Marriage in the Bible can be misunderstood, and it often leads to questions of who should be the boss in our relationships. While it talks about headship and submission, these topics have been abused throughout the years. In this sermon, Greg shows how to interpret these passages and see the bigger picture when it comes to our relationships.
Colossians 3:18-19 can understandably make some people nervous, especially women. Our society has been led by men for thousands of years, and it is verses like these that have been used to subjugate women into inferior roles within marriages and society. It simply comes across as wives obey your masters, and if you don’t, then you’re not a good wife. Greg and his wife tried this early in their marriage, and it only took a few years to figure out that they were not wired that way as husband and wife. Luckily, we shouldn’t take this passage simply, as the surrounding context of the passage gives us a lot of new information.
Our God is one who takes our sin upon himself in order to save us. In the beginning, we were created as equals, and both man and woman were to populate and rule over the earth as co-helpers. Man and woman were partners, both given the same tasks by God. But, after the Fall, God knew what sin would do to us, and knew that we would try to gain power over one another. So, God slowly began to work in relationships, allowing for things that weren’t his ideal, such as polygamy, divorce and men ruling over women. But this curse of sin is not the way our marriages should operate. They should operate with cross-like love and efficiency. The cross broke the curse. Jesus shows us the true way that humanity should be, and that involves submitting to one another in love. In the New Testament, this command to submit to one another is radical because it completely does away with the wordly ways of loving one another. Indeed, it shows that men and women should love each other as Christ loves and that involves no subjugation or limitation based on gender. Instead of trying to gain power over people, we need to use our power to lift others up.
Marriage is about sacrifice and submission to one another in marriage. But, because we still live in a world tainted by sin, we need to be aware of a few things. First, equal submission doesn’t mean we should be coerced into submission. Coerced submission means that one of the partners forces the other to submit. Whether by intimidation or fear, that kind of submission isn’t voluntary and therefore not Kingdom. It is not God’s will that we be doormats. Second, in Kingdom marriage, no one person wins. Rather, both should win. No one person in the marriage should be looking to win in their marriage, trying to get one up on the other. In the Kingdom, lording one over another is not a part of God’s will. Determining who’s the boss isn’t important.
Even though this passage simply states that women should submit to men, there is a greater picture being painted in the context of both this passage and Old Testament passages. Our marriages should reflect the Trinity in it’s submission to one another, displaying that love that is eternal. Instead of reflecting the curse, we should reflect the love of God in our relationships. When we do this, we begin to tell a different story and paint a bigger picture than first century family dynamics.
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37 thoughts on “Who’s the Boss?”
Excellent preaching, thanks.
Ahhhh!! That is amazing!! This teaching first hit me about ten years ago from the book “Why Not Women” By Loren Cunningham and then your “Power Under” teaching. I was raised in a conservative Mennonite family and you would think that their non-violence teaching would have transferred into marriage. physically yes, but the verbal intimidation reigned supreme. Even as a young man I new that something just did not add up. Thank God I had enough rebellion in me to want something better in my marriage and relationships with our children. Still I could not explain why these verses seemed twisted the way I had been taught. Thank you Loren, Greg, Danny Silk, Owen, and others who are opening our eyes to the real untwisted heart of God.
Question? We women still take or are expected to take our husband’s last name when we marry. How does this work with this co-head- we are equal thing?
Thank you for your teachings on this subject.
I have a problem with this message not as a male but as a believer.
When Greg said, “God bent the rules” is he saying that God changed the Law to suit man? To me this, at worst, sounds heretical and at best, poor word choice. If God changed the Law then what did Jesus die on the Cross for? No, Jesus’s sacrifice covered all infractions of the Law….every sin past present and future.
Given the situation of divorce, God in His mercy and wisdom (and the other fruits of the spirit) allowed this but never “bent the rules”….in other words this was a work of grace, not a change/bend in the Law to which Jesus later attests.
An example would be like the President who has certain powers to pardon convicted criminals. The law for all other criminals, past, present or future is unchanged and hasn’t been changed by the President. In other words, the President has not “bent the rules” and neither has God.
The other issue that concerns me is the issue of “equality” between man and woman.
