Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Itching Ears, Part 3 (Head = absolute power = Corruption)

The itching ears become very apparent when one takes a closer look at the words men use to replace “head.” Paul was known for his plain-speaking. If he meant that men were to be the leader of their wives, he would have said so. The word was available in the Greek language. But instead he used the word “head.”

Looking up the words lead, leader, and leadeth in the concordance (New Testament) sheds more light on the subject:
Matt 6:13 “And lead us not into temptation…”
Matt 15:14 If the blind lead the blind, both will fall into the ditch.” Both of these suggest a negative connotation with leading, one of them actually about one person leading another being a dangerous thing.
I Cor 9:5 Paul says “Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles?” This actually sounds like he is mocking the notions the Jewish husbands had concerning “leading about” their wives. Did he intend it to sound silly, or is that an unintentional result of differing culture/language? He could have said “Have we not the power to marry a wife?” Here he actually uses the word in reference to a husband leading his wife, but he does not use lead in Ephesians 5, nor does he direct husbands to lead. Perhaps he purposely refrained from using that word because Jewish men were using the term “lead about” and it basically meant “dominate” or “control” and he did not want to convey that meaning.

John 10:3-4 cements it for me. “To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.”
Very clearly, Jesus is to be our leader. In addition, Jesus, our leader, goes before us. He doesn’t tell us to do as He says, not as He does, like the husband-is-the-leader crowd so often does. Jesus actually goes before his sheep and LEADS them. He doesn’t drive them, nor chase them, yell at them, nor demand from them. He does it first, thus setting an example. Abusers don’t do this. Unless to submit means the wife is to follow, to copy, and she is to yell at him and demean him, and even beat him like he does her.

Even those who are apparently kind, and claim to not be abusers, yet reserve for themselves the right to lead their wives, are taking over God’s job of leadership. The men are more likely to lead their wives into the ditch.

After all, the belief in the right and privilege of husband leadership, no matter how gently it is carried out, still is an exercise of power over the wife. And one thing we know about power is that it corrupts. Why would a man choose to corrupt himself? And at the expense of the woman he “fell in love with,” too? It is because he has itching ears. A small amount of Bible study would make it clear that “leader” was not what Paul had in mind.

Waneta Dawn is the author of "Behind the Hedge, A novel," a story about a woman who grapples with her husband's demands that she submit--no matter what.
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