December 16, 2017

My Beloved, My Friend

The Lovers, Chagall

“This is my beloved and this is my friend…”

– Song of Solomon 5:16

* * *

Those simple, graceful words from the Song of Solomon have summarized the way I’ve viewed my relationship with my wife Gail ever since we fell in love as college students. I wrote a song using them as the main theme of the lyric and sang it to her at our wedding. They describe our mutual understanding of the nature of our marriage: we are lovers and we are friends. We are partners. We are two who have left our previous lives to make a life together as one.

Our relationship has never been about authority and submission. Understanding the Biblical passages that use those terms has been a process over the years. As a new Christian and young pastor, I held a more patriarchal perspective in my mind and in my teaching, but to be honest, I can’t say it really translated in any substantial way to our actual relationship. We were partners. I may have been the pastor, but she was right there at my side, as involved in ministry as I was (sometimes more so). In college we had served together on gospel teams and there was no hierarchy involved, save for someone who played the role of team leader. We each played and sang our respective parts and did so in harmony with the others. We carried this right into our life in the church.

At home we’ve always made decisions together or deferred to the other when appropriate. For a number of years my career path was the main one we walked, but only because it provided a clearer way. I’m sure that had Gail had a vocational path as definite as mine, things might have gone differently. I know this has often frustrated her over the years, but she has accepted her lot with grace and has creatively found many significant ministry opportunities in conjunction with what I was doing. We are both highly vocation-minded people. We have seen ourselves from the beginning as Christ’s servants and have always felt a strong sense of calling when it comes to serving others.

Lovers with Daisies, Chagall

I sincerely can’t think of a time when a model of authority and submission fit our relationship. Usually, when I’ve made decisions on my own, they were foolish ones, unless they were decisions to do something loving for her that I wanted to keep secret. We work best when we work together, talk together, pray together, consider things together, and wait for each other to be of one mind.

During certain seasons of our life, Gail has played the “traditional” role (I’m still not sure I know what that means — which tradition?). She stayed home with the babies. She still is the main cook. She does more housework than I do (that’s often my fault, not her choice). She does the laundry, though that is primarily to keep me from destroying her wardrobe.

On the other hand, she has almost always worked outside the home, whether part-time or full-time. When she had the opportunity she went back to school and got her Masters degree. Now she runs her own counseling business. If at any time along the way, it would have made sense for me to stay home or play some other “non-traditional” role to support her in fulfilling her goals, I would have done so gladly. I will do so in the future if need be.

I would never think to set our marriage or relationship up as a template for anyone else. I believe all believers have great freedom in Christ to order their lives by his Spirit and through the wisdom that comes from Scripture, reason, counsel, and experience. Most of all, I believe with all my heart that Gail and I are meant to be partners — lovers and friends — together in Christ.

I have come to a much different understanding of the “authority/submission” texts in the NT over the years, one that I think makes much more sense in light of the overall Biblical narrative with its redemptive trajectory. I think a hierarchical model of the relationship between a husband and wife is part of the problem, not the solution to marital happiness, stability, and effective service for Christ.

There is no hierarchy between two people who call each other “beloved and friend.”

Comments

  1. An interesting post considering a facebook link someone posted today called “Why do they hate us?” written by an Arab woman activist talking about the landscape for women in her country and other Arab countries. The oppression is extreme. It was refreshing reading this post and discovering that my own relationship with my spouse is much like yours. The Facebook post left me very sad for the state of affairs between sexes.

    That being said, I would like to throw a zinger in that really bugs me about discussions regarding “gender roles”. Note that “gender” is a sociological construct and “sex” is a biological construct. So “gender roles” is a discussion about roles related to personae, not sex.

    First, looking at sex, I believe the scientific studies that show brains are wired differently depending on the sex of the individual with variations allowed for people who do not follow the bell curve. I have often found it difficult to explain to militant women the concept of “equal, but different”. I am equal to a sculptor, but we are completely different. I can’t make anything with my hands. We are equal, but we have different talents and gifts.

