Don’t be duped

The more I understand about feminism, whether it’s 1st, 2nd, or 3rd wave, the more obvious it becomes that it’s not compatible with God’s idea of femininity; nor is it actually about equality.  And when we’re raised in a culture saturated with a particular idea, it’s bound to permeate some of our views without us realizing it.

To see if a belief you have is rooted in feminism, you just have to contrast it to a principle that Jesus teaches, and see where it leads.  He tells us to use our whole minds in the course of loving him – perhaps part of the reason is so we don’t get duped like the small minded, weak-natured and spiritually dwarfed women that Paul wrote about.

Here’s an example of a feminist perspective that, in the past, would’ve appealed to my flesh and fed my victim mentality:

Generally, when writers write, they have a main idea called the topic sentence and they surround it with supporting sentences.  It’s the primary message an author wants to convey to the reader.

BUT, when it comes to the visual messages we find in images or memes, you don’t always plainly see what the creator of the message is actually conveying – there’s no topic sentence.  What you see are the supporting sentences.  Usually presented in a vein that’s catchy, rhyming, romantic or utopian – these are more like sound bites directed at the emotions.

This meme is really about  MEquality

It resonates with romantic feelings of freedom, independence and courage; while the undercurrent belies a truly immature definition of love.  Her claim is actually very self-centered.  It’s an outgoing sentiment that would be better spoken from her man to her or about her  – like in Proverbs 31, when the husband brags about his wife, “Baby, you rock!” (verse 28-29 – paraphrased).

– but what really ramps up the toxic, is the disguise.  It appears that her man is the object of her affection; that he’s the subject of her compliments.  But as you read through, it becomes clearer and clearer that her focus is on what she gets from the relationship.  She’s the focus – not him.

Could the Church say this of Christ?

Doubtful.  I think Christ wants to change and renew His bride; He wants her to grow up by, sanctifying her, by cleansing her by the washing of water with the word, to present her to Himself in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, … she will be holy and blameless. (Eph 5:26-27)

Could the Apostles, who were the first members of The Church (and our example of how to relate in marriage) ever say this of Jesus? I don’t think so. He was training, discipling and even correcting them!  Christ found their behavior unacceptable.  Yes, He loved them unconditionally – but that didn’t mean He was going to leave them in the condition He found them in, rather; He was going to begin the process of changing everything about them through transformation by renewing […]. (Rom 12:2)

It’s more blessed to give compliments than to take them

A meme that would really uplift your man would read more like this:

It truly compliments my husband’s qualities, makes his abilities shine.  I’m able to do my part as a wife better because of him.  You can see the difference in the two mindsets by pressing both of them up against the verse, Acts 20:35; we’re reminded that, it is more blessed to give than to receive.

Guard your heart with vigilance

Living in the information age means we intake a lot of diverse data, and sometimes it’s tough to see just how anti-marriage (and anti-God) some of the relationship information is.  This meme might seem insignificant but that’s how it starts – one little meme, then another, and another – and before long you’re thinking, “Our marriage would be better if he would love me without restrictions — if he would listen to what I say and trust meMy life would flow easier if he would just let ME be exactly the way I am and want to be.”

And before you know it, all the problems in your life and marriage are because of your husband.  Nothing’s your fault, you don’t need to change anything – it’s him that needs to change.

The message of self-focus in this meme is actually pretty unhealthy for a wife to consider:

  • That the love she’s receiving has more value than learning to give love without restriction.  ~Titus 2:3-5
  • That the trust she receives has more value than learning to fearlessly give the gift of trust.  ~1 Peter 3:6
  • That the unconditional acceptance she receives has more value than learning to give unconditional acceptance without making demands. ~Ephesians 5:33

We’ve got to guard against little things that appear innocuous, but separate us from our husbands when they’re added up.  We need to trust David’s advice and refuse to take a second look at corrupting and degrading things. Of course, we are going to have deadly information come into our field of vision, we’re living in the world – but that doesn’t mean we have to focus on it and let it corrupt the view of our husbands.

If what you read, doesn’t lead you to give away the grace that Christ gave you, then it’s leading you to hold it just for yourself.  C.S. Lewis rounds it out nicely when he says,  “There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inchevery split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.”

A 21st century paraphrase might read: There is no neutral ground in the information age:  Every book you read; every meme, illustration, song and movie you hear and see; every split second on a screen, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan.  There’s no fence sitting, the Kingdom of God is either being advanced in you or you’re working to counterclaim it with Satan.

