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Elyse Fitzpatrick: Why Gender is More and Less than You Thought

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
April 6, 2022 10:03 pm

Elyse Fitzpatrick: Why Gender is More and Less than You Thought

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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April 6, 2022 10:03 pm

In discussing gender and the Bible, do we lose what matters most? Authors Elyse Fitzpatrick & Eric Schumacher untangle what the Bible says and doesn't.

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Jesus has called us together to fulfill this great commission, and he's called us in a marriage to do that through our marriage. How do we display the glory of Jesus Christ crucified and risen together as partners in this?

And I'm going to kill anything in me that gets in the way of that, and I'm going to sacrifice any dream, any ambition, for the sake of her to be able to be unified with me so that we can flourish together in God's purposes. Welcome to Family Life Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson, and I'm Dave Wilson, and you can find us at or on our Family Life app.

This is Family Life Today. So we had this interesting experience happen one night at like 3 in the morning. Ann and I are upstairs in our bedroom asleep. And I wake up because the TV was blaring so loud.

Downstairs. This is at 3 a.m. None of our kids live in our home anymore, and so I hear the TV. I'm thinking, how did the TV get on? And so I shake Dave like, Dave, do you hear the TV?

It's blasting. I said, did you leave the TV on? I'm like, no. I mean, I turned it off.

I have no idea why the TV's on at 3 in the morning. So then tell them what you said. I said, you better go check that out. And I'm like, no, you go down there.

You didn't tell me, no. You didn't tell me to go down. But I mean, when she said that, I'm like, somebody's in our house and turned on the TV. And so we literally looked at each other like, what are we gonna do? And I'm like, I'm not going.

She's like, I'm not going. And we literally dialed 911 from our bed. I've never done this in my life because I knew the front shutters were open. So I literally get the police on there like, somebody's in our house downstairs. The TV's on.

We don't know what's going on. Would you come? And they're like, yeah, we'll come. I said, you could look through the front window.

You'll probably be able to see. So we lay there in bed waiting and shirt off. So then finally, you could see some lights out in our cul-de-sac. The police call and they go, hey, you can come down.

There's nobody in there. Let us in the front door. So we go tiptoeing down. And to this day, we don't know what happened, but the TV just clicked on, blurring. And he said, the policeman said, this happens all the time. Yeah, they told us stories. But like, what?

He goes, yeah, it's usually a person that has been drinking too much and they walk in the wrong home and turn on a TV. So anyway, you're like, why in the world did you just tell us this story? Because the question is, should Dave have gone down? Why is it the man that always has to be the protector when Anne's actually stronger and faster than me? No, I'm not.

I was like, I didn't even want you to go down. It's just a fun way to get into a question about male and female protector, follower, leader, headship submission in marriage and family. And so we're a marriage and family ministry. And we need to talk about how do you understand male and female husband, wife, headship submission in marriage. And so we brought Eric Shoemaker and Elise Fitzpatrick into the studio again today at Family Life to help us deal with this question. So welcome back, guys.

Thanks. Are you just laughing at our crazy life? Yes. You've never had that happen in your home?

Well, we've had several times that I've had to go downstairs. So why would you go and not Jenny? Yeah, that's it. That's the question. Look at Elise. Yeah, I'm stronger than Jenny. I'm physically stronger than Jenny. That's what I tell Dave.

Yeah. And I'm not saying that I didn't go down with my shotgun. But I went down. Would you go down, Elise?

You know, when I watched, like, scary suspense things on TV, and the person is going downstairs to see what the noise is, I'm always screaming, Don't go! Don't go! Don't go down there! So would I go?

No, probably not. Would you want your husband to go? Well, yeah. I mean, I don't want to go.

Somebody's got to go. Yeah, that's interesting. You know, we look at that role of men and women as protectors. But, you know, what's interesting to me is, I don't know if you guys watch superhero movies. Of course. Of course. The Marvel movies. Yes, all the Marvel universe. Yeah. And in Black Panther, you have the Dora Milaje, who are those women who are the protector of the king.

And I love that picture of the Dora Milaje. They're like warrior women. Because I think that comes closer to actually what those words, azer, kagnagno, mean.

