Wives, submit to your husbands. (Ephesians 5:22)
That is a misquote of Paul.
“What?!? That’s exactly what Paul says! Here it is from the King James Version—God’s own translation of the Bible:”
Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands.
“And in the New Revised Standard Version:”
Wives, be subject to your husbands.
“And in the New International Version:”
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands.
“And in the English Standard Version:”
Wives, submit to your own husbands.
“Paul absolutely says that wives must submit to their husbands!”
No, he does not.
Every single one of those “quotes” is a misquote of Paul. There is no period after “husbands.” What Paul did say was:
Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.
Paul is not telling wives to submit to their husbands.
Paul never tells wives to submit to their husbands.
In Ephesians 5:22 (as well as in Colossians 3:18 and similar passages elsewhere), Paul is telling wives in what way they should submit to their husbands.
There’s a huge difference.
“Students, drive a car.”
Students, drive a car.
That is a misquote of a driver’s education teacher.
You see, there is no period after “car.” Here is what the driver’s education teacher actually said:
Students, drive a car as if I were always sitting next to you.
If I said, “The driver’s ed teacher is telling students that they must drive cars,” you’d say, “Don’t be ridiculous!”
And that’s exactly how I respond to those Christians who insist that Paul said wives must submit to their husbands: “Don’t be ridiculous!”
The driver’s ed teacher simply assumes that his students will drive cars. Why else would they be taking a driver’s ed class? In our culture, people drive cars, and in many ways the culture is structured around driving cars.
What the instructor is telling them is in what manner they should drive a car: “When you drive a car, do it as if I were always sitting next to you”—meaning, “Always drive safely and follow the rules of the road.”
In the very same way, Paul simply assumes that wives will submit to their husbands. That’s just how it worked in the culture of his day. In most marriages in that day and age, young, uneducated teenage girls married adult, educated (or at least experienced) men. The culture simply expected them to obey their older, more educated, and more experienced husbands. And given that many of them were barely teenagers when they got married, that was probably a good idea. Most marriages in the ancient world were more like a parent/child relationship.
Paul didn’t have to tell wives to submit to their husbands. That was simply assumed in his culture, because the whole culture was structured around that type of marriage relationship.
No, here is what Paul was saying: When you submit to your husbands, here’s how to do it: Do it in the same way you submit to the Lord.
Even that requires some unpacking. What does it mean to submit to someone in the same way we submit to the Lord? We’ll get to that.
Meanwhile, the simple fact of the matter is:
Paul did not tell wives to submit to their husbands.
Nowhere in the entire Bible are wives commanded to submit to their husbands.
“. . . and he will rule over you.”
“Oh yeah? What about God’s curse on Eve???”
First of all, the Bible never says that God cursed Eve or Adam. See: “Curses or Consequences: Did God Really Curse Adam and Eve?”
Here is what God did say to Eve after she had disobeyed and eaten from the tree of knowledge of good and evil:
To the woman he said,
“I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing;
in pain you will bring forth children,
yet your desire will be for your husband,
and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16)
“See! God said that husbands are supposed to rule over their wives! That means wives must submit to their husbands!”
No. God said no such thing.
God did not say husbands must rule over wives. He said that husbands will rule over wives.
Once again, there’s a huge difference!
It does say that God will increase Eve’s pangs in childbearing, so that she will bring forth children in pain. But it doesn’t say God will cause her to desire her husband or cause her husband to rule over her. It just says that’s how things will be.
It wasn’t God who made this happen. God was simply telling Eve what would happen because of her disobedience. God was saying to her: Because of what you’ve done, you will no longer be equal to your husband as I originally created you. Instead, you will feel desire for him and he will dominate you. (For more on this, see: “What are the Roles of Men and Women toward Each Other and in Society?” and “Man, Woman, and the Two Creation Stories of Genesis.”)
And that’s exactly what happened. From that time until very recently, marriage has almost universally been an unequal relationship in which the man is dominant and the woman is submissive legally, socially, and interpersonally.
It is very clear from the Genesis account that this is not how God designed things to be. Rather, it’s what happened because we humans departed radically from the way God originally created us and our relationships.
Similarly, if you read very carefully the various passages in the Bible that talk about wives being subject to their husband’s will, you will see that it doesn’t say this is how it must be, nor does it command women to submit to their husbands. Instead, it simply says that’s how things are. (Unfortunately, many translations introduce words like “should” and “must” into the translation where there are no such words in the original Greek. So it’s best to consult a very literal, word-for-word translation to get closer to what the Greek actually says.)
