When Christ came, he came in the place of Adam, intiating the New Covenant through his sacrifice on the Cross for us His people. Whereas in Adam, all of us fell into sin and death, Christ as the scond Adam (Rom. 5:18) by His sacrifice purchased a people unto Himself, and thus all of us who are His are raised unto new life in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Those of us who are His are now released from the power and bondage of sin unto grace (Rom. 6:11), and part of it would therefore also be from that induced by the Fall. Definitely, as part of humanity, we still would be subjected to the effects of it (Christian women STILL have pain in childbearing, Christians who work STILL find work difficult), however we are declared free from the its tyannical power. So while we are still subjected to tempations and trials and still sin of our own accord, we are free now to choose and struggle not to sin, following Christ instead of sin. Indeed, sin becomes something alien to the believer who has a new nature, who struggles against it regularly.
In the area of the sin-dependent changes brought by the Fall, Christian women can now strive to be truly lovingly obedient to their husbands, and huasbands to love their wives, wich we shall see later. In the meantime, we would like to look at relations between men and women in general in the churches.
The most obvious thing that has changed in the relation between men and women, and in fact, between anyone in Christ, is that we are to love each other in the Lord (Jn. 13:34-35; 15:12,17; 1 Jn. 3:11, 4:7). In fact, loving our brethren is even likened to a contest of who loves and honors his/her brethren more (Rom. 1210) and we owe each other a debt of love one to another (Rom. 13:8). Doing so, it means that we are to honor, respect and esteem each other, even above ourselves.
In 1 Tim. 5:1-2, we can see God's instructions for us specifically to various groups of people in the churches.
Do not rebuke an older man but encouraged him as you would a father. Treat younger men like brothers, older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity. (1 Tim. 5:1-2)
As we can see, we are to treat all the brethren 'in all purity', that is, with a pure heart of love for their good. They are to treated in the same way they we should lovingly treat our family members.
Next, we would look at the relationship between men and women in a marriage, as it is commanded by God:
Wives, submit 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.
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. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.
The entire passage is easy to read. In the first part, wives are told to submit to their husbands, as to the Lord. In other words, women are to submit to their husbands as if their husbands were the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! They are to love, obey and respect him absolutely and unconditionally. They are to submit to their husband in the same way as the Church submits to Christ. No exception, no buts. As the Church obeys her Lord, honor and respect Him, the women are to do the same to their husbands. Of course, this is not to say that wives are to obey their husbands even to the extent of breaking God's law by so doing; she must obey God above all, but whatever the case, respect and honor must be given to him.
In the scond part, Paul goes to the husbands. Men are to love their wives, similary, absolutely and unconditionally. No exceptions, no buts too! They are to love their wives in the same way as Christ love the Church. Husbands are to provide for their wives' needs (NOT necessarily wants), and to love her as his own body, tenderly taking care of her.
In verses 31 and 32, Paul quotes the verse Gen. 2:24 which we have seen earlier, and applies it doubly to the relations between husbands and wives, and to Christ and the church, as they are both analogous to each other. Thus, from this, we can see that Paul is directing the relationship within a marriage back to the Creation order, which is loving submission of wives to their husbands who love them unconditionally as his own body.
We will now look at the role of women in relation to their behavior and in ministry.
[to be continued]