and when they get a chance, try to gain their freedom?"

Perhaps. This has the value of being realistic and saving skin. (If you say that Chrisianity is not about saving skin, let me add that Christianity oght not to be about men sacrificing the lives of women to their own psychic angst about the veracity of the scriptures.) There is, in fact, a time for a woman to fear the physical, legal and financial clout that the husband has. And then comes the time to flee.

Regarding O'Brien's commentary, I believe that he is accurate in saying that "fear" is a much better translation than "respect." "Respect" is used in English to veil the fact that marriage and slavery had a dimension in common in those days. So he is right on about the meaning of phobeo but misunderstands the implications.

O'Brien is misleading on another point. He writes,

"Hers is the answer of a free and responsible person, (note the middle of the verb "fear") page 437

Whether this is the middle voice or the passive voice is unlikely to be relevant.

Note this comparison,

"28And(A) do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him(B) who can destroy both soul and body in hell." Mat. 10:28

"5But I will warn you whom to fear: fear him(A) who, after he has killed, has authority to cast into hell.[a] Yes, I tell you, fear him!" Luke 12:4

In the first of these verses, the verb phobeo is in the middle voice, and in the second, the verb is in the passive verse.

Would anyone care to exegete the difference in meaning beteen these two verses on this basis?

It is of the utmost importance to realize that exegeting the Greek is first and foremost a pissing match.

Unfortunately, those who are not completely familiar with this game tend to be taken in by it. I am sorry about this and I wish I could have some influence on this, but people see what they want to see in the Greek.

Benji Ramsaur said...

And if I may be candid about it, this might be the main question I have in my mind concerning egals:

Do they love their equality more than they love their God?

In other words, if in their "zeal" for equality, they end up distorting the nature of God, then I think that will reveal their true colors. I hope they don't distort, but...

*Throw out* the ess issue for a second. If egals cannot admit that the Divine Son of God "ever" submitted to the Father because they have to protect their "one way submission necessarily means lesser in essence" dogma [I think I got that right], then I see that as a possible heart problem [at the least].

Benji Ramsaur said...

Mara,

"But is it possible fot it to go the other way. And if so, what does that do to the verses in question and the point of your point? :)"

I don't think the problem is on my end. I think the problem is on the egals end.

If submission is defined as sacrifice for the benefit of another, but they want to maintain that the church's submission to Christ [the basis for the wife's submission to her husband] does not benefit Christ, then I think they are stuck.

They either have to throw out their definition of submission or throw out their full-orbed Doctrine of God [if they are Calvinistic at that point].

They can't say "Well, no one can benefit God the Father, but with Christ it is different".

Christ is fully Divine and thus what is true concerning God's attributes is true of Christ as well.

In Christ,

Benji

Debbie Kaufman said...

Darby: It's more than opinion, it's opinion based on facts. The following is speaking of Christian marriages.

Dr. David H. Olson, Professor Emeritus, Family Social Science, University of Minnesota, compiled a national survey based on 21,501 married couples using a comprehensive marital assessment tool called ENRICH. This national survey, published in the year 2000, represents one of the largest and most comprehensive analyses of martial strengths and stumbling blocks. Couples were asked to complete 30 background questions and 165 specific questions that focused on 20 significant marital issues. This survey identified the top ten strengths of happy marriages and the top ten stumbling blocks for married couples. This data is summarized in the attached Appendix. Using these top ten strengths, it is possible to discriminate between happy and unhappy marriages with 93% accuracy.

A significant discovery was made in relation to marital satisfaction and role relationships. It discovered that (81%) of equalitarian (egalitarian) couples were happily married, while (82%) of couples where both spouses perceived their relationship as traditional (hierarchical) were mainly unhappy.[17]

This means that only 18% of traditional marriages were reported as happy. In relation to intimacy 98% of happy couples feel very close to each other, while only 27% of unhappy couples felt the same. The inability to share leadership equally (couple inflexibility) was the top stumbling block to a happy marriage.

Darby Livingston said...

"Because no where in scripture is it said the husband is in authority over his wife."

"Ahh, you sure about that?"

"Yep. Produce that verse and then I won't be able to be so sure about it."

For starters, the verse in 1 Cor. 7 that is the point of this post. The wife does not have authority over her body but the husband does, and the husband doesn't have authority over his body but the wife does.

It does say the husband is head of the wife. I know the arguments used against this. Before someone ventures to make them, consider first:

"Nearly two decades after the publication of my 1985 study, the alleged meaning 'source without authority' has still not been supported with any text in ancient Greek literature. Over fifty examples of kephale meaning 'ruler, authority over' have been found, but no examples of the meaning 'source without authority.' Finally, while all the recognized lexicons for ancient Greek, or their editors give kephale the meaning 'person in authority over' or something similar, none give the meaning 'source' when the word is applied to persons... Once again the question is, where is the evidence? Where is even one example of a statement that takes the form 'person A is the head of person B,' in which person A is not in a position of authority over person B? Not one example has ever been produced by egalitarians. But if all the lexicons and all the citations of this kind of expression contradict the egalitarian position, why do egalitarian writers go on affirming it as if it were proven fact?"

This is taken from Wayne Grudem's Evangelical Feminism. I realize that Grudem's name is almost a cussword on this blog, akin to quoting Rush Limbaugh to Chris Matthews, but I'd be interested to find someone actually answer his charge before redefining the word "head."

Darby Livingston said...

"I realize that Grudem's name is almost a cussword on this blog,"

Let me clarify. I don't mean to you personally Wade (though it may be, I'm not sure). :)

I just meant judging by the positions taken up in comment streams here, Grudem seems to be a villain.

Debbie Kaufman said...

"The wife takes her cues from the church, the husband takes his cues from Christ. It's plainly there."

Darby, Darby, Darby: The wife takes her cues from Christ too. It's plainly there(vs. 21 remember?). By this statement(which I hear a lot but can never understand) you are lessening the woman, and it's not what I see scripture saying in light of verses 18-22.

When I have more time I will show you the marriages that are in scripture. Didn't God tell both Sarah and Abraham concerning their going to give birth? Sarah laughed. As for calling him lord the true explanation of this is different than what you think.

The fact is that Abraham obeyed Sarah as much as she obeyed him. Once by God's direct command. (Gen. 16:2, 6; 21:11-12).

You bring up the sins of women such as Rebecca to prove your point, but it shows that we all sin, just as the sins of Moses, David, Abraham are exposed. None were perfect and the Bible shows this. It does not mean that all women are deceitful and need a man to keep them straight. There are many stories of the wife keeping the man from sinning. Again mutual help, mutual support. Mutual. So that point on Rebecca is quite mute except to show us that all have sinned as told us in Romans.

Kristen said...

Benji,

First of all, I don't define "submission" as "sacrificing for the benefit of." I define "submission" as "yielding to." Christ yielded to the church when He yielded to humanity shouting "Crucify!" The church yielding to Christ is obvious. But "yielding" is all about humility and self-denial, one to another-- not about one asserting authority over the other and the other being under that authority.

Yes, Christ is in the position of power. But He did not consider His position something to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant. Phil 2. Submission (yielding, even to the point of death) was part of His sacrifice. This does not mean that "sacrifice" is synonymous with "submission." The passages we have been talking about, written in a time where husbands were in a place of power, encourage them to lay down their power and raise up their wives. This is what Christ does for the church.

I see what you're saying about Christ's followers not being able to "benefit" Him, but I think you're defining "benefit" way too narrowly, and that yes, we "benefit" Christ-- the Father too!-- when we participate in and contribute to the growth of the Kingdom. And btw, I'm not a Calvinit, though I do believe in the sovereignty of God-- but it does seem that Calvinists often emphasize sovereignty to the point where it seems that God's relations with humans are all about making sure God's power over humans is constantly the focus.

Christ calls us "friends" and not "slaves" for a reason. God is not absorbed in His power as many humans are. This is why God the Son was born in a stable and spent His life wandering around as an itinerant. This is why He washed His disciples' feet. This is why He said He was "gentle and humble in heart."

As for "kephale," there are other options besides "source" and "authority." Suzanne has shown in her own studies on this word that it often means "prominent one" without conveying "authority." That's what I believe the message is in Ephesians 5 -- "the husband is the prominent one, but the wife is one with him like his own body. Lay down the prominence society gives you, husbands, and raise up your wives."

As for the tone that some are taking here-- I ask of complementarians everywhere: please remember that it is you, not egals, who are trying to justify your authority/power over women. We egal women only want the same freedom you male comps take for granted for yourselves. We are not seeking to establish any authority or power over you. Your accusations of us really seem out of place under the circumstances.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

"Once again the question is, where is the evidence? Where is even one example of a statement that takes the form 'person A is the head of person B,' in which person A is not in a position of authority over person B? Not one example has ever been produced by egalitarians."

On the CBMW site Grudem writes,

"the king of Egypt is called "head" of the nation"

Ptolemy, the king of Egypt, was not the authority over his father, although he was called the kephale of the kings.

