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.

2 Comments:

At 4:42 AM, Blogger Bluecollar said...

Thanks for the simulcast, Dave. I needed this from you.

Mark

 
At 10:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please do not mention "feminists" as an overarching term for all feministic women. There are several different types of feminists, and even though you try to specify by saying "radical feminists," the spirit of your sentence manages to simultaneously disregard the work of all feminists, including Christian ones. Please remember that a feminist is simply someone who desires equal rights for all people, regardless of gender.

 

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