Do we draw up a list of criteria and tick the boxes under columns man and women…..as soon as there is a tick in one and a cross in the other, do we have inequality? No, it is not a question of “equality” but one of role and purpose. As an example, take a mechanical clock it consists (amongst other parts) of hands, cogs and springs. Do the hands say we are the most important part because we show the time to which the cogs say if it wasn’t for us you would never move and show the right time and similarly the spring who says it provides the power to run the clock. So if the cogs said they wanted “equality” with the hands…..what does this mean…..if the clock were all hands, how would it work? No, each part has its role and purpose for which it was created. Likewise in creation God created all things for their role and purpose and to work harmoniously together….God saw His creation and it was very good.
Also in creation as in the Godhead there is an hierarchy of Father, Son and Spirit….they are not all “equal” in that sense…the Son is always subject to the Father and does only what He shows Him and the Spirit is subject to the Son and the Father. However, it should be noted that these roles are not subordination or superordination but are roles and purposes undertaken in love.
Can a man be like woman or vice versa….in a fallen state, anything is possible….but the result is probably less than harmonious. I believe there is a created order/hierarchy in the created world as in the Trinity that effectively has and is becoming one through the Cross where these issues that currently appear divisive but in the glory of Heaven will dissolve into nothing.
Peter, i believe that Greg was simply referring to the principle of accommodation when he said “God bends the rules”, i don’t think he meant that God overlooks sin in any sense. As for the concept of hierarchy in the Trinity, i think you have to be careful to distinguish between the economic Trinity and the immanent Trinity, just because Jesus took on a subordinate role during the incarnation does not mean he is eternally subordinate to the Father.
I’m with peter! There is not much I can add do that.why can’t people cut the crap and get down to brass tacks?do you think God really wanted life to be this incredibly complicated? The message of salvationcertainly wasn’t that complicated.just ask the poor sucker who hung next to Jesus on Calvary how complicated message was.good old Garage logic common sense in every marriage is what is needed. Mutual respect,and recognition of each other’s efforts. And most importantly love despite shortcomingsthat we all have due to our fallen state. A great message nonetheless. Fight the good fight my fellow believers.
I agree with Peter. I think every man and woman was created equal but also created with different roles. In marriage, woman was created to be in submission to her husband. It depicts Jesus’ relationship with the church.
Hierarchy isn’t the basis for biblical teaching. Man can never equal God. So to set up faulty men as demi-gods in the home is heretical. Husband does not equal God & wife does not equal the church.
This was a fantastic sermon. Thank you so much.
Peter: First of all Jesus said in John 4:24 “God is Spirit and his worshipers must worship him in Spirit and in Truth.” In Galatians 3:28 Paul writes “there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The bride of Christ consists of men and women (the faithful) and yet individually we are in the Son–both male and female. Jesus as a human was man (seed of a woman) but his divine nature (the Holy Spirit) is neither female nor male–for God created male and female–he is not restricted to one or the other. God uses our understanding of creation to communicate even deeper truths. The Kingdom as Pastor Boyd explains so well is the ” Domain in which God reigns as King.” It is within us and among us. We are all (male and female) temples of the living God. I thank God for the Spirit of God working through my husband and my husband thanks God for the Spirit of God working through me. God is not restricted by our physical differences. He lives in both–the question is….will you submit to the voice of God? He speaks through women and men, through friends and foes, young and old!!!!
Who’s the Boss. Wow! Great truth and eloquently presented! This needs to be heard in the church.
Do you think that heaven is a pre-fall type existence or a totally different and new reality? According to Matthew 22:30 Jesus says there will be no marriage in heaven (between men and women). Yet it seems like Adam (human) was to procreate in God’s original plan as written in Genesis. Oddly enough no procreation occurs until after the fall and Jesus himself is conceived by the Holy Spirit and not through purely physical means. It almost seems like the fall was not only inevitable but necessary. If Christ is Co-eternal with the Father (the Fount of Divinity) and self-sacrificial love is defined by calvary then it seems like the fall was necessary and that heaven will not be the same as a pre-fall existence. Are we to strive toward a pre-fall existence–what “marriage” should’ve been like? Or do we merely use such human institutions to understand a wholly new reality (the marriage between Christ and his Bride–the union of humanity with the Divine)? Quite frankly, I’m tired of listening to the “complementation” argument propagated by pastors such as John Piper and Mark Driscoll, it’s refreshing to listen to pastors such as yourself who espouse an egalitarian view:) A view, I believe, that is more in line with the whole of scripture.
