The Great Mystery
Robert Wurtz II
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:31–33 NKJV)
From Genesis to Revelation, God has been signifying the relationship between Christ and the Church. Paul deals with that reality in our passage, calling our attention to the book of Genesis when he writes, “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a direct quote from Genesis 2:4 when God had created Adam an help “meet” for him. Eve was Adam’s wife taken from his rib and side. The Church, The Bride of Christ, was in a figure taken from his rib and side through water and blood on the Cross as He loved the church and gave Himself for her. This “great mystery,” as Paul describes it, is central to His theology and is fundamental to understanding his directives to the churches. If we ignore this picture of Christ as the Bridegroom, and the Church as the Bride, it will be impossible to accurately make sense of New Covenant church life.
Within our context, Paul is clearly indicating that Jesus Christ is the anti type of the Christian husband, and that the Church is the anti type of the Christian wife. The word anti type simply means the true thing that corresponds to the figure. The very first husband was Adam, and he was a figure of Christ who was to come (Romans 5:14). So when we think about Adam and Eve we should be thinking about Christ, and His Bride, the Church. In fact, for those with a careful eye, the Great Mystery of the marriage between Christ and the Church motif is developed all through the Bible. Paul summarizes his theology on this theme when he writes, “For I am jealous for you with godly jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”
(2 Corinthians 11:2 NKJV) This is pretty clear as it relates to the Bridegroom and Bride motif; however, he expounds more when he states, “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent beguiled Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.”
(2 Corinthians 11:3 NKJV) Paul is clearly thinking in terms of the Church being vulnerable to the lies of Satan, just as was Eve beguiled by the Serpent (Satan). Beguiled is a word that means “thoroughly deceived.”
Indeed, as a man, it is a strange thing to think of oneself as a bride. Most women have no trouble in this regard as it is fully natural to think of themselves in this way. In fact, many women fancy the notion of being a bride insomuch that they subscribe to Wedding magazines and other such things to stimulate their mind on the subject. Nevertheless, for men this is a very difficult thing; but this is the design of God as to the relationship to Christ, the Bridegroom and we are content with it. The fundamental thing is that all people, male and female, who are in Christ, are members of His Church, the Bride.
Headship in the Churches of God
Now I praise you, brethren, that you remember me in all things and keep the traditions just as I delivered them to you. But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But since it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man. For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. (1 Corinthians 11:2–10)
Let us observe, again, that Paul is addressing behavior during the assembly of the church; in this case, women praying and prophesying in the meeting. First, our attention should first be drawn to Paul’s words, “For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn.” In Ancient times adultery was a very serious offense, and for the woman, it was sometimes punishable by depilation (shaving the head). There are examples of this happening recorded in antiquity (See Adam Clarke). If a woman was depilated, it was a sign that she had dealt treacherously with her husband, and had broke through his authority over her, to submit herself to another man, as she would her husband.
Within the context of the meeting, a shorn or uncovered woman is signifying that she is not under the headship of her husband. This is a spiritual reality that the angels are looking into. this is why Paul states, For this reason the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. For people, the wedding band on the left hand signifies that the woman belongs to her man; but in the meeting, the “wedding band” is the symbol of authority on her head. For whatever reason, this is the language the angels understand. Moreover, the sign that the man is in subjection to Christ is that his head must be uncovered. For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God. Man is to represent Christ in the meeting and the woman is to represent the Church. As a sidebar, it is worth noting that two great religious systems (emphasis on system and not the people) the first false and the latter anti-christ in nature, both rebel against this rule. The Catholic Clergy wear the Zucchetto and the Rabbinic Jews wear the Kippah.
Since Paul is addressing behavior within the assembly (gathering), it is evident that his concern is that the churches of God rightly represent both the pattern of headship (authority) and the gender of God in their meetings. Given that many pagan deities past and present are “goddesses” (Aphrodite, Artemis, Athena, Diana, Nike, Venus, etc.); it is imperative that the churches of God rightly represent the One True God through the man, because he is the image and glory of God. To confound the gender is to blaspheme the nature of the One True God.
Headship and Teaching
For over 100 years, the spirit of Antichrist has been targeting what some cynically refer to as the Patriarchal Model of both families and the churches of God. Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) led the charge for so-called women’s freedom suggesting that, “No woman can call herself free until she can consciously control whether she will or will not be a mother.” This has opened the door to everything from abortion-on-demand to homosexual marriage. Trailing closely to the world, many Christian denominations have “drank the Koolaid” until they have lost their ability to rightly represent both the reality of the great marriage of Christ and the Church, as well as the gender of the One True God. They have done this by reversing the gender roles of men and women in the churches of God. Within the secular world, this confusion is now so profound, that laws are being passed to allow boys and girls to select which bathroom they wish to use at school. Sadly, this error can be laid at the doorstep of those who were given the charge by God to be a light in a darkened world.
