Biblical marital perspectives

I’ve gone over this before in some old posts, but I haven’t pointed out the correct Biblical perspective that can be enlightening to most Christians. One of the onuses for this is the commentary on this post.

If you notice, the Biblical marital roles and responsibilities for husbands and wives are different. The husbands have different commands than the wives have. What most also don’t notice is that the husband and wife marital perspectives are different too.

The Biblical marital relationship is one of headship-submission and love-respect. The husband’s are called to a horizontal relationship while the wife is called to a vertical relationship. Put together, this shows the powerful imagery of the cross.

This is consistent throughout the Scripture in any headship or authority relationship.

Those under authority are always told to submit and respect. Those in authority are always told to love and treat those under them well and/or with honor. This includes masters and slaves and also Christ-Christians and also God-Jesus when He was here on earth. You can see that Paul always call himself a slave/bond-servant for Christ in his letters to the Churches.

Indeed, the Biblical perspective is that:

  • The husband should treat his wife as an equal. Ephesians 5 states that a husband should treat his wife “as his own body” 3 different times. 1 Peter 3 states that husbands should treat their wives in an understanding way as the weaker vessel and to honor them as a co-heir in Christ.
  • The wife should treat her husband as her head. Submission and respect are the responsibilities in Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, Titus 2, and 1 Peter 3.

Complementarians get this twisted.

They claim that a husband cannot tell his wife that she should submit, when in fact Jesus lays down a “if you love me” statement to Christians. A husband is to help sanctify his wife in Ephesians 5 which means helping her submit and obey.

John 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.

John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. 11 These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.

Jesus qualifies this in that through submission and obedience to Him, He does not call us slaves (inferior position) but friends (equal position).

John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.

It’s easy to get blinded by feminist equality.

The correct Biblical marital perspective is that husbands as the head should consider wives as equal, but wives should consider husbands with submission and respect. This gives us an important conclusion.

Wives trying to treat their husbands as equal is disobedient to the Scriptures just as husbands treating their wives as servants.

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21 Responses to Biblical marital perspectives

  1. Wayne says:

    DS, this is an eye opening epiphany. I read your previous posts containing similar images, but I failed to pick up on the fact that the horizontal and vertical relationships are unique approaches to each of the sexes. Thanks for bringing this out. To me, this bit of insight seems to be a (previously) missing link in Christian teaching about marriage, as it answers a lot of questions about how the scriptures should be applied to a person’s subjective experience of marriage. It also condemns a lot of false beliefs that are rampant in churchian culture.

  2. @ Wayne

    You’re welcome.

    I think it’s pretty clear if you look at the Scriptures closely… but it’s easy to miss when you have grown up in a feminist world view.

    Every husband has it beaten into their brains that husbands aren’t supposed to treat their wives like servants which is Biblically true.

    But most don’t know that wives should not strive for equality with their husbands.

    This destroys the feminist world view, and even many Christians would be against a statement like that even though it’s Biblical. They trust the world over God. Dalrock has done an excellent job of exposing how most Christian conservatives and fathers have this warped view and push it on their daughters to strive for equality with men.

    This is especially true with the movies like Fireproof, Courageous, Girl’s Night Out and probably the most recent Indivisible which Dalrock covered today. Wives are taught to threaten their husbands instead of do what the Bible says or to demand respect or assert their own boundaries.

  3. fuzziewuzziebear says:

    I don’t think they would be satisfied with equality. Anything short of absolute dominance would be seen as oppression. This won’t even work well temporarily.

  4. Jonadab-the-Rechabite says:

    Equal and equality are slogans and have no meaning until they are defined. Equal in what way? Surely, we do not claim equality with Christ in authority or role even though he calls us friends. Words matter, but what the words mean matters more! The non-equalities matter just as much as the equalities, knowing the difference is wisdom that begins with fearing the one we are not equal to.

  5. Derek Ramsey says:

    “Every husband has it beaten into their brains that husbands aren’t supposed to treat their wives like servants which is Biblically true.”

    Patriarchal views that treat wives as servants are unfortunately common, but must be rejected. The man ruling over his wife was a consequence of the Fall (Genesis 3). Logically, the original design (Genesis 2) cannot be one of master/servant or subjugation.

    “But most don’t know that wives should not strive for equality with their husbands.”

    I see a couple of problems with this statement.

    The first is that it is too vague. In what ways are a husband and wife equal or not equal?

    The second is that you’ve supported it almost exclusively from NT references, including a few critical ones that are among the most difficult biblical passages to translate and interpret. Since you claim that this is by design in the created order, then it should stand to reason that it could be proven from OT references alone. As it stands, Genesis 2 alone is insufficient:

    Woman was created to be helpmeet for man. Man was not created for woman. Why was woman created for man? Because he was alone. Man needed something; he was incomplete. Consider the implication: if she is not his servant (I agree), she must be his helper. While this does not implicitly define leadership roles, at the very least, the possibility that they are co-equal members of a team must be considered. Consider that the joining of a man and a woman was then described as oneness. There is not a hint of inequality (in either direction) in this declaration.

  6. Derek Ramsey says:

    “The husband should treat his wife as an equal…1 Peter 3 states that husbands should treat their wives in an understanding way as the weaker vessel”

    This doesn’t actually support your point. A weaker vessel refers to the fact that women are more physically frail (smaller and weaker) than men. It is the normal role of men to provide for and protect the women. This is not a point of equality or inequality, it’s just a real meaningful physical difference. More importantly, this is only generally true. There are cases where a wife is not the weaker vessel and she is more (or only) capable of filling such a role.

