Love and Marriage (without the Horse and Carriage)

hands

He did it with just a touch of his big toe.

My husband and I were having coffee with friends, sharing our spiritual highs and lows of the previous week when he saw the warning signs. It was subtle: a rise of my shoulders, an intake of air, leaning forward, my mouth beginning to open, and he knew. He knew what I was thinking and what I was about to say. He knew that I was prepping myself to be argumentative and to say something unnecessarily controversial.

So he nudged me under the table. Just once.

In full disclosure, we’re not the stereotypical conservative couple—we simply don’t fit the personality paradigm. He’s type B; I’m type A. He’s quiet; I’m outspoken. He actually enjoys cleaning and after ten years, I think I finally believe him. (He says he likes bringing order to chaos, which on further reflection shines significant light on why he fell for me in the first place.) But there in that moment when he expressed his disapproval with the slightest nudge of his big toe, I immediately stopped.

Most conservatives would hail this as a great victory, that this is exactly how marriages should function. Husband directs, wife obeys. But I have to admit, my response to him in that moment had little to do with an immediate understanding of headship and hierarchy. It wasn’t mapped out by a complementarian flow-chart. It wasn’t because of a role.

It was because I love him.

Over the last couple of decades, there’s been a strong push to recover a Biblical understanding of roles in marriage. But somewhere on that path, we’ve started taking short-cuts. Short-cuts around the gospel and right into legalism. And these short cuts have led us to think that obedience to the roles, that our ability to have perfect families and properly ordered homes, will show Christ to the world. So we end up talking more about paradigms and less about people, more about rules and less about Spirit.

Maybe it’s time we remembered what it’s all about in the first place. The truth is that we were never made for roles; we were made for relationships. And just as Christ had to remind the first-century Jews that man was not made for the Sabbath but the Sabbath for man, we have to remember that marriage was not made for roles but roles for the benefit of the marriage. That the relationship, the one flesh unity, the loving communion is what is of greatest significance. That this, the love we have for one another, is what will show the world that we are His disciples.

And if you think about it, the differences in marriage are one of the greatest opportunities to do just that. Because here you have two sinful human beings—so diverse that even their molecular composition is different—who must learn to live in loving, daily communion. Not temporarily, but for a lifetime. And we learn that as we fail each other, as we selfishly demand our own way, and as we run to Christ for mercy. For only there do we experience true love and only there will we learn to extend that same love to each other. We will never learn it by simply conforming to roles.

So in that moment, when my husband nudged me, my deferring to him had less to do with performing my role as his wife than it did with loving him already. And quite frankly, why would I have done anything else? Why would I have chosen to barge ahead knowing that the man I loved didn’t want me to? Why would I have insisted on my own way when I knew it would make him uncomfortable? What wisdom, what convoluted sense of liberation would have led me to do something that he thought was unwise?

And so I didn’t.

As quickly as he had understood what I as about to do, I understood his objection. We looked each other in the eye and smiled that knowing smile that comes only from living and loving together. I settled back into my chair and comfortably nestled my head against his shoulder as if to tell him, “Yes, dear, of course I won’t.”

[node:bio/handerson body]

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Dan Salter's picture

And if the temperaments were reversed and his shoulders slightly rose, his breath on the intake, and his posture leaning forward, would your toe nudge to him, giving him understanding of your objection, be confused as role-playing or simply the attitude of loving relationship? Would his silent understanding of your objection and deferring to that be labeled sin in role-reversal or merely wisdom of mutual trust? Praise God for mutual submission in loving relationship! Not only should we not major on the hierarchical role-playing, we shouldn't even bring it into the conversation where it should not exist at all.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Loved this post when I saw it your blog, Hannah.

Dan... I think you're right that this kind of thing can go in both directions in a healthy relationship. It can't work, though, if a wife has created a dynamic of nagging (which is ultimately disrespect) or if the husband has created a dynamic of oppression (which is also, ultimately, disrespect.)

Personally, I don't think it's properly termed "mutual submission," but that's a quibble.

handerson's picture

That's precisely what's at stake--the healthy relationship. And it's precisely what we are sacrificing if we rely on "roles." FWIW, both to warn and to heed a warning are acts of love. And if done in the right way, I most certainly would feel free to nudge my husband if he were stepping onto dangerous ground. Free and obligated to.

