My Tervis and I have become quite the identity. We are not seen apart too often. It’s difficult to find me without my UVA Tervis. In fact most Americans these days will sport their favorite Tervis or Coffee mug, like they would their favorite coat or their recent cell phone. Curiosity remains though, what can be blogged about a Tervis? A fake glass plastic-container which is great for keeping warm drinks warm, and cold drinks cold and yet has a smug fit in ones hand, transports and cleans very easily.
Well, certain questions have been thrust upon my mind recently because of the relentless stance our world takes against any whiff of ‘sexism’. How often do we hear it railed against the Church, “you guys believe that a woman is not equal to a man.” Or else, “By your views on womanhood, you make women to be less than equal in status to men!” So the church today is still being misunderstood for advocating the male-female role distinction’s in the church. Our opponents would argue that the church’s principle teachings have fueled thousands of years of confusion and oppression of women. That, women have been cellar-dwellers because of Christian doctrines that foment male-hierarchy and dominance over women. The church says God says, men have headship over women, women have more subservience to men. I was in India recently and noticed that this practice is much more observable there than it is here; women are seemingly more subservient to men, and retain an emphasis of focus in serving men…and it would appear to be an acceptable norm to them. Is India behind the times? Are they stuck in a cultural malaise of ignorant semi-oppression with respect to the male-female relational dynamic? As always, I look to scripture for guidance. We Christians trust by faith that scripture is inerrant, and it is altogether virtuous, uncontaminated and unbiased by the changing cultural landscapes of mankind. It is the literary source of perfect revealed righteousness in all that it teaches. If this later statement is not adhered to, then the rest of the discussion will collapse and there can be no ‘peace’ to be had in this conversation. Here are a few bridge verses Paul pulls as theological support for the debate about the question raised today, are men and women equal in the churches eyes (or God’s eyes for that matter)? 1 Corinthians 11:8-12:
1Co 11:8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man.
1Co 11:9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.
1Co 11:10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
1Co 11:11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman;
1Co 11:12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.
The beauty of my Tervis is that it contains a top lid (head if you will – with a very high quality mouth open to drink from!) and a bottom container. Both together make one Tervis, or one container to hold liquids. In fact, a Tervis is a high quality item, I’ve dropped it several times and it has not broken. I liken the two parts of a Tervis to be an analogy for the male-female more specifically the husband wife relationship that God ordered into existence. They are one, but consisting of two parts, and neither would the chief function of the container work if either of them were separated. They are interdependent, they are a team. So here are some extrapolations from the above passage:
- The man in marriage has authority entrusted to him over her by God. Authority is constantly abused, but also so is insubordination. Leaders abuse, subjects rebel, it goes both ways unfortunately. And we’re wise to point these abuses out and repent of them. Nevertheless, we don’t strip away authority or subjection just because there are abuses. Let’s find the proper water levels for both! It’s clear man has delegated authority “a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head.” Let us remember, the greatest authority came to die for his subjects! Jesus Christ did this at the crucifix. So if we’re struggling with this issue of authority of a man, the problem we may have may not be just a cultural one, but a Divine one. V. 12 “And all things are from God.” In the same way no one should quibble about which part (head or cupholder) is most important; neither should there be this raised in marriage.
- While we are not told positively (at least in this passage) what a man’s duty is towards his wife, we are told a wife was created for man. It is thereby never a bad thing, but rather the high calling of a woman to emphasize a woman’s desire and need to serve her man (note: a man is called to die for his wife in Ephesian 5:23). Now, at this point I’ll say this…it is erroneous to place emphasis on the duties of woman to the de-emphasis on the duties of men toward their wives; and perhaps this has been the abuse that has created the rift we see today. Having said that, we should not compound one error for another, by redefining or calling into question the sacred ‘callings’ and ‘responsibilities’ of women towards men, and men towards women. This would be an awful, unfaithful and unbiblical over-reaction.
- A man is not independent of a woman! We sometimes think ‘headship’ absolves men of their God-given dependence upon women (or their wife). No, no…we are co-heirs, co-equals, but complimentarian in our roles. Meaning our assigned and obvious differences complete each other, not hinder or separate each other. Is the husband the head and leader of the relationship? Yes! Is the wife the head and leader of the relationship? No! Are they both equal before God? Yes! If you argue against this principle are you arguing against God? Yes! See verse 12, “All things are from God.” This the God’s household engineering project. He must see it’s greatness, while flawed men infect it because of original sin. God engineering says “see, women we need you!”
- Man is dependent to women in the role of child-bearing. An old man once told me, ‘if you get right down to it, women are greater because they keep the human race populated with men and women.’ Cynics respond, “Oh, so the best thing women are good for is for having babies? How chauvinistic!” The progeneration of the human race is categorically the most important means of preserving life! Yes, I’d say it’s the BEST thing indeed, and I’d argue for anyone to find a close 2nd to it! By the way, God never says, men or women are greater which assumes that the point of equality is both obvious and moot in God’s eyes.
At the beginning and end of this discussion the problem lies with how we will listen to God? We will listen trusting in his word, or will we listen to his word through the changes in our culture, and thereby interpret God’s word through the filter of our culture? To do the latter is to live not by faith but by sight.