In other words, when the Bible talks about wives submitting to their husbands, it is simply describing the situation that has existed ever since the Fall of Humankind. It is not speaking according to God’s ideal for marriage, but according the realities of marriage as it actually existed (and in many parts of the world still does exist) among fallen human beings who have departed from God’s ideal for man, woman, and marriage.
Paul geared his teachings on marriage toward that sort of unequal marriage because it was the only kind of marriage that existed in the culture of his times. To read Paul’s words as if he was saying that wives must submit to their husbands is to completely misunderstand both his message and the culture in which he delivered it. Paul was a practical teacher. He addressed the practical situations and relationships that his listeners were actually experiencing.
And his message was that everyone in every relationship—including people in highly unequal relationships—can express in that relationship the love and faith embodied by Jesus Christ.
“Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.”
Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Ephesians 5:21)
That is an actual quote from Paul.
It is traditionally translated as the final statement in a previous series in Ephesians 5:1–21. In more contemporary translations, however, it is often translated as the beginning of a new series in Ephesians 5:21–6:9. Either way, it still serves as the heading for what comes after it.
And what comes after it are six examples of how we are to submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
- Ephesians 5:22–24 says how wives should submit to their husbands out of reverence for Christ.
- Ephesians 5:25–33 says how husbands should submit to their wives out of reverence for Christ.
- Ephesians 6:1–3 says how children should submit to their parents out of reverence for Christ.
- Ephesians 6:4 says how fathers should submit to their children out of reverence for Christ.
- Ephesians 6:5–8 says how slaves should submit to their masters out of reverence for Christ.
- Ephesians 6:9 says how masters should submit to their slaves out of reverence for Christ.
These verses don’t all use the word “submit.” But if we read the entire sequence of Paul’s teaching here, which covers Ephesians chapters 4–6, rather than snatching a few verses out of context, it is abundantly clear that Paul is introducing a principle—that we are to “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ”—and then illustrating that principle with examples of how people in various relationships are to do this.
The first two examples just happen to be of how wives and husbands should submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. If we lose sight of Paul’s main point, we can (and many Christian preachers do) draw some very wrong conclusions from Paul’s words.
Does Paul endorse slavery?
Further, if we yank Paul’s statements out of the context of the culture in which he delivered them, we can (and many Christian preachers do) draw some very wrong conclusions from his words.
For example, in this same sequence Paul says:
Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. (Ephesians 6:5)
Does this mean that Paul endorses the institution of slavery? Does this mean that any truly Christian society today should continue to practice slavery?
Of course not. Slavery was simply a fact of life in Paul’s time and culture.
What Paul was saying to slaves, rather, was, “When you obey your masters, here’s how to do it.” Specifically, he says to do it “just as you would obey Christ.”
In the very same way, when Paul says, “Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22), Paul is not endorsing the institution of marriage as it existed in his day. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 7:8–9 he makes it clear that he thinks marriage itself is merely a concession to people who can’t control their passions. However, marriage as an unequal relationship between a man and a woman was simply a fact of life in Paul’s culture.
What Paul was saying to wives, rather, was, “When you submit to your husbands, here’s how to do it.”
- Paul is not saying anything at all in Ephesians 6:5–8 about whether or not the institution of slavery as it existed in his day (or ours) is a good thing.
- Paul is not saying anything at all in Ephesians 5:22–24 about whether or not the institution of (unequal) marriage as it existed in his day is a good thing.
Both of these were simply societal facts in the culture of Paul’s day. Paul neither endorses them nor rejects them. Instead, he gives practical and spiritual advice to ordinary people who live in that very hierarchical culture, in the types of very unequal relationships that exist in such a culture.
Bring Christ into your relationships
And what Paul said, in essence, was: Don’t pattern your relationships after the servile, power-based norms of the world. Instead, pattern them after the love, faith, and self-sacrifice that Jesus Christ showed through his life, his teachings, his death, and his resurrection.
“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord.”
Let’s read Paul’s first two examples with these things in mind.
Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 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. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22–24)
If we take this statement out of context, as many Christian preachers do, it seems as though Paul’s message is that wives should submit to their husbands.
But in fact, there is no “should” in the original Greek of that final sentence. Here is the whole passage in Young’s Literal Translation:
The wives! to your own husbands subject yourselves, as to the Lord, because the husband is head of the wife, as also the Christ [is] head of the assembly, and he is savior of the body, but even as the assembly is subject to Christ, so also [are] the wives to their own husbands in everything. (Ephesians 5:22–24)
The original Greek doesn’t say wives should be subject to their own husbands, but simply that they are subject to their own husbands. As explained above, that’s simply how things were in Paul’s day.
