Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chrsit is the Head of the Home (Eph 5)


Different people have different definitions of marriage. So, what’s yours?
ACCOUNTANT: Marriage means making a profit, having another person to share the daily expenses.
ECONOMIST: A man is said to be incomplete before he’s married. After that, he’s finished.
BANKER: Marriage is like a loan for honeymoon; thereafter, it’s all payments.
FIREMAN: Marriage these days are like fires. They go out over time.
MATHEMATICIAN: Give your wife an inch and she becomes the ruler.
MUSICIAN: Marriage is like listening to a single song over and over again.
OPHTHALMOLOGIST: Love is blind. But marriage is an eye opener. You have to see eye to eye.
PHILOSOPHER: Marriage teaches you great many things you wouldn’t need if you had stayed single, such as tolerance.
PIANIST: Marriage is like a piano. How well it sounds depends on how well you keep it in tune.
PLUMBER: Marriage is like a warm bath. Once you get used to it, it is not so hot.
SOLDIER: Marriage is like a besieged castle. Those who are outside try to get in while those who are inside try to get out.
VIOLINIST: Marriage is like a violin. After the beautiful music is over, the strings are still attached.
WASHERWOMAN: Marriage is the most expensive way to get your laundry free.
DRIVER: Marriage is like having a back seat driver.
Engineers: Marriage has many more problems to solve than single?

How about when two believers marry? Marriage is a beautiful institution that has turned ugly for believers and unbelievers alike. Marriage is more than a courtship, a certificate or a companionship. It requires work and wisdom.

What is the biblical blueprint on marriage for families, couples, parents and children? Is it a hard and fast rule, or healthy and flexible one? Are we victors or victims in marrying? What is a Christian family?

Wives, Let Men Lead
21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Eph 5:21-24)

One of the most talked about news from Prince William and Kate Middleton’s royal wedding in 2011 is the bride’s marriage vow. Following the lead of Princess Diana, the first royal to refuse to "obey" when she married Prince Charles in 1981 at the age of 20, Kate Middleton omitted the word "obey" from her wedding vows. The future Queen of England instead promised to "love, comfort, honor and keep" Prince William.

William's grandmother, the Queen, and his aunts Princess Anne, Sarah Ferguson and Sophie Wessex used the 1662 Book of Common Prayer, which requires brides to "love, cherish and obey." Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, who married William and Kate, said he does not support the use of "obey" in wedding vows. He said it was outdated and could be used to justify domestic violence. Sadly, Diana did not want to submit and her prince did not love her!

My wonderful wife cautioned me about this passage. She said women dislike the word “obey.” Not one to refuse a tease, I asked my wife, “Did you say “obey” in your vows?” She said in Chinese, “How to not to use it?” I replied, “It’s Murphy, isn’t it” referring to the wedding minister as well as her mentor, who is a conservative Southern Baptist ordained minister. On our wedding day, her mentor Rev Murphy Lum was the officiating minister and my mentor Rev Herman Tang, another Southern Baptist ordained minister, was the speaker, so she has no escape.

The Bible’s blueprint and counsel for wives is for them to submit (vv 21, 24) to their husbands, but with an unexpected, unsuspecting and unforeseen twist. First of all, the presupposed imperative “submit” is missing from verse 22, but it is borrowed from the context of verse 21’s “submitting (yourselves in the fear of God),” which is a participle, which is linked to be filled with the Spirit (v 18), and verse 24’s “submit,” which is an indicative verb. None of the two is an imperative. While the imperative “submit” is missing from Ephesians, it is nevertheless present in another almost identical passage - Colossians 3:18.

On the other hand, the submission of wives is the key to a healthy, happy and harmonious marriage, and not a heartless, helpless and headless marriage. Not only “to submit” is not an imperative, it simply means from “under” (hupo) and “arrangement” (tasso), meaning to be under an arrangement, not that the husband is necessarily superior, strong or successful. Married women with higher education and higher-income naturally ask, “Why do I have to submit to my husband?” Because men needs their wives’ respect, recognition, reassurance and room to do the job God intended them, which is to lead the family. No woman looks up to a man who is insecure, indecisive, inferior, intimidated, inadequate and invisible. It is obvious that a shaky man leads to a shaky marriage. While women do not have the same problem, man cannot live with a wounded bruised and bloodied ego and esteem. If their respect is shattered, they live in a less manly manner. A man can live without power over others, but he cannot live without pride in himself.