  7. @Derek:

    Adam wasn’t incomplete, which is just starts your theological problems. Women are not incapable children, but neither are they as capable as Men. Nor does God expect that of them. They are not Men; they are Women.

    I’d say this isn’t hard, but a lifetime of indoctrination goes a long ways.

  8. @ Derek Ramsay

    Patriarchal views that treat wives as servants are unfortunately common, but must be rejected.

    Common? I’ve never actually seen any of these marriages in real life, at least from husbands and wives who call themselves Christians.

    The main time this complaint comes up is if the wife married a non-Christian man.

    The man ruling over his wife was a consequence of the Fall (Genesis 3). Logically, the original design (Genesis 2) cannot be one of master/servant or subjugation.

    The second is that you’ve supported it almost exclusively from NT references, including a few critical ones that are among the most difficult biblical passages to translate and interpret. Since you claim that this is by design in the created order, then it should stand to reason that it could be proven from OT references alone.

    There is reasonable theologically evidence that Adam had headship over Eve prior to the fall, as a result of the fall, throughout the OT and NT.

    https://deepstrength.wordpress.com/2017/10/04/adam-had-headship-prior-to-the-fall/

    https://lmf12.wordpress.com/good-order-in-the-church/

  9. Wayne says:

    I agree with LG, that “incomplete” is not a very good adjective to describe Adam (before the creation of Eve) as an archetype of men. The Bible describes Adam as being “alone”, not in the abject sense, but meaning, “without a matching companion”). Eve was intended to be his “helper”. To me, this suggests the concept of collective strength. I wrote on this before, but I did not consider the husband-wife relationship in my essay.
    https://sigmaframe.wordpress.com/2009/09/11/collective-strength-and-division-of-labor/

    I agree with DS, I have never seen a marriage in which the husband treated his wife like a servant, even in all my travels in Asia. But I have seen a few marriages in which the wife treated the husband like a servant boy! I am convinced that this is just a point of projective rhetoric cooked up by Feminists to weave the subtext for the “intersectional oppression” narrative, for the purpose of shaming men into compliance. It labels men as “bad”, in an attempt to justify women’s rebellion and refusal to submit. But why have men come to agree with this without any objections?

    Following the analogy of marriage and the church, just imagine men labeling God as “bad”. I don’t think God is as tolerant of this, as modern men have been about the Feminist’s boilerplate calumniation of men. Men would be more “Godly” if they put their foot down on this, and labeled it as defiance, if not worse.

  10. Derek Ramsey says:

    “I’ve never actually seen any of these marriages in real life, at least from husbands and wives who call themselves Christians.”

    Correct. We don’t live in a patriarchal society. I can’t genuinely say I’ve ever met a married couple that the manosphere would describe as an ideal patriarchal marriage, and I’ve known many marriages (including my parents and extended family) where the woman wears a head covering. My concern is not these marriages, but false teachings.

    These viewpoints are readily available from those (often unmarried or divorced) persons in the manosphere who cite Genesis 3 in their defense of patriarchy or insist that a husband should punish his wife if she doesn’t obey him (see below). You can sometimes find such ones preaching to the choir on a Dalrock comment thread.

    “Equal and equality are slogans and have no meaning until they are defined.”

    It’s rare that anyone actually defines what they mean by authority/submission and equality/inequality using concrete examples. Many calls for headship and submission are empty platitudes. It’s quite frustrating because the details matter. The thesis by DS is one of the best I’ve seen, but it still suffers from this.

    “There is reasonable theologically evidence that Adam had headship over Eve prior to the fall, as a result of the fall, throughout the OT and NT.”

    If it can’t clearly be shown from the OT alone, then it isn’t a timeless principle. I’ll read over this material as I have time, but a cursory look at the first link is not overwhelmingly convincing. Plausible or common, yes, but not definitive or universal. It’s certainly legitimate evidence worth taking some time to consider.

    “…which means helping her submit and obey”

    Servants obey. Subjects obey. A husband cannot both treat his wife as equal and also demand her obedience.* It is a contradiction. To demand is to rule (i.e. to follow Genesis 3). Equals work together and seek the consent of the other. If Genesis 2 makes woman the helper of man, why is man helping woman? The argument relies on the direction of help: if men have headship because she is his helper, then how can he be her helper? You can’t have it both ways without oneness.

    “They claim that a husband cannot tell his wife that she should submit, when in fact Jesus lays down a “if you love me” statement to Christians.”

    That’s because this is a false analogy. It is made clear by looking at the disanalogies. Christ was sinless. He could not misguide. When he said “if you love me, you will keep my commandments”, those commandments were from God: faultless. This is why in Ephesians 5:21-22 (which is one sentence) mankind submits to Christ, but Christ does not submit to mankind even though mankind submits to mankind (i.e. mutual submission*)

    Not only is the command for mankind (which includes women) to submit to mankind (which includes men), but Ephesians 5 clearly teaches a limited concept of headship: “…as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” Everything refers to all the ways in which all believers (the church) submit to Christ. This necessarily means a wife cannot obey commands that violate her duty to Christ (as in 1 Peter 2-3). The extent of headship can (and should be) debated, but it is not unrestricted: it has limits.