Two things –
Aspects of the “Literary Framework View” interpretation of Genesis may account for some of the conundrums found in the sequence of events recorded in the first few chapters of the Creation narrative. So “procreation” either before or after the Fall, may be ancillary to Sin. Also, Todd Patterson has done an interesting poetic analysis online –
“Genesis 1:1-2:3 The Creation Account as Hebrew Poiesis”
By Todd Patterson, on January 21st, 2010
Secondly, it would seem fair and sensible to suggest looking at the whole of scripture, (and I’m not suggesting that anyone here was not doing that!) that the roles in marriage as God intended them to be, should essentially be both “Egalitarian” and yet, “Complementary” at the same time – and that’s not being gender specific either! There’s a time to lead…………. and there’s a time to follow.
Although some of the drawings can be a bit raunchy and it’s not a faith-based resource (as far as I know?), “The Two-Step The Dance toward Intimacy” by Eileen McCann, Douglas Shannon bares this out in a very clever and humorous way.
Charlene and Lisa,
Thanks for your questions. As staff at Woodland Hills Church, I get to take a crack at what Greg might say to some of these questions. Hopefully, I land somewhere near where Greg might land.
@ Charlene–I believe that Greg would say the last name taking would be a choice now, instead of a forgone conclusion. During this sermon, Greg mostly focused on roles within the marriage and didn’t mention some of the traditions surrounding marriage. For instance, he didn’t talk about last name taking, who should do the planning, or even who should wear what during the ceremony! One would assume that as long as both people in the marriage agree to it out of choice (and not “biblical” commands), then Greg would be ok. Just as he said in his sermon, if you choose biblical headship, make sure it’s of the Kingdom and not the world.
@ Lisa–Greg’s open theism view would kind of give you a roundabout answer. While Greg believes that some things are going to happen (God’s restoration of creation, the salvation of the community of believers, etc…), there are some things that are not. In this instance of heaven being pre-fall or some new divine reality using marriage as an illustration, we only know that Jesus corrected the Pharisee’s teaching in Matthew 22. But what Jesus didn’t do was lay out how marriages would look in heaven. I would say it’s safe to conclude that when we get to heaven, our current marriages will not compare to whatever relationships look like in Heaven. And, from there, we can use our imagination to contemplate, but we’ll never have a solid answer without divine revelation. As for procreation before the Fall, it’s very difficult to say something wasn’t there simply because it wasn’t mentioned in Genesis 1 and 2. The point of the creation story wasn’t to say how everything came about in every little detail, but rather was to draw a distinction between God and all the other gods that people worshiped.
Having regard to Andrew’s response to outstanding issues, it is probably appropriate that I do likewise.
The Principle of Accommodation I think was originally proposed by Calvin. While I do not believe this Principle can be necessarily applied in the case of divorce, let’s for the sake of the issue agree that it is. The problem I still have is to why Greg states that “God bent the rules”…..I believe that it is bad word choice by the group that deals with the messages. While people presume that God can do anything, that is not the case. He cannot do anything that goes against His “nature”(for want of a better term), which includes His laws….just like Jesus did not give into any of the temptations. As I state in my post, this was purely an act of grace by God, for as Jesus states, their hardheartedness, and requires no other justification. To say “God bent the rules” is to me, a totally inappropriate comment that sends the wrong message….perhaps Andrew may have the mind of the committee or Greg and could explain it further.
To the second aspect where you say “just because Jesus took on a subordinate role during the incarnation does not mean he is eternally subordinate to the Father”….what are you inferring?….how can the eternal Son be anything other than the eternal Son…..does He go rogue? As I understand it, the economic Trinity is the exposure to mankind of the immanent Trinity and as we are in a sense only exposed to the economic Trinity (unless through special revelation), any suggestion that the eternal Son has a different role or otherwise to the Father is pure speculation. Again, even if your speculation is correct it does not discount the current hierarchy within the Godhead but underlines its necessity.
