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LIVING OUT THE GOSPEL IN MARRIAGE (WEEKS TWO and THREE)

Whew! First, a note about last week. I realize I pushed us all into the deep water, but you swam with grace and gumption! The subject and the scriptures were challenging, and emotions ran understandably high. There aren’t many places where I would even dare to do what I did, yet I have found this place to be an amazingly safe place to try, together, to plumb the deep waters of our mysterious God. Thank you, for your spirit, blog sisters. Bravo!

You have two weeks to do this lesson since the 2nd week includes Labor Day weekend and many of you will be taking a break. We are covering the huge subject of marriage, but we need all of you. You are the body of Christ and every part is important. Often singles and those unequally yoked can see things those in believing marriages cannot see. In addition, every single one of us needs to attempt to see the mysterious parallel to Christ and His Bride. This is a mystery, but like the deep waters of the ocean, where there are swarms of brightly colored fish without number, there is great beauty to be gleaned in trying to grasp this parallel.

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12-9Steve and I began to attempt to live out the gospel in our marriage, and it was the breath of life to us. In the message from Tim and Kathy Keller next week, you will hear Kathy say that both the man and the woman are called to play the “Jesus” role in marriage.  The husband is called to lay down his life for his wife, living sacrificially, as Christ died for the church. The wife is to not cling to her rights, but to submit, as Jesus did (Philippians 2), not counting equality with God a thing to be grasped, but humbling himself, even to death on a cross.

Like Cyndi’s brave testimony last week, these truths saved my marriage. The gospel is continually saving me, not only from the penalty of sin, but from the power of sin.

I was the foolish woman of Proverbs 14 who was tearing down her house with her own hands.

I was, as Meg Ryan declared herself to be in When Harry Met Sally, DIFFICULT.

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“I’m DIFFICULT!”

Difficult people are not happy people.

When Steve was doing his 120 hour a week internship in Seattle, even though I was a new Christian, I did not support him. I was angry all of the time. I told him I wanted him to find a way to beat the system or it didn’t pay to be married. Even when he finally had a free night and he got a sitter and took me to a fancy restaurant to try to soothe me, I would not stop venting my anger. A photographer stopped at the table asking to take a picture of this “happy occasion.” I refused to give him a real smile. Can you even imagine living with me?

DIFFICULT, PETULANT, AND CONFIDENT I WAS RIGHT

Steve tried to beat the system that was so unfair to interns, but could not. My pivotal moment was after he had seen the call schedule for the holidays and realized he would be working every holiday. He called me to tell me the schedule and was very quiet. Then he told me, and I knew he meant it because I knew him, “I’m willing to quit.” He was willing to give up eight years of medical training and his dream of being a caring physician. He was willing to lay down His life.

Just as the love of Christ had brought me to repentance, so now the love of my husband brought me to repentance. I determined to be supportive of him, to not “cling to my rights,” but to lay them down that our marriage could be a Christian unity. It was a pivotal moment not just in our marriage but in our walk with God. He blessed our marriage in ways He could not have had we not begun to live out the gospel in our marriage. Steve is with Jesus now, but this week was my birthday week, and all of my children and their families (22 in all!) came to bless me for the whole week — doing all the shopping, cooking, cleaning, planning, and endeavoring to bless me every house. I have never had such a birthday celebration — ending with a powerful worship time led by my oldest son J. R. I am so thankful that my children know both that they are so bad Christ had to die for them, but so loved that He did. And I watch these ten grand-daughters and two grandsons running about and pray each of them will know it too, for His blessings come to those who fear Him, from generation to generation. That is the power of the Gospel.

 

Dee surrounded by two sons, three daughters, and their families: ten grand-daughters and two grand-sons.
Dee with sons on either side, three daughters, spouses, and twelve grand-children.

When Steve and I wrote our guide, Building Your House on the Lord, It was during the backlash to the 2nd feminist movement and some of the teaching from the pulpit and Christian seminars went way to the other end of the spectrum in attempt, I think, to balance things. It was the time of Marabel Morgan’s Total Woman, where women were told to make their husbands the center of their lives. It was the time of Bill Gothard who taught that women should submit to any wish of their husbands, even immoral commands such as abortion, and trust that God would deliver them in the nick of time. (Today there are still large recovery groups for those who were so hurt by this false teaching.) It was a wild time to write a study-guide, but truly I believe God called Steve to that task. We worked together, but Steve gave us the vision. He saw then, how it all began in Genesis. He also saw, and articulated that ” the prevailing emphasis in Scripture is not ‘Who’s in charge here?’ but rather, ‘The two shall be one.'”

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Again, I know i’m plunging into deep water and there are those who will disagree, but here we go!

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I am a complimentarian rather than an egalitarian in that I believe “head” means authority rather than “source.” However, I also believe that “headship” that is a constant issue is the sign of an unhealthy complimentarian marriage (or for that matter, local church.) Either the man is abusing his power, or the woman is not being a true help meet, by helping her husband discover the mind of Christ. I have a friend who said, “My mother tried to never make a decision.” I cannot conceive how that would be God’s will for co-heirs in a marriage, or, for that matter, a church body. Jan Silvious reminds women, “Your husband is not your daddy.” We need to mature into our role of being a true help meet: a confidante, a counselor, and a co-heir. Luci Shaw once said to me, “Harold is the head of our home, and I submit to him, yet in twenty-five years of marriage, it has only come up twice.” That is how my marriage was with Steve. From what I can see, that seems to be the thrust of Tim and Kathy Keller’s marriage. She is certainly a strong and outspoken woman, and sometimes he needs to tone her down, but he also respects her so and tells how greatly she has impacted him. She didn’t want to come to New York, but when after much discussion they could not agree, he reluctantly stepped into his role as the leader who would bear the responsibility of the decision, and she stepped into the role of submitting to something she didn’t want to do. Neither liked their role, but they say applying the gospel to their marriage has made each of them more like Christ.

Always keep in mind our Bridegroom lay down His life for a difficult bride in order to transform her into a pure and beautiful bride. As we respond to that love, dying to ourselves, we are continually transformed into the image of Christ. Also remember, difficult brides are not happy brides.

Week One (Beginning August 24th)

Sunday Icebreaker:

1. What stands out to you from the above and why?

Monday-Friday Bible Study:

2. Read Genesis 2:18-24

    A. Over and over, God has said “It is good.” Now, in verse 18, something is not good. What is it? How does this apply both to the gift of marriage and to the general concept of the fellowship of believers (the corporate bride)?

    B. What is God’s solution?

    C. Read Kathy’s Keller’s interview (LINK) on being Tim’s “ezer” (help fit for him) and comment — and why do you think TGC titled this, “Not your stereotypical pastor’s wife?”

    D. Giving someone a name is a sign of authority. How do you see God giving Adam authority in verses 19-20?

    E. In verse 21-22, how did God form the first bride, and what parallel can you see to the second bride? (Challenge question)

    F. Adam’s response to Eve is the first audible human comment recorded in Scripture. Howard Hendrick’s says it is like “Eureka!” What emotions do you see here?

     G. Now — think about how Jesus will respond when He sees His Bride on that great day. What parallel can you see? Do you really believe He will react to you in this way? Do you believe He loves you that much?

     H.  They key verse about marriage in Scripture is first stated in Genesis 2:24. What is it, and explain what is meant by “for this reason.”

     I.  What are we told in verse 25?

J. What parallel can you see in verse 25 for our relationship with Christ? How should the gospel make us naked and unashamed?

IF3. Let’s consider the three parts of this key verse on marriage:

A. What does it mean to “leave” your father and your mother? Does it mean abandonment — why or why not? What does this look like, practically?

B. What does cleaving mean?

An important book for me early in our marriage was Walter Trobish’s “I Married You.” He talks about cleaving as being like glue — and to separate means you tear into each. Jesus repeats this command in the gospels twice in regard to why divorce is so serious.

C. What are the effects of divorce to each person and to the children?

D. Challenge question: When we each live out the gospel in marriage, how does it make us one flesh?

E. How did Jesus leave His Father and then His mother in order to acquire a bride?

4. How does Paul use this key verse as an argument to speak against infidelity in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17? How do you see the gospel in this passage?

    How might you apply this verse as either a single or a married woman?

(We’ll look at the culmination of “the two shall be one” in Ephesians next week.)

Saturday:

5. What is your take-a-way, and why?

Week Two: Living Out the Gospel in Marriage (Week of August 31st)

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The two shall be one is God’s high calling for marriage. Becoming one can only happen as each spouse plays the “Jesus” role. The husband must love sacrificially, as Christ died for His bride, and the wife must not cling to her rights, but lay them down, as Jesus did, even to death on the cross. When a couple does experience the beauty of oneness it is as close as we get on earth to what will be reality in heaven with Christ. It is also why the death of a spouse is so painful, why divorce is so painful, and why being in an unequally yoked marriage is so painful. That is not how it is meant to be. But one day, for believers, a great mystery will be revealed. There will be no more death, no more tearing apart, and no more sin in our hearts. We will be one with our ultimate Bridegroom and one with one another. I felt I tasted just a little of that my birthday week with my children and grandchildren. We are all a little quirky, all with faults, but grace was able to cover it. My youngest grand-daughter, Lily, who is just 18 months is already learning to sing: “Grace, grace, God’s race, grace that will pardon and cleanse within…”

One day, as Tim Keller says, we will be seen completely naked, and yet we will be so delighted in we will be unashamed. There will be no more enmity between us, no more shame, and no more rivalry. It is a mystery, but let us try to peer into it through a glass darkly.

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Sunday Icebreaker

Read over last week’s opening again, and then this week’s opening.

6. What stands out to you and why?

Monday-Tuesday (Bible Study)

7. Read Ephesians 5:21-33

A. Egalitarians would use verse 21 to say there should be no “headship.” When you look at this passage in context, do you agree or disagree?

( D. A. Carson addresses this in the plenary sessions of The Women’s Gospel Coalition Conference of 2014 if you are interested in listening.)

B. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the husband and the role of Christ?

C. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the wife and the role of the Bride of Christ?

D. How does this passage elevate marriage beyond the world’s view of marriage?

Wednesday-Friday: Message

8. Listen to Tim and Kathy Keller on marriage and share your notes and comments here.

Saturday:

9. What’s your take-a-way and why?

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. 4. How does Paul use this key verse as an argument to speak against infidelity in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17? Infidelity is equated to attempting to make members of the body of Christ one flesh with a prostitute (not sure how else to word this but it doesn’t sound right). That makes infidelity of a believer a sin against Christ and the church.  It reminds me of what often is said in attempts to prevent sexually transmitted infections:  “You are sleeping with everyone your partner has ever slept with…”   Not too cool in the context of the body of Christ (or any context), and it points directly to our need for a Savior.  How do you see the gospel in this passage?  This reminds me of our Hosea study, how God faithfully pursues His unfaithful bride. In vs 15-17, I see the Gospel in Christ’s making us, an unfaithful bride, one in spirit with him.  Vs. 14 and 20 spell out the Gospel even more clearly to me:  v. 14 “And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by his power.”  and v. 20 “for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”  I might be reading too much into these verses, but I see the price that Jesus paid so that we would be forgiven AND have freedom from the power of sin over us.

     
     
        How might you apply this verse as either a single or a married woman?  Sorta responded to this above.  The verse obviously indicates that I should avoid sexual sins; but it also speaks to idolatry, that Jesus is my faithful, persistent lover who desires me and wants to replace idols in my life.  He paid a HUGE price because HE LOVES US.
     
