Because Christianity is bigger than Biblical manhood or Biblical womanhood (Blog of Retha Faurie)

3. Adam’s headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a result of sin (Gen 2:16-18, 21-24, 3:1-13; 1 Cor 11:7-9).

There is no headship given to Adam in any of these Genesis verses. None of them calls Adam the head, or the leader, or anything close to that in meaning.

Nor is Adam called the head in 1 Cor 11:7-9, which was also discussed. The only head in 1 Cor 11:7-9 is a literal body part above a neck. And men, by that text, do not even have enough leadership rights to decide if that head should wear a hat to church or not. It also says woman is the glory of man, which does not make man the leader either. It merely makes her something he finds glory in.

4. The Fall introduced distortions into the relationships between men and women (Gen 3:1-7, 12, 16).

Yes, the fall did that. But is the Danvers Statement Biblical on what those distortions entailed? Look at the following two quotes, and then decide:

In the home, the husband’s loving, humble headship tends to be replaced by domination or passivity; the wife’s intelligent, willing submission tends to be replaced by usurpation or servility.

Neither Genesis 3, nor any other text given up unto this point, supports the idea that husband should give headship of any kind, nor that husbands will get passive. Verse 16 predicts male domination: “He will rule …” A prediction is not a command – the words is “he will rule” not “he should rule.”

Genesis 3 does not claim wives would usurp anything, or be servile.

In the church, sin inclines men toward a worldly love of power or an abdication of spiritual responsibility, and inclines women to resist limitations on their roles or to neglect the use of their gifts in appropriate ministries.

None of the texts which were given thus far supports these premises. Except for that, 1 Tim. 2:12-14 could, on face value, defend that women should not have a teaching role, and thus women resist limitations when they do. In a sense, this is another mirror: These words assume that male church roles, and female limits, is already believed by the reader, and the Danvers Statement does not have to defend the truth of it.

5. The Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, manifests the equally high value and dignity which God attached to the roles of both men and women (Gen 1:26-27, 2:18; Gal 3:28).

Gen 1:26  And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Gen 1:27  So God created man in his ownimage, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Gal 3:28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.

If we scrap the words ”the roles of”, the statement would be true: God attached equal value and dignity to both men and women. Also, both were made to have dominion, that is, rulership, over the earth.

Roles? The texts do not mention roles – this wording is smoke obfuscating the clear meaning of the text.

Both Old and New Testaments also affirm the principle of male headship in the family and in the covenant community (Gen 2:18; Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Tim 2:11-15).

Let us see if the texts mention male headship in the family and church. Remember that even if it does, it says nothing of how unmarried men and women with no desire to lead in the church will have to live their gender roles:

Gen 2:18  And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

The term “help meet” means a strong ally on the same level as the man. It does not denote headship. The same word translated help here is usually used for God – if it was related to leadership, it would have made the woman the leader.

Eph 5:21  Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. 22  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

This says submission is fitting for everyone, including wives.

It also proves that submission is not the one side of a coin with headship on the other side – if I should submit to everyone, you included, and you and they should all submit to one another and me, it does not make me and you and everyone heads.

23  For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church, and he is the saviour of the body.

This teaches that the man is head of his own wife. It does not teach headship of the family – a family is very likely to include children, and may even include parents or other family members living with the couple.

Also note that it does not say he is supposed to be the head, or that God calls him to the task of being the head. It states that he is the head in the same way Jesus is the head.

(There is a difference of opinion among scholars on the meaning of the word “head” here. The Greek word that we translate it from mostly refers to the literal body part above the neck. The makers of the Danvers Statement claim that Greek word means leader in this text. Others claim they never saw it meaning “leader” in untranslated Greek. They prefer either “source/ origin,” or seeing “head” as half a metaphor with the wife called the body (flesh in the KJV) in verse 29. The head-body metaphor would not imply male decision-making, as decisions were made “in the heart” in the speech of the era Ephesians was written in.)

If “head” means leadership here, the text would suggest that abusive men, uncaring men, and weak men who never leads – they all lead the same way Jesus leads the church. Personally, that is one of the things that make me think the head-as-source or head-as-half-a-metaphor people are probably right.

This may, depending on the meaning of head, defend male headship of the wife – not the family – but it does not defend male leadership in the church.

Personally, I think the head-body metaphor or the source metaphor makes sense of the text. Reading that every man – the abusive, the weak and uncaring included – are leaders in the same way Jesus is a leader – makes no sense at all.)