Jay's picture

handerson wrote:
That's precisely what's at stake--the healthy relationship. And it's precisely what we are sacrificing if we rely on "roles." FWIW, both to warn and to heed a warning are acts of love. And if done in the right way, I most certainly would feel free to nudge my husband if he were stepping onto dangerous ground. Free and obligated to.

Yes, and you should encourage/admonish your husband. Just because we (men) lead, doesn't mean that we're immune to correction (although it would be nice if that were the case!). Dr. Ollila joked, when I was a student at NBBC, that wifely submission is 'learning to get out of the way so God can hit your husband', and there's a lot of truth in that joke.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Brenda T's picture

Recently there was a conference on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Thomas White spoke on "The Biblical Foundation for Gender Roles." When explaining that Adam and Eve did not share equally in the responsibility for the fall and thus were not equal in their roles (meaning Adam was her head before the fall) White said,

Quote:
God told Adam it was because of him that the ground was cursed . . . Why did God not include Eve in that curse if they shared equally in the sin? Instead, Eve is cursed on her God-given role before the fall. She's cursed on her roles as a mother and as a helper. . . .

I must say that this is the first time I've heard anyone say that Eve's role as a woman was cursed before the fall. White's statement is around the 31 minute mark.

http://www.swbts.edu/mediaresources/audioplayer.cfm?audioToPlay=conferen...

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Brenda T wrote:
Recently there was a conference on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Thomas White spoke on "The Biblical Foundation for Gender Roles." When explaining that Adam and Eve did not share equally in the responsibility for the fall and thus were not equal in their roles (meaning Adam was her head before the fall) White said,

Quote:
God told Adam it was because of him that the ground was cursed . . . Why did God not include Eve in that curse if they shared equally in the sin? Instead, Eve is cursed on her God-given role before the fall. She's cursed on her roles as a mother and as a helper. . . .

I must say that this is the first time I've heard anyone say that Eve's role as a woman was cursed before the fall. White's statement is around the 31 minute mark.

http://www.swbts.edu/mediaresources/audioplayer.cfm?audioToPlay=conferen...
That is a rather surprising misstep. I have found that people who do not understand administrative subordination usually think of authority and subordination in a personal manner instead of an administrative one. Hence, they have a negative view of its construct as if such a construct is inherently indicative of something wrong. And this may be the erring basis of this claim by White.

Christ clearly subordinated himself to the plan of the Father, it was not personal but administrative (for those not understanding the use of the word "personal" here and believe it means something it does not because the word itself is often misused thereby has developed a certain kind of common misunderstanding, the word's use here means that Christ's person was not submitting to the person of the Father because his person (Christ's) was less than that of the Father's as is the case of our's with the Godhead).

There is an administrative subordination in the Trinity in which even God the Holy Spirit submits to the will of both God the Father and God the Son, yet all retain their Divinity without compromise. So if this is the motivation of White's claim, that to be subordinate as Eve was to Adam, indicates some kind of curse, I believe he faces the problem of the Triune construct and its administrative execution.

Dan Salter's picture

The Son submits to the Father specifically related to the mission of redemption. That is an administrative role and not personal. But if you remove the mission and declare without qualification that one person of the Trinity is eternally subordinate to another person of the Trinity, you have tied role inextricably to person rather than mission and have thus made it personal, which of course is changing the concept of Trinity into tritheism. Authority and subordination always involve the will. If the eternal will of the Son could possibly be different from the eternal will of the Father so that the Son must constantly submit his eternally separate and different will to the Father's, we may be left wondering what it is that makes the Godhead one. Defining the oneness of the Godhead merely as similar characteristics albeit separate and different wills again causes a drift into tritheism. But now we have also veered off from Hannah's article, so I'm going to back off here.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

I agree that the idea of 'roles', as we tend to think of them, create boundaries that are not necessary or Scriptural. Wives in Scripture are to be submissive, but not to the negation of answering for themselves. Sapphira didn't get to say "I was just submitting to Ananias" before she hit the carpet. Aquilla and Priscilla are depicted as a team.

