Sunday, March 29, 2015

Is an Egalitarian Marriage the Truth?

For the Christian, nothing is more important than the truth. Jesus said, "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me" {John 14:16}. Not only do we understand this to be the fundamental truth of our faith, that only through Jesus can we be saved, we also understand how important it is to live our lives according the the Truth of God's Word, in all areas of life and godliness. Apart from the truth, we have nothing but guesses, wishes, desires and a man-made relationship with a make-believe God.

For many, the truth takes a back seat to what "works for me" as the Creator's plans for life and marriage are set aside for utilitarianism. All egocentric relationships focus on what is best for me with little regard for what is already defined as "best" by God's perfect will and Word. "Hey what we do works for us, so what's the problem?"

Anyone who teaches God's Word knows how vital it is to try to teach "the whole truth, nothing but the truth, so help me God." This doesn't mean we always get it right when we interpret the Bible, but certainly we must try our best to drill down to the bedrock truth of what the original writers intended to tell his readers to discover what God means to tell us about who He is and what He desires for our lives. 

Many who teach Truth often get the label of being arrogant. Pastor David Jeremiah has an excellent sermon on truth and said, "Many say if you are Christians and you know the Truth, isn't that arrogant on your part? It's not arrogant to believe what the Bible teaches. In fact, it's the opposite. Arrogance is when we try to tailor Truth to our preference."

Many don't like what the Bible teaches, even Christians. They try to justify their beliefs through the lens of their experiences, feelings, or emotions instead of by what the Word of God actually says. Pastor Jeremiah admonishes us to refuse to let our experiences, feelings, emotions, or the world and its way squeeze us into it's mold. Whether it's things like our personality, decisions, habits, work ethic, marriage, spending patterns, morals, parenting skills, giving amounts, sexual appetite, choices, actions, all of it needs to be subjected and found in God's Word and His Truth. Measure everything in your life by the Bible, nothing else!

Here is where we have the biggest concern about Christians who choose to model their marriages after an egalitarian model instead of a truly Biblical model of a husband's loving leadership and a wife's respect and submission. We hear much talk about how well egalitarianism worked for their parents, or works in their marriage, and we think, "That's great!" It is always fun to find a marriage that is loving and working. But the Christian misses the point of what God is trying to do in this world if they are determining their choice of marriage model based on what works as opposed to what God calls His best. 

Consider for a moment your relationship with God. There are many levels that such a relationship can be lived. God asks that we obey his commands, and the believer who obeys God has a certain level of relationship like a boss to an employee. Boss says, "Do it my way," and you do it without questioning then the boss is pleased. A deeper level of relationship comes when God asks for our love and we give it by showing our love to Him by loving others and spending time with Him in prayer and in the Word. God becomes our Father and we are his beloved child. Now which one of these two relationships with God does He prefer? A loving relationship, of course!

There is an even deeper level of relationship that the Christian is called to. Jesus refers to it in His great "abide in in me and I in you" passage of scripture John 15. The apostle Paul refers to it regularly as we are "in Christ" and Christ is in us {Ephesians 1, Colossians 3:3}.  The highest level of relationship the believer must seek is to connect with God "in Christ" by allowing the Spirit of God to flow in and through us that we may be, as Peter says, "partakers of the Divine nature" {2 Peter 1:4}. It is here where true intimacy and connection with God takes place when we surrender our lives, we submit our wills, and we allow the life of Jesus to flow in and through us.

Similarly, levels of relationship apply to a Christian marriage, and an egalitarian marriage demands no deep connections, no vulnerability, no intimacy, but rather a set of relationship rules that seem equitable and fair towards one another. To treat each other with respect and with love and equality, but such a marriage is second best to what God has designed for us. 

God's design for marriage models the Godhead where the Father, the Son and the Spirit are all equals, yet the Son voluntarily lays down his rights and privileges as the Son of God to become a man and to not only save the world from it's sins, but to unite an entire family of God into one body, His body, the body of Christ. This union moves beyond obedience, beyond love, to a place where spirits are united as one; where the world may look at Christians and see a deep and abiding connection with God that makes them naturally model the attributes of their Creator and Savior.

When God asks His children to believe His truth about a husband's headship and a wife's submission, He is encouraging us to move beyond the normal marriage to a place of true connections. Just as the Godhead is One, so too is the husband and wife and the Spirit of Christ living in and through them. This is a true union for the world to see how God can and does unite us to Himself. 

If life is about what we can get out of it, maybe even obey God in most things, and love God, then an egalitarian marriage may work just fine for those who make it work. But if life is about seeking the deepest of connections between God and His children, then we must trust Him fully at His Word and step out in faith to be a part of His body and His marriage. An egalitarian marriage is all about "our marriage," but a one flesh marriage is where the husband is head and the wife his loving complement united as one with Christ, obedient to His truths, and experiencing the very Spirit of God flowing in and through their marriage. The trust and vulnerability of wifely submission is picked up by her faithful, loving husband who is willing, like Christ, to lay down his life for her.  A one flesh marriage is about "His marriage," and the desire to do marriage exactly how God prescribes it for the betterment of His body, and His precious married children.

Lori and I have been through a marriage of a wife's control, to an egalitarian partnership, and now to a Biblical one flesh marriage where Lori has everything to gain from her husband's complete devotion and selfless love for his God-given compliment in life. Lori is exactly who God knew I needed to grow up in Christ and become one with Him, not as an individual, but as a loving, united and fully connected couple.

Is this not God's will and His truths? Is this not God's heart for us all to give up self and unite ourselves in willing submission to His Spirit that we may be One with Him in our one flesh marriage?

That they all may be one; as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us... And the glory which you gave me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:  I in them and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved me, and have loved them, as you have loved me. 
John 17:21-23