SOUL-ution

  • Don’t just believe it:  Know what it is, why and how you came to believe it and who lead you to it.
  • The grace of Christ is always the litmus test:  Does it lead you to give it or take it?
  • Do look to culture!  Sounds weird I know, but it’s a good place to start examination.  Although we might say, “I belong to Christ” – Do we look like Him or the current culture that surrounds us? Do we walk the talk of the world? Do our views conveniently couple alongside the world?

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ARE YOU A DISTRACTED WIFE?

We often hear that going with the flow’s a good idea, and lots of times it is—unless that flow takes us in a bad direction.  I don’t know a wife that consciously says, “Today, I’m going to be distracted from my husband.  Today, I’m going to disconnect on purpose.”

I think stagnation is one of the deadliest precursors to distraction and disconnection.  Marriage isn’t static.  You could even say, it’s kind of like a living organism—it either moves in a positive direction towards growth and life, or it stops moving, stagnating through a kind of status quo into death.  Stagnation is very subtle, it’s almost imperceptible so it requires a vigilant heart.

Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs of life. – Proverbs 4:23

I think these might be some things we need to guard against.

Help or Hindrance

You’re only seeing faults.  You’ve moved away from the helper and harmonizer that you started out as, and you’ve begun the change into a hindrance.  Focusing on your husband’s faults is like viewing him through a wide angle lense … you’ll just find more faults.  Eventually, they’ll crowd out anything good he was, is, does or could be.  I think God calls us to be an example of harmony.

It’s helpful to focus on your husband’s strengths.  The more space they take up, the less room for weaknesses.

Bad to Worse

Assuming anything less than his best.  When you feel a doubt of good intentions creeping into your mind, you owe it to God, to your husband and to yourself, to cut it off at the pass before you plunge into mind-suck.  Mind-suck is that emotional spiral that’s driven downward by anything your man has done ‘wrong’, that you’ve failed to let go of.  These emotions and thoughts transfer into your eyes, attitudes and words.  Assume his best:  Give doubt the benefit.  This not only keeps unity in tact but is love made active.

Write down your doubt, put it in a box and symbolically leave it with God—after all He already knows what it is and how He’s going to fix it.

A Personal Touch

You’re not reaching out as much.  Whether his love language is touch or not, it’s needed for all of us.  Initiating touch isn’t about making up after a fight, condoning sin (real or imagined), or an admission of guilt. It’s not about who goes first, or anything else.  It’s merely an acknowledgement of humanity.  Some of us need more than others, some of us need less.  Some of us want more but struggle to reach out for it.  God knew that we needed a personal touch and sent us a savior to do it.  Even though Jesus knew what we were like, He came to earth anyway — He touches each of us exactly as we are.

Don’t wait until everything’s perfect between you, or for someone else to go first, adopt the Nike slogan and just do it.

He’s a Guy

… and you’re a girl.  Shocker—I know.  Think of your marriage like it’s a box of crayons.  For ease, (but hopefully not too cliché) let’s say you’ve got all the warm colours and he’s got all the cool colours.  Sometimes you need pink, sometimes you need blue.  And then there are times when purple is necessary and it requires both of you.  Purple doesn’t become purple, because blue emasculates itself to keep pink happy.  The fact that men and women are so different, it’s amazing that we’ve got anything in common!  Instead, bring all your female—and let your man bring his own masculinity.

Don’t just tolerate the gender differences, embrace them!   It was God who put them there in the beginning—let Him make it work.

Unreal Expectations

Comparisons are the kiss-of-death.  When we were first married, my husband hadn’t accumulated the abundant abilities that he now possesses after 30 years of marriage (insert bragging privilege:  he can now troubleshoot and fix just about anything electrical, technical or mechanical … and relational).  Anyway, I was complaining to my mom that we had gotten into this big fight because he wouldn’t just let “Dad” look at our car.  I went on, “It’s frustrating because …”  And she cut me off with a chastisement fit for a toddler, which is how I was acting.  “Robyn-Anne!” I knew I was wrong because she used my middle name.  “Your father has been working on cars, tractors, lawnmowers, furnaces, equipment et al, for years.  He’s been exposed to all this through raising a family and his career.”  She shook her head, “You can’t compare your father’s ending to your husband’s beginning.  That’s an unreal expectation on your husband.”

Keep your expectations a little lower than your gratitude, and you’ll see the real man emerge on God’s time.  Your vision is limited at best, only God sees the finale.

