Recently I stumbled across a talk given by a man who is probably the best Trinitarian theologian under 30, Mr. Brant Bosserman. It was given to Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and it deals with the necessity of the Trinity and a proper understanding of it in the life of a Christian. Full audio can be downloaded at (http://theresurgence.com/2007/08/14/christianity-and-trinitarian-worldview) and I highly, highly recommend it.
That said, towards the end of the talk he touched on a topic that has very much been on my mind of late. This video contains a segment on the difference between Trinitarian marriage relationships and Unitarian marriage relationships, and I could not be more in agreement with what Brant says. Please note: he uses Islam as an example, but I would generalize that to all truly consistent Unitarians. Also, I have comments of my own (sort-of related) below the video.
And that, my friends, is yet another example of why the Unitarian concept of God falls infinitely short of the Trinitarian understanding that we have. That is, in the Unitarian concept, when the Bible says, “the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (I Corinthians 11:3b&c), that’s the end of things. Look, if the analogy is in any way comparable this is inevitably the process we will go through if we have a consistent Unitarian theology: the head of Christ is God, and Christ is a mere created being and therefore infinitely lesser than God, and the husband is the head of his wife in the same way… we conclude that the wife is infinitely lesser than the husband.
Repeat after me, folks: submission in function does not equal inferiority of nature. By that I mean, even though the wife is called to be submissive to her husband out of consideration for the order of creation this DOES NOT mean that she is of an inferior nature to him. Not at all.
All you Unitarians out there, I do not EVER want to hear you tell me that “well, Christ is submissive to the Father, therefore Christ cannot be God, or if He is, then He is God in a lesser sense.” If you say that, you are telling me that a since a woman is submissive to her husband, therefore she cannot be a human being, or if she is, then she is human in a lesser sense. That is wrong, it is flawed, it is sick, and you know it.
On that note, I want to speak separately to the ladies and the men for a moment from a Trinitarian perspective about something that I’m very concerned about. But first, a word to both:
Ladies & Gentlemen
One of the most taken out of context verses of the entire Bible is Ephesians 5:22-23a.
This verse has been used by men both in the Church and those only loosely affiliated with Christianity for centuries to subjugate women. Not only has it been the justification for overt sexism and the most offensive treatment of women, but is has also been used by cult leaders to control and manipulate the females trapped inside. (And let me be clear: it’s not just this verse [although it is the most common] – I have seen men use any number of supposed “Biblical” justifications for forcing their wives to submit and it’s not limited to Paul’s comments here)
The way this happens goes something like this: “The Bible says wives are to submit to their husbands, so you have to do whatever I say and if you don’t you are disobeying God.” Sometimes it isn’t stated quite that way, sometimes it’s more subtle and seemingly sound, but the end result is the same: women are manipulated and shamed into cow-towing to their husbands. Depending on where upon the continuum of controlling husbands they fall, some of these women are afraid to even scratch their nose without his express permission because to do so might violate one of his unspoken rules and bring swift and certain condemnation, not just from hubby, but from God Himself.
Not only is this type of subjugation absolutely disgusting, but it is clearly NOT what the Bible truly teaches. Let’s look at this verse in CONTEXT…
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submitin everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
It is in this context that I will now speak separately to the men and women (though both are certainly welcome to read what is not addressed to them – it may be of some help, I don’t know).
And especially those ladies who have been put under an authoritative husband’s thumb, or who want to avoid such a fate.
The first thing I must note is that, as I said above, submission in function does not equal inferiority of nature. (If you are a Unitarian woman you may find that hard to swallow, but remember: that’s just one of the myriad reasons I’m a Trinitarian) Yes, you are called to submit to your husband, and that’s a fact. It was Eve who was deceived, not Adam, and the very wisest thing for you to do would be to submit to a Godly man who knows the Scriptures and knows the One who spoke them. Not someone who follows every wind and whim of his own personal “philosophy of life”, constantly flitting about from one doctrine to another, unsure of what truth even is or if it can even be known, let alone what he believes about it. No, but someone who has absolute convictions, who knows exactly what he believes and why, and is willing to fight and bear all to defend the glorious truth of God’s word.
To the unmarried ladies, please hear me here. I am yet young and unwed as well, but what precious little wisdom I have been given knows this:
You must find a man who is himself submissive.
