FINDING THE MIND OF THE LORD TOGETHER

Leave a comment

Every man and Christian couple need to read this article.  It is written by Jon Zens.  Jon is editor of the quarterly publication Searching Together, manager of a Christian bookstore, and author of What’s With Paul and Women?: Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2 and A Church Building Every 1/2 Mile: What Makes American Christianity Tick?

PLEASE PASS THIS ON TO EVERYONE YOU KNOW!!!

++++++++++++++++++++

“Who’s in charge?” is a source of friction in many marriages. Latching on to the traditional concept of “male headship,” a number of Christian husbands use this mantra to abuse or marginalize their wives. I would like to suggest that there is a healing paradigm that would liberate couples and vastly improve marital relationships—seek the mind of the Lord together. This paradigm is unfolded in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5.

1 Corinthians 7:1-5 is the only place in the New Testament where the word “authority” (Greek, exousia) is used with reference to marriage. Yet it is not the authority of the husband over the wife, or vice versa, that is in view, but rather a mutual authority over each other’s body. 1 Corinthians 7:4 states that the wife has authority over her husband’s body. One would think that this would be a hard pill to swallow for those who see “authority” as resting only in the husband’s headship.

In the context of this passage Paul states that a couple cannot separate from one another physically unless there is mutual consentsymphonou). Both parties must agree to the separation or it shouldn’t happen. There is, then, nothing in this text supporting the contention that the husband’s “authority” should override his wife’s differing viewpoint. (Greek,

John Piper suggests that “mature masculinity accepts the burden of the final say in disagreements between husband and wife, but does not presume to use it in every instance” (What’s the Difference?, p. 32). But 1 Corinthians 7:5 challenges Piper’s assumed maxim. If the wife disagrees with a physical separation, the husband should not overrule his wife with the “final choice.” Biblically, such separation can occur only if both husband and wife are in “symphony” (unity) about such an action.

Now if mutual consent applies in an important issue like physical separation from one another for a period of time, wouldn’t it seem proper that coming to one-mindedness would be the broad decision-making model in a healthy marriage? Piper feels that “in a good marriage decision-making is focused on the husband, but is not unilateral” (What’s the Difference?, p. 32). Yet in light of 1 Corinthians 7:1-5, I suggest that decision-making should focus on finding the Lord’s mind together. Over the years the good ideas, solutions to problems, and answers to dilemmas will flow from both husband and wife as they seek the Lord as a couple for “symphony.”

1 Corinthians 7:5 throws a wrench into the works for those who would conclude that the husband has the “final say” under presumed authority commonly known as “male headship.” Paul teaches that unless the couple can agree on a course of action, it should not be executed. I suggest that this revelation invites us to re-examine what the husband’s headship really entails (cf. Gordon D. Fee, “1 Corinthians 7:1-7 Revisited,” Paul & the Corinthians: Studies On A Community in Conflict, Trevor J. Burke/J. Keith Elliott, eds.).

It is safe to say that most evangelical husbands have been affected by the “final say” position embedded in traditional ideas about “male headship.” I would invite believing husbands to meditate on 1 Corinthians 7:1-5, pray about it before the Lord, and discuss it with your precious wives. I think you will find that seeking the Lord together and waiting for the “symphony” that brings unity and peace is a far better way to function together in a Christ-honoring marriage. The traditional top-down, hierarchical, the-man-is-in-charge model is out of sync with Paul’s words in 1 Corinthians 7:1-5.

Remember, 1 Corinthians 7:1-5 is the only place in Scripture where the word “authority” is mentioned in connection with marriage. The really striking thing about this “authority” is that it is a mutual authority over each other’s body, and has nothing to do with the husband’s alleged “authority” over his wife. The truth is, compared to traditional ideas about male headship since the 3rd century AD, Paul’s perspective here is revolutionary—especially when it is recalled that in the first century AD women were often viewed as property or chattel.

A Response Explaining “Why?”

7 Comments

This is a letter that I wrote to a friend back in AZ who had written me a long letter expressing his concern.  I am sharing it, because I believe there are others who might have questions.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

My dear brother!
I am so sorry you are going through these struggles.  My heart ached for you when I read what you are going through.  Father is so very faithful & will meet you in the midst of this.

All day my mind raced here & there as to what I wanted to share with you.  First, I want you to know brother that I have read & have been “influenced” by many people including several “no names” in the body of Christ.  The list of authors are as follows: Gene Edwards, Frank Viola, George Barna, T. Austin Sparks, Tony & Felicity Dale, Neil Cole, Jon Zens, Wolfgang Simpson, Floyd McClung, Robert Fritts, Watchman Nee (I may have forgotten a couple).  So you see ____, this is not just something that just “happened”.  As I said in my post, it actually started 26 years ago.

So ____, I don’t see myself as “part of a movement”, but rather a life….HIS.  I have a deep longing to experience “living stones” being built by HIM into a house for HIM!!!  For years (unknowingly for a long time) I’ve craved the body life He speaks of in His word.  I desire to see “God get what He wants: a Bride, a body, a building and a family – a corporate expression of His glorious Son.”  This is not just positionally it’s a reality NOW that was born in the heart of God from before time.

(btw…in ALL of the authors/speakers mentioned above I have not read/heard any of them attack the body.  As a matter of fact they all – especially Viola – constantly encourage those already involved in organic fellowships, to NOT discuss or make it all about “those institutional churches”.  They are encouraged to keep their focus on JESUS….period)

I love the body deeply & really desire to be a part of that “corporate expression” of Jesus.  To watch the body’s members EACH functioning as God intended, with Jesus as the ONLY head; to truly experience the “priesthood of the believers” (which we say we believe) in action each week.  Meeting for one purpose….Jesus; to discover & display Him in real life; not sitting there week after week watching just a few people exercise their gifts & then each “living stone” going back to their individual lives; separate from the other “living stones”.

____, I think I do understand what’s going on inside you right now, but brother please understand I deeply love the “brethren”, but I am appalled at the manmade system they find themselves caught in.

I was thinking of you today in regard to this all, and realized that this is nothing more than experiencing REAL intimacy in the ecclesia; the very thing I believe your soul longs for.  I love you brother & appreciate your honesty and desire for truth.

“To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through THE CHURCH [ecclesia] to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.” Ephesians 3:8-10

“He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” – Col. 1:17-18
Resting In Him,

Anthony