Here is the Greek and the English, from Fitzmeyer, page 86,

"Philo speaks of Ptolemy II Philadelphus as one who was outstanding among the Ptolemies and expresses it thus,

genoumenos kathaper en zōō to hēgemoneuon kephalē tropon tina tōn basileōn

being, as the head is the leading part in a living body, in some sense the head of kings [of the Ptolemaic dynasty]. (De Vita Mosis 2.5.30)"

Here are my concerns with this text.

First, in Philo, we do see the head - kephale - used as the ruler/leader/first of the body. The question is whether a person who is referred to as a kephale, is a ruler, or just a very prominent person.

1) Philadelphus II, is, as his name suggests, NOT the head of the Ptolemaic dynasty at all - his father was. Although Ptolemy is referred to as kephale, he is not the authority over his father.

2) Philadelphus is being described in this passage as more illustrious than the other kings for doing a good deed, for having the Hebrew scriptures translated into Greek. There is no reference in this passage to Philadelphus being the ruler over other kings.

3) Philadelphus is not actually called "head" - this has been inserted in translation. Its a comparison or analogy. There is no phrase here which can be translated as "head of kings" or "head of the nation."

4) The Greek phrase en zōō to hēgemoneuon is extremely obscure and has been translated elsewhere as "leader of the herd." It says, "just as the head is the leading place of the living creature, so [Philadelphus] of kings."

IMO, Jephthah is the only named person ever labeled kephale, for whom it appears to be a position of authority over his own people, even if somewhat unconventional in nature.

One can't say that kephale never has a connotation of being over, but it is not used this way in Greek literature.

In any case, Grudem's claim is tenuous, and unfortunately he misquotes the example about Ptolemy on the CBMW site, which undermines his honesty and puts into question whether men should be given authority at all.

Lydia said...

"Because no where in scripture is it said the husband is in authority over his wife."

Ahh, you sure about that?

Fri Dec 11, 10:48:00 PM 2009

Oops, I forgot about 1 Corin 7 where it is reciprocal and the topic of this blog post. Duh

Lydia said...

"I believe he uses the word phobeo for the same reason he uses obey with slaves. It is the historical context and good advice."

So your understanding of Paul has him telling women to fear their husband's tyranny and when they get a chance, try to gain their freedom?

Fri Dec 11, 10:50:00 PM 2009


The household codes were no over turned. Scripture says to obey the governing authorities. Again, look at the facts. We are ALL told to submit to one another. Wives are told to submit to husbands...NOT obey them. No where is authority mentioned in this passage. So why put it in to fear them?

Mara Reid said...

Benji: "I don't think the problem is on my end. I think the problem is on the egals end."

You have a nice way of sidestepping the issue.
I have no idea what you are talking about, I'm only addressing what you have said.

Benji: "If submission is defined as sacrifice for the benefit of another,"

I don't believe that I have defined submission as this. Also, some egals may have, but saying that they all do is not accurate.

Benji: "They can't say 'Well, no one can benefit God the Father, but with Christ it is different'."

This phrase means very little to me and doesn't really address my concerns at all since I don't define submission in the way you suppose.
I think you are agruing from a place of what you think I think rather than what I actually think.

It's okay. I've done it to you and have been wrong. I'm still trying to grasp where you are coming from.

I'm thinking (correct me if I'm wrong) you are trying to get across your version of non-egal which is a kinder gentler non-egal?

Benji:"Do they love their equality more than they love their God?
In other words, if in their "zeal" for equality, they end up distorting the nature of God, then I think that will reveal their true colors. I hope they don't distort, but..."

I really really want to address this one, but, alas, I'm the mother of two very talented daugthers and have to take one to a B-ball tourney and the other to her flute lesson. I'll be gone all day.

If I have time and the conversation hasn't drifted too far off, I may be back on this one.

Lydia said...

"Do they love their equality more than they love their God? "

Benji, egals are so used to being accused of such things, it does not even register alarm with me anymore. Do you love your supposed preeminance more than God? It works both ways.

It is hard for you to understand since you are not taught subjection to another person but it actually boils down to whether a wife loves God more than her husband. Non egals focus more on her status before her husband than they do her inheritance from Jesus Christ.

Non egals elevate men over God because that is their focus.

"n other words, if in their "zeal" for equality, they end up distorting the nature of God, then I think that will reveal their true colors. I hope they don't distort, but..."

Jesus Christ, Lord of Hosts in eternity is no lesser God as ESS teaches.

Lydia said...

"If submission is defined as sacrifice for the benefit of another, but they want to maintain that the church's submission to Christ [the basis for the wife's submission to her husband] does not benefit Christ, then I think they are stuck."

You have lost me. I think this is a result of taking a metaphor too far. As in a wife takes her cues from the church and the husband takes his cues from Christ. That is pretty rigid. Do I as a wife ignore all the admonitions to be Christlike?

Lydia said...

I realize that Grudem's name is almost a cussword on this blog, akin to quoting Rush Limbaugh to Chris Matthews, but I'd be interested to find someone actually answer his charge before redefining the word "head."

Sat Dec 12, 01:55:00 AM 2009

Suzanne has done this on her blog and in comments in many places. But she is not a man with a big title who has written books. As I understand it, she has been reading Greek since her teens.

For me, Grudem has no credibility for many reasons and in reading him for many years. It is becoming easy to spot young seminary students quoting more Grudem than the Word. I wish they would put down the Grudem books and start studying the Word instead of what someone tells them to believe about the Word. Let the Holy Spirit teach.

Lindon said...

http://www.achurchinryde.com/blog/?p=405

Here is a very interesting blog post about mutual submission in Ephesus... by a pastor. He points out the confusion of what Grudem, Piper and CBMW have taught and how their teaching on the subject seems to change bit by bit.

Thy Peace said...

Some posts from Suzanne's blog that are relevant to these discussions ...

Showing all posts "kephale".

Grudem, Ptolemy and kephale.
This post is a review of what Grudem wrote in his Open Letter to Egalitarians. Grudem wrote,

But we have never been able to find any text in ancient Greek literature that gives support to your interpretation. Wherever one person is said to be the "head'' of another person (or persons), the person who is called the "head'' is always the one in authority (such as the general of an army, the Roman emperor, Christ, the heads of the tribes of Israel, David as head of the nations, etc.) Specifically, we cannot find any text where person A is called the "head'' of person or persons B, and is not in a position of authority over that person or persons
.

Index: CBMW, Grudem, kephale.
Everything I have written on kephale has been in spontaneous posts in response to posts elsewhere in the blogosphere. I have never had any intention of examining this issue in depth and I deeply regret that I have not so far organized my material on this topic.

I have also written on several other aspects of the CBMW platform and Grudem's books. Let me summarize
.

Grudem and Ptolemy.
This deserves a separate post. On Gender blog, Grudem says that when kephale is used it means "ruler of", and here is an example,
the king of Egypt is called "head" of the nation
.

Grudem and kephale.
Grudem wrote,

In these texts the word kephalē is applied to many people in authority, but to none without governing authority:
.

The omitted citations.
Grudem wrote on gender blog,
In these texts the word kephalē is applied to many people in authority, but to none without governing authority:

he king of Egypt is called "head" of the nation
the general of an army is called the "head" of the army ..
.

Response to the Open Letter.
In 1998 Dr. Grudem wrote an Open Letter to Egalitarians. Mike Seaver of Role Calling has copied it onto his blog. I have asked if Mike would consider my response to this letter. Here is a copy of the original letter with responses by Linda Belleville and Dr. Grudem's rebuttal.

I would also like to make an attempt to put the answer to three of the points in this letter in a fairly simple form, and have people respond to this
.

RM said...

Reading this post is akin to the following statement:

"If you have to tell someone that you are in charge, then you aren't."

ezekiel said...

Benji,

Having spent a good bit of time wrestling with this the past few years, let me give you my perspective as an egal calvinist.

When we look at the church helping Christ issue I find these scriptures taking on more and more important roles as I try to undo years of comp teaching and living in my own marriage.

If we start with the comp position as being the OT relationship that some prefer, we have to go back to the Mosaic convenant. "I will bless you IF you will obey..."

That seems to be the comp position to me, or at least the way I ended up practicing it. But if we look at Paul's writings we have to know that the church today and her relationship with Christ is spelled out in the New covenant. I don't see any IF's in Jer 31:33-34.
It is an unconditional covenant of love and mercy. Nothing required of the church. No rules, laws etc.

Gal 2:19 For I through the Law [under the operation of the curse of the Law] have [in Christ's death for me] myself died to the Law and all the Law's demands upon me, so that I may [henceforth] live to and for God.
Gal 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ [in Him I have shared His crucifixion]; it is no longer I who live, but Christ (the Messiah) lives in me; and the life I now live in the body I live by faith in (by adherence to and reliance on and complete trust in) the Son of God, Who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

If we take that into a modern day marriage and the comparisons that Paul used to describe human relationships with Christ and His Bride examples, don't we wind up with the mutual submission we see in Ephesians and the scripture in Galatians? She is free to live to and for me, because I gave myself up for her.