This reminds me- a pastors I know say they only talk to/counsel with husbands, not to wives. If there is any kind of problem or concern, they will not speak to the husband with the wife present, and they use Numbers 30 and 1 Cor. 14:35 as their proof text.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

Dan Salter wrote:
The Son submits to the Father specifically related to the mission of redemption. That is an administrative role and not personal. But if you remove the mission and declare without qualification that one person of the Trinity is eternally subordinate to another person of the Trinity, you have tied role inextricably to person rather than mission and have thus made it personal, which of course is changing the concept of Trinity into tritheism. Authority and subordination always involve the will. If the eternal will of the Son could possibly be different from the eternal will of the Father so that the Son must constantly submit his eternally separate and different will to the Father's, we may be left wondering what it is that makes the Godhead one. Defining the oneness of the Godhead merely as similar characteristics albeit separate and different wills again causes a drift into tritheism. But now we have also veered off from Hannah's article, so I'm going to back off here.

Good qualifier here. Thanks

handerson's picture

we got to the Trinitarian argument faster than I thought we would. Smile Lots to say there, but as Dan remarked that's a discussion for a different time and place. (Although, the implications are far reaching and can dramatically inform how intrinsically significant you feel roles are... and what place they play in a marriage.)

My specific concern has more to do with the fact that we have reached a point in the discussion that we have forgotten that roles are not the point. Even titling a lecture "The Biblical Foundation for Gender Roles" in my mind elevates them to a place that is not Biblically accurate. It's not a question of whether the Scripture teaches headship, but of the emphasis that we place on it and whether we view it as an end in itself. IMO, we're quickly reaching a place where hierarchical roles are becoming THE ONLY way conservatives understand relationships between men and women.

Caleb S's picture

Brenda T wrote:
Recently there was a conference on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Dr. Thomas White spoke on "The Biblical Foundation for Gender Roles." When explaining that Adam and Eve did not share equally in the responsibility for the fall and thus were not equal in their roles (meaning Adam was her head before the fall) White said,

Quote:
God told Adam it was because of him that the ground was cursed . . . Why did God not include Eve in that curse if they shared equally in the sin? Instead, Eve is cursed on her God-given role before the fall. She's cursed on her roles as a mother and as a helper. . . .

I must say that this is the first time I've heard anyone say that Eve's role as a woman was cursed before the fall. White's statement is around the 31 minute mark.

http://www.swbts.edu/mediaresources/audioplayer.cfm?audioToPlay=conferen...
Perhaps another reading is possible. He could be saying that before Adam was cursed; Eve was cursed; and each was cursed in accord with their roles. It is his wording "before the fall" that is the problem; I'm just trying to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. The way I'm taking the words "before the fall" is not necessarily before the fall of Adam and Eve together, but I'm taking the words as before the judgment was leveled on her husband, God has already leveled her with her own judgment.

I may be wrong. I'm just trying to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. And I have not listened to the link provided, and that would perhaps clarify. Certainly, his wording could have been better if one takes the "benefit of the doubt" view of his words. I'm just suggesting an alternative way of reading the words that is no longer a theological blunder.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

handerson wrote:
we're quickly reaching a place where hierarchical roles are becoming THE ONLY way conservatives understand relationships between men and women.

How is this exclusion demonstrated among conservatives?

L Strickler's picture

Not sure these are applicable, but..

I have heard a well loved, learned pastor say that the Proverbs 31 women asked her husband for permission before she bought the field.

Men aren't too comfortable talking with women about ideas in groups settings even though all may hear the conversation and there is no questionable intent. Women are expected to gather together in another spot and talk nonsense. And if the women begin to gossip and cause trouble, well, "isn't that what all women do?" is the mindset of the men in some churches.

I have seen pastors sitting near women at a church dinner whisper their conversation about current trends in fundamentalism as if women, especially those of the laity, aren't capable of understanding or giving sound Biblical input.

Not to put the blame on men, mind you. Many women are happy acting mindlessly and letting responsibility for everything that happens fall on their husbands. They don't understand their loving relationship to their husbands or what it means to "do him good and not evil".

