Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: Thinking and Living Biblically in a Gender-nuteral Society – Christ’s Example

Sermon by J. Ligon Duncan on July 20, 2003

1 Corinthians 11:2-16

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Thinking and Living Biblically in a
Gender-neutral Society


Biblical Manhood and Womanhood series
First Presbyterian Church
Jackson, MS
Dr. J. Ligon Duncan


1 Corinthians 11:2-16
Christ’s Example

I’d invite you to turn with me to 1 Corinthians, chapter
11. In this study we’ve been promoting a biblical view of male/female role
relationships that we call complementarianism. That is, that God has created men
and women equal in their essential dignity and human personhood, but different
and complementary in their function with male headship and in the home and
believing community, the church, being understood as a part of God’s created
design. So, men and women are equal in Christ but they are distinct and they
have different functions in the home and in the church.

This view is denied widely in evangelical churches
today. It is most easily manifest in churches which promote women as officers
and preachers in the church and of course it’s also manifest in homes where the
argument is that there should be no single person who is the head of a home;
that headship is something jointly exercised by both husband and wife. Now
that’s an appealing concept because most of the time that’s really how it works.
Most of the time there’s not just some sort of unilateral directive from on
high; it’s always in the sticky points that you get into the question of who is
going to break the tie.

So, life doesn’t normally operate in a dictatorial
chain of command from the top to the bottom, covering every aspect of life
together. But what happens when there is disagreement amongst the parents in a
family? How is a family led in that particular situation?

What we’ve said all along is that we want to foster a
biblical view of manhood and womanhood in the family and in the church. We
believe that this is vital for at least four reasons. First of all, it’s never
safe for the church to act unbiblically. If the Bible speaks to this issue and
we ignore it, we can assume that there will be trouble for the life of the
church.

Secondly, we said that when biblical manhood and
womanhood is denied, altered, or unpracticed, it results in disasters for
marriages and families. Role reversal not only played a role in the fall of Adam
and Eve into sin, and of course, the plunging of the whole of our human race
into sin and misery, but it plays a significant role in the breakdown of
families in our own culture and in the gender confusion which occurs in our
culture.

Thirdly, the issue of the nature of manhood and
womanhood is very much at the heart of the cultural transition that we find
ourselves in the midst of right now. And our culture/gender issues, male/female
role relationships, sexuality–especially homosexuality and heterosexuality and
transitions in morality in those areas– are at the very heart of the cultural
struggle that we see going on. They are symptoms of a deeper problem. They are
symptoms of the rejection of our culture of the idea of a transcendent Creator,
but they are very important bellwethers to get a picture of where our culture is
going.

If you have been following this particular issue, you
see it manifesting itself in various ways. One of the most common ways is to
see, for instance, to see in various churches, typically, Protestant churches,
for the ordination of homosexuals to the ministry. About thirty years ago, when
the first Protestant church began to ordain women to the office of the
pastorate, various evangelicals in denominations in the country and around the
world said, “If you do this, the next thing that you will do is ordain
homosexuals.” And of course, that was met with howls of vitriolic response,
“That’s demeaning to women. How could you say that? That’s not our intention.”
Well, thirty years later all of those denominations are now in the process of
attempting to ordain homosexuals. Why? Because the whole sexuality issue is a
bellwether for our culture. And the re-definition of the family, the
re-definition of sexuality, is one piece in the component of the agenda to
replace a classic, Christian, western, worldview with basically a pagan
worldview. We’ve said in our studies already this summer that it is no mistake
that in many of the pagan religions, in animism, that the central focal
spiritual figure is ambiguous sexually. Oftentimes, the shaman is a bi-sexual
himself and that is part and parcel of pagan religion which wants to do what?
Deny the Creator/creature distinction and talk about the Creator being in the
creation and the creation being in the Creator. Whereas, in Christianity, the
distinction between the Creator and the creature, between the transcendent
Lawgiver and our human response to the transcendent Lawgiver is very, very vital
and obvious. So, this is all part of a larger cultural agenda.