    These verses have been EXTREMELY challenging for me in dating, primarily because of the parallel of the one flesh in marriage with Christ and his church.   A long time ago, I was told not to date anyone who was divorced.  People probably can guess how well I follow instructions I don’t understand!  Then, when I look at Scripture, I see “conditions” for divorce.  90% of divorced men I know don’t fit these “conditions.”  THEN, I’ve heard stories of former spouses coming to Christ, and men (believers) wondering if they should get out of their second marriage because they still are “one flesh” with their first wife.  I don’t want to be a home-wrecker … so I don’t continue to date those who have any potential for getting back together (even if they say the won’t/don’t want to).  I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE TO DRAW THE LINE between “grace” and “obedience,” especially if I don’t take Scripture somewhat literally.  And opinions range from “date/marry” no one who has been divorced (I would make at least a couple exceptions there) and “ok to date/marry anyone” (even common sense tells me that “anyone” is not smart).   It’s easy for me to see God’s grace in marriages that have involved divorce and remarriage.   But, so far, I’ve said “no” to men who are divorced whose spouses haven’t remarried (and statistics show that men remarry more quickly, so that is common).  Not a fun topic.
     

      1. Oh Dee, I make MYSELF dizzy.  I reread what I posted last night — and just shook my head.   Then, I started thinking about couples I know who have been divorced and remarried to each other — up to 3X.   Topic itself makes my head spin and when I leave out 90% of my “logic,” I can see why you’d get dizzy 🙂

    1. Oooh, sounds like a can of worms I’m better leaving closed. Maybe I should stick with not dating at all. I did follow the logic though, which may just mean I was dizzy to start with. (Internet still down at home, so just a few quick replies from me.) 

      1. 🙂

  2. Shirley, I just read what you’d posted on 8/26 and I am coming to realize that I’m pretty much in the same place now that the kids have become adults.

  3. That was beautiful…..Susan, Nanci, Rebecca and Laura!

  4. So nice to see you back Dawn! 
     
    Renee…I loved your comments ….so good to have you back too!
    Also…Wanda has had two very hard days with Steves family and the funeral friday….driving 6 hours each way. 
     
    Also Deanna has her husband home from the hospital…doing well on the new medication for his stroke….bit she is worn out too.
    Please keep them in your prayers.  

  5. 3E.  In Philippians 2:6&7, we see Jesus making himself “nothing”, humbling himself to become human – even to the point of death….death on a cross.  Hebrews 2: 9 tells us that “we see him, who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus….”     Jesus very literally left the glories of heaven, the worship of the angels…..to take on human flesh in it’s entirety….and to the end.  So he willingly separated from his Father……in order to do the FAther’s will and bring salvation to the world.
     
    As for separating from his mother……I think our first glimpse of this is in Luke 2, when Jesus was left behind in Jerusalem.  When his parents realized he was not travelling with them and rushed back to Jerusalem….they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers and asking them questions.  His mother said to him “Son, why have you treated us so?  Behold, your father and I have been searching for you in great distress.”   Jesus’ answer to her is rather startling:  “Why were you looking for me?  Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?”  Even at the tender age of 12, Jesus was reminding Mary that he didn’t “belong” to her…..but to his Father in heaven. 
    Later on, when Jesus was in ministry, Matt 12:46-50 gives us another glimpse of Jesus’ true allegiance.  His mother and brothers were looking for him and asking to speak to him:  Jesus’ reply was “who is my mother…..?”  “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”    Again, pointing to his Father in heaven.
    Yet, most tenderly…..we see Jesus on the cross in John 19:26&27.  His mother was there at the cross and Jesus said to his mother “woman, behold your son!” and to John his disciple “Behold your mother!”…..”and from that day on the disciple took her (Mary) to his own home.” 
     
    Despite repeatedly making clear that he belonged to his heavenly Father…..Jesus honored and cared for Mary, his earthly mother. 

  6. 4.  First off, it’s interesting to me that Paul makes liberal use of QUESTIONS in his approach to the Corinthians on this subject.  He keeps saying “Don’t you KNOW?”……It’s as though by questioning them, Paul is attempting to help them “come to their senses”……this passage reminds me of Romans 6:1-3…..”Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound?”…..back to Corinthians….just prior to these verses Paul has that God raised Christ and will raise us from the dead!  He brackets the verses we’re looking at with these thoughts “the body is not meant for sexual immorality , but for the Lord….” (v.13) and “your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit….”(v. 18).  Paul “speaks gospel” all throughout this passage!  Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead.  So, we too, will be raised from the dead…but we are not our own; we’ve been bought with a price.  To go back into sexual immorality is to break covenant with Christ. 
     
    I think that the key for both those who are married and those who are single is here in the passage:  “flee from sexual immorality”.  Run!!  Don’t dabble with tantalizing thoughts…..don’t hang around a situation that you KNOW has potential for sexual sin.  There’s a reason he tells us to flee…he knows our frame…..he knows how vulnerable we are to sexual sin.  That might be true when one is single as well as when one is in a marriage that is difficult and unfulfilling.  And along the way we need to preach the gospel to ourselves….we are NOT our own, we ARE the temple of the Holy Spirit, we were bought with a PRICE…..and we CAN glorify God in our bodies…..

  7. 3 C. What are the effects of divorce to each person and to the children?
     
    Reading Joyce’s comment to me above, and ones from others of you who have personally suffered divorce, I am more an more aware of the pain that has no boundaries. My husband’s parents divorced 2 and 3x on each side and we still deal with the effects. Our son is so much like my husband, with a deep tender, squishy heart—full of affection and emotion. I often get teary when I watch them because I know my husband never had an ounce of what he gives our son. I love that God has started a new thing—and yet I still grieve for what my husband lost. It effects me in other ways too. But as I said above, I cling to Isaiah 43:18-19, and the promise that He is a God of restoration. He is creating before my eyes a new heritage for our family, redeeming the past and making all things new. 
     
    D. Challenge question: When we each live out the gospel in marriage, how does it make us one flesh?
     
    I think living out the gospel in marriage truly requires “dying to self”. When we drop our defenses, our outer “shell” in humility, we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, “naked”. Then as that is met with a mutual humility, the 2 soft, exposed hearts, can mesh. We went through so many years of counseling, and it wasn’t until I started to get a glimpse of what that meant, that things began to really change. My husband models it well before me, I have a long way to go. But the more often I lay down my self-righteousness, my excuses and explanations…the more I really long to put his needs before my own, I see the beauty almost instantly. We had a rough spot last weekend—I wrote in my journal “Lord, I don’t see the way out of this”. Hours passed but finally we each admitted our own junk and the walls fells. I went back to my journal and wrote “all I can say, thank You”. I am amazed at how He has worked—but always, it starts with humility—seeing who I really am, all I have been forgiven, and who God is. Don’t know if I answered the question-? 😉
     

    1. Elizabeth, I don’t know if you answered the question or not either, but you gave me so much wisdom on marriage….especially…..” But the more often I lay down my self-righteousness, my excuses and explanations…the more I really long to put his needs before my own.”

      And…….”but always, it starts with humility—seeing who I really am, all I have been forgiven, and who God is.”

      Love that in you so much!

    2. Elizabeth,
      I just have to comment on your answer to C……in regard to your husband and his squishy heart and how a new pattern has begun as he passes on the love and nurturing that he never knew.  That is so sweet and I realize that it also describes my husband so similarly.  He never knew his birth father….and then when, as an adult, he was able to connect with him, by phone, his father rejected any further contact and years later, my husband found out that his father had died.  (he still wonders if he should try to connect with the half siblings he has)…..But, meanwhile, because his mom died, he was separated from the half siblings he did know, through his mom….and adopted into a family that proved to be very dysfunctional and often emotionally abusive.  And yet, God intervened in miraculous ways.  I have long loved Isaiah 43:18,19….but have never likened it to the renewal of  person’s broken past and legacy.  But that is just what has happened!   God has taken my husband’s brokenness and has given him such a sensitive heart.  He’s spent his life opening up to the needs of those broken by substance abuse and by abuses in families.  My adult kids adore him and often tell us how highly their friends think of him.  Students as well as friends/acquaintances whom he has mentored along the way continually let us know how much his sensitive, giving heart has helped them.  Thank you for sharing your thoughts because it helped me think through this some more.

      1. Wanda–your sharing made my eyes tear up–thank you for this glimpse into your husband’s journey–wow. So much pain and yet to hear how the Lord has truly brought such beauty from ashes–love this example of His mighty power!

    3. Elizabeth and Wanda, both of your examples of how your husbands have been touched by the grace of God and who are now sharing God’s grace with others are beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing parts of their stories.

  8. Jackie,
    I agree, “Along the way we need to preach the gospel to ourselves….”    It is live-giving and hope-filling when we do this in regard to a difficult marriage.      I just listened to this soberingly powerful 6 min. song that has a brief, passionate  John Piper message embedded in the interlude.       In it he says,  “All of your affliction is totally meaningful.  Every millisecond of your pain ….. its working for you an eternal weight of glory ~ therefore do not loose heart.   Preach these truths to yourself until your heart sings with confidence that you are cared for.”
     
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyUPz6_TciY

    1. Nila, very powerful video – music and words! Thank you. I should probably listen to this daily!

  9. Elizabeth,
     
    I agree with your words    “but always, it starts with humility—seeing who I really am, all I have been forgiven, and who God is.”   He calls us to humility whether our spouse is humble or not.   I do not always do that very well.       And humility calls us to forgive.     It always comes back to forgiving.    I was listening to Gracia Burnham today (she and her husband were taken captive by terrorists in the Philippines and held for over a year.)    She said, “You can’t forgive somebody that you think you are better than ~ ”    
    Humility reminds me first of my own need of rescue by the One Who loves my soul, and then it softens me to choose forgiveness of my husband.
     
    Help us Lord.

    1. SO good Nila, I need to remember this “Humility reminds me first of my own need of rescue by the One Who loves my soul, and then it softens me to choose forgiveness of my husband.”
      And who are the sweet faces in your photo?!

      1. My two married daughters.  Erin, age 30, on the left.  Annie, age 28, in the middle.   We spent four rare and  precious days together last week in Omaha.   They are both amazing musicians (we sang together for years).  So we got the mandolin and guitars out and sang together like we hadn’t done in ten years.    So grateful to our Lord for this sweet time together.

        1. Nila….you and your daughters are beautiful and very talented too.  So glad you had that precious time together!

        2. oh Nila–I’m glad I asked! What a sweet story–so encouraging to hear your relationship with your daughters–and yes, we’d LOVE you to give us a video! 🙂

  10. E. How did Jesus leave His Father and then His mother in order to acquire a bride?
     
    He left His Father in Heaven and was born a man. John 6:38 “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.” When He was 12, He journeyed with His parent from Nazareth to Jerusalem. Without their knowing when they returned home, He stayed behind to go to the Temple. When they returned and found Him, He called it His Father’s house—a leaving of His earthly father, and cleaving to God as Father. Then in Luke 8:21, when He is told His mother and brother wanted to see Him, He replies “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.”
     
    4. How does Paul use this key verse as an argument to speak against infidelity in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17? How do you see the gospel in this passage? How might you apply this verse as either a single or a married woman? 
     
    It’s interesting, but when you look through the perspective of the Body being Christ’s Bride, we are ALL married, spiritually speaking. To defile the marriage is to take anyone or thing, and place it n Christ’s place—making it an idol. 
     

    1. “It’s interesting, but when you look through the perspective of the Body being Christ’s Bride, we are ALL married, spiritually speaking. To defile the marriage is to take anyone or thing, and place it in Christ’s place—making it an idol.”

