“As”…..but only for men

I was perusing the website of another church with the idea in mind that I would contact the pastor if I found anything worth the effort. All church websites are designed the same.

For example, the “We believe” section was no different than I find on most churches sites. They believe the bible, they want to reach and serve people, so forth. There is the ubiquitous list of ministries and a little letter from the pastor, as well as a photo gallery.

This one also had a 17 page section with blogs or articles written by the pastor or members of the church. What do you think is wrong with this one?

I’m thankful that when our pastor spoke on marriage this past Sunday, he took us to this precious passage:

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her. – Ephesians 5:25 ESV

But, what does it mean for me to love my wife as Christ loved the church? In the original language, the word translated “as” in English means here “in comparison to the manner of.” That means our love for our wife ought to look like Christ’s love for His church. Obviously our love can’t exactly mirror His love for His bride because we can’t do for our bride what He did for His — namely redeem her from her sin. Still, though, there are a few things we can see about Christ’s love toward the church that, if we implement, will change our marriages — in big ways, perhaps.

HUMBLY – How did Christ love the church, and how ought we to love our wife? Humbly. We are to lovingly serve our wife, even as God has placed us in a role of leadership in our family.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. – Philippians 2:5-11 ESV

SELF-SACRIFICIALLY – How did Christ love the church, and how ought we to love our wife? With self-sacrifice. Christ had every right to demand worship, honor, and glory from everyone He encountered, yet He served, He taught, He worked, He fed (spiritually and physically), and ultimately, He saved by His own blood. He knew He was God and we were not, yet He served us. The verses that immediately precede the early church hymn found above in Philippians 2:5-11 say:

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. – Philippians 2:3-4 ESV

UNCONDITIONALLY and ENDLESSLY – How did Christ love the church, and how ought we to love our wife? Unconditionally and endlessly. Jesus knew the people for whom He died would fail Him innumerable times. He knew that everyday most, if not all, of us would live lives that make much of ourselves and little of Him and the cross on which He died. Yet, His love knows no limit and no end. Once you been saved by grace through faith in Him, there is no point you can go that will cause Him to say, “That’s too far. My love for you is gone.” The same ought to be true for us. If we’re going to love our wife as Christ loved the church, we must have for our bride a love that had a beginning, but no end. A love that is ever-faithful. As Pastor Rob said this past week, “Commitment is more important than love.”

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. – John 13:1 ESV

Of course, there are many other things we could say about Jesus’ love toward His church, but if we purpose — by God’s grace and in the power of His Holy Spirit — to love our wife humbly, self-sacrificially, and eternally, we would go a long way toward loving that precious lady in the way that blesses her and glorifies God in her life and yours.

[all emphasis from the original]

Anything?

As usual with this topic, the message is technically correct. None of the article’s problems are found in the Biblical basis for the admonishment. The introductory paragraph, though,cuts to the predictable chase:

when our pastor spoke on marriage this past Sunday

To speak on marriage is to speak on husbands.

Ephesians-5

He sets men’s expectations:

there are a few things we can see about Christ’s love toward the church that, if we implement, will change our marriages

He appeals to definition using the original language:

In the original language, the word translated “as” in English means here “in comparison to the manner of.” That means our love for our wife ought to look like Christ’s love for His church

He apologizes for the inspired word:

How did Christ love the church, and how ought we to love our wife? Humbly. We are to lovingly serve our wife, even as God has placed us in a role of leadership in our family.

He sets women’s expectations:

how ought we to love our wife? With self-sacrifice.

He fails with his omissions:

Christ had every right to demand worship, honor, and glory from everyone He encountered, yet He served, He taught, He worked, He fed (spiritually and physically), and ultimately, He saved by His own blood. He knew He was God and we were not, yet He served us.