* * *

Be all in.  Understand that you are literally one flesh with your husband.  That means when your husband has trouble … you’ll experience it by association.  When Satan wants to come after you—he’s going to coming through your husband.  Don’t give up doing good just because you’re encountering some rough terrain.  You started this race together—you have no idea what blessings lay just beyond … out of sight.

And let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. – Galatians 6:9

We’ll always have to beware of disconnection; it isn’t something we can conquer and be done with, like an event that’s marked by start and finish with a certificate of accomplishment.  As much as a Certificate of Marriage appears like the achievement of an event, the wedding day—in truth, it’s the date that marks the beginning of the process of staying connected.

Any investment of good you give your marriage will always advance it in the right direction.

The Marriage Triangle – Unity, Part 3

Unity With Others

Although I’ve said in Parts 1 and 2,  it can’t be overstated – unity is the goal for every relationship in Christ, including marriage — The purpose for unity in marriage is different.

Inside relationship with others we try to keep unity by, getting along as much as it depends on us (Rom 12:18).  We try to keep unity by, submitting to one another (Eph 5:21).  And even though we know we’ve, freely received everything we need to get along with each other (2 Pet 1:3-4), sometimes, no matter how hard we try to keep the unity through honest conflict resolution with one another, (Matt 18:15-17) – it doesn’t work.

If a sister or brother continues to sin against you and you’ve followed the steps for reconciliation outlined in Matthew 18, then a break in friendship is the next step, and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a pagan and a tax collector.

Marriage Eclipses the “I”

When you get married, the marriage is the top priority, you are second.

While you can be reconciled with a brother by following the steps in Matthew 18, applying the outcome works against the one flesh.  The essence of marriage is intimately close, and to treat your husband as a pagan and a tax collector is intimately far apart, and seeks to destroy the one flesh covenant.

The escape clause in Matthew 18:17 is meant for dissolving friendships — not marriage.  But, if we’re going to direct it towards marriage, then we must accept the indictment from Jesus (Matt 19:8) that comes with it, Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.

Jesus didn’t say you couldn’t divorce your husband, only that if you do, you’ll be revealing your hard heart.

So, what’s the alternative, if you don’t want to be hard hearted?

Let the covenant do the work God designed it to do—it’s based on His truth not your feelings.  It’s the connection during crisis, when God is all you’ve got left.

LOVE: a better way

When I started this series, it was because we found the original marriage triangle ineffective – it had no practical application for a struggling marriage.  The theory was too kitschy—clean, seamless.  And very logical: you both grow closer as you grow closer to God—orderly, sanitized.

It just didn’t resonate with any of the wreckage that the both of us had become, or the conflicts and raw pain that were increasing in our marriage.  Maybe it was because we had both lived by the world’s standards for so long.  Or maybe it was just the nature of who we were as a couple, I’m not sure, probably a combination.

The shift in paradigm, from the traditional marriage triangle to a new One Flesh Triangle perspective, stops the chaos of selfishness and always re-centers me to the basics of God’s love—back to the beginning of Him and me:

I love Him, because He first loved me. -1 John 4:19

During trials and conflicts (which I’m happy to say are now basically non-existent in our marriage), the imagery from the One Flesh Triangle immediately reminds me of what’s important—loving God, because He first loved me.

LOVE: begins and ends with God

But how?  How do you love God back?  He is everything—has everything.  He has so much love that it’s infinite—He gave everything and held nothing back.  Love is who He is—His mainspring.

If anyone boasts, “I love God,” and goes right on hating her brother, thinking nothing of it, she is a liar.  If she won’t love the person she can see, how can she love the God she can’t see?  The command we have from Christ is blunt:  Loving God includes loving people.  You’ve got to love both. -1 John 4:20-21

How, is it possible to give God love?  By loving the brother who’s right in front of you:  You.Do.It.First.  Demonstrate love the way God does—Instead of giving us what we deserved, He loved us first.

I  don’t get to mistreat my husband because I think he deserves it, nor do I get to belittle him because he won’t do what I think is right.  I don’t get to toss him to the curb because he’s not the kind of husband I want him to be.  My husband’s sin is not greater than mine. (Col 3:6-7; Eph 2:1-3)

Look again at the One Flesh Triangle.  I receive God’s love but the only way to love Him back is through my husband.

And the king will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ -Matt 25:40

Read the signs

If there’s a fair amount of strife in your marriage or some triggers that never go away – If you’ve heard the same phrases repeated in arguments and disagreements –  If your communication often breaks down into “every-man-for-himself,” you might just need a new marriage paradigm like we did.

