Friday, March 6, 2009

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.


  1. God must reiterate it b/c his neglection of it is what allowed sin to enter in the first place.

  2. That's an easy claim to make-- except God doesn't punish Eve for overstepping; he punishes her for listening to the serpent. Also, notice what God says to Adam when he punishes him: "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it...'" (Gen. 3:17, ESV). Adam listened to Eve instead of God. This was God's problem with Adam.

    Last but not least, Romans 5 places responsibility on Adam for sin entering the world, not Eve: "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin..." (Romans 5:12, ESV) Adam was held responsible for the sin in the Garden; why? because God gave him a direct commandment not to eat the fruit and he disobeyed.

    This is a good response, however, that you bring up: I think many people believe that Eve made herself an authority; but the emphasis seems to be on Adam, not Eve. Sin entered the world through Adam. If anyone overstepped their bounds, it was Adam-- by eating the fruit, he made himself the authority over his Creator. And dire consequences followed.


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