What Wives Aren’t Supposed To Know About Submitting To Their Husbands

marriageIn all the hype over same sex marriage, I’ve noticed a resurgence of the call for the submissive wife.  And in the goal of making these unsubmissive wives submit, the single most often used section of the bible is Ephesians 5:22-24.  For those of you who aren’t familiar with this passage, I’ll quote it for you.

22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

–Ephesians Chapter 5

Now, taken like it is written, you might think that it’s laid to rest.  After all, there isn’t much ambiguity in this is there?  If you’re a wife, you should submit to your husband.  Period.

But like most things in the bible, this isn’t as clear cut as many would like for you to believe.  See, like all so many who want to change your behavior with the bible, they take a quote out of context.  I’ve talked about that before.  So, in the fairness of all things holy, let’s look at the rest of that tidbit.

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy,cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b]32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

–Ephesians Chapter 5

So, let’s go through that.  At first, it’s a command for husbands to love their wives.  That’s not so hard.  But look at the rest of the passage…  Husbands are to love them as their own body, to cherish them, to make them holy… to in effect, submit to their needs and keep them cared for and safe.  Yes, I said submit.  Depending on which translation you use, some even replace love in verse 25 with submit.  And that’s the big secret.  Wives, biblically, should submit to their husbands.  Husbands, biblically, should lose themselves in their wives.  So this isn’t a case of master and slave, but of two people becoming one flesh.  And that’s an ideal I think any moral person can get behind.

It’s so universal, it even applies to same sex marriages.  I mean, it really is the perfect relationship concept. Two people, merging their talents into one focus.  It really doesn’t get any better than that, does it?

Except, of course, it’s unattainable.  Like one of the basic tenants of Christianity, we should strive for sinlessness even though we are sinful.  This is another unattainable ideal to strive for.

And like most things in Christianity that looks so bad on the surface, when you get down to it… it is only bad until you get down to it and realize flesh and blood human beings are the ones perverting it to something nasty.

Marriage, A Biblical Look.

Image

It seems you can’t turn on a television or radio today, without someone talking about being either for or against same sex marriage. If you are for it, then you are arguing basic civil rights.  If you are against it, you have an entire mishmash of options to turn to, from religious to natural.  I, however, am a Christian.  Therefore, I will look to the bible for my guide on what is and is not marriage.  It seems the proper thing to do.

I think if we are going to compare modern day marriages to biblical ones, then we should head right to the beginning.  Genesis.  In fact, let’s get straight to the good book and take a look at the weddings of Jacob.  For the purposes of our little discussion, we’ll look at Genesis Chapter 29-30, or there about.  Since so many pull a verse out of the air like it’s a piece of everything, and I’m at least using entire chapters for context and clarity, you’ll forgive my lackadaisical citations and go read the good book, chapter 27-31 for the full context.  You might be surprised at what all the father of Joseph of the technicolor dream coat had been up to before the musical started.  

For those not so inclined to delve into the word of God to such lengths, let me give you the cliff notes version.  Jacob was working for a relative, but the relative was kindly and wanted to pay Jacob more than room and board.  Jacob had taken a fancy to one of the relative’s daughters named Rachel.  Rachel had an older sister named Leah.  According to the good book, Leah had nice eyes, but Rachel had the body.  Jacob, being a young buck, liked the body more than the eyes.  So a deal is struck, Jacob will work for his relative for seven years and then get to marry Rachel.  Seven years later, the wedding is held and the magic moment is to arrive.  Jacob goes to his wedding tent, consummates the arrangement, and wakes up in the morning to discover he married Leah and not Rachel.  Enraged, he confronted his relative only to be given another offer… wait a week, marry Rachel and then work for another seven years.  Jacob took the job and the wives, but the book says he preferred  Rachel over Leah.

Apparently being sisters and wives isn’t the best thing for sibling rivalry.  Leah started having babies and naming them names that made fun of Rachel.  Rachel didn’t have any luck getting all laid up with a child, so she sent her handmaiden slave to sleep with her husband so she could claim the baby.  As a result, the slave had two children which Rachel promptly named names that make fun of Leah.  Leah, worried that she was getting to old to have any more babies followed suit, and sent her handmaiden slave to her husband and got a couple more rug rats to for the rapidly growing brood.  Then Leah had a few more of her own, and finally so did Rachel.  

