Sunday, March 22, 2009

Defending Egalitarianism

I just recently started a new book entitled “Jesus and the Feminists: Who Do They Say That He Is?” by Margaret E. Kostenberger. In case you don’t know, Margaret is the wife of Dr. Andreas Kostenberger, co-editor of the book I’ve critiqued on the site (“Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15).
Margaret’s sole goal in the book is to expose feminism and show how wrong of a position it is with regards to women in the church. But she does something here that shows a bit of her presupposition: she includes egalitarians among feminists:

“It was at a conference in Chicago in 1973, ‘Evangelicals for Social Action,’ that the Evangelical Women’s Caucus was started. From 1975 to 1983 the movement grew, but so did tensions regarding biblical interpretation and inerrancy. An organizational fracture took place in 1986 when divergent views on the authority of Scripture emerged surrounding the issue of homosexuality. This led to the establishment of Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE), a leading advocate of BIBLICAL OR EVANGELICAL FEMINISM, ALSO CALLED EGALITARIANISM OWING TO ITS EMPHASIS ON WOMEN’S EQUALITY TO MEN IN ALL SPHERES OF LIFE” (22).

I have one question: why are egalitarians called “feminists”? Why are they labeled “feminists”? Kostenberger seems to have an answer—she calls egalitarians this because they stress the woman’s equality with the man. But does this make an egalitarian a feminist? No, not at all! To see this, let’s read what Kostenberger has to say regarding the feminist and patriarchal hermeneutics.

Kostenberger informs us regarding feminist hermeneutics:

“Feminist hermeneutics, then, positions itself over against patriarchal hermeneutics, which advocates a ‘MALE-ORIENTED, HIERARCHICALLY ESTABLISHED PRESENT CULTURAL POWER SYSTEM.’

This is how she defines patriarchal hermeneutics:

“Patriarchal hermeneutics can be defined as a reading of a text or reconstruction of a history in light of the oppressive structures of patriarchal society. (117).

Sounds like, from what Kostenberger tells us, she has more trouble on her hands than she can handle. Notice that she defines “patriarchal hermeneutics” as a methodology that assumes “oppressive structures.” Who assumes a text this way? If a person automatically assumes oppression, this is what they will BELIEVE the text is telling them—even when it isn’t.

The assumption of “oppressive structures” existed in the days of slavery leading up to the Civil War on April 12, 1861. Various passages were used in the Bible (such as Ethiopia’s enslavement, for example) to “send a message” to blacks that God willed for them to be enslaved, that their lot in life was to work the fields in misery.
This “oppressive structure” is very similar, as well, to what I’ve talked about on the blog in regards to Calvinism—the Calvinist approaches Scripture AUTOMATICALLY ASSUMING that God ELECTS some to salvation. So, what does the Calvinist do when he comes to a verse that says “believe” or “choose”? He says, “Well, in order to believe, you have to be given faith by the Lord (and the Lord only gives faith to those He elects). When he comes to a word like “choose,” he says, “Well, this choice is grounded in the fact that God FIRST CHOOSES a person—and then, they can act upon His choice and choose.” Notice that, in both situations, a Calvinist is going to assume God’s election of some before interpreting the verses. Why? because it’s the only thing that will make his theological system consistent.

Margaret Kostenberger begins her book with labeling egalitarians “Evangelical feminists.” But the problem with this label is that Egalitarians are not feminists. Feminists desire to uproot MALE domination and replace it with FEMALE domination. Egalitarians do not: they simply portray men and women as EQUALLY made in the image of God, and they advocate equality of men and women in leadership positions. They do not advocate a DOMINATION of one gender or the other; instead, they advocate a partnering atmosphere, where both men and women work together for the glory of God.

God told Eve in Genesis 3:16 that Adam would “be lord” over her; but this was in the context of God’s punishment declarations on Adam, Eve, and the serpent. Prior to Genesis 3:16, Adam and Eve were equal partners in life, with there being no domination of either gender. But today, complementarians, as much as feminists, are aiding in this punishment. Both camps are daily reminders that Genesis 3:16 is found in Scripture—one side wants all men, the other side wants all women. What about the egalitarians? Well, they’re stuck in the middle…the only ones trying to create partnership between the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The God Who Hides Himself?

I find myself constantly returning to Andreas Kostenberger and Thomas Schreiner’s book titled “Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15.” Each time I return to the book, I get fresh thoughts to blog about on the site.

Returning to the book, I once again found myself in the last chapter of the book—a chapter written by Dorothy Patterson (a woman’s reflections on the material in the book). For the last day or two on the blog, I have been discussing the similarities of theological belief between the Calvinist and Complementarian—both are determinist and believe that God has ordained EVERYTHING that humans do in the entire course of their existence. If God operated according to the Calvinist mindset, no one would work because he or she would have to sit in a car in the yard and wait for God to tell them “go” so they could go to work (and by then, their job would be no more).

Dorothy Patterson serves today as another piece of evidence for the link between Calvinism and Complementarianism. In her section on “The Ministries of Women,” Patterson writes:

“Preaching to and ruling over men are not the only frontline ministries in the kingdom. Women are called just as men are and sometimes to the same tasks, but these tasks are often set within different venues. THE BOUNDARIES ARE NOT DETERMINED BY GIFTEDNESS OR EVEN OPPORTUNITY BUT BY DIVINE ASSIGNMENT. Women, as men, are equally called, but as women they are not NECESSARILY ASSIGNED the same tasks as men. In 1 Timothy, THE BOUNDARIES HAPPEN TO BE BASED ON GENDER” (Patterson, “What Should a Woman Do in the Church?” from “Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15,” page 169).

Notice an apparent contradiction: first, Patterson says that the “divine assignment” is what determines the place of each believer in the church. Next, Patterson then goes and contradicts her first statement: “the boundaries happen to be based on gender.” Which is it? Are the gifts based on divine assignment or gender? In addition, look at how Patterson AUTOMATICALLY DISCREDITS giftedness—while she includes “giftedness” in the first statement, she prizes “gender” so much that IF there is something other than divine assignment that determines who gets what gift, it WOULD HAVE TO BE GENDER!!

However, I want the reader to stop and analyze this for themselves. Go through the Scriptures (Romans 12, 1 Corinthians 12, and Ephesians 4) and tell me, WHERE DOES IT SAY THAT THE GIFTS ARE GIVEN ACCORDING TO GENDER? Nowhere in Scripture do we find the words, “the gifts are given according to gender: And to men He gave pastors, apostles, prophets, and teachers. And to women He gave choir singers, musicians, women’s Bible study teachers, women’s conference speakers, and nursery workers.”

But Patterson shows us something else in her assessment of the issue of women in ministry: she DISCONNECTS giftedness from divine assignment. In her eyes, no matter how gifted a woman may be in something, she can only do that which she is gifted for as long as she doesn’t contradict Patterson’s 1 Timothy 2 interpretation. So now, Patterson is contradicting 1 Corinthians 12, which tells us that the Spirit gives gifts “As He wills.” Evidently, Patterson hasn’t read 1 Corinthians 12…

How can a person know what gift he or she has? It is physically manifested in their lives and in the presence of God’s people. It is there for all to see, so everyone will know where God has placed that person in the Body of Christ. But, if Complementarians (and, therefore, Calvinists) have it right, God now becomes (to state the inverse of a chapter in Udo Middleman’s book “The Innocence of God”) “the God who hides Himself,” the God who doesn’t care whether or not humanity knows anything about Him. God now becomes a masochist who gets sick, twisted pleasure out of making life miserable for His creation. Man can no longer know what God has given him because giftedness is no longer a sign.

How can a person know what to do in the Body of Christ IF there are no signs to tell them what they should be doing? How will a person know whether or not they are doing God’s will in their lives? They don’t. According to the complementarian (and Calvinist), God now has a will that He hasn’t revealed—and humans can’t know Him. Now God is UNKNOWABLE! Great—this is the reverse of THE ENTIRE CANON OF SCRIPTURE! And they say this is not heresy…

In the days to come, I will be posting on Scripture regarding giftedness and skill among the Lord’s people. For now, let me just say that the implications of Patterson’s claim are enormous: if there are no signs of giftedness, then there is no giftedness; and if there is no giftedness, then no gift was given; and if no gift was given, then the Lord has lied to us…and I tremble at the thought that Dorothy Patterson could be right and my Lord could be wrong…

Friday, March 20, 2009

Calvinists and Complementarians

I know that for some readers, the subject of women in ministry is a boring one, or one that is not as important as others (it may seem). However, the issue of women is linked to other things—in particular, theology. If women are not allowed to serve in the church, what does that say about their God-given image? And, if women are “less-made” in God’s image than men are, what does this say about the character and nature of God? It’s frightening to think of all the issues surrounding this debate. In any case, the issue of women involves so many other discussions than just whether or not women should serve in leadership positions in the church.

Udo Middleman hits on the aftereffects of Calvinism:

“Recent generations have abandoned the ‘God is in control’ of Calvinism, because of God’s implied complicity in or absence from the horrors of the twentieth century. They also rightly reject the immorality of some Christians who claim to have Jesus in their heart. But they have fallen into two new forms of determinism. The first kind of determinism leads to a fatalistic acceptance of whatever is. Here people submit to a larger whole, a UNITY of being. That determining unity may be GENDER, RACE, COLOR, or SOCIAL CONTEXT. These give a NEW CONSTRAINT to people who thought they had been newly emancipated from God…GENDER, COLOR, and SOCIAL BACKGROUND TELL HIM OR HER WHAT BEHAVIOR CONFORMS TO HIS GENDER, COLOR, AND SOCIAL DESTINY. We have seen this before in the propositions of fascism, nationalism, and forms of biological control” (Middleman, “The Innocence of God,” 212).

According to Middleman, determinism is not just a theological issue—it is connected, for Calvinists, to EVERY AREA OF LIFE! Notice that I made certain words bold in the quote. The reason for so doing is to allow you, the reader, to see the emphasis Middleman places on these things. It is his belief, as is mine, that determinism under the Calvinist agenda spreads to ALL LEVELS of society. In the blog here on women in ministry, Calvinism rears its ugly head in the issue of gender.