As fellow Christians we are free from the law to serve one another and serve Christ.

Gal 5:13 For you, brethren, were [indeed] called to freedom; only [do not let your] freedom be an incentive to your flesh and an opportunity or excuse [for selfishness], but through love you should serve one another.

This, I think is the bottom line and the basis for what Paul is teaching as the correct approach to marriage. It answers both the mutual submission aspect and the mutual love your neighbor aspect at the same time.

Unfortuanately, at least in my home, we seem more content to go at it in a more Gal 5:15 fashion. Sort of like we see it played out here.

In the end, all more rigorous rules, demands and domination bring is more rebellion, more strife and more seperation. It did for God in the OT and seems to repeat in our legalistic churches today. More strife and partisanship.

I don't think it is any coincidence that The Sovereign God would show us his experience with His church in our own human relationships. That is why we have wifes, sons and daughters.

Is the answer "free to live to and for" and to "not use our freedom as an excuse for selfishness but to serve one another seems to be a good basis for a marriage"?

I know in the OT, the harder Israel hardened her heart, the harder He got with her. That seems the general direction of the comp teaching coming out of our churches right now.

Wade Burleson said...

Lindon,

Thanks for the link.

I was impressed with this pastor's thoughts.

wade

Wade Burleson said...

Darby,

Thanks for the clarification about Grudem.

I can assure you I respect him immensely and believe him to be a brother in Christ who has forgotten more than I will ever learn.

We may disagree on a few issues, but I'm smart enough to say I could be wrong and he could be right. I just don't yet see it.

Don said...

The ink after Eph 5:21 gives Paul's gloss on Aristotle's household codes, where he subverts them from the inside out. But many today know very little about what Aristotle taught, but back in the 1st century it was imbedded in their culture and laws.

The husband was like a mafia godfather to his family, he made the rules and no one under him could challenge them, his wife did not have the ability to sue him in court and he could demand she expose an infant not wanted by him to death.

Contrast this with what Paul says to someone who grew up with a mindset molded by Aristotle. Instead of expecting absolute obedience from her, the husband is to serve his wife! This subverts the whole dominant paradigm. ALL of the examples of Christ as head in Eph 5 are serving examples and a husband following Christ's example is to serve his wife, as in being a servant to her and for her. This was revolutionary.

One is not to add nor subtract from Scripture, so men should not add to the warrant given in Eph 5 to serve their wives.

P.S. The kephale of an army was its pointmen, the first to enter battle, while the archon (leader) was the general. One reason Alex the Great was great was because he was both kephale and archon, which was pretty much unheard of. So I am not against possibly extending the head/servant idea to the husband being the pointman for his wife, I think this is possible.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

I think there is a great deal of confusion because the word "lead" and its Greek equivalent can have at least two basic meanings.

One is to "go ahead" and the other is "to be in charge." In Greek kephale was used for the first but not for the second. In Greek military literature the kephale is the right hand phalanx, and never the general. I am not aware of Alex the Great ever being called kephale of his army, although he may very well have gone ahead. But the word was not used for his position as general or leader.

It is best not to make too much out of all this. I have read Bruce Ware's trinity book where he claims that Augustine teaches the subordination of the Son because he was SENT by the Father. In that sense, the SON was the kephale of the Father, and not the other way around. So what does kephale mean? Does is really mean "the one sent to be in front?" But this is usually the subordinate position. So it the kephale really subordinate? Possibly.

But the wife is never SENT by the husband to suffer and die. So, in that sense the wife is not the subordinate of the husband. The logic of it all crumbles.

I find that all these attempted parallels break down sooner rather than later.

There was one simple lesson Paul was trying to make in Ephesians, that the husband had a position that the wife did not have, and that he could benefit her from his position.

However, the reality is that the women that Paul knew were for the most part the heads of their own households - Lydia, Chloe, Nympha, Phoebe, and so on.

Christiane said...

I was intrigued by this quote from RM:

"If you have to tell someone that you are in charge, then you aren't."

Apparently the men who wrote the BFM2K felt they had to tell the women who was 'in charge', which in the spirit of the quote, actually shows that the men are somewhat insecure.

So, being me, I took a look at the BFM2K's most salient point on the issue, and thought,
"let's have some fun and FIX IT so that the men don't come off looking so insecure and pathetic".
(smile)

I looked up this part of the
BFM2K:
"The marriage relationship models the way God relates to His people
A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to
lead his family.
A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. ."



AND HERE'S A SAMPLE
from my own project, entitled:
"Ladies, LET'S CLEAN-UP THE BFM 2K "


“The marriage relationship models the Body of Christ, with Christ at the Head. . .
Christian husbands and wives are to love, serve, and support one another in sickness and in health, for better or for worse;
each contributing their God-given gifts to build up their union as one in the Lord Christ, the Lord of their lives in accordance with
1 Cor. 7:7 . . . '


Sometimes, men need the insights and strengths of women to keep them on track. (I think it has something to do with those 'varied gifts' from the Lord. :)
Our ladies can imagine what changes they would make to help these poor male authors of BFM2K look less insecure.
It's really a Christian 'work of mercy'. :)

Love, L's

Don said...

Alex was a PART of the kephale of his army, he always chose to be with the part of the army that he (as general) decided to make the decisive blow. This was unprecedented, other generals put themselves in a safe place to command the army, but not Alex.

The kephale of an army leads by taking the dangerous position, the archon leads by issuing commands. Paul could have easily written that the husband is the archon, imitating Christ as Lord; but he most emphatically did not write this, despite some misunderstanding him to think he wrote this or similar.

Lindon said...

From a comment in the link I provided above:

"In summary, the central message of Ephesians 4 and 5 is the eternal truth of the oneness of Christ and His Church through servanthood.

The verses of Ephesians 5:22-33 are just one example of how this oneness is to be lived out and made visible. Marriage is the temporal union of male and female into one flesh which pictures the broader eternal truth of the union of Christ and his church into one body. This oneness is realized through the love and submission of servanthood.

These verses are indeed beautiful. Here the believer is raised to the lofty heights of being one with Jesus Christ and all other believers in one body. Here we learn that the institution of marriage has been endowed with the privilege of picturing this oneness. Through it all the beauty of servanthood shines as men and women renewed in the likeness of their creator (Ephesians 4:23-24) become like Jesus and “live a life of love….” (Ephesians 5:1-2)."

Benji Ramsaur said...

Howdy folks:),

I may come back on Monday if any are interested.

In Christ,

Benji

believer333 said...

Benji wrote:
”All egals on planet earth:),

I asked "So, if the wife is supposed to "sacrifice" for the husband, then how did the church "sacrifice" for Christ [which would have to be the basis for the supposed submission of the wife in Eph. 5 for this to work]?"”

Benji, I see you as wanting something special that marks you as having something that your wife cannot have. But you already have that; you are a man. That should be enough.

In response to your question, Christ gave us His life. In return for His unspeakable gift we believers are to give Him our lives. We devote ourselves to following Him because He is Truth, He is Life and we would be dead in our sins without Him. And because there are believers who do that, Christ has a bride. If no one received His gift and gave Him their lives, Christ would have no bride.

believer333 said...

Kristen wrote:
”"So here are my questions: If the word "submit" (hupotasso- hope I'm spelling that right) implies, of necessity, an authority-subordinate relationship between the one submitting and the one submitted to, then why are all Christians told to submit to one another in the first place?"”

There is no meaning in hupotasso that is relative to submitting to authority. However, there are other words in Greek that mean exactly that. If that were meant, then Paul would have used them. He could have also used hupakao, which is obey, and he did not.

Our problems with hupotasso and hupotassomenoi (how it is normally used) is with the English word chosen to translate it. In the English, the word submit is most often used regarding authority, thus it is difficult to separate it from that use. The root of the word hupotasso is arrange under. Hupotassomenoi, is to arrage under in a passive, which means not from outside influences, but from personal instigation. Thus there is not any problem at all with the idea of arranging ourselves under oneanother. We can easily see that this idea flows with respect, honor, support, assistance and doing good for one another.


Darby wrote:
”"If everyone is supposed to submit to everyone in exactly the same way, then why did Paul waste the ink after verse 21?"”

It would be easy to separate our interpersonal relationships from that admonishment in that era. After all there was a strong cultural code in place already. But Paul wanted all to understand that he meant that attitude to influence all our lives in all areas.

Christiane said...

Celebrating ADVENT: Our Longing For Christ's Coming.
Enjoy this post-card. Love, L’s

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C_9KurUMNf4&feature=related

Christiane said...

For the eve before the third Sunday in Advent:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DPHh3nMMu-I&feature=related

Be peaceful,
Love, L's

Lydia said...

