CTNAHM: Cleanse Your Wife with Your Words

CTNAHM: Cleanse Your Wife with Your Words March 20, 2014

By Aletha

Originally posted on Yllom Mormon

Created To Need A Help Meet, pp. 147-150

We are finishing up the chapter on Bible verses. Just a few more to get through! What I find most annoying about this section is the part where Michael just gives a bunch of verses that are vaguely connected to the point he’s trying to make, but doesn’t explain them. It feels like he’s a kid saying “My dad said so, it’s true!” without really understanding what is actually being said.

Marriage, the Divine Reality

Think about it: of all the possible analogies God could have employed to describe his relationship to his church, he uses the husband and wife’s physical merging into one flesh and bone (Ephesians 5:25-33). Note the following verses:

John 3:29-He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy is therefore fulfilled

Revelation 19:7-9
7-Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his with hath made herself ready
8-And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.
9-And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

Revelation 21:9-And there came unto me one of the seven angels which had the seven vials full of the seven last plagues, and talked with me saying, Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.

Revelation 22:17-And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

See what I mean? Instead of explaining Jewish marriage customs at the time of the New Testament, Michael just lists a bunch of verses that talk about brides. I’m not a Biblical scholar, but even I know that how people got married in those days is significantly different than modern American wedding traditions.

Here is a very detailed explanation of Jewish wedding customs and how it pertains to Christ being the bridegroom. It took about 5 minutes of Googling to find it. Theological arguments aside, understanding the Jewish traditions is really kind of helpful in understanding the idea that man and wife is like Jesus and the Church. Yet Michael doesn’t explain these customs, doesn’t detail the similarities; doesn’t do anything except lay out the verses, and ,I suppose, expect everyone to know what’s going on. And, for a culture that seems to embrace the “literal” reading of the Bible, there is a severe lack of requiring white linen for brides.

The following nine verses express how a husband is to love his wife.

Ephesians 5:25-33
25-Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26-That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27-That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
28-So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
29-For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord of the church:
30-For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31-For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32-This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
33-Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

In your study of the passage, note that it begins with “love your wives” and ends with, “Nevertheless, let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself…” IN other words, the nine verses are bracketed by the command for husbands to love their wives. Everything in between is an elaboration of that command-defining how love is expressed. The word “love” appears six times in the nine verses.

I’m going to be honest. This section has always confused me. Mormon theology doesn’t really talk about washing of water by the word, or men cleansing their wives. So if someone could dumb it down for me, that’d be great.

What bugs me, though, is these verses seem to be saying “Love your wife as yourself.” Yet, Michael specifically says that women are emotional, volatile, created to be helpers, and weaker vessels. I’m finding it hard to correlate loving someone the way I love myself, and thinking of them as less than me.

I was cleaning out my bookshelves yesterday and came across my copy of the “5 Love Languages” book. So I skimmed over it again, and it made me think. Just because I give/show love one way, doesn’t mean that’s how anyone else sees it. It’s great, if one follows the above verses, if said wife’s love language lines up with the husband “washing of the word”. (Better still if the husband’s love language matches that action, too) But what if it doesn’t? What if the wife sees her husband’s attempts to “sanctify” her as abusive, hurtful, or mean? What if the husband, though he may have his wife’s best interests at heart, is incapable of showing love in a healthy manner?

Another problem I have with comparing husbands to Christ, is that (according to Christian theology) Jesus was perfect. And he had a direct line to God. Nobody else is perfect. People naturally let jealousy, pettiness, culture, anger, biases, love, etc, cloud their judgement. The Bible doesn’t define what “cleansed” or “glorious church” actually is, or how it looks, or the steps to get there. It’s just an abstract idea that people give form to, and demand that others follow. How is an imperfect man honestly supposed to KNOW how to purify his wife? Is he given the tools? Is he given a definition to compare her to? Not really. He’s just told “DO IT OR ELSE.”, and then left to his own interpretation and processes.

Not to mention that women are not paper dolls that can be easily changed without any fuss on their part. OH! I just figured out what most bothers me about comparing wives to the Church. The church doesn’t really have a voice. The church never can say “You know, I’m not really a fan of that whole slavery thing…why don’t you try again with a more humane idea?”  I grew up Mormon, and the church (while claiming to speak for God) is run by LDS, Inc. Which is run by very conservative, upper class white men from Utah (mostly). All of the revelation from God comes down through that filter. If someone, say, in Kansas, has a problem with that revelation, they are told to pray for humility, or study the doctrine again, or take a leap of faith and just follow.  “The Church” is a huge entity, and cannot, practically, take every lay person’s voice into account. But a marriage shouldn’t be like that. A marriage is between 2 people, and there is no reason why both people’s voices can’t be heard.