What’s revolutionary about this passage is that Paul redefines how that unequal relationship should work, using the relationship between Christ and the church as a model. No longer are husbands to rule imperiously over their wives, nor are wives to submit in a servile, demeaning way. Rather, they are to respond to their husbands as the church (the community of the faithful) responds to Christ: with love, faith, and joy that come from within the wife’s own spirit through her relationship with Jesus Christ.
This is very different from those Christian pastors who say that wives must submit to everything their husbands say, even if it is stupid and wrong, because submission is (as they believe) the primary virtue of a good wife. Here is what Jesus Christ himself said about his relationship to his followers:
You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. (John 15:14–15)
Jesus does not consider his followers, the people who form his church, to be servants, but friends. Why, then, do so many Christian pastors make women into servants to their husbands? That is not the pattern Jesus Christ gave us for the relationship between Christ and the church.
Paul is telling wives, who in that culture were required to submit to their husbands, to follow the pattern of how the church submits to Christ. And that is a very different kind of submission than the usual one where a ruler gives commands to subjects who must unquestioningly obey them. Jesus Christ himself tells us that he considers us friends, not servants.
Friends do what the leaders among them lead them to do, not out of servile obedience, but out of a love, affection, and respect for the person in the leadership position. And if their leaders are about to lead them into something stupid and foolish, real friends don’t just go along with it. They say something about it. They point out to their leaders just why this would not be a good idea.
Once again, none of this means Paul said that husbands must lead and wives must follow. Rather, it means that given that in his culture husbands do lead and wives do follow, wives who are followers of Christ are to follow their husbands in an entirely different spirit than what existed in the marriage relationships of the pagan or Gentile world.
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church.”
This becomes even clearer from Paul’s instructions to husbands on how they are to submit to their wives out of reverence for Christ:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church—for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband. (Ephesians 5:25–33)
Once again, there is no “must” in the original Greek of that final sentence. Here it is in Young’s Literal Translation:
But ye also, every one in particular—let each his own wife so love as himself, and the wife—that she may reverence the husband. (Ephesians 5:33)
Paul goes into much more detail here about how husbands are to submit to their wives out of reverence for Christ. Perhaps that’s because husbands in his day and age were much more likely to take their wives for granted and mistreat them than wives were to disrespect and mistreat their husbands. After all, if the man was the ruler in his house, why shouldn’t he treat his wife like a servant and an underling?
Paul says: No, that is not how you are to treat your wives. You are to love your wives.
To our ears today, this may sound so obvious that it couldn’t possibly be Paul’s point.
But as strange as it may seem, the idea that love is an essential part of marriage came along only in the past few hundred years, and became widespread only in the last half century or so. For most of human history, marriage was primarily a financial, social, and business relationship. If there was love in the marriage, it was a pleasant add-on, but certainly not critical to the success of a marriage. For more on this, see Stephanie Coontz’s excellent book Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage.
For Paul’s readers, the idea that husbands should love their wives, and not only that, love them in the way Christ loved the church, with a willingness even to give up their own lives for them—that was revolutionary!
What man would treat his wife, who was basically a servant to him, in that way?
And yet, that’s exactly how Paul was telling men to treat their wives.
In Paul’s instructions to husbands there is not a single word about “male headship” or a man ruling over his wife and giving her orders that she must obey. It is all about loving his wife as he loves himself and his own body, and giving himself up for her.
This is how husbands are to submit to their wives out of reverence for Christ.
The Bible does not teach that men must rule and women must obey
Christian pastors and teachers who insist that the Bible teaches that men must rule and women must obey have completely missed the point of Paul’s teachings in Ephesians 5 and elsewhere. In fact, they have completely missed the point of the teachings of the entire Bible about the relationship between man and woman.
Instead, the Bible as a whole, and Paul in particular, speaks to us fallen human beings, with our fallen, unequal marriage relationships, and seeks to elevate marriage above the old, fallen pattern of a man ruling over his woman the way a king rules over his subjects.
And do you know what? We humans have actually made some progress in the 2,000 years since Paul preached his message to a lot of newly converted pagans, seeking to change their ways of thinking about human relationships.
In particular, in the last few centuries, and especially in the last few decades, we have started to make some real progress toward the kind of loving, spiritual marriage that God originally had in mind for us.