      Elizabeth…you blow me away!!    You’ve been reading  “Idol Lies”   haven’t you?    Oh so true!!!

  11. The question of divorce is a painful one for me as I have had to observe my daughter experience the difficulties .
    In spite of the difficulties, huge financial stress and controversy regarding children, she is relieved that she has come through it
    after experiencing the ongoing infidelity of her ex-husband. She has become stronger once she realized that growth was possible and that with God’s care she could do it. The problem that hurts me so much is to see the effects on the younger children. They must visit their Dad and his immoral girlfriend (stripper) as the court ordered. The 2 older girls refused and did not have to visit after speaking with the judge about their experiences. My 10 year old granddaughter cries now when she must visit. I pray for her emotional, physical and spiritual safety. The consequences of a sinful lifestyle impact the whole family.
    My take away from this study is that God’s plan for marriage is a beautiful example when there is obedience to his word. However when sin turns the hearts to selfish desires it is the hardest situation and has a ripple effect on so many others.
    I am grateful for the study as so many truths are being sorted out.

    1. Shirley, How painful this is for all I am sure! I agree with Dee-God is able to turn this into beauty..and we will pray.

    2. oh Shirley–I am so sorry. Oh my heart hurts for those children, for all of you. Praying now for His protection over them~

    3. Shirley, I will join you in prayer for your 10 year old granddaughter’s “emotional, physical, and spiritual safety.”  it has to be incredibly difficult for your daughter to see her distress in dealing with these visits…thankfully we have a Lord who is watching over all of us, including your sweet granddaughter.  I will also be praying for you, your daughter and other granddaughters…also Dad and girlfriend (for transforming change)…difficult circumstances; may the Lord “turn ashes to beauty”.

  12. D. Challenge question: When we each live out the gospel in marriage, how does it make us one flesh?
     
    Since these questions are difficult, I am searching for verses in the gospel that might help me understand better.
     
    “Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (‭Hebrews‬ ‭13‬:‭4‬ NIV)
     
    “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.” (‭John‬ ‭3‬:‭29‬ NIV)
     
    “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
    “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭25‬:‭10, 13‬ NIV)
     
    “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory! For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.” (‭Revelation‬ ‭19‬:‭7‬ NIV)
     
    So, marriage is meant to be between us and Christ.  We need to be “clean,” not defiled as the Hebrews  verse says. As we live out marriage here on earth, we need to keep in mind that the real marriage lurking in the back of the picture here is that of the bride and the bridegroom of the Bible.  I love the verse from John….he is the friend who is joyous in seeing the bridegroom coming to claim His bride. Our acting it out here on earth between a man and his wife should resemble that of us with Christ. We want to be married to Christ eventually. When that happens we will be joined together with Him, as one flesh.
     
     
    E. How did Jesus leave His Father and then His mother in order to acquire a bride?
     
     
    He left His Father to come to earth and live with us. He left His mother when he accepted the crucifixion and died on the cross. His acceptance of our sins, to cover us, made it possible for Him to come at a later time to receive us in a true union with Him forever.
     
     
    4. How does Paul use this key verse as an argument to speak against infidelity in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17? How do you see the gospel in this passage?
     
     
    These verses say that when you body is defiled, you defile Christ as well because you are part of Him. When “joined” with another, you become one flesh. That means you, the prostitute, and Christ. 
     
    The gospel tells us we are one with Christ when we make the marriage covenant. How might you apply this verse as either a single or a married woman?
     
    We apply this by keeping ourselves “clean,” free from disease by making sure we don’t lay with others whether we are single, or married (other than the one we made the covenant with). This insures we are only “one flesh” with Christ and we aren’t bringing “dirt” to the union!
     
    I really don’t know if I am hitting this topic correctly…..feeling skeptical right now. We studied SOS and I trudged through; and I’m getting some of that feeling back again trying to answer these questions. I’m going to say something stupid now…..I don’t find many verses that give me the “rules” of marriage “behavior” in the gospel when I search. I am out of town and I don’t have my study Bible, so I’m relying on YouVersion. Not sure it is giving me all I need right now. 

  13. 4. How does Paul use this key verse as an argument to speak against infidelity in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17? How do you see the gospel in this passage?
    We are His body and are one with Him whether single or married..like in our earthly marriage when it is consummated we become one. And like in earthly marriage if we go outside the marriage and join with another we become one with that person-it is adultry. Same with Jesus..when we fall into the arms of idols (single or married) we not only become one with them we are defiling Jesus too: “Shall I then take away the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute?” 1 Cor. 6 15b   Hadn’t thought of that before! I think Elizabeth brought out a great point-we hurt the body too and bring them down with us in various ways for we are all One in Him too.
       
     

  14. 5. What is your take-a-way, and why?
    Just got over the stomach flu yesterday and last night-so I am late on this. 🙁 
    How Steve was willing to give up his practice for Dee-even though she was being difficult.  I wonder if Steve SO knew Jesus loved Him in his difficult-ness and the Gospel melted Him so-He really embraced Jesus sacrifice in leaving such delight in the trinity, such Glory to become a man.
    To love difficult people. I am difficult but Jesus left the dance for me while I was in my difficulty!  In marriage when my husband is difficult or when i am difficult-both of us can be! I am learning to sacrificially love my husband even when he is difficult and He me. So Jesus does with me every day! I can’t get past that! It isn’t easy to hold a grudge or get annoyed and then hold that against my husband when I think about the way God loves me despite me.  And really, when I extend that beyond my marriage..it means everyone I come in contact with including the ones who are hard to love, or who might not like me back. HE IS THE GREAT REDEEMER! 🙂

    1. oh Rebecca–SO sorry you were sick–praying for complete restoration. I love what you said here–got me this morning, just what I needed to read: “It isn’t easy to hold a grudge or get annoyed and then hold that against my husband when I think about the way God loves me despite me.  And really, when I extend that beyond my marriage..it means everyone I come in contact with including the ones who are hard to love, or who might not like me back. HE IS THE GREAT REDEEMER!”
      AMEN!

      1. I so agree with Elizabeth on what you wrote here…Love that!  AMEN!!    Get well!

  15. 5. What is your take-a-way, and why?
    The only way my marriage can begin to reflect the beauty God intended, is to be “naked and unashamed”. And the ONLY way I have the courage to be naked, and the confidence to not be ashamed, is if I am resting at the Cross—remembering what He has done for me, and how He has clothed me. 
     

    1. Elizabeth- What you said here is really core: “And the ONLY way I have the courage to be naked, and the confidence to not be ashamed, is if I am resting at the Cross.”    

  16. Sunday Icebreaker
    6. What stands out to you and why?
    The “mysteries”–from last week “(we) need to attempt to see the mysterious parallel to Christ and His Bride” , and from Keller “both the man and the woman are called to play the “Jesus” role in marriage.  The husband is called to lay down his life for his wife, living sacrificially, as Christ died for the church. The wife is to not cling to her rights, but to submit, as Jesus did” 
     
    And this week, “There will be no more death, no more tearing apart, and no more sin in our hearts. We will be one with our ultimate Bridegroom and one with one another…we will be seen completely naked, and yet we will be so delighted in we will be unashamed” It’s so hard to begin to get a glimpse—as Dee said—such a mystery…but I am excited to try to peer through the glass darkly and glean what He wants to show me. 
     

  17. 3D. When we each live out the gospel in marriage, how does it make us one flesh?
    Living out the gospel in marriage is coming to the realization that both I and my spouse have shortcomings that will inevitably lead to each of us failing the other, letting the other down, causing hurt (intended or unintended), etc.  This is truth…we are human and are not perfect as much as we would like to be or how hard we might try.  Responding in a graceful manner and with genuine humility will draw a couple together…it will cement the union; each knowing that the other is their “soft place to fall” (Dr. Phil).  Responding with judgment, condemnation, false humility, etc. will perpetuate disunity, disconnection, separation, and a mistrust difficult to overcome.
     
    E. How did Jesus leave His Father and then His mother in order to acquire a bride?
    Jesus left His Father to acquire His bride in becoming incarnate, Immanuel, God with us.  Jesus left Mary initially at the temple when he was 12, but much more so when He began His public ministry.  Ultimately Mary was left by Jesus to acquire His bride in His death on the cross…through His crucifixion and subsequent resurrection, He made provision for His beloved/bride to come to be with Him.
     
    4. How does Paul use this key verse as an argument to speak against infidelity in 1 Cor. 6:15-17.  How doe you see the gospel in this passage?  How might you apply this verse as either a single or a married woman?
    If one is unfaithful to one with another, a bond (regardless of how fleeting the moment of infidelity might be) has been established.  As Renee mentioned, I too have heard it said, when you are intimate with another, you are intimate with all they have previously been intimate with.  I recall this being explained in the context of a strip of masking tape…each encounter is like sticking on that strip of masking tape…the first time it is stuck on, it sticks firmly and holds securely, but with each disconnection it loses the stickiness and holding power…something is lost.  Infidelity causes damage not only to the specific relationship in which the infidelity occurred, but in subsequent relationships as well…we are forever changed by these encounters; they will affect future relationships in some way, shape, or form.
    I appreciate how Elizabeth brought up Hosea and Gomer…yes, this example speaks to the mercy and grace of our Lord.  As Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea, we too are unfaithful to our Lord…even on our best days and best tries we fall short.  How easily and often we turn to our false idols, worshiping them in the moment, giving them “top billing” for a time, when all the while they are “cutting us to pieces.”  Our Lord provides for us…He provides our freedom from this bondage, not because we deserve His mercy or grace, we clearly don’t…He provides our freedom because of His love and His faithfulness.  Oh how very, Very, VERY blessed we are to have a Lord that loves us so…doesn’t it cause your heart just to swell?

    1. Nanci–this is powerful “with each disconnection it loses the stickiness and holding power…something is lost.” It was Renee’s good insight to Gomer & Hosea, but I am really struck by how your words here apply to our relationship with Christ. Thankful for His mercy, His grace, that allows us to “re-stick” to Him after countless, daily “disconnections”!

  18. From last week’s intro:  

    Always keep in mind our Bridegroom lay down His life for a difficult bride in order to transform her into a pure and beautiful bride.

     
    I think I completely missed this statement, and I didn’t have a chance to work through the lesson on my own last week.  Thinking about this now.  I can see times (many of them) when I am a difficult bride.  Both to my ultimate bridegroom and to my husband.  And I can see times when my husband is exemplary in setting aside his own needs or wants to put me first.  I really want to work on realizing and appreciating these, and being ‘less difficult’.  
     
    and from this week: 

      Becoming one can only happen as each spouse plays the “Jesus” role. The husband must love sacrificially, as Christ died for His bride, and the wife must not cling to her rights, but lay them down, as Jesus did, even to death on the cross. 
     

    The mutual playing of the Jesus role strikes me today.  Submitting  to each other is a wonderful concept of enrichment and fulfillment and one where I know I fall short.  The Philippians 2 passage is what I need to post in my home this week.

