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Feminism, in its many forms, is scientifically, ethically, spiritually, and biblically bankrupt, and has been shown as such. In this article, I would like to like to positively set forth what the Bible says about the roles and relations between men and women.
We will first start with the roles and relations between men and women as it began in Creation and the changes brought about by the Fall.
The first passage we will look at is Gen. 2:18-25, which shows forth the relations between men and women as seen in the Creation order.
Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. Then the man said,
“This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
From this account, we can see that the first woman, Eve, was created out of the first man, Adam. And the reason for her creation was ... that she would be 'a helper fit for Adam'. God saw that Adam was lonely, without a companion fit for him, and NONE was found to be a suitable companion for him, so God made Eve to fulfil this role.
First of all, we can see that Eve was equal to Adam in nature and worth. Eve was made out of the same material as Adam; in fact made from Adam's rib (Gen. 2:22), and thus by nature she was equal to him. By Adam calling Eve ''bone of my bones' and 'flesh of my flesh' (Gen. 2:23), he was esteeming Eve on par with himself as his equal in nature and worth. This is also seen in the New Testament where the apostle Paul himself said that all are equal before God, both men and women (Ga. 3:28)
Notwithstanding this, secondly, we can see that since Eve was made to be Adam's helper, Adam obviously had pre-eminence in the relationship between Adam and Eve. This, however, is not one of nature, but of roles within the relationship. Eve was created for Adam, and not the other way around, and God definitely was not wrong in so doing! Obviously, such pre-eminence is God's design primarily for a relationship between men and women in the context of marriage, and thus here we can see the foundation of biblical complementarianism. The functional inequality between men and women within the family and macroscopically as worked out in society is founded on this creation order established by God. All egalitarians thus err by rebelling against God's order which He established in Creation.
Thirdly, the relation between men and women can be seen in Gen. 2:24; they are to complement each other. Marriage is ordained by God between one man and one woman at Creation, and thus all 'variations' are sins. This includes sins such as homosexuality, adultery, fornication, polygamy etc. At marriage, both the man and the woman would leave their parents and cleave to one anther, becoming one flesh. By leaving their respective families and becoming one, they are setting up a new family unit. Since they form one flesh, they are set up to complement each other. Obviously, this means that there should ideally be peace and harmony within the marriage relationship. That there isn't is such is because of the fall, which we shall come to later, but even then we should still strive for it.
In Creation, the relationship between men and women has been set forth by God Himself. What then did the Fall bring about to the relationship between men and women?
The Fall brought about many effects to all of humanity. The most obvious one is the alienation and spiritual death of all humanity who fell together with our first parents, thus setting all of us down the path of death, destruction and damnation. We will now look at the effects of the Fall on the relationship between men and women.
To the woman He [God] 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.”
And to Adam He said,
“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
The man called his wife's name Eve, because she was the mother of all living. (Gen. 3:16-20)
The curses brought about by the Fall took effect immediately after they were uttered by God against our fallen parents. For the women, they included pain in childbirth. For men, work would be tough, as the Creation would now be in rebellion against Man the fallen creature, and would thus only yield food after much hard work. Now of course, women who decides to work would thus experience both hardships, but that is because they have decided to enter the workplace, which they do not have to do so according to the Creation mandate, whereas men have the total responsibility to work to provide for their families. (In other words, women do not have to work if they do not want to, but not men.)
In addition to these curses, God has also placed other curses against our first parents because of their sin, and through them to all humanity. Women now have this curse against them:
Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you. (Gen. 3:16b)
Now, this seems strange. What does the phrase 'your desire shall be for your husband' means? The latter phrase is obvious; that part of the curse would be for men to rule over women. In the footnote of this verse, the alternative rendering reads
Your desire shall be against your husband, and he shall rule over you.
Putting the two of them together, it can be seen that what the curse is about is that women now is placed under permanent subjection to their husband, and she would now be bitter over it. Whereas before, Eve willingly functioned as Adam's helpmate, now she has acquired a desire of rebellion against her husband and then forced into subjection for her husband's desires, as he rules over her. Women in general are thus affected by the Fall by their acquisition of a rebellious streak against men; a desire to usurp authority and use men for their own selfish gain, manipulating them if necessary. However, the second part of the curse against women is that they would be forced if necessary into subjection back to the Created order, by now sullied by the Fall. Men would henceforth rule over women with an iron fist, and women became rebellious and resentful of his pre-eminence! Instead of loving obedience, there would be forced obedience. The tragic history of the world bear out this fact, as men who are usually stronger than women inflict cruelty against women, and women manipulate their husbands to further their own desires and aims in life if possible. The Feminist movement on one hand, representing the feminine rebellion, and the Islamofascist regimes on the other, representing the iron fist brought against women, are modern examples of the curse of God shown here.