Submission is offered not because of the husband’s worth, wealth or wisdom. Why? Because the wife’s obedience is to the Master, not her man (v 22 “as to the Lord”). So it is a faith issue, about the woman’s reverence for the Lord, relationship to the Lord and reliance on the Lord.

Verse 23’s for (hoti) is a matter of fact, not the reason. The husband is the head of the wife and the wife his helper, just as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. The Chinese say, “A headless snake goes nowhere.” Head is singular, so there is just one head. Headship is very important, but Christ is not only the head but her Savior as well. What do we mean by Savior? He gave (vv 25) himself for her. “Give + himself” occurs three times in the Bible, all references to Christ’s sacrifice (Gal 2:20, Eph 5:2, 25). Curiously, in another passage on the Christian family, Paul also addressed the wife to submit before addressing the husband (Col 3:18).

Husbands, Love Your Wives
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery — but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Eph 5:25-33)

A man was looking for the perfect wife. He wanted to find someone who was beautiful, kind, loving, and very spiritually oriented. He found such a women, but it did not work out because she was so spiritual that she could not easily relate to the practical things in the material world.

Then the man found someone who was perfect. She was beautiful, kind, loving, intelligent, organized and practical in material affairs. She was just what he was looking for. But it also did not work out. Why? Because she was so practical that she really did not need him so much, and ended up being a bit of a nag, always telling him what he should do. So he still looked for the perfect woman.

Then he found the perfect wife. She was beautiful, kind, loving, intelligent, organized, practical in material affairs, as well as spiritually inclined. A perfect balance. No one could be better. She would make just what he was looking for--the perfect wife.

So friends asked him if they got married. No. Why not? Because she was also looking for the perfect husband.

While the husband’s identity is in his leadership, the woman’s identity is not; her issue is love – which occurs five times in the passage (vv 25, 25, 28, 28, 28). His love makes her feel secure and special. Further, while there is no expressed command for wives to submit to their husbands (it is implied and understood from context), the imperative is for husbands to love their wives (vv 25, 33). Technically the only imperative in this text on the family is for husbands to love their wives. Love as a verb occurs 10 times in the book, eight times in the chapter, more than any chapter n the Bible. Just as a man’s identity is bound and core to his dignity and respect, love is essential and everything to a woman. In love a woman has substance, security and strength.

The model for husbands in the way they love their wives is the way Christ loved the church and gave (para-didomi) himself for her (vv 2, 25). Previously Paul said that Christ gave himself for us (v 2). Christ’s love for the church is love in action. Gave himself means utter, unreserved uplifting surrender, sacrifice, surrendering to God. Paradidomi means more than give; it is to give over, delivering up oneself completely. Give and give over means different things. The first is physical and material, the second is emotional and relational. “Give” is just the gift, but “give over” is the Giver himself. Gift is the present; give over is the Person. Give is the object; give over is Oneself. He pardoned us, purchased us and perfected us. There is nothing more precious, personal and perfect than giving oneself, which again reminds husbands that your presence is much more important than your presents. True love is sanctifying, sacrificial and steadfast.

Paul listed two purposes and both come with “hina.” First, to sanctify the church or make her holy (v 26). True love is pure, perfect – untainted, uncorrupted, undefiled, uncompromising. Christ covered and cleansed her of her sins. Second, to present her to himself as a radiant (endoxos) church (v 27). The first is for herself and the second for Him. Holy is who she is and radiant is whose she is, her being and her belonging. To be holy is God’s gift to you, to present her is her gift to God.

There is also a “why” or “for” added in Greek. The husband’s role is to feed and care for the body (v 29), 」feed」 is a word found only in this book, appearing in Ephesians 6:4 as “bring up” and “care” as a nurse cherisheth her children (1 Thess 2:7). They are not two bodies, but one flesh (v 32).

Next, Paul compares a husband’s love for his wife to his love for his own body. Paul now switches to the present participle or continuous tense for the second “love” in verse 28, meaning continuous, unceasing, and unwavering. “Self” occurs eleven times in the chapter (Eph 5:2, 19, 25, 27, 28*4, 29, 33*2), more than any chapter in the Bible. Feeding (v 30) is physical, caring is emotional. The first is nourish and the second is nurture, to provide versus to pamper, to train and treasure. The first is attention food the second is affection. Body occurs three times (vv 23, 28, 30) in the text. There are three future verbs in verse 31 – leave, join, and become/be. The first is physical, the second is emotional, and the third is identity. Unfortunately in Asia sometimes married couples have to live with parents. The contrast in preposition is “leave down/behind” (kata-leipo), the second is “join toward” (pros-kollao) and “be,” which is stationary.

