christa_2The Christian blogger Dalrock’s notable critique of complemtarianism.  Read it here!

 “Complementarianism is a term coined a little over twenty five years ago by Christians who wanted to preserve what they saw as feminist progress while avoiding what they saw as feminist excess…

This is not a call to end feminist rebellion, because they are largely sympathetic to feminism.  When complementarians encounter the most overt feminist rebellion they go to laughable extremes to deny feminism and blame men and men alone.  This is a plea to Christian women in rebellion to come back without fear of having their feminist sensibilities challenged.  You can almost hear the music playing in the background as Piper and Grudem wrote the preface:

Baby come back!  You can blame it all on me!

I was wrong, and I just can’t live without you!

The Taming of the Shrew

William Shakespear“Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance; commits his body
To painful labor, both by sea and land;
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou li’st warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks, and true obedience-
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And no obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel,
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I asham’d that women are so simple
‘To offer war where they should kneel for peace,
Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway,
When they are bound to serve, love, and obey.
Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions, and our hearts,
Should well agree with our external parts?”

William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew

Morning Meditations on Christ’s Submission and Marriage.

giving honorJohn 8:42-54   Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.  … Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge.  “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 

In this section of John 8 Jesus declares himself to be the “I am” to the Jews.  He calls them the children of the devil and not children of God.  These truths in the text are monumental for our understanding of Christ and the gospel.  As essential as they are to our faith, I would like to focus on submission in this text, because here is Jesus is the model of Christian submission to be emulated in our various stations.

In theology we often speak of Christ’s active and passive obedience; the former refers to His keeping of the law throughout His life and the later His death to save the elect.  Both obedience’s are Him subordinating himself to the will of His Father.  One to the law and the other to justify those who were condemned under the law, but both are manifestations of His heart and life of obedience.

Jesus makes the statement that: “I came not of my own accord, but he sent me…”.   Jesus’ incarnation was an act of submission, he did not come on his own accord, that is he did not act without the agreement and activity of the other persons of the trinity.  It is the Father that is named as sending Him because as the son he is under authority of the father and submits to Him.   There is perfect agreement in the mission and purpose, but still the Father is over the Son and both are God same in substance equal in power and glory.  In like manner the Nicene Creed states that the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son. There is no conflict with trintarian formulations to acknowledge an economic as well as the ontological trinity.  The economic trinity referring to the relationships of the persons with each other inside the God-head.

But even though they are equal in glory, Jesus did not come to seek his own glory, but the glory of His Father.  This is an often overlooked aspect of submission; to seek the glory of the superior in authority.  It may be helpful to use a military terms, because the military has well defined authority structures and enforces them for the sake of mission effectiveness.   The superior authority is responsible for executing the mission (which is received by an even higher authority) and their crew is under his command to fulfill that mission by swift obedience to the commands of their superiors.  That makes them sub (under) the mission and the commander of that mission.  The crew must set aside all personal aspirations for the sake of the mission.  If they do complete their instructions swiftly and with excellence they may be recognized by their superiors and awarded glory in the form of promotions or honors like medals.    Jesus says that seeking one’s own glory amounts to nothing.  Seeking the glory of the Father the Father gives glory to the Son.  A soldier cannot award themselves a medal or put themselves in for one, it is the recognition of the superior that initiates the honor.

So many times in life we see men seeking glory for their own, and they miss the real opportunity to receive the real thing.  The paradox of he who is first will be last and last will be first is missed on them.  When men seek glory they act selfishly and against the will of the God, but according to the pattern of Lucifer.  Lucifer wanted the glory that was God’s alone and discontent to revel in the glory of God he sought his own glory and fell in rebellion.  Lucifer would have made a poor soldier, he is a self seeking glory hound.  In fact he lead a third of the angels into a rebellion resulting in their eternal shame and judgement.  If he had obeyed and given glory to God he would be the most honored of all creatures, but instead he is the most despised father of lies.