I serve on the board of a Christian work which seeks
to highlight some of these issues in the culture today, and one of the things
that was shared with us about nine or ten months ago was a photograph from Italy
from the runway of the major fashion show in Florence in which men were given
devices so that they anatomically looked like women in their upper body in the
clothes that they were wearing. And this kind of androgyny, and in fact, this
kind of attempt to make men look like women, is literally all the rage. There
was an article that came across the news wires just this past week that talked
about a new group of men called metrosexuals–that was the term. I don’t know
where it comes from but the idea is this. It’s men who like to dress in more
feminine ways; they like to wear their hair in more feminine ways, they like to
wear nail polish and makeup. They are not homosexual, but they like to look
feminine and it goes on to say how they like to go out shopping with their
female friends in choosing clothes and suggesting china patterns and
wallpapering, etc. At any rate, there is this tremendous cultural transition
that we are going through and this whole issue of manhood and womanhood is a
part of that.

Fourth and finally, we have said that denying or
changing or twisting the Bible’s clear teaching on biblical manhood and
womanhood is one of the central ways that biblical authority is being undermined
in our own day. People in this area generally don’t say, “Well, the Bible’s
wrong.” What they say is, “Well, that’s your interpretation. You’re just
interpreting the Bible in such a way that you’re making the Bible out to be
misogynistic, to being anti-woman, demeaning towards women, to being exclusive
towards women, to being discriminating towards women, and if you only understood
the Bible correctly, you would understand that the Bible is not teaching this
particular view.” But when you can do that to what the Bible teaches on manhood
and womanhood, you can pretty much get the Bible to say anything you want
because the Bible is very clear in these areas. So, for all these reasons, we’ve
said that it is important for us to study biblical manhood and womanhood.

As we get ready to look at the passage before us, I
just want to remind you of a few things. First of all, Paul is entering a
section in 1 Corinthians 11, and by the way, verse 2 of 1 Corinthians 11 is
probably the heading for this whole section that runs all the way to the end of
chapter 14. Remember, the Book of 1 Corinthians deals with a lot of ethical
issues in the church in Corinth, and in this section in particular, Paul deals
with three problems in the church life and worship of Corinth. He starts out
here in chapter 11:3-16, dealing with the issue of male/female role
relationships and how that is reflected in the worship of the church in Corinth.
Then, he goes to problems of abuses of the Lord’s Supper in the church in
Corinth. Then, he goes to the issue of spiritual gifts and some of the
controversies that have grown up about prophecies and tongues and extraordinary
spiritual gifts in the church in Corinth. So he is in an ethical section now
where he is dealing with problem issues in the life of the church. With that
background in mind, let’s hear God’s word in 1 Corinthians 11, beginning in
verse 2.

“Now I praise you because you remember me in everything and
hold firmly to the traditions, just as I delivered them to you. But I want you
to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a
woman, and God is the head of Christ. Every man who has something on his
head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. But every woman who has
her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is
one and the same with her whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover
her head, let her also have her head cut off; but if it disgraceful for a woman
to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. For a man
ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God; but
the woman is the glory of man. For man does not originate from woman, but woman
from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman’s sake, but woman for the
man’s sake. Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on
her head, because of the angels. However, in the Lord, neither is woman
independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. For as the woman originates
from the man, so also the man has his birth through the woman; and all
things originate from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a woman to
pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not even nature itself teach
you that if a man has long hair, it is a dishonor to him, but if a woman has
long hair, it is a glory to her? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
But if one is inclined to be contentious, we have no other practice, nor have
the churches o f God.”

Amen. This is God’s Word. May He add His blessing to it.
Let’s pray.

Heavenly Father, as we deal with this difficult
passage, we pray that you would give us light from your word. Teach us how we
ought to relate to one another in the church of our Lord Jesus Christ, and in
doing that, we pray that we would bear witness to the image of God, the glory of
God, that we would show forth the relations of God the Father, God the Son, and
God the Holy Spirit; and that we would show the harmony in the life of the
church when men and women die to themselves and live for one another and live
for one another’s best interest and live for the glory of Christ. We ask these
things in Jesus’ name, Amen.

Let me outline this passage for you very quickly. I want to
do that because I don’t want to dodge the tough issues in the passage. I really
want to focus on one point, but in order for you to get a feel for the whole
passage, let’s walk through the passage in outline–six points.

The main principle stated in the passage is stated in
verse 3. That’s point one. The principle that Christ has authority over man;
that man has authority over woman; and God the Father has the authority over
Christ. That is the principle Paul is going to be contending for throughout this
passage. Everything else is just an application of that principle. He believes
that that principle is being violated in Corinth. We’ve got a little bit of a
rebellion on our hands in Corinth, and there are apparently some women in the
congregation who want to show that they are liberated. There are different ways
that ladies in the 1960s and 70s used to show that they were liberated; the
Corinthians have their own unique way of showing that they are liberated, and
Paul is speaking to that particular issue in the context of worship. So there’s
your principle in verse 3.

