I have mentioned that I once preached a sermon there titled, "How to Support Your Husband" which included the point that the husband was the "priest of the home." When I found those sermon notes a few years ago I shed a few tears of shame and tossed them in the trash. But I digress.
This wonderful ministry couple are our friends as well as our former pastors. They were my classic example of a couple who lived as egalitarians, (equal partners, submitting to one another, no struggles about who was in charge, both leading as the situation called for it) but spoke as complimentarians. At one time I did too (obviously) or I would not have preached that very unscriptural sermon. After Ken and I learned "a more excellent way" (lol) we began to note that our pastor couple spoke of male authority, of the husband's "headship," of the wife's role and the husband's role, and of the wife's need to always submit to the husband, but (as far as we could tell) lived their lives as egalitarians. They have a great marriage.
Note: The Assemblies of God has an excellent position paper titled, "The Role of Women in Ministry" and while the focus of the paper is not marriage, it briefly does support egalitarian marriage.*
It is really too bad that almost no one (including most of our pastors) seems to know it exists, much less has read it.
Last night...well, let me set the scene. SO is me (SingingOwl). The other names are out of my head, but the women are very real. Sue is my former pastor's wife. Of the four women three are married and one is single.
SO, Sue, Jane, and Betty are four pastors attending a one-day training which requires an overnight stay at our district campground. It is 10 p.m. and they are wearing comfy pajamas. SO's are pink and have sheep on them, since she is a pastor. SO, Betty, Jane and Sue are in their beds, conversing happily away about many things. Then...
Betty: Someone asked me how I could pastor a church and be submissive to my husband's authority. I said that at the church I am the pastor and so in authority, but at home I submit to him because he is the one in charge in our house.
SO: (thinking to self) Hmmm. I used to say that very same thing!
Sue: I don't believe that.
SO: (looks at Sue in surprise) You don't? (smiles) Me neither.
Betty: What? You don't?
Jane: Why not?
Sue: I think marriage should not be about who is in charge. I think marriage is partnership.
SO: Actually the Bible does not say the husband is in authority.
Betty: Sure it does.
So: No, actually it doesn't.
Betty: The Bible says the husband is the spiritual authority in the home, and that the husband is the priest in the home. He is the leader of the home.
SO: Actually it doesn't. There is no scripture that says the husband is the priest of the home. The Bible speaks of the Aaronic and the Levitical priesthood in the Old Testament, and in the New Testament it speaks of the priesthood of all believers. All. No scriptue says that the husband is a priest in a different way than the wife, or the children for that matter, if they are believers. No scripture says the man must always lead, for that matter.
Betty: Well, he has the spiritual authority in the home.
Sue and SO together: You have authority too.
Betty: Well, where do they get that? Why do they say that then?
SO: Because, like the four of us, they heard it so many times they believed it without ever realizing that the Bible does not say that.
Jane: It doesn't?
Betty: There has to be order in the home. The Bible says the man is the head. He is the leader and the protector of the woman. I told my daughter that when she is in our home she is under her father's spiritual authority but when she marries that authority will be transferred to her husband, who will then be her authority and protector and leader.
SO: That's not in the New Testament. That is patriarchy, a flawed system. Just take a close look at those families in the Old Testament. They are God's people, but boy are their marriages and families a mess.
Betty: Well, she is...
Sue: (emphatically interrupts) Actually, I can't stand that teaching!
SO: (surprised again) Really? Me neither.
Sue: I told my dauhter that stuff about their dad and their future husband. I set them up to be passive. Thankfully, they are strong girls. And recently I had to tell both my daughters that I was wrong to tell them that. That I meant well, but that I was wrong. Their husbands are not in authority over them. Marriage is not about authority. And their dad isn't either, except as a parent who cares and loves them. As parents, both my husband and I had authority in our home. We were partners in loving and disciplining and rearing our children.
Betty: The husband is the head. So he is the authority.
SO: gives a very short explanation of kephale (see footnote below) and how metaphors in English don't necessarily mean the same in another language, how the Pauline Epistles use words other than "head" (kephale) speaking of the leader, those in authority....etc.
Sue: Yeah! I was trying to remember that stuff!
Betty: Silent, seems a bit frustrated.
Jane: Silent, seems to be thinking.
SO: Sue, why did you have to tell DD 1 and DD 2 that you were wrong? I did the same with my daughter too, but what brought you to that realization?
Sue: I read a book by Dr. Barbara Caveness and Dr. Debbie Gill called "God's Women Then and Now." I read it and it was like a light went on, and I said to my husband, "You have got to read this! This is what the Bible really teaches. This is truth."
SO: Did he read it?
Sue: (Smiling) Yep! Men need to know this as much as women do!
Jane: I might have to get that book.
Betty: I already have a copy, signed by Debbie Gill. But I haven' t read it.
SO and Sue: (in chorus) Please, read it!
The conversation turned to menopause...um I mean the conversation turned to other spiritual things.
SO: Goes to sleep, thanking God with a glad heart, listening to Jane, Betty and Sue snore softly. ;-)
There went my example of a conservative, evangelical couple who live as egalitarians but speak like complimentarians.
If you would like to read more about what I think the Bible actually teaches about husbands and wives, (as well as women in leadership) go to Christians for Biblical Equality. The Statement on Men, Women and Biblical Equality changed my life and marriage. There are many excellent articles available there as well.
You can purchase "God's Women Then and Now" from CBE's bookstore (Equality Depot) or from Amazon.com.
* The following is quoted from "The Role of Women in Ministry." The bold print emphasis is mine.
The statement that "the man is the head of the woman" has for centuries been used to justify the practice of male superiority and to exclude women from spiritual leadership. Two alternative translations for kephale ("head"), debated widely by contemporary evangelical scholars, are (1) "authority over" and (2) "source" or "origin." Both meanings can be found in literature of Paul's time. Taking the passage as a whole, the second meaning fits as well as or better than the first meaning, leading to the summary statement of verse 12: "As the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things [are] of God."