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I loved this post and I hope that you will too. Christlikeness is the clear intention of God and of Scripture for both men and women.

Originally posted on Tim's Blog - Just One Train Wreck After Another:

Biblical Womanhood is a loaded phrase. Some people think it means a woman like this and others this woman. Biblical Manhood is like that too, causing some people to think of this guy and others to think of this one.

But my favorite image of Biblical Womanhood is this one:

Judges 4:21 – One Example of Biblical Womanhood

All of this came to mind because of a couple of articles I read recently, coming at the issue from different perspectives but both calling for a focus on Jesus and not on our sex.

Rejecting The Staus Quo

Rachel Stone (whose awesomely talented father drew that Jael picture) pointed out that a real woman of the Bible – a Biblical Woman, if you will – is one who points others to Jesus. In her essay on Edith Schaeffer, Rachel recognized that Schaeffer came from a different time in our culture…

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COMPLEMENTARIANISM – A FORM OF PATRIARCHY

Complementarianism is a belief that limits the roles of a wife to those that won’t infringe on her husband as head ‘over’ her. As such, Complementarianism is a form of patriarchy, but, unlike full-blown Patriarchy, which has women subject to men in every area of society, this version is restricted to how it effects the spousal relationship. The basis for this belief is their interpretation of Biblical passages like Eph 5:23, 1 Cor 11:3, 1 Tim 2:11-15 and 1 Cor 14:34-35. (Click on the references for an Egalitarian/Mutualist view of these passages).

CHURCH LEADERSHIP

In a nutshell, Complementarian wives cannot take on any leadership roles in society where they are ‘over’ their husbands. And so, fueled by a common misconception that church leadership roles are hierarchical, despite Jesus commanding to the contrary (Matt 20:25-27), Complementarians restrict women in church roles too, in order to prevent them from violating their concept of male headship in the home. In fact, when it comes to church leadership, Complementarians are especially quick to implement this practice, believing that Paul was addressing the possible violation of this spousal headship structure in passages like 1 Tim 2:11-15 and 1 Cor 14:34-35.

HEAD – AUTHORITY OR SOURCE?

What is clear is that this belief hinges on the principle of hierarchical headship in the home. However, even though Ephesians 5:23 certainly does speak of the husband as head (Gk. kephale) of the wife, the biblical era meaning of ‘head’ (Gk. kephale) means source and not rank headship. Also, to note, is that the text says that ‘the husband is the head of (not over) the wife, even as Christ is the head of (not over) the church, which also fits with that era’s use of ‘head’ as source and not authority.

MUTUAL SUBMISSION

Furthermore, Eph 5:21 says ‘submitting yourselves one to another’, which clarifies that the male headship spoken of in Eph 5:23 must be understood within the context of mutual submission and not rank leadership, even if men had this kind of authority through state legislation or culturally. In fact, the term ‘submit’ in Eph 5:22 is not in the Greek, which clearly shows that wives were being directed to the same ‘submitting…one to another’ of Eph 5:21, and not another.

Even in the unlikely event that ‘head’ did mean rank headship in this passage, it should be seen as being descriptive of a husband in New Testament society, who automatically acquired legal authority over his household by virtue of his gender, but as prescriptive of how he ought to behave, given his position, for the sake of his wife and not primarily his own. Understood this way, Paul was being prescriptive within the confines of Roman society’s boundaries, just as he was with slave owners and slaves.

NO CHURCH HIERARCHY

Ironically, neither the meaning of source or rank for ‘head’ would preclude a wife from becoming an elder or pastor in a church and thereby interfere with the supposed spousal rank ‘headship’ principle, because there is no hierarchy in the Church where anyone is ranked ‘over’ another, except Jesus as Lord. That said, it is evident that the passages on Jesus being ‘head of’ His body also have to do with Him being the source rather than being about rank leadership, though it is clear from other contexts that He has this too.

SUBMIT TO HUSBAND

Also ironic is that if one takes a Mutualist (Egalitarian) or Complementarian view here and considers the likely scenario where a husband agrees or allows (depending on the view) his wife to be a pastor, elder, governor, or the country’s president, either by mutual consensus or authority over (again, depending on the view), then the outcome would be that she may, for Eph 5:23 says that it is to her husband that she is supposed to submit. And so, no church or any other man has the authority to stop her.