If we follow the arc of Paul’s teachings away from the hierarchical and servile marriages that reflected the hierarchical and servile culture of his day, we eventually arrive at marriage as God originally intended it. And what God intended was not a master/servant relationship, but a relationship of friends and partners who lead each other forward on a shared path of love, understanding, and service to each other and to their fellow human beings.
For further reading:
How best, in this age of political correctness, identity politics and radical feminism do we achieve what God intended for marriage?
“In fact, they have completely missed the point of the teachings of the entire Bible about the relationship between man and woman.” I think it would be helpful for this to be expanded upon. Perhaps, you have already done so in earlier posts.
In today’s Christian churches stateside, many men are driven from attending services by the ongoing attacks on men from preachers that have totally bought into the current feminist paradigm.
it strikes me as odd that so many Christians resort to Paul (formerly Saul) as being the final arbiter in many matters. Sure, he wrote much of the New Testament. And, of course, he gave Christians the comfy teaching that they are saved by faith alone (which stands in sharp contrast and contradiction to what Christ taught in the Gospels). And, yes, many Christians use that as a pass from moral living and loving acts (as Nietzsche observed that Christians live the same as pagans do).
Thanks for your comment. I thought I’d hear from you on this one. 🙂
In general, I believe that we are in the middle of a major paradigm shift in the spiritual history of humankind. That paradigm shift includes a major turning point in male/female relations. In my view, both feminism and the men’s rights movement have some valid concerns and ideas, but neither has the whole answer, or really sees where we are going. For many years I’ve been contemplating these issues, and since this blog began I’ve been writing various related articles that one day will probably find their way into a book on the subject. Here are some of the key ones so far (also linked above):
Basically, I believe that there are three general models for male/female relations:
I believe that we started out with the first one, then over our spiritual history descended first to the second, then to the third, and that we are now climbing back up to the first one—which I believe is the highest form of marriage. However, this doesn’t mean men and women are the same. I believe in complementarity; I simply don’t believe this means one must rule or lead and the other must obey or follow. This is covered more fully in the above-linked articles.
I do object to the common view in today’s Western culture that men are bumbling idiots and women are smart but downtrodden victims. However, I see it as a natural pendulum swing from the former view that men were wise leaders while women were naive followers. The pendulum swings one way, then the other, before we find a better balance.
About Paul, my denomination doesn’t view his writings as part of the Word of God (see my answer to the question “What writings are held as ‘biblical canon’ by Swedenborgians?” on Christianity StackExchange). However, the vast bulk of Christianity does view Paul’s writings in that way. And unfortunately, traditional Christianity in general, and Protestantism in particular, has so badly mangled Paul’s teachings that it is unrecognizable as anything that Paul actually taught. So one of my major efforts on this blog is to rehabilitate Paul and recover what he actually said as compared to what Protestants, especially, claim he said. The above article is one in that informal series.
There are also a number of articles here refuting the common notion that Paul taught justification by faith alone and penal substitution. Both are false, and both are entirely foreign to Paul’s teachings. Here are a few of the key articles along these lines:
And there are more where these came from! The last link is the first in an eight-part series that starts with general Christian doctrinal fallacy and then hones in on specifically Protestant doctrinal fallacy, including faith alone and penal substitution.
Swedenborg continually assails Protestant faith alone doctrine, seeing it as not only unbiblical but also the complete destruction of true Christianity. Christianity is about loving God and the neighbor. Faith is a means to that; and if it doesn’t lead us to love and serve God and the neighbor, it is useless, nor is it even faith in the first place.
It’s the word ‘faith’ defined as ‘belief in existence’ of Christ that poses the problem. Satan believes Christ exists! And Satan has complete knowledge of the Bible. That doesn’t mean Satan has salvation. So, faith means more than idle acknoledgement of existence. It means living according to Christ’s teaching.
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comments. I agree that “faith,” as the Bible uses that word, does not mean mere belief. As James said, if it is not together with good works, it is dead faith. Living according to Christ’s teaching is doing good works.
About living in an age of political correctness, identity politics, and radical feminism, speaking more personally, though I do take these things into account as I write and engage in conversation with people so as not to unnecessarily offend people through saying stupid things, for the most part I just ignore all of these things and go about my business. I have things to accomplish in this world, and accomplishing those things is what gives me my identity as a man and as a human being. Sure, there will be resistance from society. But isn’t part of being a man overcoming resistance to accomplish goals? We live and serve in the world, but that doesn’t mean we have to adopt the world’s view of things.
Why do you think Paul thought marriage was merely a concession to people who can’t control their passions? I have a hard time understanding the thinking behind that.