You are correct when you say “Man can never equal God.”. Lucifer tried to obtain this as did man in the Garden of Eden and in both cases they could not achieve this as creatures can never be equal or greater than their creator. But therein lies an hierarchy. Man was created by God to rule over creation which is another hierarchy. We know in the animal kingdom there is an hierarchy. And as previously stated in the Godhead there is an hierarchy. We have become the sons of God, so there is another hierarchy. We are also the Bride of Christ, yet another hierarchy. Let’s face it if there was no hierarchy, such that no one was in control, fallen man would seek to fill that void. So in one sense hierarchy serves to maintain order except for those who seek to usurp that order with their own desires. In a marriage there is an hierarchy as laid out in the Bible of husband, wife and children coming under Christ. However, fallen men and women endeavor to use this for their own advantage such that you end up with a variety of dysfunctional entanglements and relationships, but that does not negate the principles involved as marriage, in its purity, is representative of Christ and His Church.
I have a problem of knowing exactly where you are coming from with your apparent criticism.
You will note at the beginning of my post I said, (in paraphrase to make it clearer), I have a problem with the message, not as a gender issue but as a believer ie one who is obedient to the word of God. Your scripture quoting in relation to all being one in Christ is also covered in the last paragraph of my post viz. “that effectively has and is becoming one through the Cross where these issues that currently appear divisive but in the glory of Heaven will dissolve into nothing.” In other words as in the verses you quote there is neither male nor female but all are one in Christ and the distinctions we now see in a fallen society will not be present as a person’s life is conformed to His image and definitely in Heaven where these issues will cease to exist.
In essence I do not have a problem with the thrust of the argument you present.
One thing I have found in my travels relating to this whole issue of gender is a message that I will provide a link to. The message, properly understood, essentially takes gender off the table and provides some of the answers you seek in your second post. I had to listen to it several times to obtain a full appreciation of its content and teaching, but it is Biblical and not heretical…..should you choose to listen to it :-
My “criticism”– if you wish to label it as such– was due to your argument pertaining to the subordination of one aspect of the trinity to the other. God within us, God among us, God outside us–All are God and all are perfect in their being. Is Jesus Co-eternal with the Fount of Divinity? If Jesus was merely an obedient man–perhaps even a “preexistent” being,created by God, then he still has no right to forgive sins–only God can do that. The mutual inter-dwelling existence between the Father and Son means that God walked among us in the person of Jesus. Jesus was the visible image of the invisible God and His sacrifice on Calvary was God himself suffering for humanities’ sin. Did Jesus see God suffer on the cross and then imitate it? Jesus himself was not married and the NT even records the existence of a female apostle. If a woman can be a leader in the church do you believe she is only such because her husband “leads” her at home? Of course not! God does not operate under the “might makes right” mentality. He doesn’t say “men, you are physically bigger, therefore I can dwell in you more than your wife.” Jesus (who is “married” to the “Church” would by human standards be a poor husband. Much of his ministry was made possible through the financial support of women and as for physically protecting his “bride” he did the opposite (in this world) he insured their persecution. You are part of the bride. You have been given specific gifts; however, the Holy spirit does not dwell more within “male” than “female.” Unless the Bible is mistranslated Jesus clearly says there is no marriage in heaven. If that is a mistranslation please let me know. Mutual submission between all believers is the “Hallmark” of the Kingdom. If only things were made perfectly clear–we wouldn’t be having these discussions:)
Lisa, I note your response, “My “criticism”– if you wish to label it as such– was due to your argument pertaining to the subordination of one aspect of the trinity to the other.”
However, in responding to your previous post I said, “I have a problem of knowing exactly where you are coming from with your apparent criticism.”…..indicating as your post was addressed to me and it wasn’t of a supportive nature, there must have been an issue, hence my use of “apparent”. However, after providing your most recent response where you indicate you were not happy with the use of subordination (from my previous post), I re-read your previous post in this light, but cannot say that I can directly see that point made in your writings.
In any event if you had read my original post you would have seen that this is not the case,
“the Son is always subject to the Father and does only what He shows Him and the Spirit is subject to the Son and the Father. However, it should be noted that these roles are not subordination or superordination but are roles and purposes undertaken in love.”
