10:36 PM

I Am His and He Is Mine, Bought with the Precious Blood of Christ

last night, sarah processed down the aisle to that verse of "In Christ Alone" (the third), and about half the bridal party lost it. it was a beautiful precursor to that amazing sermon i mentioned.

jean larroux, the minister who performed the ceremony, opened with the story of a time he was outside the sanctuary doors with a groom waiting for their turn to come in. the groom turned to jean and said, "you know why the bride wears white and the groom wears black at a wedding?" jean thought that was weird, but he said, "no, why?" and the groom responded, "because it's her wedding and his funeral."

we laughed.

jean said, "it's funny and all, but the thing is that it's true."

i panicked a little inside - what in the world???? is he going to be all down on marriage? that's SO weird!!!

jean said, "the husband is commanded to love his wife as Christ loved the church - to DIE for her."

to say the sermon only got better after that is an understatement. it acknowledged the passion and faithfulness of marriage, the beauty of a husband leading well and a wife submitting well, the importance of marriage to the kingdom of God. but most importantly, and most centrally, jean focused on the picture that marriage is for us of Christ's relationship with the church - the eagerness of the Bridegroom to receive His bride; the purity of the bride (yay for wearing white, like the robes of the saints in revelation!); the sacrifice demanded of the Groom if He is to love His bride.

let me tell you, it packed quite a whallop and said all the stuff you want said in a wedding sermon, but in less time and with more punch.

of course, the crazy thing about this is that Jesus, our Bridegroom, did die for us in a way that no normal husband ever could, but then He rose again, defeating all our enemies and claiming us for His own!

He is risen!


Anonymous said...

Shouldn't it either be the wedding for both or the funeral for both? If the man is meant to love in a sacrificial way, is the woman not? That would just create a new heirarchy. The PCA model of marital relations, which is "traditional" in the same way that Greco-Roman and current Southern views on marriage are traditional, seems to be more traditional than a radical (single) savior.

Also, why would it be weird for a minister of the church of Jesus Christ to be down on marriage? It didn't seem like Jesus (or Paul) was a big proponent of marriage.

Lauren said...

hey anonymous, thanks for posting! you ask some great questions.

as to your first question, i think it important for us to take a look at the text - ephesians 5 opens with the command in verse 2 to all believers: "walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave Himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." then in verse 21 we see that we are also to be "submittting to one another out of reverence for Christ." so it would be ridiculous for us to say that the husband is the only one who is called to love sacrificially, and it would also be ridiculous for us to say the wife is the only one who is called to submission. BUT, when we get to verses 22-33, we see a new sort of dynamic going on because of the relationship that is being described. in marriage, we see a God-ordained picture of His relationship with His people. He has established the marriage relationship and designed men and women in such a way that men are, in the context of this relationship, love their wives like Christ ESPECIALLY, and women are, in the context of this relationship, to respect and submit to their husbands like the Church ought to as the bride of Christ ESPECIALLY.

and i think it's interesting that you draw out the singleness of Christ, because it seems to me that He did what He did in order to secure His bride - in other words, so He could be forever married to us His people! Is His singleness radical? Definitely. But certainly this is not anti-marriage.

Speaking of which, your second question - Jesus and Paul not being big fans of marriage, so why should a Christian minister be? - demonstrates a very limited scope to your perspective on scripture. i think i said that wrong. what i mean is, you are looking at what Jesus said and what Paul said explicitly without taking into account the teaching of the whole of Scripture. "Be fruitful and multiply;" "a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife;" "he who finds a wife finds what is good and obtains favor from the Lord?" - all these and many more are the predominant teaching in Scripture; they are the backdrop against which Paul and Jesus speak and write. Jesus is never against marriage, and when Paul talks about it being better to be single, it is in the context of a period of terrible persecution and suffering of the Church. you could make the case that it applies to Christians in china, sudan, or other places where God's people are hunted down and mistreated. i think you can't say that is the case in the West at the moment, and so you have a much harder case to argue.

candice watters quotes her old professor hubert morken: "get married, make babies, and do government.... the people who form families, who raise children and send them into the next generation, are the ones who will influence where our government and culture go in the future." (get married, p. 14) i think this is not only good, common sense, but also the way God usually works. for example, the whole covenant family thing.

but this response is already ridiculously long, so i'll stop here.

