Many topics, especially about the Biblical, respectful, submissive, “helping” role of the wife, are extremely volatile, for men and for women, both -- but understandably more so for women. To fruitfully tread upon this topic area, we need to agree on the importance of seeking the truth. Accepting the Truth based on Scripture is hard because God’s truth often doesn’t support our personal rights and does not reinforce our belief in being Right. So any discussion on hard truths ultimately force a confrontation between our desire, our need, our preference to be “right” -- which we can always ultimately justify -- and being in the Truth.
From my perspective: you are free to do whatever you want. At the end, I have no horse in the race. You can choose to be right and not in the truth. Or you can be in the truth and lay down your need to be right. You can try, and I encourage you to do so, to work within the same Scriptural framework to claim that you are both right and in the truth. That’s fair. While this isn’t the case with every concept, the ones that touch us the deepest, it will certainly be the case that your need to be right and the truth will compete with each other.
However you land, be honest with yourself and with others if you prefer being right over being in the truth. I don’t have a horse in that race. My intent isn’t to then argue that you are wrong while you are right. I will let the truth stand on its own.
It may appear that men get off the hook here or are treated preferentially. I want to emphasis that this is definitely not the intent, nor is it the case. Even if men passively agree with this initial case for submission, men bear the burden of being able to teach this to other women, including their own wives. Teaching isn’t doing so autocratically or without depth of reasoning. This is an ultimate test of both a church’s ability to teach sound doctrine and for men to lead spiritually, for that very reason: it’s against the prevailing culture.
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These are done extemporaneously -- I have the outline below and turn on the mike and just “go!” Many of these are raw ways for me to work out the initial message and refine in other messages.
- Recap on Hard Truth
- What does a Man know about being a Wife?
- One test is whether your mind conforms or is renewed
- Chain reaction: content, thought, emotion, decision
- “Wives submit to your husband” - why so traumatic?
- How does Paul discuss submission in Ephesians?
- What’s the intent behind marriage?
- How important is it for you to be Right at the expense of experiencing Truth?
- The Gospel is the ultimate Hard Truth
Recap on Hard Truths
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5)
- Hard Truths are hard to accept and follow, but the most important because of this
- Easy Truths are easy to accept, but many are bromides, like fortune cookie or “common sense”
- Easy Lies are just as easy to accept, perhaps even easier, and therein lies much danger for living a life only dependent on Easy Truths
- Hard Lies are things most people are able to avoid as long as they know it’s a lie
What does a Man know about being a Wife?
Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled and pure, to be busy at home, to be kind, and to be subject to their husbands, so that no one will malign the word of God. (Titus 2:3-5)
- Men don’t know anything
- They teach through their knowledge of Scripture
- They gain credibility through exegesis of the world and their own lived life
- This is a responsibility of, at minimum, every Elder, and I would argue that every man ultimate should be on a path to Eldership, so every man
- While the rest of this is directed towards women, men must listen to see if they can reconstruct with their own conviction. In fact, the burden is far greater for men to be able to teach on this topic wisely and credibly
One test is whether your mind conforms or is renewed
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)
- The ability to see and accept truth depends on the degree of conformity to the world
- But non-conformity does not come from human will
- It comes from a renewed and, therefore, transformed mind
- That renewed and transformed mind is able to dokimazo - determine authenticity
- God’s will -- thelema -- is His desire for us
Chain reaction: content, thought, emotion, decision
Early in the morning, Jesus stood on the shore, but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus. (John 21:4)
- Truth can be right in front of our eyes, but we don’t think of it as the truth
- Spiritual blindness is not physical blindness; it’s blindness in thought
- Our thoughts are the things that can blind or deceive us
- But if we don’t, we react with emotion
- Those emotions result in a decision
“Wives submit to your husband” - why so traumatic?
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord....and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:22, 33 partial)
- Submit and respect go hand-in-hand. Not synonymous, but are the bookends to the passage on marriage.
- Is there a correlation with the macro and micro instances of declined respect for husbands with the rejection of submission?
- What are common thoughts to the word “submit”?
How does Paul discuss submission in Ephesians?
submitting to one another in the fear of God....Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord....Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.....Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; (Ephesians 5:21, 22, 6:1, 5)
- Paul appears to be constructing examples in different societal pairs of submission
- While “one another” does include mutual, the examples however are not illustrations of equality: children to parents, servants to masters (employee to employers)
- IF we permit distaste of submission to be acceptable to reject it, why shouldn’t it apply to those social pairings?
How important is it for you to be Right at the expense of experiencing Truth?
A common argument I find when discussing many matters, not just this one, but often related, with my wife is I will be on the receiving end of many forms of “you are wrong.”
And I would propose you check those types of arguments, and whether they are a reasoning and a seeking of the truth, or are just trying to discredit or re-assert someone’s wrongness.
Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)
Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. (Acts 17:11)
- How are you approaching your disagreement with “reason”? Is the place in which you are engaging with what’s said through a place of “reasoning”?
- Or are you trying to discredit the person? Common tactics: picking on one phrase or example and using that to say the entire case is wrong; resorting to extra-arguments like “it’s not fair” to prove the case is not true; to invalidate an argument because the language or practice has been misused; to use a “flexible God” argument and proclaim God wouldn’t do this because of X, Y, Z attribute; the “but you haven’t” or “you aren’t” ad hominem attack. Many of these have foundation in the legalistic/legal system, and so are pervasive and often taught in the modern university
- How much seeking and examination of the Scriptures and do you receive them eagerly as words of the Lord? Or do you secretly harbor resistance and resentment to God’s Word?
What is the intent behind the institution of marriage?
This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:32)
When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain until I return, what is that to you? You follow Me!” (John 21:21-22)
- “This” refers to husbands and wives grammatically
- However, Paul intends this to deal with the relationship of Christ (the husband) and the church (the wife)
- What is the Gospel as it relates to Christ and church?
- Yes, Christ sacrifices and dies -- and we will have further teaching on what it means for husband to perform this role.
- But was Christ head of the church only because of His sacrifice? Think carefully: because many, many, many people, especially wives, say that choose to withhold respect until they see and feel a sacrifice by their husband.
- So what do we do with the early disciples and followers of Jesus before he was at the Cross?
- The reflection of the Church, and its reflection of dependency upon Christ, ultimately is reflected by wife and the husband. This certainly does not permit husbands to abdicate their share, for all of the Bible is an instruction to do so.
- But...when you look at your own marriage, is the wife behaving as the secular world to Christ -- dismissive, disrespectful, mocking -- the way Christ was? I think there’s great risk that this is how most marriages are illustrating the relationship of the unbelieving world to Christ.
- Truths are Hard. When based on God’s view of the world, they will rub our deepest sense of entitlement, rights, and self-esteem hard. But look at how Christ dealt with Peter, looking upon the other disciple and wanting total equivalence and His response: to follow Him.
But it’s not fair!
When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain until I return, what is that to you? You follow Me!” (John 21:22-23)
- Yes, this seems unfair in the sense that it’s not equivalent between genders
- But Jesus is not asking us to turn our eyes and point to husbands and say, “but what about him!”
- There are things your husband has to do and we’ll cover that to give the men some air cover and some accountability
- But Jesus wants you to follow Him, and I think the question is what does that look like to you based on these messages
- Will you being “right” or you being in the “truth” win out?