Tag Archive: woman


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.

But, someone might ask, what of 1 Corinthians 11:3 that 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 Gk. kephale, is also to be understood as “source” or “origin”, without the idea of rank, and carrying  the idea of chronology and not hierarchy.

To further substantiate this, the sequence in 1Cor 11:3 shows that hierarchy wasn’t the meaning. The sequence in the text is: Man – Christ, Wife – Husband, Christ – God

If hierarchy was the meaning, then it would have had this order: Wife – Husband, Man – Christ, Christ – God

Thirdly, hierarchical interpretation of this passage begs the question, is the ascended Christ, the Son of God, under God? As the Word, having been equal to God, He relinquished His equality for our salvation, but isn’t He restored to equality with God with ALL authority in heaven and earth? And, only at the end will He subject Himself to God again (see 1 Cor 15:28).

ORDER BY CHRONOLOGY ACCORDING TO ORIGIN/SOURCE

The source of every man is Christ (ADAM was made by Christ)

The source of the woman is the man (Eve came from Adam; also descriptive of that time when a husband was the main provider of physical resources and spiritual food which he could access more easily and from which she was often deprived access)

The source of Christ is God (Christ from God, Begotten of God, God became flesh to be the Christ)

Consider Cyril of Alexandria (5th century): “Thus we say that the kephale of every man is Christ, because he was made through Him and brought forward to birth…. And the kephale of woman is man, because she was taken from his flesh and has him as her source. Likewise, the kephale of Christ is God, because He is from Him according to nature.”

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 & A

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. For more on 1 Cor 11:3.

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

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

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

CLICK ON THE QUESTION OR ANSWER FOR A FULLER EXPLANATION

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

Ready to Rule Together
Photo by Lajla Borg Jensen @ RGBStock.com

MISUSING A CUSTOM

There is no evidence in both the incidents of Adam “naming” Eve that God had given him authority over her. I say this to counter the willy-nilly correlating of these incidents with a Hebrew custom that if you named something it indicated that you had authority over it.

If it was a Biblical custom, then its origins may lie in Adam naming the animals. However, the naming of the animals was only shown to be out of God’s interest to see what Adam WOULD name them. Yet, even if it did imply authority over the animals, this incident was by God’s leading, whereas the “naming” of his counterpart was not.

ADAM CALLED HER “WOMAN” AND NAMED HER “EVE”

Note, that the first time that Adam saw the woman, he exclaimed out of his free will and NOT by God’s command, leading or for His interest (as with the animals), “she shall be called Woman.” By doing this, he did nothing wrong, but neither was he under God’s direction. He was simply responding to having seen His counterpart.

Then, later, when Adam names the woman, “Eve”, in Genesis 3:20, it is after the fall and God did not command this either (though He may have inspired the choice of name). So, once again, this could be simply Adam’s free will (perhaps with God’s inspiration), but because it is after the fall, it could also be argued that this was Adam’s first act of ruling Eve as Genesis 3:16 said would happen.

There is therefore no evidence that by Adam calling the person made from his side “Woman” and later naming her “Eve”, that these acts of naming her had any connection to having authority over her.

EZER KENEGDO

In an effort to prove their point that Adam had authority over Eve, some have argued that slaves, children, and animals were named by those who were over them. This was true, but slaves, children, and animals don’t equate to the Counter-part Woman given to Adam. She was not a slave, child or animal, but that teaching produces the fruit of people treating women this way.

Rather than be subject to him, the Woman was to be a strength alongside Adam (his Ezer Kenegdo – a help as his counterpart). She would be strong where he was weak and together they would have co-dominion over every living thing, with the mission to subdue the earth (see Gen 1:28).

(Note: Ezer is often used of God helping us. Kenegdo shows the help is of an equal. From word study of “help meet”, EZER KENEGDO, God’s Word to Women).

