A Valentine’s Day meditation on Scripture

In honor of the noble martyr Valentine, whose day we celebrate today, I would like to propose a meditation on Ephesians 5: 22-33.  In this text we learn that a husband plays the role of Christ and the wife plays the role of the Church (or, to put it even more strongly and in vocational language, the husband is a mask of Christ and the wife is a mask of the Church).

When this passage is usually contemplated, the discussion stops at “submission,” that just as the Church submits to Christ, the wife should submit to her husband.  But it seems to me that there is much more to the parallels than this.  I propose that we discuss the passage bracketing the question of who has to obey whom and focusing on the other implications.

Here is the passage:

22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. 23 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. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 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.[a]28 In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30 because we are members of his body. 31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33 However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.

So how are wives like the Church and how are husbands like Jesus?  For those of you who are married, how does this manifest itself?

Wives are told to submit to their husbands while husbands are told to be like Jesus in sacrificing Himself for the Church.  Don’t both of these involve denial of the self on behalf of the other person?  What are the similarities and the differences between submission and self-sacrifice?

What do verses 26 & 27 ask of husbands?

What does it mean for two people to be “one flesh”?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • kenneth

    Luther it was that coined the phrase of of God masking Himself and by allegorical extension we become the masks of God at his initative toward our redemption. It appears that we are then all equal and the submission belongs to every believer and must be accepted if we are to be in a right relationship.

    The submission or acceptance is every one who believes duty and delight. That is how the church should function, woman and man.+

  • kenneth

    Luther it was that coined the phrase of of God masking Himself and by allegorical extension we become the masks of God at his initative toward our redemption. It appears that we are then all equal and the submission belongs to every believer and must be accepted if we are to be in a right relationship.

    The submission or acceptance is every one who believes duty and delight. That is how the church should function, woman and man.+

  • Michael B.

    In my last job one of my female coworkers was a Christian, and another was an atheist. The lunchroom is right by my desk, and I heard the atheist woman ask the Christian woman, “Is it right for Sarah Palin to accept a job as vice president when she has 5 kids at home?”. The Christian one responded: “No, her husband can take care of the kids. There is a verse in the Bible about how a man has to sacrifice himself for his wife”.

  • Michael B.

    In my last job one of my female coworkers was a Christian, and another was an atheist. The lunchroom is right by my desk, and I heard the atheist woman ask the Christian woman, “Is it right for Sarah Palin to accept a job as vice president when she has 5 kids at home?”. The Christian one responded: “No, her husband can take care of the kids. There is a verse in the Bible about how a man has to sacrifice himself for his wife”.

  • Eric Brown

    One thing I would point out, which annoys me greatly, is that verse 22 is actually in the middle of a sentence in the Greek, which actually started way back in verse 18. So with that, we really ought to consider 18-21 which read: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. ”

    My particular bugaboo is this: the word for “submit” is not about enforcing dominance or establishing a pecking order or putting someone in her place… we were all in verse 21 instructed to “[submit] to one another out of reverence for Christ.” If we submit to each other, it is not a matter of power and control.

    The word for submit is “hupotasso” – it means to be ordered or arraigned under… just as in a phalanx the second rank is “ordered under” the first. If the first line turns to the left, the second rank follows their lead. (Or, if you prefer, if your head moves 50 feet north, your whole body ought to move 50 feet north, or there is a drastic problem!)

    How are wives like the Church – as the Church follows Christ’s lead (indeed, as Christians will follow the lead of their neighbor and serve them gladly when needed), so the wife will arraign her life on the needs of her husband. There is some emulation, there is some notion of sacrificing where another points.

    And this works, because the husband is to be like Christ, where every action, every choice he makes is for the good of the wife, so she can gladly follow his lead.

    Not about dominance, it’s all about service (or how one serves in ones vocation, if you prefer)

  • Eric Brown

    One thing I would point out, which annoys me greatly, is that verse 22 is actually in the middle of a sentence in the Greek, which actually started way back in verse 18. So with that, we really ought to consider 18-21 which read: “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. ”

    My particular bugaboo is this: the word for “submit” is not about enforcing dominance or establishing a pecking order or putting someone in her place… we were all in verse 21 instructed to “[submit] to one another out of reverence for Christ.” If we submit to each other, it is not a matter of power and control.

    The word for submit is “hupotasso” – it means to be ordered or arraigned under… just as in a phalanx the second rank is “ordered under” the first. If the first line turns to the left, the second rank follows their lead. (Or, if you prefer, if your head moves 50 feet north, your whole body ought to move 50 feet north, or there is a drastic problem!)

    How are wives like the Church – as the Church follows Christ’s lead (indeed, as Christians will follow the lead of their neighbor and serve them gladly when needed), so the wife will arraign her life on the needs of her husband. There is some emulation, there is some notion of sacrificing where another points.

    And this works, because the husband is to be like Christ, where every action, every choice he makes is for the good of the wife, so she can gladly follow his lead.

    Not about dominance, it’s all about service (or how one serves in ones vocation, if you prefer)

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Whenever women complain about the submitting portion of that passage, I like to respond “You’ve got the easy part.”

  • http://enterthevein.wordpress.com J. Dean

    Whenever women complain about the submitting portion of that passage, I like to respond “You’ve got the easy part.”