Anonymous said...

Hey - I guess I'm Anonymous 2 here...

What scares me about this "its her wedding and his funeral" comment...quite beyond the theological issue I take with this model for marriage...is the way it sets up the hearts and minds of women to live in constant, even desparate expectation of marriage as that which will bring a new "messiah"-like presence into her life.

My husband is supposed to be Christ and I am supposed to be the church. It is that analogical. So, he cannot mess up, he is supposed to effect my "salvation" in some way, etc. and I am supposed to do what?

I guess I'd be curious to know a few things as I've been to several PCA weddings of late (during one of which the minister said that all of scripture leads up to Rev 19! whoa.).

1 - What about women who never get married? To what Christ figure should they submit to as an analog to the church? Or is this specific instruction for marriage? Ie, if I were a single woman, I should be just generally submissive to all men? Does my salvation...or, maybe you'd say sanctification (since, after all, your husband is not Jesus/marriage is seen as a specific process within the realm of sanctification..right?) depend on my husband in some way?

2 - Can you explain how this is not a two-savior model (christ and husband)? I'm guessing you don't think it is since its an analogy (LIKE Christ, etc.)...

3 - What of the "mutual submission" instruction you cite? I think you are saying that Ephesians goes on to designate WAYS of submitting that are gender specific. I wonder what it would be like to submit to a husband as "the church" submitting to Christ. Does that mean trying to prayerfully consider what your husband would have you do? Does your husband become your cornerstone in some way? Here's where I think this is really tricky, and taken too far, can be modern heresy in some ways.

The expectations on the husband's shoulder another time. How did Christ love the church? He died for "her" - but that's because "she" can do no good thing apart from him, right? See where my concern lies?

Lauren said...

Hi Anonymous 2, thanks for your comments!

before i address them, though, i want to clarify something i said before. i said that "it would also be ridiculous for us to say that the wife is the only one who is called to submission," but that's not exactly what i meant. i'm not saying that sometimes the husband submits to the wife, but that in his position of leadership sometimes he submits his desires to hers. like, in my family, my dad pretty much lets my mom decide where we eat out. which is why they hardly ever go to olive garden. that's the thing about proper husbanding - the leadership is not selfish or domineering.

ok, on to your questions and comments!

1. (&2) women are not commanded to submit to ALL men. we are called to submit to our OWN husbands (eph 5:22). we are called, as children, to obey our parents (eph 6:1)* and as church members to our elders (who are male and ought to be, i think; heb 13:17) and to the government (titus 3:1). but we can be POTUS, we can be managers, we can be headmistresses or the librarian telling you to shut your pie hole or whisper.

the point of all this submitting is not that women need an intercessor other than or in addition to Christ. the point is that marriage is designed to represent the relationship between Christ and the Church. we don't NEED husbands to submit to, but if we have husbands, we NEED to submit to them. a good husband is a great boon to a woman as well as to the kingdom.

women who never marry don't need to run around trying to find someone to be a weird sort of pseudo-husband. we don't need husbands like we need Jesus.

if you are married, your relationship with your spouse is absolutely going to affect your sanctification. so, for the record, would getting really sick or losing a child or hearing an excellent sermon series. husbands, with their position of authority, are responsible for (among other things) discipling their wives. of course, living with someone in itself is going to make them more influential of your sanctification anyway.

this is IN NO WAY a two-savior model. Jesus and He alone saves. if that doesn't make sense, i will gladly expound... in a new post. :)

3. i think you are making this too hard. i am basically saying that godly marriage looks like the husband laying down his life for his wife and the wife submitting to his leading. his leadership and her following should look kinda like a dance - she follows his lead and he shows her (godliness) off, so to speak.

the model is a model. men are not perfect. women are not helpless. men do not save us.

yes Christ died for us because we can do no good thing apart from Him - but the MOTIVATING factor was love. that is the point of the galatians passage.

maybe i will post some data from shaunti feldhan's book FOR WOMEN ONLY - turns out men often don't see a difference between respect and love, but women do. so maybe we need to be told to respect and submit partially because we wouldn't have thought of it on our own, but it's a big deal?