When a son of God does the will of the Father from a good heart the Father delights in him and the Father gives him glory.   The true glory is that which comes from God and not from self or the recognition of men.  Jesus came to do His Father’s will and give glory to the Father, these two principles are principles of submission.

How does this apply to marriage?  A husband is to obey God in the leadership of his home for the glory of God, not his own glory.  He can bestow glory on his wife and children as they obey and glorify him, even as the Father gives glory to the Son.  Wives are to obey their husbands by doing what he wills and give glory to him as the representative of God in the home.  As the Father pronounced, ”this is my son with whom I am well pleased”, so a husband should pronounce his pleasure in his obedient wife.  The husband in submission to God, the wife in submission to her husband is submission to God.  There is no wife seeking her own glory or doing her will apart from her husband’s, although she may have latitude on how to execute his will, she does not act contrary to his will or in such manner as might damage his glory.

One last point.  Jesus suffered because of the sins of those who he came to save.  Those elect are part of his own bride the eternal church, and they refused obedience, especially to honor and glorify their Lord.  Suffering is required in submission.  Husbands who are in submission to God will suffer for the sins of their own wife, he may not always find her a delight.   Jesus never acted in a way contrary to His Father’s will, but sinful wives will.  When that happens, husbands emulate Christ by instruction in righteousness, admonishing sin, demanding repentance, interceding for the Holy Spirit to do a heart work and setting an example by their own piety and repentance.

Peter tells slaves to endure suffering even when they do not deserve it as an act of submission to God.  He points to Jesus’s suffering as an example of suffering for sins not committed as Christ’s own submission and then begins 1 Pe 3 with the words “Likewise wives…”.  He is instructing wives that they might suffer in their submission as well.  They might find the authority structure grievous or they may suffer for sins they did not commit and yet they are not to resist and rebel against authority.  Peter tells wives that if their husband is in sin or as he put it “ do not obey the word” their submission is to continue.  Instead of contempt they are to win their husband “without a word” and instead by their husbands seeing their “conduct “of undefiled respectfulness.

Eve wanted to be as God, she wanted to obey her own laws and receive glory that was due to God.  Like Lucifer her attempt to glorify herself resulted in disobedience and shame. Like Lucifer she took another with her, Adam the covenant representative of human creation.  This is the same temptation that is faced today by men and women, to seek glory that is belongs to God.  We are to be sons of God who are about doing our Father’s will, giving him glory.

Engines and Radiators

IC_engine1 Corinthians 7:5  Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

There has been a battle of ideas over how the man and the wife complement one another sexually.  The Christo-feminists enforce the idea that the wife is the regulator of the sexual life of the couple.  Some of the tenants of this view are: if she is not happy then no one is happy, if her husband has not earned access to his wife’s sex then he is prohibited from sex,  If she is reluctant it is marital rape, she can and should use sexual favors to civilize her man or at least get stuff done around the house.

A biological vantage notes that because men produce millions more zygotes than women they are biologically programmed to be ready to reproduce whenever a biologically suitable mate is present.  The male does not bear the same risk as a woman to bear and raise an infant.  While women are programmed to be most available during their cycle when they are the most fertile.  They are attracted to the most dominant male who has the ability to provide for their physical needs especially to protect them and their offspring in case of attack.  Men are able to impregnate many women while a woman can only be impregnated by one man at a time.  The tendency for men to desire many women to bear his children is called polygyny and the tendency for women to seek out the best available male is hypergamy.  Women will swap up if a better mate is possible whereas men will collect more women.

Wives project their own hypergamy onto men and often fear that men will leave them unprotected.  They  are zealous to keep her man away from other women who would “steal” him away of they could to move up socially.  Men are more likely to guard their women to prevent being cuckolded and having to raise another man’s offspring.  This is biological psychology at its most animalistic level.  But we are above the animals and the Bible shows us a better way, a way that reflects the relationship between Christ and the church.

