Everyone loves the sleepy little town of Mayberry. In this hamlet of by-gone days, Sheriff Andy Taylor rarely ran into the dangerous underbelly of society. No, his days were usually filled with jaywalkers, moon-shiners and the hilarious deeds of his renowned Deputy, Barney Fife. But occasionally, real criminals did come to town. Of course our good-natured but competent sheriff always caught the bad guys and locked 'em up. Now as jails went, none topped Mayberry County Jail. Decorated with flowers and Aunt Bea's homemade doilies, Sheriff Taylor made sure his prisoners were not only well cared for, but had all the comforts of home. Those scoundrels were served hot, delicious home-cooked meals, and sometimes Andy would even sing to them, strumming along on his guitar. But no matter how well they ate or how much they were entertained, those outlaws were still in jail!
Now, if forced to choose between the brutality of an Alcatraz and the hominess of Mayberry, any criminal in his right mind would pick Mayberry. But every prison, no matter how charming, is still a prison. And each prisoner, regardless of treatment, has still been denied their freedom. This is exactly what the Church has taught husbands to do to their wives today: lock them away behind beautifully decorated and well-kept bars. Oh, it's quite lovely in there, having been adorned with such words as "servant leader" and "high priest of the home." But Christian wives have still been locked out of the decision-making process and forced to serve out a life sentence their Righteous Judge never did hand down.
The battle has grown intense. And husbands need more than Stepford wives today. They need women of God, confident of their position in Christ Jesus, who are free to crawl down into the trenches and do battle with the enemy alongside them. How many times have we heard, regarding marriage, "Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?" 162 Yet have we ever really examined this scripture? What does it mean to be "yoked together" anyway? Paul was referring to an instrument that binds two great animals together, under the control of one master. Yoking two animals of unequal strength is counterproductive and harmful to both creatures. But to harness two great beasts together is to accomplish much-both submitting to the same Master, both pulling in the same direction, both working with all their might. How ironic that with one breath we have preached the wisdom of these words and with the next we distorted this same scripture, declaring that one creature is to be master over the other!
Were it not so dangerous--yielding such far-reaching and disastrous results--it'd be funny. In the name of "proper order" Christian wives have been urged to quit pulling their weight, release themselves from God's yoke, and climb into the back of the wagon with the children! But this is no laughing matter. This disengagement of wives and overburdening of husbands has come about for several reasons, and we will examine each one closely.
A Flawed Definition of "Headship"
In the fifth chapter of Ephesians, the Apostle Paul uses allegory and comparison to give us the perfect picture of Christian marriage. The problem is, in many churches, this rather lengthy discourse appears to have gone through some sort of theological "chop shop"--where thoughts and directives have been tragically broken down and cruelly separated--so that the original beauty of Paul's words is barely even discernable. "The husband is the head of the wife" has been pulled out, alienated from the rest of the dialogue, leaving many Christians perfectly comfortable defining "headship" for themselves. They've read those eight little words as if they were a complete sentence, a whole thought, when nothing could be further from the truth. It's only when we allow Paul to finish his sentence that we discover God's definition of headship.
"For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head
of the Church, He Himself being the Savior of the body."
[emphasis added] Ephesians 5:23
The husband is the head of the wife in the same manner that Christ is the head of the Church! In other words, Christ's relationship with His Church is our blueprint for Christian marriage. What does God expect from a Christian husband? Examine Christ and we'll find out. What are the duties of a Christian wife? Examine the Church and we'll learn. Too often we ignore the sum of Paul's teaching here in Ephesians, pulling a few words out of context instead, and then flipping through the pages of Webster's Collegiate in a desperate search for "headship." And yet all the while, God's Word has defined it for us.
But others have understood the Christ/Church relationship to be our model for Christian marriage. For these dear souls, the failure to grasp equality between husband and wife is really a secondary issue, no more than a symptom. Their real problem is failing to understand what Christ did for the Church! Contrary to popular opinion, biblical headship has nothing to do with subjugating a loved one into a position of indignity and humiliation. In fact, the only ones Christ dominated--subjugated, took control of--were the devil and his cronies! He empowered His Bride. Therefore, biblical headship can only be expressed by lifting up a person of lower status to equality and honor, truly becoming their savior. Just look what Christ--head of the Church, Savior of the Body--did for us:
Raised from the dead and seated at the
right hand of the Father in heaven.
Holy, harmless, undefiled (Heb.7:26)
Far above all rule and authority, power
and dominion. All things put in
subjection under His feet. (Eph.1:21, 22)
Knew that His Father was always
attentive to His prayers, and whatever
He asked for was accomplished.
(John 11:41, 42)
When we were dead in our trespasses
and sins, God raised us up with Jesus,
and seated us with Him in heavenly
places! (Ephesians 2:5, 6)
Made glorious, holy and blameless.
Given the keys to the Kingdom.
Whatever we bind on earth is bound in
heaven, whatever we loose on earth is
loosed in heaven! And if two agree on
earth touching anything, it shall be
done for them! (Matthew 18:18, 19)
Whatever we ask for, in the name of
Jesus, the Father has promised to give.
Position, righteousness, power and prayer--what Jesus has earned, the Church has been given! And because of this we have been commanded to do the works of Christ. Jesus went about healing all manner of sickness and disease. The Church is ordered to do the same. Jesus preached. The Church preaches. Jesus cast out devils. The Church is to cast out devils. Jesus made disciples. The Church's great commission is to go and make disciples all mankind. The Apostle John summed it up perfectly: As Jesus is, so "are we in this world!" 163 Jesus has always had myriads and myriads of angels to serve Him. What He longed for was a Bride--a companion, flesh of His flesh and bone of His bone--one who could walk beside Him in righteousness, holiness and equality. So He that "knew no sin" became sin "that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." 164 Lifting us up, placing us in a position of authority and sway cost Jesus everything. But because of His sacrificial love, we are now qualified to sit with Him in heavenly places and we, as well, are ministered to by angels. 165
Why, too often the Church's biggest problem is not the devil at all . . . but our failure to comprehend just who we are and what we are capable of in Christ! Is it any wonder most Christian women today are blind to their potential as well? . . .