Then in verses 4-6, we get to the second point, and
that has to do with the specific manifestation of how the principle works out in
the church and culture. You see it in verses 4-6.

Then thirdly, in verses 7-10 we meet the underlying
rationale for the requirement that Paul makes relating to men and women and how
they go about praying and prophesying. In this passage Paul says that men are to
pray and prophesy in one mode and one demeanor, and women are to pray and
prophesy in another mode and demeanor. And so verses 7-10 give us the underlying
rational for why they are to do this.

The fourth point is in verses 11 and 12, and it makes
a qualification on this rationale that is given in verses 7-10. It gives a
qualification and a warning against a misunderstanding or a misuse of the truth
that Paul sets forth in verses 7-10.

The fifth point is in verses 13-15, and it is the
practical application of the principles to a specific situation in Corinth. And
then, verse 16, and actually verse 2 as well, are the sixth point and that has
to do with the normative nature of Paul’s teaching here. It’s not just for this
particular situation with no broader application. In fact, Paul makes it
clear that what he is saying here is a principle for all the churches everywhere
in all times
. So there’s the outline. Let’s walk through that outline
quickly glean as much as we can from those difficult passages, and then look at
the main point that I want to drive home which really pertains to the principle
recorded in verse 3. Let’s start right there with the principle.

I. Biblical male-female role
relationships, which are a reflection of the Trinitarian relationship,
are to be manifest in our worship and church life.
Verse 3 tells us that Christ has authority over man; man has
authority over woman; and God the Father over Christ. What is the principle
enshrined there in verse 3 of 1 Corinthians 11? It is that biblical,
male/female role relationships which are a reflection of the relationship that
exists within the Trinitarian God. Our proper relationship to one another as men
and women in the church is to be a reflection of the way God relates to Himself;
the Father to the Son, the Son to the Father. So, biblical male/female role
relationships which are a reflection of the Trinitarian relationships are to be
manifest in the church in our worship and in our life. That is Paul’s principle.

Notice several interesting things that are said in
this verse. First of all, we’re told that Christ is the head of every man and
man is the head of woman and God is the head of Christ. Did you notice that in
this verse there are three different people who are said to be under authority?
First of all man is under authority. Who is man under authority to? Christ.
Christ is the head of man so man is under authority. And we’re told that man is
under authority. To whom? To man, we are told. And then thirdly, Christ is under
authority. Isn’t it interesting that Paul doesn’t say, “Christ or God is head
over Christ, Christ is head over man, man is head over woman.” That is how you
might have expected him to say it if you were taking an ontological order. But
what he says is that “Christ is the head of man; man is the head of woman; and
God is the head of Christ.” Lest you think that this was about inferiority. You
get to the end and he says, “Man is the head over woman.” You’re thinking, “Ah,
this is an inferiority thing.” And then he says, “God is head over Christ.”
Immediately you know that it is not an inferiority issue. There’s something far
more profound than that in the passage.

Notice also that three of the people in this passage
are said to under authority — man, woman and Christ; and two are said to
be in authority — man is in authority over woman and Christ in authority
over man. And of course, God the Father, we might add, a third is also said to
be in authority as head of Christ. So again, by saying that God is head of
Christ we see here in this passage that Christ’s functional submission to the
Father does not imply His inferiority. He is equal but distinct and with a
different function, just as woman is equal but distinct from man and with a
different function. Now, we’ll come back and apply that passage in just a few
moments. The important thing to see is that Paul, throughout this whole passage,
is concerned that that relationship that Christ sustains to the church and that
relationship that Christ sustains to His heavenly Father in His work of
redemption, is to be reflected in male/female role relationships in the church.
He wants that relationship between the Father and the Son, and the Son and the
Church, to be reflected in male/female role relationships. That is going to mean
that, of necessity, there is going to have to be authority and submission
manifested in the lives of men and women in role relationships. If Christ’s own
relationship of authority and submission is going to be manifested in our
relationships, then authority and submission is going to be a part of our lives.
By the way, that is not exclusively authority for men and submission for women.
Both men and women in their proper role relationships in the course of this life
will display both authority and submission in various relationships. But Paul is
especially concerned to talk about the male/female role relationship in the
Church. There’s the principle.

