Sunday, March 26, 2017

Christian Leadership and Dating

Two weeks into one of my previous relationships, we decided to play Portal 2 together. I had played Portal 2 in co-op mode before. Player 2 had not. I let him pick the level, thinking it would be a good exercise of ‘Christian Submission in a Relationship’.

We spent the next two and a half hours with me growing steadily more frustrated at the gameplay and Player 2, until I told him the truth. He’d picked the hardest level. Suddenly, us being stuck was my fault for not saying anything earlier. It was a great time.

Folks, today I want to talk to you about Leadership, Submission, and Dating.

First off, I’ll clear the air. I...don’t feel entirely qualified to be speaking on the topic. BUT. This is not a matter of teaching scriptural truths on closed-hand topics. So I consider it okay for me, as a woman, to be talking about it.

*takes deep breath*

Here’s what men and women are listed as equals in, in scripture.

Hosting a church
Priscilla and Aquila are a husband and wife team who ran a first-century church in Corinth. They taught the scriptures, hosted the group, and offered correction as needed.
Acts 18, 2 Timothy 4:19

Earning an income
Paul worked as a tentmaker before he was commissioned by Jesus, and he used the skill to support himself as he travelled around and taught the gospel. In fact, it was his point of contact with the aforementioned Priscilla and Aquila.
Lydia becomes a patron of the early church after meeting Paul and his cohorts in Thessalonica. She’s a merchant of purple cloth. (Which meant she was quite well-off. Purple dye was rare and expensive.)
Acts 16:11-15, Acts 18

Owning property
When his wife Sarah dies, Abraham purchases land so he can bury her. He insists on purchasing the land, despite the owner wanting to straight up give it to him. It's the first piece of land he owns.
After the taking of Canaan, land was allotted to different family groups and tribes. Because one family had daughters instead of sons, the leaders were commanded to not only give land to them, same as their peers, but for that land to remain in their family line, rather than be claimed by a husband from a different tribe.
Genesis 23, Numbers 36

Leading God’s people
The judges were a group of people who looked after the Israelites between them being led by Moses and Joshua after they left Egypt, and having their first king - Saul. The judges were raised up by God, and delivered messages from him to the Israelites. They also got involved in making decisions for the people, and when the time called for it, overseeing their battles.
Deborah and Gideon both took up these duties at different times.
Judges 4-8

Running a country
Shortly after Solomon builds the temple in Jerusalem, he’s visited by the Queen of Sheba. They meet, debate, gift, and trade as equal monarchs.
1 Kings 10

In Genesis, men and women are created as equal. Different, but equal. And throughout the rest of the bible, we see that they are equal in stacks of skill sets, too.

So where does the submission thing come in?

Before we hit the S-word that can have so many hackles raised, let’s have a look at two things that sit on the other side of it.




Responsibility comes first. You can have equals work on a project and one of them will be responsible for the success or failure of the project. After the fall, Adam is held responsible for the sin of mankind, not because he was the first to commit the error, but because he is responsible for Eve.

If you want a more modern example, my manager is responsible for me and my co-workers. It means that she is obligated to look out for the workers under her, and if something goes wrong, it lands on her first.

Because you have this relationship of person A is responsible for person B, it means that there is going to be some degree of authority either awarded or given to person A in order to make the work achieved by both harmonious.

So when Paul talks about the authority that comes with teaching in 1 Timothy 2, he’s also talking about who’s marked as responsible for those being taught. When he calls for women to submit, and to not hold teaching authority over men,  it’s because the men have been marked as responsible for them, and therefore have to be given authority over them in order to effectively be responsible.

Despite the fact that I’ve been working in my specialised field for longer than my manager, she has authority over me, because she is responsible for me. She tells me what to do, because it’s on her if things go south.

Responsibility and Authority are the opposite side of the coin to Submission, and to claim authority over someone without the responsibility precluding it is a foolish thing to do.

If you want an example of claiming authority without taking responsibility, look no further than the gospels. In Matthew 23:4 and Luke 11:46, Jesus tears into the Pharisees;

“Woe to you Pharisees! For you crush people with your demands, yet you never lift a finger to ease the burden.”

The Pharisees were responsible for teaching God’s law to the people, and they were so devout in doing so that they’d set additional laws to keep to prevent the breaking of the first laws. But at the same time, they didn’t take responsibility for caring for the Jews, or actually teaching them about who God was.

Godly submission should never be demanded, as though men and women were of different value or standing. Godly submission is given.

What things do submission and authority factor into in a God-seeking marriage?

These can be big decisions and small decisions, stuff like
Work - the type of job you take and the amount of hours and effort it will require
Ministry - the type of ministry you or your spouse gets involved in and how much time it is allowed to have
Having kids - how many, when you have them, how you raise them, what you teach them,
The company you keep - the jokes you focus on when you're with them, the nature and content of their jokes, the natural boundaries you have in those relationships
The type of lifestyle you choose/are granted - how much time you spend doing things, how you spend the money you *are* given.

These are all things that both parties weigh in on, and the only reason a husband should take point in the decision making process, is because he is responsible for the wife. He’s called to emulate Jesus, who loved the church and gave himself up for her.

For a husband to ignore the words of his wife and continually overrule them is to sail into a hurricane of trouble, and vice versa. This sort of thing is not a joint decision. It robs both parties of the ability to serve each other, and takes away from the personhood of the overruled party.

If I find you doing this, I am going to bring justice to your door. It’s not okay.

Okay, we cool?

Let’s take a step back, all the way to my light-hearted anecdote about Portal at the beginning.

If you are not married to your significant other,

There is no oath, no binding of souls. There is no obligation to headship/submission as a husband or wife would.

Sure, there is some of it. But it’s no different than to your other Christian brothers and sisters. We’re called to submit, out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21)

It’s wise, in that weird in-between space called dating, or courting, or whatever you want to call it, to work out if you could be responsible for; if you could submit to, that significant other, for the rest of your life. But there is no authority to have a say over the other’s work, or their friends, or their area of study.

The decisions that you make as a dating couple are not the same as the decisions that a married couple makes. A couple that enters into marriage enters into a partnership. Equal parties. Working together. One takes point because God decided one of them was going to be responsible for the other.

If that’s not you, then there’s no obligation. Not to demand or give submission, and not to claim or extend authority. We will always be responsible for each other to a certain degree, as brothers and sisters in Christ, but in matters that aren’t directly teaching scripture to a mixed group?

It is okay to disagree on.

In worldly matters where one of your has more experience in the area than the other?

It’s okay to use that expertise.

Besides, the respawn wait in the real world is far too long to allow the making of mistakes.

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