Integration Through Submission
The wife doesn't have authority over her own body, but the husband.
Likewise also the husband doesn't have authority over his own body, but the wife. (1 Corinthians 7:4)
It might be a bit surprising to imagine wanting to contemplate such a verse as this, but after awakening very early in the morning and not being able to sleep, a new thought came to my mind about the deeper significance of what this verse may actually be trying to convey.
To the degree that reading such a verse produces a feeling of angst may indicate the degree to which we fail to grasp the truth about the fundamental nature of how God's kingdom operates. I know most of my life this verse has had potential to stir up feelings of resistance deep inside mingled with feelings of guilt for feeling of resistant. These confusing reactions are rooted in years of being told I was rebellious when in fact much of what I was experiencing was only natural resistance to abuses by authorities from people wanting to control my life. Instead of seeking to nurture my spirit and helping me cultivate a relationship with God, they thought God wanted them to dictate, intimidate and force me into obedience to God's rules and regulations. The deep wounds from this spiritual abuse is only now starting to heal enough to allow me to begin seeing many things in the Bible through new eyes bringing fresh excitement as I see things in their true context instead of in a spirit of fear. Now I am seeing this passage beginning to emerge into a whole new perspective for me.
The key brought to my attention as I lay meditating in bed and 1 AM had nothing to do with this verse at first but started by wondering how my brain is wired in relation to my body. It is a fact that each side of our brain controls the opposite side of our body. I was contemplating how this works and how it relates to my recent restoration of the gift of hearing in my right ear after a year and two thirds of being unable to hear. For the past week and a half I have been relishing being able not only to once again hear in stereo and not strain so hard to understand what people around me are saying, but also a restored ability to be able to sing with music or with others without the frustration of not being able to synchronize due to the high volume of my own voice internally. I now have renewed appreciation for the ability to just be able to sing at all and enjoy hearing myself externally along with the music as it is mixed properly so I can hear it all as it is supposed to sound.
As I was trying to figure out just where the line is in the physical brain where this crossover effect works as the left and right side control the other side of the body, suddenly this verse flashed into my mind as an explanation of how our body design illustrates God's intent for our relationship with others. This brings a completely new dimension to how this verse applies to our lives in a way that makes much more sense instead of something negative. Now I am starting to see more clearly the positive nature of true submission enhanced by a recent enlightenment about true authority the way God does it that He showed me a little over a year ago.
The marriage relationship in particular is supposed to reflect this unique function in our own brain/body connection. Typically a man tends to be more left-brain dominant while women typically tend to be more right-brain oriented. God designed that together they are to form a single entity in the relationship of marriage so as to more fully expose the nature and internal relations of the God we were created to reflect. This means it is impossible for a single human to convey the multi-dimensional nature of the godhead. Instead of God attempting to explain the truth about His heart and the relation of the members of the godhead to each other with words, He created a new order of beings to provide new insights into not only the truth about agape love that is the very essence of God, but also reveal more explicitly various insights to expand awareness about the nature of the relationship within the godhead where love is expressed and experienced most purely and intensely.
One thing that has been becoming more clear to me increasingly in recent months is the fact that the kingdom of God is designed to thrive in the rare atmosphere of willing vulnerability on the part of all who choose to participate in it. This is an inescapable fact that I cannot avoid, yet it also exposes very disturbing implications that make me very uncomfortable at times. God has been repeatedly pressing this truth closer and closer to me over time making it clear that if I want to participate in kingdom activities it will require I be willing to let go of my resistance to become willing to be vulnerable if I want to be useful in God's service. Jesus is the prime example of what it means to live vulnerably, and since Jesus is the only clear example of how every human is designed to live and thrive in God's love, I need to take His example seriously myself.
As the beauty of God's designs increasingly eclipse old ways of thinking about life and Scripture, I am seeing more and more clearly that what used to produce reactions of chaffing resistance in me was because of fears I had about God based on false beliefs about Him. The truth as it is in Jesus, especially about what God is really like, now makes everything different, new and exciting as I now see things like 'submission' and 'vulnerability' in a completely new context from what I had before.
Now I am seeing that this design of the brain controlling the opposite side of the body enlightens how I am to view my relationship with my wife. I know very little about the complexity of how this arrangement benefits my body, but clearly there are many new insights to receive as I discover how my marriage is intended to mimic how a perfectly synchronized and healthy body/mind relationship functions to show me how my marriage can more effectively produce glory for God's reputation.
According to Paul's explanation in this verse, a man – typically more left-brain, intellectual, factually detailed, cognitive oriented – is committed with the responsibility to do whatever he can to look out for, protect and nurture the development and growth of his wife's heart and seek to provide for her needs with more desire than his own. The same principle applies to the other side where the woman – typically more emotion-based, big-picture oriented, integrated and sensitive – is committed with the responsibility to do whatever she can to encourage and support her husband to help him in areas where he is weak and she is naturally more competent.
Both sides are designed to complement each other's weaknesses with their own God-given strengths so that together they form a composite revelation of God impossible to see without the other. And all of this can only happen as each one chooses to willingly submit to the other which involves making themselves vulnerable.
While I have been writing the previous paragraphs, a question has been persisting in my mind. How does this apply to Jesus, a single male human who the Bible says is the full revelation of God? Is Jesus an exception to this principle? Does Hebrews 1:1-3 mean that Jesus, a single individual, did not need a counterpart to portray clearly the complexity of the godhead like all other humans are designed to need in order to image their Creator?
The answer just came to me, and not surprisingly it is found in the very passages I looked up a few minutes ago to flush out this new insight more clearly. I just entered these passages into my Bible software so I could see how they relate to this verse, but after reading them I now realize that though Jesus is the best reflection of the glory of God, He has also committed Himself to getting a bride so as to fill out the revelation of God's heart in a new way beyond what anyone can yet imagine. He too is committed to revealing the design for humanity by fulfilling the original intent of marriage as the most accurate reflection of the godhead. He intends to do this by marrying His bride who will be composed of humans knit together so tightly in love that they become what is known as a single body.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the assembly, and gave himself up for it; that he might sanctify it, having cleansed it by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the assembly to himself gloriously, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27)
One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were loaded with the seven last plagues came, and he spoke with me, saying, "Come here. I will show you the wife, the Lamb's bride." (Revelation 21:9)
(For those wanting to examine more in depth the verses that came to my mind, here is a list of them. Likely it can expand far beyond these, but these were what came to my attention initially.)
1Cor 16:14-16; Eph 5:18-30; Col 3:12-24; Heb 13:15-18; James 4:5-10; 1Pet 2:13-23; 5:1-7