II. Biblical male-female
relationships should be manifest in the public prayer and prophesy of men and
women.
Now let’s move to the specific manifestation of that principle
in verses 4-6. Here we see the manifestation of this principle in the Church,
the cultural significance of this principle. The biblical male/female role
relationship should be manifest, Paul says in verses 4-6, in public prayer and
prophecy of men and women. Listen to what he says, “Every man who has something
on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head, but every woman who
has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she
is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not
cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off but if it is disgraceful for
a woman to have her hair cut off and her head shaved, let her cover her head.”

Now, the context is this: Men and women in Corinth
are praying and prophesying in the context of the life of the church. You
remember that part of the fulfillment of Acts 2, of Joel 2, is that “your sons
and daughters would prophesy.” So, for instance, Phillip’s daughters are called
prophetesses in the Book of Acts, and in 1 Corinthians 11 and 14, instructions
are given in regard to women participating in the prophesying of the local
church. But Paul is saying here that men who pray and prophesy in the service
and women who pray and prophesy in the service, are to be distinguished in their
demeanor and in what they wear.

In verse 4 he says that men are not to pray and
prophesy with their heads covered. That is, they are not to wear a physical
covering over their head, a hat or veil or a shawl or something like this. Nor,
he makes it clear, are they to wear long hair. Why? Because that’s what women
do. Paul’s point in the passage is that men are to look distinctively like men
and they are not to look like women when they go about their act of praying and
prophesying.

In verse 5 he goes on to say, “Women are not to pray
or prophesy without their head covered.” So immediately Paul says that when men
pray and prophesy–no head covering. When women pray and prophesy, they must do
it with their heads covered. And immediately you ask, “What kind of head
covering are we talking about here?” Are we talking about hats, Islamic veils,
or are we talking about long hair? Well, that’s a really good question, and it
is not, as far as we know, not anything like an Islamic veil. There is no
testimony from anywhere in the early church that at any time was the kind of
veiling that is practiced in Islam ever practiced by any branch of Christians.
So the veil is out; you can throw that one out. That leaves you with something
like a shawl or a small cloth such as that which is worn in cathedrals today, or
a hat or hair. What’s it going to be? Some sort of head covering like a hat or
is it hair? Well, that’s very difficult to decide and there are things in the
passage which point in both directions. But you can be sure that it’s referring
either to the hat or to the woman wearing her long hair up over her head,
perhaps in a bun. It seems that in Corinth, you were considered to be looking
like an immoral woman if you wore your hair loose, because prostitutes wore
their hair loose and down and flowing. And so, women of dignity, women who were
in faithful marital relations, were to wear their hair up when they were in
public. And the only women who did not follow that were prostitutes, immoral
women, or slave women who had had their heads shaved.

Now that factors in to the passage as you continue
reading. So Paul says, “Men are to pray with heads uncovered; women are to pray
or prophesy with heads covered.” In verse 5 he goes on to say that if a woman
does pray with her head uncovered, she disgraces herself. Why? Because she’s
dressing and acting like a man. Again, Paul’s main point is that women should
look like women; men should look like men; and they should act like it. Those
distinctions should be honored in the context of the worship of the church.
Their dress should reflect their gender distinction and their role relationship.

In verse 5, he goes on to say that if a woman wears
her hair down or prays with her head uncovered, she disgraces herself and she
becomes no different than a slave woman or a caught adulteress. In Corinth the
only women who had their heads shaven were slave women or women who had been
caught in adultery, as part of their punishment. It was sort of their scarlet
letter–a shaved head. So, she is no different from them if she refuses to cover
her head. In fact, if she refuses to cover her head, he says she ought to have
her hair cut off, so he’s saying, “Put it up.” Women can pray and prophesy in
public, Paul says, but they must do so with the demeanor and attitude that
supports male headship because in that culture, wearing a head covering
communicated a submissive demeanor and a feminine adornment. In other words,
they were looking like women and they were showing that they accepted the
male/female role relationships set forth in Scripture.