Complementarians believe that God has given the woman the role of marriage, raising children, and keeping house, while the man was made to lead the marriage, work in the public sphere, and protect his family. When it comes to church life, the woman is supposed to submit to the men in the church—for the men are the only ones who are “called” to lead church life. And why can complementarians get away with these ideas? Because of Calvinism. Most of evangelicalism is Calvinist, which means that, in some indirect way or another, most believers affirm determinism in everything. Because of this nice neat system, where everything “seems” to work itself out, women can grow up Baptist, for example, and believe that God has ORDAINED their place of submission in everything (whether married or not). Such women can easily believe that God has PREDETERMINED their every move to be wife, mother, and babymaker, while the husband’s role is fixed to work and lead. The woman, in their eyes, is supposed to cook the meals and take care of the home. But what about if the husband is better at cooking than his wife? Do you mean to tell me that God would will for the woman to cook and “burn water” while the husband (the best chef) is supposed to sit and eat “burned water”? Surely no! But, if you listen to the complementarians, this is what they’ll tell you. Why is it wrong for the husband to cook? Because it’s the wife’s job. Why is it wrong for the husband to take care of the kids at home while the wife goes to work? Because it’s against societal expectations (and of course, they’ll include the Bible as psychological comfort to ease their guilt over the issue).

The fact that a woman is made a woman (according to the Calvinist) is enough to MAKE her a homemaker. God has ordained this role for every woman, and this is what they should live up to. No wonder 1 Timothy 2 is taken OUT OF CONTEXT! Complementarians (Calvinists at heart) really do believe the woman’s greatest work is in the home. If a woman is married, she should be faithful to her household duties. If the woman is single, she should pray that God send her a mate so she can get married, have children, and take care of the home (in addition to cooking her husband’s meals and ironing his shirts). This determinism is what drives complementarians (such as Thomas Schreiner) to affirm that “When Paul says that a woman will be saved by childbearing, he means therefore, that THEY WILL BE SAVED BY ADHERING TO THEIR ORDAINED ROLE” (“Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15,” page 118).

Schreiner’s (and all other complementarians) argument is determinism when it comes to how to apply this passage to everyday life. But what about the single woman, or the woman who will never have a family? What is the single woman supposed to do? How does the single woman obey and apply Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 2? According to complementarians, her role is to be married, have children, and keep house. But, if God wills this for EVERY WOMAN (as complementarians claim), then what about Paul’s commendation of the single woman in 1 Corinthians 7?

32I want you to be(AM) free from anxieties.(AN) The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord. 33But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, 34and his interests are divided. And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit. But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband. 35I say this for your own benefit,(AO) not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord. (1 Corinthians 7:32-25, ESV).

The unmarried woman has a greater amount of time and opportunity to pursue the things of the Lord—why then, should she NOT preach and teach and pastor?

Middleman shows us a link between Calvinists and Complementarians—both are DETERMINISTIC in their own right: the Calvinist in the salvation of God, the complementarian in the giftedness God gives to His people. Nevertheless, a deterministic worldview will lead to blaming the Almighty for everything—and constraining Him into a sort of domineering parent. Calvinists and Complementarians must learn that, as Richard Weaver’s book title tells us, “Ideas Have Consequences.”

Why History?

It’s now been a day ago since I finished reading Udo Middleman’s book, “The Innocence of God.” His book discusses why God is innocent with regard to moral choices made on the part of moral agents (humankind). Middleman seeks to uproot the Calvinist fallacy that God predetermines EVERYTHING that happens in one’s life—including whether or not you park in the space closest to the Walmart or one further away (just an example, ‘tis all).
One of Middleman’s emphases in the book with regards to Calvinism is history. Middleman writes,

"There are always several players on the stage of history, and there is no common script between them, though they intersect at all times. Any understanding of history as a seamless cloth, a narrow road, or a printout of one author’s text denies real significance, real battles, and real time. History can be sped up and down, turned left and right, EXPRESS MORE GOOD OR MORE EVIL BEING DONE ON THE WHOLE. For history, like “mankind” in Marxist thought, IS NOT A PERSON AND HAS NO LIFE OF ITS OWN…IT HAS NO MIND OF ITS OWN, NO PURPOSE, AND EVEN NO DIRECTION. Thought, purposeful action, and direction are initiated and undertaken only by persons” (Udo Middleman, “The Innocence of God,” pages 176-177).

Middleman’s quote emphasizes something: that history is flexible, no matter what. History is not some concrete wall that can’t be broken. What really hit me was when Middleman writes that history can “express more good or more evil being done on the whole.” I think the reason this phrase gripped me is because it reminds us that the events of history did not have to unfold as they did. There was no inherent amount of good and evil that came with history itself when time began. History, then, has not only been affected by God, but also humanity: “the direction [of history] is…INITIATED and UNDERTAKEN ONLY BY PERSONS.”

But if history is flexible, and can only be affected by humans on earth (and God), then why is it that God gets credit for everything that happens in history (including the horrible events such as the Holocaust)?
Calvinists use history to say that “God did it,” God willed things to happen and they just did. But God not only possesses sovereignty; He also GAVE man a form of derived sovereignty whereby man and woman would have dominion over the earth. Because man, then, has a share of sovereignty within himself (as an ordained possession by God), then why is it that we can take our power from God, MISUSE IT, and STILL blame God for it all?

In the debate on women in ministry, S. Lewis Johnson, Jr. portrays his “Calvinist” leanings (predeterminist) when he uses the “Historical Orthodox Argument” to show that the traditional interpretation of Galatians 3:28 is correct. In his chapter called “Role Distinctions in the Church (from Grudem and Piper’s “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood”), Johnson writes:

"There is little need to multiply footnotes to document that this has been the view of historic orthodoxy to the present and, in fact, is still the majority view, although presently under vigorous attack. The very fact that its opponents call the view of historic orthodoxy “the traditional view” acknowledges its historical primacy.There arises at this point, however, a matter worthy of serious consideration: If the Christian church has held this view for centuries with Bible in hand, then we may presume that there exists some good reason for that fact. The Lord Jesus Christ promised the church the gift of the permanently indwelling Spirit to provide understanding of the Scriptures (cf. John 16:12-15; Psalm 36:9). We have reason to believe that His promise has been kept, and that the church has received that light in understanding the Word of God. Widespread agreement in such understanding by orthodox believers should not be abandoned without the most careful consideration of objections, both exegetical and theological.
To treat the church’s historical understanding of Scripture lightly is to forget that it is the believing body that, through the centuries, carries on the theological enterprise with the Word in hand and accompanied by the enlightening Spirit. Thus, the largest part of any theologian’s work comes from reverent consideration and response to the Christian theological tradition. The creeds of the church, the results of serious spiritual and theological strife, are more important than the views of individuals. We should begin our discussions with the assumption that the church is probably right, unless exegetical and theological study compel us otherwise. 'The proclamation of new discoveries,' Abraham Kuyper, the famed founder of the Free University of Amsterdam, wrote, “is not always a proof of devotion to the truth, it is sometimes a tribute to self-esteem.”

Did you notice the first statement in bold print above (in the excerpt)? The statement says that, since the church has had this view for centuries, and interpreted Scripture the way they did, “then we may presume that there exists some good reason for that fact.”

There very well may be reasons for the church’s interpretation; but that begs the question, “What?” What are the reasons for the church’s interpretation down through the centuries? You, as am I, are curious to find out what the church fathers must have thought about women and their place in the church. This statement is vague—it basically tells us to agree with the church BECAUSE OF ITS HISTORY! Remember what I said above? History can be molded and shaped according to those who have a chance to impact it. Therefore, if history has shown that women are to be sidelined in the church, then does this AUTOMATICALLY demonstrate the INHERENT correctness of the complementarian position? Of course not! But complementarians will appeal to Calvinist methods in order to support their position.

Last but not least, the second bold quote tells us the technique of the complementarian camp: “ASSUME[assumption] THAT THE CHURCH IS PROBABLY RIGHT…” Now, I want to be fair. The end of this quote states that exegetical study and theological study are the two boulders of evidence that would change the church’s stance on the view of women. Nevertheless, why is there a need to ASSUME that the church is right? There are views the church has held for years that are wrong. For instance, in slavery times, the church actually “held the Bible in hand” and argued that blacks were supposed to be slaves…BECAUSE THE BIBLE SAID SO!

I think I’ve become so annoyed with the use of history to prove a point in an argument that I long for some other reasoning. History is full of good and bad. As Middleman tells us, history is subject to those in charge of changing its face. If this is true, then I think history—even that of the church—is less of a solid rock and more of sinking sand.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Still Waiting

I took some time earlier this year to pay a visit to Dr. Kostenberger’s blog, titled “Biblical Foundations,” to see what he wrote on his personal blog. As I expected, he had some posts set up on the issue of women in ministry. Actually, he has about 10 discussions devoted to gender issues.

In any case, what struck me was a response provided by a visitor to the blog (named Michelle). This is what she wrote:

"Dr. Kostenberger,
I’ve read your book titled “Women in the Church” (2005 edition), as well as Grudem’s book “Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth” (2004) and am grateful to you and other scholars who pour over this research everyday.
Having had three semesters of Koine Greek myself as an MDiv student, it is my observation that, while the Greek word “authentein” is an important word in determining the meaning and application of this passage, isn’t context key to any passage? I was always taught within my hermeneutics passage that “a text means what it means in its context.” Greek study is important to any passage, but first, in order to read a passage, we have to read it in its context.
It seems to be the view of Thomas Schreiner, Wayne Grudem, and other scholars that the reason why Paul prohibits women from the teaching position or any other “authoritative” position (if that’s how you interpret it) is because Paul appeals to the creation order. However, not only does Paul argue a creation order, but also the deception of the woman (”the woman was deceived”). Is it possible that Paul could be reaffirming the Law (since, in 1 Timothy 1, there are some “desiring to be teachers of the law,” 1 Tim. 1:7 who entertain “myths and endless genealogies”, 1 Tim. 1:4)?