Surely I could not make this point any clearer.
One of the main New Testament passages that supports this is Jn 5:19-20 “So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. 20 For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing.”
There is also the verse in Hebrews 5:7-9 “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” It is important to know that Jesus didn’t learn obedience through disobedience but came to understand that his obedience to the Father would incur suffering.
While I hope this may clear the issue up, I have the feeling it probably hasn’t.
Every believer—regardless of current stance on the topic of this sermon—needs to follow the following fundamental steps:
1) Invest a mere few weeks thoroughly studying human history and anthropology, and comprehensively research the factual origins and etymology of the Christian Bible and its many sources;
2) Realize that the collection of alternating literal and metaphorical ideas in the Bible may sometimes be intended to guide you toward a certain vaguely-constructive life philosophy – but at other times are trying to enslave your mind so you won’t confront certain realities that would endanger the status quo;
3) Don’t be a fool by interpreting an admittedly-inspiring work of fiction literally;
4) Allow yourself to have an epiphany that all belief is a form of denial, that all denial is a product of fear and ignorance, and that basing any element of your short life on either fear or ignorance is irrational and idiotic;
5) Experience reality for the first time, and stop arguing the semantics of irrelevant literature.
Dear Recondite – “Mr. Blase” (?)
It’s all too easy to be a melancholic dystopian in today’s world, ascribing a cynical futility to what our hearts need and long for.
Rigorous discussion and debate is healthy amongst those whom are seeking after the Truth. Please feel free to join us if it’s not too much of a condescension for you.
The question is – Who’s Your Boss?
thank you for the reply, staff person. i thought that the message was right on. i have been blessed over the past few years as i listen to the messages. God has used them to help me along in my healing process. Keep speaking truth. blessings and peace
Thank you Greg.
Brilliant, Greg! Thanks so much for your insight. Will be sharing 🙂
I’m really late to this conversation, so everyone is probably gone, but I just wanted to say a couple of things.
1) To Janet: I would be really careful about calling people out as being heretics. I find that word is used too much in evangelical circles. I don’t think anyone was calling anyone a demi-god, and disagreement between believers should be okay without questioning other people’s faith.
2) I do happen to agree with people who see submission within the Trinity, I see that myself. But even if we disagree with that, we must agree that submission is a part of life. And it isn’t necessarily a case of inequality, although sometimes it can be, it’s a matter of maintaining order in situations where chaos can rule.
We can’t all be in charge. That is just a fact of life. Even the most powerful people in the world are accountable and must submit to someone else’s authority. Submission, or yielding authority, is a natural part of life. We see it in government, we see it in business. Someone is always in charge. And someone is always following orders.
Sometimes I think as people we over correct problems. We see something wrong, rightly so, in our societies or cultures, and our aim is to make them right again. It’s true, historically speaking, women have been victims of domineering husbands, and been seen as having nothing positive to contribute to larger society than raising children and keeping home. But that doesn’t mean that we completely do away with the inherent value of having someone in the home to raise children, because it does have larger implications in the whole of society.
The same is true for this issue of headship/submission in the home. Just because it has been a principle that has been grossly abused, doesn’t mean that it is a principle without wisdom or value. I like to think that we abide by these principles in my home. But in no way do I feel I am unequal with my husband. I do dishes. He does dishes. I make dinner. He makes dinner. I make decisions, he makes decisions. I admit, however, I’m usually the one preparing the food. And he’s usually the one making the money. And although we both make decisions, at some point in time, we are going to disagree. SOMEONE is going to have to yield their authority. Such is the case with life.
This has been entirely too long, but I do want to say, I love and appreciate Greg Boyd greatly. God has used him to keep me from walking away from the Body of Christ altogether. And although I agree with him on many issues, this is one where I don’t. It won’t stop me from listening to him or seeking his wisdom, but I have to admit, as a home schooling wife and mother of four kids, I struggle sometimes to feel a part of the more progressive circles in evangelicalism. And I do find myself wishing that Greg would acknowledge more the value of women who are willing to be at home with their children.
Hey Elena! I’m still here 🙂
Great post and thanks for your thoughts. I just want to throw in a little bit about Greg’s view on women in the household.