    * Mutual submission can only work in an authority structure that is not strictly hierarchical. This happens if each party has different sphere of influences (or roles). This removes all contradiction, including the way we submit to Christ: we have no sphere of influence that gives us authority over Christ even though we are equal.

  11. @ Derek Ramsey

    If it can’t clearly be shown from the OT alone, then it isn’t a timeless principle. I’ll read over this material as I have time, but a cursory look at the first link is not overwhelmingly convincing. Plausible or common, yes, but not definitive or universal. It’s certainly legitimate evidence worth taking some time to consider.

    The OT and NT are not separate entities. Paul was one of the most educated men on the Old Testament, a “Pharisee of Pharisees.”

    Paul’s understanding of the OT ensures that we understand that headship is due to the order of creation (pre-fall) and post-fall and makes the same analogy as new creations in Christ. It’s also clear from the textual clues that this is the case from Genesis 1-2 and 3.

    Believe what you want to believe, but I’m going to trust the inspired Scriptures through Paul’s knowledge and revelation over your argument of it “not being clear.”

    Servants obey. Subjects obey. A husband cannot both treat his wife as equal and also demand her obedience.* It is a contradiction. To demand is to rule (i.e. to follow Genesis 3). Equals work together and seek the consent of the other. If Genesis 2 makes woman the helper of man, why is man helping woman? The argument relies on the direction of help: if men have headship because she is his helper, then how can he be her helper? You can’t have it both ways without oneness.

    You’re falling into the same trap that Peter did.

    How can Jesus be the master and teacher, yet serve us by washing our feet? Jesus is the master, yet he calls us friends?

    A husband who treats his wife as his own body has her best in mind, which is her sanctification just as he has his own sanctification in mind. Obedience and treating someone as yourself are not mutually exclusive.

    Not sure what your other point it even after reading it a few times. There is an argument to be made based on 1 Peter 3 that wives should submit in all things, even sin and it’s on the husband’s head (e.g. Abraham and Pharaoh and Abimelech). I tend to agree that a wife should not agree to overt sin, but decisions like this are almost always false dichotomies so it’s a moot point.

  12. Derek Ramsey says:

    “You’re falling into the same trap that Peter did. How can Jesus be the master and teacher, yet serve us by washing our feet? Jesus is the master, yet he calls us friends?”

    This is, again, a false analogy. Jesus could be master because he spoke for God unconditionally and infallibly. But we’ve already established that the husband/wife relationship is not one of master/servant (or master/slave) nor does a husband speak unconditionally and infallibly for God. Yet even if we ignore the logical fallacy, the most you can conclude from this analogy is that a wife should obey (only?) when her husband speaks for God (I can agree with this). Moreover, this is confirmed by Paul in Ephesians 5.

    “Not sure what your other point it even after reading it a few times. There is an argument to be made based on 1 Peter 3 that wives should submit in all things, even sin and it’s on the husband’s head”

    I noticed you changed from 1 Peter 2-3 to 1 Peter 3. No wonder you didn’t get my point. Reading 1 Peter 3 out of context leads to the wrong conclusion. 1 Peter 2:18-25 deals with slaves who have unfair masters. They are specifically instructed to obey them even if it means suffering unjustly (v19), but not to sin (v22) in the face of abuse (v23). The instruction to wives in 1 Peter 3 is in the same way(v1): wives of non-believing husbands are to obey them whenever they can (without sinning) so that when a husband does not obey God they will be convinced through their wife’s sinless lifestyle. This is a Genesis 3 “rule over” marriage. By contrast, 1 Peter 3:7 is talking about Christian husbands (Genesis 2 marriages) where the focus is on equality (“co-heirs”).

    “Obedience and treating someone as yourself are not mutually exclusive.”

    This is orthogonal to the issue at hand. I’m not sure why you are making this point. Moreover, I did not argue that a wife should never obey her husband, only that she should not always obey her husband.

    “I’m going to trust the inspired Scriptures through Paul’s knowledge and revelation over your argument of it “not being clear.”

    This is, of course, perfectly fine as a matter of faith. But surely you can see the problem if we need texts from ~50AD to prove unclear ancient doctrines. This is reasoning backwards from the conclusion (eisegesis), rather than deductively from the beginning. Using both Genesis 2 and Paul’s writings to prove each other is circular reasoning.

    “Paul was one of the most educated men on the Old Testament”

    If Genesis 2 disproves your point (as I state) then you should reevaluate what you think Paul is teaching, especially in light of the contradictions in your position. The issue isn’t what Paul is saying, for we both agree that Paul agrees with the OT. You can’t say that Paul is an authority on the OT and then argue that the OT isn’t clear enough on its own to prove your point. That’s basically an acknowledgment that your argument lacks support. To illustrate this another way, if someone started reading and studying the Bible from the beginning, they wouldn’t come away with your conclusion until they got to Paul and misunderstood what he said for themselves.

    “It’s also clear from the textual clues that this is the case from Genesis 1-2 and 3.”

    Since your argument relies on logical fallacies, “clues” are not good enough.

    (In case you are not interested in debating me on these points, please say so and I won’t waste your time any further. I understand that most people dislike my manner of debate, so I try to leave when I am not wanted.)