"In response to your question, Christ gave us His life. In return for His unspeakable gift we believers are to give Him our lives. We devote ourselves to following Him because He is Truth, He is Life and we would be dead in our sins without Him. And because there are believers who do that, Christ has a bride. If no one received His gift and gave Him their lives, Christ would have no bride.

Sat Dec 12, 02:41:00 PM 2009

Uh oh. Do comp/pat men realize they are a 'Bride'? Where is the 'manhood' in that?

No wonder they want to map themselves to Christ as a type of 'christ' to their wives. :o)

See, this is an example of taking a metaphor too far.

Gem said...

Suzanne,

I have a question about that middle and passive voice? Your comment about O'Brien is here

Are you saying that the choice of middle or passive voice doesn't influence the meaning? While O'Brien claims that the middle voice of "fear/phobeo" means she is "a free and responsible person, (note the middle of the verb "fear") page 437"?

IF a passive voice implies a lack of freedom and responsibility, the "subject to"/hupotasso verb in Ephesians 5:24 is also in that passive voice (see http://biblos.com/ephesians/5-24.htm ), so if O'Brien was consistent, he would have to admit that "submission" is not a choice, it is a state of being for the wife:

So the verse would be more literally translated this way: “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives are to their husbands in all [matters].”

Its not something she DOES but something she IS. Just as "the husband IS the head of the wife" is not something he DOES but something he IS.

...which to me, takes all the "performance" out of it. They are simply descriptions of identitly and interdependence.

“the husband is the head” is his identity not an “assignment”.

The wife is “his own body” is her identity not an “assignment”

The head and body are an organic unit. Each one’s choices will affect the other.

Then again if passive and middle voice makes no difference, I suppose that this train of thought regarding Eph 5:24 would not make sense?

Can you straightem me out regarding passive and middle voice?

believer333 said...

it sounds like Sue is saying that middle and passive are essentially the same, not that they do not influence the passages.

Gem said...

This is the definition of "passive voice" which I read here:

"In general it can be said that in the passive voice the subject is acted upon or receives the action expressed by the verb. No volition - nor even necessarily awareness of the action - is implied on the part of the subject. That is, the subject may or may not be aware, its volition may or may not be involved. But these things are not stressed when the passive is used."

Whereas the resource says about middle voice "But in general, in the middle voice the subject performs or experiences the action expressed by the verb in such a way that emphasizes the subject's participation. It may be said that the subject acts with a vested interest. "The middle calls special attention to the subject ... the subject is acting in relation to himself somehow" (Roberson, 804)."


The verb translated "subject to" in Eph 5:24is in the passive voice see http://biblos.com/ephesians/5-24.htm

The King James version renders it as if it is an imperative (a command):

"24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing."

That is not an accurate translation of a verb with a passive voice.

QUOTE Regarding the “let … be“: As the italics indicate, these English words do not represent any Greek word or words. So the verse would be more literally translated this way: “But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives are to their husbands in all [matters].” {source- see "head of wife"}

Using the dictionary definition of "passive voice" quoted at the beginning of this comment- am I justified in supposing that the wife's submission/subjection is not something of her volition, nor even something she is aware of, it is just how it is in marriage.

IOW, her husband's attitude and behavior has a great deal of power to affect her even if she wished it didn't. She is subject to him.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

If you look at different translations of Eph. 5:21 you can find all of the following,

Be subject to one another (passive)

Submit to one another (active)

Submitting yourselves to one another (reflexive)

These are all from the same Greek text. There is no difference in meaning in English. The form of the verb in English does not make a difference in meaning unless English speakers agree that it does.

So if you look in a lexicon and passive and middle of a Greek verb are listed together, there is no difference in meaning, but if they are listed as two separate entries then there is a difference in meaning.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Dan Wallace cites Prof. Moule as saying,

"as a rule, it is far from easy to come down from the fence with much decisiveness on either side of the exegetical problem if it depends on the voice."

Gem said...

OK, so let me try another tack.

That “the husband is the head of the wife” is Biblical
and that the wife is the body (of the husband) is equally Biblical:

“husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— Eph 5:28-29

I have heard an awful lot of preaching and hand-wringing abouta husband’s “headship”.

Should there not be just as much preaching, emphasis, and thought about the wife’s “bodyship“?

My heart "submits" to my brain, but it does so in a passive way, wihout volition, without consciousness. Wouldn't it be silly to COMMAND my heart to "SUBMIT"? (I'll have to take your word for it that the use of the passive voice in Eph 5:24 does not support this understanding- (((Sigh))))

Nevertheless, a head and body are an organic unit. They are not independent. They affect each other. And I -for one- am curious about a wife's "bodyship" and its implications.

Christiane said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Benji Ramsaur said...

believer333,

"Benji, I see you as wanting something special that marks you as having something that your wife cannot have. But you already have that; you are a man."

Actually its much worse than that. I am a wooden boy who so badly wants to be a real...


God Bless,

Benji :)

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Gem,

"(I'll have to take your word for it that the use of the passive voice in Eph 5:24 does not support this understanding- (((Sigh))))"

I think your understanding of this passage is very likely and really falls in line with the cultural thinking of the time much more than most.

However, I just don't think that you can PROVE your idea from the voice of the verb. But I do think you are suggesting a very likely meaning of the passage.

Mara Reid said...

Benji:"Do they love their equality more than they love their God?
In other words, if in their "zeal" for equality, they end up distorting the nature of God, then I think that will reveal their true colors. I hope they don't distort, but..."

You see, Benji. I've seen the opposite. I've seen men so consumed with the 'authority' they believe the Bible promises them as men that they have held up and worshiped the words of Paul over and above the Word Himself and the words from His mouth.
It was as though they rejected the Word, the Chief Cornerstone that the builders rejected. And instead of building marriages on the foundation of Christ, they build them on the foundation of Paul's words about Christ.

I used to be a pastor's wife (still married, he's no longer a pastor) and I tell ya. With sooooo much teaching about roles, if they worked, you'd think that the church would have the strongest marriages of all. But what we found was that people were so concerned over these roles...

(a little of this)
"Well, if he'd just love me like the Bible says we wouldn't have these problems..."

(and way more of this)
"Well, if she'd just submit like she's supposed to...."

Watching this merry-go-round made me realize that Ephesians 5 actually makes a very poor foundation. Good building blocks, perhaps. But a bad foundation.

The right foundation would be...

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and strength and your neighbor as yourself."
"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"
"If you would be great in God's kingdom, learn to be servant of all."

When you get the above words from the mouth of our Lord (and other words like them) into your heart, THEN AND ONLY THEN can you build the house of marriage.

We were having husbands demanding submission when they treated their wives in ways they would never tolerate. They didn't understand the heart of scripture (The Word) at all. All they wanted was what they thought they were due because of teaching concerning authority.

You may think egals are distorting the nature of God, but believe me, I've seen plenty of distortion on the other side. I've seen houses built on faulty foundations, scriptural Eph 5 foundations, fall flat. They fell because the words from the mouth of the Word was not upgirding Eph 5. Standing alone Eph isn't much better than some sand.

I see many non-egals not keeping the first things first. I see such an obsession with 'order' and 'who is in charge' that the words of Christ are lost or even trampled on in the name of 'obeying' Paul.

So you can say egals distort.
But from where I stand, I see them keeping the first things first and building their faith on the rock, the solid foundation of Christ Himself. He is the Christ the Son of God. And upon this rock He will build His church. Perhaps we should build marriages on that foundation too. Not to the neglect of Eph 5, but with Eph 5 in its proper place, interpreting it through the teaching of Jesus, not through the lens of our cultural preferences.

Jesus Hold My Hand said...

Wade, I came across your blog tonight and I was stunned to see a post with 117 comments! I don't remember ever seeing a blog with as many comments as are found in your blog. You must be doing something right. WOW! I'm impressed.

I think my blog has 2 comments. I feel like a forgotten orphan.

It's raining tonight in my town, and I'm enjoying browsing through Christian blogs from around the world. I love the internet. The world is at my finger tips. I can visit remote islands, or big cities, or villages on mountain tops and seaside towns.

If you have time I invite you to visit my blog, and a comment would be nice :) Jesus Hold My Hand

Lydia said...

Mara,

I have witnessed everything you describe. I have come to the conclusion the reason is because folks in church are being taught a doctrine of "manhood" and "womanhood" instead of Christianity.

Gene S said...

Wade--great post with intelligent thoughts about marriage as a partnership. We have had 41 years of such.

I could say much, but my own blog:

babyboomlearner.com

is going over this subject right now. The basic reason is what is happening in our family right now:

After 15 years of abuse, most of it hidden from her parents, our daughter is separating--for her own protection and that of their 4 boys ages 12-5.

It is one of the hardest things we have had to face and I try to tell the personal and inner thoughts as a Baptist minister and caring father.

Also on this blog you will see a connection to Wanetta Dawn who has the most insightful and honest thoughts from a woman I have seen.

