Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross.

Perhaps it is no wonder that the women were first at the Cradle and last at the Cross. They had never known a man like this Man--there never has been such another. A prophet and teacher who never nagged at them, never flattered or coaxed or patronised; who never made arch jokes about them, never treated them either as "The women, God help us!" or "The ladies, God bless them!"; who rebuked without querulousness and praised without condescension; who took their questions and arguments seriously; who never mapped out their sphere for them, never urged them to be feminine or jeered at them for being female; who had no axe to grind and no uneasy male dignity to defend; who took them as he found them and was completely unselfconscious. There is no act, no sermon, no parable in the whole Gospel that borrows its pungency from female perversity; nobody could possibly guess from the words and deed of Jesus that there was anything "funny" about woman's nature.
Dorothy Sayers

Friday, May 13, 2011

Priest of the Household

But isn’t the husband the priest of the household? I’ve searched the New Testament through and cannot find even one reference to that. I find that those of us who follow Jesus are all “a holy and royal priesthood” (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9) and that “there is only one mediator—our high priest, Jesus. (1 Timothy 2:5) Not only is it not there but why would only married women need an extra intermediary?* We can all “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence.” (Hebrews 4:16) Where I have found husbands as priests of the household is in Mormonism** , Roman paganism*** and in Nigerian Juju spiritism.****

The earliest Christian reference I’ve found is in one of Charles Spurgeon’s sermons***** but he didn’t say where he got it. People have probably meant well; they seem to have said, hmmm “spiritual head” (it’s not spiritual head, but metaphorical or figurative head—“Buddhism considers husbands to be the spiritual head of the Burmese household because of his spiritual status.”******) that means leader (it means “life”) sooo, they think, an example of a spiritual head in the Bible is…let’s see, a Levitical priest, let’s look up what a Levitical priest does… They completely forget that Hebrews reminds us that the Levitical priesthood is obsolete, that not even Jesus qualifies for it because you have to be born into the right tribe, that Jesus is of the order of Melchizedek—not Aaron. (Hebrews 7:11-18) We’re all priests; Jesus is our high priest, we don’t need an extra layer in between.

If you’re not married or your husband’s not “into that stuff” you may be thinking, “What does this have to do with me?” Plenty! First of all, all Christians are one body “fitly joined together” and when one part of the body hurts—it all hurts. In addition, many unmarried women hope, plan, expect to be married one day and tend to make themselves expert at reminding married women that their husbands are to be the “priests of the household”, etc. But maybe more to the point is that many church leaders have the mistaken idea that marriage is the model for the church rather than Paul using metaphor to compare marriage to one aspect of relationship between Jesus and the church—that of his laying down his life. They say ah, male headship in marriage means, since we’re the “family of God”, that the church should have male headship. Oops, the church has only one head and that’s Jesus!

*See J. Lee Grady, 10 Lies the Church Tells Women, (Creation House) 76
** concept 7; ;
PBS special The Mormons, aired February 4, 2010
*** Everett Ferguson Backgrounds of Early Christianity (Eerdmans) 158 from H.H. Scullard Festivals of& Ceremonies of the Roman Republic
****Ruthanne Garlock, Fire in His Bones (biography Benson Idahosa) 13
*****Charles Spurgeon, Spurgeon’s Sermons on New Testament Women 149
******Pauline King, Countries of the World, (Gareth Stevens Publishing) 22

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