LOVE and MARRIAGE … can you think of any other words that have such life-giving potential? At the upcoming Christians for Biblical Equality ”BECOMING NEW: Man and Woman Together in Christ“ International Conference (Los Angeles July 24-26) many seasoned leaders will be making presentations. We have the privilege of leading a workshop that we are calling; ”TOGETHER Reclaiming Co-Leadership in Marriage”. We will invite those in attendance to consider a prefall marriage perspective—before sin entered the story.
In the beginning the triune God (Father-Son-Holy Spirit) created humankind in His image according to His likenes. Male and female He created them. Maleness and femaleness are divine gifts that reflect the diversity in the triune God. In the beginning in Paradise the husband and wife became one flesh and celebrated being naked without shame. In the beginning the man and woman were both commanded to carry out the dominion/rulership and procreation mandates. In the beginning together as one they enjoyed mutual equality and mutual authority.
In the beginning we see no evidence of headship, hierarchy, patriarchy, female subordination, or the husband designated the wife’s leader, authority, or spiritual cover. In the beginning before sin things were “very good.”
However, the man and woman were not alone in the garden. Satan, disguised as a serpent, deceived the woman. And both the woman and man ate the forbidden fruit from the tree God instructed the man not to eat from.
Sin brought many negative consequences. Instead of the couple being naked without shame, after sin came shame, blame, fear, and control. The couple’s eyes were opened and they knew that they were naked (shame), the man blamed the woman and God (blame) and the woman blamed the serpent (blame), they were afraid (fear), and they hid and covered themselves (control). This became the first of many destructive shame-blame-fear-control cycles between men and women.
Another negative consequence of sin directly related to God’s original marriage design. In place of the man and woman co-leading together as reciprocal servants with shared authority, Eve was told her husband would rule over her. This male rulership marriage view opened the door to centuries of discounting and damaging hierarchical and patriarchal abuses of women and marriage.
But, God is soo good … and in the fullness of time God took on human form and came to earth. Jesus Christ came “to seek and save that which was lost.” Through power encounters with Satan and crucifixion on a cross Jesus reclaimed that which was lost—the dominion that was stolen from the woman and the man.
In addition, when Jesus talked about marriage, He boldly reaffirmed God’s prefall marriage design to religious leaders and to a culture that was extremely abusive to women. Jesus radical one flesh marriage perspective was so counter-cultural that even his disciples were dumbfounded.
We believe Jesus birth-life-death-and life giving resurrection enables couples to return to the mutual equality and mutual authority principles of Paradise. And together a husband and wife can reclaim their original kingdom purposes.
In our CBE workshop we will contrast hierarchical, complementarian, and egalitarian marriage perspectives. We will share real life experiences co-leading together. And we will offer what we call the Traffic Light Principle as a practical tool to help couples in their decision making process.
Briefly, rather than focusing on gender or gifts, the Traffic Light Principle invites a husband and wife to live out what we believe is the most important spiritual discipline—practicing the presence of God. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, God the Holy Spirit dwells in you. The Bible invites followers to take every thought captive to Christ. The Traffic Light Principle is a tool to help couples purposefully put God first, trust Him, and ask for wisdom. Our real life experience is including God in our decision making process—and waiting until we both have ‘green-lights’ from God—provides us with power and protection.
After thirty-nine years of marriage, we continue to marvel at God’s two becoming one—naked without shame marriage design. We also resonate with the Bible passage that says; “those who marry will have troubles.” Throughout our marriage we have experienced troubles, truth-be-told we still experience troubles. However, we try to reframe marriage troubles as opportunities rather than obstacles. This opens the door for us to trust God, advance in intimacy, and reflect and reveal God’s love and goodness to each other.
Take a moment to observe our culture and review how most churches teach about marriage. Unfortunately, many people think marriage is dying and in need of CPR. Nonetheless, contrary to the overall culture of fear and many grim reports surrounding marriage, we regularly meet women and men who are revisiting and passionately embracing God’s original marriage design. A marriage built on love, equality, mutuality, unity, community, and servanthood.
We love being married, and we believe marriage has so much untapped kingdom advancing potential. Having worked with couples for decades, as we review the overall negative church marriage/sexuality culture, we wonder; wouldn’t it be just like God to invite followers of Christ to return to marriage as He originally designed … in the beginning? The good news is men and women can choose to live in mutual authority, be reciprocal servants, and humbly live out God’s original marriage design. And this will provide countless opportunities to advance God’s kingdom and tell others about the Maker of marriage.
All that is to say, similar to early church leaders Priscilla and her husband Aquila taking Apollos aside and explaining to him “the way of God more accurately,” we pray for opportunities to take men and women aside and explain to them what we are convinced is the way of God more accurately [in regard to marriage].
We believe co-leadership and shared authority in marriage more accurately aligns with the triune God’s plurality, oneness, and His original marriage design. And walking this out for almost forty years, our humble opinion is you don’t have to walk out co-leadership and shared authority—you get to.
For information on the CBE Conference visit http://www.cbeinternational.org/content/2015-los-angeles-conference