Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Husband as "Head" Part One -- Ephesians 5:23

First, I want to alert you to a rare phenomenon. My beloved husband has commented on a post (guess which one--hee hee) in which I am happy to note that he says he is both glad I am married and glad I submit to God before submitting to him. He says something else interesting and perhaps relevant to the discussion. He notes that when people used to question him about his wife preaching, leading, pastoring--whatever--he would reply, "She is in submission to me, and if she did not preach she would not be a submissive wife since I have instructed her to use her spiritual gifts to the fullest..."

I have lost count of how many times I have asked a traditionalist about that. Once I had several times been called a "Jezebel" and a "rebellious feminst" because I dared to teach men. The name-caller desisted when I sweetly (!) asked, "What is a wife to do? You tell me I must learn in submission and I am out of order. I am aware that scripture tells me to submit to my husband. And my husband has told me I must preach. Do you have any advice for how I stay submissive and do as he directs--but not do as he directs since a woman preacher is an abomination?" I have NEVER received an answer to the question, even from the most hard-nosed patriarchialist. (Being called a jezebel, rebellious, and an abomination is another issue for another post. Or maybe not. Poor man. Yes, it really happened.)

ANYWAY, that was not the purpose of this post. The purpose of the post is not to address issues of women preachers, pastors or leaders. It is to continue about the "husband as home's priest" that began here.

There were several comments and I also received a few emails. They confirmed what I have noted--which is: husband as priest is based on Ephesians 5;23 where the husband is called the "head of the wife as Christ is of the church." To begin, let's look at this in a few translations, but let's back up to verse 21.

We will start with the New Revised Standard Version, the version of choice for many mainline denominations:

21 Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Saviour. 24 Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands. 25 Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...

Here it is from the New Living Translation, the Bible I most often use on Sunday mornings with my mostly blue-collar congregation:

21 And further, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 For wives, this means submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For a husband is the head of his wife as Christ is the head of the church. He is the Savior of his body, the church. 24 As the church submits to Christ, so you wives should submit to your husbands in everything. 25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her...

Or perhaps you prefer the most popular Bible version among "conservative evangelicals," the New International Version?

21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

Oh, we cannot forget the venerable King James Version.

21Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 22Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 24Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it...

Or maybe you prefer a nice, clear paraphrase? We'll take a look at

The Message

21 Out of respect for Christ, be courteously reverent to one another. 22-24 Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands. 25-28 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ's love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They're really doing themselves a favor—since they're already "one" in marriage.

_______________________________________

Here is a quote from Pat Robertson that I found on a website with a title I can't repeat here (let's just say it is not complimentary to Christianity).

I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household and the husband is the head of the wife, and that's the way it is, period.

You don't care for Pat? Well he is only stating what I have heard from more preachers, websites, books and articles than I can recall. Okay, let's face it--how much more obvious can it be? The Bible clearly states that the husband is the head of the wife. The head is the leader, right? Everyone knows that. So we know scripture tells us that the husband is to provide headship and godly leadership to his wife. Perfectly clear.

Or is it?

More later.

7 comments:

ProclaimingSoftly (PSanafter-thought) said...

I'll stay tuned for the "rest of the story."

I've always wondered why some people quote these verses for what the woman is supposed to do but forget to look at what the man is supposed to do.

the reverend mommy said...

me too.

=o)

(and I think part 3 may be about what the man is supposed to do...)

Singing Owl said...

Not part three...grin. Part three is maybe a bit of a rant...not sure.

much2ponder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
much2ponder said...

I have a feeling this could be good. I will be back to see what's yet to come. Do singing owls really rant?

Diane said...

yeah, you have me curious, now.

Diane said...

by the way, you have an award at my place