Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Love and Submission

As we continue into the new testament with regards to the basis of a Godly marriage; I would like you to read a quote. This quote was one that I choose to have read at my own wedding almost eight years ago. It goes beyond the lovey dovey and to the heart of what sustains love in marriage. To me it was a refreshing message of what a husband and wife should also be.

"The basis of marriage is not mutual affection or feelings of emotions and passions that we associate with love, but a vocation, a being elected to build together a house for God in this world, to be like the cherubs whose outstretched wings sheltered the ark of the covenant and created a space where Yahweh could be present...The real mystery of marriage is not that a husband and wife love each other so much that they can find God in each others lives, but that God loves them so much that they can discover each other more and more as living reminders of His divine presence. They are brought together, indeed, as two prayerful hands extended toward God and forming in this way a home for Him in this world." Henri Nouwen from Clowning in Rome
I hope that I have shown in the last two post what the basis of marriage should be. We see in the garden both before and after the fall that marriage in God's eyes remained the same. Two separate, opposite but equal people vowing commitment before God. Those people then sealing that marriage with the blood covenant of sexual union. The living a life together that is fruitful {of the Spirit} to one another and to God.
After the fall we saw how God reminded both Adam and Eve of what their commitment should be. He told Eve that her desires or lusts should not be for anything other that her husband. He told Adam that he needs to speak up and govern to keep them from making mistakes. We see the reciprocation of both desiring and governing equally in the famous verse from Solomon.

"I am my beloved's, and his desire is towards me." Song of Solomon 7:10

Now in the new testament we have a famous verse that rubs most woman the wrong way. At first glance it seems to echo the words that God spoke to Eve in the garden. But I think we have cleared up the misunderstanding in that verse. We will do the same for this one. Once again it deals with the concept of desire or love and governance or submission.

"Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord...Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." Ephesians 5:22-23

This verse has has caused more that a problem or two over the last 2000 years. But really it doesn't need to. First of all we need to look at who Paul was writing this letter to. Ephesus was in modern day Turkey. Ephesus in the Greek means "permitted" like everything is permitted here. The city was full of idol worship, prostitution, and all types of revelry. Ephesus was famous for its temple to Artemis{Diana} who was the Greek goddess of virginity, fertility and hunting. I have also read that she was the goddess of solitude. {Just put Artemis in google, there is tons of information}. Young girls that were of marring age were sent to the temple to serve the Goddess for one year. These virgin girls would perform rituals consisting of acting like animals and cutting the necks of male victims for blood offerings.

Elsewhere you had women as temple prostitutes that would preform worship to the gods and goddesses via a sexual act. This was usually an orgy of both men and woman. There were also vestal temple virgins who would pledge themselves to celibacy for 30 years. After there term was complete they were allowed to leave the temple and get married. However few vestal virgins did because that required submission to a man. There were also male and female prostitutes of the cities. Those who wandered the city bare chested looking for their next trick.  They even had sandals that left an imprint in the dirt stating "follow me."

So this was the underlying demonic stronghold in Ephesus and other towns in the Roman empire. It helps us make a little more sense of who Paul was writing to. These people in the church in Ephesus hadn't grown up Christian, they hadn't been going to church their whole lives. These people was new converts! Ex-prostitutes, Ex-adulterers, Ex-fornicators, Ex-abusers, Ex-pagan worshippers. These people had no concept of what a Godly marriage should be. See how the devil had destroyed what God had created in the garden? There was no concept of love and submission to one another exclusively in marriage. So lets look at the verse to the new converts in Ephesus again.

"Wives submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord...Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it." Ephesians 5:22-23

Looking at the verse above what does the word submit actual mean? In this verse it is the Greek word hypotasso  meaning submit or to be subject. The bible program I use {Blue Letter Bible} defines the word like this "voluntary attitude of giving in, cooperating, assuming responsibility, and carrying a burden." Sounds a little more like the horizontal governance as apposed to the vertical oppression we were talking about earlier; doesn't it. Now notice the next few words "unto your own husband". So you are not submitting to men in general, you are submitting to your husband. Just like in Eden. Don't give your allegiance to something or someone else. Notice the next few words "as unto the Lord". This is the same submission that we give to God. Not to the gods and goddesses of the day; but to God. Not submitting to His oppressive rule but submitting in relationship.

Then Paul basically says the same thing to the husbands. "Husbands love your wives" the word for love here is agape. This is the love discussed in 1 Corinthians 13. Love that is patient, kind, not proud, not self-seeking, not easily angered, keeps no record of wrongs, does no delight in evil. This love protects, trusts, hopes and perseveres. This love submits! Paul goes on to say that this love should be the same love Christ has for the church. The same love that submitted in humility to death on the cross that we may live. So the submission is to Godly love in His truth and principles.  It is not to whatever rules the household makes; either man or wife. Love should not be defined by man or woman but instead by God.  Just our luck that God's concept of love is the most loving, most edifing and highest for us.  If there is anything in the relationship that is not God's love, truth and principles you need to resist!  Resist the devil that is against the truth and principles of God.  Resist the devil that has been trying to destroy marriage from the beginning.  Remember Eve desired something other than her husband and God, and Adam didn't speak up.  They both gave in when they both should have resisted.  It would have even been helpful if just one of them resisted, but neither did.

So God's idea for a Godly marriage had not changed. It was the same as what He had created in the garden. Separate but equal. It is a man and woman having desire for one another and for God. It is making a commitment before God to do so. It is being fruitful{of the Spirit} to one another. It is governance and humility toward one another. It is sex for both pleasure and multiplication. It is resisting the schemes of the devil to destroy. Marriage and sex within that marriage was designed by God to bring glory unto himself and for the two involved to bring glory unto God.

I am going to spending some more time on the subject of sex and marriage.  Next I want to talk about sex outside of marriage. So stay posted!

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