Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Marriage as Parable of Permanence 7

posted by Scot McKnight

WeddingRing.jpgWe are discussing marriage by examining the recent book of John Piper’s called This Momentary Marriage: A Parable of Permanence.


If you know the debates today among (mostly) evangelicals — I don’t know this debate outside that circle, you know there is a debate between complementarians and egalitarians, though I think the word “egalitarian” is slippery and derivative more from modernist theories of equality and justice than from either biblical teaching or theological perceptions. As I state in my book, The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible
, I prefer the term “mutuality.”

Piper doesn’t. He’s perhaps the leading voice in the complementarian group, and he has two chps in this book on male headship and another chapter on the wife’s submission. Some of you are snarling now. Some of you are suspicious of what I might say. I hope both you, and others, keep reading.

Once again, here is the passage: Ephesians 5:21ff



Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church– for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”This is a profound mystery–but I am talking about Christ and the church.However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

What does Piper say then? Here are his major points:

1. In Paul’s mystery, the man mirrors Christ and the woman the Church. Christ, he suggests, is both lionhearted and lamblike. Marriage must be understood as an image of the relationship of Christ and the Church.

2. The one flesh of husband-wife mirrors the one body of Christ-Church. I’d like him to have explored what “oneness” means here: is it functionality they are one or is it relationality? Is it being or is it perichoresis? What does “one” mean here?

3. This leads him to the distinguishable “roles” of husbands and wives. Which leads him to critique egalitarians, though I’m not sure who he has in mind since he gives no names and no literature and no references. His definition leaves more than lots to be desired for it is incomplete as it is unfair. Who are the egalitarians? His words: “the ones who reject the idea that men are called to be leaders in the home” (77). Point: this is not how to define your enemies. He’s defined them by what he dislikes or by what he thinks is wrong from his angle of what is right. Why not, I want to ask, let them define what they think? They put, he says, all the emphasis on “mutual submission” of vs. 21. Do they? Yes, they will note that — as I would too. V. 22 depends for the word “submit” on v. 21. There is no paragraph break at 22. V. 22 flows out of v. 21. But, is that where the so-defined egalitarians put their emphasis? No. They put it on love and on loving sacrifice of one another, and they also tend to downplay the appropriateness of the word “role.” (By the way, I just read the section on this passage in IVP’s Ancient Christian Commentary on the New Testament, and the emphasis is on sacrificial love for the excerpts taken and there is precious little on role. Read it for yourself.) Egalitarians, he claims, seem to stop with mutual submission and fall shy of defining roles and the distinctions between husbands and wives. This may be true of some, but I don’t think it is fair to see this of egalitarians as a class.

4. Thus, he continues: “Mutuality of submission and servanthood do not cancel out the reality of leadership and headship. Servanthood does not nullify leadership; it defines it.

5. Sin did not create headship but destroyed it, and here Piper rails against the abuse of headship by domineering and indifferent, lazy males and the abuse of submission by both manipulative obsequiousness and brazen insubordination on the part of wives. Sin made these roles ugly and destructive.

6. Headship: “divine calling of a husband to take primary responsibility for Christlike, servant leadership, protection, and provision in the home. Submission is the divine calling of a wife to honor and affirm her husband’s leadership and help carry it through according to her gifts” (80). There’s not enough “love” or “covenant keeping” in these two definitions for me. I can’t believe a woman’s submission is about affirming a husband’s leadership — that’s too abstract for me. His definitions here appear to be commitments to assignments for one another instead of commitment to one another.

7. Headship basically means leadership with two facets: protecting and providing (nourishing and cherishing). And the next chp has good examples of what he means by all this …    



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RJS

posted July 9, 2009 at 6:56 am


Scot,
When marriage is a parable for Christ/Church – and not an entity in an of itself this issue of roles and submission and leadership make a consistent story – and if Piper is anything, he is consistent.
I think he has his consistent story – the lens through which he reads scripture – wrong. And this distorts many things.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 9, 2009 at 7:07 am


RJS,
I agree that shaping everything through that lens impacts everything Piper says and sees. Furthermore, even approaching this passage through the lens “submission” and “leadership” reshapes the language. Focus, I want to say, on how Paul talks and his emphasis in this passage is best seen through the lens of sacrificial love for one another.



