Saturday, August 09, 2008

The mysterious one-fleshness of marriage

Over on the Bayly Blog, they are getting their knickers all in a twist, as usual, but since I've written about that elsewhere, I really wanted input from my readers about one of the comments:

This two-for-one sort of talk sounds remarkably like the press for Denver Seminary's new president when he was hired.

Must be an egal thing, right?

One of the great mysteries of marriage is that the "two become one". What does that really mean?

Yes, yes, I know that I sometimes am far too idealistic, too romantic, too head-up-in-the-clouds. Over the years, I've been told that it's "obvious" that all that is meant by the "one flesh" union of marriage is (pick one):
  • Married people have sex. Having sex makes you one flesh. Sheesh, Rebecca, you are so dense. Either that, or you're a prude. All God meant is that married people have sex. Why do you have to try to make a big deal out of everything? There is no mystery here. It's just simple biology.
  • The husband is the head and the wife is the body. Good grief, Rebecca, can't you read? This is so plain. What God is saying here is that women need to obey their husbands.
  • Married people have babies. Do I really have to explain this to you, Rebecca? The DNA from the husband and the wife combines and "creates" a new person --- the two literally become one flesh! Maybe if you hadn't been writing poems in Algebra class, you wouldn't be such a doofus at science and you would be able to understand the obvious!
  • It means something mysterious and profound. It speaks of a deep spiritual truth, and is a picture of our unity with Christ. It's hard for us selfish individuals to understand this, Rebecca. Sin gets in the way of our comprehending how complete, how mysterious, this truth is --- and we all fail at living out the unity we are supposed to have in marriage.
One flesh...I've known a few married couples who seemed one. My parents are much like that. Oh, sure --- they don't always agree on everything. But their unity is truly amazing to me. (Sometimes, as a child, it annoyed me that they were so united in everything. Play one off the other? Impossible! It seems as if they were always acting and thinking in one accord.)

So...if we are supposed to be living out this wonderful unity in our marriages, acting as one flesh, and if the wife is supposed to be the "suitable helper" for her husband, why do people get all bent out of shape when someone acknowledges publicly that his wife is his helper in more than just domestic chores, and that she ministers with him, in unity, at his side? Isn't it more Biblical to get "two for one"?

So, gentle readers, what do you think?

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  1. I like hearing about husbands and wives who are on par with each other and capable of understanding with each other's worlds, and this certainly sounds true of the Hollingers.

    That phrase "two for one," although meant in a slightly disparaging way by that commenter, is actually something I've heard from staunch comps. When a husband and wife join a church where the husband is hired as a pastor, but the wife is capable of leading women's ministries and outreaches and teaching Bible or has other talents involving people and outreach, we're told that. We're told we're "getting two for the price of one," which is a quip I don't care for, honestly, but it's meant to compliment the wife's talents and abilities in that case, not slam them.

    The more I read about the Hollingers (I've been blogging about this as well), the more impressed I am with them, and I wish them the best in their new place of ministry.

    Oh, as far as your question goes -- it sounds as though GCTS has gotten an Aquila and Priscilla and then some, and that is pretty commendable, right?

  2. Rebecca, perhaps you know more about how to search out when web pages have changed . . . get a load of this latest biographical page on Tim Bayly's church. Is this an extremely recent development, or what? --

    New Bios up on Tim Bayly's church which include how godly their families are and how there is no death of female virtue in their church, no sireee!

    [Big big, grin]

    PS - for those who may stumble on this and wonder what is going on, Tim Bayly just trashed Gordon-Conwell theological seminary because their bio on Dennis Hollinger (the new president elect) spoke of his pastoral and academic achievements, that he was married for thirty plus years and had two grown daughters, and that his wife has been in academia as well. Tim said this is an example of "the death of female virtue" among us.

    So Rebecca looked up Tim's bio on his church's web site, and trust me, it was NOT the one that has just gone up. There is no mention of the virtuousness of the wives on the page we found when we looked up the church in Bloomington.

    Rebecca mentioned this. On her blog and mine.

    I copied the comment she made on my blog into a main entry.

    Now we see a new and improved site. This is very funny, IMO.

  3. Thanks, Lynn.

    I guess perhaps Tim is open to correction, after all.