  19. I’ve scanned/read through many of the comments and discussion from last week.  The conversations surrounding divorce and remarriage are sensitive and difficult ones for sure.  I’m not commenting with any answers or conclusions about the topic but did want to share  a very striking example of grace that I witnessed at the funeral of my friend two days ago.   Steve was a good friend in high school.  He married a few years later and had a son.  His wife, for reasons I do not fully know, left him and Steve had primary custody of his son.  Some years later, he married again.   He and Jeana were married 28 years and she was a loving, devoted partner to him.  The depth of which was remarkable and purely sacrificial during his battle with cancer.  Steve’s first wife was also at the visitation and the funeral.  She kept a low profile and quietly stayed on the periphery but her grief was visible.  During what I think is the most heart breaking moment of having family members pick a blossom out of the floral spray (some were kept and some were placed on the casket before it was lowered into the ground)…..Jeana intentionally turned and looked around, caught the eye of the first wife….motioned her to come forward and gave her a flower and a hug.  Such grace.  God’s grace.   There are many complicated dynamics in both of these women’s lives and in the lives of their children who have already, also experienced divorce.  I could see the depth of pain and the breaking of what God intended.  And yet……I could see the redemption.  Jeana’s faith is solidly in Jesus, her Redeemer.  Steve’s was there as well.   The steps of restoration can only be an evidence of the transforming love of Jesus.  That was a powerful moment.

    1. Wanda, that was a powerful story and what grace that was for Jeana to do that!  She was being like Jesus.

  20. Oh I really look forward to the day when we will all be in worship together–this morning we sang this hymn and I wanted to share it with you all. I couldn’t find a youtube that sings it the way we do, but here are the words:
    Jesus Calls Us, O’er the Tumult
    Jesus calls us, o’er the tumult; Of our life’s wild, restless sea;
    Day by day His sweet voice soundeth; Saying, “Christian, follow Me;”

    As of old, apostles heard it; By the Galilean lake,
    Turned from home and toil and kindred; Leaving all for His dear sake.

    Jesus calls us from the worship; Of the vain world’s golden store;
    From each idol that would keep us; Saying, “Christian, love Me more.”

    In our joys and in our sorrows; Days of toil and hours of ease,
    Still He calls, in cares and pleasures; “Christian, love Me more than these.”

    Jesus calls us: by Thy mercies; Saviour, may we hear Thy call,
    Give our hearts to Thy obedience; Serve and love Thee best of all.

    1. Elizabeth-Yes, that day when he removes Baal from our lips! When we will fully love Him best of all.  🙂

    2. Thanks for posting this song, Elizabeth.  Haven’t heard it for a LONG time, maybe since I was growing up (and probably have it in my head the way it is posted on YouTube…haven’t looked for it yet)

    3. SORRY — posted this as a reply 🙁

      7. Read Ephesians 5:21-33    A. Egalitarians would use verse 21 to say there should be no “headship.” When you look at this passage in context, do you agree or disagree?I believe that husbands are the head in a marriage AND that there should be mutual submission.  The trouble arises when headship is equated with power/abuse, rather than Christ-likeness.   Jesus is head of the church; I probably wouldn’t use the term headship to apply to a pastor, either male or female.  I prefer a one-headed body (although I think I used to have a 2-headed troll doll).  In addition, whether the church gov’t is hierarchical or congregational, I believe that pastors should be accountable to someone or a group.  “Celebrity churches” make me nervous (I’ve wondered how this is handled at RPC, but haven’t looked).   These verses (alone) might point me more toward an egalitarian view of the church (because the headship already is taken by Jesus) and a complementarian view of the home.    Practically speaking, I’m probably complementarian across the board (because that’s primarily what I’ve experienced), BUT based on this passage, I’ll make that claim only for marriage (and will try to avoid experiencing any hints of power trips/abuse of headship in either place).    When I think of the word “source,” I do think of the vine and the branches, the Vine as the source of life… i.e., “apart from me, you can do nothing.”  It is NOT biblical to plug in either a specific pastor or a husband in there  (eeeewwww).   So, I’d have to know more about “source” to even consider that.  
       
       
      Hmmm… it almost seems like viewing a pastor as the head of a church (the boss/CEO) is more of a corporate model, and King or dictator is a government model. That topic does cause conflict in churches.  Jesus talked about his kingdom being different from earthly kingdoms; that probably applies to the church & physical bodies, too.  The analogy of headship only goes so far…  obviously, a human body can’t live without a head and vice versa, but people continue to live after the death of a spouse or after divorce.  As a church, we would NOT have life without Jesus.  If we look at a pastor or teacher as head of a church, we’d have to do a head transplants every time someone moves.  I can’t comprehend the pastors I’ve had at my current church ever having the thought that they might be in a “headship” position.  I’ve heard them refer to themselves as shepherds, pastors, teachers — even heads of their homes.  But it would sound out-of-place to hear the word “head” in reference to their position at church; though they’ve taught with authority, they act like servants.  I do know of places where pastors present themselves as “heads.”  Just feels foreign to me now.  In some ways, the term “head” might fit better in churches that are more independently governed (because if they have denominational hierarchy or bosses/supervisors, which head is the real head?), but Jesus as the only head of the church makes most sense to me  — and what I think this passage is saying.Maybe whether I’m complementarian or egalitarian in terms of the church/pastors is not a headship issue ??????

      1. I’ve been pondering your thoughts on headship, Renee.  Wish we were in the same room and able to talk back and forth.   Thinking of my own experience in E. Free churches and in Free Lutheran churches…..in both cases the ‘free’ means a congregational rather than a hierarchal form of governance.  In some cases, I think there is a bit of a ‘mess’ like Dee mentioned, when everyone has input.  I have seen that.  But, on the other side of the continuum, as the church I attend now, has grown larger and larger, the congregational form seems to, in practical ways, have diminished to being completely run by the elders and pastors.   In fact, just yesterday, the bulletin announced the hiring of a new associate pastor, decided unanimously, by the elders.  My husband and I were surprised and have some misgivings about this particular hiring and it would have been nice to have had a chance for input.  I have felt for years, that there is no longer any benefit to voice one’s position, because it will always be over-ridden if it doesn’t agree with the Senior pastor and the elders anyway and I wonder if this is how headship should be?  We are ‘congregational’ in the sense that the congregation decides and not a higher up in the church denomination……but we are not congregational in the sense of members having any real voting influence on the majority of issues.  And even those that are voted on, are highly influenced by strategic messages from the elders/pastor.  Technically, the pastor is accountable to the elders, but in reality, the elders take all their cues from the pastor.   Maybe this is okay, but what I see is a ‘mess’ that is a quiet, behind the scenes ‘mess’ because people are not really listened to or responded to….other than to give lip service.   People quietly walk out the doors and leave or they remain on the periphery feeling that they can only engage if they have reached the same conclusion as the leadership.

      2. For the last 25 years, I’ve been in churches with a congregational model of government (Baptist denomination). There’s wide variation in how it’s implemented. I’ve seen a gentle, prayerful elderly lady speak a few words in a members’ meeting that completely changed the direction of the discussion. She’s not a church leader, but everyone realised the words she spoke were from Jesus heart. That’s congregational government really working.
        I think the problem is that too often people confuse congregational government with democracy. It’s not democratic, but theocratic. The congregation is meant to be coming together to discern what God is saying, but often people are voting for what they think is best. When people understand that it’s not about what they want, but what God wants, congregational government can work. That’s why regenerate membership is an essential part of the congregational model.

        1. Kerryn, I appreciate how you explained the congregational model of church government. Well said. I am Baptist as well. We are all flawed individuals but, at its best,  

          When people understand that it’s not about what they want, but what God wants, congregational government can work.

        2. Kerryn – that was beautiful and insightful!  So glad you are back online….or so it seems…?

        3. So it seems… at the moment… but I’m concerned I could disappear again at any moment. The problem wasn’t fixed… it just disappeared. 

        4. Kerryn,  THANK YOU for the democracy/theocracy clarification.  I’ve seen congregational forms of church gov’t work both ways — but couldn’t articulate the difference (and have heard both the hierarchical and congregational perspectives of Biblical support).  It really is beautiful when a congregation comes together to seek God’s direction– pretty close to consensus.

          I also have seen some big messes in congregational form of gov’t.  The biggest messes have been in churches with a congregational form of gov’t that have an elder board that doesn’t follow the congregational form of gov’t (!) — often ends up being “bait and switch” (because people expect to be heard when they really aren’t) or manipulative forces competing.  A recipe for disaster (sorta what Wanda described) is when elders are hand-picked to support one (or one person’s) perspective.

          One of the biggest benefits of a hierarchical form of gov’t is that congregational meetings are SHORT (5 min vs 4 hours??)!  The other benefit is that the congregation knows what to expect, i.e., who is in charge. 

          I guess I’ve seen that the end result (good & bad) doesn’t seem that different between models; both work well in “functional” congregations with “functional” leaders.  I can see both sides regarding Biblical support.  Either way, leaders do set a tone; consensus among church leaders is good if they are seeking the Lord & often devastating (especially for the one or two elders who see/identify sin in a leader) when the rest of the group is supporting a status quo or worse.   And after churches reach a certain size (don’t know what it is), emotions seem to run higher because of the amount of money invested, fancy buildings, etc.

             Where I get stuck is with the word “headship” because the word head seems singular to me.  In this passage, I can see Jesus as the head of the church, husband as head of the wife.    Curious if the word “headship” is used elsewhere in Scripture or in reference to multiple heads?  I might just be too visual/literal in my thinking to see multiple heads, but I can visualize multiple leaders/overseers.

    4. I had forgotten that song…..but remember it well, now that I see it again.  Like so many hymns I grew up with, the words mean so much more to me now than when I was young….. when I look at them in retrospect of living so many more years and seeing the trials and temptations of life.  Thanks.

      1. Wanda – I find my experience with the wonderful old hymns to be so much like yours!  They get sweeter and sweeter as the years go by and the “trials and temptations” begin to add up!  One of my mentors from many years ago was a beautiful woman named Doris….she was the director of the lay counseling dept. that I was a part of in a large church…..at any rate, I remember so MANY of the things she said, but one thing I took note of  was when she expressed that in growing older with the Lord in this life she found that everything in life just seemed “deeper”….the sorrows, yes….but also the joys!  20 years later…..I’m finding that to be true in my own life!  Walking with Jesus just simply brings more LIFE to life! 

        1. Elizabeth,  thank you for posting the lyrics to that beautiful hymn.
           
          Wanda and Jackie ~  Yes, when I sang the hymns through my younger years, I was proclaiming truth to my soul.   Now, many years later, I have experienced the raw reality of some of those hymns.     Despite what discouraging circumstances might try to tell me, despite my  own disappointment with myself, he really does not leave me or reject me.   And the joy in that truth is bouyant in this unpredictable sea of life.

    5. Love that Elizabeth

      Good questions Renee!

  21. 6. What stands out to you and why?
    From last week:
     
    “Always keep in mind our Bridegroom lay down His life for a difficult bride in order to transform her into a pure and beautiful bride. As we respond to that love, dying to ourselves, we are continually transformed into the image of Christ. Also remember, difficult brides are not happy brides.”
     
    From this week’s opening:    “But one day, for believers, a great mystery will be revealed. There will be no more death, no more tearing apart, and no more sin in our hearts. We will be one with our ultimate Bridegroom and one with one another.”    AND  “There will be no more enmity between us, no more shame, and no more rivalry.”
     