You know, helper, suitable for, or standing in front of. I think that comes closer to the meaning of what it is to be a woman than the fainting Victorian woman who passes out at the sight of blood and couldn't protect at all. So, you know, I just want to maybe throw that in. Yeah. I think that Eve's role, the woman's role, is just as much a role of courage. I mean, women give birth, so. There you go. That term, that azer or azer, however you say it, it's noted as, with God, as being a god of power in a military word. Yes. And that's where I want to go with you guys, because you wrote a book called Jesus and Gender, Living as Sisters and Brothers in Christ, previously wrote Worthy. So you've really, it's become a passion and really something you've been able to bring to the church and the community of Christ to help us understand this. So as you think about where we started, I mean, it's just a crazy idea to think men should go downstairs.

That wasn't the idea. The idea is, how do we view men and women? How do we view husbands and wives? And how do you take what you just said, Elise, the understanding of what God originally created, the creation mandate even for marriage, into the perspective in a home?

What does that look like? Help us really, I mean, that is a major question we need to understand. Yeah, and I think I'd just like to add to what we've been talking about. All through the Old Testament, we see women who are courageous and strong and they take risks. So you think about Tamar, who has a cowardly and selfish father-in-law who won't provide a son for this widow to raise up children for her late husband. She dresses up like a prostitute and puts herself at great risk in order to be faithful to her husband. Think about Ruth, and she goes out into a field as a Moabite woman in Bethlehem, and she goes to the threshing floor to basically propose marriage.

These are strong women who take big risks with their own lives for the sake of serving others. And so, you know, in our first episode we talked about the importance of Philippians 2 and having the mind of Christ in how we treat one another and cooperate with one another as men and women. And so as we get to Ephesians, take Ephesians 5, this passage on men and women, and I'm not going to read it, I've got it here open in front of me, but, you know, Paul's instructions to the husbands are, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her to make her holy, cleansing her with the washing of water by the word. And he goes on to say that Christ works to make the church beautiful, and the same way husbands need to love their wives as their own bodies, because they're one flesh.

They're unified, like Genesis 2 points us to. And so really there, the mindset of the husband should be the mindset of Christ. You're willing to take risk, you're willing to sacrifice yourself, your ambitions, your comfort, your safety, for the sake of being one flesh with her and to see her flourish as Christ sacrificed himself for our flourishing in his kingdom. And then you look at the instructions to wives. Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, because the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. Now Paul doesn't define what headship means there. He illustrates it in what we just talked about, how husbands are supposed to live.

That's what headship is. If it's anything, it is sacrificing yourself for her good. So what's he calling the woman to do here? And we get into the book about the meaning of submits, and like Elise pointed out earlier, there's free agency there. This instruction is given to wives, not to the husbands. It doesn't say, make your wife submit. It calls the wife to this, but the way a wife submits is as the church is submitting to Christ. And there's a whole lot we could say there about how we submit to Christ, because we all know we have a ton of freedom in our submission to Christ. He might tell us to dress modestly, but he doesn't tell us what shirt to wear and what pants to put on.

He gives us general commands, and then we carry them out according to who we are. But what is the aim of the church submitting to Jesus? The church, like Paul commands in Philippians 2, is to have the mind of Christ.

The church is the body of Christ. The church is supposed to look like Jesus, and for the wife to submit herself to the husband means she, like him, is to lay aside her comfort, her ambitions, sacrifice herself to be unified with him and cooperate with him in this common goal that's been given, which is to glorify God and display his glory and to fulfill the Great Commission. So what Paul is calling both the husband and the wife to is very, very similar. The command essentially is to both of them be like Jesus in how you relate to each other. And yet, you know, obviously in a church and in Christian marriages, we have this picture of headship submission looking much different than that.

You know, like the head is, I'm in control, I have the power, submit means you come under my authority and power. Is that a bad understanding? I think so, because that, I don't think that reflects the relationship between Christ and the church. You know, on the night when he dressed himself like a slave and washed his disciples' feet and then told them to live the same way with each other, he says, no longer do I call you slaves, I call you friends.

