Women and Men ARE Equals in Jesus Christ

 

Part One

 

God does NOT forbid women from teaching MEN either!

 
 
By Craig Bluemel

 

 
1 Peter 3:7
  The same goes for you husbands: Be good husbands to your wives.  Honor them; delight in them.  As women, they lack some of your advantages.  But in the new life of God’s grace, you are equals.  Treat your wives, then, as equals so your prayers don’t run aground. 
The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson 2002

 

 
 

Let The Women Speak!

 

My observations and conclusions in this article-study-expose are the result of many years involvement in church and parachurch ministries.  My wife and I have participated in a wide-ranging variety of denominational and non-denominational Christian church services and church-related activities, which involve women and men alike.  I spent my first 20+ years doing street outreach evangelism in Seattle & Tacoma, Washington.  I was permanently disabled, following some serious on-the-job injuries, subsequent surgeries, and was diagnosed with a disease that is incurable and causes severe chronic pain daily.  This is when my wife helped me to launch and maintain The Bible Answer Stand Ministry website. 

 

Since we first online, we have received an abundance of email comments, questions, and complaints, that mostly come from Christian women, who maintain submissive female roles of subservience to dominating husbands and men in church leadership.  Because their valuable input concerning spiritual matters is largely trivialized in Christendom, many Christian women feel they are being treated by men as less significant than their male-husband counterpart.  I have to agree with them guys, we have fallen short of the example of Jesus, and anything less than him has room for LOTS of improvement!

 

This is not my opinion, as you will see in quotes taken from an email letter recently received, which I prefer to keep anonymous for the protection of this brave sister in Jesus.  Her remarks  are a mirror copy of dozens of emails written by concerned Christian women in various parts of the world that resonate her thinking and identify with her feelings.  It’s not rocket science to comprehend the basic guys, and if you want to know how a woman feels about herself or how she feels she is being treated by her male peers in the church, it doesn’t make any sense whatsoever to start by asking a man’s opinion.  Duh.  This ought to seem obvious.

 

Nevertheless, the vast majority of Christian men are clueless when it comes to understand the effects of their depreciation of women in the church.  Christian men have ignorantly laid claim to a sort of autocratic authority in the church and also in the marriage relationship. 

 

Please, pray in your heart with me:

 

“Father in heaven, we come to You seeking change thru the atonement provided by our Lord Jesus Christ.  We pray for these precious sisters of ours, who are Your children, and whose overbearing, angry husbands seek to control their every move!  Lord, please bring change to US, the men in the church, who need to set an example in OUR daily repentance and start treating our wives as our equals. 

 

Jesus, son of God, risen from the dead, and now seated at the Right Hand of Majesty, we ask YOUR help!  Lead us to the Father’s throne of grace, to heal our wives, and to mend their broken hearts, and quiet their fear of US.  You told your disciples, that if we are crucified with you, taking up our own cross daily, and dying to this mortal fleshly body of sin, then we shall also be risen together with you, and thru the power of Your Father, whose Spirit will also give life to our mortals bodies, so that we as husbands and men of integrity, can and will walk in newness of life.  Lord Jesus, we thankfully request the conviction of Your spirit, and ask YOU to bring change in all Christian men, especially husbands. 

 

Father God,, help us to break free of our ignorance and denial, and thru our humble acknowledgment of our manipulating, overbearing words and behavior, and thru our willingness to learn and be conformed to the image of Your dear Son, our Lord, Jesus the Christ, the son of the Living God, bring life, freedom, and most of all, Your love thru us to our battered and hurting wives.  Father, we ask You to work in us as men, fulfilling our desire to be godly husbands by sacrificially loving our wives, as Christ does his church, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.”