    Why?   In particular, the phrases “we are continually transformed into the image of Christ,”  “no more tearing apart,” and “no more shame” jumped out at me.  Just recently, I learned of another church that lost over half its members — and it ALWAYS hurts when I hear about something like that (even if those who left are better off or if the remaining church is stronger).  When I re-read the opening, the reference to “tearing apart,” I was reminded why church splits are so painful; they might be considered an amputation or, at a minimum, a very painful illness.  As much as I long for the day when we will be so delighted in that we will be completely naked, yet unashamed, I periodically have been afraid of that day because I have been afraid of being around shaming people FOR ETERNITY.   So, the reminder of transformation is encouraging.  I won’t be as I am now, and others won’t be who they are now. Several years ago, I read a book that was written by pastors in the Twin Cities.  Because it was so helpful to me, I wondered if it would be helpful to others.  Also, I became curious what happened to the church and the pastors (Internet search!).  Oddly, reference to the church who lost a bunch of members and the church with the pastors who wrote the book I read in the ’90s were referenced in the SAME blog post.  It looked to me as if I was seeing an argument between (??) legalism and a contemporary form of moralism when I went between blogs.  Anyway, I (again) became SO thankful that the Gospel is so clearly preached at my church, how freeing the Gospel is, and how easy it is to not even be aware that it is missing in a(n evangelical) church in which you get used to “3 things you can do to receive God’s blessing” (even listened to an online sermon critique because I wondered if a sermon could have been “that bad”  — it was).  Pretty clear when it’s missing when I’ve had a diet of my home church and Keller et al. !!

    Oh wow, did I ever experience grace today!! I thought the summer to fall time change started today, got there when others were leaving, and still went in to talk to people 😀   The HOPE of transformation and no more shame FOREVER is something I do consider.  I realize that I (likely) will not live here forever and this past week, I started to wonder how/where I’d look for a church if I moved.  I don’t know of any denomination in which the gospel is preached consistently across churches within the denomination.  Convicts me to pray that the Gospel will be preached; I know the “how to’s” are being taught in some seminaries…  
     
     

  22. I posted about divorce and the pain of it for each other and the children and I got this notice in bold, red letters…………”This website is using a security service to protect itself from online attacks. The action you just performed triggered the security solution. There are several actions that could trigger this block including submitting a certain word or phrase, a SQL command or malformed data.”

    Has anyone else ever gotten that before here? I didn’t post any bad words or anything!

    1.  

      I posted about divorce and the pain of it for each other and the children and I got that warning (above)  in bold red letters and wouldn’t post it.  I didn’t use any bad words or anything.  I copied my comment and will post it on the private facebook page. 

      1. So sorry about this mess!   I reposted it because it didn’t post for a long time!   sorry

    2. Yup — have gotten it a few times.  Freaked me out the first time — I panicked that I was getting kicked out of the group!  One time, I did change an abbreviation (after trying a bunch of times and getting that red box); it did post then, but I don’t think it was related to the change I made.
      One of the other times, I just decided that it had been more important for me that I answered the question than that I posted it on here (so I didn’t keep trying)

    3. Joyce – it’s happened to me a couple of times…..several weeks ago.  I went back and took out all of the quotation marks (don’t ask me why!) and it went through….no idea whatsoever why….so I’m not much help, but at least you know you’re not the only one! 

    4. Yes Joyce, I too have gotten that message before. I didn’t seem to do anything wrong either. It seems like I should have written it in a word document and posted that instead of just typed into the form itself. Sometimes I’ve had to exit and actually retype my entire post in a word document and come back and reposted and it does work. I think that’s why Dee encourages us to type in word first.

    5. Yes…..I have gotten that message too.  It would be good to know why some messages trigger that response…..because there was nothing unusual or inflammatory in the things I wrote either.  I found that later, I could post….but I think I may have tried re-writing it somewhat.  However, if we’re not sure what we need to avoid saying, it’s just a guess to rewrite it too.  Seemed like it worked a few hours later, for me.  Others have gotten the message too.  Glad you posted it on the facebook page, Joyce.  

  23. First, I appreciate the prayers lifted up for my granddaughter. Thanks to each of you dear sisters.
    So many responses to the questions last week helped me very much. Being naked and unashamed, likened to reflecting
    the beauty of God gave new insight, Elizabeth.
    Nanci, the answers you gave that revealed that we both have shortcomings which lead us to ultimately fail each other is so true, and the example of Hosea and Gomer reminded me how this  was used to teach the Israelites about their idolatry.
    Yes, as I think of God’s mercy given to us because of his love and faithfulness, not because we deserve it, it does cause my heart to swell!
    As I listened to yesterday’s sermon, the statement was made, “The heart is an idol factory.” We do get off track so easily, to follow our heart’s desires.
    Thanks for the words to Jesus Calls us O’er the tumult, Elizabeth.
    Wanda, the story you shared was so touching and a powerful example of grace. Divorce tears apart, but the love of Jesus is healing.
    I pray for healing in my daughter’s family and also for her ex-husband. It is so hard to pray for the girlfriend…and I need to realize God loves each one. He is the great Redeemer.
     

    1. Dee – thanks for that clarification on the security measures.  That seems wise and is worth a bit of perplexity from time to time!  This is such a place of encouragement….I appreciated the reminder that we need to be alert to false teaching all the days of our lives.  You really are a tender shepherd to all who are blessed to participate here!    🙂

    2. “remember this is a machine that is prone to error”-reminds me a bit of myself 😉

    3. Thanks, Dee!  And ditto to Jackie’s comments about your tender shepherd leadership here.  It is so appreciated.

  24. 3. C. What are the effects of divorce to each person and to the children?
     
    If cleaving is like glue, and the two become one flesh, then divorce would have to cause an unnatural tearing apart of two who have become one flesh. I have not experienced divorce personally. My parents, though they have had their rocky times in their marriage, have been married 67 years. Both my sisters have been divorced. My one sister divorced her husband because of his addictions to alcohol and drugs. I believe my nephew took it the hardest, as he was 18 and really needed his dad. His life seemed to spiral downward after that and his own involvement in drugs became worse. I sure do think the children feel the tearing separation, too, and I believe it shakes their sense of security to the core.
     
    D. Challenge Question: When we each live out the gospel in marriage, how does it make us one flesh?
     
    This is a hard question because there is no “each” in my marriage as my husband is not a believer. However, there are times that I believe the Lord still works through my husband as he can point out to me my own sin…often I don’t want to hear what he has to say; I want to dismiss him because, after all, he’s not a believer; yet often when I consider what he has told me, I am confronted with the truth of my own sinful behavior. I do believe that the Lord can protect me under the umbrella of my husband’s protection and if I will follow his leadership. We recently had our 25th anniversary, and I prayed about our time together to celebrate. We did enjoy our time together, yet I came to realize in the next few days that there are still problems between us, and I still feel that I am not loved and cherished in the way that I want to be. So the gospel in my marriage, for me, is to tell myself that I must look to Jesus, my Bridegroom, to love and cherish me tenderly so that I can live in my marriage without resenting and punishing my husband for not loving me as Christ does. It is focusing on the good qualities of my husband and continually asking the Lord to remove unforgiveness from my heart. And when I want to cry, “It’s unfair!”, I remember that the only really unfair thing is that Jesus, who was and is perfect and without sin, had to become guilty of all my sin and then was punished for it. He exchanged places with me…a most unfair thing for Him to do. And even though my husband is not a believer, we are both two sinful people living together who desperately need a Savior. What I need the double cure of the gospel to help me with is to be better at apologizing and asking for forgiveness and to model the gospel in my marriage.
     
    E. How did Jesus leave His father and then His mother in order to acquire a bride?
     
    I think someone mentioned this already, but when He was twelve, Jesus stayed behind in the Temple without His parents’ knowledge. When they looked for Him and found Him, He told them that He was in His Father’s house. That was a first inkling that He was following His Father’s will. I am assuming that perhaps Jesus apprenticed with His earthly father and was expected to work as a carpenter throughout His lifetime. I wonder if people questioned as to why He didn’t marry. At the appointed time, He began His ministry; leaving behind His home and family to go from town to town. He went all the way to the Cross. He didn’t cling to Mary…she was His mother but He was her Savior, too. I think of that phrase in the Bible that said His face was set like flint as He went to Jerusalem, to His death. He was leaving behind His earthly life and all that belonged to it with His face set, His heart set, on His Bride.

    1. Susan – your answer to “D” took my breath away!  As you often do, you speak words that mirror my own life!  For days now I had been rolling around in my mind the idea of “each of you living out the gospel” and  thinking well, my husband just doesn’t see the gospel as anything more than a story in an old book – and probably a flawed book, at that….written by fallable men, etc.  You really got to the heart of what it takes to dance this dance……Christ!  I can’t tell you what it did for my heart to read your words just now – expressed so perfectly.  As Paul said “For me to live is Christ”…..and we can ALL join in that life!  Like you, I have my “tantrum moments” of thinking this just isn’t FAIR….until I look to Christ. 

  25. 4. How does Paul use this key verse as an argument to speak against infidelity in 1 Corinthians 6:15-17? How do you see the gospel in this passage? How might you apply this verse as either a single or a married woman?
     
    Paul explains here that the one who joins himself to a harlot (and I am thinking he is referring to sexual relations) is “one body with her”. He refers to the passage in Genesis, “The two will become one flesh”. Infidelity is serious – it isn’t a casual thing. I see the gospel in that Paul says that we are members of Christ’s body; that when we join ourselves to the Lord we are one spirit with Him. This shows the difference between religion and relationship. We are joined to Christ in the same way as a man and his wife are one. There is a warning here of idolatry; if I am joined to Christ, why do I leave Him and join myself to other things? When I pursue comfort in food, or shopping, or other people, I am in the arms of something or someone else.
     
     
     

    1. Such a good last paragraph, Susan.  The danger and the reality of idolatry is becoming more clear to me with the multiple reminders from scripture.  

  26. 5. What is your take-away and why?
     
    Dee’s example from her own life is so powerful. I keep comparing the two pictures; the first of Dee, an “unsmiling” bride, and then, Dee with her children and grandchildren surrounding her, and she’s smiling! The blessings that God was able to pour out so abundantly as she and Steve decided to live out the gospel in their marriage. I have the same choice – to be the foolish woman who tears her house down with her own hands, or to let the sacrificial love of Jesus soften and melt my heart, enabling me to live it out in my marriage. This whole first week has encouraged me because often my spirit flags, and I’m ready to throw in the towel; to settle for mediocre. I’m still trying to grasp the mysteries of how my marriage parallels my union with Jesus – even in an unequally yoked marriage – and there’s the hope. Jesus is not absent in my marriage; I ponder 1 Corinthians 7:14, “For the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife…” God’s blessings are able to flow to my husband through me.

    1. Susan,  I ponder that verse too.  And though I don’t understand it well……I DO know the Lord is working through you and through your love for Him to reach your husband.  Yes, it is true that Jesus is very present in your marriage because you are united to Him and your heart belongs first to Him.   (this  kind of reminds me of when people say that God is no longer in our public schools.  Not true!  God is in the hearts of His people and He works through them wherever they are!)
       

  27. Read over last week’s opening again, and then this week’s opening.
     
    6. What stands out to you and why?
     
    Living out the gospel in marriage…both the man and the woman are called to play the “Jesus” role in marriage…our Bridegroom laid down His life for a difficult bride in order to transform her into a pure and beautiful bride…the husband must love sacrificially, as Christ died for His bride, and the wife must not cling to her rights, but lay them down, as Jesus did, even to death on the cross.
    What I am seeing is that you can’t separate Jesus from marriage, or anything, for that matter. Every human relationship, whether it is husband and wife, or with a child, or parent, or sister, brother, friend, neighbor, and stranger – He is the role model for all. He left us an example as He moved about and interacted with all kinds of people. He said, “Apart from Me, you can do nothing.” I see how short I fall in loving people compared to Him. How good that He didn’t give us a set of instructions to follow but came and showed us how to do it, and gave us His Spirit to empower us and help us.

