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Balancing the Intellectual with the Spiritual

"Man must work with his intellect. He must develop his mental body so that he can express himself as an autonomous individual and gain mastery over the material world. But at the same time he must see to it that his intellect does not gain ascendancy to the detriment of all his other faculties and possibilities for exploration, something which is happening more and more these days. Based on what we see manifesting in most of our contemporaries, we could say the intellect is becoming an instrument of destruction. The more people rely on it, on the way in which it addresses questions and draws conclusions, the more they cut themselves off from other beings, both visible and invisible, for the subtle life of the universe, of the soul and spirit, escapes their investigations."

Omraam Mikhaël Aďvanhov

Faith vs. Fanaticism

"Because of their narrow views of religion, so many of mankind's various religious followers* still portray the Divinity as something repugnant, monstrous! Yet this does not prevent them from exclaiming that ‘God is Love’. They have been told this and they repeat it, but their behaviour expresses the exact opposite. So they have a long way to go if they truly want others to believe their God is Love. Some will say: ‘We have to proclaim our faith and defend it.’ Yes, but in principle, faith and love are not two separate worlds: they are linked together and sustain each other. So long as you fail to understand what true faith is, there can be no love. And conversely, so long as you do not know how to express love, you cannot claim to have true faith. It is right to have a faith and to defend it, but when you try to impose it on others, it is no longer called faith but fanaticism."

Omraam Mikhaël Aďvanhov

*paraphrased so as not to cause offense or single out any particular group


Humanity 2.0:  A Submissive Family -- Wade Hodges

Read Eph. 5:21-6:9 (NIV)

Troubling Questions

This is one of those texts where if we are not careful our ship will be dashed against the rocks of troubling questions before we ever get close to the dock of understanding what this text may actually be saying.

I’m thinking of questions like ...
Why didn’t Paul condemn slavery in this text?
Is his description of husband being the head of his wife cultural or universal?
Was Paul an unenlightened male chauvenist and if so can we trust anything else he says?

Those are all good questions, and they need to be addressed somewhere down the line, but when we tackle them first without keeping the bigger principle in mind we usually end up shipwrecked on the island of personal agendas and unwinnable debates.

The Lighthouse

This text comes with its own lighthouse that will keep us away from the rocks. It will guide us safely to an understanding of this text that will ultimately equips us with the perspective needed to approach the really difficult questions in a way that will bring us together instead of tearing us apart.

The lighthouse of this text is 5:21: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  It’s very important that we read this verse and the larger passage in its proper context. This passage is still a part of Paul’s description of what living a life worthy of our calling looks like.

In 5:18, Paul says be filled with the Holy Spirit.  Being filled with the Holy Spirit will result in several behaviors.  We’ll speak to one another with psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs.  We’ll sing and make music in our hearts.  We’ll give thanks to God for all the good stuff in our lives. And he says that we will submit to one another out of reverance for Christ.

To stress the importance of mutual submission Paul provides several illustrations of the way this principle of mutual submission should work in a typical Greco-Roman household of that time.

Each of these illustrations is quite radical in that in Paul’s day submission in all of these relationships was usually a one way street.  The patriarch of the family who filled the roles of the husband, father, and master could legitimately demand submission from the rest of the family. He could enforce submission if he didn’t get it.

But that’s not the kind of submission Paul describes in this passage. The guiding principle of everything that Paul says here is driven by the conviction that in response to Christ, who he is and what he has done for us, we should submit to one another.

Dr. Suess defines submission

First things first.  What does the phrase “submit to one another” mean?  After doing quite a bit of research on the meaning of the word submit as Paul uses it in this passage, the best definition I found was from a theologian named Dr. Suess.  Let me read you the story of the Zax.

This story defines submission by showing what it is not.  Submission is not standing face to face in standoff saying, I’m not budging for you.  It’s got to be my way or no way at all. 

Submission is saying I’ll gladly step out of the way to accommodate your needs.  Mutual submission is both people stepping aside in order to serve the needs of the each other.  Submission is not just an outward behavior, it is an attitude that says “I will willingly, voluntarily put myself in second place, so that you can be first.”

Story of the old people and their teeth.

Mutual submission is both people in a relationship working to put the other one first.  The beauty of Christian submission is that within the community of faith, submission is a two way street.  No one stands above anyone else.  We are all called to submit to each other, to put each others welfare before our own.

We’ve got to keep this in mind as we read this passage. In each example Paul calls both parties to submit to each other in a way that is appropriate for their role in the household.