III. These biblical male-female
role relationships are rooted in the original creation.
Now, in verses 7-10 we get the underlying rationale for this
requirement. These biblical male/female role relationships are rooted in the
original creation. We are told in verse 7 that the reason a man should not have
his head covered by a hat or long hair is because man is the image and glory of
God. Whereas the reason that the woman ought to cover her head is that she is
the glory of man. The point of the passage is not that man is in the image of
God and woman is not. Paul makes it clear elsewhere that both man and woman are
in the image of God, so the issue it that word “the glory.” Man is called the
glory of God; woman is called the glory of man. What does that mean? If you look
at the surrounding verses 8 and 9, it becomes very clear. Woman is the glory of
man in the sense that she was created out of him, and for his sake. Notice what
Paul says? Man does not originate from woman; woman originates from man. So he
says man is the source of woman.

Secondly, man was not created for woman’s sake, but
woman was created for man’s sake. She was created from him and for
him to be his companion, and so one of the manifestations of her fulfilling the
function for which she is created is respecting him, honoring him. So wearing
her hair up or wearing the head covering while she prophesies is a way to honor
the headship of man in the church and in the home. Therefore, the woman ought to
visibly manifest the authority of the man in the way she dresses as she prays
and prophesies, Paul says in verse 10. And then he adds those famous words,
“Because of the angels.” Now, you ask me, “What does that mean?” And I tell you,
“I have no idea.” I know that it has something to do with continuing Paul’s
argument, but I have no idea what it is. Ask me in another ten years and maybe
I’ll have a good answer.

IV. Distinctions in biblical
male-female relationships do not mean inequality nor contradict proper
mutuality.
Now, look at verses 11 and 12. Here’s the caveat. What message
could you get if you read verses 3 through 10 in isolation? You could get idea
that men are more important than women; men are first and women are second. You
could get the idea that men are more in the image of God and women are less in
the image of God. And so the Apostle Paul stops, and in verses 11 and 12 he
says, “Look, in the Lord neither is woman independent of man nor is man
independent of woman. For as the woman originates from the man, so also the man
has his birth through the woman and all things originate from God.” In other
words, distinctions in our male/female role relationships do not mean
inequality between men and women, nor do they contradict he fact that we
need one another and that we are utterly mutually dependent upon one another. In
other words, distinctions in men and women don’t undercut the mutuality between
men and women, the interconnectedness. We need one another. That’s the
whole point of Genesis chapter 2, and so the apostle is reiterating this point.
Distinctions in male/female role relationships as set forth in the Bible don’t
mean inequality or a lack of mutuality in the relationship. So Paul is
undercutting anyone who would thereby undervalue women or think or women as less
important than men by explicitly challenging those ideas in verses 11 and 12.

V. The particular natural/cultural
application of the fundamental principle of male headship rooted in the creation
order is for women to pray/prophesy in such a way to show their femininity and
willing, glad, joyful submission
.
In verses 13-15, we find the practical application of the passage. Paul
does it via a question, and he expects an answer to his question. He
says, “Judge for yourselves. Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her
head uncovered?” He’s been arguing this case for ten verses and he’s expecting
you to be a quick learner and he’s expecting you to say, “No, it’s not proper
for a woman to pray with her head uncovered.” Here we see the particular,
natural, cultural application of the principle of male headship rooted in the
creation order, and the application is for women to pray and prophesy in such a
way to show their femininity and to show their willing, glad, and joyful
submission. Paul says in verse 13 that women should not pray with
uncovered heads. That’s the answer and conclusion that he’s expecting to his
question.

In verse 14, he goes on to say, “Does not nature
itself teach you that if a man has long hair it is a dishonor to him?” We could
get on a rabbit trail on that one right there, but again, the point is that he
wants men to look like men and women to look like women, and he wants their
demeanor to reflect their relationship to Christ and to one another. He says
that nature teaches that long hair is a dishonor to man, and that nature also
teaches that long hair is a glory to woman, and therefore, those things are to
be reflected in the way that they pray in the church.

VI. Paul’s
teaching here is normative and universal not ad hoc and merely local.
Now, somebody might say, “All of this is very interesting, but
it is just a cultural artifact from ancient Corinth. There’s a local church
problem there; Paul writes to it and it has nothing to say to us today.” Well,
look at verse 2 and look at verse 6. Paul says, “I praise you because you
remember me in everything, holding firmly to the traditions just as I delivered
them to you.” Notice that these traditions are not church traditions that have
sort of accrued over the years; they are not man-made; they have not just sort
of developed over time. Where did these traditions come from? “I delivered them
to you.” So these are not traditions in the way that we think of tradition. A
tradition, for example, is something that someone began in the 15th
century and people have kept on doing it ever since. These traditions, however,
are practices in the Church which Paul instructed them to do, and he
congratulates them in doing the things that he had delivered to them.