 

Recently, I received this email from a dear sister in Christ, whom I will call, ‘Frustrated,’ because she is upset with the way men treat their wives and how it is reinforced in many churches!  Though I have kept her name anonymous, what she writes reflects the feelings of scores of other emails and letters we have gotten from other Christian women, whose sentiments are exactly the same.  Since only the tiniest percentage of our readers worldwide, will actually take time to write, imagine the untold evidence of abuse in churches that is experienced by myriads of women readers that are too scared of spousal repercussions to write!  Do you think I’m exaggerating?  If so, strut your stuff dude, but be open to change, as you’re now accountable to God for what you know.

 

I have included the message as received in its entirety for effect; I found myself reading and rereading it several times, in order to comprehend the brevity and depth of what she so articulately expresses here.  I feel hers’ is a letter of warning to the men in the Christian church and body of Christ universal.

 

January 2006

 

Dear Craig~

 

Here is my problem.  I love God and want to serve Him in truth.  I am confident that Jesus’ blood cleansed me from sin and that I am a child of God.  I attend an Independent Bible believing Church.  They take a definite stance that women should not teach in the church, except teaching children.  They focus so much on women being submissive to their respective husbands and the men here teach on it a lot - to the church, to the youth group, etc. 

 

I know that I redeemed and that my value comes from my Lord; nonetheless, I find my church’s emphasis on this particular doctrine is detrimental to the spiritual and emotional well being of the women here.  As a consequence, they have no desire to take part in anything related to the church, for fear they will somehow fail and be displeasing to God. 

 

I feel this type of teaching de-values women and I know that it hurts families, as well as the church.  Brother Craig, we have men in this church, who are currently serving as elders, whose wives want to leave them because they are so demanding.  One woman even prays that  she will learn to be more submissive, when already, her husband will not allow anyone to touch his wife's hair (and he cuts it himself!).  This example illustrates how the domination of women has caused a warped sort of thinking and has not allowed oneness to occur in marriages.

 

My husband is a good man but he is lazy in reading his Bible and relies on others to teach him.  He is an elder.  I feel some animosity seething inside because the church leadership deems him worthy of an elder position, simply because he is a man, even if he does not lead his home in the spiritual manner that he should.  I feel in order to grow, as individual Christians, we should pray together and read the Word together.  I feel an elder should be well versed in the Scriptures. 

 

I am completely redeemed by God thru the blood of the Lamb, but affirming my redemption is now part of the daily, conscious choices I make to get me thru this stifling environment, which dictates a woman’s spiritual identity as being inferior to that of her male counterpart in Christ.  Brother, such things ought not be so and I ask that your wife and you join me in prayer against this demonic influence and stranglehold in our church.  I know the Holy Spirit is the one who moves upon people to change desires and I have asked God to move upon my husband that we might grow together.  I guess my problem is twofold – 

 

1.      Should only men teach and preach?  (I know all of the Scriptures.) 

2.      At the time they were written it was unheard of a woman teaching, but is it really from God?  Do you see where I am coming from? 

 

I don't want to hurt the real teachings of God, but I feel this hurts the church.  Men who stress this issue to the point of being demanding, especially demanding of their wives, are hurting families, which in turn ends up hurting the church.  I am praying for the women to recognize their value and not to allow their husbands to become so selfish.  The end result is that we all, as women and men of God, end up so far from being in the position of helping one another to become more like Christ.

 

Please pray that God would use me to help the church understand how the women are hurting.  They talk to me because I give them an ear.  Their husbands don't have a clue as to what they are doing to their wives.  I went to a Christian discussion group once, and they dealt with this subject, just as your wife and you do on your site, revealing to men that are willing to change, how they haven’t got a clue about their own emotions and therefore, they are unable to recognize how their words, actions, and the environment they engender at home and in church is negatively affecting their wives. 

 

Is there an answer to this problem in the churches?

 

Thanks for any help you can provide!

 

Sincerely yours in Christ,

 

Frustrated (with the way men treat their wives,

and how it is reinforced in many churches!)   

