I love what C.S. Lewis wrote in one of his novels. It’s advice given to a young bride who resents her husband. He says, “Have as much equality as you please, the more the better in our marriage laws, but at some level consent to inequality, delight in inequality, it is an erotic necessity.”
I think he’s saying: “The fact that God makes us all different, and the command that we submit one to another, is not a curse; it’s an erotic necessity called the Kingdom of God.
Ephesians 5:21-32 touches on this same idea. It raises questions about the differences between male and female and yet it points to an erotic necessity.
Let’s take a look at it:
“….Submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. (Literally: “in fear of Christ”) Wives, submit (“subordinate yourselves” – Markus Barth) to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.”
[Now please note: since the wife is also the church and her husband is also Christ. She shouldn’t obey her earthly husband if it violates her obedience to Christ (her ultimate Husband). Yet, Paul still wrote: “Subordinate yourself in everything.”]
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.”
Wow! Well, of course, that’s not very politically correct! And it clearly holds the potential for an immense amount of abuse and incredible pain, and yet, it’s clear that Paul seems to think there are differences between men and women and those differences might affect roles we play and how we relate.
I think we’d all agree that men and women are different. Right?
We’re just confused about how they’re different and what it means.
Theologian Emil Brunner wrote:
“Our sexuality penetrates to the deepest metaphysical ground of our personality. As a result, the physical differences between the man and the woman are a parable of the psychical and spiritual differences of a more ultimate nature.”
Now, I really don’t know and can’t fully understand all the details of those differences. Yet, we all know there’s a difference. And any difference means: there’s something you don’t have that someone else does have; there’s something you can’t do that someone else can do, and the difference makes you feel incomplete.
How do you handle that feeling?
Do you try to seize that which is not yours?
I can think of a time when something similar happened in Genesis—when some people felt incomplete and tried to seize what was yet not theirs.
As soon as Adam and Eve recognized the difference between themselves and God, they seized the fruit from the tree; and then, soon after, they covered up their differences in shame. They covered the place where they were different from each other, and they hid themselves from God once they saw how they were different from God.
We cover it up too, and what do we cover?
That place where we feel shame.
That place where we see that we’re incomplete.
That place where we are unequal and thus vulnerable to pain.
That place that is connected to our heart.
That place where diversity becomes unity in the image of the Trinity.
That place where two people become one flesh.
That place where the Groom enters His Bride, who is His temple, and gives her
His Seed, which fills her emptiness with fruit that is Life.
But perhaps there is a better way.
Ephesians 5:28-32 says,
“In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— for we are members of his body. “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
Paul quotes Genesis chapter two and says it all refers to Christ and His Bride, the Church. Just think about that:
It was His Church that took His life on the cross . . .
Like Adam and Eve took fruit from the tree.
And it was for His Church that He gave His life on the cross.
In Genesis chapter three, Eve tried to take the good from the tree. But even before that, God divided Adam and made Adam male and female in Genesis two. (Theologians call that “supralapsarianism”). God was telling the story of communion before our disunion with Him; He was telling the story of reparation before our separation from Him!
Adam means “humanity.” Adam was one; Adam was he and she. But Adam didn’t recognize his Helper, who is God, so God took one side of Adam and made Eve. He told Adam to cleave to Eve in the hope that all humanity would learn to cleave to Him, for God is our helper–God is Salvation…made fit for us on a tree, called the cross. God is Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate Adam, and we are His Bride.
The Bible ends with a wedding feast—the wedding feast of Jesus and His Bride!
Therefore, two persons become one flesh.
Do you see? Your sexuality is a sign pointing to your consummated relationship with Christ in glory, and perhaps, even your relationship with ALL in glory, for Christ will be in all and all will be one body.
Well good sex, in a good marriage, is to be a picture of Heaven.
How a person seeks the One Reality is to be a picture of how a person seeks the other.
Nothing is wasted: All the yearning…
All the waiting…
All the longing… prepares you for your final destination,
Before we ever tried to seize what we thought we did not have, God had made provision to fill our deepest longings with Himself!
It hurts Him that we take His life on the tree.
Yet, it delights Him to give His life on the tree.
He says, “I give it to you; take and eat, take and drink.”
It is only His body and blood and His life that completes us in the image of God.
We try to take it, but we can only receive it, by grace, through faith.
Do you see? Even though we might feel incomplete or unfinished—tempted to seize what is not yet ours—He finishes us.
He completes us with Himself.
“‘The two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”
*This devotional was prepared by Kimberly Weynen. It is primarily a compilation of excerpts from Peter Hiett’s sermon titled “Warm Bodies in a Cold War” and some devotional thoughts from Kimberly. You can read, watch, or listen to the full version here: Warm Bodies in a Cold War
*Discussion Questions are available here: 7.21.2013 Discussion Questions