    Women’s (and I use that generalization to cover the women in the middle of the bell curve) brains are wired different than man’s. One is not superior to the other, but they are different. I am making no judgement about the difference, just stating a medical, scientific fact. In study after study, while there are always outliers, the differences are statistically significant.

    I believe there is a pathway to clerical living for all sexes, not just men. So, before any of y’all flame me, I’ll say that I personally have worked with both female and male clergy and have enjoyed working with either sex. However, we are different…but that should be no excuse for us to not be equal in all things, including our marriages. I, for one, am ok with being equal but different.

  2. That Other Jean says:

    *There is no hierarchy between two people who call each other “beloved and friend.”*

    Amen to that.

    • That sums it up for me, after 33 years of marriage. Once in a blue moon when we can’t get to a compromise, the decision is made by he or she who feels more passion about the subject. (One exception….changes that affect the couple/marriage deeply and forever, such as having a child or buying a house. In these cases, ONE no=no go on the matter!)

      Especially over the last six months involving a job loss (mine, but his was dicey for a bit) health scare, family issues, a wedding, several trips,a new job with a long commmute, and a long blackout during a heat wave…..I have seen the self-sacrifice my beloved makes for me day in and day out. I hope that he feels blessed by my little daily gifts of self as well.

      Parents and (not yet adult) children SHOULD have a hierarchy, but not a man and woman who represent Christ and His Church, burning with the desire to love one another ever more deeply.

    • Um, except for, maybe, Christ and his bride, the church? …which the Bible clearly teaches that marriage is an image of.

      • Joseph (the original) says:

        i think one of the weaknesses of the realtionship between God as Father/Son/Holy Spirit, simply unlike those between human beings. as much as i can accept the ‘ideal’ of scriptural allegory, then there is going to be a limitation on how that is lived out here in the trenches of human interaction…

        if you wish to use the ‘image’ & its implied relational posture between Christ, His Church, the Bride, & human marriage, then there is the nagging problem of Jesus permitting divorce, which is simply anathema to Jesus & what we understand His Body, the Church…

        there is no way to qualify the manner which Christ exerts headship over His Church vs. a Christian marriage of mutual submission, respect, love, honor & honest interaction.

        as such, there is no way in hell (emphasis intentional) Christ is ever, ever, ever going to ‘submit’ to the silly machinations of His Church thru the ages when it is directly contrary to His character, motivation & desire for those His Church impacted for good or ill…

        so, does this imply the husband as head of his wife is going to be ‘just like Jesus’ in his pronouncements? he is automatically exempt from submitting to everything else in scripture that addresses all human interpersonal relationships? for those that say the husband has the last word or the final say regarding anything impactin both husband & wife & their family, is this really being Christ-like? therein lies the apparent disconnect with the theory vs. the direct application many have strong issues with…

        it would seem, for arguments sake, that Jesus would take the nth degree approach to lovingly, patiently, wisely, interact with another person without ‘insisting’ upon anything just to be, well, The Head of the relationship. maybe our ideas of Jesus are not compatible. could be we (generally speaking) all have a way we interpret/understand Jesus as he interacted with others. unfortunately, we have no direct guide of how He would have treated a wife & since He left before His Church was ever developed, organized, recognized, then i suppose this difference of viewpoint going to be part of the Evangelical Wilderness detritus littering the landscape until Jesus does return for a spotless Bride, free of spot+wrinkle…

        • Great counterpoint! I would argue, however, that by his death on the cross, Christ did in fact submit himself to the sin of the whole church (at least 😛 ). A Christ-authority submits by taking the fall for another’s fault. Yeah, saying the husband gets the final word in everything is deranged. But that’s confusing the metaphor of Christ as husband with Christ as judge. Christ as husband kills the dragon and gets the girl. This is the Christ being our example. But Christ as judge sets right everything that is wrong in the universe. This is Christ being our substitute.

          BTW, Jesus did not just abandon his Church. He is with us through his Word and Spirit, and actually, physically present in our worship. Unless, of course, you’re a sacramentarian.

