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

Posts tagged ‘Adam & Eve’

Maybe gender roles are part of the curse?

(Note: These ideas are not floated to teach, but to think. If any believer can add to it – whether to contradict or to agree – feel welcome. If these ideas, or the comments on it, helps either your or my understanding to grow, praise the Lord.)


Did you know that God never actually cursed Adam or Eve? 1 (more…)

Smoke and mirrors: A review of the Danvers statement (Part 5)

8. In both men and women a heartfelt sense of call to ministry should never be used to set aside Biblical criteria for particular ministries (1 Tim 2:11-15, 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9). Rather, Biblical teaching should remain the authority for testing our subjective discernment of God’s will.

Since the question is BMaW and not a restriction or two on one gender, we should see if God’s Biblical criteria for ministry include that everybody of a certain gender should be involved in any of these tasks, with nobody of the other gender doing it. With that in mind, we study these texts now:

1 Tim 2:11-15: Part 3 linked to other explanations of this contradictory passage, and part 2 discussed the possible gender roles in verses 12-14. (To recap, the only thing in that text that may be just for one gender is teaching men – or perhaps teaching in general. But not all men are called to teach, so this is not a gender role meant for all men.)

As such, we will look for possible gender roles in verse 11 and verse 15.

:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.

This woman – singular, the Greek manuscripts from which we translate our Bibles also have it as singular – should learn in silence and subjection. An individual that should do something does not make a gender role. And if it was a gender role, what is then the role of men? To see to it that they do not learn? To learn with noise and argumentation?

God certainly calls everyone to learn of him – male and female. We all should subject ourselves to the truth. We all should reject error, and none of us should be so submissive to leaders that we accept false doctrines from them. 1Thes 5:20-22 says we (male and female) should listen respectfully to religious teaching, test if it is good, accept it if it is, and reject it if it seems not to be.

1Ti 2:15  Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.

Is being “saved in childbearing” a gender role? By one common understanding among scholars, it means she shall be saved in the childbirth (of Jesus). Being saved in Christ is not a gender role.

If it means that bearing children will have a significant meaning to women, then it is a gender role we do not need CBMW for. Women were having children long before CBMW penned the Danvers Statement. Men have never usurped the childbearing role. They cannot. While bearing them is a biological gender role,  both mothers and fathers are called to love and raise their children. If CBMW sees a non-biological gender role in here, they did not explain what it is. And it says nothing of the gender role of those women who have no children, of which I am one.

The second part of the sentence – faith and charity and sobriety – is obviously not a gender role.

1Tim 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9 explain the requirements for elders and deacons. First things first: even if those are gender specific, it will only be a gender role – meant for the whole male gender – if God called all Christian men to be elders and deacons. If not, it is not a role for the whole male gender.

Once again, it has no corresponding, complementary female gender role. Submitting to the elders is not a gender role – Male and female church members should submit to elders.

With that in mind, we can study the text and see what evidence exists that these tasks are restricted to men. The gender-specific evidence in these texts comes down to this:

>     “The husband of one wife” (1 Tim 3:2; 3:12; Tit 1:6) is a saying that meant, in the Greek speech of the time, a faithful man or woman. Even some complementarians, like Douglas Moo and Thomas Schreiner, admit that this text does not clearly exclude women.

>      “Even so, must their wives be grave, not slanderers…”(1Ti 3:11) has, in my KJV, a few words in grey to show they were inserted because translators thought they made sense of the text, not because the Greek say that. More literal translations say: “Likewise women should be …” Why suddenly speak of women in the middle of talking of deacon requirements? Probably because female deacons should, as mentioned before of deacons, be grave and not slanderers.

>     “he”, “a man“, etc. In several spots where Paul wrote gender-neutral Greek, our translations inserted “he” to make a coherent English sentence. For example:

“If a man desires the office of bishop, he desires a good work”

… means:

“If anyone desires overseership**, that person desires a good work”.

None of these “he”s and in some translations “a man”s actually denote maleness, if you read Paul in the language he wrote in.