COMPLEX, BEYOND BELIEF

The Complementarian narrative centers around subordinate roles of a wife in relation to her husband, but the exact parameters for women in general, and each woman in particular, appears to be subject to the discretion and influence of male church leaders who claim Biblical authority for their exclusively male role and their varying interpretations. Furthermore, the application of their belief becomes so tricky, given their various interpretations, that it is hard to imagine that God would have given us something so difficult to pin down. Not to mention that the complexity of applying their belief increases and varies even more when we step out of the spousal relationship and consider leadership for single women or widows that don’t fall under these headship passages.

Q – Doesn’t the naming of Eve show that Adam had authority over her?

A – No, both male and female were created in the image of God and they were given shared authority to rule (Gen 1:28).

Brief explanation:

There is a Jewish tradition that the one who does the naming of another has authority over the one named. There is, however, no evidence that Adam had authority over the Woman when he called her ‘Woman’ and later named her ‘Eve’.

The two occasions where Adam ‘named’ the Woman were unlike the naming of the animals that God brought ‘to the man to see what he would call them.’

The first time that Adam saw the woman he exclaimed, ‘she shall be called Woman’. This was done out of a response to what he saw and out of his free will and NOT by God’s command, leading, or for God’s own interest (as with the animals).

The second time, when he names her ‘Eve’, it is after the Fall and so we cannot interpret anything from this with regard to God’s original intention that is seen in Gen 1:28.

 

For further explanation:

Naming of Eve and Adam’s Authority

Other questions:

Women in the Church – Common Questions

Q – Isn’t the wife supposed to be the husband’s ‘helper’?

 

A – Yes and No. The woman that was made to be with Adam was called his ‘help meet’ (Greek EZER KENEGDO), not his ‘helpmate’.

 

Brief explanation:

Ezer (help) does not mean from a lesser being. The same term is used of God helping us. It speaks of power and strength.

Kenegdo (meet) means a corresponding counterpart. In other words, the woman was to be a strength where Adam was weak.

 

For further explanation:

Naming of Eve and Adam’s Authority – see paragraph on EZER KENEGDO (‘help meet’)

Ezer Kenegdo (help meet) – from God’s Word to Women

Other questions:

Women in the Church – Common Questions

scottsnyde (Scott Snyder) http://www.rgbstock.com/user/scottsnyde

Q – Doesn’t the Bible say that wives are to submit to their husbands as their ‘head’?

A – Yes and No. Yes, only if the term ‘head’ (Greek: kephale) is understood as ‘origin’ or ‘source’ without the meaning of rank. The Bible teaches mutual submission between spouses.

Brief explanation:

1 Corinthians 11:3 reads: ‘But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God.’ Here, the term ‘head’, from the Greek kephale, is to be understood as ‘source’ or ‘origin’ without the idea of rank and has as its meaning the idea of chronology and not hierarchy.

Ephesians 5:22-24 reads: ‘Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.’

Firstly, it is key to note that just prior to these verses, verse 21 says: ‘…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.’ Secondly, being ‘head’ meant that husbands were to be the source (kephale) of love, care and provision for their wives as Christ is for the Church. It did not mean that they were to be their lords or have rank above their wives as Christ has over the Church.

For further explanation:

Husbands (and wives), Deprive and Dominate or Supply and Share

God’s Plan for Gender Equality in the Home, Church and all of Society

The Fallacy around Male Headship in the Home and in the Church

Other questions:

Women in the Church – Common Questions

mokra (Marcelo Mokrejs) www.rgbstock.com/user/mokra

mokra (Marcelo Mokrejs)
http://www.rgbstock.com/user/mokra

Q – Can women be elders (leaders/pastors) in the church?

A – Yes, Paul says, ‘If anyone (Greek tis – a gender neutral term) wants to be an elder…’

Brief explanation:

In Christ we are restored to the equality at creation (Gen 1:28) and male rule that came about as a result of the Fall (Gen 3:16) is ended for those ‘in Christ’ where there is ‘neither male nor female’ (Gal 3:28). Both redeemed men and women are called ‘Sons of God’ and Christians are to regard ‘no man according to the flesh’.

For further explanation:

Can Women be Elders? – Part 1

Can Women be Elders? – Part 2

A Road to Egalitarianism

Apostles – Twelve Men, No Women?