I found with our Marriage Certificate along-side the image of the One Flesh Triangle, there was (and is) no way Satan’s going to divide us—Semper fi!

 

SOUL-utions

  • Do acknowledge the love you’ve received from God through our Savior (2 Peter 1:1), it encompasses all His power and strength as you take steps to align your life under His Lordship.  God gave you all of everything you need to take that step (2 Peter 1:4)
  • Don’t let Satan trick you into getting stuck in that rut between verses 2 and 4—only concerned with what you get from God our Father.
  • When we’re born again, we’re all immature and drinking only milk-it’s the beginning growth.  But, as Paul implores us, choose meat and grow-up (Heb 5:12-14).  And when we do make that choice, Peter instructs us how to walk it out (2 Peter 1:5-7).

 

 

Ephesians 5:21 – Authority is Delegated, Not Divided, Part 3

  • “Officer, I was only doing 5 kms over the speed limit and besides there’s no kids even at school this time of day, you’re not being fair!” Says the motorist to the police officer that just wrote him a ticket.
  • “I won’t wear these ones, I want Nikes.” Says the child to the parent that only has $100 left for groceries for the 4 of them.
  • “We’re not going to listen to you, we’ll choose the plays.” Says the players to the coach.
  • “You’re preaching it the wrong way, you should do it this way.” Says the congregation to the Pastor.

* * *

Wherever you turn in the world, there’s always a design for keeping the law – rules to maintain order, or acceptable codes of conduct.  We don’t get to break the laws of the world because we don’t like them, think we know better, find them inconvenient, believe they’re unfair, or think they don’t apply because we are the exception.

Nobody lives in a void so long as we’re on earth. Unless you’re Chuck Noland from Cast Away, you belong to some type of social construct that requires order.  For any sect of society to move forward in a cohesive group, there’s a hierarchy of power that’s been designated, by someone.  There are positions for leaders and followers in every group.

The laws, whether for our natural world or the spiritual world, are in place for a reason and when they’re not followed, they hold consequences.

The construct of marriage is no exception.

The Failure of Mutual Submission

Marriage is the most foundational structure of organization that we have; it also has a hierarchy of power to enable smooth function, unity and forward growth to its members. (Eph 5:22-33; 1 Tim 2:12-15; 1 Peter 3:1)  If we remove this authority structure and apply mutual submission, shared power, to any social structure … especially marriage … it devolves instead of moving forward.

God knew we’d need an example of this.  So, at the very beginning of the marriage narrative, He gave us a baseline of how NOT to structure the one flesh relationship – He showed us the failure of mutual submission in Genesis 3:6:  So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.  She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.

“… she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”  BOOMFailure.  Now we live in the consequence of it: death.

Why would anyone want to follow a marriage paradigm that was the catalyst for humanity’s spiritual death?  Adam was right there with her and had the responsibility and authority to assume the power, but he didn’t.  Instead, he shared it mutually, by deferring to her.

Adam submitted to Eve by following her lead instead of doing what he knew was right.

Mutual Submission:  Peer to Peer

I cannot find a verse instructing a husband to submit – to his wife, or instructing a husband to learn about submission – from his wife.  Submitting to one another is for all of us when we’re under the hierarchy as a group.

For instance, law enforcement hierarchy: the police are the role with the authority and the law applies equally to everyone else.  No one has more power within the civilian group, the law applies equally, all civilians submit to it.  Those are the roles that are being played.  Not the equality of any particular person.

Or, the education system.  Schools have changed a lot since the 1800s (see here and here), but what hasn’t changed is the hierarchal structure of the classroom:  The teacher is still the position of authority in the classroom.  Mutual submission is for the group of students that are under his/her authority.

Or, a church.  The Pastor is the head of the church.  He’s the one that prepares the sermon for Sunday and delivers it from the pulpit.  The congregation doesn’t instruct the Pastor by exchanging out the structure of power to equalize the subordinate role of the congregation with the authority role of the Pastor; mutual submission is for the congregation.

Mutual Submission:  Usurps Power

When you remove the governing structures of authority and submission, the result is never order and unity – it’s chaos and division. The police are never in submission to the motorist.  The guards are never in submission to the inmates.  The coach is the authority, the athletes submit.  The surgeon is never in submission to the nurse, the head chef always leads the sous chef … the patient never tells the EMS how to drive the ambulance or what roads to take.