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Anette Ejsing

posted July 9, 2009 at 8:06 am


When I read evangelical men on the topic of male leadership in marriage it always fascinates me to see what new way they can craft a language that says the same old thing: when it comes to the final word, it comes out of the husband’s mouth.
I would like to see Piper and other evangelical men talk about the power of female leadership and how this finds its way into marriage.
When a wife is smarter, has a better idea, sees a need for something and wants to initiate a change how does her husband recognize this and act/lead accordingly?



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Ellie Dee

posted July 9, 2009 at 8:11 am


Christ is the head of this union. Christ is alive in this duality. If this union is one, leadership in the form of love, is the director of the feminines acceptance of his will.



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MatthewS

posted July 9, 2009 at 9:03 am


However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband
I mentioned yesterday that the advice to husbands and wives does not seem completely interchangeable to me. Few answers or advice is really one-size-fits-all. Every marriage has its own rhythm. But I have seen some very complex marriage problems that really did seem at their core to be a lack of respect perceived by the husband from his wife and a lack of love perceived by the wife as being expressed from her man.
Don’t like the word “roles.” Hate it when men lord authority over their wives. Each person and each marriage is different. But in general, I find it significant that the verse does not say “respect and love each other.” It says “wives respect your husbands and husbands love your wives.” I think this has some ramifications as to the contribution each person makes and the payout each person gets from the marriage.



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Nora

posted July 9, 2009 at 9:26 am


I’m interested in how the “roles” are more specifically defined. It is one thing to read this section and come to the conclusion that husbands are to be the leaders in the marriage, and it is quite another to extrapolate that to mean specific duties for each partner. For example, the husband must be the breadwinner, the wife must stay home with the kids, the husband should always lead family devotions, etc. While none of these things are wrong, there is actually little Biblical support for mandating any of them, and this is where, IMO, the complementarian lenses become pretty thick when reading Scripture.



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Travis Greene

posted July 9, 2009 at 10:02 am


MatthewS @ 5,
I think you’re right that this verse points to general (not universal) distinctions between men and women in terms of innate needs.
But.
Complementarianism seems always to come down to “Who’s in charge?” Which seems to me is always the wrong question.



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MatthewS

posted July 9, 2009 at 10:17 am


Travis #7. Good comment. Worse than just “Who’s in charge?”, some complementarians seem to enjoy attacking the manhood of men who fail to assert their authority. This occurs with phrases like “man up” “take your skirt off and put your pants on” “don’t be a girly man” etc. ad nauseum. Hey, I’m not invulnerable to such attacks. Maybe I’m not man enough. Maybe my wife would respect me more if I exercised more authority. Or maybe not… (sarcasm alert)
I think the actual effect of that kind of teaching is to leave some men more deeply nervous about their manhood than they were before and to push others to be more domineering than before. And that is sour fruit, not from the tree that is Eph 5.
‘Course, on the other side, just reading “wives submit to your husbands” without apologizing and explaining it away will get you tarred and feathered in many circles.



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MattR

posted July 9, 2009 at 10:20 am


So Scot, do those of us in the egalitarian camp need a new word to describe this?… ‘mutual-itarians?!’
One of the things that does trouble me, is that too often when a complimentarian (again, not too fond of the names for either side) such as Piper describes what I as an egalitarian believe, I go… ‘huh?! That doesn’t really describe it.’
And then it seems that this becomes a lens for a whole way of reading Scripture… roles, hierarchy, etc. It concerns me that Ephesians is speaking of Gospel stuff, the relationship between Christ & His Church, etc., and what I hear from Piper (and have heard from others) are culturally defined roles in a marriage (seems to me from an idealized 1950s culture) that are now read back into the nature of the Gospel… did I get this wrong?
What happens in more matriarchal societies then? Or other cultures that define these roles differently? Is there room to contextualize the Gospel there, or must they change those male/female roles to ‘get it right?’
Seems to me Paul is talking about the relationship of Christ & Church, and using marriage as an example of a sacrificial relationship… not primarily giving marriage advice!



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Jennifer

posted July 9, 2009 at 10:34 am


This cracks me up…



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Jennifer

posted July 9, 2009 at 10:36 am


This cracks me up…
“Headship basically means leadership with two facets: protecting and providing (nourishing and cherishing).”
What does he think marriages based on mutuality value – harming and stealing; depriving and hating? The main differences for egalatarian marriages seems to be that both people get to participate in giving/receiving.