*i'm of the persuasion that i am still under my father's authority until he hands me off to be married, or until he dies.... but i fully realize that biblical arguments can be made about how much authority that means he has, and for how long, and i don't look down on people who disagree with me at all.

Anonymous said...

I'm Anonymous 1.

There is so much that I will hopefully respond to later, but I have to touch on this.

"candice watters quotes her old professor hubert morken: "get married, make babies, and do government.... the people who form families, who raise children and send them into the next generation, are the ones who will influence where our government and culture go in the future." (get married, p. 14) i think this is not only good, common sense, but also the way God usually works. for example, the whole covenant family thing."

This sounds a lot more like Constantine than Jesus. We are to be the church, not the government. See Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and Willimon. Once we try to become the state, we are about self-preservation and market economics (first principle of self-interest). That sounds very different from the way of the cross.

Also, I'm a man and am not a good dancer. My wife will be a bad disciple if lead the tango.

Anonymous said...

Anon 2..

Thanks for your responses. Very helpful in further understanding your enthusiasm re: "this model"...which, as you say, is just a model.

A model of the mystery of Christ and the church. I think I get where you are coming from.

Just some further questions and/or food for thought, offered in a spirit of respect and out of a real concern for not only the Bible, but the hearts and minds of women and men who have been taught this model (as well as those, like me, who have a great, great deal of reservation about it.).

1. The decision your mom gets to make about dinner. I know you're probably making light of the whole thing in an effort to teach, but I'm wondering how other decisions work. And how, practically speaking, we can categorize different types of decisions based on Paul's text. So, mother takes you to the doctor as a kid, and dad's at work. Two treatment options for your illness - Dad need to make decision or mom can because child-rearing is in her realm of decision making? What about where to send kids to school? What about going on vacation? Seems these need to be mutual decisions. Modern categories on ancient text.

2. Re: submitting to our own husbands, but yet can be managers, headmistresses, etc. Let's say a woman works in a secular institution - phone company? She is a manager...so, she makes decisions and has authority over men. I anticipate you saying this is okay because it is secular and not the church...but along your thinking, shouldn't she not have any authority? That's the first part. The second part is, can you point me to any place in Paul where he thinks along these lines of secular/church in terms of roles? Seems like a modern solution to a modern situation read back into Paul. I ask because I've heard this arg from someone else. Also, as a woman, do you expect to get paid for the dollar for an identical job performed by a male peer? Seems like, if we were really living along this Eph 5 passage in the PCA, all of our women would be at home. Period. I don't but that.

3. Women don't need intercessors, but the church surely did - one whose action and motivation were identically love. Also, "the church" in the gospels and not Paul - what is it, exactly? How did Jesus himself interact with "the church" not yet formed?

4. Sort of as in number 2, you say the motivating factor of Jesus dying for the church is love. I wholeheartedly agree. I guess I just struggle to find anywhere in Eph 5 where Paul himself makes a distinction between the husband's action and the husband's motivation. It seems the action itself is love...that is how I understand Christ and his sacrifice. The action is love. Motivation may be love, too, but what if Christ just had the motivation without the action. I'm almost going further than you are, ironically.

5. Hopefully women are called to love their husbands and not just respect them. If so, hopefully in a Christlike way, which would be loving action. To "die" in the same way the husband does...which settles me at Eph 5:22 again.

Sorry to be longwinded ;)

Arathon said...

I went to a wedding with a really excellent sermon about 10 months ago, in Charlotte.

Actually, come to think of it, it was the weekend you were out of town, so I met Josh and Sarah and Brandon, but not you. Sad.

Anyway, thanks for reminding me of that. And I'm curious to read these other people's comments, but it's too late for that right now. =)

Anonymous said...

Anon 1 again...

If we have fulfilled one commandment beyond measure, I believe it is to "be fruitful and multiply". I simply do not see that as overruling Jesus or Paul (or really even coloring it in too different a light). All of that said, will I get married? Probably so. However, Christians often do a much better job of idolatrizing marriage than secular folk do of degrading it. I would say Christians degrade it as well. I do not think marriage is unethical, but I also think it occupies far too prominent a role in our current time and place. Churches market themselves for the family (yes there are innumerable problems with that simple concept) when families, if they are to be had at all, are for the church and God. That would be a very easy point to prooftext, but I will spare us the practice.