Generally speaking, we all know that God has used both men and women in His great commission. It would be superfluous to list all the names and verses to prove this fact. In Christ, we are all equal in one sense; however, this does not mean God has changed His mind about gender and headship. In fact, even nature teaches us that there is a difference between male and female, and that it is shameful to confound them even in our dress code (1 Corinthians 11:14). In fact, we read in Deuteronomy 22:5 that, “A woman must not wear men’s clothing, nor a man wear women’s clothing, for the LORD your God detests anyone who does this.” As we know, this pattern was overthrown in the 20th century and relegated cynically to the “Victorians.” Nevertheless, to think that God no longer distinguishes between male and female is a lie of the devil, and one only believable in the last 100 years.
There came a point in the late 1800s when a subtle, but nasty, attack happened upon the Word of God. A freight train of compromise started down hill as fast as the unlocked wheels of modern feminism would take it. It is hard to know where to begin. If you look at the average Christian life today as compared to 150 years ago it is shocking how many old paths have been discarded. It’s as if people don’t even believe the Bible anymore. Whole armies of theologians have pushed forward, especially in liberal and Pentecostal/Charismatic circles, to overthrow 6000 years of God’s established order. They have blurred (tried to at least) nearly all the New Testament verses that set order to ministry by dismissive teachings. Consider this passage from Paul:
The older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— that they teach the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. (Titus 2:3-5)
We desperately need what Paul is saying here to be happening in the churches of God; we always have, and we always will. God has commanded men to love their wives as Christ loved the Church; however, God never gave that type of command to women. The younger women are to be taught by the older women to love their husbands and children. This has not been happening in many circles, and as a consequence, some women (and men) openly express their dislike of parenthood — even suggesting that somehow they have been robbed of their youth for having to spend time raising their children. Fulfilling this verse would go a long way in remedying this problem. This is an example of what happens when gender roles are changed around. If the women are put in the men’s roles, who will fulfill this verse?
Would a man be qualified to do what Paul is saying here? Surely not. Should a man get angry because he is not supposed to be teaching the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed? No. Why? Because it is the older womens’ responsibility. Nevertheless, one would have to nearly attend a Mennonite Church to hear a message on this verse. And yet we claim to be Bible Believing Christians. Do you know of any place where this verse is being honored? You know why it is ignored? There is no way to self-promote by obeying it. Rather than obeying this verse, most women who aspire to ministry want to teach men, or at the least, men and women in mixed company. Yet, how could anyone be genuine and say they want to obey God and His word and then ignore something as fundamental and central to the family and the church as Titus 2:3-5? And why have we never seen bylaws changed in denominations to allow men to teach the young girls? Because it would not be appropriate. God has set the boundaries of acceptability within the churches of God; however, multitudes believe they are led of the Spirit to overthrow God’s order. Nay verily. The Holy Spirit and the Word agree.
Notice the consequence of ignoring these rules, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. That is what is happening. Following the world has come at a terrible price. We, the churches of God, risk losing our identity all together and completely forfeiting God’s design to present the Bridegroom and the Bride to this present evil world. In fact, the race is on to totally blaspheme the gender of God by placing female leaders into positions of authority over men in many denominations contrary to the clear teachings of Paul. I would not be surprised to someday see men coming to meetings cross-dressing in order to exercise proof that their is neither male nor female (Galatians 3:28). This is madness and we are heading there at warp speed.
Yesterday, we went through our elections for 2014 here in America. According to the CAWP (Center for American Women in Politics), since 1964 women voters have outnumbered men in primary elections. Politicians since FDR have learned that if they are going to succeed, they have to court the women voters. However, what happens if we are in a denominational system that works democratically? Preachers can become politicians who seek to make promises that court the female vote. Could it be that the wholesale attack we see on gender roles in denominations is a purely political maneuver? I have almost no doubt, that preachers will come under judgment for altering God’s word for political support. Whatever the rationale; whatever the driving force to compromise; we still have to reckon with warnings about altering God’s word.
“And if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Revelation 22:19 NKJV)
Each of us has a role to play. What folly is it to ignore the instructions God has given to our genders. What is being said to this present evil world? Our God is a goddess. Our God is like the pagan gods. We don’t have to obey Christ? The world is changing into the image of its father more and more each day. However, when it comes to God’s establishment of headship within His Kingdom on earth, there will always be a pattern to uphold. This is the way, walk ye in it.