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J5pKrwnn_2s

          • Joseph (the original) says:

            i can appreciate your firm convictions of theological theory, but really there is no way for you or anybody else to actually sit down & make a list of approved behavior, responses, attitudes for each & every marriage relationship.

            you & all others wanting to champion husband-as-head-of-wife posturing cannot with infallibility help out the poor folks that want to really truly know just how to apply this, er, um, teaching.

            now it may be championing the image, model, Apostle Paul idealistic language. but really, when it comes down to those that ‘insist’ such a marriage arrangement is the, well, most biblically correct, what is the universal guideline for all to follow???

            is there one? i think there is. and i believe you do too, but then it will be without details & left up to the married couple to work out…

  3. An excellent post for today, feast of St. Mary Magdalene, Disciple of the Lord and Apostle to the Apostles.

  4. Beautiful. Exactly the kind of relationship that we all attain to…..the relationship with our spouse that is reflective of our relationship with God. Lover and Beloved are one! Thank you!

    Lauri Lumby
    Authentic Freedom ministries
    http://yourspiritualtruth.com

  5. Thank you. Powerful. The experience of living together – the pull and sway – the dance as T. Keller says it. here is an insight if I may . . . saying something stupidly to my wife that draws pain and tears . . . realizing not only do I grieve the relationship with my best friend on earth . . . but grieving the Spirit. I am so grateful for the gift of confession and repentance . . . to break my selfish pride . . . but to immerse myself in Jesus to be more sensitive. Hmm – hard to put into words. Thanks again for the freshness of the message

  6. Joseph (the original) says:

    i must admit i have been reading the articles with regards to the beauty of marriage, the wonder of long-term marriages, the self-sacrifice of loving spouses & the incredible dynamic God had in mind when He designed it, blessed it & promoted it to His first covenant couple…

    unfortunately, my first marriage of 26 years dissolved. i will not have the opportunity to live with a spouse thru the challenging/formative years. i will not have the luxury of learning about another’s early years thru time spent together with family & friends. if i ever marry again i will need to depend upon my next marriage partner to represent herself to me honestly & candidly. the same with me. i need to represent myself as a lifetime of experiences, mistakes, challenges, choices, etc. it could be there are some years of growing old together possible, the good Lord willing. i am desirous of a blessed marriage, but still gun-shy. i have trust issues. i have a failed marriage as the only experience in being married. it is not without trepidation i consider a later-in-life 2nd marriage. i suppose when the time arrives i will have to work thru all the stuff i have had to address about my past issues.

    anyway, i do appreciate the manner which a truly loving marriage dynamic has been represented in the most recent articles here @ iMonk…

  7. If I were to claim that marriage functions as anything less than a full egalitarian relationship, I’d be a hypocrite. Happy wife, happy life, ya know?

    But I still don’t know how to reconcile that with the Biblical (appropriate use of the wore, btw) passages that talk about the marriage relationship reflecting Christ and the church, except for that I should be willing to sacrifice anything for the good of my wife. I’m not sure what to do if we can’t agree on what that is, but I know that I have to respect her as a person.

    My wife is also caught between the “traditional” roles and a career. But because her dream job is being a stay at home mom, the two don’t conflict much. She is capable of making far more money than I, but since she would rather spend time with babies I suppose that in my context, being the “head” of this relationship means getting my but in gear to, as ol’ W said, put some food on my family.

  8. Might I also suggest that the disagreement over authority and submission in marriage does not necessarily stem from an understanding of what love, friendship and marriage are so much as a misunderstanding of what the nature, purpose, and role of authority are. If Chist is the model of true authority, I can’t imagine why anybody of any gender would object to being under it.