 

First, I’d like to thank Frustrated for writing, and all of you readers, who are intercessors out there, Anita, Dana Gwen, Dora, Heather, Marsha, Tracy, Lelen, Nicole, Marilyn, Teresa, Tina, and so many others, please join in prayer with our sister in Christ, and let’s have the men join them!  Your prayers DO make the difference; otherwise, I would not be alive to tell this story!  In her email, Frustrated makes several points critical for Christian men to acknowledge and begin changing, first in their own marriages, and then in the churches.  Let’s review a summary of key issues expressed by her.  First, I’ll state her ‘PROBLEM,’ and then its detrimental byproduct, and insert scriptures for quick reference for any women or men that need them:

 

PROBLEM: Men in church leadership emphasize a definite stance against women teaching anyone except children; detrimental to the women and families because it:

 

1. Generates fear in the women, especially a fear of ‘displeasing God,’ and women who fear ‘displeasing God’ have no desire to participate.

 

1 John 4:18  Love contains no fear––indeed fully–developed love expels every particle of fear, for fear always contains some of the torture of feeling guilty. The man who lives in fear has not yet had his love perfected.  Phillip’s New Testament

 

2. A gender based caste system de-values women and makes them feel worthless; it causes men to view women as inferior and this prevents oneness in marriages.

 

Ephesians 5:25a-26 Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church…  Christ’s love makes the church whole.  His words evoke her beauty.  Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her.  Message

 

3. In a gender based caste system, unqualified men are appointed as elders which in turn promotes ignorance amongst men in the church, who in turn are clueless to wives feelings.  Unqualified elders don’t lead at home in the spiritual manner, become apathetic, prideful, and provide bad role model for Christian men & families. This engenders resentment and disrespect for men amongst all wives.

 

1 Timothy 3:1-5 If anyone wants to provide leadership in the church, good!  2 But there are preconditions: A leader must be well-thought-of, committed to his wife, cool and collected, accessible, and hospitable.  He must know what he’s talking about,3  not be over fond of wine, not pushy but gentle, not thin-skinned, not money-hungry.  4  He must handle his own affairs well, attentive to his own children and having their respect.  5  For if someone is unable to handle his own affairs, how can he take care of God’s church?  Message

 

5. The gender based caste system reinforces the husband’s demanding behavior at home and fuels his abuse of his wife.  This causes wives to want to leave husbands because they are so harsh.

 

Colossians 3:19 Husbands, love your wives, be affectionate and sympathetic with them and do not be harsh or bitter or resentful toward them.  Amplified Bible

 

Titus 1:5-8 Appoint leaders in every town according to my instructions.  6 As you select them, ask, “Is this man well-thought-of?  Are his children believers?  Do they respect him and stay out of trouble?”  7 It’s important that a church leader, responsible for the affairs in God’s house, be looked up to—not pushy, not short-tempered, not a drunk, not a bully, not money-hungry.  8 He must welcome people, be helpful, wise, fair, reverent, have a good grip on himself.  Message

 

5. Caste system generates feelings of hostility toward all church leadership and sends wrong signal to children who ‘act out’ in adult life.

 

Colossians 3:21 Father’s don’t over–correct your children, or you will take all the heart out of them.  Phillip’s New Testament

 

As any sensitive man of God will attest, this litany of destructive effects above is in abject violation of every tenet of scripture regarding the role of a husband!  Frustrated asked some questions, which I want to answer for her at this time.

 

1.      Should only men teach and preach?  The answer to question one is “no.”  Men are not the only ones to teach (SEE BELOW). 

 

2.      At the time they were written it was unheard of a woman teaching, but is it really from God?  It certainly was not unheard of for women to teach in the early church.  The scripture testifies of women who not only taught other women, but who also taught men and led house churches in their homes.  Priscilla and Aquila both taught Apollos, and Apollos was one of the first apostles appointed by God other than the twelve (minus Judas Iscariot, & plus Matthias).  In Acts 18:26, we have a clear precedent for the involvement of women, who are doing the Lord’s work alongside men, teaching other Christian men by expounding from the scriptures.  Priscilla and Aquila were wife and husband, who had taken Paul into their home in Corinth, when he first arrived there to preach the gospel in the synagogues each Sabbath. 

