These two words speak to the miserable failure of the sexual revolution of the 1960's and the pervasive failure of modern mores to stem sexual exploitation at every level of society. The sexual revolution failed to accomplish its goal of liberated sexual freedom that still valued and fulfilled the dreams and needs both of men and women. Even the "father" of the sexual revolution, Timothy Leary, reputedly pronounced the sociological and psychedelic experiment a failure at achieving true sexual intimacy. Whether this pronouncement is valid or only rumored, the results cataclysmically speak for themselves — the revolution failed and failed destructively:
Now, as recipients of the detritus of this revolution, we live in a world of greater confusion about our sexual identities while enduring the repeated aftershocks of sexual exploitation and abuse. The toll on our society, our cultures, our families, and especially our women and children, is devastating and ongoing. Like a leak of radioactive waste, the half-life on this emotional and cultural damage is generational and not easily contained.
Me Too! is much more than a slogan. It is more than a movement. It is more than a tool to push back against abuse.
Me Too! is an indictment — a sobering reminder of something intended for our blessing — sexual intimacy — that was turned into a tool to abuse, bully, threaten, assault, exploit, and rape. The damage to people, precious people, made in the image of God, is inestimable.
As believers in Jesus, we have not consistently spoken the liberating and protective truth of the LORD's plan for our sexual blessing. Instead, we have focused more on the "thou shalt not's" and ignored the call to value the vulnerable and exploited in our culture, our churches, and our families — and that is the focus of this series of articles —our women and daughters. We have ignored the Lord's call to value women properly and appreciate their roles in his plan for marriage. We haven't been clear about the place and practice of sexual intimacy based on the Creator's intent and design. We even have given credence to the teaching that husbands should subjugate their wives by misapplying and misinterpreting statements by Paul intended to do the exact opposite.
Jesus' validation of women in a Jewish context was revolutionary (John 4:4-10, 27; 8:1-11; Luke 7:11-17; 36-50; 8:1-3). The apostles proclaimed this validation at Pentecost (Acts 2:17-18). Paul assumed and reaffirmed their value to his ministry with churches and groups (1 Corinthians 11:5; Acts 21:8-9; Romans 16:1-3). Then, Paul deepened Jesus' implications for women when he spoke redemptively about the relationship between husbands and wives. He sought to apply God's protective grace into to the woman-abusing practices of the first century Greco-Roman context. This surrounding culture viewed women as little more than property, sexual objects, and tools for social advancement:
Paul, along with the rest of our New Testament witnesses spoke with a unified voice about the value and the importance of women and wives. This consistent voice was as clear as it was liberating in their roles as wives and sexual partners with their husbands. This voice is built upon Jesus' definition of marriage which the Lord tied to the original purpose of the Creator (Matthew 19:4-6). The goal was to bring marriage, and the sexual relationship between a man and woman in marriage, back to the glorious "it was very good!" (Genesis 1:31) declared by God over his creation before the Fall.
Paul based his declaration on at least four pillars the Creator intended for the marriage union:
- Both male and female were created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).
- Though God made the two of the same material, he made each differently, created to be the complement of the other (Genesis 2:21-23).
- God designed their coming together to be a celebration of joyful union emotionally, sexually, socially, and spiritually (Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5-6).
- God created them to live with each without shame and full transparency (Genesis 2:25).
This reality of "it was very good!" was the foundation of Paul's revolutionary teaching on sexual intimacy. The apostle directly addressed sexual intimacy matters from several different angles when he wrote to the believers in Corinth (2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1; 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 are just two examples). The reputation of Corinth as a sexually permissive city given to great sexual excesses provides us the background for God's plan for a day like we find ourselves in today.
Paul's guidelines for husbands and wives regarding sexual intimacy was shocking to the ears of an ancient world where women were little more than property or wombs to bear legitimate children. He gave equal status to women and wives in their relationship with men and husbands. Notice his first salvo and compare it to the quote above about the purpose of women as sexual partners for men in the early church's contemporary society:
Now for the matters you wrote about: "It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman." But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:1-5 — Bold and underline added for emphasis).
Everything said in these verses that were for the advantage of men, their culture would have responded with a hearty, "Yes!" But, notice that Paul gave a corresponding value and equality to women. That would have been shocking... anti-cultural... and life-validating to Christian women and wives. Paul's introduction of the principle of mutuality — "by mutual consent" — makes sure the emphasis is on blessing the other rather than demanding what one personally demands. As Paul works through a variety of scenarios related to this principle of sexual need, he clearly emphasizes this principle of mutuality — based on love and respect for one's partner and her or his eternal destiny (1 Corinthians 7:12-16) — six times, each one as shocking as the previous one:
- Belonging — vs. 2.