  • Booklover

    I agree, J. Dean, and I’m a woman. The husbands are to be like Christ? Wow.

  • Booklover

    I agree, J. Dean, and I’m a woman. The husbands are to be like Christ? Wow.

  • trotk

    Eric -

    Thanks. To make your point stronger about the grammar of the passage, what we have is a command (be filled in the Spirit) followed by a string of participles that explain the command. Thus, the participle “submitting to…” isn’t a command as much as it is an explanation of the command “be filled in the Spirit.” And so we should figure out what submission in the fear of the Lord (v. 21) is by understanding it in the context of being filled IN (literally, rather than “with”) the Spirit.

    By the way, the preposition “in” that is translated “with” (in verse 18) ought to be left alone, in my opinion. “In” gives the impression of a bucket filled in the ocean, rather than just with the ocean.

  • trotk

    Eric -

    Thanks. To make your point stronger about the grammar of the passage, what we have is a command (be filled in the Spirit) followed by a string of participles that explain the command. Thus, the participle “submitting to…” isn’t a command as much as it is an explanation of the command “be filled in the Spirit.” And so we should figure out what submission in the fear of the Lord (v. 21) is by understanding it in the context of being filled IN (literally, rather than “with”) the Spirit.

    By the way, the preposition “in” that is translated “with” (in verse 18) ought to be left alone, in my opinion. “In” gives the impression of a bucket filled in the ocean, rather than just with the ocean.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    This is a great challenge, to be sure. Christ laid aside his eternal glory and stooped to the lowest on earth to redeem what he loved. In my own life, I must set aside any personal glory in order to serve my wife. Getting married changes the story.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    This is a great challenge, to be sure. Christ laid aside his eternal glory and stooped to the lowest on earth to redeem what he loved. In my own life, I must set aside any personal glory in order to serve my wife. Getting married changes the story.

  • dwcasey

    @Michael B. they must have overlooked Titus 2.

  • dwcasey

    @Michael B. they must have overlooked Titus 2.

  • George A. Marquart

    First, to Trotk @6. This (Eph. 5:18) is one of the passages quoted by those who believe that we are filled with the Holy Spirit multiple times. However, the verb is a passive imperative, making the Holy Spirit the agent, Who is doing the filling. Being passive, it takes on the form of suggestion, rather than of a command. And rightly so, because the only command in the Kingdom of our Lord is the one He gave to His Disciples on the night He was betrayed, “Love one another as I have loved you.” What follows is all in the spirit of this, “Allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with …”

    Secondly, as all teachings in the New Testament, this one relies on the Gospel. St. Paul proclaims this Gospel so eloquently in the first part of this Epistle. We should be aware of the fact that none of the exhortations which follow this Gospel make any sense without it. If we don’t understand that in the Gospel our Lord has given us the assurance of eternal life in His Kingdom, both in this world and eventually with Him in heaven, then we continue to be concerned about ourselves and how we can be sure that salvation is ours. If we believe the Gospel as it is meant to be believed, then we can forget about ourselves; then we can submit to wives, husbands, and anyone else, even as our Lord “humbled Himself and took on the form of a servant.” It is clear from what St. Paul is saying that the submission and the love should be mutual, so that neither spouse would be exalted over the other. Of course, St. Paul paints an ideal picture of how things should be, not as they are, or have been made to appear, because of sin. This should not make us concerned abut ourselves again, because, as the Gospel teaches, our Lord took care of that sin. It is not an impediment to our status as children of God in His Kingdom.

    “The two shall become one flesh.” Could this mean anything else than that the two individuals become one organism, with one will, each not concerned about themselves, but happily serving the other and submitting to the other? Does it ever happen in real life? Obviously not perfectly, but sometimes you see older couples with such devotion to one another that you know they have come close.

    Peace and Joy and a Happy Valentine’s Day!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    First, to Trotk @6. This (Eph. 5:18) is one of the passages quoted by those who believe that we are filled with the Holy Spirit multiple times. However, the verb is a passive imperative, making the Holy Spirit the agent, Who is doing the filling. Being passive, it takes on the form of suggestion, rather than of a command. And rightly so, because the only command in the Kingdom of our Lord is the one He gave to His Disciples on the night He was betrayed, “Love one another as I have loved you.” What follows is all in the spirit of this, “Allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with …”

    Secondly, as all teachings in the New Testament, this one relies on the Gospel. St. Paul proclaims this Gospel so eloquently in the first part of this Epistle. We should be aware of the fact that none of the exhortations which follow this Gospel make any sense without it. If we don’t understand that in the Gospel our Lord has given us the assurance of eternal life in His Kingdom, both in this world and eventually with Him in heaven, then we continue to be concerned about ourselves and how we can be sure that salvation is ours. If we believe the Gospel as it is meant to be believed, then we can forget about ourselves; then we can submit to wives, husbands, and anyone else, even as our Lord “humbled Himself and took on the form of a servant.” It is clear from what St. Paul is saying that the submission and the love should be mutual, so that neither spouse would be exalted over the other. Of course, St. Paul paints an ideal picture of how things should be, not as they are, or have been made to appear, because of sin. This should not make us concerned abut ourselves again, because, as the Gospel teaches, our Lord took care of that sin. It is not an impediment to our status as children of God in His Kingdom.

