LOOKING TO PRAISE AND WORSHIP JESUS THE CHRIST, THE SON OF THE LIVING GOD. 18 No man has ever seen God at any time; the only unique Son, or the only begotten God, Who is in the bosom [in the intimate presence] of the Father, He has declared Him [He has revealed Him and brought Him out where He can be seen; He has interpreted Him and He has made Him known].

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A MISUNDERSTOOD TEXT

Ephesians 5:22 "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord."

For many generations this text has been misunderstood and abused. Abusive husbands have wielded it like a club over the heads of their wives, trying to find a biblical text that supports their bullying. Lazy husbands have used the text to try to force their wives to wait on them hand and foot. Husbands with authoritarian issues have used it just to feed their own need for importance. We have to understand at the very beginning, and of course our wives already know this, that men are sinful. Christian men are still fallen and sinful people. We are not above trying to use the Bible to make it say what we want it to say.

The problem, just like so many problems, goes back to Adam and Eve and the fall. Following their sin, God pronounced a curse upon them and all mankind who would follow. In Genesis 3:16 God told Adam and Eve how their sin was going to affect their relationship and all marriages yet to come. Speaking to Eve he said, “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” At first glance, this just seems to be a curse for the innocent woman who wants her husband. However, when God tells Eve that her desire will be for her husband, he uses the same word that appears in Genesis 4:7. Cain is angry that God accepted Abel’s offering but did not accept his. God tells Cain, “If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must master it.” Eve’s desire for her husband is a desire to own or to control. God is telling Adam and Eve that their relationship will be a struggle for leadership. Eve will want to control Adam and Adam will dominate her with his strength.

It is easy to see why Ephesians 5:22 is so misunderstood and abused! Sinful men twist it to mean what they want it to mean in order to help them have dominance over their wives. Fallen women hate it because it appears to give the dominance they want to their husbands!

Radical feminists don’t like this passage either. They don’t want to be seen as different from men. They want equality in everything. They don’t want to have any considerations made for gender differences at all. They misunderstand this passage because it appears to them to put women under men, making them something less than men. The people on the opposite extreme make this same mistake. They are hierarchicalists. In other words, they think along the lines of a hierarchy. They think that God has established roles and authority on something resembling a ladder. Those who are highest on the ladder have the ultimate authority and everyone else is below them. When these people look at this passage they see a higher and lower situation. Husbands are higher and their wives are beneath them. They don’t understand that Christian submission is not a matter of over and under or above and below. Rather, it is a matter of all believers seeking to serve and promote one another at the same time! Both the feminists and hierarchicalists misunderstand what Paul is saying here.

14 Comments:

Blogger jazzycat said...

Dave,
At what point would you say a Christian woman should draw the line and not submit to her husband? For example, if an unbelieving husband demands that his wife, a new convert, stop going to church, shouldn't the wife obey God in that case and continue going absent any compelling reason she would need to stay home.
wayne

April 25, 2007 8:31 AM

 
Blogger Gayla said...

Wayne, Roger and I were have a somewhat similar discussion:

My in-laws are Methodists, and my MIL told me that the heirarchy is moving their current pastor somewhere else (this, after just losing their police officer son in Dec. Can you believe it?????) and replacing him with a female pastor.

"But that's unbiblical," proclaimed I. She said she knows, but apparently they will continue to attend their church. Now, my FIL has cancer, as you know. And I believe he just wishes to stay put; that church home is their 'family.' They're in there mid 70's, small town, etc.

So, what to do? In learning so much thru our pre-marital mentoring and the teachings we're listening to, we came to the conclusion that God is bigger than any church that might not be doing things 100% correct. Whether that be a female pastor or some other thing they're misguided on or not teaching correctly.

So, my MIL still needs to submit to the direction of her husband. God will take care of her, and honor her submissiveness.

IMO, the same thing applies to your example. If a husband is not asking that his wife do anything illegal or immoral, she needs to trust God thru him.

Big lesson I'm in the throes of learning.

Sorry so long...

April 25, 2007 9:59 AM

 
Blogger Gayla said...

Dave, I'm sorry. I didn't comment on the post. :)

I'm in total agreement with everything you said! Without studying the 'whole counsel' of this passage, one cannot understand the total picture.

We do have to go back to Genesis. Before the curse, the roles of the husband and wife were understood, implicit. Notice God did not have to 'spell it all out' for Adam and Eve.

April 25, 2007 10:05 AM

 
Blogger jazzycat said...

Gayla,
Great example. I think the case I cited flows over into the believer/unbeliever marriage and was not a good example for this post. Your example is better and I think your answer was really good. I probably would be a terrible counselor, but I think it is much needed in our society and it looks like you have a real knack for it. I will pray for you in the mentoring that yall are doing.
wayne

April 25, 2007 11:12 AM

 
Blogger Gayla said...

Thank you, Wayne. I truly appreciate your prayers. The blogposts about marriage, along with our studies, are really helping to sharpen my beliefs, therefore change my actions and attitudes. And let me tell you, with Roger now out of a job, I'm really being put to the test.