This alienation between men and women can be seen in verse 20. Formerly, before the Fall, both the man and the woman were collectively called Adam. After the Fall, however, they were alienated from each other, and Eve was given her name then. From the former fact, of course, come the idea that women should take after their husband's name, and thus any changes are violations of God's creation order. From the latter, we can see that the Fall brought about alienation from each other, which is in this context seen in the alienation of men from women in society in general, and from each other individually.
When Christ came, he came in the place of Adam, initiating the New Covenant through his sacrifice on the Cross for us His people. Whereas in Adam, all of us fell into sin and death, Christ as the second Adam (Rom. 5:18) by His sacrifice purchased a people unto Himself, and thus all of us who are His are raised unto new life in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Those of us who are His are now released from the power and bondage of sin unto grace (Rom. 6:11), and part of it would therefore also be from that induced by the Fall. Definitely, as part of humanity, we still would be subjected to the effects of it (Christian women STILL have pain in childbearing, Christians who work STILL find work difficult), however we are declared free from the its tyrannical power. So while we are still subjected to temptations and trials and still sin of our own accord, we are free now to choose and struggle not to sin, following Christ instead of sin. Indeed, sin becomes something alien to the believer who has a new nature, who struggles against it regularly.
In the area of the sin-dependent changes brought by the Fall, Christian women can now strive to be truly lovingly obedient to their husbands, and husbands to love their wives, winch we shall see later. In the meantime, we would like to look at relations between men and women in general in the churches.
The most obvious thing that has changed in the relation between men and women, and in fact, between anyone in Christ, is that we are to love each other in the Lord (Jn. 13:34-35; 15:12,17; 1 Jn. 3:11, 4:7). In fact, loving our brethren is even likened to a contest of who loves and honors his/her brethren more (Rom. 1210) and we owe each other a debt of love one to another (Rom. 13:8). Doing so, it means that we are to honor, respect and esteem each other, even above ourselves.
In 1 Tim. 5:1-2, we can see God's instructions for us specifically to various groups of people in the churches.
Do not rebuke an older man but encouraged him as you would a father. Treat younger men like brothers, older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity. (1 Tim. 5:1-2)
As we can see, we are to treat all the brethren 'in all purity', that is, with a pure heart of love for their good. They are to treated in the same way they we should lovingly treat our family members.
Next, we would look at the relationship between men and women in a marriage, as it is commanded by God:
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.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband. (Eph. 5:22-33)
The entire passage is easy to read. In the first part, wives are told to submit to their husbands, as to the Lord. In other words, women are to submit to their husbands as if their husbands were the Lord Jesus Christ Himself! They are to love, obey and respect him absolutely and unconditionally. They are to submit to their husband in the same way as the Church submits to Christ. No exception, no buts. As the Church obeys her Lord, honor and respect Him, the women are to do the same to their husbands. Of course, this is not to say that wives are to obey their husbands even to the extent of breaking God's law by so doing; she must obey God above all, but whatever the case, respect and honor must be given to him.
In the second part, Paul goes to the husbands. Men are to love their wives, similarly, absolutely and unconditionally. No exceptions, no buts too! They are to love their wives in the same way as Christ love the Church. Husbands are to provide for their wives' needs (NOT necessarily wants), and to love her as his own body, tenderly taking care of her.
In verses 31 and 32, Paul quotes the verse Gen. 2:24 which we have seen earlier, and applies it doubly to the relations between husbands and wives, and to Christ and the church, as they are both analogous to each other. Thus, from this, we can see that Paul is directing the relationship within a marriage back to the Creation order, which is loving submission of wives to their husbands who love them unconditionally as his own body.
We will now look at the role of women in relation to their behavior and in ministry.
Behavior and Ministry
As I have started also in the book review of Mary A. Kassian's book The Feminist Gospel, women are not allowed to be pastors, elders and deacons (or any unscriptural clergy positions created by denominational hierarchy). This came about by explicit command from Scripture, which can be expressively seen in 1 Tim. 11-14, which we have discussed before, and noted that the basis for such prohibition is the Creation order, and also that Eve was the one deceived, while Adam was not deceived (v. 14), but instead compromised.