  13. Derek Ramsey says:

    @Wayne – “without a matching companion”

    Thus, “incomplete” is a perfectly reasonable alternative. I agree with you. Adam was incomplete: he did not have a matching companion. Nitpicking the words isn’t required. One quote from your link bears repeating here for its applicability:

    “Strong, Godly marriages have both collective strength and a division of labor.”

    This does not require a strict hierarchical authority structure.

  14. @ Derek Ramsey

    This is, again, a false analogy. Jesus could be master because he spoke for God unconditionally and infallibly. But we’ve already established that the husband/wife relationship is not one of master/servant (or master/slave) nor does a husband speak unconditionally and infallibly for God. Yet even if we ignore the logical fallacy, the most you can conclude from this analogy is that a wife should obey (only?) when her husband speaks for God (I can agree with this). Moreover, this is confirmed by Paul in Ephesians 5.

    Christ:Church::husbands:wives. Husbands and wives are to emulate Christ and the Church and wives are to be subject to their husbands in everything, as to the Lord.

    At most you can argue by exclusion (sin) not inclusion (only when a husband speaks for God).

    Those who are qualified for leadership positions in the Church must rule over their households (1 Tim 3) well and the Church too (1 Tim 5).

    I noticed you changed from 1 Peter 2-3 to 1 Peter 3. No wonder you didn’t get my point. Reading 1 Peter 3 out of context leads to the wrong conclusion. 1 Peter 2:18-25 deals with slaves who have unfair masters. They are specifically instructed to obey them even if it means suffering unjustly (v19), but not to sin (v22) in the face of abuse (v23). The instruction to wives in 1 Peter 3 is in the same way(v1): wives of non-believing husbands are to obey them whenever they can (without sinning) so that when a husband does not obey God they will be convinced through their wife’s sinless lifestyle. This is a Genesis 3 “rule over” marriage. By contrast, 1 Peter 3:7 is talking about Christian husbands (Genesis 2 marriages) where the focus is on equality (“co-heirs”).

    V22 is telling the slaves not to sin themselves in response (not their masters), which 1 Peter 3 echoes. For wives this doesn’t account for if their husband’s sin, like Abraham did and which Sarah went along with and was still called an example of respect and submission.

    This is a moot point anyway, since (1) I agree that wives should not go along with overt sin and (2) such situations are false dilemmas.

    Since your argument relies on logical fallacies, “clues” are not good enough.

    (In case you are not interested in debating me on these points, please say so and I won’t waste your time any further. I understand that most people dislike my manner of debate, so I try to leave when I am not wanted.)

    This is quite amusing to me honestly.

    I see no way in which Paul’s arguments shouldn’t be enough for any Christian. But if you want to call them logical fallacies that’s up to you.

    I have seen no refutation of any of the evidence presented in Genesis 1-2 and 3 from the links above.

    I have no clue what your actual position is. If it’s mutual submission, good luck with that.

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  16. Derek Ramsey says:

    “At most you can argue by exclusion (sin) not inclusion (only when a husband speaks for God).”

    Not at most, at minimum.

    If submission is strictly unidirectional (hierarchical) and non-mutual, then a woman submits to her husband, but never, ever, the other way around. But Ephesians 5:21 states that we are all to submit to each other (which is mutual submission) and v22 states that women submit to their husbands in the same way. Under a strict, all-encompassing understanding of what submission means, this is a logical contradiction. Therefore, submission cannot be strict and all-encompassing, but must be restricted to certain contexts. So what are those contexts?

    There are things that you should submit to fellow Christians about and there are things that you should not. There are people in the church (e.g. church leadership) that you should submit to regarding issues of faith, doctrine, sin, and conflict resolution. On the other hand, you should not submit if the church tells you to sell your truck and give the money to the church or to put your kids up for adoption. It lacks the authority.

    This exposes the general concept that people have different spheres of authority and different levels of expertise. The pastor is trained at what he does, but I don’t go to him for a meal when I’m going through a tough time (there is another responsible for that).

    Similarly, there are things that a wife should submit to her husband regarding and things that she should not. v24 states that the submission should mirror the submission of the church (including women) to Christ, that is, when the husband speaks for God.

    Ephesians 5 establishes that a wife’s submission is limited to certain contexts. At minimum it includes “everything except sin” and at maximum it includes “nothing except the husband speaking for God.” We can look elsewhere for more guidance, but this sets the foundation.

    “V22 is telling the slaves not to sin themselves in response (not their masters), which 1 Peter 3 echoes.”

    1 Peter 2:18-19 refers to the unjust and harsh masters. The instruction, targeted at the Christian slaves, is not to sin in response to sin. While this is not instruction for the non-Christian masters, their behavior is clearly labeled as unjust (i.e. Micah 6:8). So the instruction to wives of unbelievers is to submit in the same way that the slaves submit to their sinful masters. They must also not sin in response to their unjust and harsh situation. Their submission (e.g. Sarah) is defined as their true beauty: to be sinless, pure, gentle, holy, and put their hope in God. Christian husbands are instructed to respect their wives and treat them as co-heirs (1 Peter 3:7) while everyone is to show each other mutual love (v8).

    1 Peter establishes that a wife’s submission is limited to certain contexts. At minimum, it excludes all sins. At maximum it potentially establishes complete egalitarian equality, however, in light of Ephesians 5, we are not justified in going that far.

    “Those who are qualified for leadership positions in the Church must rule over their households (1 Tim 3) well and the Church too (1 Tim 5).”