Thanks for stopping by, and for your comment and question. 1 Corinthians 7:8-9 (linked in the article) reads:
In other words, Paul, who was not married, thinks it would be better for single people and widows/widowers not to marry at all. But if they don’t have the ability to restrain themselves from having sex, then it’s better to get married. At least then they can have sex within the bounds of a monogamous, socially recognized marriage relationship rather than engaging in promiscuous or adulterous sex.
Whether or not you or I agree with Paul on this, that’s what he thought, and wrote.
Yes, I understand the meaning of his words, just not his reasoning for preferring to be single. Not only does it seem an excellent way to end the species it seems an odd limiting of life and love’s scope.
You and me both on that one! 🙂
However, Paul was single, and many people throughout history have been single, and some of them actually prefer that to being married and think it is a better state than being married. I don’t agree, but each to his (or her) own.
Would you say you’re more charitable to Paul than Swedenborg was in his writings? I don’t think I quite understand the deal between Paul and Swedenborg. On the one hand, I understand Paul’s writings to be regarded by Swedenborg as inspired, though not correspondent, which indicates there is much truth and value in his words. On the other, Swedenborg holds him in particularly low regard, going so far as to describe him as ‘the worst Apostle,’ and even seems to at least heavily imply that Paul is in hell!
I have a hard time seeing how someone in a state of spiritual corruption could nevertheless espouse such lofty spiritual truths.
So what’s going on here?
BTW, obviously Swedenborg remained a bachelor all his life, so everyone would seem to have their reasons, as it were.
Perhaps I’m more charitable to Paul than Swedenborg. But as for Swedenborg, you have to distinguish between what he wrote in his published works for the world to read and what he wrote in his private diaries of spiritual experiences.
Swedenborg wrote nothing negative about Paul at all in his published writings. In fact, there are only ten or a dozen references to Paul by name in Swedenborg’s published works, and most of them are to say that the (Protestant) church has completely misunderstood what Paul wrote.
It is in Swedenborg’s private diaries, which were never intended for publication, that he makes many negative statements about Paul, including that he was the worst of the Apostles.
In other words, Swedenborg privately thought very little of Paul as a person, but did not publicly say anything negative about him that I’m aware of. So Swedenborg was charitable to Paul in the sense that he did not publicly attack Paul or smear his reputation even though he privately thought very poorly of Paul as a person.
I’m probably about the same way. When I read Paul’s letters, I get the sense that he was quite full of himself, and really thought he was hot stuff.
I also place some (but certainly not all) of the blame on Paul for the rampant misunderstanding of his letters in traditional Christianity, because in many of his doctrinal passages he adopted a fancy style, so that even Peter way back during Paul’s time said that “there are some things in them hard to understand” (2 Peter 3:16). I think that if Paul had not been attempting to impress people with his superior knowledge, and had not been trying to vaunt himself above all of the apostles who had actually known Jesus personally, he could have written many of the things in his letters in a way that was much easier to understand, so that his letters would not have become the basis for so many fallacies and heresies in Catholic and especially Protestant thought.
However, his real meaning is plain enough to see for anyone who does not willfully “twist to their own destruction” (also from 2 Peter 3:16) what he wrote. So I also hold Protestant theologians and preachers culpable for their terrible and destructive twisting of what Paul wrote into something that bears no resemblance to what he actually said.
Personally, I’m not sure I would go so far as to say that Paul was spiritually corrupt. I simply think that he never really overcame his ego, and that caused some problems both for him in the afterlife (if Swedenborg is right in what he reported in his private diaries) and for subsequent Christianity in providing the Christian church with doctrinal letters that were more subject to misinterpretation than they should have been.
But another general principle found in Swedenborg, and in society generally, is that even people who are acting for selfish reasons can, when they are in leadership positions, do what is good and teach what is true. It is possible even for an evil person to know intellectually what is good and true. It’s just that when, as a preacher or teacher or politician, they teach and lead people to what is good and true, internally they are doing it for the sake of their own reputation, honor, and profit rather than from any real dedication to what is good and true. They are aware that the common people value the appearance of being honorable and learned, so they put that on like a garment, and it covers up the spiritual leprosy afflicting their (spiritual) body.
So even if Paul never really did get over his ego, as I suspect, that doesn’t mean he couldn’t teach the truth and lead people to live good lives. It’s just that it might not have done him much good spiritually.