With this said, let us look at the behavior of women:
the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. (1 Cor. 14:34)
likewise also that women should adorn themselves in respectable apparel, with modesty and self-control, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly attire, but with what is proper for women who profess godliness — with good works. Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 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. (1 Tim. 2:9-15)
Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5)
Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct. Do not let your adorning be external — the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear — but let your adorning be the hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God's sight is very precious. For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. (1 Peter 3:1-6)
Now, I will not be looking at the subject of head covering (1 Cor. 11:2-16), except to say that the main concern Paul was having is that women are to be subjected to their husbands and that the basis of this is the Creation order also. According to Matthew Henry (Matthew Henry Commentary), the expression of it is cultural (head coverings), but the principle underlying it is not, which sounds reasonable. Nevertheless, let us look at the other verses.
In the other verses quoted above, one thing which is emphasized is that women are to be silent (1 Cor. 14:34) and to learn quietly (1 Tim. 2:11). This is said against women who think they can preach and teach in the assemblies which is not biblical as it usurp the authorities of the ministers of God, not that women are to be 'gagged' in churches. Another thing which women are to do are to adorn themselves with good works and not by exterior jewellery, clothing etc. (1 Tim. 2:9-10, 1 Peter 3:1-4), which refocuses women onto the things which are truly beautiful instead of all the exterior and superficial useless stuff. In 1 Peter 3:5-6, adorning herself with good works also include obeying her husband, which Scripture commands the wives to do.
With regards to ministry of women, women are allowed and encouraged to teach... younger women (Titus 2:3-5). Basically, besides the leadership and preaching ministry in the church, all other positions are available to them to serve the Lord in. That said, however, I would like to add that since men are supposed to lead the church, I guess there is something really wrong when we are more interested in training up women by giving them certain ministry opportunities (i.e. leadership in various committees in the church etc.) rather than to men, all things being equal. This is not to say that all leaders should thus be men, but that men should have priority, since the church needs to be always building up and training leaders and pastors for the next generation, and also for more people to work in the Lord's harvest field (Jn. 4:35), and what better way than to groom them through service in the smaller things first (Mt. 25:21, 23)?
Now, this I think is a practical application for us modern Evangelicals regarding what the Scriptures tell about the roles of men and women. Serving in various ministry environments, situations and with different people, I have seen so far that there tends to be a tendency towards selecting women in various leadership positions in non-Reformed circles. This is especially so if the 'top guy' is a male, and thus perhaps the thinking is that women are needed to provide a 'balanced' perspective? I wouldn't want to speculate into what I don't know for sure, but at least in some circumstances, such a motive for choosing the 'next in command' is too obvious for anyone not to notice. Now, this is not an indictment against godly women in those non-ecclesiastical, 'non-authoritative' leadership positions, and some of them truly love the Lord and serve Him sacrificially, and they are to respected for their service and sacrifice unto the Lord. However, due in part to feminist influences in the churches, consciously or sub-consciously, we want to have a 'gender-balanced' ministry, so therefore if the 'top guy' is a guy, then the next in command should ideally be a woman and vice versa, which is obviously NOT a biblical perspective. Additionally, because of the fact that guys generally tend to be busier in their work etc. and thus tend to have less time to serve God, women tend to more available to serve God.
This is complicated further in the modern effeminate Christian religion, which is based on emotions and feelings more than facts, logic, doctrines, and sacrifice to the point of martyrdom (true biblical Christianity). Thus, it isn't surprising that women seem to be easier to be nurtured in the Lord than men, who are basically under-nourished in most (and especially non-Reformed) churches. In the end, the cycle perpetuates itself, less and less men are found to be capable of leadership, and the godless culture always helps to promote such decline. The sad part is that most people don't even know the reason for such a decline, and the churches, preferring to take the easy way out, rather appoint women leaders than to take the large amount of time, effort and energy required to train up its men.
In conclusion, we have seen what the Bible says about the roles of and relationships between men and women in the Creation order, the curses brought about by the Fall, and within the redeemed community. Also, we have seen the biblical behavior of women and their ministry limitations. As an application, it is my hope that ministry opportunities in churches should be re-thought through, and that churches should put in more effort to train up her men on the full counsel of God, not the effeminate partial version of Christianity which starves us. Through all this, may we come to know and reflect Christ in our relationships with each other and our roles as men and women of God.