Tuesday, October 31, 2006

calling him "master"

1 Peter 3:5-6
5 For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their husbands, 6 as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening.

Sarah called Abraham "lord" (sometimes translated "master"). Should wives today follow Sarah's example in calling their husbands "lord"? What does this title mean to a woman? For Sarah, it was a sign of her submission. To comply to her husband's wishes, to please her mate, to encourage him, to yield to his preferences--some modern women might be willing to sign their names on the dotted line to the above. However, to call him "lord"? What does that imply?

To me, it implies trust. Trust that he will not misuse the power found in the title "master". Trust that his care for her will be motivated by love and self-denial. Trust in the wisdom God has given him to lead her in godly directions.

I would love to call my husband one day "master" or "lord", but ... to be honest ... it scares me. I imagine that it would scare him, as well, to bear the responsibility of that title.

By God's grace ...

[note: i am not suggesting that wives ought to do this as though it were a command in Scripture. Sarah used this title as a gesture of submission and trust in her husband, a gesture that shows to the world her love and confidence in her mate. One could call her husband "lord" or perhaps show that same respect in another fashion that bears just as much weight in our culture today.]

23 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'll admit, when I heard that sermon by Dominic my initial response was "I don't want to get married - I can't live up to this..."

ckhnat said...

What is it this weight that the term "lord" carries? Why can we go through the motions willingly but to say the word ... ? Is it similar to Paul exhortation for those who believe to "confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord"?

Why?

Why did Paul suggest that it was vital to confess with the mouth Christ's Lordship over our lives?

Couldn't one just go through the motions?

Can I understand the weight of calling Christ "Lord of my lif"e only until I understand what it means to give myself over to calling my husband "lord"?

Honestly, it truly freaks me out! I break out into a cold sweat. Perhaps because I know that Christ is perfect and will never disappoint me I fear placing my trust in someone I know is fallible.

But perhaps that trust ought to be in Christ who dwells in my husband, who is working His good pleasure in him and through him conforming him more and more into the image of Christ.

I'm not being dogmatic about this at all. I don't know. My first reaction to this thought of calling my husband "lord and master" was a bit silly. But I've thought thru it throughout the day and I'm attempting to understand how I may apply this example from Sarah to my own life in the future.

John Dekker said...

I don't see any hint of trust in the context. And, of course, it applies equally to women married to non-Christians (see 3:1).

Interestingly, in preparation for my OT exam I was looking this morning at the only other time that word is used for a husband - Amos 4:1, where it is used ironically: Hear this word, you heifers of Bashan... who say to your lords, "Bring, that we may drink"...

So obviously it's not the word itself that is the issue.

ckhnat said...

I suppose, J.D. ... but I was thinking to myself, "what would it take for me to call my husband 'lord'?"

Could I truly express my attitude of submission and love to him in this manner without trusting him? What if I didn't trust him? If Sarah did not call him "lord" would that be a sign of disrespect? Or is her calling him "lord" a symbol of the peace she finds in trusting the one she loves.

Hmm ...

I'll sleep on it.

Talk amongst yourselves.

John Dekker said...

Why should it be conditional? After all, it is for Jesus' sake - "Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord" (Eph 5:22).

It's a wonderful blessing to be able to marry a man whom you can trust - not every woman in the world gets to choose whom she marries. But this passage also applies to women whose husbands are not trustworthy.

Anonymous said...

You can be all of those things that Sarah was but why the necessity to call your husband "Lord"? You don't have to 'call' him Lord to treat him like one.

master immediately makes me think 'slave' but I really need to think more on this, these are just my initial reactions.

Ruth said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
John H said...

If my wife called me "master" or "lord", it would completely freak me out. And if other people overheard her doing it, they'd probably have me arrested. Heck, I'd probably have me arrested. For my own protection.

I think your closing parenthesis about showing respect in a culturally-appropriate fashion is exactly right. Women showing respect to their husbands is a powerful and countercultural witness - as, indeed, is husbands showing Christlike love to their wives. Women calling their husbands "lord" and "master" is about as culturally-appropriate as addressing your president as "Sire".

Lorie said...

