Feminine Glory (for my wife on our anniversary)

Today is our fourth anniversary of marriage and so I wanted to take the opportunity to express my love for my wife and then also do a little theological musing on Doug Wilson’s post and Ben Merkle’s talk “Submission as Glory.”

Before my wife came into my life I dressed like a slob, ate fried hamburger meat mixed with applesauce and hot sauce (seriously), and lived in a home decorated with monster truck posters, toy action figures, and airsoft guns. It’s not good for man to be alone.

But once she came into my life things have really changed for the good. That’s because I’m married to a glorious woman.

Now I want to take a look at a difficult passage for a minute and relate it to marriage:

1 Corinthians 11:3-16 (ESV):

“…I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, but every wife who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same as if her head were shaven. For if a wife will not cover her head, then she should cut her hair short. But since it is disgraceful for a wife to cut off her hair or shave her head, let her cover her head. For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do the churches of God.”

This is a tricky passage and I’d like to leave the whole discussion of what the head covering was for a later post. But for now I want to simply point out the simple truth from this text: women display more of God’s glory than men. That’s probably controversial. Whatever – it shouldn’t be.

If you read 1 Cor 11 you will see that men/husbands are the “head” of women/wives – verse 3. What that means is that there is an authority structure knitted into creation/marriage. However, if you look a little closer you soon realize that authority is not the same as glory.

Theologically, GLORY is the radiation or the expression of the substance of something. For example, the earth is full of the glory of the Lord – but the earth is not God – it’s the theatre of God’s glory, His radiance, His splendour. Similarly, Jesus is the image and glory of God (the Father) so He displays and declares who the Father is to a needy world. Likewise, the Church is the glory of Christ – we radiate His worth and display who He is (imperfectly).

What this means then in 1 Cor 11 is that men ought to radiate the glory of God – we display the greatness of God. We put His goodness and God-ness on display; then women/wives in turn declare the sacrificial goodness of their men/husbands (verse 7).

Now here is the key point: remember that in Scripture, marriage is a picture of Christ and the Church. Men are supposed to portray Christ’s sacrificial authority and women are supposed to respond to that, encourage that, and receive that sacrifice. BUT, what that also means is that there is an important sense, when looking at 1 Cor 11, in which women represent men. That is because if men are to their wives what Christ is to the Church (and the Church is there to display the glory of Christ) then as you move down the authority chain you actually move up the glory chain.

The premise then is that being under the authority of someone reflects the glory of that someone.

Men are under the authority of Christ and reflect His glory.

Women are under the authority of men and also Christ and so not only do they reflect their husbands’ glory but more significantly their reflection of Christ’s glory is magnified as you progress down.

So rather than reflecting less glory than men, they actually reflect more. In the display of glory-light, men radiate the general glory of God and then women are the prism that focuses that glory into a pinpoint.

And that is pretty obvious the more you think about it; it accords with Scripture: “An excellent wife is the crown of her husband…” (Proverbs 12:4 ESV).

Likewise it reflects Adam’s exuberance in the garden: “Then the man said, ‘This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man’” (Gen 2:23 ESV). This is a hymn of praise. Adam’s mind is being blown by her beauty, her glory.

Moreover, it accords with nature. Women MAKE people! They are life-givers and they are beauty-infusers. They take ugly dirty monster truck posters down and adorn the home with beauty.

So then to my wife, today – Brittany, you are a glorious and beautiful woman. You have made my vanilla life marvelous and infused it with beauty, flavour, and colour. Thank you. I love you.

And to my readers:

Women, don’t exchange your feminine glory for vanilla masculinity. Men – honour it and encourage it. And my God help us to display this and speak of it well in our day, declaring the truth of it with the kind of words that aren’t spoken.

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