    • Joseph (the original) says:

      which one in the marriage relationship gets to choose which decision, attitude, suggestion, direction, etc. the most Christ-like???

      you have 2 sinful creatures that is supposed to have the husband as ‘head’ of the wife be perfect as Jesus is to His less-than-perfect Church…

      oh my, what is any any sane Christian to do?

      i can tell you exactly how this plays out. the one with the blind spot that cannot defer to the other is the one less confident of their being Christ-like than the other. and this is not role/gender specific. it is simply how the brokenness of our humanness (not just male or not just female) postures itself in self-preservation…

      i think the authority issue in question is always dependent upon trust, willingness, spiritual maturity, how one was raised, etc. there is no “one sized fits all” approach to what a marriage relationship should look like, be like, act like, even if such a marriage is Christian & blessed by the Good Lord Himself…

      it could very well be that to be the most Christ-like the husband defer to his wife’s superior money managing skills & related decisions regarding the family & expenditures. could be she is the more spiritually mature. what then? and when it comes to making choices regarding the children’s spiritual upbringing that wife will indeed be the leader.

      all these & more illustrations have been brought up before. nothing new here. but to insist on the husband being head of the wife assertion just has no particular list of do’s & don’ts that universally state what is acceptable/not permitted. i asked for one a while back on a similar thread but no response. the thou shalts & thou shalt nots conspicuously absent because we know there cannot be any drawn up & claim they are exactly what Jesus expects in every marriage relationship…

      • Joseph (the original) says:

        not to minimize the Apostle Paul’s understanding of what the marriage relationship mirrors, but didn’t Jesus call His disciples His ‘friends’ instead of servants???

        i guess we could spiritualize just what Jesus meant of course. He being God & all. you know, He considered the Apostles friends. maybe just them? a unique relationship with just the 12 originally chosen?

        He really didn’t mean it that way, right? more like, I AM the Alpha Friend?

        not to be misunderstood as, well, a friend???

        He is the Head of any & all friendships, right??? we just misunderstand its relational implications because of the fact Jesus is, well, God? He can never be subject to the human relational dynamics of real friendship?

        and this is all based of course on doing all that Jesus commands? and being head of the wife is commanded? and it is represented best how???

        • I don’t think that Jesus of scripture is the “Buddy Christ” of american pop-evangelicalism:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7-NOZU2iPA8

          I believe the term for “friend” in the NT may have the connotation of “associates” more than “pals.” In the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, the one where the guys who worked all day got equal pay with those who worked one hour, the employer calls his employes “friends.” He wasn’t appealing to their common interest in golf or fishing to pacify the situation. …not to mention, who are you saying Jesus called “friends?” That’s right, his DISCIPLES. …and yes, the complementarians do teach that men should disciple their entire family.

          Just because “I am a friend of God, na na na na na” doesn’t mean He isn’t also terrible, aweful, and fearsome. And yes, Jesus absolutely was fully subject to the human relational dynamics of real friendship. I think it hurt when Judas kissed him.

          • Joseph (the original) says:

            what! Jesus wouldn’t want to play golf with me & enjoy a few brewskies on the 19th hole afterward???

            yikes! i think i will have to cast off my ideas of Jesus being approachable & willing to hang out with someone that is a scratch golfer on the 1st nine holes…

            Lord, have mercy on me just your lowly associate… 🙁

          • According to the words of Jesus in Luke 18:14, that is the attitude of faith. The Biblical metaphors for our relationship with God are diverse and complex, including friend, child, servant, beloved, heirs, disciples, etc… all meant to give a picture. I just don’t see cavalier camaraderie as the defining essence of the whole picture. God is approachable, but he is still God.

          • Joseph (the original) says:

            oh pooh…

            i was hoping to get some divine coaching on how to correct my ‘wicked’ slice…

            {isgh}

            i guess it’s just part of the curse & the cross i must bear…

            8)

            p.s. yes, i do understand this amazing relationship with God that is on the one hand approachable, but still to be done reverently, thankfully & with full confidence…

