Tuesday, November 11, 2008


It's November again, which means the leaves are beautiful where I live and the temperature is getting back down to "normal." It's also National Novel Writing Month, which means that my wife is busy working on a novel, and I'm substitute teaching our Sunday School class on marriage. This week: "What Men Wish Women Knew about Men." The answer (in part)... Ephesians 5:21-33.

If you aren't familiar with those verses, they contain the infamous "wives must submit to their husbands" line. Huh. I think I got the short straw.

I've done a fair amount of internet research on this and have yet to find anyone that can provide me with a reasonable way to get in touch with this message that I hear as sexist and take offensive with. I found several explanations that wanted to tell me the message was "husbands are supposed to be in charge" and that "that isn't sexist; it's just what the Bible says." I found a number that say "it's just a way for Paul to provide a relevance of his message to the practices of the time" (which were sexist).

Since I'm not entirely comfortable with just "throwing out" parts of the Bible to suit my fancy - I feel like there's got to be a deeper understanding.

One thing that I've considered is the idea that the real message to focus on is the fact that Paul is writing about the relationship between Christ and the Church. That's of his purpose in writing the epistle, at least.

Any thoughts to help me out with my struggle on this scripture?


Stushie said...

I can't help you with the context, but a long time ago in Scotland at a wedding I led, I read aloud the "wives submit to your husbands" part during the ceremony. It was new to the community, and later at the reception, I was publicly asked what version of the Bible I was reading from. Before I could answer, my wife loudly declared; "That's the stupid version!"

John Shuck said...

I think it is OK to disagree with the Bible. It isn't a matter of throwing it out. It is simply "wrong" in certain places. I think saying so actually respects the authors. They are not writing absolute truth.

I think Ephesians represents the time in the church in which the radical message of Paul (ie. Gal. 3:28) is being watered down. The church is adopting sexist household codes.