I suggest an analogy to explain the Biblical doctrine of oneness and sexuality.   A man is like an automobile engine.  He provides the force for propulsion and dominion work.  The engine works by a serious of explosions that generate great heat that rapidly expands the gas/air mixture to push down on the cylinder that make the car run and move.   But the heat generated for work is also capable to destroy the engine and ruin the purpose of the car.  A car without a working engine is an eyesore that is just decaying and rusting; useless as a mode of transportation.  To overcome the problem of heat auto engineers have designed a cooling system.  By use of a radiator, water pump etc. the engine can run at optimum temperature and produce considerably more work.

The cooling system in the analogy is the wife.  She absorbs her husband’s heat and helps him take dominion.  As a bonus the heat can be released intot the cabin of the automobile and warm up all the occupants (children).  A husband (engine) can propel the auto (household) in the family mission and do much more work with proper heat transfer.  A wife who resists her husband’s sexual advances is causing him to run hot and perhaps overheat.  This is what Paul warns about in 1 Cor 7 “…so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.”

Likewise a husband that is cold to his wife will also not run at optimum and she will remain cold and the household will be cold and he will run inefficiently.  The engine needs to fire to warm up the cooling system, even in the hot weather the engine must work to run the air-conditioning in the cabin and keep the home comfortable.  When a husband is cold toward his wife the mission suffers because the system is not working as designed.  A much more common problem is that the wife due to feminist presuppositions or biological realities is less willing to share her husband’s heat.

Proverbs 6:27  Can a man carry fire next to his chest and his clothes not be burned?

A husband like an engine will eventually burn up and break if there is not a continual heat transfer.  The lack of sex in a healthy married man will destroy him, Satan will help.   A Biblically functioning  marriage is one where the engine and the cooling system are working together to run at maximum efficiency, while creating a comfortable home.

Neither the engine nor the cooling system can refuse the other when running.  What about at start up, is the wife cold?    Yes, the engine must create and transfer some heat. That process is called courtship and the honeymoon.  Once the car is running it is sin that is likely to damage the essential parts to defraud the other. That does not preclude special times of added heat like romantic getaways, and special celebrations.

1 Corinthians 7:4   For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. Likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 

Once the I do is done the fitness testing is over.  For a wife to fitness test her husband for sexual access is to dishonor the authority he has been given,  to violate her vows an to defraud him.  Likewise to refuse to warm the wife is self destruction and makes for a bad climate in the home.  Oh and don’t be surprised if folks talk more about the engine output than the cooling capacity.  It is not blame shifting to say the engine overheated because the cooling system failed, likewise it is not blame shifting for a husband who is sexually defrauded to desire more and even find that he has issues with lust.  That is just overheating and the solution to an overheating engine is to transfer more heat to the coolant, open up the thermostat and push more air through the radiator.

 

You gotta serve somebody !

submission word artYou gotta serve somebody
Might be the devil might be Lord – Bob Dylan

