Now, this man had an extremely demanding career. Being his partner would mean standing by his side, being at his disposal to help him in his career 24 hours a day. Which was very nice except that I believed that God had things He wanted me to do independently of this man's career. He was in theater, I was in music. And I began to wonder if I wasn't committing idolatry by treating him as I was.
And so I began studying. But this time, I did not just study the passages that have to do with women, which I will cite momentarily, but also those passages which lay down God's expectations of what should characterize all relationships between all persons, regardless of gender. So, here are all of the main passages I looked at (again, citing from the NIV). First of all, Ephesians 5:22-33:
22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.
25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing[b] her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."[c] 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.
Then I Peter 3:1-6:
1Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. 5For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, 6like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.
And then... Ephesians 5:21:
21Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
And... John 15:9-13 (quoting Jesus himself):
9"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
And... Mark 10: 42-45:
42Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
And... I Peter 3:7:
7Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
And even... James 3:13-17:
13Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show it by his good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15Such "wisdom" does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, of the devil. 16For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.
17But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18Peacemakers who sow in peace raise a harvest of righteousness.
And what did I get from all this? It was quite eye-opening: that God expects the same things from everyone. God expects everyone to be subject to everyone. And just in case we didn't get the point:
- no one is allowed to lord it over anyone
- if a man doesn't want to pay heed and treat his wife with respect as a spiritual equal, then he can't expect God to hear his prayers
- if anyone does not want to be submissive, regardless of gender, then they are earthly, unspiritual and working for the devil.
See, the thing to realize about I Corinthians 11 is that it's all predicated on the proper relationship between men and women. And having seen that God in fact expects the same things from everyone, I began to at least seriously question the applicability of head coverings in all times and places. I may have been at least dimly aware that public decency (i.e. avoiding the appearance of a loose woman) could have been part of the reason that this proper relationship was to be manifest in a head covering. And since that is not an issue where I live, I took off my beret.
Part I Part III Part IV Part V Part VI Part VII Part VIII