Juno what month this is? It's June, or Juno's month. Juno was the principal goddess of the Roman world, the goddess of marriage and the well-being of women.
By "marriage goddess," I certainly don't mean Elizabeth Taylor or Zsa Zsa Gabor, although they had completed a few laps around the nuptial track themselves. Moreover, few of us men get to marry a Roman goddess (and vice-versa, ladies!). Nonetheless, marriage can be a heavenly experience on earth.
The Bible has much to say about marriage and the treatment of women. Marriage was the first institution instituted in history, recorded in Genesis chapter 2. When Adam and Eve became man and wife, there was no awkward dating scene; the wedding garments were inexpensive birthday suits; the wedding guests were animals in more than the figurative sense; and the officiant was God Himself. The pattern was one man and one woman for life, and the vow was simple (Genesis 2:23-24). Surprisingly, the groom was able to sleep the night before (Genesis 2:21)!
The concept of male husband and female wife is a Creation ordinance, meaning the pattern is set as long as Creation lasts--it cannot be altered by time, culture, edict, or redefinition. It is man and woman in the most intimate, exclusive, supportive, permanent relationship on earth. It is very serious indeed, because it is an illustration of the close relationship of Christ and the church (Ephesians 5:32). It is no mythological goddess that oversees marriage--it is Creator God.
Despite the popular misconception that the Bible denigrates women and seeks to crush them under the oppressive thumb of men, it does put women in their place--and it's not a bad place to be.
Eve was created to be a helper for Adam, not a slave. Out of all Creation's bazillions of plants and animals, no one was found who could complement the man made in God's image. Therefore, God made woman out of man's rib. Not from dirt like the man, not from an animal, but from the part that keeps his heart and other vital organs safe. God gave the first marital challenge to man: leave his family and cling to his wife. Man was to work, stay faithful to God and wife, and do the heavy lifting. Woman was to help under the physical and spiritual protection of the man--not a bad position. Of course, sin entered the picture and messed up their ability to live in holy harmony. That did not, however, negate the original design.
Jesus restored a prominence to women that the culture had eroded through the storms of sin. He chose a poor humble woman to bear his physical body. He took unselfish time on the cross to put his mother in the care of his most beloved disciple. His most faithful followers were women; no men went to the tomb after his resurrection until the women told them what happened. He used women--deemed unreliable in ancient courts--as the first witnesses of his resurrection, and instructed them to give orders to the male disciples.
The Apostle Paul, long considered a chauvinist pig, does command wives to be subject to their own husbands (Ephesians 5:22). However, he takes care to elaborate that this headship be conducted as sacrificial service to the wife. The Christian husband exists to love, cherish, nourish, and seek the spiritual well-being of his wife as he would his own self. The wife is not to take unfair advantage of the husband's service, neither resenting his headship nor living in servile fear. She is to respect him as an equal in Creation and Cross, but with a different role. It is a safe, nourishing environment, allowing freedom for the growth of the entire family.
Although some elements of society seek to persuade us that marriage is an archaic, draconian, patristic plan for the subjugation of women, the truth is that a properly functioning biblical marriage is a safe house for man, woman, and child alike--a hothouse for heavenly holiness!
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