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Oct 10, 2007

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kerryn

Thanks for this thoughtful post Michael.
Certainly lots to ponder in this passage! I so appreciate the incredible background work and foundation you have built before coming to this so often quoted passage about the 'husband being the head of the wife'... If only all those who understand head to mean 'authority over' would take time to research as you have, then perhaps there would be less division on the topic.

The more I study this passage, the more I believe the 'key' is Paul's statement about how the 'two will become one flesh’. This is often not even mentioned by those who espouse the 'man has responsibility/authority/leadership’ etc. So thanks for pointing that out so clearly, especially in this post. It's interesting that in passages like 1 Tim 2:11-15 complementarians make a huge ra-ra about how Paul's supposed teaching that no woman can teach or ‘authenetein’ a man is grounded in 'creation order'... yet here, in this passage, they seem to mostly pass over the amazing unity and one-ness that Paul emphasizes as being what God wants in marriage based on his pre-Fall quote from Genesis.

I know a number of husbands who believe that they have some kind of ‘ultimate responsibility’ for their wives before God (which they say is not ‘authority’ … but I question how can you have ‘responsibility’/ ‘accountability’ without the authority to ‘enforce’?) because of Eph 5:22-33. They are loving hubbies. Not ‘practically’ or harshly authoritarian in any way - yet hold this kind of we ‘men’ have to ‘do’ /’be’ something for our wives that they do not have to ‘do/be’ for us… As far as I can tell, this just does not fit with the NT teaching that every Christian is a priest before God…(1 peter 2:9 etc). We need no human being (such as the OT priest) to represent us to God or hear from God for us… apart from the ‘human’ Jesus who is our ONLY Great High Priest (multiple references in Hebrews). If I have the same access to God as a woman that any male does, why would I need my husband to have some special kind of responsibility for me spiritually? (What happens for the single woman with ‘no husband’ to have spiritual responsibility for her??!) I can’t find anywhere in the Scriptures that state women can’t hear from God in the same way as men.

One pastor told me that the illustrations Paul uses in Eph 5:22-35 clearly ‘differentiates’ the roles of husband and wife… but I ask, am I as a wife ‘not’ to lay my life down for my husband, just because Paul specifies something that husbands ‘are’ to do for their wives? In fact it’s interesting that just as Paul’s specific example to wives of submission to husbands (5:22) follows the statement that we should ALL submit to one another (5:21), AND at the beginning of the chapter in Eph 5:1-2 Paul also tells Christians that we should ALL follow Christ’s example of giving himself up (παρέδωκεν – same word used in 5:2 and 5:25; cf also same principle 1 Jn 3:16) as a fragrant offering and sacrifice for one another… then he goes on to specifically tell the husband to lay his life down for his wife sacrificially (5:25).
So even though a ‘specific’ example is given for wives and husbands in 5:22-30, neither of these specific example are ‘only’ for one gender of Christians.
Do you agree with this reasoning Michael, or am I missing something?

Sarah Sumner’s book “Men, Women and the Church” was a great read. I especially appreciated her chapter on metaphors. Paul’s use of the metaphor of husband ‘is head of the wife’ as ‘Christ is head of the Church’, is unfortunately taken by some to mean far MORE than was ever intended…. They simplify the metaphor down to equate ‘husband = Christ’ to wife. Clearly this is not the case as a woman is not spiritually ‘saved’ by her husband …yet ‘where’ do the boundaries of the metaphor lay?
I propose that they must specifically lay within the framework of what head (kephale) means in this context (with consideration of how kephale is used by Paul in the broader context of his epistles). I guess the trouble is that many incorrectly see kephale as carrying a sense of “authority” and ultimate power. I can’t find any scripture where we are told that Christ as “head” of the church has “authority” over it? Everything Jesus does as Head is FOR the body and (as you have so beautifully laid out in this series), and emphasizes Jesus’ pre-eminence and prominence for the Church and his being the organic source of his Body. Sure Jesus does have authority over everything – including his Bride - but the “Head” metaphor is not used to express this.

Qn for you –
Paul says the husband “is” head of the wife. You make the point that the husband is not told to ‘be’ the head etc… Paul simply uses the metaphor as a statement of ‘fact’. Do you believe that this metaphor is a transcultural one…That the husband today in 21st C western culture is still ‘automatically’ the kephale of his wife?

Warm regards
Kerryn

Michael W. Kruse

“The more I study this passage, the more I believe the 'key' is Paul's statement about how the 'two will become one flesh’.”

That would be my take away point. “Head and Body” is another metaphor for “Two become on flesh.”

“…yet here, in this passage, they seem to mostly pass over the amazing unity and one-ness that Paul emphasizes as being what God wants in marriage based on his pre-Fall quote from Genesis.”

And I think the 1 Cor 11 passage makes this very clear when you see it terms of the chiasmus presented there.

“Do you agree with this reasoning Michael, or am I missing something?”

I do agree. I think the differing instruction is has less to with gender than having differing status. She, coming from lower status to equal status, will have the temptation to presume upon that status in harmful ways. Therefore, she needs to be sure that in her new equalized status she does not act imprudently and bring dishonor.

The husband has a different problem. He has very high status relative to hers. Where she might be inclined to reach too far in her new status, he might be inclined to stubbornly hold on to his higher status. Thus, the instruction that he must lay down his very life. The instruction limits her reaching and his hoarding. That is my take.

If Paul talking to two people of equal status in society where that was normative, then I suspect he might have instructed them to be sure “they have each others back” or some similar metaphor.

“Paul says the husband “is” head of the wife. You make the point that the husband is not told to ‘be’ the head etc… Paul simply uses the metaphor as a statement of ‘fact’. Do you believe that this metaphor is a transcultural one…That the husband today in 21st C western culture is still ‘automatically’ the kephale of his wife?”

No. When I say it was factual it was still contextual. For instance, the USA has the biggest economy and the biggest military. We could say, in the Greek sense, that the USA is head of the world. That is a factual statement. But it is not prescription. It is not an instruction to exercise headship. It is not a statement about the eternal order of things. It is metaphorical statement about a present reality. Same with Paul here.

Thanks again for your affirming remarks. We are nearing the end. (Of the series, that is, not the world.)

Have a G’Day

kerryn

Thanks Michael.
I think your clarification about the passage being about 'status' not gender specifically is very helpful.
What will i do when i dont have your 'household codes' posts to read up on every few days?
(-:
K

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