Admittedly, I had a strong desire to message him and engage him in conversation-- and not in the least because I wanted to date him. It was more that I wanted to troll him. (I didn't.) But what I wanted to write was, "Me too!" And then excitedly explain what that passage of Ephesians 5 means to me, a feminist whose persuasion of Biblical marriage is more egalitarian, pretending we agreed.
The fact is that, when it comes to interpreting the Bible, we're all doing the best we can. And we could all use a healthy dose of humility when interacting with others of differing viewpoints before we claim ours it the only "Biblical" view.
Let's explore verses 22-33:
22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. 24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. 30 For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. 31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
But men are called to submit to their wives in this passage too.
Verse 25. Right after women are called to submit to their husbands. Paul is promoting mutual submission.
No, no-- you've got this all wrong. Men are called to love their wives. Women are to submit to their husbands.
No, it's right there, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her."
In this passage, and in general, we often forget how Jesus loved us, how He loves us now. Paul puts it like this in Philippians 2:5-8:
5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
If we flip back to Ephesians 5 and look just one verse earlier, we also see that this passage is preceded by verse 21, which tells us to always be, "submitting to one another in the fear of God." (Interestingly, depending on the translation of the Bible you're reading, this is sometimes the beginning of this passage on relationships, and other times is the closing verse of the previous section-- the placement being a matter of interpretation itself.)
I used to read my Bible and see my revolutionary Jesus in the gospels-- forgiving the adulterous woman, talking to the woman at the well. Then I'd get to the letters Paul wrote (like Ephesians) and I'd be confused by the traditionalism, the messages that seemed to reinforce patriarchy, at least the way I was taught to interpret them. He may be a hero of the faith, but I wasn't sure I liked Paul...
Walking with Jesus, however, is exactly that. Walking. And as we move forward, He opens our eyes to see things we didn't see there before. And I'm starting to see Jesus in Paul, and think we might have gotten along afterall.
[To Be Continued...]