24  Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 25  Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 26  That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27  That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 28  So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 29  For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: 30  For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. 31  For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. 32  This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33  Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Those who believe head means leader (the view of those at CBMW) in vs. 23, can find no further evidence of headship in the rest of this passage: Men are told to love and nourish, not to lead.  Submission, as already demonstrated, does not make the other party the leader. Those who believe “head” is half of a metaphor that makes man the “head” and the woman the “body” (a metaphor that does not imply leadership) can find evidence for husbands (not all men) being heads in vs. 24-33. Those who think head mean source can also find more evidence of husbands being heads (sources) in the passage.

Col 3:18  Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. 19  Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.

If party A is asked to submit, does that make party B the head? I suggest that by Eph 5:21, we should conclude this is not so. But if it does, this defends male headship of – once again – the man’s wife, not his family. We still have no headship role – or any gender role – for the unmarried man or woman.

1Ti 2:11-15  Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. For Adam was first formed, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

This is regarded as a very hard passage to understand. But face value is what I will use for now. Remember that the point the Danvers Statement tries to defend with this verse is “male headship in the family and covenant community.”

If women should learn in silence, it does not affirm male headship – men may have to learn in silence too, or the mere reason why men were not asked to learn in silence could be because this  is about women getting the opportunity to learn without men in class, while men either (I think I know the right answer, but  it is not part of the face value meaning) already had the opportunity to learn in that society, or was not allowed the higher learning that women got in those classes.

If a woman should not teach or usurp authority over a man, nothing says men should teach or usurp authority over women. Nobody should usurp authority over anyone. Once again, males are not called heads or leaders.

If Adam was not deceived (he sinned deliberately, then) but Eve was deceived, it does not say the deliberate sinner is called to “headship in the family and covenant community”.

If “the woman shall be saved in childbirth if they live with faith and charity and sobriety,” it still does not say the man should lead.

Up until here, they continually tried to prove a male responsibility of headship. Except for two verses with no ought in it, their texts do not back it up:

>Gen 3:16 predicts male rule without approving of it

> Eph 5:23 may assume men are leaders (Always, in every society? In the first-century world?), depending on the meaning of head, but does not command men to lead, or even say God prefers it when they do.

[To be continued in part 4]


Postscript, added 26 Sept: A list of ideas Bible scholars have when they study 1 Tim. 2:11-15 are here:

The purpose of this post (not the ones linked to in the postscript) was to demonstrate that the text does not say what CBMW tries to show, even taking it on face value as they claim to. Therefore, I did not mention, in the post itself, other ways in which it could be understood. But a text like “she shall be saved in childbirth” should obviously not be taken on face value.

Comments on: "Smoke and mirrors: A review of the Danvers statement (Part 3)" (6)

  1. One question – among others over the years – that came up with me about 1Ti:2 is the this:

    Let the woman – WOMAN not woMEN!

    Again later on it states: I suffer not a woman to teach

    again not woMEN – woman only.

    It makes perfect sense to me that an uneducated person – in this case a woman – attempted to speak with authority, when she clearly didn’t have the education in the faith yet to do so. She was in error.

    There are too many examples in the bible in which women are asked to spread the good word (among other things) – which would be teaching – to request the silence the whole gender. Its similar to your example of Eve. ‘Eve being deceived is a statement about two ancestors, not a gender role.’

    This woMAN is an example of an uneducated person in the faith, and her teaching at this point is wrong! Since men and women could hear, and learn now – where as in the jewish tradition only men could – things changed for women. They were included in these teachings, whereas they were left ignorant prior. In time – they were more educated as well.

    Women later taught, brought people to the faith,etc just as men did.

    I take it as an admonishment on this woman, and not woMEN!

    That text the way people attempt to teach it at times never made any sense. It doesn’t line with the rest of the bible. To me that is a red flag something is in error.


  2. Hannah, I agree. As far as I know, Cheryl Schatz make the most scholarly case for exactly that.

    What makes that interpretation even more likely, is that this was a letter to an individual on how to handle church problems – that woman probably caused problems in the congregation.

    But even if CBMW do not see that, they should see male headship is not in the plain meaning of the text.


  3. I checked this in the interlinear. It says she shall be saved in THE childbearing, (emphasis mine) which sounds to me like her salvation comes via the birth of Jesus, just like it does for all the rest of us, if she and all of us continue in faith etc.


  4. What happened with the Danvers statement is that these people came to the text with a masculinist assumption and bias. They were wearing blue glasses as they read the Bible, and then proclaimed that they found blue verses, this is not surprising at all, since they were the ones who were wearing the blue lenses. Once anyone learns how to take off the blue glasses, they can see that these verses do not actually say what the Danvers statements says they say. It really is a case of smoke and mirrors.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. All good points!

    Its sad to think of how many women were stopped from truly serving God and bringing others to Christ simply because they are female…


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