Today we are starting the chapter called Washing of the Word. Supposedly Michael is going to explain how men are to sanctify their wife. Of course, the purpose of sanctification is to turn the wife into the ideal help meet. And by that, I mean turn the wife into what the man wants. Let's begin, shall we? Also in this section is a rare treat. We are blessed an honored to get a genuine sermon in the midst of all this teaching. Or, in other words, Michael talks on and on and on about how wonderful marriage is.
Text is in purple.
Washing of the Word
We must examine Ephesians 5 more closely. Clearly the subject of this passage is earthly marriage, but it is also an analogy of Christ and the church. It is like one of those drawings in which you view a distinct image and then see suddenly a completely different image drawn with the same lines. The longer you view it the more it changes back and forth. This passage is the story of earthly marriage, of husband and wife, but it is also the story of Christ and his bride. One is a figure for the other. They are mirror images.
Yes, I think we can all imagine a text where a different image is drawn with the same lines, and the view always changes...I know I've read one somewhere. Can anyone tell me where? I swear, it's on the tip of my tongue.
God's comparing his relationship with the church to a man and his wife is not a random metaphor God chose for its convenience and similarity to the point he wanted to make. Marriage was created in the image of God's relationship to his people.
Holy cow. It all makes sense. Marriage is created in the image of God's relationship to his people. Let's recap this relationship, shall we? He tells Abraham to kill his son, then says "Fake out!". He destroyed cities and flooded the land because the people he created (with his omniscience) weren't acting how he wanted them to. He puts plagues on people, kills others outright. Threatens everyone else with eternal damnation if they don't listen to him. Uses marine life to teach lessons to people that don't do what he says. Actually, this does sound a lot like what Michael thinks a healthy marriage looks like. One man in charge of everything, and if you don't do what he says, then you deserve what you get!
Just as the physical bodies of men and women reflect the image of God, the sexual relationship reflects the communion of the human spirit with God's spirit. The final heavenly state will be a climax in the spirit when God and his bride merge into oneness. "Marriage is honorable and the bed undefiled" because it is created in the image and likeness of heavenly intercourse. One entire book in the Bible, the Song of Solomon, is dedicated to a bride's erotic desire for her husband.
Alright. I grew up Mormon, and was taught that even after death, in Mormon heaven, there will be "increase" (sex and reproduction) forever. So I'm not new to this magical-God sex thing. But this section really icked me out. It almost read like bad Christian fanfic. Oh, and call me crazy, but wouldn't a book called the Song of SOLOMON be by...I don't know...Solomon? And, according to Wikipedia, this book is actually a man and his beloved spewing poetry to each other. Not just a woman ready for some "proper bedding".
The nature of marriage is that two shall become one flesh. In Ephesians we read of the relationship of the church to Christ, "For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. (Eph 5:30). The analogy leans heavily on the physical union of a man and woman with its over-the-top emphasis on body, flesh, and bone union. Eve was created from the bone taken from Adam's side, prompting Adam to respond "This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh. (Genesis 2:23)"
I'm not going back to check, but I'm positive this is the 3rd time for the Ephesians verse, and the 4th or 5th for the Genesis one. Not to be picky, but the man has an entire Bible to work from. Why is he repeating verses over and over?
By Divine Design
Our sojourn here on on earth, with all of its sin and pain, is not just an unfortunate cosmic mistake from which we are trying to dig our way out. God commenced a grand project in the Garden of Eden. Even as he placed the perfect couple in that pristine environment, commanding them to "be fruitful and multiply," he knew they would not resist the temptation to act independently. He knew they would sin, plunging the world into a tragedy that would drag on for millenia. But it was and is by divine design. The program is on schedule and is producing the results God anticipated. (See my book "Divine Design" for a full description of God's eternal purpose worked out in humankind.)
So if God allowed Adam and Eve to act independently, because it was part of his divine design, why doesn't Michael advocate for HIS children to act independently? He claims his child-rearing is the godly way, yet he acknowledges that God let his perfect kids do what they wanted.
I also think we should make a game. Like BINGO, and have squares for "Plugging another Pearl product", "Scare tactics", "Bible Thumping" and "Religious rambling". Stuff like that. It would be fun to see how often they use the same few techniques.
*SERMON AHEAD. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*
God is generating a family of like-minded sons and daughters. His son Jesus is the prototype. God desires much more than he is able to create. He cannot create character. He cannot create people with experience. He cannot create a free will that chooses only righteousness. So he created (or allowed to come into existence) an unstable environment that is a mixture of order and degeneration, of pleasure of pain, good and evil, of success and failure, of justice and grace, of life and death. At the center of it all are millions of souls with the opportunity to rise or fall, be good or bad, to ascend to a state much higher than their creation, or to degenerate to a despicable and deplorable depth of depravity. Those who recognize their weakness and call upon him for deliverance will find strength to rise beyond themselves and conform to the preordained image of God's son. The man Jesus Christ is the first of many sons whom God will bring into a state of glory-a glory that far exceeds the original paradise. It is not as Milton wrote, "Paradise Restored." It is far beyond paradise. It is a sonship arrived at through a process of overcoming.
Ugh. Remember Michael's take on Jesus? Jesus, the Steady guy. And we all know how Michael feels about Steady men. Also, what is up with all this "God can't do this"? I thought Christians believe that God can do anything he wants. So he can't make people that choose only righteousness, but he can give people the strength to conform to Jesus. Interesting distinction.
Nowhere in this long, long, long paragraph does Michael talk about women. He talks about a sonship. He talks about the first of many sons. But nowhere does he say anything about the wives. In this beyond paradise, where are the women (that apparently need sanctifying by their husbands)? While the men are in paradise, what do the wives do?
The male and female combination, properly functioning, simulates the entire human experience and creates a synergy where the sum is greater than the parts, where the end is better than the beginning, where testing produces triumph, where two mortal souls merge into a oneness that expresses the image of God in a way that would never have been possible in a single act of creation.
And properly functioning means the man is in charge, and the woman is created to serve. All this waxing poetic about how great it is that half the human population is made to help the other half is, frankly, getting really boring and annoying. I'm almost wishing Michael would go back to comparing the types!