And I will say that Swedenborg never does conclusively say, even in his private diaries, that Paul is in hell. He just describes Paul as hanging out in some rather dark places. It’s hard to tell from what Swedenborg wrote just what Paul’s final fate was. Perhaps underneath it all he was a decent person, but took a very long time to shake off the remaining cords of ego that were preventing him from rising out of those low and dark spiritual places. There are certainly indications in Paul’s own writings that he never really overcame his ego, and considered himself to be on the precipice of hell if Christ hadn’t had mercy on him.
For my part, though I’m not a big fan of Paul as a person or as a writer, I do recognize that he advocated and helped to bring about a key paradigm shift among the early Christians that was necessary to avoid Christianity becoming a mere sect of Judaism, but that enabled it to become a brand new religion in its own right. If the Jewish Christian leaders in Jerusalem had had their way, followers of Christ would have been required to be circumcised and to keep the Jewish ritual and ceremonial law. That would have killed Christianity as a religion before it ever got started. So I do believe that Paul, along with Peter and some of the other apostles who evangelized to the pagan world, did Christianity a great service in decisively cutting the umbilical cord from Judaism so that Christianity could in time become the largest religion in the world, massively eclipsing the Jewish religion from which it was born.
Paul was speaking to those in the Christian community, based on Christ’s word that He would return in less than one generation. He meant that it was better not to be tied to a spouse and children, because, given the short time, it was better spent preparing for Christ to return. Paul did not reject marriage based on flaws in itself, or it’s value to people. And he did note that it is better to marry than to fornicate, indicating that fornication is objectionable.
Yes, it is clear that Paul was giving advice concerning marriage “in view of the impending [or present] crisis” (1 Corinthians 7:26). He believed that he was living in the “end times,” and that Christ would soon return.
However, about his entire teaching about people marrying and having sex, he says in 1 Corinthians 7:6–7: “This I say by way of concession, not of command. I wish that all were as I myself am.” It is fairly clear that Paul thought celibacy was superior to marriage. I do not agree with Paul on this point, as excellent as some of his advice is.
But isn’t that kind of encouraging them to do it? Isn’t that encouraging wives to submit to their husbands? Why didn’t Paul or Jesus or God or anyone in the Bible ever say “No, men and women are equals and you shouldn’t treat them like they’re lesser.” Maybe it wouldn’t have changed anything, but it might’ve shown that that sort of thought process wasn’t okay!
Also, I’m a bit confused on the part where God tells Eve she will become unequal to her husband. Why doesn’t God do anything about this to prevent it? Why does he sit back and watch? That doesn’t sound right to me. If he’s this almighty being, why does he let people suffer?
Hi NylaTheWolf AJ,
These are all good questions. And the general answer is that God created us to be human beings, not robots or computers. God gave us a choice in who we wish to be and how we wish to live. And God is not a helicopter parent, but respects the choices we make for our own lives, even if they may not be the best ones, and may cause us to do things and learn things the hard way.
Let me ask you this: When you are deciding what to eat each day, would you want someone standing over you saying, “Sorry, you can’t have any fried chicken or ice cream. You have to eat broccoli and tofu”? The broccoli and tofu probably would be better for you. But what kind of human life do we have if we have no choice, and we just have to do what God tells us to do? If we’re going to eat healthily, it’s best for it to be our own choice rather than having it imposed upon us, and resenting it the whole time.
To take your questions in reverse order, yes, God could have stopped Adam and Eve from eating from the forbidden fruit. But in doing so, God would have taken away their humanity and reduced them to the level of animals who live, not by choice, but by instinct. God gave Adam and Eve a choice, and though they made a bad choice, God respected that choice, and let them feel the consequences of their own actions. On that, see: “Curses or Consequences: Did God Really Curse Adam and Eve?”
Unfortunately, one of the consequences of our rejecting God’s way and doing it our way instead is that gender inequality entered into human society, men became rulers over women, and women became servants and even slaves to men. That wasn’t God’s idea. It was our idea.
By the time Paul came along, this was so long-established a fact of life in human society that everyone simply took it for granted that men ruled over women. That’s just how it was. If Paul, or even Jesus, had come along and said, “This is wrong, women should be equal to men,” everyone would have regarded them as insane, and would have ignored everything they said. The people of that society simply weren’t ready for gender equality.
Even Paul himself could not have conceived of a society in which women were fully equal to men. The best he could do was consider women to have equal access to Jesus and salvation. And he could soften the harsh rule of men over women by telling men and women to relate to each other in less despotic and servile ways, and to have love and respect for one another. And that’s what he did.