    It’s not clear whether you are saying that all women should submit to any man in church (the congregation), to her husband at home, or to any man in any context. Regardless, 1 Timothy 5:14 instructs young widows to remarry and be rulers of their household, managing its affairs. Thus, Paul tells them to exert their authority over children, servants, and slaves (all of whom can be male), and other household business.

    “I see no way in which Paul’s arguments shouldn’t be enough for any Christian. But if you want to call them logical fallacies that’s up to you.”

    It’s circular reasoning. You use Paul’s arguments to support your view of Genesis while using Genesis to support your view of Paul’s arguments. To illustrate this, I only need say that Paul’s arguments, as I just explained above and which are in complete agreement with Genesis, are more than enough for any Christian to support my views.

    “I have seen no refutation of any of the evidence presented in Genesis 1-2 and 3 from the links above.”

    My argument is not circular reasoning because I base my argument on Genesis and deductively work my way forward without presuming a particular bias in Paul. In doing so, I avoid the logical problems that come with pushing Ephesians 5 and 1 Peter 3 beyond what it says. This is why I requested a deductively defined doctrine, ideally based on OT sources alone as it would strengthen the argument significantly.

    You are absolutely correct that I have not presented such evidence, except at a cursory level. But if you are going to insist on using circular reasoning, there is no reason for me to do so. It would be a significant time investment for both of us for little benefit.

  17. @ Derek

    Ephesians 5 establishes that a wife’s submission is limited to certain contexts. At minimum it includes “everything except sin” and at maximum it includes “nothing except the husband speaking for God.” We can look elsewhere for more guidance, but this sets the foundation.

    You’re using those words wrong. It should be at maximum it includes everything except sin (as that is more inclusive than speaking for God) and at minimum speaking for God (which is the most limited scope). Whatever the case, this is a reasonable argument.

    Straight interpretation of the verse “… submit in all things, as to the Lord” points to “everything not sin.”

    So the instruction to wives of unbelievers is to submit in the same way that the slaves submit to their sinful masters. They must also not sin in response to their unjust and harsh situation. Their submission (e.g. Sarah) is defined as their true beauty: to be sinless, pure, gentle, holy, and put their hope in God.

    Agreed. However, the main issue here is the example of Abraham and Sarah with Pharaoh and Abimelech. Abraham placed Sarah is a somewhat compromised situation by lying AND she went along with it. It can be argued that since it is fully Abraham’s sin and it’s only on his head even though she went along with it.

    This is possibly different than Ananias and Sapphira where they conspired together to commit fraud against the Church to boost their standing.

    It’s not clear whether you are saying that all women should submit to any man in church (the congregation), to her husband at home, or to any man in any context.

    Self evident. Husband obviously. Church where necessary as a believer. Any random woman should not necessarily submit to any random man.

    You are absolutely correct that I have not presented such evidence, except at a cursory level. But if you are going to insist on using circular reasoning, there is no reason for me to do so. It would be a significant time investment for both of us for little benefit.

    Again, I have no clue what you’re trying to argue here. You seem to be trying to present some limited form of headship/authority or submission, which is reasonable. However, this does not support an argument of ‘equality before the fall or at creation.’

    My argument is that there is headship prior to the fall. As I have noted, there are textual clues from Genesis which show this. There are not textual clues from Genesis which show relative ‘equality’ either in OT or NT.

    Paul’s arguments agree with this. They are:

    1. Order of Creation
    2. Origin of woman
    3. The fall
    4. New Creation in Christ

    Summarized here:

    Click to access section2.pdf

  18. Derek Ramsey says:

    “Straight interpretation of the verse “… submit in all things, as to the Lord” points to “everything not sin.””

    If I say that I lost everything in a fire, it is true even if I didn’t lose the money in the bank, the clothes on my back, or the car parked down the street. That’s because “everything” is modified by the context. Similarly, the clause “in everything” is modified by the congregation’s submission to Christ. The congregation does not submit to Christ in everything not sin. There are matters of conscience, personal freedoms, and various mundane choices (e.g. carpet color) that are not governed by direct instruction by Christ. Moreover, the congregation has to make its own decisions on how to best follow Christ. A wife is instructed to do the same. The maximum (as you say) is a very difficult argument to make.

    “Abraham placed Sarah is a somewhat compromised situation by lying AND she went along with it. It can be argued that since it is fully Abraham’s sin and it’s only on his head even though she went along with it.”

    Numerous denominations, including the RCC, affirm that lying requires active participation rather than passively withholding information (See CCC #2485 and #2488).

    “Self evident. Husband obviously. Church where necessary as a believer. Any random woman should not necessarily submit to any random man.”

    Is it self evident? There are two arguments that are made. One is that a husband is the head of a wife. The other is that women should not teach a man and that she should be silent. Co-mingling these (husband/wife and man/woman) together with the same scripture passages creates exegetical, doctrinal, and logical problems that are not easily resolved by your self-evident assertion. There is anything but universal agreement on these topics, including among those who subscribe to patriarchal views. Simple things like “can a woman teach a young male?”, “can a woman teach outside of church?”, “what does an unmarried or widowed woman do?” have difficult consequences, among others.

    “Again, I have no clue what you’re trying to argue here.”