          • Joseph (the original) says:

            when thinking in terms of the child’s relationship to their father and mother, the idea, or spiritual truth that the “two become one flesh” best demonstrated as the parental team; both father & mother working in unison for the nuture of the child…

            the parental covering/influence a confluence of father+mother that both contribute to the role of parent (singular). but that singular role is implied for both father & mother. they are the ‘parent’ is probably more in tune with the concept of the marriage relationship than simply 2 individuals as separate units…

            anyway, this really wouldn’t be much of a consideration for me but for my divorce. the crazy element of rending a spiritual cleaving to become 2 separate entities also disrupts the fabric of parenthood. i think those that are divorced understand this better than those who have not been divorced. i recognized a spiritual element in the entire divorce progression that makes for some sobering introspection. and being a parent makes the collateral damage so much recognizable although i can say my 3 boys have weathered their parents divorce much better than i did my own parents 42 years ago…

      • Your last paragraph is spot on, and the reason I do not identify with complementarianism. Though I would point out that the Reformed gang is actually endeavoring to produce this alleged list. That’s what you get with Calvinists and their third use of the law: Christ as the second Moses (and Paul as the third!).

        However, the fact that you ask, “which one in the marriage relationship gets to choose which decision, attitude, suggestion, direction, etc. the most Christ-like???” just serves to illustrate my point. Getting to “choose” is not what the authority of Christ is about. It’s about choosing personal sacrifice for the good of another. I wouldn’t say that wives are even exempt from this. I just think that as a man God has charged me to beat her to it, to go first and lead by example. Perhaps this “spiritualized chivalry” is nothing more than the residual effects of patriarchal culture (in which the scriptures were written), but it amazes me that people would complain about it. And it’s indeed a very grey issue when a couple cannot agree on matters of conviction. No “one size fits all” to be found here, marriage must be a relationship of grace, not law.

        *sarcasm alert*
        …and for those of you with daddy issues, I’m not advocating spousal abuse with my phrase “beat her to it…” 😛

        • Joseph (the original) says:

          i happen to like the ‘spiritual chivalry’ application to help with the otherwise theoretical concepts being discussed…

          marriage is a relationship of grace to be sure. and grace trumps judgment all the time. no law can promote the headship issues by forced compliance. yet the entire concept of laying down one’s life for a friend was already pointed out well before Paul came on the scene with his marriage imagery…

          you, as the husband, being called to be the first to be humble, loving, supportive, gentle, respectful, etc. is nothing unique to the role of husband, is it? that is a distinction that keeps being raised. there is nothing uniquely demanding of a husband that isn’t already addressed by Jesus & the writers of the Epistles, is there? the husband as head seems to be an appeal to the order of creation without the effects of sin.

          i really can’t see where there is any possible way to exert the headship clause when it is out of the context of sacrifice/submission, do you? it is never intended to be a power play, but one of total emptying of oneself for another. if that is the litmus test of true headship, then i can tell you such a situation could only be proven by the death of the husband to preserve/save the wife. anything else is simply working out the differences in an attitude of mutual respect, deference, love, humility, etc.

          • Joseph (the original) says:

            Miguel: i do appreciate your intellect, writing ability, theological perspectives & willingness to engage those of differing opinion here on this site…

            you have pushed back on some things i have addressed before without insisting your perspectives the last word, or the one after that. as such you are recognized as a voice worth listening to on whatever topic you engage in…

            my theological conclusions still in flux, although not in regards to the core orthodox doctrines. it is the minor issues & the associated posturing that gets me riled up. but i also know my perspectives not destined by God to change another’s mind… 😉

            blessings to you. you have expressed a faith you are willing to wrestle with. i think that part of how your represent yourself here @ iMonk the thing that impresses me the most…

            ~Joseph

          • “the husband as head seems to be an appeal to the order of creation without the effects of sin. ”

            But when you read the genesis accounts.. the whole “your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you” comes as a result of sin.

          • Joseph (the original) says:

            Michael: i think when Jesus addressed marriage, it was as it was intended in the Garden.

            and when Paul makes the reference, he is simply using the same creation chronology viewpoint sans the fall, sin & its corruptive results.

            now, it could be the way God addressed the curses post eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge a description of its effects vs. His proscription IMHO.

            in other words, do you believe we are in the process of being transformed from glory to glory, but under the curse of Adam & Eve’s sin still? that husbands+wives under the corruptive results of the fall & the spiritual language of being new creatures with a new life adopted into a new family with a new identity just romantic/idealistic but not to be experienced in this life? this life not to be fully lived as Jesus said He came to give? the fact we still sin actually proves, or means, the man shall always rule over his wife?