In love a husband would not subjugate a submissive wife. There is no distinction of superiority because there is no division of body. Note the word superiority is never used.

Families, Learn from Scriptures to Listen Lend a Hand
6:1 Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother”-which is the first commandment with a promise— 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.” 4 Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord. (Eph 6:1-6:4)

Nowadays, Hong Kong children not far from the “little emperors” label given to children in China. It said a July 2010 poll of 657 parents with children aged five to 16 – 82% of respondents have only one child - showed nearly 90 percent have maids, 80 percent are unable to do homework on their own and fewer than 7 percent manage household chores such as sweeping floors and folding clothes.

The replies from parents were startling, with more than 60 percent saying their children have difficulty controlling their emotions, 68.4 percent are not obedient , 90 percent do not help around the home and only 20 percent tidy up their toys. Only around 5percent of the parents said they have time to look after their children and delegated that task to grandparents or hired help. Almost 90 percent of children do not help out at home.

The survey also found 98 percent of children spend their free time playing online games and the internet and 95 percent attend tutorial classes. If not at school or taking tutorials, 77.9 percent stay at home. More than three-quarters of parents said their children are not sociable. and lack the ability to express themselves.

According to the survey, 86 percent of children receive weekly or monthly allowances, with about 20 percent getting between HK$500 and HK$1,000 a month. (“Legion of spoilt kids living like emperors” Friday, August 20, 2010)

Children, on the other hand, are to obey and honor their parents. Obey and submit are two different things. The second, obey (hup-akouo), means to “under + hear” (+ acoustics). The first reason is because it is the righteous thing to do. The second one comes not with a reason but a purpose – that it may be “good” with them and that they may have long life on earth.

The second thing children are to do is to honor their parents. You might be surprised to know that this is the first time Paul uses the verb “honor” in the Bible. There is a reason for using honor besides obey. Obedience is the duty but honor is the devotion. Duty is good, but duty without heart is drudgery. Honor is to acknowledge, appreciate and even admire their commitment. It is to be thankful to, thoughtful and tender to them.

The purpose (hina + subjunctive) applies to the first clause – that it may be well with thee (v 3); the second – that you may enjoy long life on the earth - is not a subjunctive but an indicative. Paul seems to be equating and interpreting live long on earth with well with you. This “well” occurs five times in the Bible, once here but most famously translated twice as “well done” in the parable of the talents (Matt 25:21, 23).

Fathers are not to provoke (v 4).

Have you heard of Amy Chua, the controversial “Tiger Mother” Yale professor who confessed in Wall Street Journal her strict child-rearing regimen. In Chua’s article “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” she listed some of the restrictions she’d given her daughters, including not being allowed to attend sleepovers, have play dates, participate in school plays, complain about not being able to do school plays, get anything less than an A, play any instrument other than the piano or violin, or opt out of playing the piano or violin.

A writer and award-winning parenting blogger chided that Chua’s parenting decisions are “beyond extreme” and could make children fall ill. Others called her abusive for name-calling her daughters and possibly bullying the young girls into perfection. But her daughter, Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld, who is Harvard bound and made her Carnegie Hall piano debut at 14, defended her mom in a letter to a newspaper titled “Why I Love My Strict Chinese Mom.” She wrote, “Having you as a mother was no tea party. There were some play dates I wish I’d gone to and some piano camps I wish I’d skipped. But now that I’m 18 and about to leave the tiger den, I’m glad you and Daddy raised me the way you did.” (“Tiger Mother’s daughter accepted into Harvard”

Provoke implies endangering, exasperating, enraging, embittering, embarrassing, and evading the children instead of educating, embracing, encouraging, and enjoying them. Provoke/exasperate (par-orgizo) means “to anger alongside.” The question is alongside who? Probably the angry father as well. Instead their duty is to bring them up in the training (paideia) and discipline/admonition (nouthesia) of the Lord. The former is content and the latter is correction.

Conclusion: Ephesians 5 is a chapter on love. In love we are dependents and defenders, never dominators or deserters. Love defers and not demeans, delights and not demands. In love there is no dread, dishonor, or disadvantage.


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