That’s right, and this should be obvious, but I think the percentage of women who look for this character quality in a man is small, small, small. But this is vital.
You see ladies: men, like women, are also called to be submissive. In I Corinthians 11:3 we find Paul insisting, “I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ.” Yes indeed, we men are not autonomous masters of our domain, as so many would like to think. Rather, we exercise our headship from a position of submission to Christ, who exercises His headship in submission to the Father (again I Cor 11:3). And here’s the thing, Christ has conferred His authority to the Church, specifically those called and ordained to the task of preaching and administering the sacraments. If your man does not submit himself to the discipline of the elders and Pastor of a Godly church, but instead wants to be his own administrator, preferring to leave the Church rather than be called to repentance (but of course, he will insist he has nothing to repent of, and that is his greatest error) by those in authority over him, he is in rebellion against God. If you have not yet married him, don’t. If you have, seek the counsel of your Pastor and above all else, fall on your knees before God in prayer.
Again, a man who seeks to be a rule unto himself and will not submit to a spiritual authority is a rebel, and a rebel who will not submit to authority has no business being an authority over others. Nevertheless if you are married to such a man, you must still be submissive, for it is in such submission that you shine the Gospel to him in his darkness (I Peter 3:1).
Fellas, what can I say? How’s this for starters: you disgust me.
That’s right, I said it and I meant it. How dare you? How dare you lord your position of authority over the women in your life? How dare you expect your mate to submit to your authoritative rule when you yourself will accept correction from no man, but instead curse and blame every servant of God who tries to show you when you are in error, insisting that they are the ones at fault and that you are a mere victim? How dare you think that your position as head is anything other than Christ’s delegation of authority to you, and as such is a position in which you must exercise the utmost of humility, for you are unworthy of the gift He has given you in your wife (Proverbs 18:24; 19:14). How dare you belittle her and treat her with contempt, let alone at the dinner table in front of guests in your home and so bring her shame in the company of your fellow man. How dare you?
How dare you, Thomas?
Yes. Though I am not married, I am as guilty as any man. We must repent, brothers.
But what does it mean, then, to be a Godly head? This is why the context in Ephesians 5 is so important, for it tells us in no uncertain terms that a man is to be for his wife what Christ was and is for the Church.
Gentlemen, Christ does not rule His bride with an iron scepter, why would we think we can? Christ does not treat His bride with scorn and derision, why would we think we can? Christ does not lock His bride up in a system of rules and control her with a heavy yoke, why would we think we can? Christ does not lord his glory over His bride in a show of pride and power, why would we try to do so ourselves?
No, instead Christ gently draws His bride to Himself with a servant’s hands (John 13:1-12), and so should we. Christ treats His bride as a princess among princesses (Ephesians 5:25-27), taking upon Himself the scorn and derision that she rightly deserved (John 19:1-3), and so should we. Christ gives His bride freedom and a light yoke (Galatians 5:1), and so should we. Christ humbled Himself for His bride to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8), and we should strive to be so humble.
Brothers, Christ exercised His authority not as some “master of my domain” type of tyrant who blasts his bride with harsh words and arrogant actions, but as a washer of feet, as a one without a place to rest His head, as a servant, as one spat on and abused, as an accursed criminal…
…as a corpse.
He who truly wishes to live by every word from the mouth of God, take heed. Do not reduce the Bible’s instructions about the relationship between men and women, husbands and wives, to a simple platform for compelling your brides to harken to your beck and call. No. You must exercise your God-given authority in the way Christ exercised His.
As a servant.
Humble yourselves, fellow men. Humble yourselves.
Now to all. If Christ is nothing more than a mere creature, then none of what I’ve just said matters ultimately. So the greatest created being who ever lived was a good example of how to walk before an ultimately impersonal God in obedience to a rule or two… m’k. Whatever.
But, if He is the Lord of Glory (I Corinthians 2:8), who mildly lays His glory by (II Corinthians 8:9; Philippians 2:5-7), born than man no more may die (John 1:14; 3:16), then we have God Himself redeeming what is fallen and decayed about relationships between a husband and a wife by taking a wife unto Himself: the Church.
Thank you, Brant Bosserman and Paul, for another excellent reason why the Deity of Christ is so important, and why the Trinity is our God.