Also, I think you are in slippery territory when you want "be fruitful and multiply" to dominate or starkly re-color our NT texts. Paul and Jesus think singleness is a high calling. Your Genesis text means that they are both sinners...I might give it to you that one of them is, but not for lack of "being fruitful and multiplying" in the sense that you think that commandment is to be read.

Lauren said...

Anonymous 1:
1) i'm not saying the church should be the government. what i'm saying is that God uses families to impact the future. and i think, unlike dr. hauerwas, that individual christians should engaged in politics. i'm not saying i want to be the presbyterian states of america, or that we should make everyone be christians, but that christians should run for office, should lobby, should write political blogs and have political conversations. our main thing is Jesus, but our faith should inform our living, and that includes our politics.
2) i picked the tango because it is a sexy dance. you can awkward-middle-school-shuffle-your-feet for all i care. :)

Anonymous 2:
1) mom doesn't have to run every decision by dad. you know what, i think i will let my dad and/or my mom take it from here.
2) i'm not saying women can't be over men. what i am saying is that husbands and fathers should be the heads of their households, and elders should be the heads of their churches. if you have a woman running children's ministry, she can have a male intern under her. the point is not women submitting to men, it's husbands submitting to wives and the laity submitting to the elders.
3) ah, dispensationalism rears its ugly head. well, maybe - i'm not sure i can totally paint you with that brush with this much information. but the thing is, that while the church as a formal institution formed very soon after the resurrection, the truth is that the church as a spiritual entity existed in the Old Testament period as the nation of Israel. in fact, we get a lot of help with this in Ezekiel 16 - a good example of what is going on here is can be heard in the Shane & Shane song "acres of hope," if you're interested.
4) my "Jesus died for us out of love" comment was to show the parallel intended between Jesus' sacrifice and ours. you had said that Jesus died for us because we are helpless sinners who can't do anything good on our own - i was showing that the parallel isn't that the wife and the Church "can do no good thing apart from" their husbands.
5) well of course we are to love our wives. but apparently men often don't see any love if they aren't being respected.

Peter -
yeah, it's tragic that i didn't get to meet you. but i'm more opportunities will present themselves. and, you know, there's always heaven. ;)

Anonymous said...

No, I chose the tango. I wanted a dance I could be incompetent at so that the metaphor accentuated my need for a savior even though I'm a man. My example is Jesus, and my wife does not need a D+ example of sacrificial love by channeling it through me. She should look straight to Jesus as well.

Also, you are wrong about Hauerwas. He does think it's fine and probably good for Christians to run for public office. His claim is that they should not run as Democrats or Republicans. They should run as Christians. I fear you have misread him greatly because of all theologians of our day, he is the one arguing most strongly against Modernity's public and private sphere split. He says that God cannot be relegated to the private sphere, and that Christians primary POLITICAL task is to be the church.

Discipleship is far from avoiding sin and voting in electoral politics.

Lauren said...

Anon 1 -

Did you? Sorry for taking credit.

Also, I haven't read hardly any Hauerwas. I based my comments on a talk he gave in Charlotte in the fall of 2007. I apologize for misrepresenting him. Thank you for correcting me

Anonymous said...

Anon 2 here..

Thanks for your comments. I agree that Jesus died because of love.

I also got a good chuckle at the "dispensationalist" comment - far from it, my friend, but I can see where you'd get that. It was a question of language, not epoch. I'd like to do a study of when "the church" starts showing up in the Biblical language. I'm not sure I agree that "the church" exists as a "spiritual entity" in Israel, but rather that we, the church today, are a part of Israel as defined by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit. But, I catch your drift.

As a woman, I don't feel loved without feeling respected, too. Physically, emotionally, intellectually, etc. Not arguing with you, just saying I don't know that there is much of a distinction here...though perhaps I could meet you halfway and say love/respect are oftentimes (not always/categorically) expressed differently.

Anyway, we respectfully disagree on much, but I appreciate the forum.

Lauren said...

Thanks for reading and contributing, my anonymous commenting #s 1 and 2!