 

Acts 18:24-26 Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures.  25 This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; 26 and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue.  But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately.  NASU 

 

The order in which their names are mentioned in Acts 18:26, with Priscilla’s name being listed in front of Aquila’s name is not haphazardly arranged, but done with intent and deliberation by Luke, the author of the Acts of the apostles.  The reason for this name placement corresponds to Priscilla’s notable recognition by the Christian community of converted Jews, who acknowledged she was learned and had great depth of understanding in the scriptures. 

 

Lest there be any question as to the veracity of this interpretation, Paul stayed in Corinth for 1 ½ more years teaching the word of God, and then Priscilla and Aquila accompanied him on his apostolic journey to assist in teaching the scriptures.  In Acts 18:26, consider the Jewish man Apollos, to whom Priscilla and Aquila, “explained to him the way of God more accurately.”  Apollos, who later accompanied the apostle Paul in his gospel journeys, was renown for his knowledge of the Old Testament scriptures.  Yet, in spite of his status in the religious community, he concedes to the teaching of Priscilla and her husband.

 

Acts 18:7-18 provides a glimpse of how believers gathered each week together obviously patterned their meetings after that same protocol of the former synagogue meetings, which typically involved reading a structured portion of the Scripture from of the Old Testament Pentateuch (i.e. – the first five books of the Hebrew Old Testament), a portion of Scripture from the Prophet’s (e.g. – such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc), reading the Targum (depending on which synagogue; this was not likely in Corinth), followed by various other rhetoric, such as one or more teachers, synagogue elders, or other respected men who would give short explanations of what was read earlier, in what might be compared to a homily today

 

No one knows with absolute certainty how the early churches structured each meeting, except for the record we have throughout the Book of the Acts.  There was a huge learning curve for change in the first church too, as the Jewish and Gentile barriers were slowly torn down, both men and women alike believed in Jesus Christ, and experienced a spiritual rebirth. 

 

Thru the gospel of Jesus the Christ, devout Jewish worshippers experienced the spiritual liberty and freedom of the spirit for the first time and the long-standing, lifeless ‘modus operandi’ of Jewish synagogue eventually gave way to this spiritual rebirth.  much needed changes in public worship amongst those in the Jewish community also occurred, including men giving women the right to speak and voice their mind and heart in matters pertaining to the scriptures.

 

Apart from Christ’s Lordship of Each Individual,

No Legitimate Authority Exists

 

L    1 Corinthians 11:11-12 But in relationships among the Lord's people, women are not independent of men, and men are not independent of women.  For although the first woman came from man, all men have been born from women ever since, and everything comes from God.  New Living Translation

 

God engineered the woman to have a special need for the man’s strength and comfort, but men have unique requirement for what women offer, as most women offer men the balance, which they need to succeed.  God designed man and woman to compliment each other as two opposites.  This mutually beneficial relationship works properly only when they walk in harmony with their Creator.  Don’t forget men, it was Adam that took the rap for being the first one to sin, not his wife Eve.  Yes, the woman was thoroughly deceived, but have you ever wondered why? 

 

I contend that God blamed and held Adam responsible because he stood by and idly watched his wife be tempted and deceived, and he did nothing to stop her or dissuade her from partaking of the forbidden fruit.  Want proof?  Read the last portion of Genesis 3:6, which says, “She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate.”  The Hebrew `im translated as ‘with’ is used to indicate something done together or in common with or equally with.

 

One verse of scripture that is commonly misused by churches to rationalize the implementation of a gender based caste system is found in the 1 Corinthians 11:3 below.

 

L    1 Corinthians 11:3 But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

 

Much of our misconception concerning biblical authority in the church and our oversight of parallel verses of scripture, stems from deeply rooted doctrinal views, personal male bias toward women, the influences of our culture and society, and a pandemic misuse of parental and spousal authority evident in America’s dysfunctional family history.  This tangled web is not unique to the ranks of the Christian church either, as one only need look at the flagrant mistreatment and devaluing of women that occurs throughout Asia, Africa, and across the longitude and latitude of the globe. 

