Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A sermon on marriage

Notes from Richard James' sermon on marriage. Aug. 24, 2008, St. John's Shaughnessy Church, Vancouver.

Marriage is like the trinity, The Father is in charge. Jesus ALWAYS submits to the father, he obeys, he says what his father has told him to say, Jesus sees the father in the trinity as the head, and he obeys him. It is never the other way around. Isn't it interesting?

But in no way can we say that Jesus being subject to his father is demeaning. ... In the godhead himself there is submission. To submit to any authority, you are being Godlike.

In Gen. 1 God said, Let us make mankind in our image. To be made in the likeness of God is to be made in relationship where, just as the son submits to the father, we have a couple, a head and a helper.

Wives, submit to the husband as the head - he is in charge. God solved the argument before it started, he said, I have to choose someone, okay, husbands, you are in charge. I hold you responsible.

Now what does it look like? If you are married to a good husband, who ... you will find a very happy wife, ... if however, you are a wife who is married to a lousy husband, just line up over here and we can discuss this in a therapy group afterward. [laughingly] Its not easy.

I want to point out something that is very important. In our culture we decide that if something doesn't work we change it. But God designed humanity. God designed the world and gave it order. We submit to all authorities because God has put them there. Never in the Bible do you see God saying plan B is if it is not working, swap. You never hear, wives command your husbands, and husbands submit.

We do live in a culture where wives command husbands. ... we reject all authority structures because we think we know better.

God does not say, I put you in charge now rule. He always tells authorities, I have put you in charge but what I want you to do is love. You are in charge husbands, I have decided this, too bad if you don't want to be in charge, you are in charge, says God, like I am in charge of you, so I want you to love your wives, in the same way I love the church, so far that you are willing to die for her. Use my love for you as the minimum requirement for how you love your wife.

If there is any husband who raises his voice or strikes his wife the smell of hell is close to your marriage. How dare you ... Love your wives sacrificially. It is so shameful when you go to other cultures where the gospel is not preached, women are sold. they are treated like objects.
But it is an irony. In a culture where Jesus has been proclaimed and women have been raised to equality, and have been treated in every way equal but different to men, that same culture, people jettison God and the women say they want to jettison the men, they say, we want to be in charge.

- Husbands ask your wives how you can be a better husband, and take notes.
- The biggest mistake Adam made and we men make is we are not willing to lead.
- It is difficult in any culture if you have a lousy husband. This culture has made it easy, you just divorce him. that is not necessarily, the solution love them as if they were the lord.
- A good divorce? Divorce is a natural consequence of living in a culture that denies the living God.

I know Richard and his wife, and quite simply Richard is not exceptional in his teaching that wives are to obey in everything and men are in charge. Richard is teaching what is the standard belief system in complementarian churches.

8 comments:

Lin said...

I have heard that same sermon many times.

goulablogger said...

Since when did gender equality or divorce become the unforgivable sin? I must have the wrong edition of the the Bible.

How do such pastors think their flock can learn to practice love when they show so little from the pulpit?

I haven't got the right answer to these problems but I can tell when the other fellow has a wrong answer.

Chuck Grantham

Anonymous said...

"It is so shameful when you go to other cultures where the gospel is not preached, women are sold. they are treated like objects. "

Hunh?!? As if sex trafficking and the objectification of women did not happen in North America. The gospel is preached here, and these things happen here too.

Katherine

Jane said...

Oh my Suzanne, I found that so depressing ... but thansk for posting nevertheless...
I preached at a wedding last week - it was such a joyous, loving and sensuous event, the couple were both Christians (this is very rare in my ministry) and churchgoers.
Do couples need a complementarian lecture on their wedding day (or an egalitarian one for that matter. TElling people what they should not do - even in a relatively jocular and joking tone - and that God has set higher standards than they may know how to keep doesn't show a great deal of pastoral sensitivity.
Weddings are about a celebration of love and commitment - allowing us a small glimpse of God's love, commitment and covenant with us.
If we reduce the gospel to simplistic ethical code what is it we are bearing witness to? Not Christ I fear.

Janice said...

Suzanne,

Marriage is like the trinity, The Father is in charge. Jesus ALWAYS submits to the father, he obeys, he says what his father has told him to say, Jesus sees the father in the trinity as the head, and he obeys him.

As far as I can tell this fellow is teaching something that is contrary to what the church, after Nicea, has always accepted as the true relationship between the Father and the Son, i.e., that they have one will. It is only when wills are opposed that there is any need for submission. If two persons have different wills then the Father and the Son cannot be said to be one.

If I were going to an episcopalian church in Vancouver I'd be ready to write a letter to the bishop charging that preacher with heresy. But that's me. I've been called direct, brash, harsh and/or blunt more than once.

Do you think there would be any point in taking these people on through the clerical courts? And if not, why not?

I don't want to put you on the spot but I'm really cranky about this and, at the same time, worried that my crankiness is just worldly indignation.

Rachel said...

I too worry about possible 'worldly indignation' but it's just that I have heard this now so many times. It is depressing as Jane describes. I empathise hugely with the feelings of the postee before me. There is this incredibly frustrating feeling and also one of - maybe I can do something - we must I think leave it in God's hands and yet also not be frightened about voicing our concerns - I hope I'm not just trying to justify my own actions in the parish I broke away from - it's just that once you come across this stuff, it doesn't seem to be one of those things that you can just forget about and leave to someone else to worry about. I know a few women now for whom there is a real feeling of pain, when they see the Bible and the God they love with their whole hearts being spun in such a way.
Exploring and healing at Re vis.e Re form - love from Rachel.

Singing Owl said...

Sigh. I've heard this so many times, from so many well-intentioned preachers. I'm starting a series on marriage next Sunday--won't be taking ideas from this one. :-(

Suzanne McCarthy said...

If I were going to an episcopalian church in Vancouver I'd be ready to write a letter to the bishop charging that preacher with heresy. But that's me. I've been called direct, brash, harsh and/or blunt more than once.

This church is now under the bishop of the Southern Cone, so strictly speaking it is in Vancouver, but it no longer belongs to the diocese here.

Not that they are much better in their way. It is not a pretty sight all around.