Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Marriage Mutuality

I'm in the midst of writing an adult Bible study book on Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. Right now, I'm working on Ephesians 5:21-33. This passage includes these words, "Wives, be subject to your husbands as your are to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church..."

Unfortunately, these words have been taken out of their context to "prove" that women should be submissive to men in marriage and to argue for male superiority in marital relationships.

Yet, nothing could be further from the truth if the entire passage is read. The passage begins, "Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ," and continues, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies."

What is being presented here is mutuality in marriage. No member of the marriage partnership is superior to the other. Each is being called to treat the other with respect, dignity and self-giving love.

Granted, these words are put in the terms of a patriarchal society of the first century. That makes it even more amazing that marriage is seen in term of mutuality instead of male dominance.

Passages like the one cited above show why it is so critical to not take biblical verses, sentences or ideas out of their larger context. Doing this is called "proof texting" and is a way of getting the Bible to support a position already taken. You can literally make the Bible say nearly anything you want by this method. That's why we need to allow it to speak its own truth.

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