It has been the result of my study of this text (and I’ve read books from both sides of the argument), that, if Paul is reaffirming the Law, then the word “authentein” will be interpreted according to Paul’s reference to Genesis. Paul here argues Adam’s creation first, then Eve’s deception. But both of these concepts are addressed in Genesis already. Paul is not quoting a passage from Genesis, but referencing it.

As a result, “authentein” will have something to do with Paul’s maintenance of Adam being created first and his affirmation that Eve was the one who was deceived. In your book, it is stated that Eve’s mistake was by responding to the serpent. But does God punish Eve for responding to the serpent, or for her sin (read Genesis 3:16)? Eve is punished for her sin, not because she “took authority” from her husband by responding to the serpent. Finally, your book also states that the serpent violated the principle of male leadership when he went to Eve– but the serpent isn’t punished for this, either in Genesis 3. He is punished for deceiving Eve.

In light of reading Genesis for what it is, there seems to be no principle of male headship violated by Eve. In the context of Ephesus, however, it seems that the women are claiming that Eve came before Adam– otherwise, why would Paul write “the woman” was deceived, and not “Eve was deceived”?

Last but not least, what do we do with the references of “authentein” in the Apocryphal books such as Wisdom of Solomon 12:6 and 3 Maccabees 2:29? In both cases, the word refers to either “murdering with one’s own hand” or “former status”. You rule out the possibility in your book of the word “authentein” being translated as “to be primarily responsible for,” but, if you place this definition within the context of Genesis (the passage Paul references in his response in 1 Tim. 2), you will see that Adam is primarily responsible for the Fall, as God states to him, “cursed is the ground becauase of you…” (Gen. 3:17, ESV). It seems then, that, Paul is telling women not to teach that the woman is the origin (or lord) of man, since “Adam was first formed, then Eve…” Adam was responsible for creation’s fall.

I think the evangelical community has also missed the earlier portions of 1 Timothy 2. Verse 5 states, “For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” It is here and only here in the canon of Scripture that Christ is referenced as “the man, Christ Jesus.” This in itself is telling as to what the problem at Ephesus is here. If Paul is having to state “the man, Christ Jesus” and argue that “the woman” was deceived, then surely, endless genealogies are responsible for this false teaching.

I think context, grounded with the story in Genesis, gives us the definition of this Greek word. The word “authentein” refers to the meaning “to author” a man, or “to be the origin” of man.

Context will help us determine what this word means in the future. But nowhere in chapter 2 is there a reference to church leadership– that comes in chapter 3. Paul is concerned with correct doctrine here in chapter 2. The woman was not to be the lord over man (Adam, and men, were appointed “lord” over the home in Genesis 3)."

What I find most fascinating about this post (although long) is that Michelle made some great points. She clearly seems to know her Greek, is preparing to receive a Master of Divinity Degree, and has had some significant time in Greek studies. She poses some good questions, and even seems to have done some work in the Septuagint (Greek Old Testament) with the references to 2 Maccabees and the Wisdom of Solomon. However, it’s been a little over two months since Michelle posted this response, and she has yet to hear from the distinguished Dr. Kostenberger.

What can be said about such an absence? Dr. Kostenberger regularly checks his site, and, if you visit his blog, you’ll notice that he often responds to requests, questions, comments, etc. quite regularly. With the case of Michelle, however, Dr. Kostenberger fails to address the concerns over the text that she has. Maybe he doesn’t think his stance is as strong as hers.

This is a good case in point of what often happens in the Complementarian/Egalitarian debate. Whenever someone responds to the Complementarian blogs and sites, they receive little response (unless they are as famous as Ben Witherington). If they aren’t, however, Kostenberger has no time for them.

So, until Michelle hears from the distinguished Andreas Kostenberger, she’ll just keep waiting…and so will we.

Reversal of Order

Today I am gonna start a new section on my blog covering 1 Corinthians 11. It occurred to me last night working on a blog post that I have yet to really get deep into 1 Corinthians. I have covered this issue in regards to an article from “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.” However, I am gonna spend some time on the chapter, showing what Paul meant when he wrote this chapter. It is pivotal to the discussion on women in ministry because this chapter is also used to argue AGAINST women in ministry.

Just so you, the reader, can follow along with me in the analysis of the text, I will print the passage here:

2Now I commend you(B) because you remember me in everything and(C) maintain the traditions(D) even as I delivered them to you. 3But I want you to understand that(E) the head of every man is Christ,(F) the head of a wife[a] is her husband, and(G) the head of Christ is God. 4Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head, 5but every wife[b] who prays or(H) prophesies(I) with her head uncovered dishonors her head, since it is the same(J) as if her head were shaven. 6For 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. 7For a man ought not to cover his head, since(K) he is the image and glory of God, but(L) woman is the glory of man. 8For(M) man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9Neither was man created for woman, but(N) woman for man. 10That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.[c] 11Nevertheless,(O) in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And(P) all things are from God. 13Judge for yourselves: is it proper for a wife to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14Does not nature itself teach you that if a man wears long hair it is a disgrace for him, 15but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering. 16(Q) If anyone is inclined to be contentious, we have no such practice, nor do(R) the churches of God.

Initially, Paul says that he is proud of the Corinthians because “you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.” Paul applauds the church for how they have carried out the practices he set in place.
Next, Paul then contrasts what they have done with a new tradition, using the word “de” (but). He then states that “the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.” Here we can see a hierarchy: God-Christ-husband-wife-(children). Although children are not included here, they are included in Paul’s instructions in Ephesians 6.

This is the point where Paul then goes into why the man should not cover his head, but the woman should. In verse 7, Paul states that “a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man.” The man was created in the Garden for God’s glory (Genesis 1), so he should not cover his head when prophesying or praying. The woman, however, while made in the image of God, is the GLORY OF MAN; for this reason, she should cover her head when doing such activities.

What is another reason Paul gives for why women should cover their heads? Because the man was not made from the woman, but the woman from the man. Because the man is the human origin of human life (Christ being the divine), he does not have to wear a covering. In addition, the woman was also made to help man (not the other way around).

But what does Paul do in 11:11-12? He goes into a new part of his argument, using the Greek word “plen,” meaning “however.” Paul takes the previous statements and provides an argument for the opposing view: “11Nevertheless,(O) in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And(P) all things are from God” (1 Corinthians 11:11-12, ESV).

In the Greek, the word for “independent” here is “co-ris,” meaning “apart from” or “without.” In verse 12, Paul tells us that there has been a REVERSAL OF THE CREATED ORDER: “for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman…” Today, women come first in the created order (they give birth to sons), whereas Adam was the first human and from his side came Eve.

I want us to look at the wording in this passage. At the beginning, Paul tells us the traditional thought regarding women wearing head coverings-- but then presents another view. Then, in verse 13, Paul tells the church to "judge for yourselves." I don't know about you, but it didn't hit me as to why Paul gave two opposing arguments until tonight-- because, chances are, the church at Corinth was in deep discussion regarding this "new" tradition that some were for and others were against. This had to be a new issue discussed to Paul that hadn't been instituted before, because first, Paul discusses the traditions he handed down and THEN writes on this issue; and secondly, because just four chapters prior (1 Corinthians 7), Paul starts his words with "Now concerning the matters about which you wrote." The church wrote Paul on this issue because they didn't know what to do; and, since he had given them all their traditions while he was with them, they wanted to know whether or not they should institute this "new" tradition into the church. Paul eventually tells them that it is a decision that the church must make-- but there was no custom that would MANDATE women having to have their heads covered.

Most people like to use the phrase “reversal of fortunes”; but here, Paul discusses a REVERSAL OF ORDERS—the created order of Genesis 1 and 2 has been supplanted with an entirely different creation order. This, then, becomes the dilemma of the complementarian—for the only way they can hold on to their view of 1 Timothy 2 regarding created order is to abandon proper exegesis of this passage. It seems then, for the complementarian, they will continue to hang on to the last piece of the exegetical Titanic—even if it means dying in the process…

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Guilty Again

The last post, “Guilty as Charged,” spent time looking at 1 Peter 3 and how Peter’s discussion of dress referred to the behavior of the women and character of the heart. I spent some time going through the text of 1 Timothy 2 to show that it too, relates to the behavior of the women as well as their character of the heart. In this post, we will continue to exegete the text of 1 Timothy 2 and see what we can find that will aid us in our interpretation.

Then comes Paul’s prohibition: “But I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet” (v. 12, ESV).

Notice here that there is a “de” in the Greek, meaning “but” or “now.” This word always shows a CHANGE of something, whether it’s a change of time or the subject being discussed. Paul has allowed women to learn, but they cannot teach. It seems that in Ephesus, the women there were not learning QUIETLY, WITH ALL SUBMISSIVENESS—instead, they were causing commotion during instruction. Sarah Sumner stated in a post I placed under the “Hermeneutics” section of the blog that whenever Paul prohibits something or tells someone not to do something, he is responding to THE CURRENT SITUATION OF THE CHURCH TO WHICH HE WRITES. So, if he’s telling them to learn quietly and fully submit to what is being taught, then we know they aren’t. If he’s telling them to practice self-control, then we can imagine they aren’t. They don’t know how to dress properly, and they don’t know how to act properly in the house of God. This is why Paul states in 1 Timothy 3:14-15,

14I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these things to you so that, 15if I delay, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth.

Paul’s concern with Timothy (and therefore, his congregation) is that they know proper behavior in God’s house. This implies that there is a CORRECT WAY to behave: not just any behavior will do.

These women are not learning with submissiveness, they are not submitting to their teachers, so they are unlearned and are bold about things which are heretical and false (1 Timothy 1:7). This is what happens when someone thinks they have the truth—they often fail to listen to those who may differ from them.

This idea of learning quietly is very similar to the situation of the Corinthian women in 1 Corinthians 14, where Paul tells the women to learn at home, and to maintain quietness in the church. The women at Ephesus, though, can’t seem to be quiet about what they “think” they know. Paul realized that if their teaching was wrong, with a bad attitude to go with it, the Ephesian women could end up doing more harm than good. Their situation is very much like a baby with a mousetrap. The baby has no idea how to set a mousetrap; if he tries, what’s going to happen? The baby will get his fingers stuck in the trap, and he might get a terrible injury from the trap’s snap. The baby handling a mousetrap WILL HURT the baby!