    “The two shall become one flesh.” Could this mean anything else than that the two individuals become one organism, with one will, each not concerned about themselves, but happily serving the other and submitting to the other? Does it ever happen in real life? Obviously not perfectly, but sometimes you see older couples with such devotion to one another that you know they have come close.

    Peace and Joy and a Happy Valentine’s Day!
    George A. Marquart

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Well what do ya know, it’s already Feb 14 which, of course, means that CCLE XII is just five short months away.

    More info:

    http://www.ccle.org/index.php?cID=70

    CCLE XII

    All at Once: Integrating Classical and Lutheran Education

    July 17-19, 2012
    Houston, Texas
    Memorial Lutheran Church and School

  • http://www.biblegateway.com/versions/Contemporary-English-Version-CEV-Bible/ sg

    Well what do ya know, it’s already Feb 14 which, of course, means that CCLE XII is just five short months away.

    More info:

    http://www.ccle.org/index.php?cID=70

    CCLE XII

    All at Once: Integrating Classical and Lutheran Education

    July 17-19, 2012
    Houston, Texas
    Memorial Lutheran Church and School

  • –helen

    Dr. Veith,
    I have heard sermons on v.22-24 fairly regularly over a long lifetime; sermons on v.25-33, about once a decade. Thanks for bringing it up, even if not in a sermon. :)

    The unwillingness to get past “wives submit” and the tendency to interpret it as “women, subjugate yourselves” has, IMHO, led to the rise of “feminism” and the urge to put the shoe on the other foot, to the disruption of church and society.
    [Also to not a few lcms clergy daughters attending the elca, to obtain the collar and stole and hope to conquer "their" denomination with same.]

  • –helen

    Dr. Veith,
    I have heard sermons on v.22-24 fairly regularly over a long lifetime; sermons on v.25-33, about once a decade. Thanks for bringing it up, even if not in a sermon. :)

    The unwillingness to get past “wives submit” and the tendency to interpret it as “women, subjugate yourselves” has, IMHO, led to the rise of “feminism” and the urge to put the shoe on the other foot, to the disruption of church and society.
    [Also to not a few lcms clergy daughters attending the elca, to obtain the collar and stole and hope to conquer "their" denomination with same.]

  • trotk

    George -

    You are right about the verb being a passive imperative, and thus the Holy Spirit being the agent. Nowhere did I mean to imply otherwise. I also know the history (and reject the theology) of those who seek to make this into an apology for multiple fillings of the Spirit.

    However, I disagree with your phrasing, “polite suggestion.” That sounds like you kn0w grammatically that you are looking at an imperative (which you obviously do know) but are unwilling to call it an imperative because that sounds like Law. The problem is, though, that it is an imperative. So what do we do?

    It is an imperative. It is a command given to Christians. To treat it as less than that is to neuter it. But it is also passive. Only the Spirit can accomplish it. He is the agent here. And so to treat it as my act is incorrect as well. The only conclusion that I can come to is that I am commanded to have something done to me, by the agency of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t a suggestion, but it also isn’t my work. It is a reminder that we have the freedom to reject the work of the Spirit, but Paul is commanding us not to do that. Instead, I am commanded to be filled (not “let the Spirit fill,” which would be the polite suggestion, grammatically) in the Spirit.

  • trotk

    George -

    You are right about the verb being a passive imperative, and thus the Holy Spirit being the agent. Nowhere did I mean to imply otherwise. I also know the history (and reject the theology) of those who seek to make this into an apology for multiple fillings of the Spirit.

    However, I disagree with your phrasing, “polite suggestion.” That sounds like you kn0w grammatically that you are looking at an imperative (which you obviously do know) but are unwilling to call it an imperative because that sounds like Law. The problem is, though, that it is an imperative. So what do we do?

    It is an imperative. It is a command given to Christians. To treat it as less than that is to neuter it. But it is also passive. Only the Spirit can accomplish it. He is the agent here. And so to treat it as my act is incorrect as well. The only conclusion that I can come to is that I am commanded to have something done to me, by the agency of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t a suggestion, but it also isn’t my work. It is a reminder that we have the freedom to reject the work of the Spirit, but Paul is commanding us not to do that. Instead, I am commanded to be filled (not “let the Spirit fill,” which would be the polite suggestion, grammatically) in the Spirit.

  • JunkerGeorg

    Great topic. Thankyou Dr. Veith!

    Had I had more time, I’d get into the Greek, ala the great post (#3) by Eric Brown above. For the meantime, I’ll echo the same thoughts that as for “submit”, a more accurate, albeit wooden, translation might literally be “subordinate.” Adam, in order to realize/fulfill his holy gender, and reflect the image and likeness of his Giver God in which he was created, must be first in order, must be the initiator, the giver, must be the BLESSER, which thus means that if Eve is to be BLESSED, to be filled, to be loved, must be 2nd, must be the receiver, of the blessings which Adam is called to bestow upon her. With such a “bolt and nut” order of Creation, the distinct, holy genders of both Adam and Eve are realized and joyously fulfilled, while ultimately in living out in such an order the Image and Likeness of God is being reflected, so then is God Himself ultimately glorified in this. So Eve was a helpmeet primarily in this: In being the object/recipient of Adam’s love, she enabled Adam to fulfill and realize his holy gender and in the process realized/fulfilled her gender as well. So Adam and Eve reflected the Order of Creation in Adam being giver and Eve being receiver.