    So far (Ephesians and 1 Peter) there is a fairly broad range of possibility: both patriarchal and complementarian models can fit. So why insist on one or the other? Perhaps your frustration is that I won’t land on one exact position, but I don’t see any reason why I have to. It is my claim, as I’ve also stated at Sigma Frame, that multiple God-affirming marriage models can work and that there is no one thee official biblical model. Now if we do a complete exegesis of the critical texts (1 Corinthians 11:1-15, 14:34-35; 1 Tim 2:11-15; Titus 2:3-5; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:1; Colossians 3:18-19), perhaps that will change. In the meantime, I am implicitly arguing that those critical texts oppose the thesis of your post.

    “Summarized here”

    Your link refers quite heavily to specific interpretations of 1 Timothy 2 and the two passages in 1 Corinthians, which we have not discussed yet. I will need time to prepare detailed refutations, but I can make a few initial observations. One, is that his interpretation relies on highly contested and unclear portions of scripture. Indeed, 1 Corinthians 11:10 and 1 Timothy 2:11-15 are among the most difficult passages in the Bible to translate. I’m not aware of any translation that does not have difficulties, including those I use. Two, is that it suffers from the same circular reasoning that I mentioned in my last comment.

    “You seem to be trying to present some limited form of headship/authority or submission, which is reasonable. However, this does not support an argument of ‘equality before the fall or at creation.’ My argument is that there is headship prior to the fall. As I have noted, there are textual clues from Genesis which show this. There are not textual clues from Genesis which show relative ‘equality’ either in OT or NT.”

    Let me restate my argument.

    Genesis 2 describes the creation of man before woman. Regarding the order of creation, it states that it was not good (the only not good thing about creation) for man to be alone. Man was incomplete, he needed (1) to not be alone; and (2) to have a helper. Woman was created from a part of man: she was also incomplete, made from just a piece of the whole. The incompleteness of man (aloneness and no helper) is resolved through sex/marriage when the two become one, not by the creation of woman. There is no hint of headship here. On the contrary, the resulting oneness implies mutual equality. It doesn’t make sense to say that they become one if the point of the passage is to indicate precisely that they are not one, but different entities in a hierarchical power arrangement.* When we contrast this with Genesis 3, we do see a heirarchical arrangement: the punishment was given contra-design, for a husband to rule over his wife and for her desire to be for her husband. The headship implied by the fall cannot be from created design because it was only added as a punishment.

    * It buys nothing to say that she was his helper, as this does not imply a hierarchical authority structure. Nor does the order of creation necessarily imply hierarchical authority. Now, I can respond to work by Leslie McFall, but all you’ve proven so far is that you can read into Genesis your interpretation of Paul’s words (not Paul’s words themselves), but you can’t read it out of Genesis.

  19. @ Derek

    If I say that I lost everything in a fire, it is true even if I didn’t lose the money in the bank, the clothes on my back, or the car parked down the street. That’s because “everything” is modified by the context. Similarly, the clause “in everything” is modified by the congregation’s submission to Christ. The congregation does not submit to Christ in everything not sin. There are matters of conscience, personal freedoms, and various mundane choices (e.g. carpet color) that are not governed by direct instruction by Christ. Moreover, the congregation has to make its own decisions on how to best follow Christ. A wife is instructed to do the same. The maximum (as you say) is a very difficult argument to make.

    This is just a game of semantics.

    “Submit in all things” implies an authoritative demand or overarching principle has been made in which one would have to submit.

    If there is no authoritative demand, sure there is either delegation of choice or freedom. That’s not what the verse is talking about though.

    Numerous denominations, including the RCC, affirm that lying requires active participation rather than passively withholding information (See CCC #2485 and #2488).

    Agreed then.

    Is it self evident? There are two arguments that are made. One is that a husband is the head of a wife. The other is that women should not teach a man and that she should be silent. Co-mingling these (husband/wife and man/woman) together with the same scripture passages creates exegetical, doctrinal, and logical problems that are not easily resolved by your self-evident assertion. There is anything but universal agreement on these topics, including among those who subscribe to patriarchal views. Simple things like “can a woman teach a young male?”, “can a woman teach outside of church?”, “what does an unmarried or widowed woman do?” have difficult consequences, among others.

    I have not suggested they are co-mingled if I remember correctly so moot point.

    It is my claim, as I’ve also stated at Sigma Frame, that multiple God-affirming marriage models can work and that there is no one thee official biblical model. Now if we do a complete exegesis of the critical texts (1 Corinthians 11:1-15, 14:34-35; 1 Tim 2:11-15; Titus 2:3-5; Ephesians 5:22-33; 1 Peter 3:1; Colossians 3:18-19), perhaps that will change. In the meantime, I am implicitly arguing that those critical texts oppose the thesis of your post.

    I will tentatively agree to this.

    The husband has the right to use his authority as the head of the marriage anyway he chooses. Therefore, he can decide that he wants an egalitarian marriage if he wants to run it that way.

    That would be very unwise and lacking discernment in my estimation based on the Scriptures, but he can choose to do it that way. It is possible, of course, that there are godly marriages run this way also.