And this is what a teaching position will do for UNLEARNED people—it will be the “mousetrap” upon which they “get their fingers caught” and will hurt themselves and indoctrinate others with error.

As we’ve seen, in both passages of 1 Peter 3 and 1 Timothy 2, the issue of outward/inner dress has been the major emphasis. Grudem and Piper note the similarities:

“Now we know Peter is not condemning the use of clothes. He is condemning the misuse of clothes. This suggests, then, that the same thing could be said about gold and braids. The point is not to warn against something intrinsically evil, but to warn against its misuse as an expression of self-exaltation or worldly-mindedness.”

When it comes to both texts, the clothing is being addressed because “the point is not to warn against something INTRINSICALLY EVIL, but to warn against its MISUSE as an expression of self-exaltation or worldly-mindedness.”

In 1 Timothy 2, the issue regarding braids and gold refers to overdressing. According to Grudem and Piper, there’s nothing wrong with wearing these—so here, no one needs to interpret this to wage war against wearing such things today (this is theoretical, not applicable). However, when it gets to women teaching, what do Grudem and Piper say?

"Add to this that the commands concerning headship and submission are rooted in the created order (in 1 Timothy 2:13-14) while the specific forms of modesty are not. This is why we plead innocent of the charge of selective literalism."

Piper and Grudem now discuss “headship and submission,” two terms of which ONLY submission is mentioned. Nothing about these two verses discusses or even mentions headship. Yet and still, Piper and Grudem seem to use their male headship rhetoric to its full extent.

Next, they appeal to “created order.” Because of the created order, Adam coming before Eve, then women should not be over men in the church.

But Stanley Grenz hits the nail on the head when he speaks regarding created order:

“Rather than appealing to Adam’s firstborn status as the basis for a permanent male-dominated hierarchy, Paul declares that in Christ the creation order of woman coming FROM man is balanced by women giving birth TO men (1 Cor. 11:11-12). These precedents in the Pauline literature lead E. Margaret Howe to wonder, ‘It is hard to imagine, then, why the priority in time REFLECTED IN THE SECOND CREATION NARRATIVE would carry the significance attributed to it in 1 Timothy 2:13’” (Stanley Grenz, “Women in the Church,” page 136).

I won’t go into the details of 1 Corinthians 11, but I’ll say here that Paul levels the idea of first created by showing that today, the woman is FIRST—for it is she who gives birth to the man (not coming from the man). Therefore, when it comes to the Corinthian women wearing head coverings, Paul doesn’t argue for the convention because there is NO BIBLICAL BASIS IN CREATION that mandates women wearing them.
In my post on “Primogeniture Revisited,” I stated that there was no “law of primogeniture” which mandated Adam having authority as a male. Adam was simply created by God first and as the first human had privileges and responsibilities. But, if complementarians are too blind to see their error in Genesis, why can’t they open their eyes to the truth of 1 Corinthians 11? That is a text that I will cover next time.

Guilty As Charged

I stumbled upon an article last night at the site for the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW). Hoping to find a good article, one finally caught my eye. The article itself concerned the idea of selective literalism—that complementarians choose to obey one part of the chapter LITERALLY, for what it says, while the other verses in the chapter are overlooked and seldom discussed (the article was written by Grudem and Piper).

The chapter first quotes 1 Timothy 2:9-10 (ESV)—

9likewise also(R) that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10(S) but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works.

The next passage quoted is 1 Peter 3:3-5 (ESV)—

3(E) Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4but let your adorning be(F) the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands,

How do Grudem and Piper interpret these passages?

"It would be wrong to say these commands are not relevant today. One clear, abiding teaching in them is that the focus of effort at adornment should be on "good works" and on "the hidden person" rather than on the externals of clothing and hair and jewelry. Neither is there any reason to nullify the general command to be modest and sensible, or the warning against ostentation. The only question is whether wearing braids, gold, and pearls is intrinsically sinful then and now.

There is one clear indication from the context that this was not the point. Peter says, "Let not yours be the external adorning of . . . wearing clothes." The Greek does not say "fine" clothes (NIV and RSV), but just "wearing clothes" or, as the NASB says, "putting on dresses." Now we know Peter is not condemning the use of clothes. He is condemning the misuse of clothes. This suggests, then, that the same thing could be said about gold and braids. The point is not to warn against something intrinsically evil, but to warn against its misuse as an expression of self-exaltation or worldly-mindedness. Add to this that the commands concerning headship and submission are rooted in the created order (in 1 Timothy 2:13-14) while the specific forms of modesty are not. This is why we plead innocent of the charge of selective literalism."

The question Grudem and Piper focus on is “whether wearing braids, gold, and pearls is intrinsically sinful then and now.” The pair just finished demonstrating the constructive criticism regarding outward dress prior to mentioning this question.
Referring to the 1 Peter passage, Grudem and Piper state that “we know Peter is not condemning THE USE of clothes. He is condemning THE MISUSE of clothes.” The problem with the scattered believers in the Diaspora was how they dressed too elegantly, ostentatiously, displaying their dress as though to reveal monetary wealth and earthly abundance of material possessions.

But let’s look closer at 1 Peter 3:

1Likewise, wives,(A) be subject to your own husbands, so that(B) even if some do not obey the word,(C) they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, 2when they see your(D) respectful and pure conduct. 3(E) Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— 4but let your adorning be(F) the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious. 5For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6as Sarah obeyed Abraham,(G) calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and(H) do not fear anything that is frightening.

Peter is not saying here that the wife should not adorn herself in a beautiful way. There’s nothing wrong with dressing well in and of itself. But there is a problem when one’s outward dress is used to MASK the INWARD DRESS of a person’s heart (the condition of the heart). Peter told these women not to let their outward dress “do all the talking.” It was good to have a great appearance, but the appearance should come SECONDARY to the beauty of the heart—“let your adorning be the HIDDEN PERSON OF THE HEART with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, WHICH IN GOD’S SIGHT IS VERY PRECIOUS.”

Notice too, that Peter weaves in this discussion of clothing to that which is before: the discussion of the wife’s submission to the husband in verse 5:

“For this is how the holy women who hoped in God USED TO ADORN THEMSELVES, BY SUBMITTING TO THEIR OWN HUSBANDS…”

So, the idea of dress is connected to submission—submission should first start INWARD, and then work its way OUTWARD. This is the same way that Christian behavior should start: it must first be an inward change, an inner decision of the heart to place Christ on the heart-throne, and then an outward change—one that reveals that which is hidden, which is the heart.

Now that we’ve explored 1 Peter 3, let’s take an even closer look at 1 Timothy 2:

8I desire then that(O) in every place the men should pray,(P) lifting(Q) holy hands without anger or quarreling; 9likewise also(R) that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, 10(S) but with what is proper for women who profess godliness—with good works. 11Let a woman learn quietly(T) with all submissiveness. 12(U) I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13(V) For Adam was formed first,(W) then Eve; 14and Adam was not deceived, but(X) the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15Yet she will be saved through(Y) childbearing—if they continue in(Z) faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Notice that the context of the chapter concerns abuses in the church at Ephesus. There are a lot of problems that Paul has to correct to put the church back in order from its current disarray. First, the men are quarreling during prayer. Next, the women themselves are like the women of 1 Peter 3—they are displaying rich clothing, but their quality is being placed more in their CLOTHING than in their HEART, their character, their behavior. Notice that Paul tells the women that they “should adorn themselves in RESPECTABLE apparel, WITH MODESTY AND SELF-CONTROL…WITH WHAT IS PROPER FOR WOMEN WHO PROFESS GODLINESS—WITH GOOD WORKS.” All the bold-faced words just mentioned show us the kind of “dress” Paul had in mind—it was the dress of the hidden place—the dress of the heart. Paul mentions the words “modesty and self-control” and then tells us that their clothing should be “good works.”

What is modesty? The online Merriam-Webster dictionary ( gives us the following definitions for “modesty”:

1 : freedom from conceit or vanity 2 : propriety in dress, speech, or conduct

The first refers to the heart (to not be conceited or vain), which could very well be at stake here. The second definition refers to what seems to be the theme of Paul’s writing chapter 2: to correct the actions of both men and women in the church. Notice that the second definition concerns not just outward dress, but one’s behavior. I’ve often heard it said that “the clothes make the man.” Well, if you “wear” a certain character and behave a certain way, your actions will make you or break you—will either exalt you or ruin you.

What is self-control? Self-control is “restraint exercised over one’s own impulses, emotions, or desires.” Paul here is referring to restraint, which means to stop oneself from doing something. If Paul is mentioning restraint, doesn’t this tell us that the problem with the Ephesian women was that they weren’t exercising restraint?
Women are to profess godliness not with external dress, but with inward dress, reflected in “good works.” Then Paul goes into what kinds of good works women can do—they can “learn quietly with all submissiveness.” There is a qualifier for the word learn: how can a woman learn? “quietly,” by not making a lot of noise, by not causing a disturbance, by not making a scene. Paul further qualifies this quiet manner “with all submissiveness.”

Merriam-Webster give us definitions for the word “submit”:

1 a: to yield oneself to the authority or will of another : SURRENDER b: to permit oneself to be subjected to something 2: to defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another.

The words “all submissiveness” could also be translated “full submission,” so as to let the women know that in no shape, form, or fashion could they submit without fully giving themselves over to what they were being taught.

I will continue discussion of 1 Timothy 2 in a follow-up post to this one. Stay tuned…

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Primogeniture Revisited

I’ve been reading Stanley Grenz’s book “Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry.” Tonight, I noticed a statement Grenz combated, and this sent a light bulb off in my head, reminding me of something I’d read in Andreas Kostenberger’s book called “Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15.”

