My tongue is in my hand…

…The soapbox is back.

Posted on: August 6, 2009

There has always been this one passage in the Bible that I just can not be okay with. More than that, something within me rages at the words in defiance every single time I hear them. Nothing fills me with righteous indignation more.

So, here we go: “Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For 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. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husband in every thing.”  Ephesians 5:22-24

Ew, no. I will never fully submit myself a huMAN of any kind (doesn’t that border on idolatry?). And, in case anyone missed the memo- I, even as a woman, have direct line to God (ever since the crucifixion, you know?). And God talks to me, lives in me, guides me. I don’t need any PERSON to be my head. I’ve got my own head! People are crazy, even the most well intentioned, and we shouldn’t submit completely to a person. That’s asking for serious T-R-O-U-B-L-E.

Can we inspire, sharpen, and and hold one another accountable though? Absolutely. But I don’t think any PERSON needs to believe they are head of another PERSON.

I don’t care that the next part says  “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for it.” Eph 5:25, because the next part says “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” Eph 5:26.

I’m sorry, no. No MAN can cleanse me! He’s going to be busy enough with his own self, as we all should be. To me, this passage has always implied that a woman is less godly than a man and needs a man to reach her ultimate best. That, is also a mentality that is asking for T-R-O-U-B-L-E. Even if the man does as he “should”, it still makes the woman out to be the lesser of the two. I can’t be okay with that.

People then say “Well, the point of it all  is in this verse-“So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.” Eph 5:28. Yeaaaa, that’s nice. But I’m pretty sure the whole love others as yourself thing was already covered earlier on (“This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12) so I don’t buy that the whole point of that passage was that men love their wives as themselves. Because if that was all there was to it, then that is all that would be said.

This is where I intellectually understand that the Bible was assembled by men. God-lead, but still- men. And we can never fully escape our personal perspective, influenced by gender, among other things. I’m a writer, I’ve been inspired to write things I never had in my head on my own, but even as a vessel, traces of me come through. I also understand that the church, as an institution, was created and designed by men (again, God-lead, but still, men). And I understand that the church is an institution. That religion is not faith and vice versa.

The last thing women need in this world is to wait for a man to lead them or love them. I’m not men bashing, I’m being realistic. We all have to love and look out for one another, but we also all have to ultimately take responsibility for our lives and our relationship with God. We are individuals, even in marriage.

Why in the world would one person need to “lead” the other, particularly based on gender? Why is it not a 50/50 split (possibly focusing on personal strengths and weaknesses within the couple)?  Instead of women holding back our selves to submit to other mere mortals, why don’t we all work on loving God (and submitting to God) enough to love ourselves to love each other the very best we can? In this, I believe we do, through our love in God, submit ourselves to many things, but never to be less than another. How would it be effective to love others as we love ourselves if we consider ourselves less…

Why does this passage exist? I know there are plenty of things in the Old Testament that we put aside because with the Resurrection, there is new life, new law, but this is New Testament. So, what’s up?

The thing that got me going on this today was this article:

Weighty Words on the Meaning of a Husband’s Headship

August 5, 2009  |  By: John Piper |  Category: Commentary

What follows is one of the greatest reasons for a man to get married and stay married: not the rapturous flame of eros, but the refining fires of holiness.

No relationship is more clearly commanded to model the death of Christ. No relationship is more costly—in both senses of that word (painful and precious).

This quote comes from one of C. S. Lewis’s last books, published in 1960, The Four Loves. In it we hear the wise fruit of a lifetime.

The husband is the head of the wife just in so far as he is to her what Christ is to the Church. He is to love her as Christ loved the church—read on—and gave his life for her (Ephesians 5:25).

This headship, then, is most fully embodied not in the husband we should all wish to be but in him whose marriage is most like a crucifixion; whose wife receives most and gives least, is most unworthy of him, is—in her own mere nature—least lovable. For the church has no beauty but what the bridegroom gives her; he does not find, but makes her, lovely.

The chrism [anointing, consecration] of this terrible coronation is to be seen not in the joys of any man’s marriage but in its sorrows, in the sickness and sufferings of a good wife or the faults of the bad one, in his unwearying (never paraded) care or his inexhaustible forgiveness: forgiveness, not acquiescence.

As Christ sees in the flawed, proud, fanatical or lukewarm Church on earth that bride who will one day be without spot or wrinkle, and labors to produce the latter, so the husband whose headship is Christ-like (and he is allowed no other sort) never despairs. He is a King Cophetua who after twenty years still hopes that the beggar-girl will one day learn to speak the truth and wash behind her ears. (105-106)

http://www.desiringgod.org/Blog/1943_weighty_words_on_the_meaning_of_a_husbands_headship/

I have read this several times over, giving myself time to think about it, trying to see why the person who posted the link (who I like and respect) likes this article, and trying to process, not react. I don’t know if I’m there yet (though I am asking them: I know they find this useful/inspiring and I really want to see their perspective, or try).

The imagery just disgusts me. Why is this inspiring? It makes the woman sound dirty, unworthy, ugly, etc and marriage is related to a crucifixion but is also the only thing that makes the woman lovely. That’s not inspiring! That’s horrible!  I get that it is calling men to be holier, and to give of themselves (right, isn’t that the “point”?), but at what cost? At the cost of viewing women (their wives) and marriage as something to bear, something to endure? It sounds pious to me. I mean, we all know it’s called the “long haul” for a reason, but that’s just depressing. Why would anyone want to be married, or close to God, reading this?