Let Women Teach and with Authority

God’s Plan for Gender Equality in the Home, Church and all of Society

Other questions:

Women in the Church – Common Questions

COBRASoft (Sigurd Decroos) www.rgbstock.com/user/COBRASoft

COBRASoft (Sigurd Decroos)
http://www.rgbstock.com/user/COBRASoft

Q – Doesn’t the Bible say that women are to ‘keep silent’ in church?

A – No. In fact it says just the opposite.

Brief explanation:

Paul was clearly exasperated that such an idea was proposed and responded with ‘What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?’ (See 1 Cor 14:34-36).

Also, Paul would be contradicting himself if he taught that women were to keep silent. Consider that he says in 1 Cor 14:26, ‘…when ye come together, EVERY ONE of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation…’ This would have been impossible for women if they had been commanded to ‘keep silent’ in church.

In the context of 1 Tim 2:12, where it says ‘…she (a woman/wife) is to remain quiet/silent’, the term ‘silent’ is better translated ‘in quietness/quietly’, which suggests refraining from bustle and chatter.

For further explanation:

‘Let your women keep silence in the churches.’ Really?

Let Women Teach and with Authority

God’s Plan for Gender Equality in the Home, Church and all of Society

Other questions:

Women in the Church – Common Questions

 Click on the answers for a fuller explanation.

Picture: katagaci (Moi Cody) www.rgbstock.com/user/katagaci

Picture: katagaci (Moi Cody)
http://www.rgbstock.com/user/katagaci

 1. Doesn’t the Bible say that women are to ‘keep silent’ in church?

NO

2. Can women be elders (leaders/pastors) in the church?

YES

3. Doesn’t the Bible say that wives are to submit to their husbands as their ‘head’?

YES and NO

4. Isn’t the wife supposed to be the husband’s ‘helper’?

YES and NO

5. Doesn’t the naming of Eve show that Adam had authority over her?

NO

----------- Do You Have a Fuzzy View of Gender? ----------- Kevin Tuck, httpwww.rgbstock.com

———– Do You Have a Fuzzy View of Gender? ———– Kevin Tuck, http://www.rgbstock.com

Equality Lost

Sadly, the Church’s long embrace of Patriarchy (male leadership in society), as well as its current entanglement with Complementarianism (a newer watered down version of Patriarchy where the role of leadership in the home and church are designated to males), are a perpetuation of the Fall and its consequence, “HE (man) SHALL RULE OVER YOU (woman)”. As such, they have nothing to do with the New Covenant and the gender equality found in Christ.

To consider how this came about, here, in a nutshell, is an overview of mankind, male and female, their dominion and how they have related to one another in God’s timeline:

Creation

The foundation for male and female equality, being joint heirs with joint dominion is found in the very beginning, in Genesis 1:27-28:

So God created man in his own image… MALE AND FEMALE he created them … And God said to THEM,”…fill the earth and SUBDUE IT, and HAVE DOMINION over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen 1:27-28).

Note: nothing is said of gender roles or rank, or roles with rank.

Fall

Inequality that exists through so-called male roles of leadership was not in God’s original plan, but is described in Genesis 3:16 as one of the consequences of the Fall.

To the woman he said, “I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and HE SHALL RULE OVER YOU” (Gen 3:16).

History shows that man has certainly done this, even, and sometimes especially, by those in the church.

Note: male rank became the typical default.

Restoration

Although He worked, and works with us in our brokenness of male dominance, inequality is not God’s original or ultimate plan. In the New Covenant, described in Acts 2:17-18 and Galatians 3:28, we find a restoration to the equality seen at creation:

And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy (Acts 2:17-18).

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal 3:28).

Note: nothing is said here or anywhere in the New Testament of spousal rank or church roles with rank.

Male Dominance Preserved by Misinterpretation, Tradition and Man’s Fallen Nature

These doctrines of Patriarchy and Complementarianism come from misinterpreting God’s word and are perpetuated by having become unquestioned tradition for many. Of course, the fallen male nature to want to dominate also helps to entrench these traditions.

As a result of years of indoctrination and bad example, many in the Church have a veil of Patriarchy on their minds that causes them to misread texts like 1 Cor 14:34-35, 1 Tim 2:11-15, 1 Tim 3:1f, 1 Cor 11:3f and Eph 5:22f. Consequently, these texts are used to endorse behavior that is contrary to the Spirit, which is both sad and ironic, because Paul was often teaching against Patriarchy with those very texts.

For a look at those misused texts in context, click on these links:

1 Corinthians 14:34-35 – “Let your women keep silence…”
1 Timothy 2:11-15 “… I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man…”
1 Timothy 3:1f – “…an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife…”
1 Corinthians 11:3f – “…the head of the woman is the man…”
Ephesians 5:22 – “Wives, submit to your own husbands…the husband is the head of the wife…”

May the joy of God’s original purpose of gender equality, that was lost at the fall, but found in Christ, become all the more yours in your home, the Church and in all of life.

God bless,

Rob

Ayla87 (Michael & Christa Richert) http://www.rgbstock.com

Ayla87 (Michael & Christa Richert) http://www.rgbstock.com

Did Paul, or for that matter God, teach “”Let your women keep silence in the churches”?

In writing to the Corinthian church, Paul writes, “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (1 Cor 14:34-35).

That seems plain as day, right? Yes, if these verses are looked at in isolation, it does seem very plain that Paul was restricting women from speaking in church meetings. However, let’s consider the text, in its context.

Immediate Context:

Firstly, consider that the very next verse says, “What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?” (1 Cor 14:36), which, if read immediately after verses 34-35, shows Paul to be reacting to the idea of restricting women and not advocating it.

Extra Biblical Context:

Now, someone may rightly ask, surely Paul would not advocate following God’s law only to immediately refuse the idea. But, was it God’s “law” that Paul was referring to that says women ought to keep silent? No! A careful search will reveal no such law in the Bible.

So what “law” was Paul referring to then? Paul was quoting the Jewish oral law (Talmud) in vs 34-35 that some in the church apparently still wanted to embrace. And, in vs 36, we see Paul reasoning against this restriction on women. Firstly, he is clearly flabbergasted by such a notion. Then, through rhetorical questions, he refutes their logic to keep such a custom.

Paul points out that the word did not come from men, but, by implication, that it is from God. And, that it also did not only go to men, but, by implication women too. The logic being that there was no reason to restrict women from speaking because they “learn” just fine directly from God and His word and don’t need to be instructed by their husbands at home in order to learn. This explains the grammar and obvious tone in verse 36.

TALMUDIC QUOTES:

Only men could speak in public (Beraktoth 4,36; Mishnah Aboth 1,5)

No woman could give a testimony or conduct business. (Mishnah Shabbath 4,1).

For a glimpse into the prevailing mindsets around that era, here is Adam Clarkes comment on Verse 34:

“Let your women keep silence in the churches] This was a Jewish ordinance; women were not permitted to teach in the assemblies, or even to ask questions. The rabbins taught that “a woman should know nothing but the use of her distaff.” And the sayings of Rabbi Eliezer, as delivered, Bammidbar Rabba, sec. 9, fol. 204, are both worthy of remark and of execration; they are ….”Let the words of the law be burned, rather than that they should be delivered to women.” Adam Clarke

Further Context:

Paul would be contradicting himself in the very same letter if he taught that women were to keep silent. Consider that he says 1 Cor 14:26, “…when ye come together, EVERY ONE of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation…” This would be impossible for women if they were to keep silent.

Furthermore, Paul clearly knew, taught and practiced the New Covenant where no restriction on women exists. In Galatians 3:28, Paul captures the equality that is found in Christ. It reads, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Paul Was Rejecting Male Patriarchy and Not Women Speaking

So, contrary to the teachings and traditions of Judaism (and a whole lot of Christianity today), PAUL WAS OPPOSING THOSE WHO WOULD SILENCE WOMEN. He was correcting those who were wanting to bring certain wrong teachings and traditions from Judaism into the church. Clearly, if we are to isolate verses to capture Paul’s thinking then surely his view is seen in vs. 36 and not vs. 34-35.

He then refutes opposition to this by saying, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Cor 14:37-38).

Recommended Reading:

For an excellent and more complete explanation of these verses, I would like to suggest another’s post: 1 Corinthians 14:34-35: Should Women be Silent in Church?

Here is another interesting article too: Paul’s Missing “Double Bunk” in 1 Corinthians 14:36

Perhaps you are asking, “What of:

1 Tim 2:11-15

1 Cor 11:3

1 Tim 3:1

Eph 5:22?

Rob Morley

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