    Yet how this order is irreperably perverted in the fall of Adam!!! On textual grounds of Genesis 3:6, it would sure seem to lean in the direction that Adam was WITH Eve when she was tempted by satan/fell into sin, and then in such fallenness of creation and its order then played the role of Pastor to Adam, hearing and believing the word of satan, considering the forbidden fruit of death blessed, and distributing to Adam her husband the forbidden fruit, playing the “giver”, as Adam then played the “receiver” = total reversal of the original Order of Creation)

    By the way, far from the order of Creation being nullified/superceded by the Order of Salvation (as erring brothers/sisters in the ELCA and many other denominations have been erroneously asserting, hence reflected in their condoning if not embrace of women’s ordination, homosexuality, etc.), the Order of Creation is actually recreated/restored via the Order of Salvation/Media Salutis, in terms of Christ being the “2nd Adam” and the Church (the New Eve)…Christ in perfect fulfillment of the Law as 2nd Adam under the Law + in fulfillment of the Gospel as God in flesh, all in SACRIFICIAL LOVE, does what the 1st Adam SHOULD have done when God had called him to account in the Garden, that is, to confession/repentance/faith as the spokesman on behalf of himself and his wife Eve (which implies God even then was ready to absolve), namely, Christ, the 2nd Adam, though never knowing sin, becomes sin, becomes the ultimate sinner, is made accursed that we might be made blessed; Who in the stead and on the behalf of His whore bride takes all her filth of sin upon Himself, suffering the just punishment over/against sin of death, of separation from God. In other words, the 1st Adam had the opportunity of replying to God, “I am responsible for my wife. It is my fault in allowing this to happen, and even moreso in knowingly participating in what I knew was against your Law. I neither loved her in letting her go on with satan, and above all I did not fear, love, or trust in You or Your Word, O God. If it be according to Your will, please kill me, O God, that my wife might be spared.” But no, we know the story, how Adam accused God of being a faulty Creator, and deriding/stepping all over his wife in the process, ultimately shaming himself (for Eve was Adam’s glory!) Yet the 2nd Adam, Christ, did just this, even though He was innocent of committing any sin.

    To echo C.S. Lewis, you Atheist readers on here, even if you do not believe this story of our salvation to be real, can you not at least see the utter depth and “hideous strength” of love here, of sacrificial love (as distinct, yet not separate from, romantic love)?? In a paradoxical way, such sacrificial love, such selfless “vicariousity”, only heightens the romantic beauty, does it not? Easy to love that which is lovely, but how about loving that which is unlovely, loving them to the point that you’re willing to be put to death by the unlovely whom you love? “God’s love does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it.” (Luther from Heidelberg Theses) Granted, to many worldly-minded, this is utter foolishness. But to some of us, it truly is the power of God unto salvation…no more beautiful story of love ever told, of such utter depth, of such romantic and sacrificial love. Hence that beautiful term, “The Vicarious Atonement”, in which both the order of salvation is fulfilled by God and the order of creation is restored for man.

    Ok, forgive my lengthy ramblings…as Mark Twain once said, “Had I had more time, I would’ve written you a shorter letter.” ;)

  • JunkerGeorg

    Great topic. Thankyou Dr. Veith!

    Had I had more time, I’d get into the Greek, ala the great post (#3) by Eric Brown above. For the meantime, I’ll echo the same thoughts that as for “submit”, a more accurate, albeit wooden, translation might literally be “subordinate.” Adam, in order to realize/fulfill his holy gender, and reflect the image and likeness of his Giver God in which he was created, must be first in order, must be the initiator, the giver, must be the BLESSER, which thus means that if Eve is to be BLESSED, to be filled, to be loved, must be 2nd, must be the receiver, of the blessings which Adam is called to bestow upon her. With such a “bolt and nut” order of Creation, the distinct, holy genders of both Adam and Eve are realized and joyously fulfilled, while ultimately in living out in such an order the Image and Likeness of God is being reflected, so then is God Himself ultimately glorified in this. So Eve was a helpmeet primarily in this: In being the object/recipient of Adam’s love, she enabled Adam to fulfill and realize his holy gender and in the process realized/fulfilled her gender as well. So Adam and Eve reflected the Order of Creation in Adam being giver and Eve being receiver.

    Yet how this order is irreperably perverted in the fall of Adam!!! On textual grounds of Genesis 3:6, it would sure seem to lean in the direction that Adam was WITH Eve when she was tempted by satan/fell into sin, and then in such fallenness of creation and its order then played the role of Pastor to Adam, hearing and believing the word of satan, considering the forbidden fruit of death blessed, and distributing to Adam her husband the forbidden fruit, playing the “giver”, as Adam then played the “receiver” = total reversal of the original Order of Creation)

