Foppery or Theodicy Relative Biblical Attitudes Regarding Masculinity and Femininity – The Garrett Ashley Mullet Show
When Paul writes instructions for husbands and wives to the Christians in Ephesus (5:22-33), the wives are told something different from, but complimentary to, the husbands. Yet the matched set compliments nicely, by God’s design, as both come together, to present a picture of the relationship between the Son of God and the Church.
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.“
Note that women are not told to submit to all men. Nor are all wives to submit to all husbands. Rather, wives are told to submit to their own husbands, just as they would submit to the Lord, in everything.
From this, our modern sensibilities always recoil, even in the churches. Laymen and pastors alike, we always race, in my experience, to the subject of how some men are either abusive or negligent, and we need to make sure we don’t embolden them, and maybe wives would have an easier time obeying this instruction of Paul’s if men weren’t so miserably inadequate.
But how does Paul dispense with such concerns, or mitigate that hazard in marriage?
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her...“
I wish we would be content with saying this much, and not so much more. Particularly when what more we often say in the American Church is of the character and quality that it is, we would do better to frame the corrective prescription the way Paul does, instead of undercutting the authority and dignity of husbands.
You look skeptical. But for a quick test, to prove I’m onto something here, how would it be if we qualified “love your wives” with the same kinds of comments about the way women can be?
It would appall the sensibilities and shock our consciences if extended monologues became fashionable, about how women would be easier for their husbands to love in a Christ-like way if the wives submitted to their husbands better. We would scold the ones saying such things, if not stripping them of their assignments, or ceasing to attend their services.
Let me give you another example, though. How would it be if we qualified “children obey your parents” the way we often do wives submitting to their husbands?
Oh, but parents would be easier to obey if they were better at doing their jobs. Johnny and Suzie can hardly be expected to honor father and mother when they’re so silly and insensible. Parents need to do better and try harder before their children can be expected to obey and honor them.
I grant that it is possible we do all of the above, and so moderate every requirement and command of God for how we treat one another, along similar lines, whether spoken out loud or not, just as we more brazenly do this regarding the submission of wives to their husbands.
Yet consistency is only a virtue if we are consistently right. So we should take care in that regard, to double check whether we are indeed correct in all of the above, rather than merely aiming for a standardized approach, irrespective its fidelity to God’s Word, or lack thereof.
As Paul writes in his first letter to the Christians in Corinth (6:9-11):
“Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”
Unrighteousness can take many forms, then. But true righteousness has only one source, with the implications following as a consequence, rather than preceding as a cause.
It may seem redundant to mention sexual immorality, adultery, and homosexuality, since two of these specific examples fit into the general category previously mentioned, like making a list of “birds, vultures, and penguins.” However, both the repetition and specificity are intentional, for emphasis, among other things.
Paul is warning us to not be sexually immoral, especially regarding taking another man’s wife, as well as buggery. All sexual immorality is sinful, in other words. But some transgressions take on a kind of compound quality, since they represent hostility to, and contempt for, good oaths, faithful imitation of Christ’s relationship with the Church, and the very intentional distinction between men and women, by God’s design.
Put another way, the particulars are important. But even more important than the particulars is that we do not hold in derision the judgment of Yahweh God, as though we are finding fault with Him, or could have done this better, or will vie with Him for the position of Master of our universe, latching gleefully onto little opportunities here and there to assert our own wisdom and authority instead of His.
God-honoring masculinity for men is, then, at its root, only a good thing, much less possible, when it is driven by a humble, sober reverence for the God who made man to be manly.
For the same reasons, and in the same way, God-honoring femininity for women must be, to the core, framed and defined by a devotion to the God who made women to be womanly.
When we see this, it must be admitted subsequently that how we arrive at the right answer determines whether we actually have arrived at the truth, beauty, and goodness. The order of operations is critically important, since it gets to our motivations, whether such be foppery on the one hand, or worship of the Creator on the other, who created all that exists, on-purpose and for a purpose. He left us with not just a list of ‘thou shalt’ and ‘thou shalt not,’ commands and prohibitions, but also His reasons. Thus our reasons as well are essential, if obedience will count for anything in His economy.
Our reasons for handling the truth the way we do must be, first and foremost, to honor God, and submit our wills to His, in humble reliance on His goodness and grace. Only then can doing what is honorable in the sight of all can count for something.
If we get these two reversed, however, we will find ourselves coming to the wrong conclusions. Moreover, we will miss that we are misunderstanding all the more, and I think many of us have been, because we are affirmed in our errors by those around us who are flattered that we held their opinions and prejudices in such high esteem. In other words, we should perceive an echo here, of the warnings Christ gave about performing our righteousness before men, to be seen by them, the way the Pharisees did.
On the other hand, what is to be gained from pursuing righteousness, as men or women, publicly or privately, so that our Father will reward us, is that in so doing we are actually living out a theodicy – that is, a testimony to the goodness of God.
This Episode’s Links:
- It’s Good to Be a Man: A Handbook for Godly Masculinity – Michael Foster, Dominic Bnonn Tennant
- How do Safe Haven Baby Boxes work? – WTHR, YouTube
- Were Christians in the Roman Empire known to rescue abandoned babies? – Christianity.StackExchange.com
- Gwyneth Paltrow Warns Katy Perry That Kids Can Be Difficult On A Marriage; Perry Pushes Back – Katie Jerkovich, The Daily Wire
- What does the Bible say about fornication? – GotQuestions.org
- What Is Adultery? The Biblical Definition and Consequences – Christianity.com
- Polygyny – Wikipedia
- Child Marriage in the United States and Its Association With Mental Health in Women
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