Ultimately, Jacob had 12 highly influential children, including Joseph of the famed musical coat.  As the Jacob, who later became known as Israel, this influential family should be the placeholder of what the biblical family should be.  So, unlike today’s concept of marriage, this biblical standard includes polygamy, forced sex on slaves, stealing babies from their mothers, and trading sex for drugs.  Oh yea, I forgot that part in my synopsis.  One of Leah’s offsprings, Reuben, found some Mandrake and took it to his mother.  Leah traded the mandrake to Rachel for the right to have sex with Jacob.  (Depending on exactly what this drug may have been (even Jewish scholars are unsure), it may have either been a drug for infertility or a drug for hallucination.)  

So looking at the defacto perfect biblical marriage, one can draw the conclusion that modern marriages are far more constraining and closed minded than what the bible would tell us, I’m having a hard time understanding what the big freaking deal is over two men or two women wanting to spend their lives dedicated to each other in a loving and caring relationship.  Seems a might bit better for society than sex slaves, polygamy, sex for drugs, and sleeping with sisters.  Really, it’s the sister part that disturbs me most, if I’m honest.

Gay people read the bible too…

There is a picture currently running around Facebook and other social sites and blogs that is being cheered as a “gays fight back” moment.  The problem is… it isn’t correct.  Here’s the picture.

Gay's read the bible too... At first, I found the sign amusing and clever.  And it sure is getting passed around as people share it.  The only problem is, the sign isn’t actually correct.

The problem is that the sign maker took some verses out of context… and drew conclusions without the benefit of the context (both historical and biblical).  Now don’t get me wrong, the anti-gay’s do this all the time.  But just because one side cheats doesn’t mean the other should.

At no point in the passage referenced by the sign does the bible say “A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin.” It does however say that “If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed” but that is taken completely out of context.  (Not that killing women looks all that better in context.)

Here is the text quoted on the sign:

13 Suppose a man marries a young woman and later he decides he doesn’t want her.14 So he makes up false charges against her, accusing her of not being a virgin when they got married.

15 If this happens, the young woman’s parents are to take the blood-stained wedding sheet that proves she was a virgin, and they are to show it in court to the town leaders.16 Her father will say to them,
I gave my daughter to this man in marriage, and now he doesn’t want her.17 He has made false charges against her, saying that she was not a virgin when he married her. But here is the proof that my daughter was a virgin; look at the bloodstains on the wedding sheet!

18 Then the town leaders are to take the husband and beat him.19 They are also to fine him a hundred pieces of silver and give the money to the young woman’s father, because the man has brought disgrace on an Israelite woman. Moreover, she will continue to be his wife, and he can never divorce her as long as he lives.

20 But if the charge is true and there is no proof that she was a virgin,21 then they are to take her out to the entrance of her father’s house, where the men of her city are to stone her to death. She has done a shameful thing among our people by having intercourse before she was married, while she was still living in her father’s house. In this way you will get rid of this evil.

Deuteronomy 22:13-12
Good News Translation

Now go back and read that again.  At no point is the marriage considered invalid.  Now you might be able to read, without any other context, that a wife must be a virgin at the time of the marriage.  But that’s not true.  If we go forward a mere two chapters, there are some verses concerning divorce and remarriage.

1 Suppose a man marries a woman and later decides that he doesn’t want her, because he finds something about her that he doesn’t like.[a] So he writes out divorce papers, gives them to her, and sends her away from his home.2 Then suppose she marries another man,3 and he also decides that he doesn’t want her, so he also writes out divorce papers, gives them to her, and sends her away from his home. Or suppose her second husband dies.4 In either case, her first husband is not to marry her again; he is to consider her defiled. If he married her again, it would be offensive to the Lord. You are not to commit such a terrible sin in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Deuteronomy 24:1-4
Good News Translation

I’m not arguing here that women are treated fairly in the laws of Moses. That’s a whole other issue. However there is nothing in this text that would indicate that a woman must be a virgin at marriage. In fact, there is no problem with a woman having a second husband, just that she can’t remarry her first after being divorced or widowed.

So what’s going on in Deuteronomy 22? Simple. Women didn’t have the right to pick who they would marry. Their father or brothers did. It was a contractual arrangement often with money or land or livestock changing hands over the deal. A larger bride price was gathered for a virgin bride. So this is less about the virginity of the bride and more about how the family needs to ensure that they have the correct proof of virginity so they can back up their end of the contract.

So the sign is wrong. A marriage can and was valid even if the wife wasn’t a virgin.  And there was only one situation where the wife not being a virgin could end with her death. However that punishment wasn’t because she wasn’t a virgin, but because she and/or her family lied about it.

Now if you want to use the bible to support gay rights, that’s quite possible. Starting with the fact that it takes the same kind of out of context usage of bible verses to find the where the bible condemns homosexuality in the first place. At least that’s how I see it.  Your milage may vary.