Regardless of who is in the role – the role itself has the power of authority.  Can you imagine your child deciding that they don’t go to school anymore?  And you must submit because you believe in mutual submission of the family structure.

… our world just doesn’t function that way.  Someone sits in the position of power with the authority to make final decision – the same person carries all the responsibility.

Power by Proxy

Before I was married, I used to work for Corrections Canada.  When my boss was away, I ran the office for him – he proxied his authority to me before he left.  I sent memos and letters, sent and received inmate files, made phone calls; all on his behalf.  When he returned to the office, I stepped out of the position of authority, back into my designated role under his authority.  The name for this action of aligning yourself under an authority is called, hupotasso.  From Vine’s Dictionary, hupo means “under,” tasso means “to arrange.” – primarily a military term that denotes a position of subordination; our English word:  to submit.

Authority isn’t divisible – it’s delegated …

When Darrell arrives at work, he’s just moved into a different hierarchical paradigm:  he’s no longer the one with all the authority as he is in marriage and family.  He’s now in submission to the owner of the company.  However, his boss has transferred authority to him so when he steps into the plant, the men are in submission to him.  Not because he’s Darrell, but because of the position he fills by ownership’s authority: Plant Manager.

When my husband leaves for work in the morning, I step into that position for him.  In fact, refusing that proxy of authority is not optional for me – as his wife, I become the guard of the house (oikouros) in his absence.  As an unfortunate side note, the English translations have diminished the capacity of the oikouros by redefining the position to mean ‘what the wife does’ instead of ‘who she is.’  Primarily, I become Darrell’s eyes and ears while he’s away.  I am a guard – I do the domestics.

In his absence and with his full authority – he proxies me his power.  It’s not my decision to just take it because I want it; I receive it as a responsibility.  Nor do we share it, I’m acting on his behalf.  When he returns to the sphere of our marriage, the authority also returns to him.

Any hierarchy of authority has nothing to do with equality or fairness, and everything to do with positional structure of roles.

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.  For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and he is the Savior of the body.  Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Eph 5:22-24)

Christ died for the church – He never submitted to her

Jesus submitted to God by doing His will by coming to earth to establish His headship by defeating death.  Founding His church on earth was the act of leadership … not submission.  Appointing the apostles as the foundational layer of His church was His first act of leadership; it was done with the full power of God’s authority.

The only time Jesus practiced submission on earth was in acknowledging the hierarchy of power within the family:  The authority of His parents.  (Luke 2:51)

Jesus is the head, the apostles are the body

Our clear example of how marriage functions isn’t how we broke it in Genesis – it’s the demonstration of Christ’s submission to God, and the relational dynamic between Jesus and His apostles.

If I want a clear example of how a wife should submit to her own husband, I need to follow the example of the body, the apostles who were the first members of ‘The Church,’ submitted to Jesus.

Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. (Eph 5:24)

The apostles never shared authority of headship with Jesus, He led them.  In fact, Jesus corrected two of them for thinking they could sit at His level.  Not because He thought He was better and they were lesser, but because He knew they would not be able to handle what He was going to do; He told them no to protect them.

Mutuality in relationship will never happen while we’re on this earth – as long as we are in human form, our fleshly nature will always get in the way.  The equality that mutual submission seeks will only be found in heaven … when all sin has been removed.  It’s not safe here on earth, in Satan’s world, that’s why God has given us structures to follow.

SOUL-utions

  • Stop thinking that your submission depends on your husband’s ability to daily emulate Christ’s execution.  Jesus didn’t die every day for his apostles, he died once for every believer’s redemption. 
  • Start studying true submission by following the pattern established by the founders:  The Apostles.  Understand how they responded to Jesus and interacted with Him.  How they trusted and obeyed Him.

 

 

 

Ephesians 5:21 – The Muck-up Continues, Part 2

After reading PART 1, Ephesians 5:21 – The Muck-up, it’s obvious that we (Darrell & Robyn) aren’t fans of the egalitarian paradigm, it almost killed the both of us and our marriage.  In retrospect, we found it to be nothing more than a mechanism to negotiate a tally count of 50/50 – a way to gauge perceived equality and fairness.