And I think if our relationship as husbands and wives takes on this characteristic of the one who gives the command and the one who obeys, that doesn't picture friendship. And Jesus is our Lord. Of course, he's God, and that's what's unique about him, you know, as our bridegroom. But he said, you know, I did not come to be served. I came to serve and give my life as a ransom for many. The first thing he is, and the first thing we are, he is a servant.

Like, to come to Jesus and to submit to him, the first thing it means is we must be willing to be served by him before we ever start serving him. Elise, what does that look like in your home? Have you ever done it in an unhealthy way? Oh, yes. Phil and I have been married for 47 years, and yes, I think that there were times when I would say I can't have any kind of opinion about anything that would be different than Phil, because that's what it means to be a submissive wife. And of course there have been, because I have, as you know, a voice, there have been lots of times when I would say, oh yeah, but I'm, you know, I'm the one who needs to be listened to here in an ungodly way. I mean, for as many years as we have been married, there's been sin everywhere, and in my heart, too. Because every marriage has.

Because we're two sinners living together. And so for me, it's really come to a place where I have to say, what do you think? What do you want, you know, to Phil? And a lot of times, Phil is the sort of really easygoing guy, and so he'll just say, whatever you want to do is fine with me. And then I used to always be frustrated by that.

It's like, oh no, you're supposed to tell me. Did you feel like it was passive? I felt like it was passive, but you know, it's funny, now that I've really, 50 years later, gotten to understand and know Phil, Phil's just an easygoing person. That's Dave.

Dave's just like that. He really doesn't care. We're just wonderful men, aren't we? You are. Yes.

Yes, just really doesn't care. And I used to think, well, that's, you know, I'm supposed to have somebody who tells me. And then I became very, I'm comfortable with that now. So the Lord has given me specific gifts, the Lord's given Phil specific gifts, and his easygoingness has been a gift to me over the years. But then I always, I want to be the sort of person that is always saying to Phil, tell me what you think.

What do you think? Because it's easy for me to have an opinion. And then Phil is very easygoing. So he would not necessarily give his opinion unless I said, I want to hear it. But for us, I think that that's the thing that's been really helpful for me personally, as we've worked through, you know, what are the roles of women?

What are the roles of men? Is it's not cookie cutter. It's not like a one size fits all sort of thing. Phil and I have different gifts. Eric and Jenny have different gifts. You guys obviously are differently gifted. I don't need to look like someone else's perspective of what a Christian marriage should be. We, Phil and I, have lived together in a unity that has come about because we know we're differently gifted and we live in the light of that. Well, it's interesting.

Listen to you today talk about this. I've had visions in my mind of what it looked like before, but I had a new one today from you guys, which was headship and submission is a question of who gets to be like Jesus the most. I don't know if that's what you're saying, but it's like, okay, so Jesus is the head of the church. What did that look like? Well, that looked like serving and giving his life away for the church. Jesus has to submit to the Father.

What's that look like? Obeying the Father's will and putting his own will away and accepting God's will. So, you just gave me a vision.

I don't know if that hit you. It's like, I want to be Jesus. I want to be Jesus. So, that means I'm gonna lay down my life to serve her as my wife. She's gonna lay down her becomes this mutual flourishing together. And yet, you know, you write in there that the husband's the first to die.

What's that look like? I think what that looks like is Peter tells husbands to live with their wives in an understanding way and calls them the weaker vessel. And I think that primarily refers to physical strength. And what he's saying is, is do not exploit your physical strength to benefit you at the cost of your wife. And that, again, is Philippians 2. Though he has the fullness of God, he doesn't exploit that.

He becomes a servant. And I think the man is constantly remembering that Jesus has called us together to fulfill this Great Commission. And he's called us in a marriage to do that through our marriage. This marriage isn't about, I have a vision of me one day being a CEO or, you know, a star athlete or whatever it is.

And she needs to agree with that and, you know, put herself behind my career and make that successful. No, what we're called to cooperate in is Christ's purposes of fulfilling this Great Commission. So, he's not thinking about himself. He's thinking about, how do we display the glory of Jesus Christ crucified and risen together as partners in this? And I'm going to kill anything in me that gets in the way of that. And I'm going to sacrifice any dream, any ambition for the sake of her to be able to be unified with me so that we can flourish together in God's purposes.