No point in clogging up these many good comments, when others can be found quickly elsewhere. It is a terrible time of year to separate or divorce, but it could be the best Thanksgiving and Christmas a person ever gave themself!

Mara Reid said...

Benji: "if in their "zeal" for equality, they end up distorting the nature of God, then I think that will reveal their true colors. I hope they don't distort, but..."

I see that others are done with this and ready to move on. So I suppose I should be.
However, when I posted last night it was after a long day. My daughters team is undefeated, so far, in the sixth grade tourney. We'll see what happens today.

I'm not wanting to accuse Benji, or any of the other non-egals here of the distortion I have seen used against women in church because I don't think that would be fair.
I'm thinking their version of non-egal is the kinder gentler kind, if I'm not mistaken.

But this doesn't change the fact that a large faction does distort.

And here is what I mean.

We are approaching Christmas. This is the time I meditate on Isaiah prophecies about Christ and I love Handel's Messiah that talks about Him.

"Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." etc.

I love His names.
They reveal God's nature. They reveal His character. Besides the words of Jesus and the direct prophecies of God in OT and NT, I build my understanding of who God is on His Names that reveal His divine character.

He has names like the LORD your Healer, the LORD your provider, He is called our Redeemer and Deliverer.

These Names and all the other Names He goes by are what we need to present to a broken dying world which includes broken dying women.

These women need their Healer and their Provider. Their Redeemer and Deliverer.

But guess what?

There are those out there who want to present God by a new name.
When these women come bleeding and broken into the fold, wolves want to make them bow down to...

the God who places men above women.

This is a false name that distorts the nature of God.
It also turns the hearts of many a wounded woman away from the true God who wants to heal her soul.

Benji.

I'm very interested in the true nature and character of God.

But there are wolves who want to distort His character to be all about putting the wolves in charge of the sheep.

I'm not accusing you of this personally. But I AM very much saying that this IS going on in larger and larger portions of the Church and it needs to stop.

Mara Reid said...

Gene, we cross posted.

I am NOT the only one still commenting!

So sorry about your daughter.

God loves her so much and knows all her pains.

I was near divorce several times a couple years ago and know the pain.

And I agree with you.

Waneta's site is awesome.

I have a special place in my heart for women who have been chewed up and spit out by patriarchy, AND YET, cling to the God of their salvation.

I'll get to your site when I can.
Right now I gotta get my kids to church.

Thy Peace said...

Mara: I love your posts. You have written:
------------------
We are approaching Christmas. This is the time I meditate on Isaiah prophecies about Christ and I love Handel's Messiah that talks about Him.

"Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." etc.

I love His names.
They reveal God's nature. They reveal His character. Besides the words of Jesus and the direct prophecies of God in OT and NT, I build my understanding of who God is on His Names that reveal His divine character.

He has names like the LORD your Healer, the LORD your provider, He is called our Redeemer and Deliverer.

These Names and all the other Names He goes by are what we need to present to a broken dying world which includes broken dying women.

These women need their Healer and their Provider. Their Redeemer and Deliverer
.
--------------------

Pastor Wade preached an excellent sermon series last year at this time from November 30th 2008 to December 28th 2008. The sermon series is called The Christ We Know. If you watch the video, you will have to scroll down the video list to find them at the proper dates. This sermon series resonates with your comment.

Christiane said...

REJOICE REJOICE
Emmanuel
Shall come to thee
O Israel. . . .

The Third Sunday of Advent is a day for rejoicing (from the Latin 'gaudete' for 'joy').

On this day, some Christians pray this prayer in the Name of the Lord:

" . . . the earth rejoices in hope of the Savior's Coming
and looks forward with longing
to His return at the end of time.

Prepare our hearts and remove the sadness
that hinders us from feeling the joy and hope
which His Presence will bestow,
for He is Lord for ever and ever"

from the ages to the ages, Amen



Wade's Sermon today can be found on the website of his Church:
Emmanuel Baptist Church, Enid, OK

It is one of the most beautiful and inspired sermons I have ever heard Wade preach. It is profoundly Christian in its message.

Caritas Christi,
L's

Wade Burleson said...

Thanks L's,

I consider you and Thy Peace vicarious members via the Internet of Emmanuel and would be honored to have you guys in Enid someday.

Wade

Christiane said...

Thank you, Wade.
Your kind comment is much appreciated.
May the Peace of Christ be with you and your whole family during this holy season.
And also with the wonderful people of Emmanuel Baptist Church.
Love, L's

Benji Ramsaur said...

Mara Reid,

Thank you for expressing your thoughts. I think there is a sense in which we may be close in our views, but I would have to articulate it a different way.

Basically, I believe there is an umbilical cord attached between Christ and the Apostles via the Spirit. Hence, the word of the apostles is the word of Christ. And, of course, Ephesians teaches that the Apostles are the foundation of the church.

So, I can't go the "let's pit the apostles words with Christ the Word" route you seem to be going.

However, I do consider the new commandment of Christ [Jn. 13:34-35] to be foundational to how Christians [including those married to each other] are to relate to one another. And I credit Jon Zens with helping me see this. His Searching Together issue on Ecclesiology and Ethics has shaped me I think.

Spiritual familial love is rooted in crucifixion.

So, while I interpret Eph 5 to teach comp, I still see it as secondary to the more fundamental new commandment.

I desire to be a new commandment fundamentalist and not an obsessive compulsive complimentarian.

Now, in having said that, I still have reverence for the imagery of Christ and the church and that is what I see egals distorting in what they teach concerning marriage.

Thank you again for commenting.

In Christ,

Benji

Mara Reid said...

Benji, thank you for your thoughtful post.
I kinda felt like if we got through the initial resistence to one another that you were the kind of guy with whom I could, honestly and respectfully, agree to disagree.

Thypeace, you saying you love my posts mean a lot to me.
I'll have to give Wade's sermon series a look see. Easier said than done with my schedule, but definitly something I should attempt to do in the near future.

Gene, visited your blog. Need to go back and post a question or two if you don't mind.

Lydia, Lydia, Lydia.
Tried to visit your blog. You don't have one, at least not linked to your name. I like your posts and enjoy reading them here when all I do is come to lurk.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Ezekiel,

"As fellow Christians we are free from the law to serve one another..."

If you mean the law of Moses, then I agree with this and this goes right along with the new commandment of Christ. In fact, Galatians has that "law of Christ" language in it.

However, while I think we need to see your statement above as very, very basic Christian ethical teaching, I think we also need to allow what Paul says in Ephesians to nuance what marriage should look like.

Hence, its not that your wife might not ever serve or sacrifice for your benefit. After all, that is basic Christian ethical teaching. However, I also think there is a sense in which when folks look at our marriages they need to see a picture of Christ sacrificing for the church and the church yielding to Christ. I don't think these things contradict each other. I think they balance each other.

"In the end, all more rigorous rules, demands and domination bring is more rebellion, more strife and more seperation."

I think you are hitting on something important here. Before I begin to comment further I want to say this:

I think Galatians is the single most important book for this day and age in church history.

Galatians teaches that Christians are not children. They are adult sons. Hence, they are not to be treated as immature. Let me explain.

Let's say that we decided to go on vacation together along with our families. At this point everything seems fine. However, if I started to tell you "Now Ezekiel, you better pack your tooth brush and deodorant..." then you would be insulted. Why?

Because I would be treating you like you were a kid and not an adult.

This is where I think many Christian relationships can go sour between leader and led. The leader might even have a "selfless" motivation towards the led, but if he is a micromanager towards others, then I think he is treating them as if they are not adult sons of God, but immature children. Treating them as if he has to take responsibility for them since they can't [in his eyes] take responsibility for themselves. And I think Galatians teaches against viewing other Christians [including our Christian wives] that way.

Accordingly, I think that is not taking seriously enough what it means for Christians to be indwelt by the Spirit.

believer333 said...

"However, I also think there is a sense in which when folks look at our marriages they need to see a picture of Christ sacrificing for the church and the church yielding to Christ."

That would necessitate folks viewing the husband as a christ (more than human) and the woman as an inferior human. I don't think that is a good picture, nor do I see it as something that Paul was suggesting in Scripture. It seems the error is a misinterpretation of the last verses of chapter five in Ephesians.

IMO what people should see are two humans fully devoted to one another, fully serving one another, and setting themselves aside for the benefit of one another to the end that they function in a harmonious unity of mind.

Don said...

When a husband thinks they have the final say, then they are treating the wife as a child, not an adult.

Benji Ramsaur said...

believer333,

"That would necessitate folks viewing the husband as a christ (more than human) and the woman as an inferior human. I don't think that is a good picture..."

No it doesn't. It it telling husbands to be "like" Christ. It is not telling them to be a more than human Christ.

To not maintain this kind of distinction would be like saying that when 1 John speaks of Christians walking as Christ walked that it is speaking of them being a more than human Christ.

What is the point of Paul bringing in the imagery in the first place?

22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.

25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; (emphasis mine)

Benji Ramsaur said...