We submit as men as husbands we teach our wives to also submit to us. This is God’s order (Eph 5:21-24). If a we fail to teach our wives to submit, we are still in submission, but in submission to our wives rather than to the Lord. A husband is commanded to love his wife as Christ loved the Church giving himself up for her sanctifying her, cleansing her making her holly by the washing and watering of the word.
To water is to nurture her, to do so with the word is to provide the nutrients for her spiritual growth. To cleanse her is to remove the dirt of the world – that is to use the word to remove sin in her life. And what is sin but the want of conformity unto or transgression of the Word of God. SO the husband uses the Word to reprove, correct and for instruction in righteousness, that his wife may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. But she needs to know what constitutes good works and how can she know unless she is taught the Word. So a husband is to bring the word to bear in his marriage on all matters including the sin of insubordination in his wife.
Wise husbands will disciple the heart of his wife, not just the outward actions. Actions manifest the sin of the heart as the proverb says Proverbs 4:23 “Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it spring the issues of life.” A sure sign when a wife’s heart is in rebellion is when she chafes at correction, or threatens peace and love in the home or coldness toward intimacy. In the later the husband should patiently instruct his wife in 1 Cor 7:3-5. Many may argue that will not put her in the mood. Again this is evidence of a heart of rebellion. That rebellion puts her desires (moods and feeling) in a position of primacy over the Word of God.
A husband who is submitting to the Word, will instruct his on what the Bible defines as her role toward her own husband and against the wife’s rebellion against that role. A husband that fails to correct the insubordination of his wife does not love her like Christ loves the Church. Christ rebukes sin and teaches obedience. When a husband refuses to teach his wife to submit so that his wife stays happy or for peace in the home, he is in submission, not to God’s word, but to his wife. This is a want of conformity to the Word for the idols of peace in the home, his wife’s “happiness” and his own flesh. Just as the husband is to love his wife as his own flesh, and will study the word to bring its power to bear and bring repentance in himself, so also must he do for his wife. Failure to do just that is submission; it is just not submission to the Lord.
A man is to love his wife as Christ is to the Church. Christ does that as prophet, priest and king. As a prophet he brings the Word, as a priest he makes intercession and as a king he rule. Husband are to bring the word, make intersession and rule his own household (1 Tim 3:5, Gen 3:16).

When a husband allows his wife to be disobedient he repeats the sin of Adam and fails to keep her from rebellion against the Word of God. The sin of wives who do not obey their husbands is called a blasphemy against the Word (Titus 2:5). If you love your wife you will not allow her to blaspheme the Word without warning her to stop. So great is this tendency for women to rebel against God’s order that the husband requires older women in the church to help teach his wife to repent of her evil desire and submit to Christ by submitting to her own husband in contentment and without fear. So husbands I admonish you to serve the Lord and submit to His Word and every lawful authority over you. This will create a positive example for your wife to emulate in her own estate. A condition of your submission is to water your wife with the Word; to nurture her into greater holiness, and intercede for her in your prayers. In these ways a husband will serve the Lord, as he rules his household for the glory of god, repents of his own fleshly desires for peace without holiness and holiness without obedience.

But some object because Matt 7 tells the husband to get the log out of his own eye before he tries to remove the speck from the eye of his wife.   There are two problems with this objection. ONE:  Jesus does not tell those in authority to be derelict in the execution of their duty simply because they also sin.  Imagine if we applied this objection to other areas of authority, police could not stop a rapist because the police man lusted in his heart, or the elders of the church could not rebuke a heretic because they  ate too much the night before.  It is silly to use Matt 7 to keep God-ordained authorities from performing their duty.  It is correct to say that those who are in authority should always be working to repent of sin.  And speaking of sin that lead into TWO: If a man cannot confront the sin of his wife because he is sinning, and he is commanded to wash her in the word then his adds to his sin by disobeying the duty to confront his wife.  Thus by not confronting her sin he is in sin and because he is in sin he cannot confront his wife’s sin, but he is commanded to wash her by the Word, but he cannot because he has a log in his eye, but the log in his eye is his want of conformity to the Word, namely the command to teach her all things God has commanded including submission, but he cannot teach that because in not teaching it, he has sinned and having sinned he cannot ask her to repent …….    And the wheel goes round and round.  In order for a man to submit to God he must teach his wife submission and admonish her when she disobeys.

Musings on Authority!

 

gavel

We live in an age where authority is under assault.   During the social upheaval of the sixties it was not uncommon to hear “don’t trust anyone over 30” and no doubt you have seen the “Question Authority! ” bumper stickers or heard about uprisings against the police.  While these are some contemporary assaults, the principle of authority has been severely thwarted by philosophy and theology for some time.