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Greg Carey

posted July 9, 2009 at 10:43 am


Ephesians 5:21 is significant, but it doesn’t solve the problem. The problem is that Ephesians (not Paul, who didn’t write Ephesians) places the husband-wife relationship in the same pattern as the parent-child and master-slave relationships.
I reject slavery as immoral. The New Testament bears a mixed witness on the issue, but the New Testament doesn’t “solve” the moral question. Slavery is immoral. We all know it. So we move on.
The subordination of women is (I think) equally immoral. In Ephesians it’s patterned in the same way as is slavery. Again, the New Testament bears a mixed witness on questions of gender, but I don’t rely on the New Testament — at least, not in a facile way — to regard misogyny as immoral.
Sometimes we have to name things for what they are and move on. Equivocation about matters like these is just deathly for Christian mission.



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Terry

posted July 9, 2009 at 10:56 am


Scot, you observe that Piper is ?perhaps the leading voice in the complementarian group.? He is certainly influential, but I?d give that position to Wayne Grudem who has written often on the subject and put the sum of his work into the 800+ pages of ?Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth? (Crossway, 2004). Piper says of the book: ?After the Bible, I cannot imagine a more useful book for finding reliable help in understanding God?s will for manhood and womanhood in the church and the home,? and he dubs it ?the standard complementarian manifesto for many years to come.?



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MatthewS

posted July 9, 2009 at 11:00 am


Jennifer, to be fair (something Piper himself seems too often not to be) I think “protecting and providing (nourishing and cherishing)” is essentially a proactive description of his position designed to preempt the charge of misogyny more than an attack on other positions.



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Joanne

posted July 9, 2009 at 11:26 am


First, I like the term mutuality.
Second, If the wife is to model the church, that is unclear. Nowhere in the teachings of Jesus does it say women are to model something less than Jesus Christ. We become what we model. Wives and women are also to model Christ. Even Paul speaks of Christ being formed in us as believers. Women are also called to courage, sacrifice, service etc.
We are united with Christ and He the source for life and character whether i am a woman or a man.
I agree that the passage is speaking profoundly of service, sacrifice etc.
I also agree that men and women are different. But as I said in the last post, I don’t believe that differences define roles 100%–they define some of our roles but not all–practically speaking. That we are complimentary does not mean that we are polar opposites. We are both still human beings and are vary similar in many ways. (which of course no one ever talks about). Nor does it mean that we must behave in very specific ways to live out that complimentarity. We just are complimentary.
I also don’t believe Paul is defining a leader at all but calling husbands to become like Christ… Philippians 2– Jesus did not consider equality with God a thing to be grasped but made himself a servant.
Women too are called this same service.



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joanne

posted July 9, 2009 at 11:54 am


I am having trouble posting so hope this is not redundant.
I just need to say that sometimes I think Piper is creating a marriage legalism. Men and women, in his theology MUST behave in certain ways. I also think he ties his views on Biblical womanhood and Biblical Manhood to his theological assumptions and even the gospel itself to ensure that they have the force needed to gain compliance and buy in.
I worry about that. I think that norms around roles are often defined by a given society… (just look around the world) And the gospel confronts our norms.
Societies based on equality can get “me” orietned and societies of other types can also be “me’ oriented and narcissistic. The spirit of JEsus Christ and the spirit of service we are called to in the bible confronts us on every level.
Again, I worry about the role legalism Piper seems to assert in many of his writings. The Bible is not that specific… unless we read a lot into it from our society.



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joanne

posted July 9, 2009 at 12:07 pm


MatthewS in your post #8… I too am disturbed by his attack on the masculinity of men who are egalitarian or mutualists. I think it’s highly offensive to men and a form of coercion.



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Will K.

posted July 9, 2009 at 12:20 pm


@ #12 Greg,
Hi Greg,
I don’t think that the husband/wife paradigm is as close to patterned with the child/parent and slave/master paradigms as you put forward. While they are positioned under the same heading (submit to one another in love (5:21b), the vocabulary is different. Both the child/parent and slave/master paradigms use the word ‘obey’ while ‘submit’ and ‘love’ are used in the marital paradigm. Vocabulary is a big deal, especially in Ephesians (I did some work in Greek class on Eph. 1) and I think we need to be equally aware of that detail against the context of the paradigms.
While I agree that the NT does seem to bear a mixed-message (at least, on a surface level) for gender, I don’t think it is necessarily that here.



