“For he knows our frame,
he remembers that we are dust”
~Psalm 103:14~

The first time I heard that men were givers and women were receivers I was at a weekend pastor’s wives retreat. At the time, I was very busy in the vocation of motherhood. Accompanying me on the retreat was my 5-week old infant, who I was happy to bring along and the other ladies were happy to have there. He slept with me in my bed where I was confident I could keep him quiet through the night while the others slept. I slept then too.

On an basic level the words made sense. Strictly speaking, using human anatomy to make the point, the male has a body part that is made to go inside a corresponding female body part. His going inside her is his giving himself to her. Men are the givers, women are the receivers. And it doesn’t stop there. Even once the man is inside there is more of him to give and more of him to be received. From the man’s sexual organ comes his seed set free to travel further up and further in.

I am not against looking to the creation as a way to explain things. From creation we are able to learn more about the Creator. Romans 1:20 explains it this way saying, “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made…” God makes his glory known through his creation in many ways, with the ultimate way being in the incarnation of Jesus, the begotten Son of the Father, who entered his creation so that then, now, and at the end of time God might be with us.

I am still trying to figure out what I think about this TGC article that has now been removed. Besides making the discussed Ephesians 5 passage more about the act of sex in marriage rather than about the picture of marriage itself, the part of the original TGC article that stood out to me was when he started talking more about generosity and hospitality. Complementarian doctrine makes frequent use of happy adverbs. This is particularly true when talking about the woman and her roles. The way we fit, the way we come together, the way we fulfill God’s design for us as women is repeatedly seen in their descriptions of us gladly receiving, joyfully submitting, and now in this article, warmly welcoming. By God’s design a wife gladly receives her husband’s leadership, joyfully submits to his authority, and now with great hospitality welcomes warmly his generosity.

As far as the standard description of “roles” goes, I don’t even really have a problem with this. Yes I think there is more to marriage than the differences between us and this oft repeated emphasis on who is in charge. But whether it’s me as a wife, or just me as a person, or especially me as a Christian and child of God, I want to be associated with words like warm, joy, and glad. Sometimes though it sounds a little too convenient for men and as women we are not allowed to speak or have an authoritative say in any of this.

The president of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, Denny Burk, in his response article Taking a Dog by the Ears provides an example of a common and related perspective regarding the roles of husbands and wives when he says, “The complementarity of head and helper in the covenant of marriage gloriously displays Christ’s love for his church (1 Cor. 11:9; Eph 5:25). This is the mystery that was hidden in ages past but that has now been most conspicuously displayed in Christ’s sacrificial death and resurrection (1 Cor. 2:7-8; Col. 1:26). None of this sits well with the egalitarian spirit of the age, but it is nonetheless the message of Scripture.”

Complementarian theology stresses that men and women are different. We do have to be different in some way, and undeniably we are different. Our bodies display this difference as the original article pointed out. But the relationship between Christ and his church is not a relationship of boss and subordinate. It is far more personal than that. When Jesus left the Father’s side in heaven that he might be with us again on the earth, he did so by staying God but becoming human like we are.

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