I believe Greg holds that both in the marriage should submit to one another (as opposed to one person having the “say so” all the time). Greg applauds mothers who stay home–as long as that’s what they want to do or what they choose to do, instead of being forced to! Women at home are no less valuable than women that have a career outside the home (or men at home/work for that matter). I think Greg’s main point was to show that a mutually submitting marriage is what God wants from us, and that men and women don’t need to be forced into roles that were contextually relevant 2000 years ago. We believe the Spirit was at work back then to change those gender roles that happened as a result of the curse, and that the Spirit continues to work today.
As an adjunct to these latter comments, a commentator in describing this matter said of a couple where he was a pastor and she was his housewife that one evening the pastor went to a revival rally, and his message saved a thousand souls, while the wife stayed home and washed the dishes. He asked who is doing the will of God? In the everyday sense we would admire how well the pastor was used of God over and against his wife. But the reality is that both were doing the will have God and like the parable of the labourers in the field all received the same payment, it is not a question of what you are doing….although our ego would want that….it is that we are serving God as a son (male or female) in His Kingdom, performing the role and purpose for which we are designed (….even before the Earth was created).
Greg has written his two books, the Myth of a Christian Nation and Myth of a Christian Religion, I would personally like him to write a third (which, given his position in this message would not occur until revelation was given) called the Myth of Equality. While it is a concept that we may all have a view on for whatever reason and how it should work (I agree with Elena’s view “Sometimes I think as people we over correct problems. We see something wrong, rightly so, in our societies or cultures, and our aim is to make them right again.”), but then we try to overlay this on God’s Kingdom that He created and rules; it will invariably fail under man’s efforts. As I have indicated previously the issue is role and purpose and not equality as I believe one of many failings of equality will always be ego driven…..just like in the garden of Eden, you will be as gods ie equality with God, and it was all downhill from there.
Hi Andrew! Thanks for the reply. I’ve actually come back here several times with the intent of replying to it, but then I would leave and not reply. I’m not sure how much to say because I don’t want to drag this out too much. I guess my final two thoughts are as follows:
1) I feel as though the “contextually relevant” aspect of Greg’s argument, to some degree anyway, calls into question just how much Greg sees women who stay at home to be doing relevant work for the Kingdom. Because that’s what I view my work as being. For Jesus and for the Kingdom.
2) I see lots of holes in the idea that submission and gender roles came into being after the Fall. I see Jesus as assigning tremendous value to women and welcoming them to be a part of His time on earth and His Kingdom, and in doing so, negating the cultural perceptions that women were not welcome to participate in the things of God. But I don’t see any huge changes in the roles that women lived out on a day to day basis. At least from a Biblical perspective. There were exceptions to the rule, to be sure. But I am hard pressed to see anything Biblical that indicates Jesus intended for women to “break free” of certain gender roles in order to take on something “greater”. On a similar scale, most of us don’t leave every day life to go off and become missionaries, or even pastors, or go into full time ministry, if you will. Because Jesus hasn’t necessarily asked it of us. He’s asked us to live our lives for him out in our day to day life and interactions with the people around us. At least during this period in history.
You see, I see the same needs that women fulfilled 2,000 years ago, still being there today. Life isn’t the same, to be sure. And it’s a heck of a lot easier in some ways, while harder in others. But we are still the ones who get pregnant, we are still the ones who labor in pain to deliver. We are still the ones who produce the milk to nourish. Our advances in society, for the most part, can’t and don’t change that. Men, no matter how well intended, cannot do those things.
I’m not one who says it’s a sin for women to work. I have very good friends who are married with children, and in this season of life, have to work. This isn’t about law. It’s about permissible vs. beneficial. What is of utmost benefit to us? As a woman in Christ, I have the freedom to do whatever I want. But what is the most beneficial? Not just to me, or to my children. But even to the whole of society. Does it not matter anymore that SOMEONE is home available for children? How has the need for that changed and become not relevant to society anymore? Like I said, there are always exceptions to every rule. I see that. There is no legalism here. There is the question of what actually brings the most freedom. Is it always about whatever we want in every given moment of our lives? Because I can tell you, I don’t always WANT to be here with my kids. But the picture is bigger than me, and the here and now. And I look to that for my guidance and to keep my perspective.