    What I found hilarious about the updated family info is that it is pretty much identical for each staff member. Only names & numbers of offspring have been changed:

    "Married to Mary Lee (Taylor) back in 1976, God has blessed the Baylys with five children and five grandchildren, so far. Out of God's mercy, the Baylys' children and their spouses are disciples of Jesus Christ who love His Church and are active in their congregation. Mary Lee is devoted to helping her husband in his ministry, providing him much godly counsel. She's also active in teaching the younger women of the congregation. Like all the leaders of CGS, the Baylys have an open home where the needy, lonely, and weak are welcomed and loved."

  4. I guess perhaps Tim is open to correction, after all.

    Since it was done quietly, it's more a case of covering himself.

  5. Perhaps Paige Patterson at SWBTS is next on Bayly's list. Patterson is president of the seminary, and his wife, Dorothy, is ON THE FACULTY. Of a seminary that made it a point to fire a tenure-track professor of Hebrew simply for being a woman, after giving her his word that her job was not in jeopardy. His conscience wouldn't let him honor his word to a sole-provider wife of an invalid husband with a minor child at home, but somehow it isn't much troubled by the "two-fer" of his wife being on the seminary faculty. Guess it makes a huge difference that she teaches the wives of seminary students how to be at-home wives and mothers (they have a degree program for homemaking). I think it's pretty ironic that Patterson's own wife is outside their home, teaching other wives how they must be at home.

    Flexible things, consciences. Kind of like the flexibility of personal ethics that will allow a Christian man to tear to shreds another Christian man for "letting" his wife be a professor, even though he has publicly praised another man for doing the same.

    People notice stuff like that. And they should. We ought to be discerning about the behavior of those who presume to be teachers and leaders in the church.

  6. On quiet covering himself vs. receiving correction, I agree that it must be the former. If it were the latter, he would have had to actually receive the correction, and acknowledged that it was valid and needed. My impression, based on Bayly's own words, is that he'd rather go silent to his grave than admit that a woman corrected him. He'd have to have been wrong in order for that to happen.

  7. Say, what do you think of the "Good Shepherd Band's" denouncement of "feminine music" in worship, posted at the Bayly Blog? (As a musician myself, I've never found music to be either masculine or feminine; art forms don't have gender.) I was especially appalled to read the claim that "feminine music" in worship forces a man to "posture himself as a woman" before God, and that's "disgusting."

    Anyway, I found it an especially odious example of the equation of anything "feminine" as negative, and anything overtly "masculine" as de facto positive. I don't think it's a stretch to say that men who think that way have a deep-seated problem with women, and a god that's far too male to be the God revealed in the Scriptures.

  8. Psalmist, I read that blog entry, and as I have read many of that nature before this, it's getting a bit blase to me now.

    He said it was masculine to sing from the psaltery.

    How about songs based on the psaltery:

    "As the deer panteth for the water so my soul longeth after thee. You alone are my heart's desire and I long to worship thee.

    You alone are my strength my shield. To You alone may my spirit yield.

    You alone are my heart's desire and I long to worship thee."

    This is from and is based on one of the psalms of David. He also said no man would sing songs of a more feminine (relational) nature. He's wrong. I know plenty of men who do, as I sing in the choir at church.

    And I don't understand what he meant by referring to body posture. I've seen the "frozen chosen" worship, and I've been in Pentacostal churches, and churches in South America.

    In the more staid congregations, everybody is staid.

    In the livlier places, everybody is livlier. I don't understand what he meant by that.

    Also, I remember reading some online quotes by, I believe it was John Winthrop, who compared himself to a bride before her groom when speaking of his devotional life with the Lord, and I can only assume men such as Tim Bayly and Doug Phillips would say Winthrop was a man's man.

    Well, I just took a 20 minute break from looking at the Persieds. I'm going back out to see if there are any more before I hit the hay (It's 3:01 AM where I am).

  9. Yes, the band's (and presumably their approving pastor's) illogic is obvious when one looks at the psalter. How about one's soul being like a weaned child cuddling up with its mother? Maybe they leave that one out, too, in favor of telling God they want their enemies' little ones to be smashed to death. Is that masculine enough, I wonder?

    Get a clue, guys: worship is an act of ultimate submission to Someone Who's a whole lot greater than yourself, and Who is NOT made in your own puny little human image! Real men submit, relationally, to God. Deal with it.


    Between previous nights' sleep deprivation and a very cloudy sky, I decided not to try to watch the Perseids. I bet they were beautiful, though.

