A381f0df0a4fde199ae9e96c60b2b5b07 friend called my attention to this post which was made on Facebook:

“LADIES if you haven’t LEARNED SUBMISSION, stay away from MARRIAGE. Marriage is not PARTNERSHIP, its AUTHORITY, you are under your Husband and subject to Him.  ~ PASTOR JOY AMENKHIENAN.”

Well, I have my reservation about it and I wish to share it. I sincerely don’t know who the poster is and I decided not to run a ground check on her so I need not apologize for this truth which I wish to declare here. What I however did was to search for the original post so as to make sure I don’t run into the error of composition – a fallacy that concludes on something just from the part. So, I read the entire post which was probably made around June 23, 2015. While the pastor might have set out with a good intention, the above quoted part of that post, which was the only part that went viral and appreciated, shows a high level of ignorance about the institution of marriage and of the scriptures.

Fr, you are not married yourself, so what do you know about marriage? I’m already used to that question. So, let’s see how much I know, at least from the above quoted post.

Let us note from the onset that the scripture is the word of God, not WORDS of God. In other words, it is the single word of God. The psalmist said that God has spoken once, yet he heard twice (cf. Ps 62:11). We therefore hold and teach that no part of the scripture can be interpreted independent of others.

We needed to make the above clarifications because it is very obvious from where the confusion of the poster of the above post comes. In Eph 5:22-23, St. Paul said, “So let wives be subject to their husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ is the head of the Church…”

In the first place, it would be an injustice against that pericope to discuss those two verses without making recourse to the beginning, in vs 21, which says, “Submit yourselves to one another.” That means, both the husband and the wife have the obligation to submit themselves to each other in marriage. We are not just trying to impose that interpretation on that passage of the Bible. Let us go back to the beginning and see what God’s plan for marriage is so that we  can understand Paul’s play of words above.

The first point we normally visit when we talk about marriage in the scripture is Gen 2:18-25. It started by saying that, “The Lord God said, it is not good for man to be alone; I will give him a suitable companion.” Some translations like the Revised Standard Version use “helper” in place of companion. Apart from helper, other synonyms of companion include: cohort, associate, compatriot, mate, partner, etc.

So, we can only wonder why someone would make an outright claim against what the scripture says. MARRIAGE IS A PARTNERSHIP OF LIFE AND LOVE. At least the scripture says so (cf. Gen 2:18).

Now, to enable us go back to St. Paul, we need to look once more at that Genesis account. The pericope ended by saying that, “…  A man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and they become ONE FLESH” (Gen 2:24). In reference to that, Jesus added, “What God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matt 19:6).

If they are one, the designations of husband to one and wife to another becomes unnecessary. Like the Trinity, they are inseparable separate. Hence, since they are no longer two but one, when St. Paul says, “let wives be subjects to their husbands,” he was equally imposing the same obligation on the husbands. That’s why he began by saying, “Submit yourselves to one another.”

By the way, down the line, a greater obligation was imposed on the husbands – “love your wives as Christ loved the Church” (Eph 5:25). The question that readily comes to mind is, “how much is Christ’s love for the Church?” The same scripture answers me, “This is how we have known what love is: he laid down his life for us” (1 John 3:16). It is a sacrificial love in which the husband is expected to lay down his life for the good of the wife. Again, we are going to have problems with this when we begin to separate the husband from the wife.

The journey is endless and we can continue unending. The only point we are trying to make is that the scripture does not say that marriage is an authority where the woman is the slave and the husband, the boss. Even when you try to bring in 1 Pet 3:1, we must also consider it in line with 1 Pet 3:7.

If the poster had claimed to be a local chief who is protecting a kind of African culture, I wouldn’t have minded going through this journey of this clarification. But this was coming from an acclaimed pastor. And I didn’t want to give in to the error of circular reasoning because we ought to preach the word of God undiluted.

Remain blessed in the Lord. It is well with you.

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