  28. 6. What stands out to you and why?
     
    I feel lost; head swimming…like I am missing some real point here. It makes me sad. I think it’s because I have only had time to answer the questions, not read others’ responses. I try not to “cheat” by reading what others’ answers are so I’m not biased in my posts. Is it as simple as the 2 “rules” Dee posts?
     
     
    “The husband is called to lay down his life for his wife, living sacrificially, as Christ died for the church. The wife is to not cling to her rights, but to submit, as Jesus did (Philippians 2), not counting equality with God a thing to be grasped, but humbling himself, even to death on a cross.”
     
     
    I understand Jesus gave His life for His bride. My husband loves me and would do anything for me. Sometimes it is embarrassing that he is so giving. Don’t get me wrong, he can be a pain and “quirky,” as Dee mentioned about her family. We all have faults, true, true.
     
    I also understand that I must submit, as He did, to His Father. I don’t always do that well. A prime example is with Sarah. He wants to stop supporting her because she ended up getting kicked out of school. I feel that she is needy enough to continue needing us until she figures out what to do with herself. We both have known that she might need to live with us for the rest of her life; it’s getting there that is soooooo difficult. He wants the “tough love,” I can’t give in to it. I know I am wrong, but when your daughter calls saying she hasn’t eaten in three days and is hungry, what do you do? She also lies, which doesn’t help the situation. We have a lease to fulfill until February, and then we have told her she is on her own. It will be difficult for all of us when the time comes. I don’t think she will have the where-with-all (?) to support herself and I don’t think she will admit it and come home. She is too smart, but not smart enough to manage on her own.
     
    So, if these are really the two “rules” of marriage (does it come down to just that?), then what am I missing? My husband doesn’t quite have the faith I do, and I’m not submissive in all respects, so we might be unequally yoked and missing out on a “good thing.”
     
     
     
     

    1. Oh Laura, you have so much to deal with…I’m so sorry about all that is going on with Sarah, and all the heartache it causes you, and how it makes it difficult for you and your husband to agree on how to handle the situation. Life is sure hard, and there are no easy answers. I don’t think you’re “missing” anything. If only it were so simple to follow those two precepts, but everyday we have to deal with life’s stresses and our sinful nature and wanting our own way. We try, as best we can, to follow in His footsteps, but He knows how often we fall down and get dirty. Thankfully He picks us up, dusts us off, and says “Try again”. There is beauty in the moments when we “get it right”, but also beauty in that He gives us the heart to keep following after Him.

      1. Laura–I agree with Susan–so sorry for all you are struggling with, and I know how hard it is when we have different ways we think things should be handled–praying now for wisdom for you & your husband.
        Susan–you know how I love you and I just have to encourage you again–I believe you are gifted at counseling. You listen SO well, you offer wisdom and compassion–I pray you will seek ways you can use your gifts in your Church…but I also see how He uses you richly with your parents and family. We are blessed by you. 

        1. Thank you for your prayers Elizabeth…so blessed to have you!

        2. I couldn’t agree more with your comments for Laura and Susan, Elizabeth.   Both so hard.  Praying for you both!
           

      2. Amen to Elizabeth’s affirmation of Susan’s gifts.  You have such wise counsel.  I gravitate to your comments because they almost always meet me where I’m at and I see your tender, loving and wise heart.  
         
        Laura:  I wondered again today, how things are going for Sarah.  I agree with Susan…..these are two precepts but real life comes in and there are always many more things to try to make ‘fit’ into the rule.   I think sometimes, we pray and ask God to intervene.  Or we just cry ‘Help’…..and trust that He will give us the compulsion to act and do what is best.  

        1. Thank you Wanda, I think the “Help!” prayer is exactly where I am right now. I am going to expect good things from it as well.

      3. Thank you Susan, everyone is right….you know just what to say! I love this:
         
        He knows how often we fall down and get dirty. Thankfully He picks us up, dusts us off, and says “Try again”. 
         
        We will forge ahead and see what happens. I am trying to prepare Sarah for reality; that we won’t be buying food or paying for rent after February. Hopefully she will understand.

        1. Laura,
          Sure wish I could just sit down and have coffee together and share our story with one of our adult sons, Mark.   (I’ve shared a bit here over the past few weeks.)    There came a time a little over a year ago that my husband drew a very firm line for our son.   He could no longer live at home.   He had no car, no money and hung out with the wrong crowd  (drugs, alcohol).    Our son ended up sleeping at the Mission downtown at times and other times, just didn’t sleep.   He found roommates and a place to live before winter hit.    But even then, I knew that he would be walking to and from work at times in bitterly cold weather.    
          During this time, my husband and I continued to communicate with Mark and would invite him to come home for a meal or would take him out to eat from time to time.   (He is very thin and we were concerned for his health.)    We also invited him home if his siblings were coming to town.  But he understood that he would only be visiting us, not moving back in at that point.   We continued to keep communication open and let him know that we loved him.   In this past year Mark has had to rise to the challenge of being responsible with his paycheck.   My husband didn’t think it would help Mark if we continued to allow him to live at home and spend his money irresponsibly.
           
          My heart goes out to you and your husband, Laura.   May the Lord place believers in Sarah’s life in strategic places.   May He speak to her hurting heart.   And may He help you and your husband as you walk out this tough love for Sarah.  

      4. Susan,
        Thank you for such life-giving words, …..He knows how often we fall down and get dirty.  Thankfully He picks us up, dusts us off, and says “Try again.”  There is beauty in the moments when we “get it right”, but also beauty in that He gives us the heart to keep following after Him.  
        So grateful that He keeps giving me the heart, just when I think its just too hard and I’m too tired.

        1. Oh Nila! So good to know that someone understands exactly what we are going though. She is a stubborn young woman who needs help, but won’t budge. She came home this week to just visit us and friends, and I thought it would be good for her to be reminded of her old life. This is the last week of us giving money though. She will get groceries and then need to manage that aspect on her own. I can’t remember how Mark is doing now. Is he safe? Does he have a place to live?
           
          Thank you for your prayers. 

  29. Read over last week’s opening again, and then this week’s opening.
    6. What stands out to you and why?
    I couldn’t help but think of Song of Songs in tying last week and the beginning of this week.  I hope we are heading that way. 😉  
    This stood out:One day, as Tim Keller says, we will be seen completely naked, and yet we will be so delighted in we will be unashamed. There will be no more enmity between us, no more shame, and no more rivalry. It is a mystery, but let us try to peer into it through a glass darkly.”
     
    What hit me with this is that because of Jesus bringing me into Him, as One, I get to see through a glass dimly-That is HUGE. I don’t ‘deserve’ to even see dimly, yet He sacrificially gave Himself for me despite me so that I can see through a glass dimly AND experience Him in full in the future.  Jesus rising from the dead has given me confidence that in the future God WILL clear things up..no more hearing my idol beckon me to cling to him..no more struggles with my flesh..no more hisses of the evil one telling me surely God doesn’t love me-look at the sin in my life..  I want my mind set on the FACT that because of Him in the future this sin in me and around me will be no more…so if I can see dimly the future now because of the Gospel-OH MY WHAT A GIFT!  For me it is never taking the Gospel lightly..never forgetting what He has done. My mind wanders so easily astray like a sheep..so I need Him in His word daily and other believers.

  30. A. Egalitarians would use verse 21 to say there should be no “headship.” When you look at this passage in context, do you agree or disagree?
    This whole passage from Ephesians 5 is in light of the beautiful, protective, loving headship of Christ.   Verse 21 seems to speak of the necessary humility of both the husband and the wife in their respective roles as head/leader and responder/respecter.    
    B. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the husband and the role of Christ?
    The parallels are that just as Christ loves us unconditionally, so a husband is called to that kind of love.   It seems like a large and sometimes impossible calling on a husband, especially if/when we are “difficult”  .   Yesterday in church the pastor was continuing his teaching on Hosea.   He quoted from Derik Kidner (as some of you here have)   likening the bride of Christ to the wondering and rebellious Israelites.     So, Christ calls husbands to love their  sometimes wondering and rebellious wives.   

  31. 7. Read Ephesians 5:21-33
    A. Egalitarians would use verse 21 to say there should be no “headship.” When you look at this passage in context, do you agree or disagree?
    What strikes me is that these verses refer to the Church with a capitol C. ; all of Christendom throughout all of time.  And the place of Christ as the HEAD is unquestioned.  He IS the HEAD of the Church.  The church is His body.  He is the Savior of the body. (vs. 23)  This is all crystal clear.  Where it becomes cloudy, is in regard to the local congregations.  Surely Christ is the Head of them too.  But He uses individuals to lead them.  When the Spirit wrote to the 7 churches in Revelation, we see that each local body had it’s own ‘flavor’…..it’s own strengths and/or flaws.  Where the love had gone cold, it seems that the headship of Christ had been replaced.  I wonder what this says for the coldness in many churches today.  Sometimes, in addition to members, the leadership and the pastor is also cold toward the true HEAD.  It’s a wonder that we flawed humans are entrusted with shepherding the church of God.  In the context here, it seems that no human should claim headship but we should be co-heirs with Christ.  And yet, we need governance.  And therein lies the rub. So we do the best we can with the cues from the Scriptures.  And as time, norms, circumstances change…..sometimes, things are restructured.  I have friends who are devoted to the Lord and to the Church (His body) who serve and are very involved in the local body and faithful for decades in the same church, but who choose not to join a local church.  I do see these verses with a bit of caution toward human headship in a church.  Such devastation results when human headship usurps the true HEAD.  

  32. A couple of you suggested that I try posting a link of my daughters singing.   My 22 year old technologically savvy son said that this soundcloud link might work.   I do not have any recent recordings that I can easily link you to.   This is from several years ago.     It is a precious song called For the Moments I Feel Faint.   Here are a few of the lyrics as well as the soundcloud link.    Soundcloud is not allowing me  to send just the one song.  There may be songs following that are not even my girls singing.   So I encourage you to just listen to the first song,  For the Moments I Feel Faint:
    https://soundcloud.com/erin-wolfe/for-the-moments-i-feel-faint
     
    Am I at the point of no improvement?
    What of the death I still dwell in?
    I try to excel, but I feel no movement.
    Can I be free of this unreleasable sin?
     
    Never underestimate my Jesus.
    You’re telling me that there’s no hope,
    I’m telling you you’re wrong.
    Never underestimate my Jesus
    When the world around you crumbles
    He will be strong, He will be strong…..
    I throw up my hands
    Oh, the impossibilities
    Frustrated and tired
    Where do I go from here?
    Now I’m searching for the confidence I’ve lost so willingly
    Overcoming these obstacles
    Is overcoming my fear.

    1. What would we do without out tech savvy kids? Yes, the link worked for me Nila, and WOW! beautiful voices and yes, a great song. Thank you.

    2. A very nice song and well sung. Thank you, Nila. 

    3. Thanks, Nila!  That was really fun to hear.  Beautiful girls and beautifully blended voices……sweet!
       
       (We used to hear Reliant K at a music festival we went to in the summer…..Had a bunch of their CD’s around here at one time.)

    4. Nila….I got it  and I thought it was very pretty!  It’s too bad they are so far apart to create more beautiful music together!!

    5. Nila,  I loved to hear your daughters singing-wow. They are really good-beautiful voices! 

    6. Nila – like Kerryn, I’ll just say “WOW”!  My heart’s dancing!

    7. Love this, Nila!  I listened on my cell phone last night.  Will listen again, too 🙂

    8. So beautiful Nila!!!

  33. Dee–I just noticed how much Sally (in the group photo) looks like a “smiling version” of the picture of you with Steve at dinner–even the hair (except color)! That made me smile–what a tribute to you and Steve that family picture represents–wow. 