L Strickler

Brenda T's picture

In the context of the quote I gave above, Dr. White was claiming that Eve's eyes were not opened to her sin until Adam sinned -- that Adam's sin opened the eyes of them both at the same time. He also emphasized that God called out for Adam, not Eve, when they were hiding in the garden. And, after Adam responded, God told Adam what his judgment was - his curse. White made it sound like God never spoke his judgment or curse upon Eve after their sin, because her role had already been cursed before the fall.

You should listen to the recording; maybe I heard it wrong. I listened to it a couple of times through just to make sure I heard it right, because it really made me do a double take.

handerson's picture

There seems to be a predisposition to approach texts through a "hierarchical lens." Here's an example of what I mean: in a conference at my church recently, a prominent complementarian scholar was teaching a session on Gen 1-3 and gender. He began by establishing a headship paradigm and then explicated the Gen passage in light of that. Which isn't a problem insofar as it goes, except that he made no effort to cover the other dynamics that the Creation account teaches about male/female relationships, like oneness, companionship, working together for common goals, etc. Walking away from it, the person in the pew got the distinct impression that the most significant thing that God did when He created men and women was establish a hierarchy.

I thought maybe it was a fluke until I was in another situation where the study leader did the exact same thing, launching the discussion from I Timothy 2:12 back into Genesis, rather than the other way around. So he ended up handling Genesis 1-3 much the same way, even expressing that Adam's naming the animals was a direct teaching of headship (i.e. Eve didn't get to name them) and Adam saying "bone of MY bone" was in order to make the point that Eve was under his headship (instead of an example of oneness).

Even the debate around Trinitarian submission that was referenced earlier is being fueled by headship issues. In my mind, we're being disingenuous to wrestle with the nature of the Trinity simply to prove our point (whatever it may be) about male/female dynamics. I realize that this is in reaction to feminist theology, but that' s the whole problem. By reacting, we are missing the bigger picture of what Scripture teaches about the depth and beauty of marriage.

More anecdotally, because of the amount of time we are dedicating to teaching about "roles," I see among my generation, young women who are striving very hard to meet the paradigms of biblical womanhood and getting very overwhelmed and discouraged when they can't The solution offered them is this: be more committed because this is REALLY, REALLY important.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

I've actually come to believe, over the last 8 years or so, that roles are not emphasized enough. (As a young man anticipating marriage, nobody even suggested to me how important it was for me and my bride to be to explore our understandings of our future roles as they relate to our genders. Until pretty recently, I didn't give it much attention in pre-marital counseling either. I definitely would now.)

But I think what Hannah is onto here is the fact that the roles are a means to an end that is more important than the roles themselves. (Awkward sentence... sorry. Can't see how to fix it just now.)

That doesn't make role distinctions less important. It makes them more important. But without a clear vision of what they are for, they become grotesque parodies of themselves.

Hannah wrote:
we have to remember that marriage was not made for roles but roles for the benefit of the marriage.

So my reasoning--I'm not sure if Hannah would agree--is that because the roles are for the benefit of the marriage, they are more important than they would be without that purpose. (At the same time, seeing that purpose as paramount acts as a remedy against wooden, or just stupid, execution of the roles).

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
I must say that this is the first time I've heard anyone say that Eve's role as a woman was cursed before the fall. White's statement is around the 31 minute mark.

http://www.swbts.edu/mediaresources/audioplayer.cfm?audioToPlay=conferen...

Whoa ... need to be careful here so as not to misrepresent someone.

I think what he is actually saying is that Eve was cursed in motherhood and childbearing, which are the roles she had before the fall. He is not saying that she was cursed before the fall. "Before the fall" goes with "roles" not with "cursed."

Alex Guggenheim's picture

L Strickler/Hand

Thanks those were well articulated concerns. I was always taught the Commanding Officer/Executive Officer construct (husband CO, wife XO) which, while having the relationship of the roles administratively, in reality emphasizes the offices, their duties and their interdependence upon one another. Both husband and wife are family officers. While the CO is answerable to his responsibilities, the XO must account for hers. This places a burden on the CO to insure the XO can carry out the responsibilities/duties and privileges of her office to its fullest which includes a plethora of demands on the CO on her behalf. As well, the XO is also given severe demands which requires her constant thoughtfulness with regard to her office and the CO's.