Regarding the concept of primogeniture, Kostenberger writes:

“In referring to primogeniture, complementarian scholars are scarcely suggesting that the cultural practice of primogeniture should be enforced today, nor do they think that Paul is endorsing primogeniture per se. Nor would they deny the many examples from the Old Testament…they appeal to primogeniture to explain that the notion of the firstborn having authority would be easily understood by Paul’s readers. The readers of 1 Timothy would not have scratched their heads with perplexity and amazement when Paul says that women should not teach because Adam was created first. The priority of Adam in creation would have NATURALLY SUGGESTED his authority over Eve to the original readers” (Kostenberger, “Women in the Church,” pg. 107).

The problem with Kostenberger’s view here is that primogeniture was not instituted in Genesis 1 and 2. Primogeniture came at later chapters in Genesis—so to use primogeniture here with reference to Adam and Eve would be place a LATER CONCEPT back into an EARLIER text. As I’ve stated time and time again with reference to 1 Timothy 2, Paul did not comment or explain the creation account; he merely states the facts as Scripture records them.

Stanley Grenz comments on complementarians in his section “Women in the Writings of Paul”:

“Certain complementarians offer an ingenious response to this counterexample. They note that Paul is not appealing to first creation, but to the ancient understanding of the right of the firstborn, that is, to the status of the eldest as carrying particular responsibilities and authority in the family. The formation of Adam prior to Eve meant that he would carry the responsibilities and authority of the firstborn. However, THE IDEA OF THE RESPONSIBILITY AND PREROGATIVES OF THE FIRSTBORN IS NOT PRESENT IN THE SECOND CREATION NARRATIVE. Even Hurley, one of the architects of the complementarian rebuttal, is forced to admit, ‘The actual text of Genesis makes clear the prior formation of Adam, BUT DOES NOT DISCUSS ITS IMPLICATIONS AS SUCH’” (Stanley Grenz, “Women in the Church,” pg. 135).

Grenz tells us, using a very persuasive quote above, that the writer of Genesis fails to comment on Adam’s primary place in creation. If the writer of Genesis doesn’t do this, then why would Paul do this? The writer of Genesis does show us, however, the implications of man having dominion over the earth. For instance, looking at Genesis 1, we read of God’s blessings upon mankind:

26Then God said,(O) "Let us make man[h] in our image,(P) after our likeness. And(Q) let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

The idea of man having dominion over the earth is displayed in Adam’s ability to name the animals and his wife (Gen. 2:19, 20), as well as man’s responsibility for sin when the ground is cursed because of Adam (Gen. 3:17).

But what about the creation order? NOTHING ELSE is mentioned about it after the formation of the man and woman in Genesis 2. Therefore, to confirm Hurley, the writer fails to show the implications of the creation order, what does it mean that Adam was formed before Eve. The account stated in Genesis set the tone for Paul’s response to the church at Ephesus in 1Timothy 2. Paul, then, at the very least, is simply recounting events that are told—not giving us an interpretation of those events. If the context is false teaching, which it is (as indicated in 1Timothy 1), then Paul’s prohibition would have something to do with the false teaching (as numerous references to it abound in the entire book of 1 Timothy, as well as 2 Timothy and Titus).

Hurley’s statement gives complementarians something to think about. If complementarians start to add qualifiers to the message of 1 Timothy 2, doesn’t this look like they’re “adding” to the Bible? And if they’re adding words, what does this show us? If you ask me, it shows us that, even when their belief isn’t scriptural, they’ll MAKE it work.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Missing Link

I discussed yesterday that while God’s Word tells wives to submit (not single women!), it does not tell the husband to RULE over his wife! Today, though, I wanna go back to some of the Scriptural passages we examined yesterday regarding this discussion of men being in charge—Ephesians 5, 1 Timothy 3. In addition, I’d like for us to examine a part of Genesis 2. This discussion will focus on the implications of these passages of Scripture. It is my belief that complementarians are half-dividing the Word of Truth on this matter.
Let’s take a look at Ephesians 5. Just so everyone can read it without worry, I’ll paste it here:

22(AR) Wives,(AS) submit to your own husbands,(AT) as to the Lord. 23For(AU) the husband is the head of the wife even as(AV) Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is(AW) himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit(AX) in everything to their husbands.

Notice something here: there are two relationships being compared to each other—husband/wife and Christ/church. In both relationships, there is a leader and a follower: in the home, the husband is the leader, and in the church, Christ is the leader. Both the husband and Christ are heads, but the husband is ONLY HEAD OF THE HOME! He is head of the home because of Eve’s punishment back in Genesis 3. However, Christ is the head of the church and should be Lord of the home (the husband is the lowercase “l,” lord of the home).

Somehow, complementarians have distorted the Scriptures to their own liking. They will totally affirm the first part of Ephesians 5:22, that “the husband is the head of the wife.” But they will stop at that—to them, the fact that the husband is the head of the home means that now, the MALE is the leader of the FEMALE (all men are over all women); and then, when it gets to the church, now, the MAN rules over the WOMAN in church. Complementarians take God’s words to Eve in Genesis 3:16 and misapply it across all of society. I even know of complementarians who have said that if a woman is in a manager’s position over her husband in any given company, the man should leave that company (because the woman is not to be over the man, from 1 Timothy 2)! How absurd! Does God’s Word REALLY say that? Of course not.

Let’s look at the second part of verse 22: “For the husband is the head of the wife EVEN AS CHRIST IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH…” Did you catch that? Christ is the head of the church, not the man, the husband, the deacon, the preacher, the teacher, the Pastor, the trustees, the musicians, the choir members, etc! NOONE IS THE HEAD OF THE CHURCH BUT CHRIST ALONE! The husband is the lowercase “lord” of the home, but Christ is the uppercase “LORD” of the church! The man’s sphere runs to the home and ONLY the home; it stops when he reaches the church. Yes, his wife is supposed to acknowledge his headship in public before all, but his headship doesn’t give him the right to determine what gifts his wife has or whether or not she can use them. That’s not the husband’s call. The husband’s job is to lead in the marriage, NOT IN THE CHURCH! The husband only has one wife (monogamous), so he was never given the job of running the church, where there are lots of married women and single women alike. The husband has no authority over other women—only his wife!

Let’s look at 1 Timothy 3. Yesterday, I made the point that women can serve in the church as leaders as well; that, based on the chapter, Paul includes women when he mentions them later in 1 Timothy 5 and calls them “despots of the home” (literal translation of the Greek word “oikodespotein”). But let’s reexamine 1 Timothy 3 again:

1The saying is(A) trustworthy: If anyone aspires to(B) the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Therefore(C) an overseer[a] must be above reproach,(D) the husband of one wife,[b](E) sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable,(F) hospitable,(G) able to teach, 3not a drunkard, not violent but(H) gentle, not quarrelsome,(I) not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own household well, with all dignity(J) keeping his children submissive, 5for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for(K) God’s church? (1 Tim. 3:1-5, ESV)

One of the qualifications for the leader is to be a good manager of his household. But notice what Paul says in verse 5: “for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God’s church?”

I want us to look at the two verbs in this rhetorical question of Paul’s: the first is “manage” and the second is “care.” Paul uses the word “manage” with regards to the home (“household”); but what does he use in regards to the church? Does he use the word “manage”? Does he use the word “despot” as he did with the young widows? No. Paul doesn’t do anything of the sort—he uses the Greek word “epimeleisetai,” meaning “to care for.”

Don’t you see a difference in these two words? When a person manages something, they are over everything, as is a manager in a manufacturing plant or a corporation, for example. But does a person have to be the manager “to take care of” something? No.
To illustrate my point biblically, let’s go back to Genesis 2. Let’s read one verse of this chapter:

15The LORD God took the man(O) and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15, ESV).

Notice that, although Adam was the first human created, he was placed in the Garden as a steward—to work and keep the Garden. He was God’s assistant, but HE DID NOT OWN THE GARDEN! God owned the Garden, but He chose Adam to work it and keep it. And this is what God expects the leader in the church to do—work in the church and keep the church pure and spotless from temptation and error (to maintain doctrinal purity). So, while the man (or woman) can manage their homes, they are not to RULE the church—but to work it and keep it. The Lord owns the church just as He owned the Garden of Eden. Therefore, there is no room for power in the church. All the power belongs to Christ and He dispenses it as He sees fit.

There is no direct link here between the husband as head of the home and as head of the church; yet, it’s surprising that conservatives link “the church and home” in the Baptist Faith and Message 2000. If you read works such as “Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood” by Grudem and Piper, you’ll find that they mention “church and home” or “home and church” several times throughout the pages. But the problem comes in when you have to prove that husbands were given RULE over the church, because they lead in the home—and that is proof that the complementarians don’t have.

This then, is the missing link—the connection between the husband leading in the home and leading in the church. Husbands, nor do wives, children, or church officials, serve as the head of the church. In fact, there is language from 1 Peter to tell us the role of overseers in the church:

2(C) shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight,[a](D) not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you;[b](E) not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3not(F) domineering over those in your charge, but(G) being examples to the flock.

Peter tells the elders not to “DOMINEER” over those they serve. What are the leaders to be? Shepherds. And as shepherds, they are to lead LIKE THE CHIEF SHEPHERD. And what does the Chief Shepherd do?

11(H) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd(I) lays down his life for the sheep. 12He who is(J) a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and(K) leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and(L) scatters them. 13He flees because(M) he is a hired hand and(N) cares nothing for the sheep. 14(O) I am the good shepherd.(P) I know my own and(Q) my own know me, 15(R) just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and(S) I lay down my life for the sheep.

The undershepherds and other leaders of God’s church are to care for the church.
Nowhere in the passages above do we read of leaders RULING the church. If complementarians want to “connect the dots” and show why men are the leaders of the church, they will have to invent interpretations and perform “Olympic exegesis” to do it.

Does God Tell Man To "Rule"? (Continued)

I stated in my last post that I would explain the issue of "rule" in 1 Timothy 3 in my next post. So, continuing our discussion of the man "ruling," I am now gonna tackle the problems of 1 Timothy 3.