It would be difficult to construct a more significant presupposition to ethics than authority.   Christian ethics are founded by a doctrine of authority.   Something is write or wrong simply because God, the ultimate authority, declares it so.  Jesus said in Matthew 28:18  “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”  This is the basis for His Lordship.  The three offices that Christ is said to hold are all based on His authority.  As a prophet he speaks truth because he is the authority of what is true.  As priest he is authorized to make intercession to the Father and as the King he has authority to rule and judge.

The commands of God can likewise be expressed in terms of authority.  The first table of the law limits the authorized objects of worship and manner to honor and serve that authority.  Honor your parents is the recognition of authority given to them by God to raise their children.  The laws against murder are a claim over who has authority over human life; likewise theft is the violation of the authority over a possession.  The commands against adultery are commands that require the respecting of who has authority over another’s sexuality.   The commands against coveting are recognition that a desire to disrespect authority is in itself a violation of that very authority and the mental supplanting of self in its place.

The modern age of anti-authority is concomitant with the rise of antinomianism.   That is to say that as men have disregarded the law they have at the same time disregarded the authority that underpins the law.  Men have entertained their own hubris towards a usurpation of the authority of God, taking for themselves the authority to create or ignore laws as they see fit.  The authority of God rests on His claim as creator and provider for all of creation. Without the intervention of God’s creative work nothing would exist except God and without His work of providence nothing would continue to exist.  The authority God possess over the universe is based on its dependence for existence from God.  Much like a painter has authority to put paint on the canvas where he chooses the creator has the authority to create as He pleases.

Authority flows from a source like a flowing river.  It is not as a well that appears in the midst of the land seemingly disconnected from a source.  The Christian view of authority has no islands and no spontaneous appearances of authority, all authority is Christs; all expressions of that authority are assigned by Him.

Rom 13:1bFor there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.”

Authority is derivative of the interactions with in the Trinity.  The Son has been given all authority, but who had the authority to give it to him but the Father. Fathers have authority over their children and the heavenly father also has authority over the eternally begotten son.  But unlike earthly fathers and sons who are tainted by sin and often are conflicted, the persons of the Trinity have no conflict in their purpose or plans and they are untainted by sin.  The Son came to do the will of His Father which is in perfect harmony with the purpose of the son.  In this way the Father and Son are one; one mind one purpose.

Children are under the authority of their parents because their parents have the creative claim and God’s command.  God gives to the parents the children he selects for them in the quantity he selects to raise them with assigned parental authority.   A neighbor does not have the authority of a parent over another’s children, because God has not granted to them that authority. When a civil magistrate claims to have authority over children they are making a claim of authority that has likewise not been granted to them by God.  The secular claim of authority reduces to might makes right.   While Christ has all power and all authority it is not His might that gives Him authority but His claim as creator and preserver.  The secular claim fails on its own terms because God is more powerful than any magistrate and thus according to their own reasoning He still has all authority.  So even if the police have guns and the IRS has the tax code the state does not have authority to raise children or remove them from parents, for the children to belong to their earthy creators and their heavenly creator.  Christ has appointed the magistrate to authority, but that authority has boundaries and limits.  The magistrate is not to be God’s social architect to design a world according to the imagination of the rulers, but to execute wrath on him who executes evil.[i]  That begs the question of what is evil, and what evils is the magistrate authorized to adjudicate. That question can only be answered by seeking the definitions of the appointing authority, that what is evil is what God calls evil and only those evils that God has authorized the magistrate to adjudicate are authorized activity of the civil magistrates.

In the realm of the church, the modern floating unaffiliated “Christian” who is under no ecclesial authority, who claims the sacraments for himself and scorns apostolic succession, is a symptom of the anti-authority zeitgeist.  Beyond the independent member is the equally anti authority manifestation of the independent church and independent pastor.  The polity of independance is foreign to the teachings of the Bible.  It is not to say that these are not true churches or true Christians, but it points out to a spirit of autonomy and false liberty from authority.   The Reformation made an appeal to the authority of the Bible over the pope, counsels and traditions of the church.  Sola Scritptura trumped ex cathedra.  Martin Luther at the Diet of Worms stated the principle clearly in the historic statement:

Your Imperial Majesty and Your Lordships demand a simple answer. Here it is, plain and unvarnished. Unless I am convicted [convinced] of error by the testimony of Scripture or (since I put no trust in the unsupported authority of Pope or councils, since it is plain that they have often erred and often contradicted themselves) by manifest reasoning, I stand convicted [convinced] by the Scriptures to which I have appealed, and my conscience is taken captive by God’s word, I cannot and will not recant anything, for to act against our conscience is neither safe for us, nor open to us.