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Will K.

posted July 9, 2009 at 12:22 pm


@ #12 Greg,
I don’t think that the husband/wife paradigm is as close to patterned with the child/parent and slave/master paradigms as you put forward. While they are positioned under the same heading (submit to one another in love (5:21b), the vocabulary is different. Both the child/parent and slave/master paradigms use the word ‘obey’ while ‘submit’ and ‘love’ are used in the marital paradigm. Vocabulary is a big deal, especially in Ephesians (I did some work in Greek class on Eph. 1) and I think we need to be equally aware of that detail against the context of the paradigms.
While I agree that the NT does seem to bear a mixed-message (at least, on a surface level) for gender, I don’t think it is necessarily that here.



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John W Frye

posted July 9, 2009 at 1:39 pm


Scot, you wrote, “Which leads him to critique egalitarians, though I’m not sure who he has in mind since he gives no names and no literature and no references. His definition leaves more than lots to be desired for it is incomplete as it is unfair.”
This goes along with the comment above that complementarians are constantly propping up their weak biblical exegesis for their extrapolated views with “If you don’t believe like us, you don’t believe in inerrancy.” Or, “If you don’t believe like us, you’ll be voting for homosexual marriages next.” Or, “If you don’t believe like us, you’ve departed from the faith once and for all delivered to the saints.” Or, “If you don’t believe like we do, you’re not a *real* man.” If their view is so clearly ‘biblical’, why all these demeaning comments? The complementarians cannot let their flimsy biblical work supporting eternal headship and submission stand on its on. Why? I wonder.



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joanne

posted July 9, 2009 at 1:59 pm


I don’t know if it is widely known, but I believe the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was formed to dialogue with Christians For Biblical Equality.



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joanne

posted July 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm


opps… my point in the above comment is that perhaps Piper who is on the board of CBMW is refering to CBE in his disucssions.



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Greg Carey

posted July 9, 2009 at 2:02 pm


Will, the language is different, but the three passages follow one upon the other. They all give one person authority, call the other to submit, and exhort the more authoritative person to act in kindness. I think you’re making way too much of the distinction between “submit” and “obey,” especially as wives had legal recourse and children and slaves did not. We get the same cluster in Colossians and a slaves/wives (“submit”) pattern in 1 Peter.



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Dana Ames

posted July 9, 2009 at 2:08 pm


A large part of the problem is that in our efforts to uphold a “high view” of scripture (inerrancy) we read it anachronistially: we impose our questions upon the “conversation” of the text, and expect Paul, or whoever, to be answering *our* questions (the “rule book” or “manufacturer’s handbook” approach). My view is that if we really value scripture we will use all available tools to find out what the bible writers are addressing in their own day, and only then move to draw conclusions about what that might mean for us now. That puts me at odds with Piper before we even get to the gender discussion; he seems to believe that all we really need in order to interpret the bible correctly is the bible, and possibly knowledge of the biblical languages. But the farther away in time that we get from 1st century Judaism, the more important those tools become. [Good grief, for someone who supposedly has learned a language (Greek/Hebrew) to fluency, it seems not to have dawned on him that when you speak a different languange, your brain actually *thinks* differently.]
So, was Paul addressing the “roles” of men and women? Of course not. Such a concept did not exist until the discipline of sociology gave a vocabulary for it in the 20th century.
The theme of the book of Ephesians is union. It is that lens through which the book must be read.
Women were told to respect their husbands, because some of them (especially if they were wealthy) didn’t, and Paul is not about demolishing the social order with a frontal attack- no polemics about anarchy, abolishing slavery or deconstructing the family. But men being told to love their wives, nourish, cherish and care for them as they care for themselves- now *that* is truly radical and revolutionary, and an expression of union. Men were everywhere adjured to rule their wives, not love them; all the “props” in the marriage relationship were to “flow” from the wife (and everyone else in the household) to the husband, not the other way around. Philemon is told to receive Onesimus as a *brother*, and Eph 6.5-9 tells both slaves *and masters* that they are all under one Master (so another expression of union). Claiming Jesus is Lord throughout the book means that Caesar is not- Jesus is seated far above all rule and authority and power and dominion and every name that is named, Eph 1.21. And in we are in union with him somehow in that as well- the church as the fullness of Him who fills all in all, 1.23. Paul is subverting those things -Family, a slave-based Economy, the Roman Empire itself- that gave Meaning to the lives of the people of that day, and is proclaiming that there are things that are higher, more important, more valuable, and truly give life and meaning.
Marriage is *about* a healthy and holy union of beings who are at once the same (human) and different (gendered). It *points to* the union of what is the same and different:
Jesus as a human being, in that sense “the same” as any other human being (same), united with distinct human beings (different);
and
Jesus as the Uncreated Second Person of the Trinitarian Godhead/spirit- in that sense “the same” as human persons who have been given existence as their own “spirits” (same), united with created embodied beings (different) which give the Unembodied a Body (the church).
It is only in the last concept above that the identification of “male principle” with “that which needs a body for expression”(concept/Godhead) and “female principle” with “that which gives a body to what is unembodied” (materiality/Creation) makes sense in this limited and specific way. (There is “fruit” from this union: redeemed/renewed Humanity at the head of redeemed/renewed creation…) This has absolutely nothing to do with “who’s in charge in a marriage”, or whether Eve being created after Adam means that women are not created in God’s image (the biggest, stinkiest load of BS I’ve ever encountered), or what women are allowed to do in church. It’s So Much Higher Than That.
The mystery, that which has never before been revealed, is the incarnation- the ultimate Union- and, hard upon that, the union of God with Humanity via the Holy Spirit- where we are headed as distinct Persons and as a Species, taking creation along with us. Do a study some time on the phrase “all things” in the NT.
It is so *not* about “roles”.
Trying to be clear- forgive the length.
Dana