 

India, for example, uses a gender based caste system in its pervasively Hindu and Islamic population; here women are treated as little more than a bag of dung.  Women and young girls are sold, bought, traded for goods, raped for payment to secure indenture or publicly gang raped to compensate for criminal punishment committed by a male family member, who was convicted and sentenced by a community tribunal.  Such disgusting treatment of women turns my stomach and brings my blood to the boiling point.

 

Aware of the possibility his words might be misconstrued in 1 Corinthians 11:3, the apostle Paul notes the equality (in the Lord) of the spiritual relationships, which are supposed to exist between Christian women and men alike. 

 

1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. New King James Version

 

1 Corinthians 11:11 Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. New King James Version

 

The words translated in the New King James Version as, in the Lord,” (1 Cor 11:11), is literally, en Kuríoo.  The composition of the original Greek is known as anarthrous construction because it omits the definite article, which in English is our word, “the.”  This means the text does not properly read, “in the Lord,” but rather, it is simply, “in Lord.”  Without the definite article present, in English idiom, the words found at the end of 1 Corinthians 11:11, “in Lord,” make no sense.  Accordingly, I have provided some Greek word definitions for both words below:

 

L    in” = en is a preposition that means, “remaining in place.”[1] 

 

L    Lord” = Kuríoo is a noun, used here (11:11) in the genitive case, it means, “he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has the power of deciding.”[2]

 

For those readers unfamiliar with Greek grammar, the anarthrous construction always refers to a word or group of words, which appear without a definite article ( or ).  Greek has no indefinite article, “a” or “an” as in English.  Sometimes it is best to translate an anarthrous word by supplying “a” or “an” before it.  In fact, due to reasons of English style or Greek idiom, the word “the” is even an appropriate translation in some cases.  However, there are many times when supplying an article would be incorrect.  Anarthrous constructions are most often intended to point out the quality of something.[3] 

 

Text Box: When describing the limits of authority in the church, as it pertains to the roles between women and men, sexual gender should be taken out of the equationA noun in Greek or English is the name of a person, place, or thing.  In Greek, nouns (such as Kuríoo) have cases and declensions, which indicate their function in a sentence.  A noun that occurs in the genitive case primarily indicates possession, source, or separation.[4]  When describing the limits of authority in the church, as it pertains to the roles between women and men, sexual gender should be taken out of the equation. 

 

To properly honor the superior authority that exists between the individual believer and his or her relationship with God thru Christ, foremost consideration should always allow for his or her subjection to the will of the Master, as he or she understands it.  This is the goal; sadly, it is not presently the reality in the Christian church.  Properly established human authority in the church must never be used as the right to usurp an individual’s personal submission to Christ.

 

Romans 14:12 It is to God alone that we shall have to answer for our actions.  Phillip’s New Testament

 

In the text of I Corinthians 11:11, the Greek preposition ‘en’ implies definite limits (i.e. – boundaries) for the relationship between women and men in the church.  In this text, these boundaries for relationships (female to male & male to female) are not obligatory to the individual, if practiced apart from Christ’s full ownership of each person.  Put another way, every individual must do what he or she perceives as the will of God in Christ.  Phillip’s New Testament does a nice job of translating 1 Corinthians 11:11, “Of course, in the sight of the Lord neither ‘man’ nor ‘woman’ has any separate existence.”  Literally, however, the verse should read as follows:

 

L    1 Corinthians 11:11 Over and above this, no separate relationship exists between a man or woman, apart from {his or her} relationship in the Lord, to whom that person belongs, and to whom {he or she} has given the power of {his or her} decisions.  The Appropriate Translation

 

Every church engenders participation by women, even if all they do is sit there and listen, which all too often is the case.  A church can even have body ministry that includes many women, but this doesn’t eliminate the problem at home, where pseudo-concepts of a wife’s submission to her husband’s ill-gotten authority still exist.  Wherever the chain of command fails to acknowledge Jesus as independent Lord, Owner, and Master of each individual, it deviates from the tenets of scripture.

