Thursday, December 21, 2006

Conversation at Our House

Me to my husband: "Do you believe there is hierarchy in the marriage relationship?"

His reply: "Umm, not if you don't."


Jason Z. said...

That is absolutely classic! I was eating an apple when I read this and almost blew it out my nose.

rich said...

Your husband is very wise...

fr'nklin said...

I love your husband! LOL...he's the man!

BarBarA said...

LOVE IT!!!! I agree with with Jason -that is CLASSIC.

aBhantiarna Solas said...

LOL ... Actually, I'd have to say that your husband does believe there is heirarchy in the marriage ... it's just not an approved, established or sanctioned heirarchy ;-)

KSG said...

Your husband is a very wise man.
Not to mention very politically astute. Especially before Christmas.

Lily said...

That answer would work good for the question "Do I look fat in these jeans", too.

Men everywhere will be toasting your husband and his wisdom.

Cindy said...

I wish you could have heard the conversation I had with my daughter last summer, explaining that daddy is the boss of our house. "He IS???" she said.

I haven't told him about it. Don't have any immediate plans to, either.

Robbymac said...

As a husband, I now have a new role model!

kevin beck said...

I'm gonna file that away for future use. Thanks!

Lily said...

Well I wrote a comment but it mysteriously disappeared, so forgive me if this double-posts.

I just wanted to wish you a Merry Christmas, Grace.

Thanks for being a friend this year. You have always lifted my spirits and encouraged me, and I appreciate your gentle spirit and your welcoming attitude.

I wish you and your crew a great Christmas, and I look forward to the journey the new year will bring you. And enjoy your new kitchen this Christmas!

Pastor Astor said...

I had a similar conversation a while back, where a male friend of my wife (yes, you can have that in Sweden!)came around and asked her if I could help him move some furniture (I think he is a bit intimidated by me). My wife responded that I was perfectly capable of making my own decisions, and I answered: "If you say so, honey."

Bruce said...

Too funny Grace! I hope you and your family have a very merry Christmas, and may the God of Peace and the Peace of God be with you.


Brett said...

From a soft hierarchalist standpoint it is sad when God's design from before the fall for loving male leadership is overlooked and under-appropriated.

grace said...

Thanks for your comments. Of course I had my husband's permission to post this. ;)

Lily and Bruce,
Thank you for the Christmas wishes. I hope that you have special time with your friends and family also.

"God's design from before the fall for loving male leadership"

Do you care to expand on this claim? What is it based on?

I am planning on writing more about this topic after the New Year.

Rich H said...

Yesterday at work, someone gave our company president (a Christian) a t-shirt that said "My house, my rules". He held it up and said, "Now, if I can just find a house to wear this in."

grace said...

That's funny Rich! :)

Brett said...

I believe there are numerous overtones of male loving leadership within Gen. 1-3. Those in Gen. 1-2 are particularly significant because they are shielded from the notion espoused by some egalitarians that male leadership was a result of the fall of humankind. So one pre-fall example of this overtone is that God named the human race “man” and not “woman.” Twice in Gen. 1:26, 27 the Hebrew term ’adam that became the proper name of the first male individual (Adam) was used gender-inclusively to reference the human race and this came to be the common usage throughout the whole Old Testament. Given the close proximity of these two usages in Gen. 1-2 with one of them definitely carrying a masculine gender connotation it is reasonable to think that the readers of Genesis would likewise attach a masculine overtone to the generic term for humanity.

Another of the conspicuous pre-fall examples is that God created the woman for man with a calling to help (2:18, 20). The words in question are “a helper suitable for him,” and without implying any kind of inferiority or assigning any negative value, indeed asserting essential equality as a fit counterpart, in context it could be argued that the one helping (Eve) is functionally subordinate (though complimentarily so) to the one helped (Adam). In 1 Cor. 11:8-9 Paul has Gen. 2 in mind and his words “For indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the man’s sake” are almost certainly his commentary on the word “helper.” This coupled with Paul’s earlier designation of man as the “head” of the woman in 11:3 imply the subordinate role of women.