The egalitarian paradigm appears to equalize power under the guise of sharing it.  But what it does instead is, systematically neutralize the power found in the role of a wife* – her femininity, by:

  • FEEDING HER FLESH:  It requires that we watch each other for fair treatment.  All of us have a battle between the flesh and the spirit that rages inside of us; the flesh demands equality for self, the spirit demands equality for others.  You could be right.  You might even be right, but your man won’t hear it** from you, he’s been instructed to remove your spots and wrinkles – the church doesn’t wash Christ, He washes her. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
  • KEEPING HER FEARFUL:  At the very least it’s immature faith – it’s childishness to believe we know what’s best instead of just exercising a little humility and acknowledging that we’ll probably be the ones to be deceived.  At most, it demeans your husband, it’s foolish to seek to govern over him the way you would a toddler – as if you’re training him (1 Tim 2:13-14).  At worst, it’s seeking to control even God because you don’t trust Him to work it out.
  • LOCKING HER INTO PROVISIONAL GIVING:  Keeping an eye for equality and fairness chips away at true generosity and kindness – it’ll be impossible for either of you to just to receive and enjoy the gift.  Generally, women are the more detail oriented of the two genders, that mental tracking and measuring spills over onto everything including every act of generosity and kindness, forcing suspicion with unspoken conditional strings.  Giving becomes restricted to depend on how your husband gives.  Instead of becoming more Christlike and living from the Spirit (1 Cor 13:7), you become more human-like – living from your flesh.

We’re still on earth – not in heaven

Trying to create utopia through equality on earth, thinking this foundation of marriage will set the stage for happiness is a recipe for disillusionment and disaster.  When it comes to humans, the world is a broken place, there’s widespread unfairness, inequality, and injustice.  We did that, not God.  We broke each other and the world when we stepped out of God’s hierarchy trying to make it better by our own methods (Gen 3:6-7).  Finding fair reciprocity in any relationship on earth is difficult, still, we strive for it. (Rom 12:16-21)

But it’s not going to happen in marriage, you can’t reciprocate with someone you are connected to.  One flesh means connected – marriage is two becoming one, it’s synergy. … not tit-for-tat.  Think:  three-legged race – there’s not 4 legs anymore, but 3 … two of the legs have become one.

However, that doesn’t mean there’s still not a natural world full of designed order that we can see.  Nature follows its design – a dandelion will always produce more dandelions. The environment follows its design – the moon will always control the tide. Even though these systems are complex they’re also clear and concise.  They are not equal, they follow a design of strategy created for a purpose – just like humans.  We were also created for a purpose, and it’s not earthly living.  We were created to live in the eternal:  in heaven.

With the focus on equalizing the gender roles, the egalitarian paradigm lends itself to a lot of comparing of who’s doing what in the roles of husband and wife, all in the name of fairness – even though we’re told not to compare ourselves to anyone except Christ (Gal 6:4).  In order to make sure that the 50/50 of no one being ‘in charge’ is maintained, the watchful eye of equality usurps Christ’s position as King of the marriage.

However, with a complementarian view, it’s about God, me and the role of wife that I willingly accepted the day I got married.  It’s not reciprocation – I don’t get to blame him and say, when he’s a better husband, I’ll be a better wife.  In her book, The Power of a Praying Wife, Stormie Omartian, relays how she tried to get God’s attention off herself and onto her husband by praying, God, look at him!  Look what he’s doing!  Just look at how he treats me!  And God kept saying back to her, Stormie, look at yourself.  Look at what you are doing.  Just look at how you treat him.  (If you’ve not read the book, you should.  If you’ve read it, you know I was paraphrasing to make a point.)

Pleasing God in my role as a wife while I’m here on earth, has nothing to do with how my man fulfills his role of husband.  This technique of blame was already eliminated by Adam, he tried to pawn off his behavior by making God the excuse!  Eve also tried to excuse her choice by blaming Satan:

The man said,

“The woman whom YOU gave to be with me, SHE gave me the fruit, and I ate.”

The woman said,

“The SERPENT outwitted and deceived me, and I ate.”

(Genesis 3:12-13)

… God didn’t accept excuses from them – and He won’t accept them from us.

My role, his role … God does the growing

It was through complementarianism that we each began to thrive in our own rite:  me as a wife through respect and submission and Darrell as a husband through leadership and love.  The more we follow the complementarian paradigm the better spouses we become.  The better each one of us gets at our own roles – not concerning ourselves with what the other is doing wrong – the stronger God makes our marriage.  I’m not responsible for making our marriage better; Darrell is not responsible for making our marriage better – God does the growing:

I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth.  So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. (1 Cor 3:6-7)

SOUL-utions

-A marriage license isn’t permission to poke around inside my husband’s heart and mind to change what I think needs to change.  It’s a visible invitation from God to stand by in support as God removes his spots and wrinkles.  Trust Him.