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joanne

posted July 9, 2009 at 2:17 pm


I agree Dana,,, it is so not about roles. It is about Christian response in the new commuity to one another because we are now brothers and sisters who are IN CHRIST.



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joanne

posted July 9, 2009 at 2:20 pm


One added comment… if I remember correctly, sin as defined in Piper and Gruedem’s book, Biblical Manhood and Womanhood is about not accepting our God-given role. Women sinned when they usurped the man’s place and men sinned when they did not speak up when the serpant tempted in the garden.
So original sin is sort of perverted into not functioning according to the God-ordained roles. Look it up… it’s in the first chapter of introduction.
Scary…



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Rick

posted July 9, 2009 at 2:46 pm


Scot,
I’m to lazy to look and see if you have this answer elsewhere: What do you think of the way Sarah Sumner has viewed this issue in “Men and Women in the Church?” As I recall she makes the argument that there is a difference on home and church function/relational aspect.
I very much appreciate her book. I once heard her speak and apparently she was quite a challenge to Wayne Grudem when she was in school – although I understand he has profound respect for her scholorship.



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Scot McKnight

posted July 9, 2009 at 3:01 pm


Rick, take a look at this — we blogged through her book some time ago:
http://blog.beliefnet.com/jesuscreed/2006/12/women-in-ministry-headship.html



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Scot McKnight

posted July 9, 2009 at 3:05 pm


Rick, she takes it as a metaphor organically connected to context, as do I:
it means organic unity. The head is the one who brings things into unity, as Christ brings the Jews and Gentiles into unity. As husband sacrifices (it doesn’t say he “leads”) and as wife “submits” in love, they form an organic unity that embodies what marriage is all about: “so that they might be one/a unity”.



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Mark Baker-Wright

posted July 9, 2009 at 6:32 pm


joanne in #21,
I don’t know if it is widely known, but I believe the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood was formed to dialogue with Christians For Biblical Equality.
“Dialogue.” Is that what they call it? Doesn’t sound like any form of “dialogue” I’ve ever heard before.
“Dialogue” is civil.
Greg in #12,
While it’s appropriate to point out that there is debate on the authorship of Ephesians, the answer to authorship is nothing like so clear-cut as to say “Paul didn’t.” In any event, I’m pretty sure Piper thinks Paul did, and even if you disagree, this bears acknowledging.



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Mark Baker-Wright

posted July 9, 2009 at 6:34 pm


(Unrelated to any of the above, but seems especially appropriate to this particular thread)
I miss David Scholer. I bet he would have had something good to say about all this….