Plus, I’m curious what were to happen if the husband said “I’m trying to purify you!” and the wife insists “I don’t need purified-work on yourself first!”

Now we play Q&A.

*How does a husband love his wife?
– The same way Christ loved the church.

*How did Christ love the Church?
-He gave himself for it. He lived and died for the church.

*What is Christ’s goal for the church, and a husband’s goal for his wife?
-To sanctify and cleanse her.

*By what means did Christ sanctify and cleanse the church, and how should a husband sanctify and cleanse his wife?
– By washing her with his words. WOW! Blow me away! A husband can sanctify and cleanse his wife with his words!

Really? Just by his words? All a man has to do is TELL his wife what he wants her to change? Nevermind that he isn’t perfect. Nevermind if he is doing the exact same things she is. Apparently women are the only ones in this culture who need cleansed and sanctified!

*For what purpose does Christ-and a husband-wash his bride?
-That he might present her to himself not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing (that is ugly or unpleasant) but that she should be holy and without blemish. He didn’t marry a perfect bride, but he is in the process of removing all spots and blemishes in anticipation of presenting her to himself. Through love acted out he is preparing her for himself.

The question I keep asking myself is what in tarnation do men do to deserve a perfect woman? Is it simply by virtue of being male? Because that really stinks for everyone that isn’t male! Husbands need wives, because wives are created to be helpers to men. But men have the “burden” of cleansing and purifying the wives to be perfectly what the man wants. And that’s healthy and good?? Ideal even?

Not to mention there is no final ideal as to what perfection looks like. Nor does it take into account anything the woman might want for herself. For example, my husband thinks I’m pretty close to perfect. (He’s told me this on many occasions). I get upset when he says this, because there is so much about myself that I don’t like or am not proud of. I have a running list in my head of my faults. And I get offended when he dismisses what I think are glaring errors, because it feels like he’s not taking ME into account-just what he wants to see. I can’t imagine being married to a man that keeps trying to change me into his “ideal”, while completely ignoring what I actually am or truly want.

*How should a man love his wife?
-Just as much as he loves his body as expressed in his feeding and protecting it.

News flash, Michael. People do more than just feed and protect their bodies….Holy cow. I just had a lightning bolt of inspiration.  I was going to comment that people feed their minds and souls, but then I realised…to Michael, women are just bodies. Bodies that perform necessary functions, like sex, cooking, cleaning, and child bearing. They shouldn’t have minds, opinions, thoughts, or desires-unless the man puts them into the woman’s head.

Not to mention human development. If you were to take a baby and do nothing but feed and protect it by giving it clothes and shelter, the baby would grow up damaged or backwards. Babies, children, people-all have emotions that need to be expressed. All have feelings and desires and wants and fears. Simply feeding and protecting a person isn’t showing love-it’s showing base decency. Heck, most people do more than feed and protect their dog or cat; by playing, talking, loving, petting…

A man that does nothing but feed and protect himself is, in my opinion, less than an animal. Animals can show empathy, sympathy, love, compassion, caring…A person should, ideally, be able to show at least some of those to themselves and others.

*A wife is a member of the very body of her husband.
-For the Scripture tells us to leave our father and mother and become one flesh with our wife.

Nowhere does it say that “one flesh” means the wife playing second fiddle to her husband. I may be a hopeless romantic, but one of the points of marriage is becoming better together then you each were individually. Not getting half the couple to completely support and acquiesce to the other half! That’s not equality! That’s not “loving as yourself”. That’s just “loving yourself”, and forcing the other person to serve you isn’t love. No matter by what authority someone thinks they are granted.

*So a man should love his wife just as a wife should reverence (honor, submit to) her husband.

Yes, because feeding and protecting is exactly the same as reverencing, honouring, and submitting. Oh wait, not it isn’t. Because feeding and protecting is physical. Reverencing, honouring, and submitting is more psychological/emotional. These are two completely different areas that Michael is trying to claim are the same things! If Michael were to define love as acts of service (like Jesus did), it would be a more accurate comparison. But the only service Michael tells men to do for their wives is to MOLD them into what the man wants! Ack! I can’t begin to describe how angry these teachings make me!

Good thing this is the end of the chapter, I just threw the book across the room! Next time, we get into the chapter called “Washing of the Word”. Hopefully Michael will clarify what he means when he demands that all men do it. We’ll see.

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