January 28, Monday

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 (2): “When the Roles Are Reversed”

1 Kings 21:1-8 (ESV)

Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food. 5 But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?” And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” And Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city. 9 And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people. 10 And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.” 11 And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them, 12 they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people. 13 And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones. 14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.” 16 And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

Ephesians 5:23a (ESV)

“For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church . . .”

For some married couples their roles are reversed: the wife works and the husband stays at home with the kids. This arrangement is made so that children can have one parent at home while the other, the wife in this case who likely has the higher paying job, becomes the breadwinner.  This economic role-reversal in the home cannot be an easy transition for most couples. For the man who had been the main breadwinner, his self-esteem will be tested, now that he is economically dependent on his wife. For the wife, her frustration will rise when she still must do the brunt of housework. Even in the best of situations, this role reversal can affect how couples fundamentally see each other in such a manner that it may become female headship in the home. Some women will take umbrage at this, but it is to no one’s advantage if the husband becomes, in effect, a passive follower.

Consider the relationship between King Ahab and his wife Jezebel from Sidon who worshiped Baal and Asherah. Being an ambitious person, Jezebel sought to replace the religion of Israel with hers. Not only did she convince Ahab to worship her idols, she “was killing off the LORD’s prophets” (1 Ki. 18:4a) while allowing 850 false prophets to “eat at Jezebel’s table” (18:29b).  All these prophets, however, got killed by the people before Ahab’s eyes after prophet Elijah spectacularly defeated them on Mount Carmel (v.40). Subsequently, Ahab “rode and went to” (18:45) find his wife and then “told Jezebel all that Elijah had done” (19:1). And it is Jezebel who decided to kill Elijah, saying, “by this time tomorrow,” that he will die (v.2). Knowing that she wasn’t joking, “Elijah was afraid and ran for his life” (v.3 NIV).  Ahab, in the meantime, remained passive, seemingly watching from the sidelines.

This pattern continues in today’s text.  Jezebel, seeing that her husband was “vexed and sullen” (and not eating), saw another opportunity to lead her husband. Upon realizing the problem (Naboth not selling his vineyard to Ahab), Jezebel, without any input from Ahab, devised a brilliantly evil plan to fulfill her husband’s wish. Ahab, again, remained passive, for he was unaware of what was going on. Only when Jezebel informed him of the successful completion of her plan did Ahab “arise [to] take possession of the vineyard of Naboth” (21:15).

What happened? Ahab switched roles with Jezebel, making her the head of their relationship by letting his capable wife to initiate, develop and implement plans with little or no input from him. Over time, Jezebel became the great enabler of her husband’s passivity. Some men don’t seem to mind this; Ahab certainly didn’t. Why not? A new vineyard (golf and video games) waits for him. Understandably, most women will complain at this juncture, even Jezebel who chided her pouting husband, “Is this how you act as the king over Israel?” (2 Ki. 21:7a NIV). Still, Jezebel wouldn’t relinquish the leadership, perhaps because she continued to feel the need to show everyone how capable she was without any help from a man. So, Jezebel, as a mirror image of a modern feminist, went to work after putting her man-child husband in the crib.

Who stays at home for the kids is a family decision. It’s a blessing that a family can sustain its lifestyle (a little lower perhaps) with just one income. But for this arrangement to result in a happy home, the couple needs to openly and respectfully share their feelings (slights and frustrations), constantly adjust, and be mindful of their goal (doing what’s best for the kids). But one change that shouldn’t happen is for the wife—regardless of whether she works or not—to lead while the husband passively follows her.  In such a situation, most wives will find it difficult to “respect [their] husband” (Eph. 5:33b). As for men, work hard to earn the respect of your wives; even if you work, share the housework. If you are a house dad, be competent in housework and childrearing, and don’t fail to lead amid many dialogues with your wife.  

Prayer: [Wife] Lord, please help the man in my life to be the leader he is called to be. Love him, train him; encourage him. [Men] Lord, please help me to be the leader that I am called to be. Encourage me; train me; remind me how much You love me. [Together] God, help us. Amen.  

Bible Reading for Today: Genesis 32

Tomorrow’s Blog: “‘The Bible Approves the Oppression of Women’: Is That Right?”


Lunch Break Study

Read Job 2:9-10:

Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.

Questions to Consider

  1. Put into a perspective what Job’s wife and Jezebel, respectively, did in relation to their husbands’ problems?  What’s going on?
  2. Put into a perspective how Job and Ahab, respectively, responded to what their wives said to them?
  3. What should Job’s wife and Jezebel have said or done for their troubled husbands?

Note

  1. Jezebel should be commended for reading the body language of her husband and realizing that something was wrong. Job’s wife just saw her husband’s body and saw that something was very wrong.  And they had every right to offer their counsels and opinions to their husbands. The problem is simply that these wives gave very bad counsels to their men. Pointing that out to wives and women is not being anti-woman or against Me Too movement.
  2. As the spiritual head of the family, Job did well by shunning his wife’s unwise counsel; the same cannot be said about Ahab, an immature husband, who switched roles with his wife, making her the head of the family by passively watching her evil advice put into operation.
  3. Job’s wife should have said something like this: “I don’t understand what’s going on but let’s trust in the goodness of God. I am right here with you.” Jezebel should have said to Ahab, “Honey, you are the king—serve the people instead of taking things from them.”

Evening Reflection

Scripture for tonight is Psalms 127:1-2:

“Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. 2 It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.”

Whenever I had to travel for a lengthy period during the time when Mexico got really dangerous after the 2006 election, I used to worry a lot since my wife was home alone with our three children. So, I would pray, “Lord, since I am not there, please protect them.”  Then, I heard the Lord whispering into my heart, “So, do you think you are the one protecting your family when you are at home?” Of course not, for it is the Lord who watches over us (whether dad or mom works or both work) every second. What a comforting thought! He will watch over you while you sleep as well.  Offer up a praise of thanksgiving before calling it a night.

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