NN made this comment on Cheryl Schaltz’s blog:
…let us not forget the metaphor which God has used to express this truth [of the husband as Lord, king and master like God]. Marriage. For as God’s metaphor our marriages are supposed to reflect this truth; to ourselves, to each other, and to those around us.
Later he elaborates:
A shorthand expression which has stuck with me describing this is “Man cannot shut up about the gospel – He may be telling the truth about Jesus or telling a lie about Jesus but he is always, always talking about Jesus.”
I would agree with NN that we are witnessing for Jesus, so we should think about the message we send. This is what I answered:
NN, you say people should reflect the gospel in their marriages? For the sake of this argument, I’ll assume you are right about that.
By that view, if a wife obeys a simple selfish demand (For example, “Make me a sandwich, now”, when both are equally busy with something else*) it shows the world that Christ is selfish and we Christians are just giving in to God’s egotism. When, as patriarchal teachers recommend, a wife submits to the point of death to an abusive husband and don’t ask the help of the police, she teach a gospel, according to you. That gospel would be: Christ destroys your life, and Christians are really suckers for punishment to listen to him when they could be saved from this tyrant.
Would you agree that, to reflect the gospel, women have to respond to good things the man gives? When he don’t give good things, she cannot respond as to Christ? Because the gospel include that we love Christ because He first loved us, that we know that what He asks now is right and wise, and therefore we can do it.
For that reason, I believe wifes who submit in areas where husbands are wrong or selfish, are presenting a distorted gospel. She should rather help him to overcome his flaws, as his helpmeet.
We, in modern culture, teach a terrible message when women’s submission is emphasized: Rightly or wrongly, we send a message of God having unjust and arbitrary rules. Complementarian men often give the world the impression of selfishness(they support what works for them), but egalitarian women fighting for equality in the church or home could do this too (Christians caring for themselves, not for others). Comp or egal, we should think really hard about the gospel we portray to the outside world.
* About the sandwich example: The circumstance and dynamic of every situation is different, and I can, of course, think of many situations in which it will be good and right to just make that sandwich without thinking again of it, through situations where it will be wise to mention his minor self-centredness, up to situations where she will edify him best by simply saying “go do it yourself.” This is a tiny issue, but an unbelieving observer may get a distorted gospel even from such a minor exchange.