          • @Joseph,

            If a husband and wife are both in the perfect will of God, is there a need for headship? Is it only as we sin, and fall out of God’s will that headship becomes an issue. I would agree with Chaplain Mike that a true marriage is built on themes of mutual submission and partnership.

          • Joseph (the original) says:

            @ Michael:

            being in the ‘perfect’ will of God could be simply working out the marriage relationship imperfectly without any need for a headship posture or trying to qualify how that simply means the husband is head of the wife & that means this ______ (fill in the blank).

            does headship have anything to do with a Christian marriage to begin with other than its implied imagery?

            and i brought up an important point regarding the fall, the statement that the man shall rule over his wife & how that element of the curse applies to us today. has it been nailed to the tree or not?

            is it binding today, or not? is it meant to support Paul’s analogy & Jesus’ statement about marriage? does Jesus’ statement about His topsy-turvy description of how true kingdom authority is not to be wielded as the pagan/heathens exercise it have any weight in this consideration?

            not sure how distasteful the idea of egalitarianism became to complementarians when it is widely accepted in other relationships but not in their concept of how marriage should be. in a somewhat related topic (Heb 13:17), do i need to submit to pastoral/priestly authority because they must give an account? account of what? their attitude & treatment of those in their care? or my attitudes or my spiritual maturity, etc.? but then Paul states that each of us will give an account to God.

            this concept of authority, power, title, position has been muddled early in the formation of the Church. it has not improved any from what i have experienced in the churches i attended. i still see what Jesus was trying to address when it comes to the human condition & our propensity to wield authority just like the world does. i think there was an attempt to simply define what an apostle was, or a bishop, or a deacon or elder, but without an official title, rank, position. that is why new phrases were chosen when outlining them in the Epistles & deliberately avoiding the use of common terms available.

            at least that is my perspective at this point. other POVs may vary of course… 🙂

          • Thanks Joseph. I learn a lot around here by pushing back on things. CM does a great job at keeping it clean when the fighting breaks out. I’m really on the fence with many of these issues, trying to filter through my fundamentalist upbringing and glean from higher criticism without selling out to it. This particular issues has been quite vexing for me to work through, it seems like either camp is left with too many texts unexplained. Right now, I’d say I’m about as complementarian as the Roman Catholic church.

            Mike, your reasoning gets more clear to me each time. Patriarchy as a result of the fall makes sense. But to say that true marriage is built on themes of mutual submission and partnership… Those are essential components, but not exclusive. I think there is something more necessary. I can buy gender equality, but not interchangeability; I believe that children need both a mother and father, because each brings something to the family the other cannot. The problem with my stance here is, though, unless I’m willing to start assigning roles, it doesn’t mean very much.

            • I would agree with your final statements. That’s one reason I don’t like the term “complementarian” to describe what is, in reality, often patriarchy or a hierarchical position. Males and females are complementary and designed to function as “two become one” within marriage. I don’t think that necessarily requires an understanding of given supra-cultural roles, other than the ones that grow naturally from our biological differences. And, as we move toward the fullness of the new creation, who knows what male and female will mean?

          • @Miguel – You write: “Those are essential components, but not exclusive. I think there is something more necessary. I can buy gender equality, but not interchangeability; I believe that children need both a mother and father, because each brings something to the family the other cannot. The problem with my stance here is, though, unless I’m willing to start assigning roles, it doesn’t mean very much.”

            I agree with you completely here, mothers and fathers are not interchangeable. The problem comes when a description of traits becomes a proscription of traits.

            Let me give you a few examples. I understand finances better than my wife, so I take the lead in finances. I find, however, that I have made unwise judgements when I have excluded or discounted my wife’s opinions on financial matters. Should men always lead in the financial field. In my parents household, it is my mother who handles all the finances, as she is better at it than my father.

