What Marriage Means To Me

I was never one of those girls who started planning out my dream wedding before I even hit puberty. I was never one who pinned the perfect dress on Pinterest with the perfect color theme or whatever.

I had always found weddings to be beautiful. I hadn’t been to a lot of weddings, but about a month ago I went to one and realized what always seemed a little off to me, and what I had never taken the time to think about before – the implications of a modern-day, Christian marriage.

Husband and wife. Wives, submit to your husbands. Husbands, love your wives.

“You may kiss your bride.”

I may sound like a cynic when I say this, but I hate this. Why can’t the pastor say, “You may kiss your husband?” Why can’t there be equal submission, as I believe God intends marriage to be?

A thing I’ve noticed that I find pretty disturbing is that although Jesus treats women no differently from men in the Bible, and although it says that we are supposed to be transformed by the renewing of our minds when we become Christians and no longer always follow cultural norms around us – we see a long history of the church actually conforming to society, and not to what Jesus preached, which more often than not went against the cultural norms at the time.

I hate using the term “the church.” It seems to imply that everyone goes to the same exact church. But for the sake of this article, I will be using that term to describe how in history, “the church” has tended to go along with cultural norms:

  • The church pushed for the belief in a geocentric view of the universe, that the earth was the center – scientists such as Copernicus and Galileo went against the church and culture when they told how they discovered that it is actually heliocentric, with the sun in the middle.
  • The church claimed the earth was flat.
  • Many Christians owned and sold slaves, and had no problem with slavery.
  • The church burned innocent women, claiming they were witches.
  • The church used electric shock therapy to try to “heal” homosexuals
  • The church banned interracial marriages and preached that they were sexually perverted and sinful, yet justified the exploitation of black and multiracial women slaves by referencing Abraham and Hagar

“Quickly, the church became a servant of the Roman state. It served as chaplain to the status quo of imperial society. The church supported the power politics, military ambitions, and domestic domination system of the Roman Empire—a system that employed extensive use of human slavery, favored the desires of the rich over the needs of the poor, and placed the whims of men over the lives of women and children. In every case, church leaders and theologians found biblical support for this ungodly system of inequality and violence.

The church of Constantine became a wealthy, conservative, hierarchical institution invested in empire and its continued success…No longer could the values of Christians be differentiated from those around them. They were fully enculturated by the status quo.”

So, as you can see, the argument “that’s the way we’ve always done it” sounds pretty silly in regards to how the church has always done things. Maybe it’s always been the “crazy liberals” that have actually been working towards a more equal-based society and church.

Now, it seems as though I’ve gone off on a tangent. But here’s where I bring it back around, full circle:

What if the church has been wrong about marriage?

What if the way that God created marriage to be is not how our society depicts marriage?

This is what marriage means to me.

First: No rings. If you didn’t know so already: “Initially, traditions indicate that a man placed a ring on the finger of a woman simply as proof that he “possessed” her. The ring was placed on the left hand, considered the weaker side of the body, to indicate the submission of the woman to the man.”

I’m not at all saying that it is wrong for people to wear rings. I am very aware that most people getting married nowadays do not think of the implications or the original symbolism of the ring, or if they do, they understand that that’s not what it means to them anymore.

As for me personally, I do have a problem with the original symbolism. I would much rather get tattoos together instead of rings. That would mean way more to me. (Which is probably going to sound super radical to some students at my conservative Christian university whose motto is “ring before spring”)

Second: I don’t ever want to be called someone’s “wife”, mainly for the same reasons as the ring. The original implications of the word I just can’t ever see myself accepting. When God does place that guy in my life, I know that he’ll have no problem with us calling each other partners.

Again, not saying that there’s anything wrong with people who do call each other husband and wife (or husband and husband, or wife and wife), but it’s just a personal thing.

Jesus is known throughout The Bible to transcend the cultural norms. So why are Christians today so quick to go along with them? When people tell me to stop worrying about what certain things imply or symbolize because it doesn’t mean that anymore and the people aren’t thinking of it like that, I see that as a problem.

People aren’t thinking anymore. We’re blindly accepting what our ancestors and the church handed down to us and accepting it as the truth. If there’s anything I’ve learned from my mom and dad, it’s that I need to think for myself, and be very mindful and take others’ words with a grain of salt, so to speak. None of us are perfect, and we can all get things wrong sometimes.

