Good Stuff On Ephesians 5

On “head” in Ephesians 5:21-33, from Christian feminist and Princeton University divinity student Lisa Baumert, quoted in the September 15, 2010, e-zine from Christians For Biblical Equality:

“By selecting the Greek word kephale, or “head,” Paul speaks both of marriage and salvation history. Just as Christ’s body was the source of life for the church, so too Adam’s body gave rise to Eve (Gen. 2). Thus, Paul was also seeking to highlight the unity and mutuality by which husbands and wives were to live. Christ and the church exist in a reciprocal and unified relationship of dependence. The church is dependent upon Christ for its wellbeing and life, and Christ lived and died for the sake of the church. Likewise, husbands and wives are to be unified and mutually loving toward one another. Therefore, the metaphorical similarity between the relationships of Christ and the church, and husbands and wives, is found in the idea of “source” — social dependence and unity — rather than in the commonly interpreted ideas of hierarchy and authority. . .” (Lisa Baumert)

Baumert continues to make an important point. Had Paul used the Greek word “arche,” not “kephale,” we would be correct in extracting a meaning of “boss,” “hierarchy,” or “authority” to describe Christ’s and the husband’s positions. He didn’t, though, and to the Bible student interested in a proper exegesis of the Scriptures that leads to a fuller understanding of the Gospel and its effect on human relationships, that’s significant.

But to the traditionalist supporter of patriarchy, it’s a problem, and like most instances in the Word that illustrate, announce, or prescribe the abolishment of distinctions made on the basis of race, gender, and social position, it’s explained away as either the rant of Christians corrupted by culture, or as an anomaly that surely can’t mean what it appears to. I wonder, really, why so much effort is expended to refute clear Biblical teaching on gender equality when the Church is wading through a world choking in a morass of decadence and violence, poverty and oppression, that could be greatly alleviated if its men truly formed common cause with its women. Our source is Christ Jesus; our need on this earth is for one another in mutual dependence and support.

That this continues to be an issue in 2010 suggests, I’m afraid, that some boys never grew beyond the “No Gurlz Alowed” sign posted in their clubhouses, or never learned anything other than “I’m The Boss Of You” in their relationships with women. I fail to see Christ in the boys’ club or applauding the boss man on the podium, just as I fail to see Christ taking delight in a marriage that features any man exercising authority that belongs only to his Lord over the woman he shares his home with.

I plead with my patriarchy-embracing brothers to realize that while they have enormous support in the Church and among their fellows, their beliefs and behavior don’t comport with Scripture or with the testimony of Christ and his Gospel. It’s great to have buddies and it’s wonderful to be in the majority, but Jesus calls all of us to a different Way. That Way stands in direct opposition to earthly hierarchies and the triumph of power, privilege, and position. A lot of your brothers and sisters are walking in that Way, and we’d like very much to offer our hands to you in mutual humility and submission.

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