Let's read the passage there:

1The saying is(A) trustworthy: If anyone aspires to(B) the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. 2Therefore(C) an overseer[a] must be above reproach,(D) the husband of one wife,[b](E) sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable,(F) hospitable,(G) able to teach, 3not a drunkard, not violent but(H) gentle, not quarrelsome,(I) not a lover of money. 4He must manage his own household well, with all dignity(J) keeping his children submissive, 5for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for(K) God’s church? (1 Tim. 3:1-5, ESV)

1 Timothy 3:1-5 concerns the office of overseer, or the pastorate. While there are a lot of issues regarding this passage, I will only cover those necessary for the current discussion regarding "ruling."
In verses 4 and 5, the ESV translators use the word "manage" to refer to the Greek verb "proistemi," meaning "to be over," or "to stand over." Now many people have said, see, this refers to the man, because the man is to "manage his household." However, to say this is to overlook many other issues with this text, one being the idea of managing itself.
To see this problem, look at 1 Timothy 5:14(ESV)--

"14So I would have(U) younger widows marry, bear children,(V) manage their households, and(W) give the adversary no occasion for slander."

Paul writes that the younger widows should "MANAGE THEIR HOUSEHOLDS." We have a problem here. Didn't Paul tell the pastoral candidates (and diaconate candidates) that they too, should "manage their households?" It's funny that this passage, 1 Timothy 3, has been used as a proof text for only males leading in the church. But if this were so, why doesn't Paul distinguish between the rule of the man in the home and the rule of the woman in the home?

In case you think I'm joking, let's look at the word in the Greek for the young widows to "manage their households." The word for "manage" in the Greek is "oikodespotein." The word itself is an infinitive, which means it is to be translated with the preposition "to" and then the verb itself (such as "to manage"). The Greek word "oikodespotein" is a compound word, consisting of "oikos" (house) and "despotein" (to be ruler). The word "despotein" in Greek is the ancestor of our English word "despot," which refers to an dictator, one who rules with an iron fist. Why would Paul be telling the women to be rulers of their households, and yet, only make males the leaders of the church in 1 Timothy 3? The fact that he uses the same language tells us that Paul saw women fit for the leadership of the church as well. Parallel this with the fact that a diaconate is also created for women (notice that the first diaconate in Acts 6 did not include women).

As I've stated much before, there is no Scriptural evidence showing that men received a Scriptural mandate to "rule" the home. And do you know why? because, as Udo Middleman said it in his book "The Innocence of God," the rule in marriage was a distortion of God's original intention for mankind. God gave man and woman rule over the earth together-- and partnership in the home. But today, we're still oppressing women and placing them on a domestic "leash."

Does God Tell Man To "Rule"?

A recent comment to the post addressed my last post regarding Grudem’s response from his work on “Biblical Foundations of Manhood and Womanhood.” In this work Grudem gave ten reasons why Adam was head of the marriage BEFORE the fall; but as I’ve stated, Grudem confuses headship of the marriage with headship over creation—and merges creation authority with marriage authority (making Adam head of the marriage from Genesis 1). Still, though, if this is true, you have to explain why it is that God waits until Genesis 3 to tell Adam and Eve—and why He gives it as a punishment to Eve! The last response about this post, titled “Scripture to the Rescue!”, failed to give specific scriptural references to the issue of why Adam was the head of the marriage before the fall. Let this be a lesson to all those who respond to the blog to give references regarding their statements. I would like to see where I am BIBLICALLY wrong regarding this matter—so all posts should contain Scripture references.

Today’s post concerns these supposed “Scripture references” the blog commenter mentions (without giving specifics). Let’s look at passages regarding headship.
The first passage will be Ephesians 5:

22(AR) Wives,(AS) submit to your own husbands,(AT) as to the Lord. 23For(AU) the husband is the head of the wife even as(AV) Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is(AW) himself its Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit(AX) in everything to their husbands.
25(AY) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and(AZ) gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by(BA) the washing of water(BB) with the word, 27so(BC) that he might present the church to himself in splendor,(BD) without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28In the same way(BE) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30because(BF) we are members of his body. 31(BG) "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and(BH) the two shall become one flesh." 32This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. 33However,(BI) let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she(BJ) respects her husband.

First, in verse 22, the wife is told to SUBMIT to her husband. However, look at the analogy: “Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.” Notice here that the emphasis is on the wife to honor and respect her husband, not on the husband to RULE over his wife. The emphasis is on submission even in Genesis 3:16, where God tells Eve that Adam “would rule over you.” The word for “rule over” in the Septuagint is “kurieuo,” meaning “to be lord.” It is fitting that the husband should be compared to Christ in the analogy—for it is consistent with Genesis 3. But there are NO OTHER REFERENCES to Adam’s headship in Genesis. Other references to Adam’s headship in Genesis are welcome. Feel free to respond to this post if you should find any references in Genesis that I haven’t noted.

Notice, though, that the rest of Scripture does not deal with the husband being “lord,” but with the woman “submitting.” Similarly, along with the Ephesians 5 analogy, the rest of Scripture concerns itself with the church submitting to Christ. This explains why Paul’s epistles, such as Philippians, deal with following Christ’s example among believers. Let’s look at Philippians chapter 2:

“3Do nothing from(F) rivalry or(G) conceit, but in(H) humility count others more significant than yourselves. 4Let each of you(I) look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5(J) Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus,[a] 6(K) who, though he was in(L) the form of God, did not count equality with God(M) a thing to be grasped, 7but(N) made himself nothing, taking the form of a(O) servant,[b](P) being born in the likeness of men. 8And being found in human form, he humbled himself by(Q) becoming obedient to the point of death,(R) even death on a cross. 9(S) Therefore(T) God has(U) highly exalted him and bestowed on him(V) the name that is above every name, 10so that at the name of Jesus(W) every knee should bow,(X) in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and(Y) every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is(Z) Lord, to the glory of God the Father. 12Therefore, my beloved,(AA) as you have always(AB) obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13for(AC) it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for(AD) his good pleasure.

Notice here that Paul tells them to look upon the interests of each other (rather than themselves). Then, in verse 5, he begins to show them how to do this: look at the example of Christ’s humility. But then, in verses 12 and 13, Paul tells them to “work out” their salvation, because God is at work in them, using them for His glory (“to will and work for his good pleasure”). Following the example of Christ is how the church would submit to Christ. Christ does not FORCE the church to submit; rather, as the Pauline Epistles show us, Christ desires that the church CHOOSE to submit. I’ve always heard it said that “God is a gentleman.” He doesn’t force Himself on you; but for those who choose Him, they get all of God’s goodness and blessings bestowed upon them.

One more point to be made about Ephesians 5: after the wives are told to submit to their husbands, Paul tells husbands to “love your wives.” It is interesting that in the current debate, the emphasis seems to be submission regarding the wife—while no emphasis is placed on the husband loving his wife.

Look at Colossians 3:19 (ESV):

“Husbands love your wives, and do not be harsh with them.”

These words mimic the words of Paul to the Ephesians in Eph. 5. When Paul mentions the husbands in Colossians, he tells them not to be harsh with their wives (too aggressive). But when he writes Ephesians, read what he tells the Ephesian men:

“25(AY) Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and(AZ) gave himself up for her, 26that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by(BA) the washing of water(BB) with the word, 27so(BC) that he might present the church to himself in splendor,(BD) without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.[a] 28In the same way(BE) husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, 30because(BF) we are members of his body.”

Paul tells husbands not to be harsh with their wives in Colossians, but goes into greater detail regarding the love of a husband for a wife in Ephesians 5. How could the husbands be gentle towards their wives? By loving them AS CHRIST LOVED THE CHURCH AND GAVE HIMSELF UP FOR HER! How else? To love their wives as much as they love their own bodies (if not more).

In verse 29 above, Paul gives an analogy of the wife as the “body” of the husband. If the wife is the husband’s body, he should love her and cherish her because to do so is to honor his own body (which makes sense). No one DELIBERATELY disrespects and violates their own body; therefore, it doesn’t make sense to disrespect and hurt your wife if your wife is your own body. Notice in Colossians 3 as well as in Ephesians 5, that Paul does not say, “HUSBANDS, RULE YOUR WIVES, AS CHRIST ALSO RULED THE CHURCH, AND REQUIRED SERVITUDE FROM HER.” The text focuses on husbands LOVING their wives, showing honor to their wives—not lording authority over them.
But someone is going to argue, “Hey, what about 1 Timothy 3?” I’ll cover that in my next post.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Scripture to the Rescue!

I’ve been reading a book the last two days called “The Innocence of God” by Udo Middleman. At first, I regretted the idea of having to read ANOTHER BOOK for my Christian Philosophy course called “The Problem of Evil.” However, I am so thankful that I picked up this $20 book and began to read.

I just finished reading chapter two, called “A Just God in an Unjust World,” where Middleman discusses that God is not responsible for sin, but humanity is. He goes into great detail explaining Genesis 3:16. For our purposes, we are only gonna quote a small portion of his response:

“Even in their relationship they[Adam and Eve] would face problems which they must iron out. The man will, unhappily, often, rule over the woman. IT IS IMPORTANT TO NOTE THAT THIS IS A LAMENT, NOT A COMMAND; IT IS A RESULT OF THE FALL, NOT A COMMAND
FOR MARITAL SUBMISSION!” (Udo Middleman, “The Innocence of God,” pg. 46).

What does God say in Genesis 3:16?

“"I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
(A) in pain you shall bring forth children.
(B) Your desire shall be for[a] your husband,
and he shall(C) rule over you."

God says that the man would rule over the woman. But who does He say this to? He does not say this to Adam—He says this to Eve: “To the woman he said…”
God said to the WOMAN that her husband would rule over her; but what does God say to Adam? Does He tell Adam to rule over His wife? Does He make Adam responsible for Eve? Does He chide Adam for not “stepping up to the plate,” for neglecting his role as the head of the marriage? No. Instead, God punishes Adam and creation:

“17And to Adam he said,
"Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
(R) of which I commanded you,
'You shall not eat of it,'
(S) cursed is the ground because of you;
(T) in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
(U) for you are dust,
and(V) to dust you shall return."