    1. So true!

      1. skits?! and we don’t get a clip?! 🙂
        All–I am listening now to the talk Dee mentioned in #7, Carson on the Ephesians 5–it is very good! In case anyone wants the link: 
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zFLPtvRqUn8&list=UUQMwm-DeHyFK5VPp6KySR5Q

  34. 7. Read Ephesians 5:21-33
    A. Egalitarians would use verse 21 to say there should be no “headship.” When you look at this passage in context, do you agree or disagree?
     
    This is what I was looking for in the gospel! I couldn’t find it 🙁 Thanks Dee for putting it here!
     
    I don’t agree with egalitarians in there should be no headship. These verses clearly state that there are particularly different jobs for both the man and the woman. It takes both to create the union that God wants from us that will reflect Christ and the church.

  35. After leaving my first marriage because of horrible abuse and then thinking I’ve found the love of the rest of my life and having three children….then being left for another women after only 10 years…. was needless to say…heartbreaking. But, God know best! Even tho my marriage has problems, I’m so blessed to have my husband now. I can’t imagine Kendra being raised by her real father and not by Maurice ,since she was 3, as her real father is embarrassed to even come visit her, let alone take her to eat somewhere.      Maurice is beaming of pride to be with her! Besides, Maurice is wonderful to me too, just have some very trying times. As far as my older kids they were five and eight years when their dad left, Kendra a newborn, the divorce is still, after 27 years, painful to them. It hurt them terribly, especially my daughter that was eight and thought she was daddy’s precious, special little girl, when he up and moved away, one thousand  miles with another lady. My son never had a daddy to play ball with or go places with or teach him boy things either. He had Maurice for a step-dad about three years later, but Maurice had his own son to do all those things with and little time for Trevor. It’s amazing my kids turned out to be the wonderful, awesome young adults that they are today….but the effects of the divorce will never, ever leave them. They still hurt today.   He not only left me…he left them.   Then he married, the one he left me for and had a girl and left them after 1ten years and moved across the states again…not to see his daughter from that marriage now for the last seven years. That daughter is 16 now.    She is another heartbroken girl. The pain just goes on and on. Thankfully in his third marriage now….his wife was too old to have any kids! And he only wants to see his son and could care less about his three daughter’s. This makes our son, Trevor so upset…he doesn’t want to see him!There is so much pain from divorce, especially for the innocent children involved. Maurice’s wife left him and two kids too. We were a blended family of five kids…the hardest thing I’ve ever done….and would never recommend it!

    1. I took out all the pountuation marks and spelled the numbers instead of writing in numbers and shortened it down some and it went through!

      So we had five kids and my mom for years and years with all kinds of fighting and bickering, jealousy and anger.  I’d never go through it again….never.  Maurice was afraid to take on a disabled child….but our real problems were the older four kids…too close in age…always fighting over something,  Maurice found out that Kendra was the sweetest and most innocent one and has always been daddy’s little girl every  since!

      The older kids get along fine now!!

        1. Dee – Ditto to your words to Joyce!  Also…..actually, removing all punctuation was exactly what I did back when my post got the same security warning.  That was at least a month ago and it hasn’t happened since. 

  36. B. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the husband and the role of Christ?
    He is to submit to her just as Christ submitted to his Father. This is to show reverence to Christ.
     
    The husband is the head as Christ is the head of the church.
     
     
    “For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior.” (‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭23‬ NIV)
     
    Husbands are to love their wives as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for it. They are to love them as if it was their own body.
     
    All of these characteristics are so sweet to me. So caring and real loving as well. Makes me feel good inside!
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  37. 7. Read Ephesians 5:21-33
    A. Egalitarians would use verse 21 to say there should be no “headship.” When you look at this passage in context, do you agree or disagree?
    I respectfully disagree. He is addressing the body as a whole in v. 1-21. It is centered on Christ and us being in the light-walking in the light and The fruit that will flow out of us as we walk in the light. Then he specifically addresses the roles marriage in v. 22-33 always comparing to Christ and the church-so that is an indication to me there are roles here. While verses 1-21 applies to marrieds too even verse 21, Patrick and I should be subject to one another in the fear of Christ. As should the whole body of Christ.  If you read on in v.22, to me it is clear he is extending this thought but into roles in marraige-and the ‘roles’ are totally modeled by the roles of Christ and the church.  He says wives be subject to your own husbands as to the Lord. 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. And it goes on consistently comparing the ‘roles’ of the husband and wife to Christ and the Church. There is no power-trip kind of leadership commanded here, nor a doormat kind of thing. Just different roles. He specifically says the husband is the head.  Think of Christ and the Church. I think we in our sin, our idolatry, have skewed those roles into a worldly-like master/slave type thing-better/ less than thing. I can see why egalitarians can go clear to the other side. In a sense they are right. We aren’t ‘less than’ men, or of ‘less value’, but there are roles and they are each wonderful roles in loving submission to Jesus. God designed us to mirror the relationship of the Trinity. It is supposed to be delightful-in one another and in Him.
     
     

  38. 7A. Egalitarians would use verse 21 to say there should be no “headship.” When you look at this passage in context, do you agree or disagree?

    When v. 21 is taken out of the context of the entirety (v. 21-33), it could easily be interpreted that there is no “headship” in marriage, each spouse is called to serve the other out of respect for Jesus; without subsequent information, there is not definition of how that respect might be played out or an optimal order for the relationship.  The subsequent texts (v. 22-33) make it pretty clear that an order is defined; that order is the husband leading/heading the household.  What gets lost when these texts are used as not intended is that the husband is to love his wife as Jesus loved the church, to give his all in providing and protecting her (v. 25), to love her as he loves his own body (v. 28).  There is “respect” between them…respect that will acknowledge them both equally loved by God and equally important to Him; respect that will not allow the other to manipulate or take advantage of the order for what they perceive to be to their own benefit.  When the relationship is as it should be there will be a willingness to surrender to the order that God has defined knowing that is for our own well-being.  Unfortunately, these texts can get so twisted when used for purposes other than intended…e.g., to put a woman in her place, to “jack up” a man…and the beauty can be lost.  I view this similar to the 10 commandments…this is for our good; it is for our benefit…this will give the best life possible.  

  39. 7. Read Ephesians 5:21-33
    A. Egalitarians would use verse 21 to say there should be no “headship.” When you look at this passage in context, do you agree or disagree?
     
    I think that when we read verse 21 with verse 22 (and the following), we see a distinction of roles, a “headship” declared. Similar to Wanda, I was a member of an EVFree church for 10 years, but it also had a Board of Elders who ultimately governed. I tend to think that even if you call it egalitarian—its very difficult to operate without some sort of final “head”. Verse 21 “submitting to one another out of reverence to Christ” tells me that my motivation to submit to my husband (and to authority) is as an act of worship to Jesus. Verse 22  specifies that wives submit to husbands “as to the Lord”—I think I cannot submit to the Lord if I am not also submitting to my husband. 23: “For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church”—the model of headship is based on the model of Christ to the Church. But I also see, as Kathy Keller mentioned last week, the Trinity models “headship” and submission. This is the key to me that so easily gets overlooked. If we base the headship and submission on Christ’s example, how can we see anything but beautiful harmony? There is not abusive or unjust leadership in Him. The Fall has distorted the outflow—but the example, the picture of what it is to look like must be based on Christ’s model. 
     

    1. Elizabeth brought out something important..Headship AND submission like in the Trinity. The Trinity models headship and submission..THIS IS KEY. :))) 
      When Elizabeth said I cannot submit to the Lord if I am not submitting to my husband..SO TRUE..that made me think if I am not submitting to my husband as head then there is most likely a deeper issue between God and me and my submission to HIM. Where are my affections truly being placed? I think perhaps they are being placed on an idol and then my husband-sounds strange but when I don’t submit it is because  I am trusting in my husband as my savior to bring me some sort of comfort, control or affirmation in regard to the implications of a decision and not in Christ. If my husband is wrong about a decision then what? What will people think? How will that affect harmony in the home? Our comfort? If I have stated what I think about the issue and have given my husband wisdom yet he proceeds in an unwise direction, instead I should say to God..You are the master of my husband’s heart..change His or change mine in this..open our eyes to your direction. Help us to trust you are working this out to make my husband beautiful too-even if he makes a mistake.
       
      I am not sure how I would handle living with an overtly foolish or abusive unbelieving husband though. If I were being abused with a believing husband or unbelieving husband it would look totally different. I would ask God to intervene and change hearts..but obviously being a door mat or an oppressor isn’t the model of the Trinity..and taking steps to protect myself and my children would be necessary.

  40. 7.  It’s been pointed out here by several that often, in “real life”, egalitarians and complementarians can look almost indistinguishable.  When looking at some very good egalitarian websites/blogs a few weeks ago, I found much food for thought.  I’ve noticed that both egalitarians and complementarians can tend to accuse the other of pulling out proof texts and ignoring context – or the whole of scripture.  In looking at this passage as a whole (and indeed, all of the book of Ephesians!), it’s terribly difficult to just bypass the Lord’s call to wives to submit – specifically – to their husbands…….and for the husbands to – specifically – love their wives as Christ loves the Church.  This even continues on in chapter 6 with the call for children to obey and honor their parents…..and slaves to obey their masters.  ALL to be done “with a sincere heart” , “doing the will of God from the heart”, “rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man”…..and on and on (chapter 6).    Earlier in Ephesians the “groundwork” has been laid – primarily the gospel , that Christ is the head over ALL THINGS, and the pleas for unity in the church (chapt. 4)…..noting the different gifts and functions within the body…..apostles, prophets, evangelists, teachers, shepherds…..evangelists may not be shepherds….and shepherds may not be evangelists…..and yet, each builds up the body of Christ by serving within their gifting – their “roles”.  We’re called to put off the old self and put on the new self.  To walk in love….wisely…..and SO MUCH MORE before we even get to the call for wives to submit to their husbands!!  Even for those of us with unbelieving husbands, the Scriptures have a word of amplification….ie 1 Peter 3:1-6 and 1 Corinthians 7:12-17.  We’re not enslaved, we’re called to peace…..but that WILL involve significant sacrifice on our parts as we honor Christ and follow Him……oh, how many are the times I’ve failed in this.  The Holy Spirit is convicting me even as I write this.  Thank You Lord, for the gospel….for the beauty of Your way, Your order in our lives.  May I be Your clean vessel of Shalom in my home today. 

    1. Thanks, Jackie… You described the context So well, e.g., “Christ is the head over ALL THINGS, and the pleas for unity in the church..”    So often, the lack of unity is due to seeking individual happiness (church or marriage) rather than seeking Him first.  This context also might set a tone for choosing (or choosing to stay in or leave) a specific congregation.  Sometimes, staying will/should involve sacrifice; at the other end of the continuum, there might be clear signs to get out (or kick out the leader).  I tend to stay in a church long term, but your post has helped me see that it’s not always for the right reasons (I stay because I don’t like to switch/become attached). Now I’m seeing that I should stick around & seek unity in the body of Christ — and also that there may be situations in which I should get out sooner.  I know that “revolving door” churches are a reflection of a problem (not always sure what problem — but I might not want to plant myself in one; nor do I want to “revolve!”).