On this I take my stand. I can do no other. God help me.[ii]

This doctrine of Sola Scriptura was never intended to be a “me and my bible” as the authority.  Luther did not start a new church, but restored the church of the apostles under the authority of the God breathed scriptures.  Some have taken the Sola Scriptura doctrine as an invitation to create an autonomous ecclesiology, but a thorough reading of the scriptures would prohibit such a result.   Luther would be aghast at the modernist approach to the sacraments apart from the authority of the apostolic church.  The family does not have jurisdiction over baptism or communion and elders are not self-appointed.

Perhaps the most the destructive manifestation of the anti-authority spirit is in the modern configuration of marriage.  God has created marriage with an authority structure.[iii]  Husbands have authority over their wives, wives are to be subject to their husbands in all things.[iv]  But the modern marriage, often characterized by the label marriage 2.0, defies the authority of God to exult the authority of the wife.  The Church has contributed to the anti-authority trend.  Wives are rarely exhorted that they are helpers to their husbands rather than partners .  They are more often told that they are equal not subordinate and that submission is to be avoided so that she can be all that she can be.  Some Churches will give lip service to the Bible’s commands that women submit to their own husbands, but will immediately define submission to be anything, but true submission.  In doing so, they stir up women to insubordination and discontent, telling them to avoid being doormats and creating images of abusive angry patriarchs with imagined or exaggerated abuses of the past, before the golden age of the anti-authority wife.    Wives are taught that sex is a reward for their husband’s dutifully earning his way to her bed.[v]  But the Bible teaches she has no authority over her body and her sex.[vi]  Women follow the example set by ministers who engage in male shaming language and the condemnation of men for being masculine.   They are in essence being taught by example to speak evil of those to whom they owe honor, their husbands who posses the authority of Christ over her.  They are styled as dignitaries in…

Jude 1:8    Likewise also these dreamers defile the flesh, reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.

and

2 Peter 2:9-10  preserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment,  10 and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority. They are presumptuous, self-willed. They are not afraid to speak evil of dignitaries…

and

Hebrews 13:17  Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.

I believe it is good to question authority to inquire whether one’s claim of authority is legitimately given by God.  But in our zeal to resist tyranny, unlawful claims of authority, we must have equal zeal to honor the authorities that God has ordained.  If western Christendom is to be preserved it is my contention that the authority of husbands must be taught and all opposition to his legitimate authority rebuked.  That means that ministers must have the courage to condemn wives of their sins of desiring to be partners, insubordination, withholding, and spiritual contention in the home.  It also means that preachers must demonstrate and support honor to the household authority.  Husband is to wife as Christ is to the church and defamation of the husband in the presence of the wife is akin to leading a rebellion against Christ.

———————————————————————

[i] Romans 13:3-4  3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.  4 For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.

[ii] http://www-personal.ksu.edu/~lyman/english233/Luther-Diet_of_Worms.htm

[iii] 1 Timothy 2:12-13    And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence.  13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

[iv] Ephesians 5:24   24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

The jurisdictional limits of a husband’s authority are expansive indeed.  Many like to point out that a husband does not have authority to command his wife to disobey God, but this is a cavil as the apostle is clear that his authority over her is comprehensive.

