27 January 2008

The Man is the Head...Until the Marriage Vows?

So here's an argument complimentarians make:
The structure in a marriage is like the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They are all equal, but the Father is the head and therefore in marriage the husband should be the head even though the women is equal (I'm not sure where the Holy Spirit fits into this...). I find this argument is more based on extrapolating scripture rather than taking scripture as a whole...

For one, we are assuming that the 'husband' is perfect as the Father is and that the wife is also as perfect as Jesus was.
Secondly, I'm not sure that argument fits scripture in its entirety. Jesus did everything what the Father told him to do, but that was in his earthly form. He set us an example therefore of how we are to live closely with the Father, but I don't think this transposes to marriage.
Thirdly, and correct me if I'm wrong, but most of the correlations I find in scripture is that men are to love their wives like Jesus loves the church, and the Father is not mentioned in these analogies. There are more things I can say here, but in an effort to keep blogs short this year, I'll let you read between the lines based on my concluding position. :-)
Among other things if we did take this position theologically, then we must be confronted with the fact that the Father has given all power to Jesus and that he is the one that will rule an reign forever when he returns. (Philippians and Revelation).

Since this is known as the marriage supper with the Lamb, should we not then conclude that the juxtaposition of this would be that the man is the 'head' during dating, but the woman takes over after marriage?

With all due respect to those who are complimentarians, as I search the whole of scripture and the character of God, I find it more compelling to believe that God wants me to be egalitarian.


Tia Lynn said...

excellent post! I am a regular reader of your wife's blog, I'll have to start coming over this way more often. I really favor the egalitarian model of marriage and church, it makes the most sense when you look at the bible as a whole.

jovial_cynic said...

The trinity doesn't contain the church; the example of the relationship between God and the church is found when Abraham sends his eldest servant (Eliezer, who's name means comforter, councilor), to find a wife for Isaac. Abraham/Eleizer/Isaac are a type, and portray the nature of the triune God. Rebekah (the church) is to be married to Isaac (the son), at the calling of Eliezer (the holy spirit), under the direction of the Abraham (the father).

And while this is not directly related to headship, it does help to create a more accurate characterization of the role that believers (the church) play in their relationship with God.

sonja said...

I've often asked complementarians if they are willing to die for their wives. The conversation is what usually dies at that point. Christ died for the church, but most men are not quite as willing to die for their wives. Submission is wonderful when one is the submittor, but when the shoe goes on the other foot ... it gets a little more dicey.

You make an excellent point ... thanks.

David said...

A church I went to in Omaha whilst in college had a slogan...
"The Whole Bible, For Whole People, For The Whole World."

Seems appropriate to remember that on occasion.

Don Pratt said...

I too am of the egalitarian school of thought and love the way you look at the whole of scripture. Peace to you.

David said...

thanks don!

Paul said...

good post bro, sounds like there's some confusion between the economic nature of the trinity (what they do) and the relational (who they are) going on. If you base it on what they do then you end up wirh father sending the son and hence all the talk of the husband being charge of the wife - the direction only flows one way.

but if what they do flows out of who they are - in other words we start with the relational nature of mutual submission/equality/other-centredness then i think it gives us a whole different model for relatingto each other, that applies to all our relationships.

You might like this from wiki...

"The ancient Nicene theologians argued that everything the Trinity does is done by Father, Son, and Spirit working together with one will. The three persons of the Trinity always work inseparable, for their work is always the work of the one god. Because of this unity of will, the Trinity cannot involve the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father. Eternal subordination can only exist if the Son’s will is at least conceivably different from the Father’s. But Nicene orthodoxy says it is not. The Son’s will cannot be different from the Father’s because it is the Father’s. They have but one will as they have but one being. Otherwise they would not be one God. If there were relations of command and obedience between the Father and the Son, there would be no Trinity at all but rather three Gods.

In explaining why the Bible speaks of the Son as being subordinate to the Father, the great theologian Athanasius argued that Scripture gives a “double account” of the son of God – one of his temporal and voluntary subordination in the incarnation, and the other of his eternal divine status. For Athanasius, the Son is eternally one in being with the Father, temporally and voluntarily subordinate in his incarnate ministry. Such human traits, he argued, were not to be read back into the eternal Trinity.

Like Athanasius, the Cappadocian Fathers also insisted there was no economic inequality present within the Trinity. As Basil wrote: “We perceive the operation of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to be one and the same, in no respect showing differences or variation; from this identity of operation we necessarily infer the unity of nature.”

Augustine also rejected the idea of an economic hierarchy within the Trinity. He claimed that the three persons of the Trinity “share the inseparable equality one substance present in divine unity.” Because the three persons are one in their inner life, this means that for Augustine their works in the world are one. For this reason, it is an impossibility for Augustine to speak of the Father commanding and the Son obeying as if there could be a conflict of wills within the eternal Trinity.

John Calvin also spoke at length about the doctrine of the Trinity. Like Athanasius and Augustine before him, he concluded that Philippians 2:4-11 prescribed how scripture was to be read correctly. For him the Son’s obedience is limited to the incarnation. It is indicative of his true humanity assumed for our salvation."

ILikeReading2 said...

Thanks David. Your post really says it well.

David said...


David Talcott said...

Hi David--just happened to come accross your blog. I'm not persuaded by your concerns. First, complementarians don't assume that husbands are perfect the way Jesus is--I'm not sure where you got that from. That's certainly a difference between Jesus and husbands, but it doesn't invalidate the line of argument in I Cor 11. Second, I don't understand your second concern. You say at first that it's that "I'm not sure that argument fits scripture in its entirity." But it's not clear how. The idea seems to be that the Son didn't submit to the Father pre-incarnation and doesn't now post-assension. That may be right, but 1) I don't see how it bears on I Cor 11, and 2) that doesn't really invalidate complementarianism for "not fitting the rest of Scripture." A closer analogy may be: the wife is not under the husband's authority either before the wedding or after the husband dies.

Third, you bring up the analogy of husbands loving their wives as Christ loves the church (this is from Ephesians 5). You're right the Father is not mentioned in these analogies. But, that doesn't matter. Both analogies can be true at the same time. Further, both illustrate the more basic point that all of us live in a world of hierarchical authority. All of us live under some authorities and have authorities over some others.

I wonder what you do with all of the other household passages, such as Titus 2, I Peter 3, and Col 3? They seem to teach a one-directional submission within the marriage relationship.

David said...

Well thanks for stumbling on my blog. :-)
This post is a specific reference to an argument made on another site. So yes, I agree that there are some holes in this post and argument... but it was not meant to defend egalitarianism in an exhaustive sense.
I've heard your position before. In fact, I've believed your position before, and with all due respect, I still disagree with it.

One of the things I've discovered - at least for me - is that once some points are made, there's no reason to keep going around in circles on something we've obviously both researched and have come to different conclusions.
So I would invite you to check out www.swingingfromthevine.com where you can get more details and links to the egalitarian position, and I, don't have to repeat what has been said better than myself. :-)