RJ Rushdony wrote The One and the Many in 1971. Amazon provides the following description for the book:
The question of where ultimacy lies should be central to the Christian. It is easy to see the social implications of allowing priority to fall to either the one or the many. This volume examines in-depth the Christian solution to the problem of the one and the many – the Trinitarian God. Only in the godhead is this dilemma resolved. Only in the Trinity does there reside an equal ultimacy of unity and plurality. Rushdoony examines the history of Western thought from the standpoint of the one and the many and demonstrates clearly that the most astute thinkers were unable to resolve this philosophical conflict. What is needed now is a complete return to the Trinitarian view of God and its implications for a Christian social order.
I believe the doctrine of the one and the many is the proper framework to address Christian marriage. The Trinity provides an example of a one and many dichotomy; The one God and yet three persons. Another example of one and many is the Christian’s union with Christ; there is a oneness and yet a many-ness. In the later example the union is incomplete until the return of Christ and the wedding supper of the lamb consummates that union. But Christian marriage is not awaiting the consummation of the union of husband and wife. Jesus says that God has made the two one flesh. [i] The many, husband and wife, are joined into one, a union of both into something greater than the parts. It is telling that as Jesus describes His ministry of winnowing, He speaks of dividing son from father and daughter from mother, but He does not speak of dividing husband from wife.[ii] This is an argument from silence or exclusion and so is too weak to stand on its own, but coupled with the rest of scripture it highlights the sacredness of the oneness of marriage that is the result of God’s own joining activity.
The point is that the atomization of the individuals in marriage violates the unity God created and the disregard for the two persons violates the many; although there has been little overemphasis of the unity in history. Feminists often complain that a woman can lose her identity in marriage. They symbolically reject the joining by hyphenating their name, to preserve their pre-married identity. But the identity of both the husband and the wife is altered when God joins them into one flesh. As an axe-head is joined to its handle neither the axe-head nor the handle are same, together they have become the axe. The parts are distinct but they are not separate. There is one marriage with one head and one helper. The two are united, but distinct – one flesh, but two persons.
In the Trinity the three persons are in perfect harmony. They have the same values, purpose and agree on the same decrees and actions. Yet, each persons possess their own volition. [iii] The Son, who is one with the Father[iv] came to do the Father’s will[v] which the Son and the Father agreed to before the foundations of the world. [vi] How does the Trinity maintain the unity amongst the diversity of the persons? Of course there is no sin among the members of the Trinity that might lead to conflicts, but another possible insight is that there is perfect submission. Jesus comes execute the Father’s commands[vii] even when it costs Him his life. He is not concerned about being mistreated as a doormat[viii], or losing His identity or not able to become all He can as are feminists when they speak of submission. He does His Father’s will and the Father declares Him His beloved. [ix]
I believe that this is the pattern of the one and many that a Christian marriage ought to emulate. Both Peter and Paul use Christ as the example of submission that wives are to pattern their own submission to their husbands. The warning against a wife’s insubordination given by the Apostle could not be more stern.
Titus 2:5 …obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed.
The resistance to submission whether because of loss of identity, fear of being mistreated like a doormat or to become all that one can is blasphemy against the Word of God. Feminism is blasphemy, it destroys the one for the sake of one member of the many. Feminism in practice does not image Christ and the church, but Lucifer and his fall from glory.
Pastors and Christians who continue to stir up fear in women over abuse or a loss of identity are doing the Devil’s work. I am not dismissing or justifying a husband’s physically harming his wife, but that the concern of the exception has destroyed the obedience to the rule. The rule is summarized in Ephesians 5:22-28
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
Each time a Christian defines submission apart from Christ and by such statements as not becoming a doormat he is effect stirring up blasphemy, doubt and fear not meekness, obedience, and Christ likeness. The oneness requires submission even as the many-ness requires loving sacrifice. To diminish either is to add to the decimation of the family, which is already devastated.
[i] Matthew 19:4-6 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 “and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 “So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”
[ii] Luke 12:51-53 Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.
[iii] John 3:8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit
The word translated “wind” is the same word translated “Spirit”. The words of Jesus are translated by Young as “the Spirit where he willeth doth blow, and his voice thou dost hear, but thou hast not known whence he cometh, and whither he goeth; thus is every one who hath been born of the Spirit.”
The Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son, but He goes where He wills. This demonstrates the volition of the Spirit.
[iv] John 10:30 I and My Father are one.
[v] John 14:23-26 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father’s who sent Me. These things I have spoken to you while being present with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.
[vi]Ephesians 1:3-5 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He (Father) chose us in Him (Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him (Father) in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His (father) will,
***For the sake of clarity I put the antecedents to the pronouns in parenthesis.
John 10:29 “My Father, who has given them to Me,
[vii] John 10:18 18 “No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I have received from My Father.”
[viii] This “being treated like a doormat” is a commonly voiced fear and often used as qualifier of wifely submission from the pulpit. It is a feminist charge and not a Biblical concern.
[ix] Matthew 3:17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”