I love what you guys are saying. And it reminds me of Christy McClellan, who is a professor at a university. She was talking one time about being in Israel, and she did a lot of Hebrew teaching and cultural learning over there. And she talked to a rabbi that was in his 70s, and she said he had this long gray beard. And she was wrestling with these words, that ezer konego. And she said, what would you say those words mean in Hebrew to be a helper suitable? And he said, oh, it's easy. He said, the woman was created to contend with Adam.

And she said, what do you mean? He goes, because God knew there was an enemy in the garden. And it would take the two of them together to defeat the enemy contending with one another side by side. And I think so often we can get lost, and we get into these details. Well, who, should he be here, and should I be there? And I think the truth is, like, let's contend together with one another side by side in this battle that's warring around us, because we need one another.

Instead of fighting one another, let's battle together. I mean, I love what your definition and your, in Jesus and gender. I don't know if you remember writing this, but you use this beautiful term, I'm guessing it's original to you, Christic? Yes.

Which is original to us. It's a Christ-centered man-woman, and in this case, Christ-centered marriage. And I love your definition, imitating Christ in voluntary humility, which you've just been discussing, and mutual flourishing as they recognize one another's value and pursue unity with one another.

I mean, it's this beautiful picture of what we've been talking about. There's headship, there's submission, there's imitating Christ, there's mutual humility for flourishing, but it's, and you've said it many times, it's for extending the kingdom of God to the world. That's the best way God designed it to happen in a marriage, am I right?

Yeah, I think so. And, you know, I'm just thinking back to our opening, talking about who should go downstairs, and I'm reminded of how Christ cooperates with the Church, and the Church cooperates with Christ. Now, granted, he had this key role, and he's the one who died for our sins and rose from the dead, but then immediately he is calling us into cooperation with him to fulfill the Great Commission and take the gospel to the ends of the earth. Does Jesus ever send his bride down the stairs into a dangerous situation?

Absolutely. The Church is being persecuted even today, and it always has been, and he sends his bride into dangerous places to do risky things, and he doesn't shelter her in this safe place. He gives her strength, he gives her encouragement, he goes with her, but he sends her into these dangerous and risky things, because she's a church that is—we're being conformed into the image of Christ.

He's the Lion of Judah, who when you see him in Revelation looks like a lamb that's been slain. So you just answered our question. Go together.

Ann should have gone down there with me. Go together. We're stronger together.

Yeah. One of the things I've learned in my walk with God is that God doesn't promise a life of comfort and ease. In fact, he promises a life of trials, but he also promises that he'll be with me in those trials, that he'll be alongside of me in the difficult circumstances. What a great reminder from Elise Fitzpatrick and Eric Shoemaker about the fact that Jesus's bride is not going to live a life without danger, but it is going to live a life present with the risen Messiah. Elise and Eric have written a book called Jesus and Gender, Living as Sisters and Brothers in Christ.

You can go to our website,, to order a copy of Jesus and Gender, or you could pick up the phone and call us at 1-800-358-6329. That's 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY to request your copy. And while you're there, all this week when you make a donation to the Ministry of Family Life of any amount, we're gonna send you a copy of So Long Normal by Laura Storey as a way of saying thank you for giving to the Ministry of Family Life.

So Long Normal is Laura's book that helps us really process the quote-unquote normal parts of our life when things don't feel normal at all. It's our gift to you when you make a donation of any amount at, or again, you could pick up the phone and call us at 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. If this topic today about Jesus and Gender or any of our family life programs have been helpful at all for you, we'd love for you to share today's podcast with a friend or family member. And wherever you get your podcast, it could really advance the Ministry of Family Life if you'd scroll down and rate and review us. Now tomorrow, we want to talk about how you find God and his purposes and his glory in the midst of the mundane, the ordinary stuff of life.

How can you have that kind of God-centered focus on all that's happening in your marriage and your family? Courtney Reisig is going to join Dave and Anne to talk about just that. We hope you can join us as well. On behalf of Dave and Anne Wilson, I'm Shelby Abbott. We'll see you back next time for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-10 07:53:21 / 2023-05-10 08:02:50 / 9

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