Three Examples

To the slaves, Paul says submit to your master by working as hard for him as you would for the Lord, remembering that he is your real master.  To the masters, he says submit to your slaves by not abusing your authority.  Treat your slaves with respect, remembering that you are equal in God’s sight.  He is master of the both of you.  That’s radical advice from Paul.  Sure it makes sense for a slave to submit to a master, but a master to a slave?

To the children he says submit to your parents by obeying them because it is the right thing to do and you’ll be blessed by your obedience.  To the fathers, he says submit to your children by raising them in a Godly way and not making things unnecessarily hard on them.

To the wives he says submit to your husbands as you would to the Lord.  Here’s where things start to get a bit tense and often distorted, because we separate verse 22 from verse 21 as if a wife’s submission to her husband is on an island all to itself.  If we were reading this passage in the language in which Paul wrote it, we would never make that mistake.

Because in verse 22 in the original language, the word “submit” is nowhere to be found.  Our English translations have carried it over from verse 21.  Literally, verses 21-22 read, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ, wives to your husbands as to the Lord.”

Once again, as with the other examples, Paul is saying to both husbands and wives, “Submit to one another in a way that is appropriate for the roles you play in your relationship.”

Wives, he says, submit to your husband because the husband is head of the wife, just as Christ is the head of the church.  All the men in the congregation say “Amen.”  All the women say, “Not so fast buddy.”

Headship: Gulp

When we men read this passage we get so excited about words like submit and head that we stop reading the text and start pounding the table while shouting, “Woman, where’s my dinner?”, which means that we miss the part about what form our submission to our wives is supposed to take.  Remember, this is a two way street.  We are talking about mutual submission.

Husbands, submit to your wives by loving her, just as Christ loves the church.  How did he demonstrate his love? He died for her, in order to make her into all she was called to be.  That’s the image we must look to if we are going to understand what Paul means when he says that a husband is the head of his wife just as Christ is head of the church.

“Head” in this passage has very little, if anything, to do with a man’s authority over his wife, and everything to do with the man’s responsibility to take care of his wife and make whatever sacrifice is necessary to ensure her well being. 

Especially in that culture, where most women didn’t stand a chance on their own, the husband is there take care of his wife in a loving, empowering way.  So when Paul says, “Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord,” it’s not because he’s holding an iron sceptor, but because like the Lord, he is willing to put his life on the line for you. 

Paul description of what it means to be the head of a wife is enough to make some guys want to become women.  Many of us are far too selfish to function as the head of our wives in the same way that Christ is the head of the church.  In fact, if a man takes his responsibility seriously I think you can make the case that being a Christlike head is more demanding and costly than being called to be a submissive or respectful wife.


That’s only true if we are practicing mutual submission.  Too often we make submission into a power play where there have to be winners and losers.  Mutual submission is not one person moving over to the side, so that an unyielding person can keep walking straight.

Mutual submission doesn’t create winners and losers because both people are tying to out submit each other.  The more a man puts himself on the line for his wife the more willing she will be to submit.  The more respectful she is to him, the more sacricial he’s going to be. That’s how mutual submission is supposed to work.

That’s why the principle of mutual submission shines through this text no matter what kind of cultural fog we’re trying to navigate.

Obviously, if Paul were writing this letter to us in our cultural language taking into account the make up of our congregation and the families within our congregation, he wouldn’t say things exactly like he said them in 5:22-6:9. 

But I’m confident that verse 21 would stay the same regardless of what kind of culture Paul was addressing.  Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.  Because as long as we keep telling the story of a God who humbled himself and walked among us and died a terrible death for our sake, we will always be called to put other people first.  We will always be called to submit to one another out reverance for the one who died for us.

When our broken sees us submitting to each other in our families, in our small groups, and on our ministry teams, or in all of our relationships, then our world will see, what Paul calls in Eph. 4:1 a life that is worthy of our calling.  And the mystery of God’s unifying gospel project will continue to be revealed in us and through us.

Copyright ©2004 by Wade Hodges, All Rights Reserved

Mr. Intenseone:

--- Quote from: Hightop on April 28, 2006, 08:56:03 PM ---Satan judges no one.  Come over and see for yourself, there's plenty of room and the water is warm!

--- End quote ---

Hi again Johnny!

Johnny Apollo:
Mr. Intenseone I know it must seem easy to try to attack people you think are me...But try standing up against ME.

Fighting shadows you convince yourself are actually me doens't prove anything but the fact you're scared and weak.

This is my only name on this forum junior.


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