Equality in Marriage – 2

Rob and Tina Morley with their kids, 2010

Continued from part 1

Countless times I have heard it preached that married women should submit to their husbands and that the man is the head of the home. It is preached straight from the scriptures. Are those who preach submission really preaching straight or are they preaching skew?In the past, Rob and I tried to apply these “truths” at home.

Today I want to use an example from our own marriage to illustrate how head-ship by the husband is not helpful. Immediately after reading this, some of you have alarm bells going off in your heads.  You might be surprised to find out that in this context “head” doesn’t mean “authority over.” This article, The Head of the Epistles, explains it nicely. The story below is a portion from my chapter “Who’s in Control?” from my e-book, Happy Moms, Happy Homes.

[My husband and I] were no experts at conflict resolution. I felt caught in the middle of a tug-of-war. Or maybe it was more like a three-way tug-of-war with my husband, God, and me. Fortunately, God won the war, but He had to first teach us how submission works in a marriage. It’s not as simple as some would have us believe. I had come from a highly conservative Christian background where godly women were meant to “know their place.”

I tried the submission route only out of desperation. Did it fix our problems? No, it fell short of expectations and it sometimes flew right back in my face…

I can clearly remember one incident where our idea of submission showed its flaws. At the time, we were staying at my in-laws’ luxury country inn. My husband and I were sitting outside one of their suites while the children were down at their grandma’s house. It had been a lovely day, and the kids had been running around barefoot.

Later that afternoon, as the air began to cool, my husband became concerned that the children could catch a cold. He thought that I was being negligent and told me that I must go down immediately to put socks and shoes on them. I didn’t feel that going right then was a good idea because my mother-in-law had said that she was resting and I didn’t want to disturb her. Also, the kids were indoors so I didn’t think the cold air would bother them for another half-hour or so.

Well, my husband became annoyed. He wanted me to respond to the situation as he thought I should. To keep the peace, I went down, despite my reservations. I tried to be as quiet as possible, but my in-laws’ house was small and their room was right next to the living room where the kids were watching TV. I didn’t stay long, but long enough to have disturbed her rest. I had become trapped between my husband’s expectations and my own conscience. Clearly, submitting in every situation did not always have a favorable outcome.

Why do the scriptures say things like “wives, submit to your husbands” (Eph. 5:22)? There is a verse right before verse 22 that says, “submit one to another” (Eph. 5:21), but it’s easy to glance over this as someone has added a paragraph break with a title above verse 22 that wasn’t in the original text. Chapter breaks, subtitles and even verses can hinder the flow of the author’s original intention.  To actually go in depth into the scriptures regarding the portions that people get hung up over would take too much time. My husband and I have given hours to the study of these things and have been richly blessed by other scholars of the Bible. Hopefully, we’ll be posting in more detail on these difficult passages in the future.

One key to good interpretation is context. Another key is to use scripture that is plainly clear to help interpret portions that are hard to understand. One fundamental truth states that there is no longer slave or free, male or female, because we are all under Christ (Gal. 3:28). This scripture was written in order to unify believers. Where there is unity, God commands a blessing. We are not to lord it over each other anymore. We are all heirs of the same promise, and if Christ set us free, then we are free indeed.

I hope I have managed to wet your appetite, because I have more in mind to write and share in the near future.

by Christina (Tina) Morley

Women in Ministry

Women in the Body of Christ – Part 2

 It wasn’t so long ago that people believed only men should be allowed to vote. It wasn’t so long ago that women received less pay than their male counterparts for the same amount of completed work. Today, most would agree that these beliefs were wrong. But it was not easy to persuade people to think differently. Some beliefs are harder to change than others.

I do not believe in watering down the Bible. I believe the Word of God is God-breathed and true. I believe most truths are clear and that Christians from across the denominations would agree on them. However, some truths are not as clear and are open for discussion and upon these truths we have established denominational divides.

It wasn’t so long ago that people used Bible Scripture to condone slavery. Today, we would agree that this was a gross misuse of what the Scriptures say. So, how do we get past the muddle? How do we know when something was written for a specific period of time, but was not meant to be a governing law for today? How do we know if our interpretations have taken the context properly into account? Or, how do we know when we are not importing our own views onto a text?

Scriptures that are clear and easy to understand should be the deciding factor when compared with unclear Scriptures. Anyone who is dogmatic about what is unclear and creates a law with it makes the same error that some converted Jews did by telling the Gentiles that, in order to be a part of Christ’s Church, they must be circumcised. When Christ has set us free, we should not go back to a yoke of slavery brought on by self-inflicted laws.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28 NIV).

By Tina Morley

Women in Ministry

Women in the Body of Christ – Part 1

In my experiences from a number of different churches and denominations, I have found that women have very little room when it comes to adding their voices in spiritual matters. This stems from the fact that many churches are dogmatic about unclear Scriptures regarding women in ministry.

I have been in churches where women were expected to wear head-coverings, not because of the culture, but because of the desire to be biblically correct. All churches want to be biblically correct, so where do we draw the line when making the decisions that we make when interpreting and applying Scriptures to us today?

My husband and I were visiting a non-denominational church a few years back. We were invited to join a Bible study for married couples. We all sat in a circle with the wives seated next to their husbands. Our Bibles were open, and one gentleman read from a portion of Scripture. He then asked questions from the text.

The women remained silent. They wore polite faces, but kept their eyes averted. It was as if they had checked out long ago and no one had helped them find their way back. I knew that I had permission to speak, so I joined in the conversation along with the men. The women looked startled when I spoke up and the men looked surprised.

I don’t think this small congregation meant to do their women in, but the church’s stand on these unclear texts that I mentioned above did not help the women to feel that their opinion would be respected. I even think the women didn’t realize that they were not being obedient to God’s voice or His Word by taking a “back seat.”

By Tina Morley