            My son and I both enjoy football. So Saturday night I took him to see the Hamilton Tiger Cats. Oskee-wee-wee! for those fans who happen to be reading this. At the end of summer each year we do a wilderness canoe and fishing trip. Both are good father-son bonding experiences. But what if I wasn’t into football and wilderness camping and my wife was?

            What about discipline? Surely the model that works best, is that the parent who is present handles the discipline issues.

            Meals? The person who is home first makes supper. The other does the dishes.

            The problem as I see it, is that most roles in a family can be handled equally well by mother or father. The egalitarian says whoever is best suited or gifted for a particular task takes the lead in the task. Certain tasks are self evident. I am not particularly well adapted for breast feeding.

            One of my role models is a Vice-President in a large Canadian denomination. He has a number of roles in his home church, but the one that stands out to me is that he is one of the key volunteers in the church nursery.

          • Joseph,

            I don’t have time right now to get into a long discussion, but I did want to respond to one of your questions. You write: “and i brought up an important point regarding the fall, the statement that the man shall rule over his wife & how that element of the curse applies to us today. has it been nailed to the tree or not?”

            We live in a fallen world. We experience sickness, strife, anger, and sin.

            Paul tells us that we should be living according to our heavenly calling (Ephesians 4) – “with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” This is done in the marriage in the context of mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21.)

            I would contend that as Christians, the more we focus on living now as we shall in the future in heaven, the more our focus will be on mutual submission, and the less our focus will be on who is the head of the relationship.

            Look at Jesus’ rebuke of James and John, when they wanted to know who would be in a position of favour in his Kingdom. Jesus’ kingdom is all about servanthood and not headship.

          • Joseph (the original) says:

            Michael: i do understand your perspective as well as Miguel’s. i think my responses/questions more of a thought-provoking attempt rather than a specific request for answers.

            overall i think i am in agreement with the article & the scriptural caveats Miguel raises. i think the manner which the topic has been handled a very encouraging representation of differing ideas without resorting to doctrinal one-upmanship. i tend to withhold rigid conclusions about such things because i know my own views limited & i am being changed whether that is understood as transformation or progressive maturity or simply old age wisdom…

            and i am not wishing to either champion or minimize the headship imagery in scripture. i don’t want to theorize about the chronological creation of man first & woman second or how that & the fall set universal rules for the genders to hash out until Jesus returns…

            thanx for responses. i enjoy your perspectives as you are one of the regular posters with thoughtful commentary & a gracious approach.

            blessings…

            ~Joseph

    • Dana Ames says:

      I understand Christ/church : husband and wife to reflect the unity of a head & body, which is an analogy St Paul uses quite often. You can’t have a Functioning Whole without both. It’s about UNION unto life, not who’s in charge/has authority.

      The whole book of Ephesians can be read as a meditation on what it means for various “entities” to be in union with one another, the ground of which is all of that very long sentence with which St Paul begins Eph 1.

      Dana

  9. “Usually, when I’ve made decisions on my own, they were foolish ones…”

    Yup, been there, done that.

  10. David Cornwell says:

    Thanks for the excellent post. My marriage has many similar understandings. We talk about almost everything before making a decision. We’ve sacrificed for each other down through the years. It’s never been one or the other being the right one or the one in authority. Hopefully it’s been a relationship of love. We’ve both made career adjustments for the other. There has never been a reason to even consider a legalistic definition to our marriage. I’d rather be single than to go that route.

    • +1!!

      I cannot see for a minute how any relationship of mutual love, respect, honor, and joy can based on a hierarchy.

      Yes, I submit to my husband…..and he submits to me. It is called “True Love”.

  11. Thank you for this excellent post. Your story in all it’s detail is so very similar to that of mine & my husband. I am also a counselor who works with many women who are in abusive relationships, many of them married to “Christian” men who are leaders in their churches. Patriarchy breeds abuse. I treasure the relationship my spouse & I have, as I know it is not, sadly, the norm.