He frames the Personal Jesus (TM) perfectly:

Jesus knew the people for whom He died would fail Him innumerable times. He knew that everyday most, if not all, of us would live lives that make much of ourselves and little of Him and the cross on which He died. Yet, His love knows no limit and no end. Once you been saved by grace through faith in Him, there is no point you can go that will cause Him to say, “That’s too far. My love for you is gone.” The same ought to be true for us. If we’re going to love our wife as Christ loved the church, we must have for our bride a love that had a beginning, but no end. A love that is ever-faithful

ephesians5_21

And finally, he has a near miss on a good point and fails to develop it at all:

As Pastor Rob said this past week, “Commitment is more important than love.”

Christians are so accustomed to this narrative that the average Christian man would read  this and start to redouble his efforts, while of course the wife rubs circles on his back.

The average Christian woman, what’s she thinking? Not much because she has been excluded from the marriage as a member with agency.

The word he focused on….”as”….also appears in verse 24:

“Now as the church submits to Christ…..”

What would that mean if it was woven into the narrative above? I do not wish to split hairs and I refuse the straw man if the tyrannical man demanding obedience in the minutia, so purge that from the thinking and consider, did/does the church submit to Christ in any shape or fashion of obedience? Is the sacrificial love of Christ dependent upon ANYTHING? To honor Christ do we recognize any parameters? To be pleasing to Him do we just accept all he gave and that’s it? Because the marriage described here, with any and all accountability being omitted, looks like a pretty good deal for a wife in a marriage.  We have a servant who loves us unconditionally! He bends to us based on our fancy. What a deal.

There are lots of problems in this piece as a stand alone message. Some of the deficit is not dependent on the existence or not of a corresponding message to women. For example the failure to even develop the leader aspect of the churches favorite term regarding husbands…”servant leader” is commonplace. It is dangerous ground for preachers to plow; The words expended on the servant side are appealing to the women, and the notion of the marriage improving is a spoonful of sugar to the men.

I wondered if the site had a bookend message to the women regarding verse 24 that, when taken together with this one, may fix some of what has been omitted. I searched more than 70 pages seeking any reference to women in marriage and I found nothing. To be fair, that doesn’t mean women have never been spoken to there, yet my experience digging like this leads me to believe that if there was a message to women based on verse 24, it was a few mumbled self effacing jokes followed by some references back to THIS message. That, or the church would be shuttered.

I have written to the pastor, gently asking for his take on all of this. I hesitate to put the correspondence out for scrutiny because I actually hope to do more than just guilt the man into seeing the real picture. I’m jaded because I have done this countless times and had at best gentle disinterest and at worst strong rebukes of my hatred for women.

Here, I just wanted to illustrate in succinct fashion the frame of the American evangelical church, where women are loosed to follow a Personal Jesus (TM) AND to expect that if they are unhappy in any way, the servant leader that shares a bed with them (precious lady) needs another dose of this good medicine.

Images I found when I googled “Ephesians 5:24”

Husbands Image from BibleWordofGod.com

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12 thoughts on ““As”…..but only for men

  1. Here is the problem when you preach the husband part of Ephesians 5 without balancing it with the wife’s submission as unto the Lord. You create a situation where it appears that only the husband is called to self-sacrifice.

    All the verses cited from Philippians are addressed to the church universal; male and female members of Christ’s body. Therefore not only is the husband to live a life of selflessness and sacrifice, the wife is also. We are called to this behavior in relationships with other believers.

    The notion that wives are supposed to simply be their perfect wonderful selves while the husbands love unconditionally and contort themselves into the perfect empathetic savior asking nothing in return is a demonic twist on what Paul wrote. It doesn’t resemble Christian marriage in any way shape or form.

    Now I’m gonna totally switch gears empath.

    Did I ever tell you that there is an 11 year gap between our oldest three children and the births of our 4th and 5th? Well there is. So I totally got what you were saying that day when you talked about children coming later after you thought your family was complete. You deleted your comment so I was never able to respond to it.

    Okay, back to regularly scheduled programming.

  2. did/does the church submit to Christ in any shape or fashion of obedience? Is the sacrificial love of Christ dependent upon ANYTHING? To honor Christ do we recognize any parameters? To be pleasing to Him do we just accept all he gave and that’s it?