As I say in the article, the idea that Paul is telling women to submit to their husbands is just plain silly. Everyone knew women were supposed to submit to their husbands. That was obvious (even if today we see it as wrong). Paul was telling them to do so in a different spirit. In so doing, he helped set humanity on a course that would eventually erase gender inequality. But it’s taken us another 2,000 years to even start thinking about that seriously, let alone achieving it.
Alright, that makes a lot more sense. Thank you!
Yes I would like someone to tell me what to eat, if I meant not burning in hell For rest of ur dead life
Also if god believes in free will . How does heaven work then. We still going have free will An ppl still going sin
Also I just don’t get god is 100 percent good an made every thing good so how was evil made . God good so no such thing as evil exist then just magically existed cause the Lucifer was jealous of humans Lucifer was jealous of humans it got me everything good where did the idea of jealousy even come from just make no sense to me 😦
That whole Lucifer story is not in the Bible, nor is it based on the Bible. It is based on ancient fables, and even they were not meant to be taken literally.
In the Bible, the story of the origin of evil is the familiar one of Eve, and then Adam, eating from the tree of knowledge of good and evil in Genesis 3, which God had forbidden them to do. This, too, is a metaphorical story, not a literal story. It is about how the early spiritually aware humans decided to do things their own way rather than God’s way. God had given them that capability, symbolized by God planting the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden along with the tree of life. And it was good, not evil, for humans to have freedom of choice.
Evil entered when Adam and Eve used that freedom to choose to turn away from God.
So short version: God created everything good; humans brought about evil by misusing what God had given us.
Also, the Bible doesn’t say Adam and Eve burned in hell for the rest of their lives because they ate from the forbidden tree. Rather, it says that they were driven out of the garden, and their lives became much more difficult. Making a bad choice doesn’t automatically send us to hell. But it does make our life more difficult. It causes us to learn things the hard way rather than the easy way.
About free will in heaven: After we die we no longer have the type of freedom of choice that we have here whereby we can radically change the direction of our lives. However, we do have the freedom to live the kind of life we have chosen without fear of losing it. And after sweating bullets for decades here on earth, that is a wonderful kind of freedom indeed!
People in heaven don’t sin in the sense of intentionally doing things that are contrary to God’s will. However, even in heaven people aren’t perfect, so they can and do make human mistakes, which they then learn from. Going to the spiritual world doesn’t change who we are. We’re still the same person we were here on earth, only we live in a clearer environment so that we have a better understanding of things, and we are no longer conflicted between good and evil as we commonly are here.
For an article that takes up some of these issues in a little more detail, please see:
If God is Love, Why all the Pain and Suffering?
Here’s a video of if marriage is still good today
Thought a different view on it might spice things up.
Thanks for posting the video. As you know, I’ve posted an article on MGTOW elsewhere: “The Red Pill Movement (MGTOW): Men Waking Up as Loners.” But since you posted the video here, I’ll respond to it here.
First, It’s not any of my business whether or not someone else gets married. If this guy doesn’t want to get married, that’s his choice. It doesn’t matter what I think about it. If he were say to me, “Sell marriage to me,” I’d say, “Why would I want to do that? It’s your life.” In my view, people who don’t want to get married shouldn’t get married. I don’t ask anyone why they’re not married unless they bring it up first. Of course, if he asked me why I got married, I could certainly tell him. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he should get married.
Second, this guy is all about “What’s in it for me?” Anyone who has that view of life definitely should not get married. Anyone who is focused entirely or largely on his or her own happiness and benefit is destined to crash and burn in marriage. Marriage requires you to think about someone else’s happiness and benefit as much as you think about your own. Anyone who doesn’t want to do that shouldn’t get married.
Third, I agree with him about the state of many marriages today, and about the wrongness of men giving up their masculinity in order to get married. In general, marriage is not in a particularly good state these days—though it’s a lot better than it used to be. However, I don’t think that just because many marriages today are “zombie-like” (to use his charged language), that means real, healthy marriage is impossible. It just means that if you’re going to be in a real, healthy marriage, you have to be able to stand on your own two feet, and your partner in marriage has to be able to stand on her or his own two feet as well. If you’re a man, that means you have to keep being a man. And that actually is possible, despite all the MGTOW shouting about “AWALT” and “gynocentrism” (see my articles on MGTOW and the Red Pill movement). However, just getting married and having kids because “that’s what you do” is, I agree, a major waste of human potential and happiness. People should live their lives with purpose and direction, in my view.