Also, perhaps not so much in our experience today but in the Ancient Near East naming was at times an act of leadership, and there is good contextual reason to believe that Adam’s naming of the woman in Gen. 2:23 was an exercise of leadership and more than an act of description. Clearly, God exercised His authority in naming the light and darkness, the firmament and the dry land (Gen. 1:5, 8, 10). Similarly, Adam did more than classify the animals and recognize the woman. In the Old Testament name-giving was more significant because normally names corresponded to character. Therefore, in this primeval step towards fulfilling the cultural mandate, Adam through delegated authority designated the animals with quality-associated names, and as an extension of his responsibility to lead he likewise assigns the woman a qualitative name (“Eve” because she was the mother of all living: Gen. 3:20).

These are three reasons to demonstrate that before the introduction of sin into our world a role differential is already implied. These kinds of implications can’t be underestimated because these two chapters of Gen. 1 and 2 represent a cornerstone within biblical revelation. They establish the angles. Equality does not eliminate difference.

grace said...

I will share my understanding of the points you have made.

First, I believe the word you are talking about is best translated human and refers to mankind in general. In verse 27 it is quite clear that both male and female are created in God's image.

The Hebrew word for helper, "ezer," does not imply inferiority or subordination. In the Hebrew Bible, this word is most often used in referring to God as our helper.

Adam's comment was that finally, this was flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone, someone like him. He called her woman (ishah) because she was like man (ish).

Obviously male and female are different. I would never argue otherwise. However difference does not indicate hierarchy.

As to roles, in Genesis to they were given the same role, to be fruitful and multiply, to rule and subdue.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, even though we don't agree on this topic.

Anonymous said...

Grace, I have to say I came across your homepage and was impressed you were a Christian. I was disappointed however with your statements to Brett and the hierarchy of marriage. I think most every true bible believing Christian would agree that God intended for man to be the leader in the marriage. Why did God create Adam first? Why did God have Adam name all the animals? He created Eve because Adam was lonely and needed a companion and yes, helper. There cannot be 2 leaders in a marriage, it just doesn't work. When something comes up that wife and husband don't agree on someone has to have that authority and power to make the decision. It can't be both because if they don't agree and both can't have it their way, how will they resolve it? The Christian wife has to delegate that power to her husband. It's not a surprise so many Christian marriages are ending up in Divorce! I think there are issues in Christianity (like attending church) that you seem uncomfortable with or find inconvenient so you are just making up your own rules and that is sad. I don't mean to come across as rude, I hope I'm not. I just think as a fellow sister in Christ, I need to call you on this issue because it could be to your downfall. I will pray it is not and that you seeks God's counsel and he gives you wisdom and discernment about these issues. In Christ -Maggie

Steve Sensenig said...

Maggie, you wrote: There cannot be 2 leaders in a marriage, it just doesn't work.

Exactly. Which is why Jesus Christ needs to be the leader of every marriage that calls itself Christian.

This need not be rocket science, and it certainly does not need to be near as "explicit" as some would like it to be. Paul also exhorted us to submit to one another, so there has to be a balance in this issue.

Unfortunately, comments like Brett's and yours emphasize one side of the issue (bits and pieces of Scripture) and not the entire teaching of Scripture on our relationships to each other.

As an example unrelated to this topic, but to illustrate: Is our relationship with Jesus one of King/subject or brothers/friends? Scripture teaches both. But reconciling those two can be very confusing for some, and so they just emphasize one and ignore the other.

In my opinion, Grace was not being unbiblical (or unchristian) in her comments, but was pointing out the need to look at all sides of this issue and not merely to "prooftext" one particular interpretation. Does the Bible even address "decision making" in marriage? If so, where?

By the way, I have not verified Grace's comments on "ezer" yet, but if correct, it is a very significant point that God is spoken of as our "ezer".

I think there are issues in Christianity (like attending church) that you seem uncomfortable with or find inconvenient so you are just making up your own rules and that is sad.

You may not have meant to come across rude, but this is a provocative statement that is baseless. "Attending church" is not something that is taught in Scripture. "Assembling together" is, but our cultural and institutional mindset automatically reads that as "attending church". What Grace and others like her (myself included) are "uncomfortable with" is not biblical teaching about Christianity. It's the many layers of "add-on" teaching that masquerade as biblical.