9. With half the world’s population outside the reach of indigenous evangelism; with countless other lost people in those societies that have heard the gospel; with the stresses and miseries of sickness, malnutrition, homelessness, illiteracy, ignorance, aging, addiction, crime, incarceration, neuroses, and loneliness, no man or woman who feels a passion from God to make His grace known in word and deed need ever live without a fulfilling ministry for the glory of Christ and the good of this fallen world (1 Cor 12:7-21).

True, but this is no statement about BMaW. In the same vein, it could be said that with the labourers so few and the need so big, limiting the potential workers in what they may do is detrimental to church health.

Point 9 could also contradict other things in this statement. If, for example, a woman with grown children want to be involved in a fulfilling ministry, but her husband orders her to stay at home 24/7, should she submit to his headship (Danvers statement, points 3-6), or should she get involved in a fulfilling ministry?

If men have the role of leadership, and a spiritually immature man who came to Christ recently nevertheless wants to be involved in a fulfilling ministry, should we make an immature man the leader of some ministry (the Bible speaks against it), or should he take a church task which is not a Biblical manhood gender role?

10. We are convinced that a denial or neglect of these principles will lead to increasingly destructive consequences in our families, our churches, and the culture at large.

They are convinced that denying/ neglecting BMaW will have dire consequences. And some people are convinced that they have been abducted by aliens. I don’t care one whit what CBMW are convinced of – unless they also convince me.
What did the Danvers statement give evidence for?

>    It gives no evidence for all the dire consequences (unraveling marriages, uncertainty and confusion, ambivalence regarding the values of motherhood and vocational homemaking, illicit or perverse sexual relationships, pornography, abuse in the family, threats to Biblical authority, etc.) which, according to their rationale, will follow if people do not live BMaW.

>   As far as roles at church go, these male roles was defended:

1) Teaching,

2) being an elder and perhaps a deacon, depending on how they interpret 1 Tim 3.

These 2 tasks are not for all men: All men are not spiritually mature enough to teach or oversee. Scripture even warns that all should not try to teach, because teachers will be judged more strictly. (James 3:1) In a congregation of 200+ people, all 100+ men cannot teach.

There was one bit of evidence (1 Timothy 2:11-15) given for women not teaching in the church, but none for a gender role that women, but not men, actually do have at church.  (The Bible passages quoted, not the Danvers statement itself, may add a female role of either wearing something on your head to church, or deciding for yourself if you want to do so; and a male role of not covering your literal head.)

>    When it comes to roles in the home, one role is given for married women: They have to submit to their husbands. That does not cover how they should treat any other person, besides the husband. They also defended a husband’s headship of his wife.  (Yes, some people understand the Bible in ways that disagree with said evidence. But the dissenting views are not the topic right now.) Nothing showed the man has a kind of authority over his children that the wife does not, or over any other kind of family member. Nothing showed Biblical home gender roles for singles living alone, young adults living with parents, boarders living in someone else’s home, individuals living in communes or boarding houses, etc.

> In the broader community, no gender roles were defended. It may have been asserted that leading is a general role for all males, but it was not proven from any Bible texts.

These applications are so limited that half of all adults really have no gender role under it. No teenage or child believer (except for a few who married in their late teens) have a Biblical gender role.


The Danvers statement uses 10 passages in an attempt to prove gender roles.* Of these 10 passages, only 2 (1 Tim 3 and Titus 1:5-9) was always used in a way that can arguably be justified from the texts. The other 8 were used, at least once, to say something that is simply not in there. That is notoriously bad eisegesis!

But even if all the scripture actually supported the confessions they made, there is still no evidence that gender roles are meant for all. The Danvers statement defended Biblical wife-hood and husband-hood in a way I understand, even if I do not agree. But I saw no scriptural defence of Biblical womanhood and manhood.



* The 10 passages are: Parts of Gen 2:16-24 -5 times; Parts of Gen 3:1-16  – twice; Parts of 1 Cor 11:2-16 -3 times; Eph 5 – twice; Col 3:18-19 – twice; Parts of 1 Tim 2:11-15 -4 times; and 1 Tim 3:1-13; Tit 1:5-9; Tit 2:3-5 and 1 Pet 3:1-7 once each.)

At least 2 of those 10 are also among the most seemingly contradictory passages in the New Testament – 1 Cor 11 and 1 Tim 2. Proof-texting from these is not wise.