Of course this is not done militaristically and lest someone get the gist that the administrative construct carry with it the military form of deportment or disposition, don't be so foolish and no such implications is being made. This is done in the context of a marriage in love, and more specifically, the love of Christ. This is simply a construct and I have found that what I was taught, the CO/XO construct, fits very excellently in carrying out the Divine intent.

So to your point. Most often in this construct the issue of subordination is somewhat anecdotal. In other words, a CO does not look at an XO like he would a Drill Instructor to a recruit which is the nightmarish scenario many bring up (and some have tried) with respect to husband/wife roles and their administrative design. The CO looks at the XO as an officer with the highest rank next to his. They are partner officers, in practical terms. Rarely does a CO pull "rank" or mention "rank" because the relationship is one of mutual respect, mutual objectives, mutual intent and so on. And the CO seeks to insure this kind of atmosphere in every way possible. A good CO treasures all of the gifts an XO has to offer.

So my experience was one that, so long as the administrative order of the offices were understood, the general execution of these offices rarely pulled "rank" since it was not necessary. It was not emphasized because it was not being contended with or abused.

Now if a man or woman is disoriented to this design then this will be a sticking point until they understand this construct. Therein may lie some of the complaints, but clearly not all. That is, sometimes the complaint about role emphasis comes from those who have yet to understand and accept them. But again, not always and yes, sometimes their emphasis is too great because there is a lack of substance on other matters unrelated to the administrative construct, by Teachers.

I do believe women get a very shot end of the stick sometimes. I was working on a blog article for my own blog titled, "Great Women of the Bible: No Thanks!". The basis of it was the patronizing context so many of these books and conferences for women bring with them which treat women as spiritually lesser brethren (the generic use here). Their capacity for spiritual insight and/or spiritual understanding (never mind natural gifts, ability and wisdom) is given insulting treatment in some cases. And many women unwittingly adopt this premise of patronization in their methodology and/or approach toward one another, particularly in the church.

While not permitted to be ordained as Teachers within the church this is no comment whatsoever on their spiritual capacities (and since not even all men may be Teachers, only those gifted and qualified, if we were to accept the prohibition against women Teachers as one of spiritual subordination then those men who are not Teachers would suffer the same category but we know better than this and we have no such Popes). However, I am somewhat leaving the main topic here but this is to illustrate a point. Great faith is not male or female, it is spiritual. And when we permit the patronization of women in a spiritual context, at least, but in marriage as well, we rob them of much they have to offer and fail to execute our roles as those who are charged with insuring no such constructs arise and are permitted to exist which would, indeed, rob women of what God intends for them.

P.S. And when an XO is executing their office, no CO in their right mind fails to respect and yield to those contexts (i.e., mutual submission).

Brenda T's picture

Quote:
Whoa ... need to be careful here so as not to misrepresent someone.

I think what he is actually saying is that Eve was cursed in motherhood and childbearing, which are the roles she had before the fall. He is not saying that she was cursed before the fall. "Before the fall" goes with "roles" not with "cursed."

I'm not aiming to misrepresent someone, nor am I an egalitarian who took offense at what it sounded like White was saying. The entire context of his lecture was on gender roles, not marital or familial roles. The conference was about manhood and womanhood, not husbandhood/fatherhood and wifehood/motherhood. Even if someone wants to interpret his statement as meaning that Eve's role as a wife and mother (not as a woman) were cursed before the fall, I still must say that this is the first time I've heard someone use the word "curse" with "before the fall" when talking about Eve and her role(s) prior to her eating the forbidden fruit.

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
this is the first time I've heard someone use the word "curse" with "before the fall" when talking about Eve and her role(s) prior to her eating the forbidden fruit.
I suppose I am only suggesting that I don't think this was the "first time you heard it" because I don't think you heard it here. "Curse" was not used with "before the fall." "Before the fall" was used with roles. Listen to it again, perhaps. When you read the curse (which was clearly after the fall), the woman's curse was with respect to childbearing and motherhood. Those were her roles before the fall, and those roles is where the curse affected her.

My only point is to urge a careful hearing on this. I don't think he said what you attributed to him.