    Genesis 2 describes the creation of man before woman. Regarding the order of creation, it states that it was not good (the only not good thing about creation) for man to be alone. Man was incomplete, he needed (1) to not be alone; and (2) to have a helper. Woman was created from a part of man: she was also incomplete, made from just a piece of the whole. The incompleteness of man (aloneness and no helper) is resolved through sex/marriage when the two become one, not by the creation of woman. There is no hint of headship here. On the contrary, the resulting oneness implies mutual equality. It doesn’t make sense to say that they become one if the point of the passage is to indicate precisely that they are not one, but different entities in a hierarchical power arrangement.* When we contrast this with Genesis 3, we do see a heirarchical arrangement: the punishment was given contra-design, for a husband to rule over his wife and for her desire to be for her husband. The headship implied by the fall cannot be from created design because it was only added as a punishment.

    This still ignores several other points such as God giving the commands to Adam, naming, man separating from his family as the independent family unit, God coming to Adam for the account of sin, and things like these.

    Also, my interpretation of Paul’s words? That’s a stretch. Paul’s words + the consistent interpretation of Paul’s words for millennia.

  20. Derek Ramsey says:

    “I have not suggested they are co-mingled if I remember correctly so moot point.”

    This is incorrect insofar as the cited work by Leslie McFall does co-mingle them. Genesis 2 (and 3) describes the spousal relationship. But, according to McFall, 1 Cor 11 and 14 refer to men and women, not husband and wife (see footnote 2 and his selected translation of 1 Cor 14:35). 1 Tim 2:11-15 is interpreted similarly. So the three back references from the NT to Genesis 2 are used to support the authority/submission of men/women, not husband/wife. Accepting McFall’s work means co-mingling these. With that comes the difficulties regarding the headship/submission doctrine.

    McFall’s argument is that headship rests on the “order of creation”, the “origin of women”, and the “order of the fall”.

    First, the “order of the fall” argument fails because the headship of the Fall is logically and necessarily separate from the original design of creation. These are at odds, as previously stated. It isn’t a punishment if it is the original design.[1][2] McFall uses “order of the fall” and “order of creation” together to support one conclusion, failing to see contradiction caused by the logical separation.

    Second, the “origin of women” argument fails for the previously stated reasons. The solution to the not good states of aloneness and no help was marriage, not the creation of women. The origin of woman (from a part of man) is contrasted with marriage (the rejoining of parts).[3] The origin of woman didn’t solve the problem, it highlighted it while facilitating the solution: marriage joins two incomplete, but complementary, parts into unity.[4] The creation of woman was a means to an end. But the headship claim rests on the notion that the creation of woman was of primary importance.[5] Put another way, the headship claim neglects the end to focuses on the means.

    Third, the “order of creation” argument fails for the same reason the “origin of women” argument fails: the order of creation didn’t solve the problem, marriage did. It fails for the same reason the reverse argument fails: the story of creation is in order of ever increasingly important creations, so woman coming after man implies that she is more important. Rather, Adam’s authority came because he was first, not because he was male (see below).

    Because McFall’s argument doesn’t work, we should revisit the NT interpretations that led to it and find the mistakes made.

    “This still ignores several other points such as God giving the commands to Adam, naming…

    Who else was God to give commands to when woman wasn’t created yet? The Bible has a number of examples where God gives commands to women. Who else would do the naming if woman wasn’t created yet? Even if this specific job of naming the animals was Adam’s alone, the Bible has many examples of women naming children. Genesis 1:27-28 gives dominion over nature to both men and women.

    “…man separating from his family as the independent family unit…”

    This doesn’t make sense as an objection. Both woman and man leave their family and together make up a family unit and both family ties remain important.

    “God coming to Adam for the account of sin”

    It is firstly Adam’s story, not Eve’s. Look at who was punished: Adam, Eve, and the serpent. All were held to account. In light of Romans 5:12, had Adam not sinned, Eve would have died and God could have raised up another to take her place. Eve is only named the mother of all the living after the fall.

    But let’s ignore that consider that God gave special authority to Adam. God rightly called Adam to account because Adam disobeyed the command that God gave him directly before Eve was created. If it was Adam’s responsibility to ensure that God’s command was followed, this made him the first priest. I have no problem with roles, but the headship doctrine goes past mere roles. Adam’s being first(born) is by far the more salient point than him being male. Moreover, Eve was “merely” deceived, but Adam was not. He sinned by his own full and free choice without any deception and then he blamed it on Eve when caught, even though God had personally given Adam responsibility.

    “Paul’s words + the consistent interpretation of Paul’s words for millennia.”

    It’s ironic that you would make this case, given your position on Matthew 19 and divorce. The writings of Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Novatian, and Origen suggest that fornication/adultery was understood to be a valid reason for divorce around 200-250 AD. If your thesis is correct, it was likely a mistake made very early in church history. Relatedly, Tertullian opposed Christian sects that (1) thought Paul was being misrepresented and (2) permitted their women to teach or speak in church. This establishes historical inconsistency in interpretation almost as far back as we have records. This is not the only historical reason to reject your interpretation of Paul’s words.

    ————
    [1] If the headship of the Fall is wrong to circumvent, then pain medication to circumvent pain in childbirth would be equally wrong. Rather, circumventing the headship of the Fall restores the original design.

    [2] McFall writes “Hence God put her more firmly under her now fallen husband’s rule.” His argument is that punishment merely intensified the headship that already existed, that is, the degree of headship changed. If headship is so desireable, how does intensifying it make it undesireable? This would contradict the notion that headship should be in everything unconditionally. By contrast, such a claim supports limited headship. It also co-mingles the sexes/spouses distinction. Lastly, he says “She has, since that fateful day, been cruelly treated, exploited, abused, raped and dishonoured.” God declared, as punishment, that she be cruelly treated, exploited, abused, raped, and dishonored. Let that sink in.