I guess I wish people would look beyond just what we are allowed to do. And we would look to what is best. Not just what is okay, but what is best. That’s where I wish the conversation would go. We have the freedom. We do. It reminds me of Ian Malcolm from Jurassic Park (the movie, lol) where he says something to the effect of, “Your scientists were so concerned about whether or not they could, that they didn’t stop to consider whether they should).
Okay, that was too long again. Thanks for indulging me, Andrew. And Peter, thanks for your comments as well. I think your idea about “The Myth of Equality” is an interesting one as well. Or maybe more aptly named, “The Myth of Inequality.” Am I really unequal because I have a different role?
I think fear is the essence of the struggles we face as believers; when we are thinking thru how we feel about a matter, and if we see it is as truth or not, or just how things are.
Some want to influence us in their understanding of things because it all seems right to them and they show how they biblically arrived at it. Nothing wrong with that.
I feel that Pastor Greg is not hindered by fear over how society or Christians will fare if the understandings of our day are different than what we now hold. Many Christians are fearful. Why do we believe what we believe about any matter; that’s always what we need to keep in mind, and give it room, and just think about things.
Thanks Elena….in relation to your comment “Or maybe more aptly named, “The Myth of Inequality.” Am I really unequal because I have a different role?”, as you would realise from my comments the answer would be a definite, no. A point here is that I don’t necessarily think we feel “unequal” but a better description would be, inferior.
In Gen 3:16 God states in relation to Eve’s judgement God says,
“To the woman he said,
“I will greatly multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children,
yet your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
It appears evident before this judgement that rulership was not an issue prior to the fall (everything had its role and purpose)…and this judgement has not been revoked, even for Christians.
Man (male and female), in a fallen state rather than interpret this as a different role, judges this, incorrectly, in terms of superiority/inferiority and therefore when seeing the problem this creates at different times through the ages, attempts to remediate the issue and talks in terms of “equality”.
But what does this “equality” really mean in practical terms? Here we have talk about male and female doing all things “equally”….so does female rule over male?, do they rule over each other?, do they take turns?. All this and any other permutation seeks to override God’s judgement/Law and impose man’s rules. That is partly why I believe there is a myth of equality….something people think cures an apparent disparity but in reality is attempting to establish an order that God never intended where you will always have “winners and losers”.
Naturally, trying to resolve this matter is not possible in a blog like this unless we go into pages of arguments supporting views….or write a book the myth of equality.
I personally think gender issues can be talked through in terms of scriptural knowledge and fully understand that in eternal life now and to come that living in the Spirit and being conformed to His image (as we were originally designed) these issues will ultimately cease to exist.
I wish my husband and I had not tried to force the headship issue and have him “lead” everything from finances to the spiritual there would have been a lot less stress in our marriage. Fortunately, after the kids were raised in college and making their own decisions there was less force for him to “lead”. My husband and I also made peace before he died.
But now I can share another perspective with other folks struggling with scripture verses. Should God bless with another relationship I will look at his gifts that he excels in rather than what a religion says a man or woman should be.
This is a great conversation. I hear both sides: complementarianism and egalitarianism. I would like to suggest as a third option that may transcend and reconcile the two. I would suggest in seeing a higher principle or meta-narrative of image bearing/reflecting and image originating/sustaining, which the Genesis creation accounts really focuses on.
The Genesis creation accounts show that God is the image originator and sustainer of our humanity while humans are image bearers and reflectors (Genesis 1:26-27, 9:6). Both men and women are called to be image bearers and reflectors. When we as humans – men and women – live in love fellowship with God, the image bearing/reflecting is displayed for all of creation to see. We observe this image origination and image bearing even with the Son/Christ and the Father/God (1 Corinthians 11:3). The harmony between the two demonstrates the Father originating the Son (John 1:18) and the Son radiating the Father in the Spirit (Hebrews 1:3).
