Complementarianism and the Gospel



Posted at Design of Providence:

An unpopular subject these days is the role of the two genders, not only in society at large but especially within the confines of marriage. It gets especially difficult because you often have two extremes in the discussion: those of an egalitarian, feminist stream, and those of the "gimme a beer" woman stream. Some in the latter camp have even go so far as to say a husband should be allowed to physically discipline their wife, as they would one of their own children. A lot of egalitarians or semi-complementarians (ie., those who might want to be complementarians but are nervous about the doctrine) may use that one extreme to mock the entire concept, or present it as the reason why the entire concept should be dismissed.

The thought occurred, in recent musings on the subject, that one problem with the presentation of complementarianism is that, insofar as marriage is concerned, it is presented in a simple dogmatic fashion rather than what it's supposed to be: a home presentation of the Gospel. This comes across most clearly in one of the Bible's most clearest passages teaching on the subject, which we will present, and analyze, in full below:

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 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. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. [Ephesians 5:22-33]

Coming from a section on submission, the apostle Paul turns to the application of this at home. He tells wives to submit to their husbands, "as to the Lord." This does not mean the husband is God, but rather this is directly related to the understanding of Christ and the church: Paul explains that "the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior."

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