Marriage in general isn’t easy. No one should go into it unless they have strong reasons to do so. So I would say to this guy, “Don’t get married!” Not because marriage is a bad thing, but because with his particular views of life, marriage would be a disaster for him. So it’s better for him to remain single. Which is, obviously, the choice he’s made. And once again, it’s 100% his choice.
Speaking for myself, I have accomplished far more of my own goals during the times of my adult life that I was married than during the times that I was not married. My current wife shares those goals, and contributes to them in substantial ways. For me, it’s not all about “What’s in in it for me?” Yes, I want female companionship and all that jazz. But if being married didn’t also contribute to my accomplishing my greater goals in life, which involve accomplishing things for people other than myself and my wife, I would say (and have said), “No, Ma’am!”
For just one specific example, even though she has a more than full-time job of her own, Annette reads and edits most of the posts that go up on this blog—especially the more controversial ones. Her edits and suggestions make real improvements to the posts. She is a good writer, well-read, and has a good understanding of the human issues that I deal with in many of the posts here. More than once she has headed me off from posting something that really wouldn’t have been a good idea to post as I originally wrote it. I either canned that idea altogether or rewrote it in a far better and more effective way than what I had done in my first draft. In other words, she’s a great consultant and editor who shares my goals for the blog. Far from taking away from my goals and effectiveness as a human being and as a man, she adds greatly to those goals and to my effectiveness in accomplishing them.
Excellent insights, Lee.
If a person brings such negative views (biases, prejudices) to marriage, he/she is asking for failure in marriage (a self-fulfilling prophecy). Yet, such a person, not marrying, still has a sex drive and will often seek to satisfy that outside of marriage. Selfish people, if they are not willing to overcome their self-centeredness, would be best advised to not marry. The problem is not with marriage, but with selfish individuals. Some people do not want to make the effort to evolve spiritually and psychologically past their egocentrism.
Thanks for your kudos, and for your thoughts. I agree that especially in this day and age, it is best for self-centered people not to marry. That’s so even if they may engage in extramarital sex as a result—assuming it is consensual and not adulterous, of course. Getting married so that you can have socially and religiously sanctioned sex is not a particularly good idea these days, even if it may have been in previous ages when marriage was primarily a social and cultural relationship, and social strictures were far stricter than they are today.
I would only add that there are many reasons people don’t marry, or can’t marry, and many of those reasons have nothing to do with being selfish. There are many, many single people who are fine individuals that unselfishly devote their lives to making this world a better place. God has a path of spiritual life available for everyone, both married and unmarried.
MGTOW is a collective expression of anger due to perceived injustice done by women, sometimes assissted by governmenf, both of which are to blame for systematic, institutionalized injustice that destroys males at the whim of females, to sate femiist lust for vengeance on righteous men, rob them of masculinity, thwart all attempts by males to restore equity, and leave men without sufficient resources to to retaliate.
To obtain justice in their own collective mind, MGTOWs sum the values of the individual things they omit to do: anyrhing beyond the bare minimum required to support one’s self (as protest and vengeance against the harm done to them), and use the total loss to represent the collective harm returned to society in response to systemic injustice.
The dismal view of involvement with women reinforces the beliefs employed to prevent personal accountability, thereby creating a prison in which self-righteousness and self-pity drive the thirst of bitterness which can never be quenched.
The charitable response to MGTOW is, “I sorry you were hurt. But do you really think this will help.”
Yes, that pretty well sums up how MGTOW see the world. That’s unfortunate, but people have to work out their own issues in their own ways. Some MGTOW seem quite happy with their lives as bachelors. Others seem to be continually bitter, and continually grinding that ax. The hope is that in time they’ll deal with their pain from whatever relationship disasters they had, and grow beyond it. Then they can leave behind the bitterness, and live a good and productive life.
Ah yes, the King James Only movement. I was arguing with a Protestant a few weeks ago about some doctrinal issue, and he refused to listen to me on the basis that the verses I had shown him weren’t from the KJV, saying that “some of the things in it aren’t the same”.
Of course, some of the things in the King James Version aren’t the same as the original Hebrew and Greek. But who cares about that? The KJV is inspired, man!
Don’t get me wrong. The KJV is a pretty good translation. But it is not perfect by any means. And it’s definitely bent toward Protestant doctrine.
Overall, I don’t think one should bring to the Bible notions of preconceived fairness, social justice, and/or equality; because searchimg for truth, if you already know what it should be, is a search to justify one’s self under the guise of seeking truth.
I’m not sure what you’re responding to here, but I’ll let you have your say.