Now to be congruent with the Holy Triune God’s meta-narrative and the Genesis 1 and 2 accounts, I would suggest the same thing for men and women. This would require us to borrow the image bearing motif. When both genders live in love fellowship with each other, we fulfill Genesis 1 and 2 narratives or as Paul puts it “he who loves another has fulfilled the law.” (Romans 13:8) The congruency or harmony of lives between men and women are law in itself that God established for “man”. Men should have or ought to echo Adam as the image originator/sustainer as seen when God takes Adam’s rib. Likewise women should have or ought to echo Eve as the image bearer and sustainer. Adam lips declare it the best by saying “…This is now bone of my bones. And flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23) This is the reason that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 11:7-9 “…woman is the glory of man. For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”
If we move back to complementarianism and egalitarianism debate, I don’t think either way are end in itself. Both are modes to structure a marital relationship that can take us to the real goal of image bearing/reflecting and image originating/sustaining. Negatively, both modes can take us away from the true goal as well. Complementarianism can create opportunities for oppression while egalitarianism can create opportunities for confusion. Oppression limits freedom in the Lord while confusion limits progress in the Lord. Both negative cases deny our humanness as male and female. It is possible for a couple to live out either relationship not in harmony with the image of God. In a complementarian ordering of the marriage, it is possible for a husband to deny the expression of their wife’s gift or talents in the home or church for the sake of headship. In an egalitarian ordering of the marriage, it is possible for the husband and wife who mutually consent to open relationships or “swinging.” As seen, both modes of structuring a marital relationship can be good or bad.
The goal I recommend is image origination and image bearing that is achieved through mutual love. When men treat women with love and respect, men are women’s image originator/sustainer. Women treat men with love and respect, women are men’s image bearer/reflector. (This is truer and more demonstrable in a marriage with the one flesh motif and experience.) When both genders exude that demeanor and behavior, “ish” and “isha” experience being “Adam”, “man” or corporately speaking – one human. This is seen in the Lord’s statement in Genesis 1:26-27:
“Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground. So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
In summary, image origination and image bearing fulfills both complementarianism and egalitarianism. With regards to complementarianism, image origination and image bearing shows the harmonious connection between male and female in relationship to each other. With regards to egalitarianism, image origination and image bearing shows the beautiful equality between male and female in unity taken as one body as “man” or human. This is Paul’s ultimate argument I surmise in 1 Corinthians 11:1-12.
Of course all of this can be drilled down deeper, but it is a survey view with my quick thoughts. I welcome any thoughts.
The interesting thing here is that man was originally created in the image of God consisting of both male and female elements in a single unity. With the creation of Eve, the female aspects were removed from Adam leaving Adam with only the male attributes. One assumes then in unity they (male and female genders) reflect the image of God. This does not matter whether individuals are married or single, it is the unity of the genders that together reflect the image.
In Matthew 19:6(b) where Jesus says “What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder.”, is not saying “who” meaning husband and wife (although by implication that, in part, applies to them) but “what” meaning male and female as both are necessary to reflect His image. So at the gender level there cannot be divorce as God’s image is not purely male or female but both in unity…..however, Satan and the world system endeavours to destroy this unity through conflict and unnatural relationships to name just a few ways.
This, in turn, relates to Paul’s passage in Ephesians 5:31-33 “31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”. This, then reflects the intimacy between Christ and believers….pretty amazing!
Yes Peter! That’s the way we need to be thinking about it. Manhood is the ability of men to “live in knowledge” with women (not just his own gender) and thus reflect his Lord. Likewise, womanhood is the ability of women to “live in knowledge” with or more accurately “for” men and thus reflect her Lord. The two combined or in unity on a macro level become one “man”, one “Adam” in the image of God. This Adam who we reflect will be the last Adam our Lord Jesus whom we are in. It definitely goes beyond just marriage.
Even if in th original text the word submit may not appear in v.22 there are still other verses that do: 1Pe:3:1; Col:3:18; Tit:2:5. There needs to be a satisfactory explanation.
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Just ran across Rev. Greg’s sermon, which was excellent, and the discussion, which is lively and thought-provoking. As someone who has been married for over 31 years, my husband and I never really think that much about roles, or egalitarian vs. complementarian. It’s more about the fact that there is money to be earned, work around to be done around the home, and our relationship to nurture☺.
But Denley, if you ever read this, you are wrong on one point. Two Christians in an egalitarian marriage would not consider taking part in an open relationship or swinging. Their marriage vows are just as important to them they are as to Christian complementarians.