God tells Adam two things: first, creation would be punished because of him; secondly, God tells Adam that he would have to work harder in order to bring forth yield from the ground. However, God mentions NOTHING about Adam needing to take control of the household, be a man, and defend his family. Yet and still, this is what men are taught today. This is what they are told in conservative circles—that they need to “step up,” be a man, act like they are men!

I believe complementarians (as evidenced from an earlier post I wrote on “Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood” (Grudem), in their discussion of Adam as being the head of the marriage BEFORE the Fall, attempt to do this in order to “muster” more evidence for their position. But in so doing, they butcher the context and desecrate Scripture.

As a good rule of thumb, let me say that whenever approaching a concept or passage of Scripture, the key to interpretation is to make sure such an explanation doesn’t contradict other parts of Scripture. To maintain their understanding of 1 Timothy 2, complementarians have to violate Scripture from Genesis 3. And they call themselves the master exegetes…

Monday, March 9, 2009

Doers of the Word

“22But be(AN) doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. 24For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. 25But the one who looks into the perfect law,(AO) the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts,(AP) he will be blessed in his doing.” (James 1:22-25, ESV).

On a post I published a few days ago, I made the point that complementarians tend to focus on the status of women BEFORE GOD, while failing to emphasize the equal status of women BEFORE GOD’S PEOPLE!

In this post, I am gonna continue to expose the philosophical and theological differences between complementarians and egalitarians.
Stanley Grenz writes in his book, “Women in the Church: A Biblical Theology of Women in Ministry,” regarding the complementarian view:

“Complementarians generally limit the implications of Paul’s declaration of equality in Christ to our POSITION as redeemed persons. They see Galatians 3:28 as a statement of our soteriological position, but not of our soteriological function. In their understanding, rather than arguing for ‘social equality’ between male and female, Paul merely declared our fundamental equality of ‘position’ before God (coram Deo). As Robert Saucy explains, ‘The thrust of these statements is the truth that all are equally sons of God; all are equally clothed with Christ; all are equally heirs of the promise. NOTHING WHATSOEVER IS SAID ABOUT ALL BEING EQUAL FUNCTIONALLY IN THE CHURCH OR FOR THAT MATTER IN THE HOME OR IN THE STATE” (Grenz, “Women in the Church,” page 100).

Let’s contrast Saucy’s quote (by Grenz) with the egalitarian view:

“Egalitarians…assert that equality of soteriological position in Christ MUST RECEIVE AN APPROPRIATE OUTWORKING IN THE PRACTICE OF THE CHURCH (AND IN SOCIETY AS WELL)” (Grenz, “Women in the Church, pg. 101).

We have been discussing (under my section on “Philosophical Factors”) that Thomists assert that God’s will has been revealed to us and that, whenever a person demonstrates spiritual giftedness, that we should place them in their properly ordained role within the church to use their giftedness. Scotists on the other hand believe that God’s will only lies within the mind of God and that we don’t see God’s will demonstrated in reality.

The problem with the Scotist is that he is so hung up on theory that he fails to see application as having any importance. Nowhere in Scripture do we find theory without application. Take for example, the Book of Ephesians. In Ephesians 1 we find the following words:

“3(E) Blessed be(F) the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing(G) in the heavenly places, 4(H) even as he(I) chose us in him(J) before the foundation of the world, that we should be(K) holy and blameless before him. In love 5(L) he predestined us[b] for(M) adoption as sons through Jesus Christ,(N) according to the purpose of his will, 6(O) to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in(P) the Beloved. 7(Q) In him we have(R) redemption(S) through his blood,(T) the forgiveness of our trespasses,(U) according to the riches of his grace, 8which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9(V) making known[c] to us the mystery of his will,(W) according to his purpose, which he(X) set forth in Christ 10as a plan for(Y) the fullness of time,(Z) to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” (Ephesians 1:3-10, ESV).

These eight verses tell us what Christ did for us: He chose to adopt us as sons before time began (through His Son), redeemed us (through His death and resurrection), and made known to us “the mystery of his will,” the mystery being found in Christ. This is what we call spiritual theory—learning what Christ did for us.

But the Book of Ephesians does not focus just on theory, but also on APPLICATION. Look at Ephesians 3:

“ 1I therefore,(A) a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to(B) walk in a manner worthy of(C) the calling to which you have been called, 2with all(D) humility and(E) gentleness, with(F) patience,(G) bearing with one another in love, 3eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in(H) the bond of peace. 4There is(I) one body and(J) one Spirit—just as you were called to the one(K) hope that belongs to your call— 5(L) one Lord,(M) one faith,(N) one baptism, 6(O) one God and Father of all,(P) who is over all and through all and in all. 7But(Q) grace was given(R) to each one of us(S) according to the measure of Christ’s gift.” (Ephesians 3:1-7).

Here, Paul shifts his focus from what Christ did for the Ephesians (and us), to what they were expected to do—IN LIGHT OF CHRIST’S ATONING WORK ON THE CROSS. This is why Paul tells them “to walk in a manner worthy OF THE CALLING TO WHICH YOU HAVE BEEN CALLED.” Because they were called and predestined to be a part of the family of God, they had to adhere to God’s expectations. What Christ did for the Ephesians was supposed to manifest itself in the church body. This is why theology is more than just studying Christ’s work—it involves DOING CHRIST’S WORK! Just as Christ responded with humility, so was the church at Ephesus to respond in the same way. The church body at Ephesus was to “maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” which means that the unity of the church would take work, effort, sweat and tears!

As the Book of Ephesians has shown us, Paul was concerned with more than just our SOTERIOLOGICAL POSITION BEFORE GOD—but also how that SOTERIOLOGICAL POSITION was to be lived out amongst fellow believers. The Ephesians were to act on Christ’s work—and so are we. James said it best in chapter 1 of his epistle when he told the scattered believers to not only HEAR the Word, but to DO it. Complementarians, at the least, seem to be more concerned about THEORY; and less concerned about APPLICATION. If we listen to the complementarian, God is playing biblical “hide-and-go-seek” with His children…and they may find Him…but they may not.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Saving Adam

I think it’s safe to say that I’ve spent a lot of time defending Eve (and subsequently, her “daughters”) on my blog. But today, I’m trying a new approach. We’re gonna take a look at Adam, the one to whom God entrusted care of the Garden and His instructions for living.

A good comment was made on the blog recently: that Adam neglected his role as the head of the marriage, and this is what led to sin. However, I want us to take a look at this statement and see whether or not this really answers the question, “How did sin come into the world?”.

The above question regarding sin is what you and I should be most concerned about with regards to Adam and Eve as Paul quotes the pair in 1 Timothy 2:13, 14. After looking at those two verses, we should look back to the account in Genesis 3 to see what happened. As I stated in my post yesterday on “Reading With Common Sense,” it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at the statements in 1 Tim. 2 and Genesis 3 to know that Paul is simply defending the Fall as it happened, not to prove why women shouldn’t lead in the church.

To answer how sin entered the world, let’s go back to Genesis 2:

15The LORD God took the man(O) and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil(P) you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[d] of it you(Q) shall surely die." (Genesis 2:15-17, ESV).

Do you see God’s words? He gave Adam a commandment and a consequence—if Adam ate from the tree, he would die. End of discussion.

Now that we see God’s warning and promise to Adam regarding the situation, let’s go to Genesis 3, where the serpent begins to dialogue with Eve:

“He said to the woman, "Did God actually say, 'You[a] shall not eat of any tree in the garden'?" 2And the woman said to the serpent, "We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 3but God said,(B) 'You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.'" 4(C) But the serpent said to the woman, "You will not surely die. 5For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil." 6So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise,[b] she took of its fruit(D) and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her,(E) and he ate. 7(F) Then the eyes of both were opened,(G) and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” (Genesis 3:1b-7, ESV).

I want us to take a long, hard look at Genesis 3:2. When Eve responds to the serpent’s tricky question, she demonstrates knowledge of the commandment; she understands God’s warning regarding the forbidden fruit. Now, don’t get me wrong—Eve doesn’t get it ENTIRELY right. She does add something to what God said (the part about “touching” the fruit)! The point of verse 2, though, is to show that Eve knows the commandment. She never heard it directly from God, so we have to assume that Adam told her—which means Adam did something right! Adam educated his wife regarding what God had told him.

Isn’t that supposed to happen? Aren’t husbands and wives to educate and inform each other regarding God’s promises and warnings? Yes! So, while most of us bash Adam, he actually did something right—he told Eve what God had said.

Now I want us to look at what happens when God punishes Adam, Eve, and the serpent:

“ 17And to Adam he said,

"Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
(R) of which I commanded you,
'You shall not eat of it,'
(S) cursed is the ground because of you;” (Genesis 3:17, ESV)

Do you see the words in bold print? When God punishes Adam, He does so because Adam listened to his wife instead of God. God says nothing to Adam about neglecting his leadership role in the marriage; Adam is punished for listening to Eve when Adam himself had directly heard God’s commandment from God!

Adam and Eve were supposed to “partner together” and have dominion over God’s green earth. They were supposed to walk right before God together and live in peace and harmony with their Creator. However, instead of working together to do good, they “partnered together” to commit sin; and because they used their unity, their equality, to commit sin, God would make it so that now, Eve would be subject to her husband; husbands and wives would now struggle against each other in the home.
Adam’s wrong, therefore, did not come through neglecting his role—he faithfully warned Eve regarding God’s command. His wrong, however, came in Adam placing his wife before God. Adam’s sin, therefore, shows us our sin. As humans, there has come a time (or there will come one) when we have placed a human (spouse, sister, brother, child, friend, coworker, Pastor, church member, etc.) before God. But we have to learn from Genesis that no matter how many humans come into our lives, God MUST BE FIRST! For if God isn’t first, we will surely listen to other people; and tragedy will grip at our heels.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Reading With Common Sense

“When I was in seminary, one of my favorite professors, John Sailhamer, programmed into our heads that Scripture itself contains the most important clues to inform us today of the historical situation in which the books of Bible were written. He told us that he spent eight years formally studying ancient Near Eastern history at the University of Southern California only to find out that he didn’t need such an exotic education in order to read the Scriptures with understanding. It was mainly under his influence that I began to read the Bible anew, paying close attention to the clues that are there in the text.