Rob

Reflecting on 1 Timothy 2:11-15

The issue of a woman leading or teaching in the church is clearly misunderstood by many and is a contentious subject that divides the body of Christ. The stumbling block is generally over scripture, with 1 Timothy 2:11-15 being perhaps the most prominent of these.

Let’s consider what it says:

“Let a woman learn in silence with all submissiveness. I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she is to keep silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet woman will be saved through bearing children, if she continues in faith and love and holiness, with modesty.”

To some of us, it’s as plain as day what Paul is saying in these words. Others of us believe he cannot possibly be saying what a simple reading of the text seems to indicate.

In order to understand the issues that Paul addresses here, we need to have context in two areas. Firstly, we need to get textual context by examining these verses in the light of the whole letter. And, secondly, we need to get the historical context.

Scriptural Context

If we look at Paul’s opening address to Timothy at the beginning of the letter, we can see that Timothy, a co-worker in Paul’s church planting team, had been asked to “remain at Ephesus so that [he] may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine…” (1 Timothy 1:3).

Historical Context

Then, in 1 Tim 2:11-15 Paul addresses one of these “different doctrines”, the idea of female religious superiority. It was the prevalent belief in Ephesian religion that man came from a woman deity and then subsequently sinned. Also, men were to be subject to women teaching them and to their authority. This idea had apparently infiltrated into the local church’s thinking.

Let’s examine Paul’s instruction that corrects this:

Quiet & Submissive?

Paul tells Timothy, “Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.” This describes the proper demeanor in which both men and women should learn. Except, in this case, it was evidently the women who needed instruction and correction. Let’s consider this:

Firstly, “let a woman learn” was huge progress in that women were often untaught and relegated to the sidelines of life, including among the Jews. Now they were among those being taught.

Then, “quietly” suggests refraining from the bustle and chatter that some may have been previously used to, but that would disrupt a learning environment. This may also be the start of Paul correcting the opposite extreme of female dominance that was prevalent in that society’s religion.

And, “with all submissiveness” is a call to appropriate Christian behavior where men and women are “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

No Teaching or Authority?

Paul goes on, “I do not permit a woman to teach …a man.” Here Paul is addressing the false idea of women being the source of truth. The Spirit of God is the source of truth and it can be through men and women. Consider this in the light of “the anointing which you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that any one should teach you; as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie, just as it has taught you, abide in him” (1 John 2:27).

Paul goes on, “or to exercise authority over a man”. Prohibiting the exercise of authority over one another is not foreign to Christianity. Consider Jesus’ prohibition on disciples having authority over one another in Matthew 20:25-27. Again, here, Paul recognized that certain women, in the church at Ephesus specifically, needed addressing on this issue.

Paul continues with, “rather, she is to remain quiet.” This is again an attitude for learning and not a strict prohibition from any interaction.

Tearing Down the False Teaching

Then he says, “For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. Yet she will be saved through childbearing — if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.”

Here Paul corrects the false teaching that man came from a woman deity by stating that Adam was formed first and then Eve. He doesn’t do this in order to place Adam over Eve, but to simply pull to pieces the false teaching. Then, to further take it apart, Paul states that it was actually the woman who was initially deceived and who became the first transgressor. Not the man as the false teaching taught.

The Mess from Misunderstanding

Some in the church today suggest the prohibition on women teaching is based on Paul’s reference here to a propensity for women to be more easily deceived. However, Paul was not saying anything of the sort. He was merely showing up the false teaching. Frankly, as I look around and at our past, the devil hasn’t needed help from women for this. Men themselves have been deceived and have done a right royal job in promoting false teaching.

Through our misunderstanding of the context and what Paul was addressing, we have swung the pendulum from the false teaching of female dominance in teaching and leadership to an equally false teaching of male dominance in teaching and headship.

Paul was not prohibiting women from teaching men or from speaking God’s word with authority. He was simply bringing wayward thinking in line with the equality that should exist in the body of Christ.

Rob

(Note that Timothy was not the pastor of the church in Ephesus as has been mistakenly attributed to him. For more on this, see my post on Church Leadership).

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