-Fighting for the scraps of masculine power from the table of worldly women, just changes you into a Red-eyed Ood.***  Accept that the design of a female is already endowed with super-abundant power from God – He created you in it when you were conceived.  You’re not a victim, know it.

NOTES

wife* – It also eliminates the real power from the husband as well but I’m not writing to husbands.

won’t hear it** – An invited opinion isn’t the same as unsolicited harping.

Red-eyed Ood***  In Fandom, Red-eye was originally thought to be a disease found amongst enslaved Ood on their homeworld of the Ood Sphere. Its symptoms were bright red eyes, rabid temperament and anti-human sentiment.

(now you all know I’m a Doctor Who fan) 🙂

Ephesians 5:21 – The Muck-up

“Why do so many people concentrate on Ephesians 5:22-23 and skip over Ephesians 5:21?” – asks Christian marriage blogger Sheila Wray Gregoire, in response to this Pinterest post.

***

Interesting question.  First, it’s not really a question, it’s a statement of assumption veiled as a question.

Second, I don’t think it’s a matter of, “so many people […] skipping over ….”   I think it’s a matter of Bible exegesis.  Some people (like Darrell and I) interpret the marriage paradigm as a complementarian, believing that verse 21 is a concluding sentence for Ephesians 5:1-20.  They’re not ‘skipping over it’ from ignorance or even fear, they simply believe it’s not part of the instruction to wives and husbands.  Others, that interpret marriage from the egalitarian paradigm, believe that verse 21 is a topic sentence for Ephesians 5:21-33.

Complementarian or Egalitarian?

It’s an important question that’ll make a big difference in your marriage:  Are you a complementarian or an egalitarian?

In simple terms, complementarians favour specific gender roles for husbands and wives, each with their own power and purpose.  Sometimes it’s referred to as Biblical hierarchy, bridal paradigm, or Christ’s bride/body.  While, egalitarians favour interchangeability of power and gender roles because they don’t define a leader; but also favouring a designated role split. It’s referred to as equality, mutual submission, or 50/50.

To be fair, the Bible doesn’t refer to either classification – we call them these names to differentiate between the two schools of thought.  Complementarians interpret verse 21 to be the conclusion of corporate instruction.  Egalitarians interpret verse 21 to be the preface for the marriage instructions.

The quick response to Sheila’s statement is:  Verse 21 has nothing to do with marriage and everything to do with the corporate body.  By hinging these two sections of Scripture on one verse, you not only blurr marriage into other relationships – lowering its significance, but, you also complicate submission into a dysfunctional mess.

A slower, researched response, is more involved …

GRAMMATICALLY

It’s repetitive and confusing to say:  “everyone submit to everyone wives submit to your own husbands,” see, it makes no sense.  In all of the thought for thought translations (modern versions), you’ll see verse 21 driven into to the next paragraph so it joins the marriage part.  To make it happen they’ve replaced the colon, semicolon, or comma with a period so that the section will complete with verse 20.  Yet in the word for word translations, (KJV, NASB) you’ll find the punctuation left intact making verse 21 the concluding sentence for the previous section.

VOCABULARY

In verse 21, Paul is concluding his general address that targets everyone in the assembly.  We know it’s a corporate address to a body (a group) of believers because he doesn’t name a subject by a noun, instead he uses pronouns in the plural form:

  • (v2) us – “… has loved us and given Himself for us …”
  • (v3) you – “…let it not even be named among you …”
  • (v5) you – “…For this you know…”
  • (v6) no one, you – “let no one deceive you with empty…”
  • (v8) you – “… For you were …”
  • (v14) you – “… Awake you who … will give you light…”
  • (v15) you – “… that you walk circumspectly …”
  • (v19) one another, your – “… to one another… in your heart…”
  • (v20) our – “…in the name of our Lord …”
  • (v21) one another – “…submitting to one another …”

Paul includes verse 21 with all the preceding plural pronouns

But in verse 22, he changes up his target audience. Notice how he signifies his change?  He’s not speaking corporately any more.  He’s not using plural pronouns anymore.  He could’ve said something like, “Now, all you who are married … “  Or, “Those of you who are married…”  Or even, “Any of you who are spouses …”  But he didn’t.