Don,

"When a husband thinks they have the final say, then they are treating the wife as a child, not an adult."

That's like saying "When a congregation thinks they have the final say, then they are treating the individual as a child, not an adult."

Don said...

A congregation can disfellowship someone, no question about that. The congregation might be right or wrong in doing it, but they can do it. I know some with charismatic gifts who were kicked out of where they were going as those congregations believed in cessationism.

Even Jesus does not override our will, what makes husband's think they can override their wife's will? The simply answer is they cannot, except for human traditions of sin.

Don said...

To clarify, by "sin" I mean missing the mark of God's best.

believer333 said...

”No it doesn't. It it telling husbands to be "like" Christ. It is not telling them to be a more than human Christ.”

Well, the problem here is that wives are to be like Christ also, don’t you agree. That is what being a Christian is about.

Your interpretation says that wives are not to be like Christ, only husbands are (which makes the husband something like more than human to the wife, who is 'not' like Christ). In addition, your interpretation says that the only way husbands are to be like Christ is in being head of the wife, in which you interpret that as being in authority over. Yet Paul defines that as sacrificing for the wife just as Christ sacrificed Himself for those who would believe in Him, now called the church or body of Christ. And then you ignore the metaphor of the wife being body of the husband which Paul defines as being the self or life of the husband.

Seems to me that you are ignoring an awful lot in order to hang onto the authority chip.

Christiane said...

There may, in marriage, be diversity in unity, but the dignity of the persons who are joined together is not threatened by that diversity. The diversity is in the nature of the gifts that each brings to the union. It is not in the 'perks' of one over the other in controlling or dominating the other.
The marriage model needs to be examined in the light of ALL of Holy Scripture. When it is, we see that there is no loss of human dignity in that union for either person. If anything, they are now MORE able to serve the Lord by cooperating with Him in bringing new life into the world to be nurtured for His Service.
Mutual dignity in Christ means that there is no room for a prideful 'spirit of domination' to be allowed to enter into the relationship to create pain and dis-unity in that marriage.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Egals,

I think that if there is not agreement on these two basic ideas, then this conversation can go around and around in circles. These ideas are:

1. Oppressive Leadership [exists].

2. Leadership [exists].

If we cannot agree with these three statements, then when I talk about something concerning #2, then you guys might come back with something concerning #1 as if #2 does not exist.

So, unless there can be agreement here, it doesn't make sense to me to go around and around in circles.

Benji Ramsaur said...

Should read this way above:

If we cannot agree with these two statements, then when I talk about something concerning #2, then you guys might come back with something concerning #1 as if #2 does not exist.

Benji Ramsaur said...

believer333,

"Seems to me that you are ignoring an awful lot in order to hang onto the authority chip."

Seems to me that if you look at your shoulder, you might see a chip:)

Benji Ramsaur said...

Egals,

I guess you could "disagree" with my interpretation of why Paul brings in the imagery of Christ and the church in Ephesians 5 all day long.

You could say things like "I am taking the metaphor too far" or "I am interpreting the metaphor to mean that wives can't be like Christ" or "_____________".

However, what I am unclear about is why you believe Paul brings in that imagery.

My interpretation is this:

Paul brings in the imagery for husbands to imitate Christ in sacrificing for their wives and for wives to imitate the church in submitting to their husbands.

Now you guys might say "How in the woooooooorrld Benji do you get that?" :)

But what I would like to know is what your interpretation is. If I am off base here, then what would you say is the sober interpretation?

You could use this framework if you would like:

Paul brings in the imagery for husbands to imitate Christ in ______________ in relation to their wives and for wives to imitate the church in _______________ in relation to their husbands.


In Christ,

Benji

believer333 said...

Benji,

I have the feeling that you are ignoring what others are saying. If it is possible could you please respond to my last comment and also Christine's .... other than the cute touche' remark. :)

"Well, the problem here is that wives are to be like Christ also, don’t you agree. That is what being a Christian is about.

Your interpretation says that wives are not to be like Christ, only husbands are (which makes the husband something like more than human to the wife, who is 'not' like Christ). In addition, your interpretation says that the only way husbands are to be like Christ is in being head of the wife, in which you interpret that as being in authority over. Yet Paul defines that as sacrificing for the wife just as Christ sacrificed Himself for those who would believe in Him, now called the church or body of Christ. And then you ignore the metaphor of the wife being body of the husband which Paul defines as being the self or life of the husband."

Don said...

I agree that there is such a thing as Biblical leadership and this would contrast with abusive and/or non-Biblical leadership.

For example, in the family, the husband and wife are co-leaders and the children are followers.

In the church, the elders/overseers and deacons are leaders and the members are followers. That means a member is to allow a leader to explain why they believe/act as they do and see if it convinces a member. In theory, the leaders are mature in the Lord.

Don said...

On Eph 5, one needs to see what Aristotle and therefore the pagan culture taught and law enforced. The husband had the power of life and death over his family. He could order his wife to abandon(kill) a newborn simply because it was a girl. That is, a husband was to rule and a wife was to obey. End of story.

Contrast that with Paul, he is making a Christian gloss on Aristotle, there is no question of that as the 6 entities match exactly in the Eph 5-6 pericope.

He tells the husband to SACRIFICIALLY LOVE his wife, he never ever endorses ruling her. This is MUCH MORE than the 1st century cultural expectation.

In the 1st century cultural expectation of a wife needing to obey her husband, Paul never comes out and says it, rather, he says she must submit to him, right after saying all believers submit to one another; this is MUCH LESS than the culture expectation and one needs to see that.

He later says that a wife must respect her husband, do we think this means a husband does not need to respect his wife? No, of course not.

Benji Ramsaur said...

believer333,

"Well, the problem here is that wives are to be like Christ also, don’t you agree. That is what being a Christian is about."

I already addressed this earlier in this comment stream. I said to Ezekiel:

However, while I think we need to see your statement above as very, very basic Christian ethical teaching, I think we also need to allow what Paul says in Ephesians to nuance what marriage should look like.

Hence, its not that your wife might not ever serve or sacrifice for your benefit. After all, that is basic Christian ethical teaching. However, I also think there is a sense in which when folks look at our marriages they need to see a picture of Christ sacrificing for the church and the church yielding to Christ. I don't think these things contradict each other. I think they balance each other.


"In addition, your interpretation says that the only way husbands are to be like Christ is in being head of the wife, in which you interpret that as being in authority over. Yet Paul defines that as sacrificing for the wife..."

Actually I said this earlier in the comment stream:

I think I would say that while the church is not perfect, she still responds by voluntarily following Christ "in love".

She loves-in-following in response to His love-in-sacrifice in other words. Hence, I think that seems like a good way to think about the marriage relationship.

The husband sacrificially loving his wife and the wife responding by "wanting" to follow his lead in love.

That's a lot different from the husband merely saying "hey, I'm the head, listen to me".

And the text itself has the word "head" within the logic of Paul's statement:

22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church...

I interpret "head" within the logic of Paul to mean something like leader or authority. You disagree. OK. What is your definition and how does it fit with Paul's logic?

I understand that Paul goes on to talk about Christ being the Savior of the body. I think, perhaps, Paul brings that in to "nuance" what he said concerning the head so that husbands will know to be self[less] and not self[ish] leaders.

"And then you ignore the metaphor of the wife being body of the husband which Paul defines as being the self or life of the husband."

I interpret the body/head "organically" in relation to the physical body in which the human head guides the body. I don't understand your interpretation.

God Bless,

Benji

Don said...

Jesus is in charge, but that is NOT what is being discussed in these verses.

If Paul had wanted to map the husband to Jesus as Lord/leader, he could have written that, instead he refers to Jesus as savior, a serving function, NOT a leadership function.

It is essential to NOT ADD to the text of Scripture. Do not see what is not there. Take off your male supremacist glasses and you will be able to see more clearly.

believer333 said...

Benji,

"I interpret the body/head "organically" in relation to the physical body in which the human head guides the body. I don't understand your interpretation. "

1) that is a modern understanding, not in practice when Paul wrote his epistles.
2) it does not fit the head and body metaphor in Paul's writings.

What is your interpretation of the head/body metaphor. You see the husband as leader and maybe the wife as responder. This is something you call beautiful? Is that what we are to Christ, just responders? I am of the impression that God views us as real people with real personalities, opinions, desires, hopes and dreams. He gave His only begotten so that He could save us and elevate us to walk with Him and He come and live with us. It's not about Christ being boss and deciding what is best for us or over riding our hopes and dreams. He gave us Truth for that, and wisdom for the asking. Can you replace that?

In addition Christ gave us the Holy Spirit to empower us to do the works He did and more. Can you replace that? I think not. Your view in my estimation is all about keeping women unempowered.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Benji,

One difficulty is that women were created and designed with the full potential of being leader, provider, and protector. Single women like Phoebe, Lydia, Chloe and Nympha abound in the scriptures.

There are enormous difficulties involved in being a single parent, but the female parent has no shortcomings in terms of God-given potential to be the leader and provider.