 

Husbands

Cleanse Your Wife from ALL Blame

Ephesians 5:25-33

 

The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing.  Hello?  Did you gloss over that point?  A Christian husband is supposed to go all out in his love for his wife, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting.

 

Ephesians 5:25 The husband must give his wife the same sort of love that Christ gave to the Church, when he sacrificed himself for her.  Phillip’s New Testament

 

I find it paradoxical that our Lord was a single man, and so was the apostle Paul, whose letter to the Ephesian church (Ephesians 5:25-33) instructs and commands husbands to love their wives sacrificially, as Christ loves his church.  There were many women disciples that followed Jesus wherever he went too, and yet he was never married (unlike Dan Brown alleges in his book the DaVinci Code, which is chock full of fantastic lies and deception concerning the life of Jesus).  Jesus gave up the right to have a wife and children, and raise up a family in Nazareth somewhere; he made this huge sacrifice, in order to carry out the will of God.  It can be speculated that marriage, from the beginning of the Father’s plan of redemption was brought about, that His son Jesus would never have an earthly wife, simply because of the distractions it would bring to bear; below is a scripture passage that seems to validate this theory:

 

1 Corinthians 7:32-34 The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord — how he may please the Lord; 33 But the married man is anxious about worldly matters — how he may please his wife —  34 And he is drawn in diverging directions his interests are divided and he is distracted from his devotion to God.  Amplified Bible

 

I think that when Paul exhorts the church in Ephesians 5:25, commanding husbands to love wives with the same love Christ showed the church, the sacrifice involved best translates to holding her blameless at all times.  Let’s read on to verses 26-27 below:

 

Ephesians 5:26-27 Christ gave himself to make her holy, having cleansed her through the baptism of his Word; 27 to make her an altogether glorious Church in his eyes.  She is to be free from spots, wrinkles, or any other disfigurement–a Church holy and perfect.  Phillip’s New Testament

 

Jesus “gave himself” willingly, suffering unimaginable physical pain, and even worse, the spiritual and emotional, and the psychological torment he endured was for more than just to forgive us of our sins, as magnificent and indescribable as this act of sacrifice is!  Jesus went one step further, by how he LIVED his 33 ½ years, and notably, the years we have documented in scripture, as an example to follow.

 

Here’s what I mean: We all know the story of the gospel, Jesus’ Messianic ministry as the Christ, his betrayal, his arrest, mock trial, his beating, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension into glory, where now he sits at the Father’s right hand of authority.  But if Jesus came only to forgive our sins thru his selfless act of obedience at Calvary, why did God include the four gospel accounts, detailing Jesus’ life and teaching?  Why not simply record the crucifixion and resurrection, if he only came for basic forgiveness of sin?  In John 8:31-32, the Lord lays forth the parameters for being set free by the truth of his words and life:

 

John 8:31-32  So Jesus said to the Jews who believed in him, “If you are faithful to what I have said, you are truly my disciples.  32 And you will know the truth and the truth will set you free!”  Phillip’s New Testament

 

In her email, Frustrated wrote, “I know the Holy Spirit is the one who moves upon people to change desires and I have asked God to move upon my husband that we might grow together.”

She has learned the secret of allowing God, thru Christ and his body of believers, to move upon her husband, and bring about change.  Prayer will make the difference, but we also must recognize that if her husband or any other husband (or wife) is dead-set against following the truth, the prayers will have no effect on him or her.  The apostle Paul adds yet one more dimension to change, following the pattern of Jesus’ teaching:

 

Colossians 1:21-23 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22  in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight––23  if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard.  Weymouth New Testament Translation

 

God the Father insured that each gospel account include various aspects of Jesus’ life and his teaching, because both are necessary for us to follow the same path, fulfilling our purpose and God’s plan for our individual life.  Calvinism’s precepts of the total depravity of all mankind, the unconditional election of those whom He predestines for salvation, limited atonement to the elect, irresistible grace, which eliminates free will and human choice, makes a mockery of the fifth tenet of Calvinism, which is the perseverance of the saints.  Why persevere, if God is the only One that can change us?  This runs contrary to the clear teachings of our Lord, and the reason for his life and teaching being included in the pages of inspired scripture.

