At our wedding, we had a friend read the apostle Paul’s instructions to husbands and wives:
22 Wives, subject yourselves to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. 24 But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, 26 so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. 28 So husbands also ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; 29 for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, 30 because we are parts of His body. 31 For this reason a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. 32 This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless, as for you individually, each husband is to love his own wife the same as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. ~~Ephesians 5:22-33 (NASB)
The instructions to husbands always seemed straightforward and easy to understand, but I struggled with verse 24. Sure, I got that the Lord commands me to submit to John. But why did He give the Church as a model? From what I could see, the visible church has been bedraggled and rebellious throughout church history, beginning with the congregations in Corinth and Galatia. Certainly, the visible church in the 21st Century exhibits precious little obedience to Christ, preferring to acquiesce to worldliness!
So how can I pattern submission to my husband after the visible church?
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As demonstrated in my last blog post, I question some of the tenets of the Patriarchy Movement. Sadly, in this era of polarization, the assumption is that so much as questioning patriarchy means an embrace of feminism.
I think that’s a false dichotomy.
My husband will be the first to tell you that I’m far from being a feminist. True, I struggle to submit to him as well as I should. But even in confessing my struggles in submission, I agree with Scripture that my responsibility as a wife is to submit to John’s authority as my husband.
At our wedding, we chose Ephesians 5:22-33 as our Scripture reading:
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The apostle Peter acknowledged in 2 Peter 3:16 that the letters of the apostle Paul had Scriptural authority. In that very same verse, he admitted that Paul sometimes wrote things so difficult to understand that unstable people could easily distort them. While Peter’s emphasis was on the false teachers that distort God’s Word, it bears noting that Paul indeed wrote things that aren’t so easily interpreted.
1 Corinthians 11:1-16 is, according to several pastors and commentators I interviewed and read, one such passage. Those supporting the Head Covering Movement of course believe that the passage is straightforward, mandating that women cover their heads in worship services. This Website offers an overwhelming amount of articles, videos and ebooks expounding on 1 Corinthians 11:1-16 to make the case that headcovering is not optional for Christian women.
Really? An entire movement dedicated to one passage of Scripture?
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Many evangelicals, even within the Reformed camp, have been influenced by worldly ideas and philosophies lately. That’s not good. At the very least, the causes they embrace distract them from the Gospel. And such distraction severely weakens their effectiveness for their kingdom.
The apostle Paul spoke to this point in his first epistle to the Corinthians:
For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. ~~1 Corinthians 2:3 (NASB)
Generally, these evangelicals espouse liberal ideologies: feminism, social justice, environmentalism and so forth. We do well to admonish these people (some of whom really do know Christ) that their causes usually contradict the clear teachings of Scripture. Lovingly, we should restore their focus to the Gospel, and to a proper handling of God’s Word.
In correcting liberal ideologies of other evangelicals, however, perhaps those of us with more conservative leanings should evaluate whether or not we also let our causes distract us. I know I’ve sometimes struggled with the temptation to let discernment ministry take my attention away from proclaiming the Gospel.
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