January 25, Friday

The AMI QT blogs for January (weekdays), provided by Pastor Ryun Chang, are extended to cover important sociopolitical matters that have serious ramifications for the Christian faith.  Pastor Ryun (PhD), who serves as the Teaching Pastor of AMI, is the author of Manual de Misionología, Theologizing in the Racial Middle, and a contributor to The Reshaping of Mission in Latin America.

Disclaimer: AMI, as a consortium of several churches, allows the expression of multiple standpoints on non-essential biblical matters. My views expressed here do not necessarily represent the respective views of AMI pastors.  I am also mindful that not every reader will agree with my stances on sensitive and contentious issues addressed in this month’s blogs. Where that may be the case, I invite you to utilize the comment section below, so that we may have an open dialogue; I highly encourage all readers to share their thoughts and experiences. Thank you.  

 

Extended Devotional Thoughts for Today

Male Headship at the Home (1): “Are You Kidding?”

Ephesians 5:22-23 (ESV)

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior . . . let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

abigail2Robert G. Ingersoll, “The Great Agnostic” of the 19th century, once quipped, “As long as women regard the Bible as the charter of their rights, they will be the slaves of man.” So, should we blame the Bible for this necktie ad from the 1950s that shows a kneeling wife serving her husband breakfast? No doubt, Ingersoll must’ve read the above and other passages like it (1 Pet. 3:1, 1 Cor. 11:3) that have the wives submit to their husbands.

So how should submission look like in the 21st century?  Consider the following three biblical couples and ask, “What should the wives have done in accordance to Scripture, whether then or now?”

In Acts 5 (ESV), we meet “a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, [who] sold a piece of property, and with his wife’s knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (vv.1-2).  Evidently, Ananias had told the church he was going to give the entire proceeds and then changed his mind; his wife went along with it. As a consequence of lying to God, both Ananias and Sapphira died that day (vv.5, 10). So, in cases like this when a husband asks his wife to be complicit in something sinful and/or illegal, what should she do? I would bet that the Holy Spirit would remind her of Ephesians 5:11a, “Hav[e] nothing to do with the fruitful deeds of darkness” than to blindly submit to her husband.

In 1 Samuel 25 (ESV), we meet an odd couple, a husband named Nabal, a “surly and mean” person (v.3 NIV), and his wife Abigail, described as “discerning” (v.3). One day, she found out to her horror that an armed group of untold men was headed toward her home to kill everyone (vv.13, 21). It was David’s impulsive payback for the insult Nabal heaped on his men who sought some provisions for a favor rendered to Nabal’s shepherds (vv.15-16).  This situation would be equivalent to a husband’s bad decision putting the whole household at great risk. What should the wife do?

As for Abigail, she “acted quickly” to make a mound of food (“two hundred loaves of bread . . . a hundred cakes of raisins and two hundred cakes of pressed figs”) and took them to David; “but she did not tell her husband Nabal” (vv.18-19).  David, upon seeing the food, relented. Now, does this look like a wife submitting blindly to her husband? No, but isn’t that against the biblical teaching? No, her action that went against her husband’s ill-advised decision, which kept a needless bloodshed from occurring and also saved her husband’s life, was praised by David as “a good judgment” (v.33).

But the most common problem that couples face is financial.  In Ruth 1, we meet a couple living in Judah, Elimelech and his wife Naomi, who have fallen on hard times because of a famine. With two additional mouths to feed and hardly any food in the pantry, the husband suggests a move to Moab in search of better economic opportunities. But the move to Moab was not out of faith but of sight, since Moab had been Israel’s mortal enemy. It was the Moabite women who whored with the Israelites that resulted in God’s punishment, which left 24,000 dead (Num. 25:1); it was the Moabite King Balak who tried to “put a curse on [Israelites]” (Num. 22:9-11); and most recently, Moab had subjected Israel to “oppression for eighteen years” (Judg. 3:14).

So what should Naomi have done? Instead of blindly submitting to her husband, she should have said, “We live by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor. 5:7) and persuaded him to stay in the Promised Land.  And had Elimelech been wise, he would have “listen[ed] to advice” (Prov. 12:15).

Ultimately, I am bound to offend people who are chauvinistic about the male headship at home and those at the other end of spectrum who find the male headship archaic and insulting to women. Thus, I will end with how it works at my home.  I trust my wife’s judgment a whole lot more than mine—mainly because she is a God-fearing woman—so I consult with her and then with the Lord before making any decision. And in my almost 32 years of marriage, I have almost always ended up deciding what my wife advises me—but she always lets me have the final say.  One thing she won’t do: be complicit to my sin, like when I talk badly about people who upset me. Thank the Lord for that.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, we are often torn because of many conflicts in our relationships. We want something but don’t get it . . . [so we] quarrel and fight” (James 3:2 NIV). We demand that others submit to us and when they don’t, we call them prideful and stubborn. Perhaps it is me who has the wrong heart.  Forgive me. Help me to be humble and stay that way. Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 28

Monday’s Blog: Male Headship at the Home (2): “When the Roles are Reversed”

(The weekend blogs will be provided by Jazmin Izumikawa and Claudia Robbie.)


Lunch Break Study

Read Ephesians 5:25-33:  

“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. 28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Questions to Consider

  1. In light of this Scripture, what is wrong with the Van Heusen neck tie ad from the 1950s?
  2. Okay, the wife is told to respect her husband. Doing that will be so much easier if the husband does his part.  What is his part in this marital equation?
  3. How has the world twisted this picture (hint: Van Heusen)? Do you have the correct picture?  Evaluate your view of marital relationship: Husbands, are you afraid to lead?  Wives, are you having a difficult time respecting your husband? What do think is behind all this?

Note

  1. The Van Heusen ad presents the wife as a household servant whose purpose in life is to satisfy her husband’s every whim. Neither is our world a man’s world; it is the Lord’s. Psalm 24:1 says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it.”
  2. The man is told to love his wife in the same way Christ loves the church. This means, first, the husband gives himself up for his wife; second, he nourishes and cherishes her; and third, share God’s Word with her so that she is “without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.”
  3. The world continues to see the church through the worst example of some misguided Christian men who badly treat their women. But the real men of God treat their wives with sacrifice, dedication and tenderness.

 


Evening Reflection

Are you married? Then, before turning in for the night, please re-read the entire Ephesians 5:25-33 with your spouse.  Then, pray together accordingly. And husbands, do a better job listening to your wives (me too). Are you a single person looking to be married one day? Then, pray for a spouse who emulates the characteristics presented here.

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