- Body ownership — vs. 3-4.
- Divorce/Separation — vs. 10-11, 39.
- Unbelieving Spouse — vs. 12-16.
- Betrothed/Pledged — vs. 27-28.
- Anxious Concern — vs. 32-34.
Rather than male dominance and demand, the cultural norm, Paul's principle of mutuality is rooted in reverencing Christ and following the mind and way of Christ Jesus. A great example of this mutuality principle is a passage often abused by some who call themselves followers of Jesus. Focus on the command, "Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord" (Ephesians 5:22). Most English readers do not know that the verb "submit" is not found in Paul's original words (in the original Greek). Translators have added the verb "submit" into verse 22, inferring it from Paul's command to both husand and wives in the previous verse, "Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ" (Ephesians 5:21). Paul's command in verse 21 stands over his directives to both wives and husbands in the section that follows. [The The New Living Translation, Edition 2, formats this section thoughtfully and accurately (Ephesians 5:21-33 NLT).]
For Paul, submission between a husband and a wife must be mutual and it must be based on their submitting and reverencing Jesus as Lord (Ephesians 5:21). He then describes the wife's form of submission (Ephesians 5:22-24). Then, in far greater detail, he describes the husband's form of submission. Notice that he based both descriptions on the sacrifice of Jesus and their relationship to Jesus as Lord (Ephesians 5:22-24, 25-27). In addition, notice that Paul did not tell the husband to make his wife submit to him nor did he tell the wife to make her husband submit to her. Instead, he placed the responsiblity of the husband's form of submission on the husband based on his relationship to Jesus as Lord. He also placed the responsibility of the wife's submission on the wife based on her relationship to Jesus as Lord.
Paul's first set of instructions — about the wife submitting to her husband — would have been understood from pervasive culture and male expectation. The second set — those calling the husband to submit his life and well being to beautify and bless his wife — would have been shocking. In a culture where men could frequent temple prostitutes, have concubines for bodily needs, and a wife for legitimate children, Paul's teaching to the Corinthians was revolutionary and value-changing.
But, how does this work? How does this mutuality find its way in a world of different needs, sexual responses, and personal desires?
Paul roots it in Jesus! He points to Jesus' example and builds his teaching around Jesus' two love commands (Matthew 22:34-40; Romans 13:9-10). That is what Paul calls "the most excellent way" (1 Corinthians 12:31). Paul then describes this new way as the way of love (1 Corinthians 13:1-13). As Paul emphasizes again and again, without love, whatever we do is little more than noise, nothing, profitless, temporary, partial, and childish at best (1 Corinthians 13:1, 2, 3, 8, 9, 11).
For Paul, love means mutual submission in marriage and life as a believer. A husband-wife relationship must be the area where they have the same mind, the mind of Christ, as they follow his example in their relationships, especially marriage:
Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Ephesians 5:21).
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!
While the "Me Too!" movement challenges our culture to learn to negotiate sexual permissions and not impose one's will on another without mutual consent, Christians should point each other to the love principle and the call to mutual submission rooted in the sacrificial example of Jesus. The sacrificial way of love is our call in every relationship, especially in our sexual behaviors and our marriage commitments. We pledge to love God by reflecting both his righteous character and his gracious compassion as we seek to love each other. Anything less would be less than the way of Jesus.
As believers in Jesus, we have not clearly spoken the liberating and protective truth of the LORD's plan for our sexual blessing.
[ONE] From Matt Walsh in The Daily Wire, "The Sexual Revolution Is A Catastrophic Failure. It's Time To Give Up On This Experiment." This scathing article that speaks of the destruction left behind from this experiment is as well documented as it is well written.
[TWO] This post is part of a multi-week series on the value of women in the eyes of God as revealed in the Scriptures and the ministries of Jesus and the early church.
- Of Sacred Value
- Made to Be Complements
- Restoring the Creator's Intent
- Our New Trajectory in Pentecost
- Important Women, Important Roles
- Co-Heirs with Christ
- Too Familiar to Feel the BiteUnconventional Grace and the Song of Jesus
- The Most Excellent Way
[THREE] See the article on Hetaira in Wikipedia for information and this quote.© Phil Ware. All rights reserved.
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