Thursday, July 12, 2012

Misunderstood Bible Passages, Part 44 of 47

TEXT: "Submitting to one another in the fear of God. Wives, to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones.  For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 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" (Ephesians 5:21-33).

IDEA: Misapplying a biblical text can lead to dangerous consequences.

PURPOSE: To help listeners realize that how we handle Scripture can have bad results if we misapply it.

Domestic violence is often a reality in both Christian and non-Christian homes.

It violates the biblical teaching of the unity of husband and wife as joined into one as head and body (Ephesians 5:21-33).

Yet it surfaces in the homes of Christian leaders as well as in the homes of more marginal Christians.

I. Bible-believing Christians are, for the most part, clear about the first part of Paul's teachings on marriage in Ephesians 5:21-33:

They understand the command to wives in Ephesians 5:22—they are to submit themselves voluntarily to their husbands.

It is clear that the text does not command a husband to submit himself to his wife.

But nowhere in Scripture is a husband told to lead his wife. The words lead, leader, servant leader, spiritual leader do not appear in any biblical passage on marriage.

Much of the teaching on "headship" (a term that does not appear in Scripture) goes where Scripture does not go, and that teaching opens the door to abuse.

Social scientists Stacey and Shupe report that "we have yet to talk with a[n abused] woman who felt she received much aid from a clergyman . . . Almost without exception women report that their pastors focused of getting them – not their abusive husbands – to change."

This widespread denial of the problem further legitimates abuse.

II. Bible-believing Christians may be less clear about Paul's teachings about husbands in Ephesians 5:21-33.

The analogy Paul uses is of Christ and the husband. What is the consistent picture the apostle uses of Christ as head of the church?

Ephesians 5:1-2—"Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God."

Ephesians 5:25—"Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself up for her."

In the same way, husbands are to love their wives to the point of giving themselves up.

The analogy of husband to wife is the same as Christ to the church—a true oneness, a unity, not a leader with a helper.

In John 17:21 Jesus emphasized His oneness not only with the Father but also with all who follow Him, the church.

This unity is more than just as Savior and saved, or as authority and subordinates.

Ephesians 5:32 implies that just as husband and wife in marriage are one, so Christ and the church are one.

Sumner notes: "The picture of 'one flesh' communicates volumes of theology.  It indicates immediately the organic unity that bonds a husband and wife . . . It's not so disturbing to imagine a leader breaking up with his assistant. But it is utterly disconcerting to imagine a body being amputated physically from its head . . . A body belongs to its head and a head belongs to its body. That's why God hates divorce."

III. The home in which a husband and wife understand the biblical picture of their unity will be a home without abuse.

Social scientists have noted the relationship between domestic violence and the sex-role attitudes of spouses:

Finkelhor noted that an asymmetrical marital relationship with a differential power structure increases the odds that the more powerful person will take advantage of a less powerful one.

Murphy and Meyer noted that wife abuse was nearly three times more likely when the husband dominated decision-making than when the wife dominated, and roughly eight times more likely than in egalitarian marriages.

llo concluded that "regardless of context, violence against wives is lower among couples where there is a relative equality in decision-making.  In general, domination of decision-making by husbands is associated with the highest levels of violence against wives."

The picture of the Christian home in Ephesians 5:21-33 is of the unity of head and body—one flesh: the head lives to serve the body just as the body lives to serve the head. They are inseparable.

The way you care for yourself is the way you are to care for your spouse.

When two people understand the biblical picture and live it out day after day, there will be no violence in that home.