In the process of preparing to write a wedding ceremony, I was thinking about an appropriate passage of scripture to insert. All the usual ones ran through my mind. Somewhere in that list was the things Paul said in the letter to the Ephesian church. By the way, I’ve never used these passages and never will in a wedding ceremony. However, I have heard them used as such, so they floated through my mind.
In chapter 5:22-33 there are the familiar instructions about husbands, wives, Christ and the church. Verse 22 begins: “Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is head of the church, his body, of which he is the savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.” (Let the games begin!)
That, and other such scriptures are usually read as absolute, narrow instructions But you will notice that wives are never told to love their husbands, and the church is never told to love Christ. So the cold, literal reading is that wives do not have to love their husbands and the church does not have to love Christ. All that is demanded is submission. Hang onto that.
Beginning at Verse 25ff, Four times Paul tells men they must love their wives. He uses Christ’s love for the church as an example. Verse 33 is key to the discussion. “However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” Some translations use the word “honor” rather than “respect.”
Once again we are told the wife must respect, or honor her husband. Which seems to include submission. The husband is not told to respect or honor his wife, just to love her, which may include both honor and respect, without the submission. However, it doesn’t say that.
My reason for being picky here is because of the way I have heard this passage used in all kinds of “happy marriage manuals,” in sermons and in classes.
Here’s how it works. Men need respect (honor) more than love. This seems to me to indicate men’s egos are somewhat frail and need that constant boost that love alone will not give. If wives boost their husband’s egos by honoring them and submitting to them in everything, then the husbands will return that with love. That’s what the marriage manuals say. However, that’s not what Paul said. Paul has to tell (order) the men to love their wives four times in eight verses. He does not say to do it because she loves him back or respects him. He compares it to Christ loving the church. We might ask here if Christ only loves the church when it honors and respects him? (If you say “yes” you’re wrong.) Paul also compares loving the wife to the man loving himself.
Now let me tell you why I will not use this in a wedding ceremony. The context for Ephesians is problem solving. First, why would Paul have to tell wives to submit and respect their husbands? Wasn’t that part of the normal culture between the Jews and Gentiles? From social studies it would seem to be. What happened to cause Paul to issue instructions?
A close reading of the letters to the primarily Gentile churches, including Paul’s personal letters, such as those to Timothy, indicate the announcement that a world savior had come, and would soon return, changed social attitudes. In Corinth, the women were throwing off the veil and praying and prophesying (proclaiming) publically. This display of being free from the accepted social norms of marriage would leave the wrong image of the church. It would be much like the woman announcing that she was now free in Christ and would no longer wear her wedding ring because it was a sign of being bound to a husband.
There is also some indication in I Corinthians 7 that the women are free to separate (divorce) from their husbands, for no stated reason, except they must not marry someone else. I Cor. 7:10,11.Notice Paul says she should remain unmarried, and never condemns the practice.
In I Timothy2:9,10 the instructions given to women, (though seldom seen this way) is that to dress as they were, made a public statement that they were no longer under any man’s control, but were free and independent women. It made them look similar to the prostitutes and other loose women. Paul does not want that to be the image the world sees of those who are serving Jesus, even though he does believe Christ has set both men and women free who are in Christ. We might ask here if Paul was giving permission for men to dress any way they wanted, since he said nothing about that. We should also state openly that if the way those women were dressing then, no longer leaves the same impression, then it is alright today.
We might also ask in Chapter 3 if the women were excused from the qualities required of the men, since Paul only told the women, (deacons, or wives of deacons and elders) “In the same way, their wives are to be women worthy of respect, not malicious talkers but temperate and trustworthy in everything.” V. 11
Reading the Bible a certain way opens us to all sorts of problems. If lists are exclusive, then they only apply exclusively. Is it wrong for a wife to love her husband? Is it wrong for a husband to respect his wife? Is it wrong for a husband to submit himself to his wife? By the way, Paul starts that section with verse 21, which should not be separated form the following verses. It says, “Submit yourselves to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Some say that verse defines it all. It is mutual submission. I agree with that, but I would add another element. The passage should not be read in a vacuum, but in relationship to the teachings and attitude of Jesus, as well as understanding the reason it was written and the cultural norms at the time.
Failing to do that stops our growth and understanding of the Bible.
CONCERNS: Both T. J. And Judy Hall will be having medical tests this month. Jim Hunter will also see a New doctor about his back in August. Alan Beach’s father is in rehab recovering from a badly broken leg due to a fall. Erma Williams cousin, Eleanor Bresee (ovarian cancer), Leena Bolin’s aunt, Lee Nicklas (leukemia), Leena’s brother, Nick, (cancer), Judy McWhorter’s brother’s step-daughter is recovering from a near fatal heart attack. Kim (Hall’s) friend, Mary (Parkinson’s) Martha Foy asks prayers for Sandra Anderson, Gil Richardson and her aunt, Sue Huels, who is Betty Foy’s sister. Rich Crites, the Phlegars, Gary Overstreet, Deana McRoy, Stephanie Rigney, Marge Greenwood, and Sharon. Also Jenni Cullum, Helen Nicklas, Tim Elder, Mary Smith and Mrs. Matara. Marie Barnett asks prayers for herself and her family. Todd Baumgardner (Wayne Flora’s postmaster) is on dialysis.
OUR DAILY BREAD: JULY 21-26
Monday: Exodus 14:10-31
Tuesday: Isaiah 2:1-14
Wednesday: Romans 14:1-9
Thursday: John 5:1-18
Friday: Genesis 4:1-18
Saturday: Psalm 146:1-10
OUR DAILY BREAD: JULY 28-8/2
Monday: Psalm 62:1-12
Tuesday: Luke 20:9-26
Wednesday Matthew 15:1-20
Thursday Micah 6:1-8
Friday: John 16:16-33
Saturday: Psalm 99, 100
Congratulations and best wishes to AC Branch and Jacob Fuller on their wedding. They were married on July 12, at the Hotel Roanoke.
After the honeymoon at Holden Beach, NC, they will be living here in Roanoke.
Along with moving the communion service, the steering committee wants to change the way the offering is taken. For the time being it will be taken as it always has, but when the logistics are worked out there will be several offering boxes placed in convenient locations in which your contribution may be placed. The goal is to make it possible for the collection to be placed in these boxes as you enter, so the one counting the money can do so during part of the song service. Any contributions dropped in as you leave can then be counted in much less time and turned in to be deposited. This is both an experiment and a test of faith. There will still be a prayer of thanksgiving for the offering at the end of the service. This can also serve as reminder if you have missed doing it coming in.
Today is Super Sunday. Stay and enjoy the fellowship meal in the annex.
STEERING COMMITTEE MEETING
Following the Super Sunday meal the steering committee will meet in the library.
Prayer concerns are usually on the back page, but this is worthy of the front page. As you may know, Judy McWhorter told us about her brother’s step daughter, who, at 39 years old, had a massive heart attack. This left her in what was considered a “brain dead” condition. After several days of not brain activity, the family was faced with a terrible decision about stopping artificial life support. But one day she licked her lips upon command. Judy says she is now walking the hospital halls regaining her strength. She is still serious and has much ahead of her, so keep her in your prayers.
THE BACK PEWS
The pews removed for wheelchair access will be modified and replaced as soon as we can get together and do it