Do Ephesians 5:21-33, Colossians 3:18-19, 1 Peter 3:1-7 prescribe “roles” based on gender for husbands and wives?
Here are some questions that help me(and anyone else who is willing) to think critically about this concept:
~ Are wives NOT supposed to love their husbands(Eph. 5:25) because it’s not their role?
~ Is it okay if wives are harsh with their husbands(Col. 3:19), even though it is an instruction only for husbands as their role not to be harsh with their wives?
~ Should wives NOT love their husbands as their own bodies(Eph. 5:28) because this is the husband’s role?
~ Should a husband NOT have respect for his wife(Eph. 5:33) because it’s not his role?
~ Should a wife NOT understand and honor her husband(1 Peter 3:7) because it’s not her role?
~ Why do teachers on this subject always start with Ephesians 5:22, and ignore Ephesians 5:21(Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.)?
There are two ways to read the above passages…
~ They are new rules for us to follow.
~ They are not rules; they are principles to follow for all believers in all time periods, regardless of gender.
Here is a portion of a comment I shared on The Blazing Center last week, and I think it fits in with this subject:
I think it’s sad that Ephesians 5 has been reduced to a prescription for roles instead of a beautiful picture of the mystery of love and unity that happens in marriage. I don’t read it that way and I am completely free in my relationship with Christ to pursue my giftings and talents, without worrying about whether I’m fulfilling some “role”. And I realize that real life examples don’t always prove the point, but my husband is my best friend and we have a very close and wonderful relationship. We love each other, and are always seeking to put the other person’s interests above our own. We don’t worry about roles at all.
*This post by Retha at Biblical Personhood shows the humorous side of the concept of gender-specific roles… “humble headship” and “intelligent submission”.