    By the way, far from the order of Creation being nullified/superceded by the Order of Salvation (as erring brothers/sisters in the ELCA and many other denominations have been erroneously asserting, hence reflected in their condoning if not embrace of women’s ordination, homosexuality, etc.), the Order of Creation is actually recreated/restored via the Order of Salvation/Media Salutis, in terms of Christ being the “2nd Adam” and the Church (the New Eve)…Christ in perfect fulfillment of the Law as 2nd Adam under the Law + in fulfillment of the Gospel as God in flesh, all in SACRIFICIAL LOVE, does what the 1st Adam SHOULD have done when God had called him to account in the Garden, that is, to confession/repentance/faith as the spokesman on behalf of himself and his wife Eve (which implies God even then was ready to absolve), namely, Christ, the 2nd Adam, though never knowing sin, becomes sin, becomes the ultimate sinner, is made accursed that we might be made blessed; Who in the stead and on the behalf of His whore bride takes all her filth of sin upon Himself, suffering the just punishment over/against sin of death, of separation from God. In other words, the 1st Adam had the opportunity of replying to God, “I am responsible for my wife. It is my fault in allowing this to happen, and even moreso in knowingly participating in what I knew was against your Law. I neither loved her in letting her go on with satan, and above all I did not fear, love, or trust in You or Your Word, O God. If it be according to Your will, please kill me, O God, that my wife might be spared.” But no, we know the story, how Adam accused God of being a faulty Creator, and deriding/stepping all over his wife in the process, ultimately shaming himself (for Eve was Adam’s glory!) Yet the 2nd Adam, Christ, did just this, even though He was innocent of committing any sin.

    To echo C.S. Lewis, you Atheist readers on here, even if you do not believe this story of our salvation to be real, can you not at least see the utter depth and “hideous strength” of love here, of sacrificial love (as distinct, yet not separate from, romantic love)?? In a paradoxical way, such sacrificial love, such selfless “vicariousity”, only heightens the romantic beauty, does it not? Easy to love that which is lovely, but how about loving that which is unlovely, loving them to the point that you’re willing to be put to death by the unlovely whom you love? “God’s love does not find, but creates, that which is pleasing to it.” (Luther from Heidelberg Theses) Granted, to many worldly-minded, this is utter foolishness. But to some of us, it truly is the power of God unto salvation…no more beautiful story of love ever told, of such utter depth, of such romantic and sacrificial love. Hence that beautiful term, “The Vicarious Atonement”, in which both the order of salvation is fulfilled by God and the order of creation is restored for man.

    Ok, forgive my lengthy ramblings…as Mark Twain once said, “Had I had more time, I would’ve written you a shorter letter.” ;)

  • JunkerGeorg

    Oh, forgot to mention that we in the New Testament Church are the “New Eden”, the locus in which we have the realization of this truth of the order of Creation being restored via the order of salvation. Hence, for those on the outside, this hopefully might help you understand why most of us “confessional Lutherans” in the LCMS find women’s ordination so horrifying, so appalling…Such a rejection of the reality of the restored Order of Creation by Christ is truly like reenacting the fall of Adam and Eve in the first Eden all over again, just as the rejection of Justification by Grace alone through Faith alone in Christ Crucified alone (the Order of Salvation) is a crucifying of Christ all over again. Far from bringing glory to women, it utterly takes their glory all away, along with man’s glory….the glory of both being in Christ. And this with these church’s approval no less!!! Tremble..

  • JunkerGeorg

    Oh, forgot to mention that we in the New Testament Church are the “New Eden”, the locus in which we have the realization of this truth of the order of Creation being restored via the order of salvation. Hence, for those on the outside, this hopefully might help you understand why most of us “confessional Lutherans” in the LCMS find women’s ordination so horrifying, so appalling…Such a rejection of the reality of the restored Order of Creation by Christ is truly like reenacting the fall of Adam and Eve in the first Eden all over again, just as the rejection of Justification by Grace alone through Faith alone in Christ Crucified alone (the Order of Salvation) is a crucifying of Christ all over again. Far from bringing glory to women, it utterly takes their glory all away, along with man’s glory….the glory of both being in Christ. And this with these church’s approval no less!!! Tremble..

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    I believe that in self-sacrifice and submission it involves denying yourself. One pastor once told me that we are being asked to do what does not come naturally to us as male and female. Males must love and females must submit.

    or as Luther put it involving Christ and the church…

    Here we have a most pleasing vision not only of communion but of a blessed struggle and victory and salvation and redemption. Christ is God and man in one person. He has neither sinned nor died, and is not condemned, and he cannot sin, die, or be condemned; his righteousness, life, and salvation are unconquerable, eternal, omnipotent. By the wedding ring of faith he shares in the sins, death, and pains of hell which are his bride’s. As a matter of fact, he makes them his own and acts as if they were his own and as if he himself had sinned; he suffered, died, and descended into hell that he might overcome all. Now since it was such a one who did this, and death and hell could not swallow him up, these were necessarily swallowed up by him in a mighty duel; for his righteousness is greater that the sins of all men, his life stronger than death, his salvation more invincible than hell. This the believing soul by means of the pledge of his faith is free in Christ, its bridegroom, free from all sins, secure against death and hell, and is endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of Christ its bridegroom. So he takes to himself a glorious bride, “without spot or wrinkle, cleansing here by the washing of water with the word”[ Ephesians 5:25-27] of life, that is, by faith in the Word of life, righteousness, and salvation. In this way he marries her in faith, steadfast love, and in mercies, righteousness, and justice, as Hosea 2:19-20 says.

    The Freedom of a Christian, Martin Luther

  • http://www.whenisayrunrun.blogspot.com Andrew

    I believe that in self-sacrifice and submission it involves denying yourself. One pastor once told me that we are being asked to do what does not come naturally to us as male and female. Males must love and females must submit.

    or as Luther put it involving Christ and the church…

    Here we have a most pleasing vision not only of communion but of a blessed struggle and victory and salvation and redemption. Christ is God and man in one person. He has neither sinned nor died, and is not condemned, and he cannot sin, die, or be condemned; his righteousness, life, and salvation are unconquerable, eternal, omnipotent. By the wedding ring of faith he shares in the sins, death, and pains of hell which are his bride’s. As a matter of fact, he makes them his own and acts as if they were his own and as if he himself had sinned; he suffered, died, and descended into hell that he might overcome all. Now since it was such a one who did this, and death and hell could not swallow him up, these were necessarily swallowed up by him in a mighty duel; for his righteousness is greater that the sins of all men, his life stronger than death, his salvation more invincible than hell. This the believing soul by means of the pledge of his faith is free in Christ, its bridegroom, free from all sins, secure against death and hell, and is endowed with the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of Christ its bridegroom. So he takes to himself a glorious bride, “without spot or wrinkle, cleansing here by the washing of water with the word”[ Ephesians 5:25-27] of life, that is, by faith in the Word of life, righteousness, and salvation. In this way he marries her in faith, steadfast love, and in mercies, righteousness, and justice, as Hosea 2:19-20 says.

    The Freedom of a Christian, Martin Luther

  • JunkerGeorg

    The longer I’m married, the more I see how far I fall short of my vows…and yet, the precious Gospel truth is how the vows of husband and wife are truly fulfilled and realized to be fulfilled in the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament, above all in the pinnacle of the Lord’s Supper, where by Spirit-given penitent faith, husband and wife are brought to kneel and receive their Lord in His Body and Blood given and shed for them (as individuals and as a one-flesh couple) for the forgiveness of sins, new life, and everlasting salvation. Nowhere else can husband and wife truly say that their wedding vows have ever been been perfectly fulfilled and realized to be fulfilled. Nowhere else does one find the power to live out the marital life in forgiveness of one another, for all the ways a couple daily falls short of keeping their vows as they ‘should’.

  • JunkerGeorg

    The longer I’m married, the more I see how far I fall short of my vows…and yet, the precious Gospel truth is how the vows of husband and wife are truly fulfilled and realized to be fulfilled in the Divine Service of Word and Sacrament, above all in the pinnacle of the Lord’s Supper, where by Spirit-given penitent faith, husband and wife are brought to kneel and receive their Lord in His Body and Blood given and shed for them (as individuals and as a one-flesh couple) for the forgiveness of sins, new life, and everlasting salvation. Nowhere else can husband and wife truly say that their wedding vows have ever been been perfectly fulfilled and realized to be fulfilled. Nowhere else does one find the power to live out the marital life in forgiveness of one another, for all the ways a couple daily falls short of keeping their vows as they ‘should’.

  • George A. Marquart

    Trotk @12 Actually I wrote “suggestion” not “polite suggestion.” But, the truth be told, I might as well have written, “polite suggestion”, because this is how I believe God deals with the children of His Kingdom. As I understand it, and I by no means claim to be even a little knowledgeable about this, it is difficult to express “polite suggestions” in Greek. So, for instance, when I pray “forgive us our trespasses” privately, I always precede it with “please.” It seems to me that it is not appropriate to issue a command to God, and, as I understand, the Aramaic version of the Lord’s Prayer has indications of a more polite request.

    But also, there is Luther. I cannot put my finger on it, but somewhere in his commentary on Romans, when he gets to Chapter 12, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God….”, he makes the point that this is a good example of the Third Use of the Law. St. Paul is not commanding, but appealing. I suspect that this is the same sense as in the Ephesians passage.

    I cannot really argue it on the grammar, but I am concerned about what we do to the Gospel when we include commands in it. You see, according to what the Confessions say, and, I believe according to what Scripture says, regenerate man has “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). This does not “neuter” the command; it makes the command aspect of the statement unnecessary.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    Trotk @12 Actually I wrote “suggestion” not “polite suggestion.” But, the truth be told, I might as well have written, “polite suggestion”, because this is how I believe God deals with the children of His Kingdom. As I understand it, and I by no means claim to be even a little knowledgeable about this, it is difficult to express “polite suggestions” in Greek. So, for instance, when I pray “forgive us our trespasses” privately, I always precede it with “please.” It seems to me that it is not appropriate to issue a command to God, and, as I understand, the Aramaic version of the Lord’s Prayer has indications of a more polite request.

    But also, there is Luther. I cannot put my finger on it, but somewhere in his commentary on Romans, when he gets to Chapter 12, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God….”, he makes the point that this is a good example of the Third Use of the Law. St. Paul is not commanding, but appealing. I suspect that this is the same sense as in the Ephesians passage.

    I cannot really argue it on the grammar, but I am concerned about what we do to the Gospel when we include commands in it. You see, according to what the Confessions say, and, I believe according to what Scripture says, regenerate man has “the mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16). This does not “neuter” the command; it makes the command aspect of the statement unnecessary.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • Michael B.

    @dwcasey “they must have overlooked Titus 2.”

    My point is that people will interpret that verse however they want. Doug Phillips and other other ultra-conservatives with use it, and so will new-age feminist churches.

  • Michael B.

    @dwcasey “they must have overlooked Titus 2.”

    My point is that people will interpret that verse however they want. Doug Phillips and other other ultra-conservatives with use it, and so will new-age feminist churches.

  • trotk

    George -

    For what its worth, Greek is quite capable of expressing polite requests. The New Testament has plenty of examples. Grammatically, it is usually just the difference between an indicative and a subjunctive verb. The same difference exists in English. “Would you pass the ketchup?” and “O that you would pass the ketchup!” are far more polite than “pass the ketchup.” We soften in English with “please” because we are quickly losing the subjunctive. Koine Greek has expressions that work for please, but it generally just uses the subjunctive. (For reference, classical Greek had another mood that could also be used like this, although it expressed more of a wish when used in independent clauses.) The same pattern exists in Latin and modern Italian, among other languages.

    But this isn’t really the point. The point is what we should do with a command given to Christians. In this instance, it is easy, because the command is passive and the actor or agent is the Spirit. The command is more a command to not reject the Spirit’s work – ie, “be filled” means “don’t turn away from the Spirit’s work in your life.” It is more a command to not do anything than it is a command to do something.

    But what do you do with direct, active commands given to Christians? They exist all over the place, from “love another” to “flee idols” to “do this in remembrance of Me” to “don’t take believers to court” to “give so-and-so my greeting” to “don’t turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh” to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” This list could go on and on. Obviously they all have to be interpreted in light of the finished work of Christ. Obviously they all have to be interpreted in light of Ephesians 2 and Galatians and Romans 7 and 8 and all the other passages that make it crystal clear that our works cannot make us pleasing to God and Christ alone is responsible for our salvation.

    But we shouldn’t be scared of acknowledging that the commands exist. Luther wasn’t, as is evident by the fact that he uses the Ten Commandments as the basis for the Small Catechism, which was written for Christians.

    I would wager that the average Christian’s (including Lutherans) understanding of what to do with these commands is either heretical, because he believes that his righteous deeds accomplish what only Christ can accomplish, or because he explains these commands away, as if God didn’t mean what He directly said. In other words, he falls off one side of the horse or the other.

  • trotk

    George -

    For what its worth, Greek is quite capable of expressing polite requests. The New Testament has plenty of examples. Grammatically, it is usually just the difference between an indicative and a subjunctive verb. The same difference exists in English. “Would you pass the ketchup?” and “O that you would pass the ketchup!” are far more polite than “pass the ketchup.” We soften in English with “please” because we are quickly losing the subjunctive. Koine Greek has expressions that work for please, but it generally just uses the subjunctive. (For reference, classical Greek had another mood that could also be used like this, although it expressed more of a wish when used in independent clauses.) The same pattern exists in Latin and modern Italian, among other languages.

    But this isn’t really the point. The point is what we should do with a command given to Christians. In this instance, it is easy, because the command is passive and the actor or agent is the Spirit. The command is more a command to not reject the Spirit’s work – ie, “be filled” means “don’t turn away from the Spirit’s work in your life.” It is more a command to not do anything than it is a command to do something.

    But what do you do with direct, active commands given to Christians? They exist all over the place, from “love another” to “flee idols” to “do this in remembrance of Me” to “don’t take believers to court” to “give so-and-so my greeting” to “don’t turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh” to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” This list could go on and on. Obviously they all have to be interpreted in light of the finished work of Christ. Obviously they all have to be interpreted in light of Ephesians 2 and Galatians and Romans 7 and 8 and all the other passages that make it crystal clear that our works cannot make us pleasing to God and Christ alone is responsible for our salvation.

    But we shouldn’t be scared of acknowledging that the commands exist. Luther wasn’t, as is evident by the fact that he uses the Ten Commandments as the basis for the Small Catechism, which was written for Christians.

    I would wager that the average Christian’s (including Lutherans) understanding of what to do with these commands is either heretical, because he believes that his righteous deeds accomplish what only Christ can accomplish, or because he explains these commands away, as if God didn’t mean what He directly said. In other words, he falls off one side of the horse or the other.

  • Robin

    @ J Dean #4 I was thinking the same thing! Haha. I just wish that pastors would discuss both issues submission to the husband and husband loving the wife as Christ loves the church. What a charge to the men! Also, Eric Brown thank you for parsing out those verses. That was very helpful.

  • Robin

    @ J Dean #4 I was thinking the same thing! Haha. I just wish that pastors would discuss both issues submission to the husband and husband loving the wife as Christ loves the church. What a charge to the men! Also, Eric Brown thank you for parsing out those verses. That was very helpful.

  • George A. Marquart

    Trotk@19. Thanks for the Greek lesson. I write this in all sincerity. Approximately 50 years ago I had to promise one of my Greek professors that I would never pass myself off as being knowledgeable in the subject. I have not found that difficult to do, since, in fact, I hardly know anything about it. If it is not too much trouble, and if Dr. Veith does not mind, could you write a few words on how all those Aorists in the Lord’s Prayer came to be Imperatives in English and if possibly there is a better way to translate them?

    As to the various commands, I think there is a third position, which very few Lutherans believe in, and that is that these commands are not to be ignored, but that they are not commands in the ordinarily understood meaning of the word. When our Lord said, “Love one another….”, is it possible for someone to love because they are commanded to do so? When my stepfather told me many years ago (I am sure he rests with the Lord) that he loved me because it was his duty, I understood that love cannot be commanded.

    Are these commands Law or Gospel? I think the answer is obvious. If they were Law, they would not apply to us, because “the Law speaks to those who are under the Law”. If they are Gospel, then they are commands without compulsion. They are what God’s children want to do, because they have the Law (meaning Torah, or the mind of God) written on their hearts.
    As to Luther, although I believe that he was probably the greatest theologian after the Apostles, I sometime find him confusing when he writes about the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God, and sanctification. I also keep wondering why he only taught 9 Commandments? I mean, since he translated the whole Bible, he must have known.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • George A. Marquart

    Trotk@19. Thanks for the Greek lesson. I write this in all sincerity. Approximately 50 years ago I had to promise one of my Greek professors that I would never pass myself off as being knowledgeable in the subject. I have not found that difficult to do, since, in fact, I hardly know anything about it. If it is not too much trouble, and if Dr. Veith does not mind, could you write a few words on how all those Aorists in the Lord’s Prayer came to be Imperatives in English and if possibly there is a better way to translate them?

    As to the various commands, I think there is a third position, which very few Lutherans believe in, and that is that these commands are not to be ignored, but that they are not commands in the ordinarily understood meaning of the word. When our Lord said, “Love one another….”, is it possible for someone to love because they are commanded to do so? When my stepfather told me many years ago (I am sure he rests with the Lord) that he loved me because it was his duty, I understood that love cannot be commanded.

    Are these commands Law or Gospel? I think the answer is obvious. If they were Law, they would not apply to us, because “the Law speaks to those who are under the Law”. If they are Gospel, then they are commands without compulsion. They are what God’s children want to do, because they have the Law (meaning Torah, or the mind of God) written on their hearts.
    As to Luther, although I believe that he was probably the greatest theologian after the Apostles, I sometime find him confusing when he writes about the Holy Spirit, the Kingdom of God, and sanctification. I also keep wondering why he only taught 9 Commandments? I mean, since he translated the whole Bible, he must have known.

    Peace and Joy!
    George A. Marquart

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    Eric #3
    The word for submit is “hupotasso” – it means to be ordered or arraigned under… just as in a phalanx the second rank is “ordered under” the first. If the first line turns to the left, the second rank follows their lead.–
    The example -using military order-together with the explanation of hupotasso (Greek for submit) has answered a question that I put to our Creator-some time ago-and has clarified the order-
    I call them-My little talks with God–

    I have never liked the word ‘submit’ because it had (and has) been used to ‘keep the female human in her place’-thus dominated-
    Now that I know the Greek-it is clear –
    Blessings-
    Carol-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    Eric #3
    The word for submit is “hupotasso” – it means to be ordered or arraigned under… just as in a phalanx the second rank is “ordered under” the first. If the first line turns to the left, the second rank follows their lead.–
    The example -using military order-together with the explanation of hupotasso (Greek for submit) has answered a question that I put to our Creator-some time ago-and has clarified the order-
    I call them-My little talks with God–

    I have never liked the word ‘submit’ because it had (and has) been used to ‘keep the female human in her place’-thus dominated-
    Now that I know the Greek-it is clear –
    Blessings-
    Carol-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    BTW-Eric-
    Forgot to -
    Thank you-for the clarification -
    C-CS

  • http://carolmsblog.blogspot.com/ C-Christian Soldier

    BTW-Eric-
    Forgot to -
    Thank you-for the clarification -
    C-CS

  • JunkerGeorg

    @trotk, #19

    “I would wager that the average Christian’s (including Lutherans) understanding of what to do with these commands is either heretical, because he believes that his righteous deeds accomplish what only Christ can accomplish, or because he explains these commands away, as if God didn’t mean what He directly said. In other words, he falls off one side of the horse or the other.”
    —–

    Yes, our sinful nature is such that at moment we are acting the anti-nomian libertine, another moment the self-righteous legalist, or in some ways both at the same time. And you or I pointing that out does not somehow stop it from taking place within the sinful flesh of both of us. Hence the only answer that can be given to your comment, the solution given, is in our baptismal reality, found in the covering of Christ and His forgiveness which so daily and richly covers the multitude of ways in which we through our sinful play both the libertine and the legalist, a depravity we cannot even fully see, a pardon we can only but believe and cling to by His grace.

  • JunkerGeorg

    @trotk, #19

    “I would wager that the average Christian’s (including Lutherans) understanding of what to do with these commands is either heretical, because he believes that his righteous deeds accomplish what only Christ can accomplish, or because he explains these commands away, as if God didn’t mean what He directly said. In other words, he falls off one side of the horse or the other.”
    —–

    Yes, our sinful nature is such that at moment we are acting the anti-nomian libertine, another moment the self-righteous legalist, or in some ways both at the same time. And you or I pointing that out does not somehow stop it from taking place within the sinful flesh of both of us. Hence the only answer that can be given to your comment, the solution given, is in our baptismal reality, found in the covering of Christ and His forgiveness which so daily and richly covers the multitude of ways in which we through our sinful play both the libertine and the legalist, a depravity we cannot even fully see, a pardon we can only but believe and cling to by His grace.


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