ALMOST EVERY LINE OF SCRIPTURE GIVES US HINTS ABOUT THE HISTORICAL SITUATION.Sometimes it tells us what the people needed to be reminded of, and sometimes it tells us what they needed to be taught for the first time. IN MANY CASES, IT TELLS US SPECIFICALLY WHAT THE RECIPIENTS OF THE TEXT WERE THINKING OR DOING. For instance, in Galatians, when Paul said to the churches, ‘Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another’ (Galatians 5:26), we can safely guess that Christians in Galatia were competing, not cooperating, with each other” (Sarah Sumner, “Men and Women in the Church,” pp.236-37).

Sumner, once again, helps us see that hermeneutics itself, while sounding like a fancy exercise, really isn’t—the average person CAN read the Bible with understanding and make sense of Scripture. As a Protestant, I stand behind Martin Luther in this regard and proclaim that the average person can read the Bible with understanding.

1 Timothy 2 is no exception to this rule. The chapter can be read with understanding and the chapter can make sense to the person in the pew as well as the Professor in the seminary. But sometimes, I fear that believers have gotten so engrossed in seminaries and Bible colleges all across the country, that the simple techniques for Bible reading have gone neglected—and in most cases, forgotten.

What is the story behind 1 Timothy 2:13-14? Paul gives the prohibition against women in 2:12, but then provides a justification for so doing in verses 13 and 14. The reason why I would like to spend time on this is because so much discussion has been paid to these two verses. The traditional argument will tell you that by virtue of Adam’s being the head of creation and Eve’s deception, that the male should be the only one to lead in the church. As I’ve stated before, however, if you approach the text from this standpoint, you’ve got to affirm that all women everywhere—at all ages and at all times—will be more prone to deception than men are. And if you make that argument, then you’re stomped by the fact that 1 Peter 3 refers to women as having a “weaker” vessel—which doesn’t EXCLUDE men from being physically weak either! If you wanna read the rest of my discussion on 1 Peter 3, please see my blog post called “Schreiner’s Biological Argument Overturned” under the section at my blog called “Philosophical Factors” (

On to our task—of finding out what verses 13 and 14 of this controversial chapter of 1 Timothy are all about…

12(A) I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13(B) For Adam was formed first,(C) then Eve; 14and Adam was not deceived, but(D) the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15Yet she will be saved through(E) childbearing—if they continue in(F) faith and love and holiness, with self-control. (1 Timothy 2:12-15, ESV).

Looking at verses 13 and 14, the common misconception (as noted above) has prevailed. But I think we miss Paul’s argument because we focus so much on ANALYZING the text—we’re always so preoccupied with what the text MEANS, instead of what the text SAYS. Oftentimes, our need to find the meaning without knowing the saying leads us into all types of interpretive complications that could be avoided if we read the text for what it is.

I don’t think I need to remind you that verses 13 and 14 are a reference to Genesis. Everyone on both sides of the debate—whether complementarians or egalitarians—affirm that both verses allude to Genesis 3, the Fall. Let’s pair up verses 13 and 14 with Genesis 3:

1 Timothy 2:13— “For Adam was formed first, then Eve;

Genesis 2:7—“Then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.”

Genesis 2:22—“And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.”

1 Timothy 2:13 argues a set creation order, but all it does is ECHO the creation order that is recorded in Genesis 2—Paul never comments on the creation order. All the commentaries and books I have read that seek to COMMENT on this creation order add to the text. Paul doesn’t say that Eve was formed second and that made her inferior, or Eve was formed second and that makes her less able to lead. These are all presuppositions of tradition that are not demonstrated in the text.

Next, let’s look at 1 Timothy 2:14 and pair it up with its parallel reference in Genesis:

1 Timothy 2:14--14and Adam was not deceived, but(D) the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.

Genesis 2:16,17—16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, "You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil(A) you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat[a] of it you(B) shall surely die."

Genesis 3:13—13Then the LORD God said to the woman, "What is this that you have done?" The woman said,(A) "The serpent deceived me, and I ate."

Why does Paul write, “And Adam was not deceived”? I think Sarah Sumner hits on something vital when she tells us that, from what we read, we can infer the situation. Paul is having to defend Eve being deceived, but Adam NOT being deceived. Why is that, when Genesis NEVER states that Adam was deceived? The reason? Because there was a following in the church at Ephesus (most likely the women) who argued that Adam was deceived instead of Eve!

According to the philosophical concept called “Ockham’s Razor,” the answer to challenging passages of Scripture can be solved with the following: “The easiest answer is ALWAYS the best explanation.” Complementarians have sat around for years wringing their heads, striving to find a way to justify Paul’s reference to Genesis; but I think they’ve wasted so much time analyzing a passage that Paul didn’t analyze. Paul doesn’t write to ANALYZE—he writes to DEFEND! Paul quotes Genesis to uphold the Law in a church where the Law was being abused because of “myths and endless genealogies” (1 Timothy 1).

So how would I interpret 1 Timothy 2:12-15? As the text SAYS. Women should not teach that they are “authentein” (to be the origin) of man. Why? Because Genesis tells us otherwise: “Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.” Adam was the origin of mankind and Eve was deceived. Genesis records this—and so does Paul’s letter to Timothy.

The Ten NOT Reasons

In his section titled “The Key Issues In the Manhood-Womanhood Controversy, and the Way Forward,” Grudem presents what he calls “Ten Reasons Showing Male Headship in Marriage Before the Fall"(
Grudem believes that these ten reasons “seal the deal” in the struggle between egalitarians and complementarians—showing that the complementarian side is best and right. Before I knock Grudem’s position, let’s examine these ten reasons:

(1) Order.
“Adam was created first, then Eve…according to Scripture itself, then, the fact that Adam was created first and then Eve has implications not just for Adam and Eve themselves, but FOR THE RELATIONSHIPS BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN GENERALLY THROUGHOUT TIME, INCLUDING THE CHURCH AGE” (25).

Grudem’s position seems true at first glance; but if one takes a clear look, one will see a presupposition at work. With Grudem’s quote, he claims that Adam and Eve are an example “between men and women throughout time,” for all generations. The fact that Adam and Eve were created in a set order (Adam first) shows that men are always the ones to lead and women are the ones to follow. Order of the creation of the first two humans, then, serves as an indicator for how life in the church is to be.

But if the original creation order is the ever-guiding principle, what about the MODERN order of creation? Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 11:

11Nevertheless,(O) in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And(P) all things are from God. (1 Cor. 11:11-12, ESV)

Whereas in the beginning of time as we know it, Eve came AFTER Adam, today, men are created THROUGH women giving birth. Women now come first in the creation order—for what man can give birth to a child?

Grudem’s reason of order, then, is NULLIFIED by 1 Corinthians 11. By arguing that man was created first, then woman, he is only appealing to HALF of the argument Paul discusses in 1Corinthians 11.

(2) The representation.

“Adam, not Eve, had a special role in representing the human race” (25).
Grudem emphasizes this again:
“IN REPRESENTING THE ENTIRE HUMAN RACE, a leadership role that Eve did not have” (26).

However, there is a fundamental problem with this reason—it has to do with creation, not marriage! But Grudem’s reasons are to show “male headship in MARRIAGE,” not headship in CREATION. Grudem makes a huge mistake when he links creation and marriage together. If he intends to make this point stick, he’s got to argue why Adam, the head of creation, is made the head of the marriage—and he has no evidence for it.

(3) The naming of woman.

“The original readers of Genesis and the rest of the Old Testament would have been familiar with this pattern, a pattern whereby people who have authority over another person or thing have the ability to assign a name to that person or thing…” (28).

Yes, it’s true: Adam does have authority that allows him to name Eve. But Adam also gets to name the rest of creation. Notice that in Genesis 2 Adam is naming the animals and notices there is no one like himself:

“18Then the LORD God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone;(R) I will make him a helper fit for[e] him." 19(S) Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed[f] every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and(T) brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam[g] there was not found a helper fit for him. 21So the LORD God caused a(U) deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the LORD God had taken from the man he made[h] into a woman and brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:18-22, ESV)

The fact that Adam names creation is a demonstration of God’s image in him. This is part of what God meant in Genesis 1:26 when He said, “Let Us make man in Our image, after our likeness.” But Adam does not name Eve AFTER he is given headship of the marriage—he names her BEFORE Genesis 3:16, which shows that at the point at which he names her, he is doing so because of his headship over creation, not the marriage.

(4) The naming of the human race.

“God named the human race ‘Man,’ not ‘Woman.’ Because the idea of naming is so important in the Old Testament, it is interesting what name God chose for the human race as a whole. We read: When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them MAN when they were created’ (Gen. 5:1-2)” (28).

To back up this point, Grudem writes:

“In the Hebrew text, the word that is translated ‘Man’ is the Hebrew word ‘Adam.’ But this is by no means a gender-neutral term in the eyes of the Hebrew reader at this point, because in the four chapters prior to Genesis 5:2, the Hebrew word ‘adam’ has been used many times to speak of a male human being in distinction from a female human being” (29).

Grudem’s analysis forgets context. Looking at Genesis 5:1-2, we can see that there are TWO meanings of the Hebrew word ‘adam’ that are used: the first relates to the male (“him”); the second relates to the race itself (“he created THEM”). With the second sentence of the verse, we understand that the word “man” refers to “human,” not “male” (gender-specific).

Now I understand that the human race was named “man,” and it seems as if the race named was masculine; however, whenever the generic “man” is used, our English word “mankind” is being discussed, not “male-kind” (reference to masculine gender).

There are six other reasons Grudem writes that we will discuss. For now, however, I leave you with a question: what about Genesis 3:16? If Adam already had headship of the home, why does God need to reiterate it in Genesis 3? That’s the question Grudem and other complementarians need to answer. I’ll discuss the other six reasons in future posts.