Secondly, look at verse 16. “If one is inclined to be
contentious, we have no other practice nor have the churches of God.” He’s
saying that if somebody is inclined to argue or take him on about this, he is
saying, “Let me just remind you that we have no other practice.” The apostles of
the church of the Lord Jesus Christ have determined this practice and this is
the only practice we have, and if you don’t like it, you can cease being a
Christian and go somewhere else. And then he says, “And furthermore, it’s the
practice of the Church universal.” We have no other practice, nor do any of the
other churches. This is the practice in all of the churches of God. The
practice outlined here is the only Pauline option, the only apostolic option,
and the only practice of the Church universal. It is clear that Paul’s teaching
here is normative and universal
. This isn’t ad hoc to a specific
situation and merely local.

Well, as you can see, this is a passage fraught with
difficulties and interpretation, and frankly, it rubs up against us–it’s
countercultural and may seem way out of date and outmoded. But here’s the one
thing I want you to see.

Look at verse 3. My one-point sermon is simply this:
Isn’t it beautiful that in this passage, Paul gives Jesus as the example of how
men are to relate to women and how women are to relate to men. Isn’t that
interesting? In this passage Jesus is not merely the Lord of the Church and thus
showing how men ought to relate to women, but He is also the example of the
submission of the church to the Lord in that He submits to His heavenly Father.
So that the woman looks to Jesus as her example for how she relates to her
husband and to the men in authority in the church, just as men look to Jesus as
their example of how to be self-denying, self-sacrificing, interested in the
best interest of their wives husbands, just like Jesus loved the Church. So
Jesus is the example for men as to how they relate to women, and He is the
example to women as they are to relate to men. Look at the verse again. “I want
you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and man is the head of a
woman.” There in that part of the verse, man learns that his exercise of
headship is to mirror the way that Jesus exercised headship. And how does Paul
say in Ephesians 5 that he exercised that headship? “That He loved the Church
and He gave Himself for her.” This is leadership that dies on behalf of the one
lead. And I want to suggest to you that that is easy leadership to follow.
Leadership that will go so far as to die for the one lead is easy leadership to
follow.

But it doesn’t stop there. Man is the head of woman
and God is the head of Christ. So woman is called upon to engage in this very
difficult task of submitting to the spiritual guidance and leadership and
showing respect to a fallible, goofy, human male. How do you do that? Well, it
says that Jesus Himself has submitted Himself to the Father. And the woman says,
“Uh, uh, I see a fallacy in that argument.” Jesus gets to submit to the glorious
God the Father; I get Bozo the Clown over here.” And then you remember what
Isaiah 53 says of the Father in His relationship to the Son. “It pleased the
Lord to bruise Him. He has put Him to grief.” And then you see Jesus in the
garden saying, “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.
Nevertheless, not My will, but Thine be done.” And suddenly, you realize that
Jesus’ submission in the great covenant of redemption was the most difficult
submission ever attempted and accomplished by a human being.

And so, no matter how difficult your marital
situation may be, and it may be enormously difficult. Your challenge of
spiritual respect for the spiritual leadership of a husband is trumped by the
challenge of Jesus submitting His own will to His heavenly Father when it meant
dying. Isn’t it interesting in that way both men and women are called to die to
self in their relationships as they relate to one another and mirror the
relationship of the eternal, heavenly, holy Trinity. What an awesome
responsibility we have. And the way we relate to one another in marriages and
the Church is the only picture the world sees of how the Father related to the
Son and the Son to the Father. That is a task of great dignity as well as great
responsibility and challenge. May He bless you, as you, in humble reliance upon
the grace of the Holy Spirit, attempt to follow in those roles.

Let’s pray:

Our Lord and our God, in our own strength, we will
utterly fail at this. It cuts against the grain of every self-centered molecule
in our being, but You can help us do this. You can give us the grace to do it.
Command what You will and give what You command. We ask this in Jesus’ name.
Amen.

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This transcribed message has been lightly edited and formatted for the Web site. No attempt has been made, however, to alter the basic extemporaneous delivery style, or to produce a grammatically accurate, publication-ready manuscript conforming to an established style template.

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