Like you, I don't intend to come across as rude, but please just think about what you are advocating in your comment (especially your implications on Grace's relationship with Christ) and reconsider your approach toward Grace or anyone else like her.

(On a much lighter note: my anti-spam word was "wwmlrb". I think this might be a reminder to my Reformed brothers and sisters to ask "What Would Martin Luther Really Believe?" ;) hehe)

Brett said...

1) Yes, I agree that the Hebrew word ‘adam can be translated “mankind” or “humankind” instead of “man.” I wasn’t intending to communicate that it excluded women from its meaning. I also believe that both sexes are image-bearers both individually and equally. But my point remains: Why is it that twice in Gen. 1:26-27 (cf. 5:1-2) the word that also became the proper name of the first male individual (Adam') was used gender-inclusively to reference the human race and came to be used as such throughout the OT? The fact is that this term ‘adam in Gen. 1-4 was used 8 times referring to Adam as a “man” and 5 times as his proper name used to denote him as a masculine human person rather than a human being in general or a female human. My point is simply that there is theological significance conveyed through divine inspiration inasmuch as in the beginning God chose to use a grammatically and contextually masculine term, which signaled masculine overtone to the original reader. God did not choose to call the human race “woman.” Nor did he use some kind of gender-neutral term void of any male nuance. Instead God chose to employ the term ‘adam.

2) You state: “The Hebrew word for helper, "ezer," does not imply inferiority or subordination.” I agree that “ezer” does not imply inferiority. I’m also hoping that you will extend me the courtesy of drawing a clear distinction between subordination and inferiority. Subordination need not imply inferiority, otherwise God the Son is inferior to God the Father. However, if I can produce but one example from the Bible to demonstrate that “ezer” is used of a subordinate then your statement turns out to be hasty. Such a counter example is found in the likes of Ezek. 12:14 where the noun “helpers” is clearly used for the subordinate assistants of the Prince of Jerusalem. You also state: “In the Hebrew Bible, this word [“ezer”] is most often used in referring to God as our helper.” If I understand you correctly you seem to be arguing that “ezer” cannot imply subordination because certainly God would not subordinate Himself to humanity. But was not the incarnation of Christ nothing short of God effectually subordinating Himself to humanity as a servant (cf. Matt. 20:28; Phil. 2:6-8)? Without being denuded, why can’t God, the “helper” of Israel be construed as Israel’s benevolent leader, simultaneously?

3) To be clear, I fully agree that there is fundamental or essential equality between the sexes. Yes, there are biological and arguably psychological differences between men and women. I’m guessing you’d agree. And true, the cultural mandate to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion…” (Gen. 1:28) was assigned to both Adam and Eve as you affirm, but this in no way flattens all role distinctions anymore than the assignment of the ‘Great Commission’ to all Christians denies the loving leadership of elders in a local church (the sex of said elders is irrelevant to my point that leadership in the church has a God-ordained loving leadership role that is distinct from the rest of the church).

It seems to me that my reasoned thesis (from my earlier post) of at least three pre-fall (Gen. 1-2) loving male leadership inferences remains unanswered.

Anonymous said...

Steve, In response to your comment: Does the Bible even address "decision making" in marriage? If so, where?
In Ephesians 5:22 it says "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church...Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands IN EVERYTHING." I don't think I need to say more, or rather, I don't think the bible needs to say more. It is crystal clear to me and I think Christians who don't see a hierarchy in marriage just plain don't WANT to see it. Society has brainwashed people -men as well as women -into thinking it is prejudice or violates women's rights to assert that a man should be the head of the household. This is WORLDLY thinking, not Christian thinking. The bible addresses that to. "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is -- his good, pleasing and perfect will." Amen. -Maggie

grace said...

I'm sorry I missed the recent comments here. I was waylaid since last week with a computer virus. I will give some thought to what you all have written after I get caught up.

grace said...

Brett, Steve, and Maggie,
I plan on posting about this in the next week or so. At that time, I'll bring up some of your comments for discussion. That way the conversation won't be lost down here in this post. In the meantime, Molly had a great post about this topic today. You can find her link on my blogroll. She basically explained what I believe about many of the scriptures on this topic.