Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

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). 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.

Comments on: "What gospel is reflected in your marriage?" (4)

  1. You are quite right that Christians should not emphasize a wife’s submission in marriage. The gender hierarchalists do just that. They make the marriage all about the husband and the wife’s submission to the husband. This is because they make the mistaken assumption that a marriage is a reflection of Christ and the church. The assumption is that the husband represents a picture of Christ and the wife represents a picture of believers. This elevates a husband to godlike status which no human can bear well. As well, it is not a picture supported by Scripture.

    Paul says in Ephesians that husbands should love their wives with the same abandonment that Christ loved the church, giving His life for her. This is not the same thing as saying that husbands represent Christ and wives the church. It is unfortunate that the true picture of an admonition to husbands to love is lost. In the era Paul wrote this, husbands only sometimes or occasionally married for love. Only occasionally was there real love in the marriage. Marriages were arranged to provide children, and marriage was an economic arrangement more often than not. There were other options for love.

    IMO Ephesians 5 was aimed at husbands with an encouragement to wives to equally support, respect , honor and be willing to receive goodness from their husbands. It was the husbands that were derelict in their duties. After all obedience by wives was legally established. Wives didn’t need reminding to yield to their husbands. They were already doing that knowing they could get thrown out in the street without even a writ of divorce and their children would be left with their husband. It was the husbands that needed reigning in.


  2. They will never admit they create demanders and enablers I don’t think.

    They are to busy informing people it is a small minority. Its easier to demand things from enablers than dealing directly with demanders.

    Goodness – talk about soft theology huh?


  3. Kristen said:

    I do not believe now, and I never will believe, that Ephesians 5 was intended to teach that our marriages are intended to be a picture of the gospel to the world. Rather, the teaching is that in our marriages, husbands should strive to imitate the self-sacrifice of Christ in laying down all His power and privilege to raise up the church, and wives should imitate the self-sacrifice of the church in deferring and yielding to Christ.

    Christ and the church is the picture presented to our marriages. Our marriages are not a picture of Christ and the church presented to the world. The passage simply doesn’t say that. To read it this way makes it too easy to think men can be as Christ to their wives, which is idolatry.


  4. I’ll go on record to say I agree: Marriage is not meant to be a picture of Christ and the church. My answer to NN starts with: For the sake of this argument

    Even while people are unwilling to let go of the “picture of Christ and the church” view, it could still benefit them to think deeper.


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