    [3] Eve was a part of Adam, but not all women are part of all men. Men do not have one less rib than women.

    [4] The man was alone. A part of him was taken and woman was made from it. The man had to marry woman to restore what was missing. In doing so, he was no longer alone or without help.

    [5] Here the sexes/spouses co-mingling causes more problems. The solution, marriage, has nothing to do with men and women as sexes, but everything to do with husbands and wives.

  21. @ Derek

    First, the “order of the fall” argument fails because the headship of the Fall is logically and necessarily separate from the original design of creation. These are at odds, as previously stated. It isn’t a punishment if it is the original design.[1][2] McFall uses “order of the fall” and “order of creation” together to support one conclusion, failing to see contradiction caused by the logical separation.

    This is incorrect as they are not contradictory. I covered this here:

    https://deepstrength.wordpress.com/2016/05/28/not-curses-but-punishments-genesis-3-part-2/

    The punishments of God for sin reinforce what God already stated and make things more difficult.

    Second, the “origin of women” argument fails for the previously stated reasons. The solution to the not good states of aloneness and no help was marriage, not the creation of women. The origin of woman (from a part of man) is contrasted with marriage (the rejoining of parts).[3] The origin of woman didn’t solve the problem, it highlighted it while facilitating the solution: marriage joins two incomplete, but complementary, parts into unity.[4] The creation of woman was a means to an end. But the headship claim rests on the notion that the creation of woman was of primary importance.[5] Put another way, the headship claim neglects the end to focuses on the means.

    Already covered the first part in the previous point.

    Secondly, you’re conveniently ignoring the other/first creation account. Adam was able to do part of God’s command from Genesis 1 but not the other part. He could take dominion over the earth (tend to the garden, name animals, etc.) but he could not be fruitful and multiply without woman (and the purpose of marriage therein).

    Eve is to assist Adam in taking dominion and fruitful and multiplying.

    Third, the “order of creation” argument fails for the same reason the “origin of women” argument fails: the order of creation didn’t solve the problem, marriage did. It fails for the same reason the reverse argument fails: the story of creation is in order of ever increasingly important creations, so woman coming after man implies that she is more important. Rather, Adam’s authority came because he was first, not because he was male (see below).

    This is also wrong when taking into account the context of the first creation account due to the way dominion/authority flow. Not from the bottom but from the top.

    Who else was God to give commands to when woman wasn’t created yet? The Bible has a number of examples where God gives commands to women. Who else would do the naming if woman wasn’t created yet? Even if this specific job of naming the animals was Adam’s alone, the Bible has many examples of women naming children. Genesis 1:27-28 gives dominion over nature to both men and women.

    Women naming children means very little. My wife came up with some of the names of our children, but I still affirmed them. Also, authority is able to be delegated if necessary.

    It is firstly Adam’s story, not Eve’s. Look at who was punished: Adam, Eve, and the serpent. All were held to account. In light of Romans 5:12, had Adam not sinned, Eve would have died and God could have raised up another to take her place. Eve is only named the mother of all the living after the fall.

    This doesn’t support your point.

    But let’s ignore that consider that God gave special authority to Adam. God rightly called Adam to account because Adam disobeyed the command that God gave him directly before Eve was created. If it was Adam’s responsibility to ensure that God’s command was followed, this made him the first priest. I have no problem with roles, but the headship doctrine goes past mere roles. Adam’s being first(born) is by far the more salient point than him being male. Moreover, Eve was “merely” deceived, but Adam was not. He sinned by his own full and free choice without any deception and then he blamed it on Eve when caught, even though God had personally given Adam responsibility.

    Ah, so Adam has this more responsibility but it’s not “headship.”

    I also see you are ignoring the Christ-Church pre-fall arguments for headship as Jesus was there prior to the fall at the creation.

    It’s ironic that you would make this case, given your position on Matthew 19 and divorce. The writings of Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Novatian, and Origen suggest that fornication/adultery was understood to be a valid reason for divorce around 200-250 AD. If your thesis is correct, it was likely a mistake made very early in church history. Relatedly, Tertullian opposed Christian sects that (1) thought Paul was being misrepresented and (2) permitted their women to teach or speak in church. This establishes historical inconsistency in interpretation almost as far back as we have records. This is not the only historical reason to reject your interpretation of Paul’s words.

    This is incorrect if you do deeper research into the actual positions.

    Most of the early Church fathers who recommend “divorce” (technically separation) for adultery do so via Jesus’ direction of Matthew 18-

    Matthew 18:15 “If your brother sins[k], go and [l]show him his fault [m]in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 16 But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every [n]fact may be confirmed. 17 If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as [o]a Gentile and [p]a tax collector.

    The adulterous husband or wife that is unrepentant is excommunicated from the Church (and marriage by extension).

    The not-at-fault spouse is to remain single or reconcile with their spouse if they repent (via 1 Corinthians 7).

    ————————

    In any case, I don’t see any particular convincing argument from your position that I haven’t already considered so maybe we’re at an impasse.

    If you want to keep posting for whoever reads this in the future go ahead.

    My life has unfortunately gotten abnormally busy so I’m unable to devote the time I want to the blog. Probably just posts and maybe the occasional comment for the next few weeks at least.

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