Alex Guggenheim's picture

"Eve was cursed on her God given role before the fall". Now that I have listened to the statement many times, it may well be (and it seems to be more in line with the context and the rest of what Dr. White is saying)that what he meant to say is:

Eve's God given roles which she was given before the fall were cursed as a result of her fall.

I fully understand the confusion but restructuring the statement and supplying the intended understood qualifiers makes it clear. Obviously only White can answer to this but I am convinced, for now at least, this is what he meant. Thanks for the caution, Larry.

Brenda T's picture

Quote:
I don't think he said what you attributed to him

I get that.

First, I think it would be helpful to the discussion if someone not presume to know what I have heard before and what I haven't.

Second, here's how a man writing for the http://www.abpnews.com/content/view/6791/53/ Associated Baptist Press reported it

Quote:
Defending a theology called complementarianism, which holds that men and women are both created in God’s image but assigned different roles, White rejected the “egalitarian” argument that the subjugation of women came as a result of the Fall and is something that Christ came to redeem.

“Eve was cursed on her God-given role before the fall,” White said. “She is cursed on her role as a mother and as a helper. She will have pain in childbirth, and her desire will be for her husband.”

Third, I listened to the entire lecture two times, not just that little snippet.

Now for my poem. Oh rats, I don't have a poem. Isn't that supposed to follow three points?

L Strickler's picture

Aaron is right that marriage roles are very important and that both the roles, and the purpose behind the roles, must be taught. I am pretty sure that Handerson agrees. Smile

Alex, your construct in post #18 is what my husband and I were taught as well.
We have tried to follow our biblical roles and God has blessed our home. But after 36 years of marriage, I realize my imperfections. I wish I was the Proverbs 31 wife every moment, but that isn't reality. It is our loving oneness in Christ that allows us to cover the times we have failed each other. It is by His mercy that we are not consumed.

Some of my concerns are related to relationships among men and women in the church who are not married to each other. Women are to be under their husband's authority and show proper respect for church leadership. In fact, I would say from experience that many church problems stem from a failure in this regard. But not all men are smarter or better leaders than than all women. Not all men are better at reasoning or less emotional than all women. Women should not be treated as second class Christians because of marriage roles or church leadership roles. It is a mindset, not God ordained structures, to which I object. Thank you Alex.

L Strickler

Larry's picture

Moderator

Quote:
First, I think it would be helpful to the discussion if someone not presume to know what I have heard before and what I haven't.
Just to clarify, so I am not misunderstood, I did not presume anything. You said you thought this was the first time you heard this. So I am taking you at your word that you haven't heard it before, and I am suggesting that you didn't hear it here either, because it isn't what he said. I don't see any way to construe his meaning, in context, as meaning that Eve's role as a woman was cursed prior to the fall.

Quote:
Second, here's how a man writing for the Associated Baptist Press reported it
I think he gets it right. He quotes White: "She is cursed on her role as a mother and as a helper. She will have pain in childbirth, and her desire will be for her husband." The curse on the woman was on her roles. Those roles were pre-fall. The curse came after the fall. He never says the curse was prior to the fall. I don't understand how this is even confusing.

Quote:
Now for my poem. Oh rats, I don't have a poem. Isn't that supposed to follow three points?
I only have two points so I am free from the obligation to produce a poem.

handerson's picture

I agree, with a clarification. I would offer that "roles" are being made too important, with the result that our essential humanity (of which manhood and womanhood are part) is being reduced. Still I agree that the problems we see (the abuses) are the direct result of not understanding this: the robust nature of manhood and womanhood played out in a context of love. But I avoid using the word "role"=manhood/womanhood because I feel like it contributes to the problem--it flattens our understanding of gender to a one-dimensional action-based persona.

And to Alex, I guess my assumption about anecdotal abuses is that they reveal abuses in our underlying philosophy. When you have a context that seems to be producing a certain attitude toward women, I want to step back and say "Why is this happening? What are we modeling, what are we teaching, what are saying or not saying that is leading people to live this way?" And so far my conclusion is that the trajectory of the conversation is off-course. As conservatives, we may be talking about a Biblical concept (headship) but that doesn't mean that we are talking about it in a Biblical way. We generally are divorcing it from context and the overarching understanding of what it's all about in the first place.

skjnoble's picture

In light of these statements:

Maybe it’s time we remembered what it’s all about in the first place. The truth is that we were never made for roles; we were made for relationships.