And I think that's what it's about---respect, rather than trust. You asked, "If Sarah did not call him 'lord' would that be a sign of disrespect?" The answer is a resounding "yes". Within that social and cultural context and at that time, women were expected to regard their husbands as their masters and lords. So it's good to seek to know what that would like today. How do we show respect in a culturally-relevant way, so that people know by our actions that we are doing what we are all expected to do to show love, submission and respect. I would venture to say that becoming some borderline-cultish segment of the population who walks around calling their husbands "lord" is not the answer... :)

meredith said...

Hmm, was just reading Carolyn James' book on _Lost Women of the Bible_ last night - specifically the chapter on Sarah. Good stuff. We are doing 1 Peter in Bible study and I have to prepare for this passage in a couple weeks' time. Some observations:

1. Sarah was not a paragon. She connived with the Hagar thing, lost her temper when it didn't work out the way she had envisioned, and showed no faith in the prophecy of a son (can't really blame her, she was post-menopausal by then).
2. Abraham was not a paragon. Not a lot of self-sacrifice going on there when he asked Sarah to lie for him. Twice.
3. Btw, Sarah didn't need to adorn herself because she was naturally a hottie (according to the Scripture!).

So - how is she our model again? I don't see her as a compliant, encouraging, husband-pleaser who yielded a whole lot.

(just rattling the bars a bit)

ckhnat said...

That's what I loved about James' book ... bringing the heroines of the faith down to their sin-nature human levels.

So, what is Peter's/Holy Spirit's point then?

Lorie said...

His point is this:
(1 Peter 3:1-4)
1Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, 2when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. 3Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. 4Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight.

That's what he's illustrating by using the example of Sarah obeying Abraham and submitting to him as her master.

Laura said...

What would it take for you to call your husband "lord and master?"
Step One: Light a few candles.

*giggles*

*gales of laughter*

ckhnat said...

Bwahahaha! I wasn't going to say it ...

(blush)

Laura said...

Oh... look at my blog... dying of hysteria...

Anonymous said...

I agree with John H.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why ungodly women and effeminate men get so bent outta shape by the concept of wives submitting to their husbands. Why do they care? It's just a chain of command thing.

Ephesians 5:22-31 states that husbands should also love their wives as Christ loved the church and GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER, ....which implies that the man is to make just as much of a sacrifice.
-Walt (followed over from pyromaniacs)

Lee Shelton said...

ckhnat: "But perhaps that trust ought to be in Christ who dwells in my husband, who is working His good pleasure in him and through him conforming him more and more into the image of Christ."

Excellent point. And as one flesh, I would think the joy of the journey as a married couple comes from conforming into the image of Christ together.

By the way, I'm a newcomer to your blog and just want to say that I like what I've seen so far. You have a gift for words, and I love your writing style. Keep it up!

God bless.

MInTheGap said...

I would agree that we are all sinful, but if the Holy Spirit highlights a trait as something that is good we should stand up and take notice.

Sarah and Abraham did have their faults, but Abraham was also greatly blessed by God because of his faith and Sarah was given a son in old age.

If Sarah's submission to her husband by calling her 'lord' was something that was highlighted and commended by the Spirit, then there's something there that we are supposed to take away from there-- and I think you're right, it's that there is an order to the family and we're to respect it because of Who put it in place.

Anonymous said...

If my wife called me lord and meant it, it would spur me on to be a better husband.

Anonymous said...

As I understand the context of Sarah's use of the word "Lord" it was as a sign of respect, Men however are also told to Love their wives, in other words the title of Master or Lord is not an excuse for men to mistreat their wives,basically they should not abuse the headship they are given,

As Long as the husband Lovingly honors the wife as his partner I see no problem with her showing respect in the way Sarah did, If that is how she chooses to show her respect.

Though "Master" in most circles these days would seem a little strange, I think that is only because most associate it with people that are like "Do what I say or Else".

I however, do not see that as being how it is used by Sarah, In context it is a sign of the Honor,Love and Trust she has for Abraham.

Anonymous said...

P.S. I believe "Sir" in today's language is just as respectful, that is what I meant by "If that is how she chooses to show her respect",
that there are terms in today's society that can still show the same honor as "Master" and "Lord"
There is nothing wrong with either title,

To All,
God Bless

John said...

I agree with the last 2 comments from Anonymous,"Lord","Master",and "Sir"are all signs of Great respect. The Husband Should always Love and Cherish the wife,her submission, while she is told to submit, is still a gift given to her husband who is her partner,

her submission to her husband and his Love for her, is an honor to them both, but most of all it is a reflection of Christ's Love and submission to God