      One of many areas in which I really am Reformed is in viewing both marriage and God’s relationship with us as covenants.  So, what I am wondering now is how that fits in with how I view my relationship with a local congregation??  Obviously, I am not going to cut off my relationship with the body of Christ; I don’t think it is possible because I AM PART of the body of Christ (but I can tend to become detached from the whole world).  Nor am I likely to drive 8 hours to go to church.  But, does this have any implications for selecting and sticking with a congregation?  e.g., get out (only) if the covenant has been broken? and what does that mean?  How far would a church have to deviate from the Gospel being preached or how abusive would it have to get before I left (or before I chose to go there because there weren’t a lot of options in the community).   I have seen both fluffy mainline and legalistic evangelical congregations revived from within… so there usually is hope!

  41. 6. What stands out to you and why? 
    I have been focussing on the headship piece of our discussion but this morning as I read the openings again the teamwork piece stood out to me. I know several wives who tell me “our marriage is a teamwork” but in practice this looks like manipulation and control over the husband. This is grievous to me. But I really like Luci Shaw’s comment “Harold is the head of our home, and I submit to him, yet in twenty-five years of marriage, it has only come up twice.”  I am realizing more of the “ezer” aspect instead of just “submission” (add deep intimidation voice) 😉 I think this is beautiful. 
     
    I did did not realize how little healthy relationship has been observable to me till this study. 
     
    I have read all the comments. Diane, thank you for sharing about your experiences and feelings in regard to moving. I really appreciated your kind words. Thank you all for your prayers on my behalf and kind words/thoughts during this transition. I would appreciate prayer for God’s perfect plan for housing. We still do on not have a place to live. We also have a lot of traveling to do still. 

    1. Jill – which base in VA are you moving to? 

    2. Jill,
       
      I too wonder at what base you will be stationed.   Our oldest son, Luke, was stationed near Washington D.C.  for three years where he served in the Honor Guard at Arlington National Cemetery.    Is there on-base housing available?   Or are you wanting to live off base?   Once you are settled you will have a plethora of historical field trip possibilites for your children.     Praying for you now as you are in this limbo time, Jill.   

  42. 7B.  The parallels between the husband’s role and Christ’s are to love in a way that is self-sacrificing.  Dee’s example with Steve being willing to give up 8 years of training and a life’s dream of being a physician to care for Dee is extraordinary.  Similarly, Diane mentioned her husband being willing not to go to Kenya……on the other hand, the example was given of Tim Keller making the very hard decision to go to New York City to minister…..even knowing how hard that decision was for Kathy to follow!  All of that to say that a husband loving his wife as Christ loves the church may look very different from situation to situation.  ALWAYS though, that love is tender and nurturing.  In all three of the examples I just mentioned, clearly each husband listened to and HEARD his wife’s heart.  My Bible cross referenced this section in Ephesians with Ezekiel 16:1-13 and I was just BLOWN AWAY by the beauty of the picture there.  Really.  Read the Ezekiel passage if you can find the time!  It is incredible. 

    1. Jackie, 
       
      I just read the Ezekial passage and wept.
      The message at church on Sunday was from Hosea.   It was honest. Hard. Beautiful.   How  Israel had forgotten her maker, become self reliant, become like what they worshiped.   The idea that God allowed his people to be stripped of everything and from that very place He wooed them.  
      The pastor talked of how we comodify relationships.  We look to see if we get what we need from the relationship.   And so I have at times done in my marriage, and it is from this place, this mindset, that strife occurs.   
      Israel has this cycle going on:  grace – disgrace – abounding grace.    And so He continues to love me and give me the heart to love that difficult one in my life.
       

  43. As I read the comments I am so blessed with each one’s understanding and application.
    The question of egalitarians vs. complementarians is a complicated picture for me. As I read the verse from Ephesians 5:21, “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ,” I feel puzzled . So this is my take.
    Christ has paid the penalty for our sins. He suffered and died in our place. His example of prayer is  before me, “Not my will, but Thine.” (Though if the cup could be taken from him; it was an awareness of the suffering ahead.)
    My due respect  to him is to love others, let go of selfish desire and be submissive, thus showing honor to my Lord and Savior. The verse does not speak to me of headship, but deep love, showing a thankful heart for my gift of salvation.
     
    The parallel between the role of the husband and the role of Christ.
    Christ demonstrated his love in service by the example of washing the disciples’ feet. He taught that humility is a strength of a true leader. He gave himself up for her to make her holy. How awesome that our sins can be washed away, making the bride, the church, radiant, without spot or blemish, , instead holy and blameless. The husband’s role is to love his wife just as Christ loved the church, his body. So in this command, the husband’s responsibility is profound and shows that he is to care for his wife as he does his own body, feeding and caring for it.
    The parallels between the role of the wife and the role of the bride of Christ is to submit, to show reverence as the wife must respect her husband.
    The symbolism of marriage as scripture gives us is a beautiful picture of selflessness. the love described is not self-seeking, but is like Christ’s, a sacrifice.
     The world’s view is so far removed. It has become a legal arrangement for establishing a family. Our culture has devalued the beautiful gift of Christian marriage.
    I was touched this week by a teaching from Dr. Erwin Lutzer, entitled, Nothing Else Matters. first he reviewed the Genesis passage on God’s plan of marriage, verse by verse; it is a “covenant before God and others until death do us part.”
    Then he brought out the infidelity issue and the need for purity. “Everything in our culture is against it.”
    Thanks to each of you for sharing your personal stories, of God’s grace  through each situation. I was really touched by your beautiful comments, Jackie.
    This study is a true blessing, and yet a mystery, and I am getting some glimpses through the dark mirror…

    1. Shirley, this is good,
       
      “The symbolism of marriage as scripture gives us is a beautiful picture of selflessness. the love described is not self-seeking, but is like Christ’s, a sacrifice.”

  44. I just read where a classmate of mine is a pastor in West Point . NE.
     
    I never knew that. She was always a shy girl.

    Praying for you and your move Jill!

  45. C. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the wife and the role of the Bride of Christ?
     
    Each are to submit to the other to honor Christ. In addition, wives should submit to their husbands to reflect the church submitting to Christ.
     
    “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”
     
     
    “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything”. (‭Ephesians‬ ‭5‬:‭21-22, 24‬ NIV)
     
    D. How does this passage elevate marriage beyond the world’s view of marriage?
     
    It isn’t just talking about men and women relationships on earth. It is also referring to Christ’s relationship with His church. I wonder if the Ephesians understood this relationship better than we can? How long was this discussion after Jesus died on the cross? Did some of them know Jesus? Did they remember his ascension and therefore could believe “easier?” Of course, faith means we believe without proof; the entire bible can be difficult to understand if you don’t have faith. Regardless of whether people knew Him or didn’t, the principles Paul was teaching (learned from Jesus himself) were “good” for anyone to follow. It is the same way in today’s world…..no one can argue that the 10 commandments aren’t good advice for all, right? Although the marriage “principles” are probably good for us to follow, some (myself included) may find them controlling instead of complementing. I would like to see a husband wife team model this…..I suppose that will be the Kellers when I get to the audio this week? I probably have seen it and just didn’t know!! I probably thought it was something different, like a “controlling” husband and a weak wife. I needed to understand these passages to understand the relationship of the husband/wife team. Now that I get this, it really is beautiful, isn’t it? It makes me want to cry. If only everyone could understand……but then I have had to humble myself (came down from a HUGE precipice) to be able to get it, so others might have to as well.

    1. Of course, faith means we believe without proof; the entire bible can be difficult to understand if you don’t have faith. Regardless of whether people knew Him or didn’t, the principles Paul was teaching (learned from Jesus himself) were “good” for anyone to follow. It is the same way in today’s world

       
      I was thinking the same thing, Laura.  Even if we don’t understand every bit of it, the advice is timeless.  Love, respect and mutual submission.  
       
       

  46. 7B. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the husband and the role of Christ?
    As Jesus is head of the church, so the husband is the head of the couple/family.  Husbands are to love their wives as Jesus loved the church.  Husbands are to give their all for the benefit of his wife/family…to love them, guide them, provide for them, etc.
     
    C. What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the wife and the role of the Bride of Christ?
    The wife is to serve her husband as she would the Lord.
     
    D. How does this passage elevate marriage beyond the world’s view of marriage?
    Rather than putting marriage in the context of “master-slave,” as seems to often be the case “in the world” with these texts, these texts explain the marital relationship in the context of order, love, and respect.  The order is based upon the order of Jesus and His church; love is unconditional and self-sacrificing love…the love our Lord has for His people; mutual respect is key.  There is beauty in a marriage such as this…the Lord provides us with this information for our good, not to limit, restrict, or withhold, but to provide the foundational truths for a beautiful, functional, loving, respectful marital relationship that reflects that of our Lord and His bride, the church.

  47. 7. C    What parallels do you see in this passage between the role of the wife and the role of the Bride of Christ?
     
     
    Verse 21 says to be subject to one another.  Pride leads us to demand from others what we think they owe to us.  Humility leads us to give to others what Christ teaches that we owe to them.   So, as a wife and as part of the bride of Christ, I must have humility first.      Thinking of Andrew Murrey’s book entitled Humility that I stumbled on to several years ago on a clearance rack at our local bible bookstore.   I quote from the preface:   “When we realize that humility is something infinitely deeper than contrition, and accept it as our participation in the life of Jesus, we will begin to learn that it is our true nobility, and that to prove it in being servants of all is the highest fulfillment of our destiny as men created in the image of God.”  
     
    And so, as the bride of Christ, humility comes in response to how He loves me.   He cleanses me ~ I am no longer ashamed.  He nourishes me ~ I am no longer hungry.    He cherishes me ~  I know that I am valued.      The bride responds to the groom’s initiation and continued, consistent, long-suffering actions of love.
     
    This is the template for Christian marriages.   But sin.  But pride.     
    My husband and I have been married 39 years this coming Saturday and for many of those years I have been loved self-sacrificially.   We have walked together through the loss of our firstborn.   We have raised five children to adulthood.  We have (and are) walking out rebellion with two of our children.   We have seen personal ministry thrive and personal ministry fail.   We have seen business thrive and fail.   I have been very slow to learn that my response to my husband must be filtered first by my response to Christ.   That if I know that Jesus loves, cherishes and provides for me, then I don’t have to try to control, supervise, manipulate my husband to do or say what I think I need.    Fear has often been my motivation and has wreaked much havoc.    
     
    The parallel:   The bride (as a wife or as the bride of Christ) is a responder to the love that is initiated by the groom (ultimately always Jesus).   So, that whether an earthly husband is loving or not, we can respond to him lovingly, by responding to Jesus’ call to humility.
     
    Philippians 2:5-9
    Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross.  Therefore God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name. 

    1. this is beautiful, Nila “He cleanses me ~ I am no longer ashamed.  He nourishes me ~ I am no longer hungry.    He cherishes me ~  I know that I am valued.  “

    2. Nila, I will send you early congratulations on 39 years of marriage! It is encouraging to see how you continue to learn and grow in your marriage and in your relationship to Christ.

      1. Happy anniversary!!

    3. I was about to highlight the same sentence that Elizabeth highlighted.  That speaks so much.   I also really like the one that you highlighted,  Nila.
       

      my response to my husband must be filtered first by my response to Christ.   That if I know that Jesus loves, cherishes and provides for me, then I don’t have to try to control, supervise, manipulate my husband to do or say what I think I need.    Fear has often been my motivation and has wreaked much havoc.    

       
      I resonate with this so much.  I might need to print this and keep it up as a reminder to me!   ( I am sure that my husband would say that he sees this kind of fear and manipulation in me on a regular basis.)  

      1. Ditto