Therefore, asking a woman to live out her life as a responder is asking a woman to deny her God-given nature, which is the same as the man's in terms of leadership potential.

Why allow men to live according to God's design but not women?

Kay said...

Benji,

Are you denying that wives are given equal authority in sexual matters?

Darby Livingston said...

Benji,

Are you denying that the Blue Ridge Mountains are beautiful in the morning?

believer333 said...

Sue... sorry to post here, but you have spam on your Blog comments, you might want to get rid of.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Got it. I hadn't put on the word verification.

Gene S said...

I knew, somehow when Paul got brought into this and some of the men started "pontificating" the women would raise cane!!! Remember: when momma ain't happy---nobody is happy!!!

Now, with respect to Paul: Remember he was not married although there is speculation that his "thorn in the flesh" could have been a case of venereal disease he could not kick. Who knows.

With Paul, I am reminded about W.A. Criswell's pontifications about sexual matters and marriage as described in Joel Gregory's book, "Too Great a Tempataion." Following the series a newsperson asked Mrs. Criswell what she thought about what he said.

To which she replied (with a Barbara Bush type style): "He doesn't know what he is talking about!" If Mrs. Criswell said that of the "great" Wally Amos, what do you think she might say about Paul???

Only an arrogant and strong-willed man would dare tell any woman what to do or not do. Only an unmarried man would get away with it!!! Women have a special way of getting our attention when we make total fools of ourselves telling them what to do and think.

They may do it as a young bride, but God help the soul of a man with middle-aged wife rearing several children if he presumes to tell her how to take care of those children when he is at church meetings and activities more than at home!!!!

I speak from experience--and--as I grow older, I realize the foolishness of my male arrogance!

Gene S said...

Mara--

I appreciate your concern for my daughter and her situation. I talked with her lawyer today after spending last night at her house and witnessing her beligerent husband bombast his ways in.

Late I learned of an awful call he had made threatening to kill himself and calling her every vile name in the book starting with "w," "b," "s," etc. It was awful.

He left in a huff after I had spoken civily to him and asked how he was doing. Later I found out he had been lambasting me to his 4 sons with some of his special 4-letter words. Little did he know he would have to see my face after a day of free licks on Pa Pa.

In reality, he is so full of Satan right not I prayed that God would remove that demon in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ. That he would protect my daughter, 4 innocent grandsons, and wife who is staying with them from harm. I followed that with a call to her lawyer asking his assistant to assure my daughter about how close the Separation papers were to being filed.

I was informed that such abuse and threats qualify him for some jail time in NC, should I choose to go by the Magistrate's and swear out a warrant for the threat fo kick my a**. The only thing he fails to take into account is that I am a tree surgeon with a great big diesel powered chipping machine fully capable of turning him into a pile of mush. Only problem is the awful cleanup and how it would mess up my machine with DNA tracable mush.

In my case, I assured the Lawyer's assistant that they were the chipping machine and I would provide them any amount of diesel fuel needed to take care of his a**. Yeah, I'm aggrivated with Mr. Trailer Trash mouth and the demons raging inside him fueled by drugs and goading parents who created the monster!!!!

Hope you make my blog where I discuss things more fully:

http://babyboomlearner.blogspot.com/

Gem said...

Benji said:
I interpret the body/head "organically" in relation to the physical body in which the human head guides the body. I don't understand your interpretation. ENDQUOTE


Benji,
I read and just googled and found a reference that the ancient Greeks did not understand the head as "guiding the body". They believed the heart was the guide and decision maker:

QUOTE: “The ancient Greek world through the time of Paul commonly believed that the heart, not the head, was the center of emotions and spirit, the ‘central governing place of the body.’ Aristotle held that the heart was not only the seat of control but also the seat of intelligence. Classicist Michael Wigodsky of Stanford is probably correct that many, even the doctors with the most advanced anatomical understanding of the brain, did not really believe that the brain exerted more control over the body than the heart. Such a notion seemed to contradict the nearly universal belief that, since the life is in the blood, the heart must be the center of life. Thus, it is hardly surprising that the idea of authority was not normally associated with the word for ‘head’ in Greek thought.”[l0] Although this information may be debatable, we do know that know that neither Paul nor his readers would have known what we know about how the brain controls the body. Regardless of their knowledge, or lack thereof, Paul “seems to associate intelligence and control of the body with the heart in such expressions as ‘their foolish heart was darkened’ (Rom. 1:21), ‘the law written in their hearts’(Rom. 2:15), ‘it is with your heart you believe’(Rom 10:9-10), ‘no heart has conceived God’s plans’(1 Cor. 2:9), ‘he who has decided in his own heart’(1 Cor 7:37), and ‘may the eyes of your heart be enlightened to know’ (Eph 1:18). Nowhere does he associate the mind with the head.”[11] (This last reference is in the immediate context of one of the passages where kephale is used [Eph. 1:18-23] [source] ENDQUOTE

While I agree with you that the head/body metaphor is a picture of organic unity, do you really think its fair to impose our modern understanding of physiology onto Paul's first century metaphor?

In my meditation upon the Ephesians text, I have thought about how a pregnant mother nourishes and cherishes her baby as her own body- quite literally. And I have noted that the instruction to "nourish and cherish as your own body" is given unilaterally to husbands. Why? Could it be that a wife lays down her life, and "nourishes and cherishes" by nature and design (when she gets pregnant, bears, and nurses young), while- for a male- such a degree of sacrifice and selflessness requires an act of the will and a conscious decision to "die to self" ?

Don said...

Gem,

Good post.

The heart was also the seat of intelligence for Hebrews.

See David's Psalms for example, where his HEART meditates on the Torah.

Darby Livingston said...

"Could it be that a wife lays down her life, and "nourishes and cherishes" by nature and design (when she gets pregnant, bears, and nurses young), while- for a male- such a degree of sacrifice and selflessness requires an act of the will and a conscious decision to "die to self" ?"

According to that logic the wife is told to submit because she doesn't naturally do it and requires a conscious decision to do it. Sounds like flawless logic to me.

That's a pretty sexist comment considering the number of abortions coming from the natural nourishers in the world.

Gem said...

Abortion goes against nature IMO.

Do you recall the decision of King Solomon when two women fought over a newborn? The REAL mother was willing to give up the child that it might live, while the pretender would have had it cut in half.

God compares his compassion to that of a mother.

Benji is saying there is a difference between the instructions to men and women in Ephesians, and I agree with him. There is a difference and there are reasons for the difference.

I think the submission may be an entirely passive thing, like a heart submits to the brain (and vice versa). This would mean that a husband has a particular power and influence upon a wife that may not go "vice versa". She is more "subject" to (being harmed by) him than he to her. Hence the instruction to wives that they need to PHOBEO their husbands (Eph 5:33).

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Darby,

I made a few comments earlier in response to some of your questions but I don't think you saw them,

here is one on kephale

and here is one on O'Brien's commentary.

Darby Livingston said...

Gem,

You can't see how your interpretation sounds at least as sexist as any comp interpretation out there? It fits entirely into sexist stereotypes of men as meanieheads who don't care about anything but themselves and have to be feared and women as natural nurturing sweethearts that have to always be on guard against these evil men's natural paternal instincts.

I realize that abortion is contra-nature. That was my point, that women don't just "naturally" live out what seems to be "natural." Remember, both genders are equally all the evil things in Romans 1.

Suzanne,

Thanks for the links.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Thanks, Darby, for being so thrilled to get a response to your questions. ;-) Perhaps they were rhetorical questions and I missed that. My bad.

Remember, both genders are equally all the evil things in Romans 1.

And that is why putting one individual under the unsupervised authority of another individual is the most unspeakable bararism and cruelty known to humanity.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

barbarism ---

Lydia said...

"If Paul had wanted to map the husband to Jesus as Lord/leader, he could have written that, instead he refers to Jesus as savior, a serving function, NOT a leadership function."

Exactly. Which is why kephale cannot be authority over. It just negates all the other passages on our direct relationship with Christ, the one anothers, not lording it over, being a servant, etc.

And I am still trying to figure out why a wife has to only be like the church and not strive to be Christlike. Is she to ignore all other passages? I guess single women get to be Christlike?

Christ and the church are a Body of Christ. They should be one. A unity of spirit. There is no human male who can be a 'Christ" to his wife. We all have the same Savior. No human ones.

Perhaps we rarely see a true unified Body of Christ so have no reference point. Instead what we see are rules, roles and formulas which turn into a pink and blue work salvation of gender.

Darby Livingston said...

Suzanne,

I really meant thanks for the links. Just because I haven't responded yet doesn't mean I'm not processing/ working through what you wrote. I am sorry if my response sounded less than thrilled. I didn't mean it that way at all.

btw, who says that anyone in the church is put in "unsupervised authority" over someone else? There may be some who say this, but that's not what anyone on this comment stream is arguing for (I don't think).