  10. They were. I was told to go out at around 2:00AM because the moon was setting around then, thus decreasing the light. I'm glad I went out around 1:30AM, because I got to see quite a few before 2:00, some of them made quite a noticeable and lengthy (comparatively speaking) streak of light. After 2:00, I saw quite a few, but there were much longer intervals between them. Either that, or I missed seeing some.

    I'd say this meteor shower is very worth seeing if you've got a clear night and are away from light pollution, and can spend the wee hours of the morning outside in a lounge chair. As it was, I had to cope with a little bit of light pollution from the porch lights and street lights in my neighborhood, use a rocking chair I brought outside and crane my neck a bit, but they were still beautiful.

    They are still worth checking out this coming night, and perhaps might give just as much of a show.

  11. I added a comment about "masculine music" to my series on the masculinization of the church. You can read it here:

  12. I decided to check out the allegedly masculine music for myself, a bit reluctantly, I'll admit. So I went to the band's website at

    You can actually listen to some of their music there. I'll admit that I was both relieved and...well...a tad amused. Not at the band themselves --- they aren't half bad for a little church worship band. A bit hokey-sounding at times, but there is nothing chest-thumpingly he-man about them or their selection of songs. They even have at least one woman singing.

    Check them out. If this is masculine music, supposedly, I have to say that I'm offended. Some of them are favorite hymns of mine, such as "Be Thou My Vision", "O, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus", "A Mighty Fortress is Our God". It never dawned on me that these were "boy hymns" or that I was posturing myself as a man before God when I sang them.

  13. A bit lengthy, but I found some quotes by John Winthrop which sound quite feminine to me. I made a couple paragraph breaks for ease in reading:

    "This affection continued still with me, and the love of Christ was ever in my heart, and drew me to be more enamored of him. Then I oft remembered that in Jeremiah: 2. 2. I remembered thee with the kindliness of thy youth, and the love of thy marriage, etc: which made me to recall to my view the love of my earthly marriages, which the more I thought upon, the more sensible I grew of the most sweet love of my heavenly husband, Christ Jesus; his spirit persuaded my heart, that if I could so entirely affect and delight in such as I had not labored for etc: only for this consideration that they were to become a part of myself; needs must his love towards me be exceeding measure, that had made me, died for me, sweat water and blood for me, etc, and married me to himself, so as I am become truly one with him: then I was persuaded that neither my sins nor infirmities could put me out of his favor, he having washed away the one with his own blood, and covering the other with his unchangeable love:

    This comfort that I had in his sweet love drew me to deal with him as I was wont to do with my earthly wellbeloved, who being ever in the eye of my affection, I greedily employed every opportunity to be a messenger of the manifestation of my love, by letters, etc: so did I now with my dear lord Christ; I delighted to meditate of him, to pray to him, and to the Father in him (for all was one with me), to remember his sweet promises, etc: for I was well assured that he took all that I did in good part. I considered that he was such an one as should ever be living, so as I might ever love him, and always present, so as there should be no grief at partings: O my Lord, my love, how wholly delectable thou art! let him kiss me with the kisses of his mouth, for his love is sweeter than wine: how lovely is thy countenance! how pleasant are thy embraces! my heart leaps within me for joy when I hear the voice of thee my Lord, my love, when thou sayest to my soul, thou art her salvation. O my God, my king, what am I but dust! a worm, a rebel, and thine enemy was I, wallowing in the blood and filth of my sins, when thou didst cast the light of thy Countenance upon me, when thou spread over me the lap of thy love, and saidst that I should live. Then didst thou wash me in the ever flowing fountains of thy blood, thou didst trim me as a bride prepared for her husband, my clothing was thy pure righteousness, thou speakest kindly to the heart of thy most unworthy servant, and my flesh grew like the flesh of a young child, etc:

    And now let me ever be with thee, O my Redeemer, for in thy presence is joy, and at thy right hand are pleasures forevermore. Shadow me, and guide me with thy love, as in the days of my marriage, that I may never swerve from thee to run after earthly vanities that are lying and will not profit. Wholly thine I am (my sweet Lord Jesus) unworthy (I acknowledge) so much honor as to wipe the dust off the feet of my Lord and his wellbeloved spouse, in the day of the gladness of their heart, yet wilt thou honor me with the society of thy marriage chamber. Behold, all you beloved of the Lord, know and embrace with joy this unspeakable love of his towards you. God is love, assuredly."

  14. Rebecca,

    You should check out their newer stuff on their myspace page: