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

Posts tagged ‘male headship’

Male headship before the fall: God’s message, or human perversion of Scripture? Part 2

<<Continued from Part 1

4. …God named the human race “Man,” not “Woman.”… (Gen. 5:1-2):


In the Hebrew text, the word … ’ådåm… is by no means a gender-neutral term… (Genesis 2:5,7, 8, 15, 16, 18, 19 (twice), 20 (twice, 22, 23, 25; 3:8, 9, 12, 17, 20, 21; 4:1, 25; 5:1)…

It does give a hint of male leadership, which God suggested in choosing this name….

Reading the same text with pink glasses

(To understand this argument, we have to know that people give meanings to words, things they understand when they hear it. An aggressive atheist, when hearing the word ‘God’, may hear: “That fictional character who is blamed for a lot of Old Testament deaths and the Crusades.” Another person, from a religious home, may think: “The One who is angry with all my sin and wants to punish me.” The problem is not the word “God”, but how people understand it.)

God named the human race “Man.” Then, the male sinfully appropriated the name for himself, calling the woman by other names. By the time Genesis was written, this sinful way of thinking about the term ’ådåm was established to such a degree that, writing in Hebrew, God used the word ’ådåm in two ways: The way God intended (for the whole race) and the meaning that sinful men gave the word: As a word for males.

On the other hand, the female was named “life causer”. (The meaning of Eve.) This gives a hint of female leadership: We die in Adam, but get life in Eve.

Stripping away the biases (more…)

Male headship before the fall: God’s message, or human perversion of Scripture? Part 1

According to Wayne Grudem, male headship has been part of God’s plan from creation.

In ‘Biblical Foundations for Manhood and Womanhood’, he claims that there are 10 reasons to believe in male headship before the fall. But are those reasons really there? Or, does he read them into the text because he wants to see it? Is leadership in the Bible blue, or is he wearing blue glasses which make it look that way? Over the next three blog entries, I will discuss his 10 reasons for believing in male leadership before the fall.

I will use blue and a quotation paragraph for Grudem’s words, and pink and a quotation paragraph for words which I wrote to show a different way of (mis)using the same Bible facts. The reason for quotation marks around the pink words is to show they are not my opinion – I use them to show that the same things Grudem uses to allege male lead, or similar things, could be used in a completely opposite manner too. Hierarchy is in the eye of the beholder, not the true meaning of the text.

1. The order:

Ten Reasons Showing Male Headship in Marriage Before the Fall

1. The order: Adam was created first, then Eve (…Gen. 2:7 and Gen. 2:18-23)… Paul … bases his argument for different roles in the assembled New Testament church on the fact that Adam was created prior to Eve. (1 Tim. 2:12-13). 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.

Reading the same text with pink glasses

First God made non-living things like the sun and moon, then things that at least resemble God in the fact of being alive, like plants. Then fish and birds, which start to have some degree of consciousness, then higher animals, then man, then women, the crown of creation. Scripture itself shows that God often prefer younger siblings over older ones – Abel over Cain, Jacob over Esau, Joseph over Judah, David over his brothers.

Jesus Himself- the last Adam – is bigger than the first Adam. Scripture even testifies that the last shall be first. (Mat. 20:16) The fact that Eve was created after Adam has implications not just for Adam and Eve themselves, but for the relationships between men and women generally throughout time, including the church age.

Stripping away the biases

Adam was made first, but that does not necessarily make him the leader. Plenty of Bible material turns first-last hierarchies on its head, These include many Old Testament stories in which the oldest brother is almost habitually not the one God chose, and the repeated message of Jesus that many of the last shall be first (Mat. 19:30; 20:16; Mark 9:35; 10:31; Luke. 13:30).

1 Tim 2:12-13’s message, in the context of the letter to Timothy, is:
“Do not worry about endless genealogies (1:4 – To permanently ban a certain group from teaching because the first member of the group was born after the first member of the other group is endlessly worrying about genealogies)… I, Paul, could be a preacher now (1:12) because I sinned while misled (1:13), and am not misled any more… I, Paul, do not currently allow a (particular?) woman to teach, or to dominate/ do violence against a (particular) man, because Adam was made first, and Eve was misled.”

Headship, head coverings, and glory – what was Paul thinking in 1 Cor. 11? (Part 4: How I understand it)

<< Click here for part 3

My best guess for explaining the passage

I think – but do not teach – that Paul was probably responding to things the Corinthians wrote to him here. (See 1 Cor. 7:1 for evidence Paul was speaking, in the latter part of 1 Corinthians, of some things they wrote to him about.)
He is probably quoting the contradictory views among them, views they probably argued (see “contentious” in vs. 16) about. And then, at the end of stating (mocking?) the way their views contradict each other, Paul gives this message: “Women should have authority on their own heads … Decide for yourself… I say this to anyone who wants to argue.”

In my view, Paul’s message (after quoting the Corinthians) is:

10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels.

Because all your contradictory arguments come to no conclusion, and believers will judge angels one day, sure women could decide for themselves what to wear on their heads. (more…)

Headship, head coverings, and glory – what was Paul thinking in 1 Cor. 11? (Part 1: Apparent contradictions)

A woman writes to a columnist at a Christian magazine, which hosts an advice column called Wisdom from the Word.

Dear Wisdom from the Word

I read in the Bible that women should cover their heads. I also read that the husband is the head of the wife. How should I live out this passage?

From Christian Wife

The columnist at Wisdom from the Word answers her: (more…)

HEADSHIP Bible: Luke 4

(This was inspired by the “THAT question” tag on my blog, and especially this entry.)

6jesus_scroll_1 16 Jesus went to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, and on the Sabbath day he went into the synagogue, as was his custom. And he stood up to read. 17 The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. (more…)

How often does the Bible say men should be the heads of their households?

I will start this blog entry with a complete list of every instance in the Bible where God, or anyone speaking for him, say men should be the heads of their households. Every single time that God instructs men – not a particular man, but Christian men in general – to lead their households, will be on my list. Then I will make a second list: Every instance where God tells men to lead their wives. (Before clicking on “read more” for my complete list, you can try making your own list.) (more…)

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.

What “the man should be the spiritual leader” did to me

Could you climb into a time machine for the sake of this story, and go back to the recent past? Think of an introverted bookworm who was sort of a late bloomer and, at 15, did not bloom yet. That is more or less Retha Faurie at age 15. As such, the pre-conversion 15-year old Retha have never dated, and it did not worry me either. I really was not interested yet. (more…)

Humble headship and intelligent submission – what does it mean?

…”The biblical ideal is loving, humble headship and joyful, intelligent submission.” – Wayne Grudem

When submission has the meaning Grudem defines, what is the difference between stupid submission and intelligent submission? (more…)

Woman and man in God’s design: My response to JOY magazine

“He commanded that I give up my car, my tv, my guitar, etc, I complied with only a whimper of protest. I didn’t have the rights to own things anymore. I was a wife now, and my husband was my spiritual authority. …So later, when my husband gave me lists for what I had to clean to perfection before being allowed to go to bed at night, etc, I submitted because I thought that was what God wanted. In fact, if there was anybody who was in sin, I was positive it was ME for feeling so humiliated at being given these long lists. I thought my reaction was what was sinful, not my husband treating me like a child. According to the teachings of this camp, the only time a wife has the right to say no to her husband is when he’s asking her to sin. And giving a detailed list of how the kitchen had to be completely sanitized and toothbrush-scrubbed before I could climb the stairs for bed (where he was waiting for me, ready for some action), was not sin. Right?My heart would sink to my stomach as I climbed those stairs, finally done with my job, and, get this, again, I was sure (thanks to all the books I’d read) that the problem was ME. I would be so ashamed of myself for MY sin at not being a cheerful and amorous wife.” – Journey

What could Errol Naidoo, writer of JOY magazine’s Gender Hierarchy in the home article, say to Journey and the many women like her? Yes, we agree her husband is not supposed to be like that. But what should she do here, if the Bible commands her to submit to her head? (more…)

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