Suzanne McCarthy said...

btw, who says that anyone in the church is put in "unsupervised authority" over someone else?

I am referring to marriage. It sets up the wife, or sometimes even the husband for the most bizarre cruelty.

But if the wife is told that her husband has authority, then the cruelty seem to be God's personal gift to her. This makes it all the more cruel.

Regarding my earlier comment, I have the flu and can't get out of bed so its just an excuse for me to make provocative and senseless comments.

Thy Peace said...

These two posts of Suzanne answers some of the above discussions (head of):

Grudem and kephale.

Head of the house.

Thy Peace said...

This post (of posts) of Suzanne needs to be read by everyone ...

Index: CBMW, Grudem, kephale.

Thy Peace said...

Some other index posts of Suzanne on her blog that might be of interest to these discussions:

The Intrusive Pronoun: An Index.

Women Bible Translators: Index.

P 46 Index.

Gene S said...

I think this dialogue is good, but is waxing a bit intellectual. Although Greek translation is important, it's translation into real life is really important.

In all this, are people with real marital problems willing to share how they have dealt with them.

Again, I encourage each of you to look at a real life situation and real life thinking about how the Bible would really have us deal with it:

http://www.wanetadawn.com/

On my computer I have an automatic block on some things. The way to get into Waneta's blog is to press "Ctrl"" before clicking.

I find much wisdom and sharing from the heart from Waneta--especially her blog for Thanksgiving--"Thank God for divorce." There you will find further comments and description of what is happening to my sweet and very committed Christian daughter. She needs our prayers along with my abusive Son-In-Law.

If we back our intellectual verb definitions with action, then we have something to really talk about.

Gem said...

In response to Darby here

LOL :)
OF COURSE women are equally subject to the Romans 1-2 deceptions ("they exchanged the glory of the immortal God [whose image is reflected in male AND female] for an image made to look like man"- BTW could we call that "phallic worship"?}

My point is that I agree with Benji, male and female are different, and the Ephesians 5 instructions to husbands and wives are different.

Was God "sexist" to choose Mary to carry Jesus? Was it "sexist" of God to endow Mary (and every other female, including female anmimals) with maternal instinct so that her offspring would be nourished, cherished, and cared for as her own body?

The issue in marriage is not one of women having a superior "holiness" because of their maternal instincts and compassion. I see it as an issue of maturity. A woman who bears a child is compelled by nature and design to lay down her life and sacrifice. Unless she defies her nature (which some women choose to do), she will be doing a lot of nourishing, cherishing, and laying down life and it forces selflessness and maturing IMO. I don't see this same phenom for men, hence they are specifically instructed that they need to nourish, cherish, and live sacrificailly for their wives.

Gene posted above. Was it on your blog, Gene where you referred to your abusive son-in-law as "a five year old in a man's body"? I see the truth to that. Gene's daughter has 4 sons 12 and under. For many years, she has not had the "luxury" of being able to carry on like a self-centered, self-indulgent, spoiled 5 yo.

All the "leadership" talk about husbands would not bother me so much if the emphasis was upon a husband's responsibiltiy, but unfortunately I have BTDT, I lived the comp talk, and it was not seen as a "responsibility" but as a privilege, entitlement, trump card, club.

Gem said...

BTW, last night another biblical metaphor occured to me which illustrates well the subjction/submission of the wife to the husband.

In SoS, the wife is referred to as the garden.

A garden is subject to the gardener. If tending, nourishing, cherishing, is neglected, the garden wilts and dies.

The movie Fireproof hits on this:

A woman is like a rose.
If you treat her right she blooms.
If you treat her wrong she wilts.

In this way, a wife is subject to her husband as the church is subject to Christ. But Christ ministers LIFE, whilc a husband is capable of ministering a great deal of death. Hence, the admonition to wives in Eph 5:33 to be sure to PHOBEO their husbands.

Gene S said...

What an intelligent WOMAN as opposed to an arrogant / stupid / self-centered man speaking!

Just posted another one on my daughter and us Sunday and yesterday. It isn't getting better, but papers for Separation may be served today, hopefully:

http://babyboomlearner.blogspot.com/2009/12/night-spent-at-my-daughters-house.html

Christiane said...

People forget.
Or maybe they never 'saw it'.
A highly respected and favored person was given a choice to cooperate with the Incarnation.
A CHOICE, out of respect.

And being 'full of grace' and unafraid, the respected person said
'Yes'
'be in done unto me according to Thy Will'

An assent.
No 'domination' from an 'Authority' was used at all.
People forget.
Or maybe they never 'saw it'.
Or maybe it didn't matter to them?

'the spirit of domination' was not present at the Incarnation



There exists a beautiful icon, in which Mary, pregnant with the Messiah, gently embraces and comforts a weeping Eve.

How little we understand.

Gene S said...

AMEN!!!!

Isn't it strange how God chose a woman to create the greatest miracle ever known???

Is it not even more strange that when the men were cowering in fear, 3 women had the courage to go to the tomb and report a risen Lord, Jesus, the Christ.

And women don't count with God?????

Give me a break and don't show utmost stupidity to act like women don't really do the dirty work of any church these days--of all denominations!

Go, ladies, GO!!!!!!!!!

Darby Livingston said...

Gem,

Thanks for putting up with me. I get it now. :)

Kay said...

"People forget.
Or maybe they never 'saw it'."

Or maybe they do not want to acknowledge it.

Darby Livingston said...

"A highly respected and favored person was given a choice to cooperate with the Incarnation.
A CHOICE, out of respect."

If Mary would've said no, God would have just gone to the next young virgin on her street. God never ever asked Mary if it was okay with her to give birth to the Messiah. The angel's visit was an announcement, not a request or an invitation. Mary's response had no more to do with her being chosen than Jonah's.

Corrie said...

Darby,

Thank you for your kind words.

"When she says she needs milk, I say, "2% or whole?""

LOL!

Lydia said...

If Mary would've said no, God would have just gone to the next young virgin on her street. God never ever asked Mary if it was okay with her to give birth to the Messiah. The angel's visit was an announcement, not a request or an invitation. Mary's response had no more to do with her being chosen than Jonah's.

Tue Dec 15, 04:21:00 PM 2009

What does not make sense from the non egal view is why the Angel did not tell Joseph first and have him tell Mary. :o)

Christiane said...

:)
Good one.

Kay said...

"If Mary would've said no, God would have just gone to the next young virgin on her street."

Really?? He wouldn't have had a fish swallow her?

Darby Livingston said...

No, he only does that to men.

believer333 said...

"If Mary would've said no, God would have just gone to the next young virgin on her street."

God couldn't do that. Mary had the lineage the promised Messiah was to come through. If not her, then maybe one of her daughters. But one has to figure that when God formed her in her mother's womb God formed her personality to fit the job He called her to fulfill.

Darby Livingston said...

Excellent points.

Gene S said...

Hey--if Mary had said "NO," God could have gone to Darby's "hedonist" wife (yeah that how he describes her in his profile) and she has given him 5 children---which proves she could do the job!!!

Actually, we are making fun of one of the most sacred events in human history---AND God chose not to do it himself!

If God loves and needs women, perhaps we should be as smart.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Gene,

I don't always write about Greek. Here is a small piece of fiction reflecting my own experience.

I have read your daughters blog and I have been there - too long.

I have difficulty discussing this issue with humour since the cost was high.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

Gene,

I meant that I have read your blog with your daughter's story. It is a familiar story for me.

Darby Livingston said...

Actually, Gene, it looks like you're making fun of my wife and me, but whatever make you happy.

Gene S said...

Darby--I was just messin with ya--no harm intended. Forgive me if it hurt.

Suzanne---

Only a woman who has been there knows the reality of what I am describing in my blog. I hope you and others know the empathy I feel for you.

Strangely, in my 16 years of full time ministry and for the time since 1986 when I have been bi-vocational, I have never had a man report abuse to me.

I know there is such to men, but it is far more a thing of the woman's world. It needs to stop and go away, but the dictates of the BF&M do NOTHING to help.

Darby Livingston said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kay said...

"Mary had the lineage the promised Messiah was to come through."

I think gentile believers sometimes miss the full significance of that.

Dale Fincher said...

I was just told of your blog by a friend.

Haven't read through all the comments on this post, but wanted to say thanks for posting this. This is also my same conclusion.

In addition, we see that the famous "headship" passage of Eph 5 also begins with MUTUAL submission, not authority. So bundled that together with 1 Cor 7 and you have MUTUAL authority and MUTUAL submission in marriage, giving honor to one another for neither is man independent of woman nor woman of man (1 Cor 11).

I touch on this in my blog from August 2008 on a 16-part post on Ephesians 5 and "submission." www.dalefincher.com

Thanks for your input into these important matters!

Lydia said...

Dale, I have read that series and thank you for all your work. Your wife also wrote a book, right?

Dale Fincher said...

Lydia, thanks... and yes, Jonalyn wrote Ruby Slippers on a healthier Christian view of femininity.