Going Deeper: Husbands and Wives The interpretation of passages like Ephesians 5:22-33 was not a matter of dispute in the Christian world until the mid 20th century. The Bible hasn’t changed but the gap between what the Bible teaches and how marriage and gender are practiced in society has widened significantly prompting many people to shade and shift in their teaching on this issue. While it might be tempting to skip this issue altogether, Paul makes the argument that Christian marriage reveals the mystery of the Gospel so if we get this wrong, not only do we lose the blessing of living according to God’s design, we also forfeit power in mission and evangelism. Worse still we rob God of glory and obstruct the spread of his fame among the peoples of the earth. Let’s set aside our cultural bias for 1 hour and look at these texts and allow them to speak. Let’s allow the Word and the Spirit to speak and then decide how we should respond. Let’s read the texts listed below and then engage the comprehension task that follows. Genesis 1:26-27 Ephesians 5:18-33 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 Genesis 2:18-25 1 Timothy 2:8-15 1 Corinthians 14:26-40 Genesis 3:14-24 1 Timothy 3:1-13 Galatians 3:26-29 Comprehension Task: Consider the 10 statements found below; several are true and a few are false. See if you can spot the false and separate them out. Be prepared to share your reasoning with the rest of the group. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Both men and women are created in the image of God and therefore both men and women have unspeakable worth, dignity and value. Because both maleness and femaleness are derived from God’s nature and identity, maleness and femaleness are both lovely, godly and righteous in so far as they correctly reflect the intended aspects of God’s character. Because God is himself more male than female, there is a sense in which men more fully reflect the nature and image of God. Men and women are completely equal before God in terms of their salvation by grace alone, through faith alone because of Christ alone. Because men and women are equal before God in terms of their salvation, no differentiation should be made in terms of the roles or ministries assigned to them. Paul’s argument in 1 Timothy 2 is obviously cultural, rooted in the local realities of rampant prostitution and sensualism. Therefore, they do not apply in our time and culture. Gender and marriage are intended to communicate some things about the inner workings of the Trinity. There is functional subordination in the Trinity, even though all persons are equal in the God-head. This is part of what God wants to communicate by assigning gender roles. Paul taught that only men could be elders and pastors because he thought that men were generally smarter and more holy than women. This also explains male leadership in the home. While it does seem that the Bible teaches complimentarianism (that men and women are equal and yet assigned complimentary roles by gender) the issue has become divisive and since it is not a salvation level issue, we should let it go and stop teaching it. If we had more marriages where husbands really loved their wives (as Christ loves the church) and wives really submitted to their husbands (as the church to Christ) it would really help in the proclamation and validation of the Gospel message. Further Reflection: Please spend a few minutes reflecting on the following: 1. If a Christian woman is married to a non-Christian man, should she try and submit to his leadership? 2. How broad should submission be? Does submitting extend to every area or just spiritual and moral direction? 3. What would the net loss to our church if we just let this issue die? Loads of people won’t come to our church simply because of this issue. Wouldn’t the cause of Christ be furthered if we just stuck this one in a drawer somewhere? What is the cost to lose it? What is the cost for keeping it? If you could make a recommendation to our elders and pastors on the matter what would it be?