The takeaway from all of this is: God loves us all so much. God sent Jesus down to die for our sins, and when Jesus rose from the grave, he built a bridge from us to God.

So because of this, I want Jesus to be at the head of my household one day. Not “the man” because that’s the way the church has always done it. I want my marriage to be a partnership, doing life together, and loving each other unconditionally even on days we may not “feel” like loving the other person that day, because that ultimately reflects God’s love for us.


Want to learn more about this topic? Here are some helpful links to get you started:

Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE)

CBE’s Statement on Men, Women, and Biblical Equality

Sarah Bessey’s Resources on Egalitarian Marriages/Relationships

Articles on Egalitarian Marriages

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4 thoughts on “What Marriage Means To Me

  1. I’d like to hear more from you on this. I love breaking cultural norms and status quo. I love seeing past tradition. I thinkas Christians we must be grounded in the truth of God’s word and our society, church or other! What are your thoughts on the bible and the places where it says Wives submit to your husbands. Addressing both the term WIVES and SUBMIT?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. A great resource I’ve found is the book Jesus Feminist by Sarah Bessey. She also has a blog, and this link would be helpful in understanding my thoughts on the subject:

      http://sarahbessey.com/disagree-bure-biblical-marriage/

      Here are some sections from the article I found to be helpful:

      “Patriarchy and hierarchy within marriage were consequences of the Fall (see Genesis 3:16).

      In the church, people of…tend to point towards a few passages of Scripture (particularly Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18-19, and 1 Peter 3:1-2) as justification for the the idea of a husband as absolute head of the home with his wife in submission to his leadership. She is not alone in adopting this as the standard of “biblical marriage.” (As an aside, I’ve never liked the phrase “biblical” as a descriptor. There are a lot of marriages in the Bible and I wouldn’t necessary identify most of them as the ideal or example to emulate.)

      But those passages of Scripture are, in fact, a subversion of the Greco Roman household codes in effect at the time. The maintaining of total authority in the home was critical to the functioning of a society that relied on the total authority of the government and/or religion. At the time of these writings on marriage, the Greco-Roman Household Codes were part of Pax Romana, the laws keeping the peace of Roman. Peter and Paul worked within imperfect systems because any outright challenge to the law of the land would bring persecution down upon the Church in great number. In fact, the Apostles “advocated this system, not because God had revealed it as the divine will for Christian homes, but because it was the only stable and respectable system anyone knew about” at the time, according to Carol A. Newsom and Sharon H. Ringe of the Women’s Bible Commentary.

      Paul and Peter used the codes, not because they were perspective or ideal, but because they were familiar and they were showing the church how to move within the world while not being of the world. In fact, incredibly, they placed demands on the assumed power of men by teaching them to be kind to their slaves, to be gentle with their children, to love their wives; they addressed the powerless within a patriarchal society.”

      I hope this helps.
      Keep the questions coming, and thanks for reading! 🙂

      Like

  2. Thank you for sharing that link and for the different perspective. It gives me a better understanding of where you are coming from. I would like to question this paragraph:

    ” Peter and Paul worked within imperfect systems because any outright challenge to the law of the land would bring persecution down upon the Church in great number. In fact, the Apostles “advocated this system, not because God had revealed it as the divine will for Christian homes, but because it was the only stable and respectable system anyone knew about”.

    From what I read in the Bible, Paul and Peter clearly did not fear persecution because they brought it on themselves wherever they went and told Christians to expect it. They were NOT men bound by tradition & I don’t believe they wrote out of tradition.

    My biggest question about this, is that from Sarah’s perspective, the bible is not God breathed or inspired by the holy spirit, but a result of flawed men fumbling around, trying to convey their truth but caught up in the tradition of the time. Meaning that either God was limited to the culture of that time…or God did not inspire the Bible.

    I do think that male superiority has been outrageous, and leadership has been sadly misrepresented. But I still think God gave men and women roles not out of inferiority and superiority but out of love and knowing what His perfect picture for a family is.

    In the biblical time period where women WERE viewed as lesser, we also see men being told in the bible to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…and husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. ! DANG! So if he called women to submit, he also called men to lay down their life. There was nothing one sided about this relationship. It was sacrifice and sacrifice. Eph % 25-33

    I welcome your thoughts on this and don’t mind being challenged at all. I have been challenged by your post to look into this more. I feel like we will never end in all the things to learn about God and His truth.

    Like

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