Instead, he distinguishes those who are married by calling them out separately from everyone as well as individually … he speaks directly to wives then directly to husbands:

  • (vs 22-24) Wives, submit to your own husbands …
  • (vs 25-32) Husbands, love your wives, …

Then in verse 33 he wraps up his instruction to all those who are married using a concluding sentence.  He signifies switching back to plural, but not everyone only corporately to those married.  He’s capturing the attention of, every husband and every wife, Each one of you in particular:

  • Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

Paul makes special delineation for marriage, above the instructions for everyone else.  I think he wants us to know that the relationship rules that apply to everybody, similarly apply to marriage; however, there’s extra weight when you get married.  The aspects of love and submission he’s been talking about up to verse 21, that apply to everyone …  are now going to change.  Love and submission look different in marriage.

SOUL-ution

  • Prove it to yourself.  Let your own marriage be the litmus test, not what I say or what others say.  Yes, take in information – but see if it brings unity.  Find what brings the peace of Christ, the peace that you cannot comprehend or understand … even though you’re experiencing it.  Ultimately, that’s the light you want the world to see.

The Marriage Triangle: The One-Flesh Triangle

In Part 1, I explained how our marriage experienced trouble when we tried to fit into the template called, ‘the marriage triangle’.  That instead of simplifying marriage concepts, it had made it more confusing.

What we discovered was that the triangle paradigm is more realistically suited to all other relationships within the body of Christ, except the marriage.  So it’s better named, A Family Triangle:

Within every one of our relationships with other Christians, there are three separate interchanges going on:  1-Darrell has his own relationship with God.  2-I have my own relationship with God.  3-And then there’s Darrell and I, as brother and sister in Christ.

It’s relationship #3 that defines this as a Family Triangle instead of a Marriage Triangle, it could be with Darrell or any other brother or sister in Christ whether they are friends, neighbours, co-workers, cousins, etc.

When the triangle supports all other relationships, it can’t also express the one-flesh in marriage.  The one relationship that’s not interchangeable with any other:  The Covenant

The marriage covenant anchors

The Bible leaves no doubt that the Trinity is three in one,  Father, Son, and Spirit.  Within the Trinity, there’s a rich symbolism for marriage – a supernatural blending of multiples into a single:  God is three in One – marriage is two becoming one.

In marriage, people are not separated into 3 different relationships like in a Family Triangle – they’re joined.  God invites us to covenant with Him because He knows we’ll need His help to make it work.  We cannot become a thriving one-flesh relationship without His help because it’s a supernatural relationship.

The covenant holds us together as God begins the process of infusing two earthly people into a single unit:  One-Flesh, for this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. (Ephesians 5:31)

If you’ve anchored your marriage to God by His covenant, it begins and ends with Him.  He created it in the beginning, it’s His idea, it belongs to Him.  He doesn’t join your marriage … you join His marriage.

I think we forget how real that covenant is because we can’t see it.  Unlike the visible rituals of buying the government license at city hall and signing the certificate of marriage at the church, the covenant we make with God – even though unseen – is the real deal. As such, it has far more gravity.

I agreed to covenant with God in marriage through my role as a wife.  I made an agreement with Darrell too, but it’s a contract with another human, a natural being.  God’s covenant is super-natural and supersedes an earthly marriage contract.

At a glance, The One-Flesh Triangle makes the invisible visible and, if we’ve let God anchor us, we’re reminded of that gravity.  At that instant, when we need it the most – in the heat of conflict, frustration, hurt, anger (and sometimes even hate) … it can reset our hearts and minds back to what matters most:  not me, not Darrell – But God. His covenant matters most.

There are ups and downs in every marriage; some have more ups than downs and some go down further than others, but we all need a strategy to remind us of the purposes of marriage.  In the good times in marriage, no one needs a prompt.  But in the hard times, when our wedding day feels like a lifetime in the past … when marriage gets painful and it reaches that breaking point – when we start to think, “This is too hard,” the questions we needed to ask are, will I lean on my own strength or wait for God’s?  Am I going to put the human contract above my covenant with Him?  What’s more important?

SOUL-utions

  • Understand that your marriage is a completely different breed of relationship than all others found on earth; it can’t be treated the same.
  • Accept that your marriage is under tremendous strain from Satan. His main goal, since the day you got married, is to unravel your marriage by coming between the two of you so you’re separated.  He’s the ultimate predator and wants you alone – out of your one-flesh strength.
  • Believe in the realness of your covenant with God.  Trust Him with His own idea of marriage; trust Him with the role He assigned you as a wife.  Let this visual be a trigger to jolt you out of any emotions of hurt, back to the facts.