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TBDickerson

posted July 9, 2009 at 6:40 pm


I remember a romantic dinner at a restaurant with my then fianc?e some years ago. He reached across the table and declared his undying love to me and then earnestly told me that he promised “to love me like Christ loved the church.” They were the most unselfish and romantic words I have ever heard spoken. As you can imagine, I replay this event over in my mind often, and I must tell you- never once in all those recollections and never in my wildest imagination have I ever interpreted that declaration to have even the most remote connotation of headship or hierarchy, power or provision. I knew immediately that my (now) husband used that analogy to describe a love that is beyond measure and is defined by self-sacrifice. I think putting ?feet? to those words helps us truly read the text. One simply can?t make that statement to someone and really mean: ?I want to be your Lord, and p.s. you need to respect me.? Interpreting such a statement that way is ludicrous.
What is most disconcerting about Piper?s argument is not that it so obviously pits men and women against each other in an all-out gender arm-wrestling match (although, that is certainly not good). The most disturbing thing to me about Piper?s thesis is that its overall assumption of what it is to be ?Christ-like? is flawed. The Jesus who is the Head of our (very mutualialistic, and exceedingly satisfying) marriage was not merely a moral, upstanding powerful man who provides for us, offers us safety and therefore deserves respect (this is what I think Piper et al are shooting for in their interpretation of being Christ-like)…No, the Jesus who is head of our marriage did (and asks us, as his followers, to do) counter-intuitive, counter-cultural things that (let?s be honest) often we are uncomfortable with, and that usually the world does not appreciate. Piper?s definition of Christ-likeness (as I read Scot?s pr?cis of it) is not fully descriptive; it leaves out the most important part- the consequences. The consequence of living a life of sacrificial love (a la Jesus) is that we become more transparent, more vulnerable, and therefore more apt to lose our lives and reputations in the process. He has totally missed the point of the writer of Ephesians. Piper?s definition of Christ and his attributes is dismally limited and simply doesn?t do justice to the Christ/Church analogy.



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Greg Carey

posted July 9, 2009 at 7:34 pm


Mark, you’re correct about Ephesians and authorship. In a blog comment, I only feel responsible to affirm what I believe while showing respect for those who disagree. I think authorship is an important point with Ephesians because I believe Paul leaned toward gender egalitarianism.



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Larry S

posted July 9, 2009 at 9:11 pm


Dana’s post #24 is well worth reading [even if it is long :) ].
I would just add two comments to the discussion.
ONE: 1st Century greco/roman world young women tended to marry at around 18. And until then led protected lives within their patriarchal society. Men tended to marry in their 30’s after they had experienced life a bit [if you know what i mean] (Source: Dr. Gordon Fee – i think a paper outlining this is available by him on the Christians for Biblical Equality site). IMO this makes the instruction that wives respect and husbands love (within their patriarchal society where husbands were not expected to ‘love’ their wives more understandable to us moderns.
SECOND: I find it interesting that the word ‘headship’ appears nowhere in the NT materials.



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Ann

posted July 10, 2009 at 12:27 am


@ Mark 31 – I think Jeanette would agree!
@ Dana 24 – thank you for your thoughtful post. I hope you would agree with what I’d add to your remarks:
You wrote: “Marriage is *about* a healthy and holy union of beings who are at once the same (human) and different (gendered).”
I’d add: …and we, individually and in our unity, reflect God’s image as we’re reconciled to one another in covenant-keeping love (thanks, Scot, for that phrase).
Plus, I appreciated your thoughts about the embodied individual beings in Christ birthing our unembodied union by the Spirit into the Body of the Church. (bit a rephrase there, I hope I “got” what you meant!)
Some of your paragraph about male and female “principles” seems to be respondive to those who’ve distorted 1 Cor. 11 to match their ideas of “roles”, if I’m not mistaken (because “head” is used there, too). If so, then the /ta panta/ (“all things”) remark in the next paragraph makes perfect sense to me – cf. 1 Cor. 11:11-12 where all the prior suppositions of men/women expressed in earlier verses are turned upside down by Paul. [I worked w/ Russ Spittler @ Fuller on exegeting Paul's use of ta panta in 1 Corinthians.]
Is your study of “all things” in the NT specifically a Pauline study, or generally NT?



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Dana Ames

posted July 10, 2009 at 3:08 am


Ann,
it’s the Pauline stuff that jumps out at me.
I’m a huge fan of N.T. Wright, so “faithful covenant love” is ok by me.
And I’ve lately been received into the Orthodox Church, which is where the idea of male and female “principles” comes from. Christos Yannaras’ “Freedom of Morality” discusses this. It is awesome, unfortunately out of print, but if you can get it through a library it would be well worth your time to read it. Everything visible inside an Orthodox church building speaks to/points at the union of heaven & earth, including humans as gendered beings. If, by virtue of his union with it, humanity has been taken by Jesus to the very throne of God, then all the noise about roles has to fade away.
Thank you for your kind words. I surely do wish I knew Greek!
Dana



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