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.