I Found It! Toughts On Ephesians 5

Well, perhaps my new laptop isn’t as disloyal as I earlier thought!  I came back from running some errands and lo and behold and God be praised — what I thought I had lost came right back up on my screen!  So . . . I reiterate my apology to Joshua, and I have some thoughts about the theology of the Credenda/Agenda article.

In response to a comment I received, posted at the end of the Prevailing Winds post including the article on the husband’s role in marriage, whose author insisted that as Jesus took responsibility for the sins of humans, the husband, per Ephesians 5, must take responsibility for the sins of the wife:

No.  That’s wrong.  Terribly, hopelessly, pitifully wrong.

First, you cannot derive a theology of marriage from a five-verse section of one book in the New Testament when that point would appear to contradict the plain teaching not only of the Gospel — that there is one mediator between God and human beings, the Human One, Christ Jesus — but larger sections of the Word that describe the mutuality that ought to be found in Christian marriage, like 1 Cor. 7.  Developing theology from proverbs, or Proverbs, is not a wise hermeneutic, even though it’s one that Wilson regularly employs.  It’s also not wise to generate a theology from metaphors in Scripture, which quite certainly is what the Lord gives us in Ephesians 5.

I find it amusing, but kind of not really, that complementarians insist on taking Ephesians 5: 23-30 in an absolutely literal sense, even though it uses the metaphor of Christ as the Source (kephale, Greek) of the Church as the husband is, in patriarchal societies like Ephesus in the first century, awash, as it was, in weird Aphrodite-worship and false teachings that elevated women above men, the (kephale) of his wife.  But they never take “literally” the earlier verses — like the “capstone” verse 21 that introduces the concrete and the metaphor — that not only prescribe mutual submission in marriage, but also make the assumption that in reading vv. 24 and 25, we all know that a woman must never MERELY submit to her husband but must love him deeply as well, and that a man must never MERELY love his wife but must, as v. 21 says, submit to her as well.  That part is clear, yet rarely preached on, however much it’s generally held as an unstated model of Christian marriage.

No, Wilson and his patriarchal pals build their marriage theology on the flimsiest type of Scriptural texts — metaphor — while ignoring that which is presented as straightforward. Neither do we hear much from the pulpit about the beauty of matrimonial mutuality found, again in the most straightforward manner, in 1  Corinthians 7, where half a dozen “he does as she does, she does as he does” examples pepper the text.  But Ephesians 5 and the 1 Corinthians passages prescribe what Wilson evidently cannot abide:  a Biblical egalitarianism that threatens  the position of individual patriarchs clinging to metaphor to bolster their case, but also a view of male-female relations that’s in tune with the worldview and promise, the hope and the vision, of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

That isn’t always the gospel of Doug Wilson and his CREC counterparts, unfortunately, and the fact that it reveals not only their desperate grasping for power-over relationships with those among them but a weak, unscholarly hermeneutic as well should give his followers at least a robust, hearty pintful of doubt.

Sadly, though, most of them are either too enamored of the Magisterium of Moscow or too afraid of repercussions if they object.  It may be lousy theology, but when you keep people afraid they might “despise their baptism” and not “persevere until the end,” or when you keep your disciples financially dependent on you, it’s one hell of a way to keep the sheep in line.  That women and men will suffer, in the family and out, appears insignificant in the building of an empire that hails Wilson and his tight circle of Beholden Toadies as the ones in the know when it comes to theology.

They prove over and over again that they aren’t.  More tragically, they exhibit fruit that calls into question whether they know the One of whom and for whom they’d have us believe they speak.  The stakes are high, and the error is profound.  Sadly, there’s no room for questioning, and the silence that looks like unanimity . . . isn’t.

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