 

I felt led of God to insert this brief expose on Calvinism, and I’m uncertain as to exactly why, but the main point is that Christ has reconciled us as a church, and husbands in particular, for one main purpose: to present each one to God as being holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight.  This is almost identical language in the commandment given to husbands, telling them HOW they are supposed to love their wives, as Christ loved the church, by CLEANSING their wives from all shame, all disfigurement, all poor self-worth, all feelings of inferiority, free from any spot and completely GUILT FREE!

 

This purpose for the church in general, is then targeted SPECIFICALLY to husbands in Ephesians 5:26-27.  Just as Christ cleansed us as husbands, we are commanded to do the same type of cleansing in our sacrificial love for our wives.  This means NO MORE BLAMING her!

 

 Ephesians 5:26-27 Christ gave himself to make her holy, having cleansed her through the baptism of his Word; 27 to make her an altogether glorious Church in his eyes.  She is to be free from spots, wrinkles, or any other disfigurement–a Church holy and perfect.  28  So men ought to give their wives the love they naturally have for their own bodies. The love a man gives his wife is the extending of his love for himself to enfold her.  29  Nobody ever hated his own body; he feeds it and looks after it. And that is what Christ does for his Body, the Church.

30  And we are all members of that Body.  31  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the twain shall become one flesh.  32  The marriage relationship is a great mystery, but I see it as a symbol of the marriage of Christ and his Church.

33  In practice what I have said amounts to this: let every one of you who is a husband love his wife as he loves himself, and let every wife respect her husband.  Phillip’s New Testament

 

Christ’s love makes the church whole and his words evoke her beauty. Women in general, and wives specifically, are deeply affected by our words.  Jesus cleanses his church with the baptism (immersion, influence, inundation) of his word.  But we must CONTINUE in his word by cleansing our wives from all shame, and guilt, and any fears that we have been responsible for causing her.  Everything we do is supposed to be designed to bring the best out of her,

 

Colossians 3:19 Married men, be affectionate to your wives, and do not treat them harshly.  Weymouth New Testament Translation 

 

 

Men, We Cannot Change What We refuse to Acknowledge

 

I am amazed at the resiliency and steadfast commitment of the Christian women I have been honored to encounter, who have shared their pain and hurts with my wife and me.  Each of these dear sisters courageously exposes their hurt feelings, and yet exceptionally few of them carry a tone of resentment and/or bitterness.  Most of them are wives of alleged Christian men, and though these wives of abusive husbands are emotionally battered and bruised, they still remain quietly submissive, honoring their husbands, and in many cases, they do so in spite of years of abuse and neglect.  Since I include myself as part of the problem, properly viewed, my broad-brush insinuations should be seen as ‘confessing our faults, one to another, that we (men & women alike) can and will be healed. 

 

James 5:16  You should get into the habit of admitting your sins to each other, and praying for each other, so that you may be healed. Tremendous power is made available through a good man’s earnest prayer.

 

We cannot change what we refuse to acknowledge brothers and sisters; acknowledgment is phase one in the repentance process, taking one step forward out of the darkness by moving toward the light of God, which is always shining in the example provided by Jesus Christ.  If we don’t start heeding God’s warnings about our treatment of others, according to the scriptures, we men can be assured that God will plug His ears when we pray and petition His help. 