    I’ve been thinking about posting on consummation, but other thoughts are more in my face.

  3. I started reading the link and it seems pretty good. However, like you, I haven;t had the time to give it the level of reflection I’d need to examine it critically. I will though.

  4. That’s a great article. This paragraph alone is worth the read:
    The husband definitely should love his wife. He has covenanted to do this. But whenever the wife demands this love, she has revealed a hardened heart. She is trying to manipulate him into meeting her needs. Isn’t this the opposite of what should be? Shouldn’t she be trying to see his needs and meet them? She only uses this, “If you loved me, then you would …” argument to control him. This is ungodly behavior filled with selfishness.

  5. Men and women are supposed to use Ephesians 5 to learn how to love one another. People tend to teach extremes on it. It ends up, at the extremes, being a wife feeling that she’s just ‘doing too much’ and that her husband needs to love her as Christ loves the Church or it just isn’t love, or else it’s the wife taking one on the chin for the team. Both perspectives are messed up. I wish someone would start teaching on how BOTH parts of a couple are accountable for their behaviour, and that BOTH of them need to learn to understand one another better.

  6. Was at a Bible study last night and heard the same kind of comments during the “what can we pray for one another about ” part. A couple there have just become empty nesters. The husband, who often says humorous, but self-effacing things about his need to be a better husband says that Christ commanded husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church, and jokingly adds, “that’s easy.” He adds, “and the wife is commanded to respect the husband.” She chimes in, “As long as your loving me, that’s easy to do. So, it all goes back to you.” (In other words, it all depends on him and her agency in the matter is merely a reflection of how well he is doing.)

    I didn’t say anything and I don’t know if it would have done any good. It is technically true that it’s easier to respect someone who is loving you. (Or is it? How many loving beta males get no respect.) And it is easier to love someone who is respecting you. So, any bringing this to their attention on my part probably would have floundered in the technicalities.

    But still, thank you red pill blogs like yours for helping me to understand this and to instantly recognize it upon hearing it.

  7. Welcome to the fray, the trench of the new Christian era of marriage (new….30 years….more?) Those jokes actually intrigue me in that they are one form of the language of the whole mess. My just formed thought on that is that the man making the joke, and pastors do it almost universally, feels that by making it humorous he is kind of taking it back….like he is speaking a sort of code to the man saying he doesnt really believe this but lets yuk yuk along for the ladies.

    Dont get me wrong, I do not think that they don’t really believe it, I think they are sold out to female spiritual supremacy. Maybe the men joking think it makes their self subjugation to their wives look more palatable if they make what in fact is a nervous joke of it.

  8. Yes, the humor is for a purpose. I hear it so much, and it’s the same kinds of things being said, so it must serve a purpose. Likely just what you said it is, making it easier to accept by laughing (and subtly griping) at their predicament. And these jokes seem to be the standard repertoire of the Christian community.

    There’s been a few times recently when I’ve been talking to women in the church and they start up on the men are so dumb, or they’re slobs or can’t this or that. In the past, I would joke along in a self-effacing way (while feeling put down in ways I couldn’t quite get a handle on). But now for sure, I just remain silent and think, wow, I can’t believe they’re saying this, because it’s not based on reality.

    Last night it was that my son must not be eating very well this week (due to the fact that my wife is away for the week). It was not said with evil intent, but it’s just the assumption that I must be clueless because I’m a guy. (Actually the kid is getting a break from being micro-managed by his mom while she is away.)

    My wife does not have an American evangelical Christian background, so she is mercifully free from a lot of this submission / respect teaching in the church. Hers is a nominally Catholic background with a lot of new agey + self help + Cosmo things that she has cobbled together as a belief system about religion and about men and women. So, I get to get out of one thing, but have other things to deal with.

    Anyway, all this material is interesting, and as the saying goes, “if I knew then what I know now,” my life would have been different in some critical areas.

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