I know Christians are called to die to their “selves”, but our “selves” are also created by and cherished by God. We have to be careful with this…without trying to sound too conspiracy theorist here- religions are often institutions of social control…We have to be careful with religion and faith. With things we are “supposed to do”…

And where is the advice for women? Just submit? Is that it? Lame. Or are we to just assume they mean the same for us? (to bear our marriage and husband like a dirty crucifixion through which we will gain our holiness? And, don’t we already HAVE our holiness- through Christ’s crucifixion?) Was it they just didn’t have gender neutral language back in the day?

If so, I still find in unappealing and disgusting.  It’s just not a visualization I am moved to action by. There’s nothing motivating about it for me.

Where’s the love? Where’s the inherent worth and beauty we (ALL of us) have as beings created by God?

Why are guilt trips, scare tactics, rule-focused sacrificial, and generally unappealing (and ego-tripping?) visuals used in Christianity? WHY?????

Where’s this stuff?

Love. Faith. Freedom. Courage. Grace. Mercy. Love. Joy. Hope. Promise. Strength. Rest. Forgiveness. Acceptance. Adoration. Worth. Love. Freely Giving. Unconditional. Intense. Consuming. Love.

Isn’t life itself hard enough? Don’t we need to focus on the good stuff? Doesn’t everything fall into place with love (meaning works and action will follow the commitment and acceptance of love)? Is that too touchy-feely-liberal- hippie-ish?

I don’t know that it’s so much the ultimate concept that is being presented that bothers me so much as it is the language that is being used…but there are some fundamental issues I think I have with all of it as well…I know I sound like my mind’s made up. To be honest, it kind of is. That doesn’t mean I can’t hear out dissenting perspectives, and keep thinking about it. I like thinking. It’s good for me. So, if you can help me understand the article as inspiring, or even, how the passage in Ephesians is truly relevant to male/female relationships now, I’m interested. I’m not saying it’ll change my mind, I’m just saying, I like all the info I can get, from all the sources I can get it. In case it matters:  I’m more likely to actually consider input that is not regurgitation, but more someone’s true perspective to which much thought has been given and processing has occurred.

…and I’m off the soapbox for now.

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3 Responses to "…The soapbox is back."

Hey,

Great Post! I agree with you 110%. That link posted is from John Piper’s blog. Piper is on the Reformed edge of Christianity and he (and others like him… Mark Driscoll, etc.) is pretty adamant about his stance toward women being in a submissive role. Written by men in a time when it was not acceptable for women to do many of the things they are free to do now. Imagine how much sooner Jesus would have been sentenced to death had God become incarnate in female form. We have come a long way, but not far enough. Women are still receiving much less than men in their careers, relationships, and cultures in general. Viva la Revolution!

I’m going to have to respond to this one in my own blog. Too much to put here as a comment. ^_^
It’s crazy though, right? I’ve always had this idea in the back of my head, but I never thought about it when I read those verses…

Dang.

~Kristin Nichole

God I hate that scripture too… There’s a fair bit in the bible that I’m uncomfortable with, a fair bit in there that regardless of the time-old-explanation that everything in it is God’s word and absolute truth… naw. Couldn’t say so. And while I won’t (deliberately won’t) believe EVERYTHING in the bible, like any book worth reading there’s a lot in there that I respect.

THAT, is not one of those passages. That clearly had absolutely nothing to do with God. That had everything to do with tradition.

Here in Australia, culture missed out on two very important things: feminism, and the prohibition. These two timeline bottlenecks that took a steady flow of traditions and squeezed them into semi-moderation are quite noticeably vacant here.

The prohibition for example, for a number of years alcohol was illegal in America. That forced many people to take up other vices and created a strong general consensus (as anything will when made illegal) that alcohol was a bad thing. I myself am not one to deny myself a little wine now and then but I’m not the kind to drink till drunk every-single-frakking-night for the sheer hell of it.

Here in Australia, there was no prohibition, and the country that finds itself normal it’s its drinking habits would be committed immediately as outright alcoholics. Every one of them. (maybe.. most of them)

Same with feminism. There was actually an article I read the other day about Australia being the least egalitarian country in the world. Its a little isolated out here and I guess the feminism movement didn’t quite trickle down that far. Hear every other guy I meet seems massively, yet somehow completely casually sexist. Woman has her place and they all know how to cook and they all know how to clean and that’s what they’re for and one of my friends here actually pulled me aside on numerous occasions and asked me how I could stand it that when I got home from work Kristin hadn’t cooked everything in the refrigerator and had it hot for me when I walked in the door, cleaned all my clothes and unwrecked the whole house.

I didn’t have any idea what he was on about because we were all living there together and all did our part but when it finally dawned on me “This is what he thinks girls are supposed to do for their guys” I had to tell him “Stop thinking of Kristin as a girl, she’s a human being, like you, like me, no better, no worse, no extra responsibilities, no less.” And his jaw about fell off his face…

There’s a long way to go for this country really… Women are hugely objectified here and so far any progress in equal rights extended by women here seems to be greeted by a pat on the head and an “Awe that’s cute.” And I think the majority of that has to do with a massive influx of asian and indian cultural migration (they’re right over the pond and there’s a lot of them here nowadays). The eastern culture’s are a WHOLE new ballgame when it comes to rights and reason about gender equality, mostly in the form of: “Gender equality? What is THIS strange new phrase I’ve never heard of before?”

So yeah… long way to go… kind of a broad tangent from the scriptural reference…

… I don’t want Kristin to be considered less capable of anything because she’s a girl… and even more I don’t want to ever be considered MORE capable of anything JUST because I’m not. I guess its gonna take a lot from both sides to project that intention. So… getting started then eh?

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