For those who don’t know, the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood recently put forth a statement on biblical marriage called the Nashville Statement. Many are treating this like an act of the church, on par with the Westminster Confession of Faith, or the Apostles’ Creed. But there are many problems with this. Tony Arsenal points out that the main problem is that CBMW is not the church, and does not have the authority to speak for the church.
J.C. Ryle offers some excellent thoughts on good marriages in his commentary on Mark. He gives three rules that will help in marriage:
The first is to marry only in the LORD, and after prayer for God’s approval and blessing. The second is not to expect too much from their partners, and to remember that marriage is, after all, the union of two sinners, and not of two angels. The third rule is to strive first and foremost for one another’s sanctification. The more holy married people are, the happier they are. “Christ loved the church, and gave Himself for it, that He might sanctify it” (Eph. V. 25, 26).
In an earlier post, I quoted the second paragraph of the Westminster Confession of Faith’s chapter on marriage and divorce. This was an attempt to shed some light on the complementarian/egalitarian debate. Here, I would like to expand the Confession’s take on marriage in paragraph 2, from the chapter on Of Marriage and Divorce:
Marriage was ordained for the mutual help of husband and wife; for the increase of mankind with a legitimate issue, and of the Church with an holy seed; and for preventing of uncleanness.
The first line simply states that God ordained marriage for the mutual help of the husband and wife, but there are two things that need to be understood about this. First, God ordained this for marriage. This is His will for marriage made known to mankind. God, in His full right as Creator, declared what He wanted marriage to be. It is a union between one man and one woman. Secondly, we see in Scripture that the LORD ordained respective roles for the husband and wife.
I have to admit that the subjects of complementarianism and patriarchy are quite daunting. I am no expert on either one, and so far, feel like there isn’t an expert on either one. But while listening to Mortification of Spin on my drive into east Texas for an interview, I did realize that the focus needs to be on headship, not complementarianism or patriarchy. This is how Paul, in Ephesians 5, frames the relationship that husbands have towards their wives, and the safest course of action we can take is to look to Scripture to see what it says.
Therefore, for now, I will call the position I am taking biblical headship. Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the LORD. For the husband is the head of the wife, as also Christ is the head of the church (Ephesians 5:22-23).
When we look at what the Bible says about our relationships in marriage, we are safe in saying what it says. It clearly says that I am the head of my wonderful wife, Heidi, and that she is to submit to me as to the LORD. This is not an act of dominion, but an act of grace and kindness. When it goes from grace and kindness to dominion (something that is out of accord with the creation mandate), then we are sinning against our wives and the LORD, for the LORD never acts in a manner of dominion over those who are His children. He will return in dominion over those who are not His children, and all those who refused the offer of the gospel, will be dominated by Christ when they are made into His footstool. That is not, however, something that Christ does with those who are His.
Concerning Genesis 3:16b
“Your desire shall be for[a] your husband,
and he shall rule over you.”
It is customary to understand the woman’s longing for her husband to be one of sexual desire, or at least, one of great affection. But that is probably incorrect. The proper signification comes from comparing this verse with Genesis 4:7, which uses both verbs, to ‘long’ (desire) and to ‘rule’, from 3:16. Also, the proximity of the two verses is weighty. In 4:7, God tells Cain that ‘Sin is crouching at your door; it longs to have you, but you must rule over it.’ The issue for Cain is what will dominate him and have control and mastery over him. The same applies to 3:16: the woman will have an excessive desire and determination to dominate her husband. The man, however, will dominate her. Thus this verse describes the ongoing condition of marriage relationships which will exist after the Fall.
The nature of the new order is quite appropriate. It was Eve who led the family in the garden episode, who ate the fruit first and led the man to do the same. Adam, for his part, let woman lead, and he refused to take his mandated leadership role. God now proclaims that such struggles and tensions will always appear in the marriage relationships.
From John D. Currid’s An EP Study Commentary:Genesis Vol. 1, p. 133.
I know with a title like that there will be a collective feeling of disappointment among many, but this is the reality that Jesus gives us when He tells us that there will be no one given in marriage in the afterlife.
He reveals this truth to us in Matthew 22:30. The Sadducees have come trying to trip Him up with a deep theological question. They give a scenario in which one woman ends up marrying seven different brothers, none of which have any offspring. Their question: “…in the resurrection, whose wife of the seven shall she be? For they all had her.”
He then responds by rebuking them on “not knowing the Scriptures…” and then goes on to say, “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels of God in heaven.”
The following is fictitious.
The two men climbed out of their Jaguar XJ, one of the finest machines on the road. When it came to doing anything, Ted was committed to the best. This is why he wasn’t the most impressed with the church building they were approaching. It was cute and quaint, but he had been looking for a church that was much more lavish. This one seemed like it would actually fit better in a small town, not a thriving metropolis where they lived.
Fred reached the door first. He was truly looking forward to finding the right place for their wedding and this building looked like it was the one. He knocked on the door, loud enough so it could be heard inside the building. A few moments passed, and he knocked again, this time louder. They heard the sound of feet approaching, then heard the door being unlocked. It opened.
With the recent news that Coeur d’Alene, Idaho city officials ruling that pastors either perform gay marriages or face jail time, it’s time for pastors to remove themselves from the civil function of marriage. Here is the following from the Washington Times:
Coeur d‘Alene, Idaho, city officials have laid down the law to Christian pastors within their community, telling them bluntly via an ordinance that if they refuse to marry homosexuals, they will face jail time and fines.
My suggestion might not avert the jail time, but I think it is time that pastors got out of the wedding business when it comes to the civil side of the institution. I’m not saying that we should quit performing marriages, but we should only do so for Christians before a Holy Triune God. This would mean that the couple would still have to go before the local justice of the peace to complete the marriage for governmental purposes.
I saw this process when I was living in Italy and it worked fine. By taking this approach, we would not be bound by civil authorities to perform that which we find abhorrent. I know this post does not address all the issues, but perhaps it will help us think through the entire relationship between the church and state, given that the state is turning on the church more and more.
My wife and I have had several people ask us about using Christian dating sites to find a spouse, since she and I used a Christian dating site to find each other. I guess you could say we were one of the success stories for Christian Mingle, the site we used. But allow me to stipulate that God was the One who was successful, not the website.
So the question is: Can God use a dating web site to bring two of His children together?
One of the reasons I was drawn to Heidi, my wife, is that I realized early on in our relationship that she was a woman of prayer. I must confess that when we first started calling one another, I broke it off for less than stellar reasons. What hit me a couple of days afterwards was the realization that she had been praying for me and my ministry all that time. My thought upon this realization went something like this: “Timothy, you’re an idiot if you pass up on this woman. She’s praying for you!” (And she was even praying for me during this break up).
I need a woman who is praying for me, and with me. Christ is the center of our relationship, and prayer has been the glue I’m not sure I’m wording that correctly, but we have had a lot of prayer time together, especially because of the number of trials we faced leading up to our nuptials, and the trials afterwards. Heidi has truly been a blessing to me, and given her words, I have been a blessing to her as well.