My specific concern has more to do with the fact that we have reached a point in the discussion that we have forgotten that roles are not the point.

How do you view Gen. 2:18, (NASB)Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.”

Thanks for your time, Hannah.

Kim Smile

Greg Long's picture

Brenda, when I read your post I was going to suggest that you misunderstood, but Larry beat me to it. He is correct. White did not say, "Eve was cursed before the fall," but "Eve was cursed in her God-given role before the fall." In other words, "Eve was cursed [after the fall ] in her God-given role [that she had ] before the fall."

I agree with Larry that it seems quite clear to me.

-------
Greg Long, Ed.D. (SBTS)

Pastor of Adult Ministries
Grace Church, Des Moines, IA

Adjunct Instructor
School of Divinity
Liberty University

Alex Guggenheim's picture

handerson wrote:
And to Alex, I guess my assumption about anecdotal abuses is that they reveal abuses in our underlying philosophy.
This point should be explored, both collectively and individually. And as to the individual consideration I have an immediate thought.

Often one will use the claim of orthodoxy as a guise to introduce error. With their mouth they claim to accept orthodoxy yet they often practice that which orthodoxy would lead to otherwise. Orthodoxy isn't just a set of beliefs but carries with it implications in its thorough application which many men, who claim such a view, teach and practice things that belie this claim.

And with respect to the underlying philosophy of gender roles, authority, submission and their practical functions, while many might utter agreement with a certain Biblical formula, in fact practice something else, either in some limited but damaging ways (patronization of the spirituality of women) or in some significant and even more damaging ways. And this takes us directly to the real underlying philosophy of those who may do this as a way of life yet deny their very actions by claiming to hold to a view that is contra their actual practice.

handerson's picture

And one that cuts to the heart of what I'm trying to communicate.

In my understanding of the context of Genesis 2, God's intention in creating woman as a "helper" to Adam is broader than the way we use the word helper in English. The parallelism of the verse "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him” indicates that Adam's greatest need was his "aloneness." Adam had no counterpart in creation equal to his humanity. (Not that he simply needed someone to pick up his socks.:-))

I think we miss the significance of this because we forget how bad it is to be alone. It really came together for me when I was reading Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Quote:
Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. 10 For if [a ]either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. 11 Furthermore, if two lie down together they [c ]keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? 12 And if [d ]one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.

So my God-given purpose as a wife is to meet the aloneness of my husband--doing that will result in supporting him, loving him, nurturing him, deferring to him. And given my biological make-up, it will also include bearing and nurturing any children from the consummation of that relationship. But this is very different than understanding a woman as an "assistant" of sorts to a man (in the cultural way that we understand assistant) or that her ONLY purpose for existence is to fulfill a role as a wife and mother. (Unless of course, your definition of wife is big enough to encompass the full scope of meeting his "aloneness.")

Understanding the danger of aloneness and the necessity of relationship also has tremendous significance on how we battle sin together as a couple. Marriage is the most intimate relationship in this life and as such, it will be the arena that we fight sin the most. It can also be the place of greatest sanctification if we learn to "have each other's back" so to speak.

Another thing underlying my thinking is how to understand the Great Commandment in light of gender roles. Christ summed up the whole Law this way: Love God and love your neighbor as yourself. For Him, the governing dynamic of human existence is love, not hierarchy. That does not make hierarchy of no importance but if we jump to hierarchy before we understand the foundation of Gospel love, our understanding of hierarchy will be dreadfully skewed. The primary thrust of the Gospel is to restore brokeness, to bring us back into loving relationship with God and others. And so you can see the parallel: God said at creation that aloneness was not good; at the Cross He said the same thing.

When we understand this first, then we can move to how submission works out in practice. But since the need for submission only comes into play when there is a difference, if we are actively pursuing the working out of the Gospel in our lives, it will become less and less of an issue at all.

(I definitely should have added a poem or at least a closing hymn.:-))

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