The Baptist Magazine in New Zealand seems to have stopped posting their articles online. Therefore, I will post the ones I’ve written over the past few months here.
Different by Design
Elizabeth Elliot is quoted as saying: “Throughout the millennia of human history, up until the past two decades or so, people took for granted that the differences between men and women were so obvious as to need no comment. They accepted the way things were. But our easy assumptions have been assailed and confused, we have lost our bearings in a fog of rhetoric about something called equality, so that I find myself in the uncomfortable position of having to belabour to educated people what was once perfectly obvious to the simplest peasant.”
We all intuitively know men and women are different by design. I am not aware of any mass movement to rid the 2016 Olympic Games of gender segregated competitions, or to remove ladies’ golf tees from golf courses around the world.
Recently I heard leaders in the Baptist churches here in New Zealand, when seeking to communicate that God had designed marriage to be between a male and female, explain that God has created men and women to live in a complementary relationship. The husband/wife completes each other in such a way as not possible in a same-sex marriage. I completely agree.
I also believe the Scriptures teach that God has designed men and women to function in complementarian roles within the home. Men and women are entirely equal in dignity, value, and worth before God. They have both been created in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), and they both have equal standing before God in salvation (Gal. 3:28).
However, this equality does not remove the complementarian role distinctions.
Marriage was designed by God from the beginning to picture the faithful, covenantal love Christ has for his bride, the church (Eph. 5:32; Gen. 2:24; Matt. 19:5). In order for marriage to accurately display this glorious picture one member must be the head (as Christ is of the church) and the other must be the bride (as the church is to Christ). Paul clearly stays in Ephesians 5:22-33 that the husband is to be the head and the wife is to be the bride (See also 1 Corinthians 1:3). When there is no distinction in role, the picture is distorted.
Of course, the husband’s headship is to model Christ’s selfless, sacrificial, servant leadership. Never is the husband to lead harshly (Col. 3:19) and he is to always lead with his wife and children’s best and God’s glory as his aim.
Of course, the wife is to submit to her own husband (Eph. 5:22). A woman is never called upon to submit to men in general. (No more than men are called to submit to brothers and sisters in Christ – Eph. 5:21, Heb. 13:17; and government official – Rom. 13:1, etc.) Only within the marriage relationship does this make sense. Submission, meaning “strength under authority” is a beautiful word expressing the inherent strength in the one who is voluntarily bringing their strength under someone else’s authority, in this case ultimately the Lord’s, not even the husband’s. The wife here is asked to follow the example of Christ (Luke 2:51) who willing submitted to his earthly parents, though himself fully perfect and God in the flesh.