The Danvers Statement also use 6 other passages besides these(Gen 1:26-27; Dan 3:10-18; Acts 4:19-20, 5:27-29; 1 Cor 12:7-21; Gal 3:28; 1 Pet 3:1-2), but these six were used to show points like equality, avoiding sin, and having a fulfilling ministry.

** See the first comment for why this change was made.

Smoke and mirrors: A review of the Danvers statement (Part 3)

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.

No, the Bible did not tell Adam to rule Eve!

This is no new insight. It is a short announcement to any reader of this blog who may have missed it. It is prompted by a million statements like these:

…A husband has a Biblical God-given RIGHT to RULE OVER his wife (Gen. 3:16)… – David J. Stewart, accusing disobedient wives of being the reason for more divorces than spousal abuse

Read Genesis 3:16 and the passage around it again. The words are:

 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers, hers;  it will crush your head, and you will strike at his heel.

To the woman he said: I will greatly increase your pain in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be toward your husband, and he will rule over you.

To Adam he said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you ‘You must not eat of it.’

Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow will you eat, until you return to the ground.

The text say “he will rule.” It predicts he is going to do it, now that sin came into the world. It is not:

Satan, I give you the RIGHT to have enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers, hers;  it will crush your head, and you have the RIGHT to strike at humanity’s  heel.

Eve, I will greatly increase your pain in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your husband has a RIGHT – given by me – to be desired by you, and I gave him the RIGHT to rule over you.

Adam, I give your employers the RIGHT to make your toil painful, so that in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. People have the RIGHT to sow thorns and thistles on your fields, so it will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. You have no RIGHT to eat a meal that was not by the sweat of your brow.

Nor is it:

Satan OUGHT TO strike at humanity’s heel.

Woman OUGHT TO have pain in childbearing and easy births OUGHT TO be made more painful, a woman OUGHT TO desire her husband(1) and he OUGHT TO rule over her. This ruling OUGHT TO be one-sided and she should not rule him.

Adam OUGHT TO live on cursed ground and not a piece of fruitful farmland, he OUGHT TO eat through painful toil and therefore choose a hard job that involves physical labor, the field OUGHT TO produce thistles and thorns and it OUGHT TO be sown when it does not come up naturally.  This working OUGHT TO be one-sided and women should never do any tiring work.

It is: These things will happen in a fallen world.

The end.



(1)    For centuries, all Bible translations said things like “Your turning will be to your husband” – implying away from God – and not “Your desire will be for your husband.” The turning was pictured as negative – away from God and towards another.

The story of Eve?

Story A:

He chose his victim carefully. Not the one who got the orders directly, but the one who got them secondhand. Not the one who knows exactly what he should not do, but the one who has a vague idea. He reasons with this naive being and tells her that good things will happen if she takes a bite of what is on offer. The serpent touches the fruit. That fruit, the one of which she said “if we touch it, we die.” He does not die.

“See, Adam-woman?* You thought touching this will kill you! It does not. This is good.”

And the Adam-man stand beside the Adam-woman the whole time. He is not fooled. He knows the message was not “touch it and you will die.” He knows, unlike her, that touching it proves nothing. He does not try, from his superior knowledge, to stop her. Instead, he watches as she does wrong. She finds it good, and from the kindness of her heart offers what she finds good to him.

The female Adam shared what she found good. The male Adam did not share what he knew to be good – the understanding about the tree and its fruit.

The undeceived Adam-man eat, knowing full well that God really said they should not eat of it.

And God comes in and offer bad news: She made the mistake of turning from God, desire the serpent’s offer, and suffered harm from this, and this will happen again. She will turn from God, desire Adam, and suffer from the rulership Adam will usurp in his sinfulness.


Women can have authority in the church, even if helper mean what comps say it does

Premise 1) Eve was made to be a helper to Adam. (Genesis 2:18)

Premise 2) To be a helper is to be the one under authority of the helpee. (Complementarian assumption, needed to get to Conclusion A.)

Conclusion A) The man was made to have authority over his wife right from creation. (Complementarian teaching)

– – – – – – – – – – – –

 Premise 3) The congregation (males included) were told to assist Phoebe. (Rom. 16:1-2) (more…)

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