Sunday, August 08, 2010

Thus Saith Lime

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.  Ephesians 5:25

I'm a little frustrated with the available teachers for the adult study groups at our church.  More specifically, I'm enduring the current teacher for my particular class.  He's generally a nice man, don't get me wrong, but that doesn't mean he is a capable teacher.  There's a lot of stream of conscious style rambling as opposed to organized thought on a particular topic or passage.  I suppose some people are encouraged, challenged, ministered to by that.  I don't happen to be one of them though.  This week's lesson included an offhanded reference to the above passage followed by remarks to the effect that men need to be willing to die for their wives. The teacher was taking a very literal and narrow view of the verse. Ok, I am glad there was a challenge to the guys this week because this teacher has hit the women over the head with misinterpretations of that whole submissive wife bit (and for the purposes of keeping this post a readable length I'm going to just drop that topic right now).

Back to the reference at hand.  While there are circumstances which could lead a man to the ultimate sacrifice (i.e. living in a war zone, genocide, other threats of extreme violence, even stepping off a curb into the path of an oncoming Mack truck. And yes, actually, I have had the awful kind of experience too but thank God it's not an every day occurrence.) that's not the space in which most of us dwell on a daily basis.  While the teacher and the class were going all noble and theorizing on how a man should be willing to lay down his life in a rather literal sense I was thinking of the myriad and far more pedestrian ways in which a guy can love his wife in a self-sacrificing manner.  Finally, I could no longer hold my tongue and I blurted out, "Let's get real here.  I'd be happy for some cheerful help cleaning up the kitchen after a meal."  Now, don't go reading into that a slam on husbands in general or Mr. Lime in particular.  I'm just of the opinion that the interpretation of such exhortations is more valuable when applied to the situations we encounter constantly because that's where we demonstrate what kind of people we really are and what kind of character we are cultivating.

17 comments:

Beach Bum said...

Well you've read enough of my stuff to know I don't fair well with literal Bible interpretations or people who hold them. And you are right, a far more 20th-or dare I write a 21st-century example would have been more accurate and helpful.

Cooper said...

I've always found it disturbing that there is little or no needed qualifications to be a "sunday school teacher" (and I use that to encompass all used terms). Why do I need someone else's personal scripture-spin? Isn't that the job of the ordained minister/preist/rabbi/guru/shaman?
I'm not knocking bible study but my preference would be to have such a session with peers and not a spiritual leader of any type. Just seems ripe for narrow, directional dogma...

WizzyTheStick said...

Amen sister!

Craig said...

Yeah, I hear you, and fair enough. . .

"Lay down your life" can have all manner of meaning this side of the Ultimate Sacrifice. Sweeping the kitchen floor, or changing a diaper can be ever-so-much more meaningful than a hypothetical Mack truck. . .

Jen has been known to refer to 'Sweeping the Kitchen Floor' as 'Foreplay'. . . Just sayin'. . .

G-Man said...

Amen Sister Trini!!

Cocotte said...

Don't get me started on lay teachers. We left our last church in part because of the awful person chosen to teach confirmation.

Jazz said...

And how was that particular remark received?

Suldog said...

99.9% of the time, it's easier to offer up your life than to offer up your sweat.

I've always had a problem with people (lay and ordained) who pick and choose among biblical verses to get one that supports their particular viewpoint while ignoring, or discounting entirely, those that would cause them to act outside of their comfort zones. In particular, that section of Paul's writings always seemed to be one that folks would use to their own ends.

As a lector in the Catholic church for a few years, it was my duty to read the chosen portions of scripture during mass. When that one was scheduled one Sunday, the priest celebrating mass that day told me to read only a certain segment of it, excluding the "wives be subservient" portion, because he didn't "want to open up that can of worms this morning." Well, damn it, Father, excuse me for saying so, but isn't it your job to open up those cans of worms? And explain WHY it's a can of worms, rather than just giving the faithful half a reading and then ignoring even that? I came very close to giving the full reading, anyway, but decided to give him the benefit of the doubt and see what his homily (sermon) was about. It was the polite thing to do, but I'm still not sure if it was the right thing to do.

Kat said...

While I do understand just how difficult it is to get people to volunteer for Sunday School Teaching and the like it certainly would be nice if they were actually good at it. ;)


I think perhaps the most REAL interruptation of that verse is one of my hubby's favorite sayings, "Happy wife, happy life!" The end. :)

S said...

You shoulda slept in yesterday!


Craver Vii said...

I think you're right on target. Craig's comments ring true as well.

The phrase "and gave himself up for her" does not mean that we should ignore everything that came before it. Husbands are to love their wives just as Christ loved the church. There's a whole heap loaded into those first few words, and after 22 years of marriage, I'm still trying to figure out the application.

The problem is not in taking the passage literally, which is (I think) what Beach Bum was saying. Rather, it is that I might selfishly be more interested in the instructions for my wife than taking my own medicine seriously. May I never be that kind of husband, but I pray that I might learn to love my wife as Christ loved the church.

I dare not say that I am willing to die for my wife if I am not first willing to live for her.

Cricket said...

Poor old Paul really takes a beating, huh? I suppose it isn't always clear how he felt about women in general - though I suspect he was less misogynistic than he has been made out to be. He certainly has been used to justify attitudes that aren't so good, though.

One important consideration in this particular passage is the function of marriage in Paul's world. It's easy to forget that marriages were usually arranged. Husbands, love your wives. Wives, submit to your husbands is much more radical than it sounds to us. Paul is preaching love and acceptance where none would be expected; there was no assumption that a husband and wife wanted each other to begin with.

There's a similar "hidden subtext" in having the death penalty prescribed for adultery. Sounds harsh, but what's missing is this: the people who did the deed will be killed and no one else. You don't get to go all Hatfield and McCoy on each other because of some slight to your "family honor" or some such...

Funny how you don't hear too many calls from the right-wing to bring that one back. Might thin out the ranks too much, heh, heh.

Craver Vii said...

What "hidden subtext" is Cricket referring to?

Cricket said...

The hidden subtexts are the assumptions the original audiences would have had. Marriage, for Paul and his audience, was a different institution, usually arranged, and primarily a business transaction to increase both the family and the family fortune. Love, though possible, was not a necessary condition.

In the case of adultery and the Mosaic Law, the Law, though it sounds harsh, is really a reform. The adulterers shall be dealt with according to the Law. If my wife has an affair with your brother, say, I don't get to kill them, they will be dealt with officially under the Law.

And further, I don't get to start a blood feud (so popular in that part of the world) and kill you on the theory that your family has dishonored mine. The adulterers will be dealt with under the Law and that will be the end of it. Thus shall you purge the evil from out of Israel.

That's the sort of thing I mean.

secret agent woman said...

I like men who don't consider it "helping" but rather doing their fair share.

~Tim said...

Go Lime! I want to know too, how was your comment received?

Logophile said...

Oh, you know what I have to say

GGGGGGRrrrr