But I don't think your example was a bad one at all. Believing wives are still required to submit to their unbelieving husbands - and win them over without a word. ;)

April 25, 2007 11:37 AM

 
Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

Jazz and Gayla,

You guys are doing a great job without me! I'm afraid I might just muddy the waters if I get into your conversation.

I come at these issues from a pastoral perspective. In other words, I don't have the luxury of pontificating from an ivory tower. I'm living down in the mud with all my people.

It seems as if I have seen every possible husband/wife conflict, but the minute I say that I am surprised by a new one.

A future post will briefly address the question of unbelieving husbands, but I will make a shorter comment here:

I have had Christian women come to me and confide that their husbands want them to participate in sexual acts with other men or women or something along those lines. I have actually heard hierarchical extremist pastors say that women must submit and that God will not hold them accountable for what their husbands demand. I think it is clear that Christian women must obey God rather than their husbands in such situations and other similar circumstances.

Many women have complained that their husbands don't want them to attend church anymore. I have avoided making any rule here and have asked these women to fervently seek God's direction. Some have felt led to absent themselves from worship for a time. Others have felt led to disobey their husbands and continue attending. This is not a call I can make even though many pastors are very authoritative. I truly believe the answer will be different in different situations.

I hope you don't think this is a cop out. I could probably write for a couple of hours describing all the different situations in which this same question arose! Some needed to submit while some needed to take a stand. Some had husbands who were close to the kingdom while others had husbands who were merely cruel. Some had to set an example by being submissive while others had to set an example by being faithful to meeting for worship. You see what I mean?

Dave

April 25, 2007 1:31 PM

 
Blogger Bluecollar said...

"They don’t understand that Christian submission is not a matter of over and under or above and below. Rather, it is a matter of all believers seeking to serve and promote one another at the same time!"

This is a lesson I must learn. Thanks, Dave

April 25, 2007 1:40 PM

 
Blogger Baptist Girl said...

Hi Dave,
Greatblog. I did a blog last year on wives submitting to their husbands and shared a story of a couple we knew where the husband was not saved and the wife got saved, and how the Lord used her submission to her husband to speak to him.
here is the blog if you would like to read it. It really touched us when this couple shared this with us.
http://baptist-girl.blogspot.com/2006/08/wife-is-to-submit-to-her-husband.html

Cristina

April 25, 2007 4:17 PM

 
Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

Cristina,

Thanks for referring me to your post of nine months ago. It is an excellent illustration of God leading a woman to offer submission to her husband whom God was preparing for salvation. It is obvious that in her situation she did exactly what the Lord wanted her to do.

Dave

April 25, 2007 5:15 PM

 
Blogger Gojira said...

Hi Dave,

I have come down with some type of bug or something. Being so, I would relly love to commend you on these two posts. I'd write more, but like I said, I seem to have caught some nasty bug, and can't sit up too long without getting sick.

I do have a request: Col. 3:19 "Husbands, love your wives and do not be ***BITTER*** towards them." NKJV.

My request: I think the verse has much revelance with what you have posted. So my request is will you please post some thoughts on the above verse.

April 25, 2007 9:19 PM

 
Blogger Sista Cala said...

The key is in the last 4 words. "as unto the Lord". Again when you read the part about husbands loving the wives...it is 'as Christ loves the church'. The most basic way to say it is this: do as Jesus would do, love as He loves, submit as He submitted.

April 25, 2007 10:18 PM

 
Blogger Shiloh Guy said...

Gojira,

I haven't forgotten you! I'm working on Colossians 3:19. Just a little busy today. But my first impression, based on the fact that I think Ephesians and Colossians are intentionally similar in so many ways, is that Paul means the same thing in Ephesians 5 and Colossians 3.

If Mark continues to be so graciously generous with blog space I'll talk about husbands very soon.

Sorry you're not feeling well. Will pray for you!

Dave

April 26, 2007 10:44 PM

 
Blogger Bluecollar said...

"If Mark continues to be so graciously generous with blog space I'll talk about husbands very soon."

Dave, take all the time that you need. I need reproof and the correction and instructions in righteousness!

April 27, 2007 6:20 AM

 
Blogger Dawn said...

Dave: "They don’t understand that Christian submission is not a matter of over and under or above and below. Rather, it is a matter of all believers seeking to serve and promote one another at the same time!""

Amen! My husband and I have this type of relationship. We serve God first and in doing so we serve each other. We are always trying to please each other.

If we disagree on a matter, we try to come to a mutual agreement. If we cannot agree, we leave it alone for awhile. If I think I'm right, I will try to persuade him to see it my way and vice-versa. Thankfully, we agree about most things.

Though, I guess I do see it a bit hierachically. I do believe that my husband is utimately the spiritual head and that I'm to submit to him. But it rarely ever comes to the point that I have to do something that I disagree with.

April 29, 2007 1:45 AM

 

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