[v] An Example of such a teaching comes from AL Mohler who writes that a wife should withhold sex until her husband earns her favors  “Consider the fact that a woman has every right to expect that her husband will earn access to the marriage bed. ….Therefore, when I say that a husband must regularly “earn” privileged access to the marital bed, I mean that a husband owes his wife the confidence, affection, and emotional support that would lead her to freely give herself to her husband in the act of sex.”  http://www.albertmohler.com/2005/06/09/the-seduction-of-pornography-and-the-integrity-of-christian-marriage-part-two/

[vi] 1 Corinthians 7:4-5   4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does.  5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

The Ministry of Transvestism?

Tim CurryFor the Christian the goal of counselors and ministries ought to be to help people live according to the Word of God.  To those who are in Christ, they work to help them understand and apply the law of God as a response to the authority of the creator while they concomitantly help the Christian to apprehend grace found in Christ.   A ministry is in the business of equipping the saints in pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.  (2 Corinthians 10:4-5)    A life of joy is a fruit which is the result of the knowledge of pleasing the Father, honoring the Son and walking in the Spirit.  Happiness is not the purpose of ministry, that is not say one cannot be happy in ministry, but the great men of the faith and the apostles lived with severe trials of discomfort, persecution and conflict.  A counselor that seeks to suppress the law for the expediency of the illusion of peace is not a shepherd of Christ, but of the world.  This is way so many marriage ministries are loved by non-Christians and nominal Christians, because they are of the world.   I make a most serious accusation for consider 1 John 4:5: They are of the world. Therefore they speak as of the world, and the world hears them.   Those who claim to be Christians who teach/advocate worldly wisdom should take head to the damage they are doing to the bride of Christ. 2 Peter 2:20  For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.  They bear the burden described by James, James 3:1  …let not many of you become teachers, knowing that we shall receive a stricter judgment.  So I do not make this accusation lightly but with all due gravity, for it is a serious thing.  Now, just because one’s ministry is valued by those of the world, doesn’t not necessarily mean that one is of the world.  One is of the world if they teach and think in a manner contrary to scripture and especially when they compromise to appeal to itching ears.[i]

The word “world” as used in 2 Peter and 1 John is the Greek word cosmos.  It does not refer to the matter and space, but to an order or arrangement.  The opposite of a cosmos is chaos or a lack of order and a purely random happenstance of muddle.  The apostles contrast the Biblical ordering or arranging of truth, reality and ethics with the arranging of the natural and rebellious man’s commitments to truth, reality and ethics.  The whole of this order can rightly be called a philosophy.   James tells us the source of the philosophy, which he styles under the heading of wisdom, is crucial to discerning of which order it belongs; either from above, ie the infallible Word of God, or earthy sensual and devilish.  Philosophy that is arrived at by our senses is sensual, from fallen thoughts is earthly and even arrived at the suggestions of devils.  Again I repeat the warning of the apostle:

Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.  Colossians 2:8

So that brings me to Christian marriage ministries.  Remember their objective is to influence others to live according to the ordering of Christ as revealed in the scriptures.  They are to be concerned with holiness not happiness. (Joy is a fruit of the spirit and will follow as an outgrowth of holiness.)  So when I observe that what they are teaching is antithetical to the scriptures it is necessary to expose them.[ii]   One such ministry that has come onto my radar is Marriage Builders, a site run by best-selling author Dr. Willard F. Harley, Jr..   You might be familiar with his book “His needs – Her Needs”.  He writes a piece entitled   Why Women Leave Men in which he writes that the reason why women file for divorce is they are unhappy, and he seems to validate wives actions for being unhappy.  Harley does not present his practice as overtly christian, but he is venerated by many pastors, he speaks at Christian conferences and his books and programs are staples of marriage ministries, so whether he makes himself out to be a christian counselor, others in the church respect him as such.   But if he is a christian my analysis is fitting and if not the same charge is leveled against those Christians that advocate his work.

Men’s perceived failure to satisfy their wives is punctuated by the fact that women file for divorce twice as often as men. In other words, their unhappiness with marriage often results in divorce.