 

1 Peter 3:7 In the same way you married men should live considerately with your wives, with an intelligent recognition of the marriage relation, honoring the woman as physically the weaker, but realizing that you are joint heirs of the grace of life, in order that your prayers may not be hindered and cut off.  Otherwise you cannot pray effectively.  Amplified Bible

 

This article-study-expose was first inspired by what I observed in my own marriage, how poorly I was treating my wife by the careless use of my tongue and body language.  I used to be one of the Christian men who behaved toward my dear wife as an over-bearing husband.  I wanted change, and I sought it, and change came, but the process has been extremely painful.  I have been humbled by the Hand of the Almighty thru nearly 12 ½ years of excruciating physical pain, and it was in this manner and thru this means that God was able to get hold of my attention, and begin the healing process for my wife’s heart.

 

Wives, Suffer for Christ, but don’t be a doormat

 

No one should feel pressured or obligated to follow and/or be subject to a set of church guidelines or manmade standards that violate his or her conscience.  Sisters in Christ listen up: You DO NOT have to make yourself a doormat if you feel the spirit of Christ within you is being insulted for a cause that is contrary to the promotion of the gospel, and is not done in love.

 

1 Peter 2:20-25  If you do wrong and receive a blow for it, what credit is there in your bearing it patiently? But if when you do right and suffer for it you bear it patiently, this is an acceptable thing with God.  21 And it is to this you were called; because Christ also suffered on your behalf, leaving you an example so that you should follow in His steps.  22  He never sinned, and no deceitful language was ever heard from His mouth.  23  When He was reviled, He did not answer with reviling; when He suffered He uttered no threats, but left His wrongs in the hands of the righteous Judge.  24  The burden of our sins He Himself carried in His own body to the Cross and bore it there, so that we, having died so far as our sins are concerned, may live righteous lives. By His wounds yours have been healed.  25  For you were straying like lost sheep, but now you have come back to the Shepherd and Protector of your souls.

 

Yes, suffering abuse for the sake of the gospel of Christ is part of what we accept as believers in Jesus.  Yes, your husband is imperfect, and his struggles in the flesh are not grounds for disobeying the scriptures, which admonish wives to use their God-given provisions of a meek and gentle spirit to bring disobedient husbands to repentance:

 

1 Peter 3:1-5 Married women, in the same way, be submissive to your husbands, so that even if some of them disbelieve the Message, they may, apart from the Message, be won over by the daily life of their wives, after watching your daily life2  so full of reverence, and so blameless! 3 Your adornment ought not to be a merely outward thing—one of plaiting the hair, putting on jewelry, or wearing beautiful dresses.  4 Instead of that, it should be a new nature within—the imperishable ornament of a gentle and peaceful spirit, which is indeed precious in the sight of God.  5 For in ancient times also this was the way the holy women who set their hopes upon God used to adorn themselves, being submissive to their husbands.  6 Thus, for instance, Sarah obeyed Abraham, acknowledging his authority over her. And you have become Sarah’s children if you do what is right AND PERMIT NOTHING WHATEVER TO TERRIFY YOU.  Weymouth New Testament Translation

 

 My wife is the one God used to enact change in me, and I am still changing.  I have not “arrived” as the perfect husband, but because she was so quick each time to forgive me when I had hurt her sensitive feelings with my harsh words and bulling ways, eventually I learned to forgive myself, and in turn, I found that I was hearing from God’s word more, and the spirit of Jesus was ever-present to convict, and bring me more and more quickly to repentance.  I hold myself accountable to God, and the fear of the Lord has been established in me, which is strong encouragement to maintain with vigilance my marriage relationship.  Don’t lose hope brothers and sisters, we are all sinners in the process of change, and with each others prayers and support, we can become holy and blameless in love.  I leave you with one final word from Jesus on forgiveness:

 

Matthew 6:4  In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others.”  The Message Bible by Eugene Peterson 2002

 

SELAH

 

 

Continued in Part 2

 


Links to the Entire "Women and Men ARE Equals in Jesus Christ” Series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

 


 

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[1] ibid

[2] Thayer's Greek Lexicon, Electronic Database. Copyright © 2000, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.

[3] The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament © 1992 by AMG International, Inc. Revised Edition, 1993

[4] The Complete Word Study Bible Copyright © 1991, 1994, 2002 AMG International, Inc.