The most common reason women give for leaving their husbands is “mental cruelty.” When legal grounds for divorce are stated, about half report they have been emotionally abused. But the mental cruelty they describe is rarely the result of their husband’s efforts to drive them crazy. It is usually husbands being indifferent, failing to communicate and demonstrating other forms of neglect.

….Surprisingly few women divorce because of physical abuse, infidelity, alcoholism, criminal behavior, fraud, or other serious grounds.

Harley’s solution is not to exhort women to pursue a meek and quite spirit, but for husbands to get with her program and make her happy or she will destroy the family. Harley wants to neutralize this threat by submission; that is a husband is to abandon his headship and authority to his wife’s feelings so as to avoid the calamity of a frivorce.  He has a little gimmick he calls a Policy of Joint Agreement, wherein the husband submits to his wife and in particular her feelings.

This policy helps men take their wives’ feelings into account whenever they make a decision. They avoid thoughtless habits, learn to meet emotional needs with mutual enjoyment and resolve their conflicts.”

By take into account, he means make her feelings the primary factor in every decision thereby “meeting her needs” so she will take her hand of the handle of the guillotine. Harley wants men to live in fear of their wives, who if not sufficiently placated, will file for divorce and destroy the home. I searched but I found no such article or reference on his web site that advocated wives fear their husbands or submit to them or even try to make thier husbands happy, but I did glance an article entitled “How to Make your Wife Happy“.  (I do get the feeling that if a wife did fear her husband he would be accused of abuse at least according to the Duluth model)  This is contrary to the scriptures in which wives are to fear their husbands Eph 5:33.  Your translation may substitute a euphemism for “fear”, such as respect of reverence.  The word in the Greek is phobos and is translated in every other instance as fear.  It is the same word that phobia comes from and used by Paul in Romans 13:4

For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.

Pretty scary stuff and it is clear that Paul does not mean respect but that his use of phobos means fear or even terror.  An accurately rendered of Eph 5:33 is

… “but also, every one in particular — each so love his own wife as himself, and the wife — that she may reverence the husband.”

The Bible says wives are to fear their husbands and not the other way around.  Harley is advocating that men act like women and women act like men, and hence Transvestism.

Transvestism (also called transvestitism) is the practice of dressing and acting in a style or manner traditionally associated with the other sex.[iii]  –wiki

His egalitarian Policy of Joint Agreement has no basis in scripture and fails to call for the wife to be subject to her husband in all things.[iv]  He fails to call women to repentance for frivolous divorce and covenant fraud.  He fails to tell husbands to teach their own wives[v] using Bible’s instructions to her, to sanctify her unto holiness. [vi]  Harley also fails to point out that Paul says the order of authority in marriage is part of God’s created order and reflects the order of authority established by God, [vii] with the women under man, man under Christ and Christ under the Father.

If he were interested in aligning a marriage with the Word of God, certainly he would tell men to rule their households well, [viii]  warning them to listen to God and not their wives [ix] and he would tell wives to learn the discipline of contentment and the joy of being a helpmate.  But he seems far more interested in validating the discontent in women, who buy his books and will feel all tingly as he tells them to suppress the wisdom of scripture and make their man her servant to her happiness.   I found his website and his ministry to be worldly according to the scriptures.  If this is what passes for christian counsel we are all in desperate need of real shepherds.  The Christian family is endangered because of  divorce and the shepherds are watching and applauding the slaughter of the sheep.

My people have been lost sheep. Their shepherds have led them astray; They have turned them away on the mountains. They have gone from mountain to hill; They have forgotten their resting place.  All who found them have devoured them;   Jeremiah 50:6-7

[i] 2 Tim 4:3

[ii] Eph 5:11

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transvestism

[iv] Eph 5:24

[v] 1 Cor 14:35

[vi] Eph 25-27

[vii] 1 Cor 11:3

[viii] 1 Tim 3:4

[ix] Gen 3:17