Gender Roles: The Headship of the man
· Feminist Controversy – Egalitarian vs. Complementarian Views
· Egalitarian View emphasizes EQUALITY of DIGNITY and EQUALITY of ROLE; male headship resulted AFTER the Fall, but was not God’s original order (Genesis 3:16); Equality of DIGNITY and ROLE (shared authority) re-established through redemption in Christ (Galatians 3:28; 1 Peter 3:7; Ephesians 5:21ff.)
· Complementarian View emphasizes EQUALITY of DIGNITY but DISTINCTION of ROLE; male headship established BEFORE the Fall as the expression of the Divinely appointed order in Marriage (1 Timothy 2:12-13; Genesis 2:16-18; 3:9-11,17; Ephesians 5:22-24,33; 1 Peter 3:1-6)
Equality of Dignity & Worth
· Genesis 2:18 – ‘ezer kenegdo
· `Ezer means “help, succour, support”. It is a probably a derivative of the verb ‘azar , a primary root which means “to surround“, and thus the meaning “to defend, protect, aid, help, support.” But new studies have suggested that the word more possibly comes from a combined root which carries the main idea of “strength, power” that “rescues, saves” another. God is often described in the Old Testament as Israel’s ‘ezer or “Helper” (Exodus 18:4; Deuteronomy 33:7; Psalms 33:20; 115:9-11; 124:8; Hosea 13:9), or the Psalmist “Help” (Psalms 70:5; 121:1-2). The woman’s strength as ‘ezer is also symbolized by the substance God used to create her – the “rib” bone in the man that “protects, surrounds” the heart.
· Kenegdo comes from neged (“to be in front of, opposite, parallel”) and means “corresponding to, comparable to, equal to, counterpart to, suitable or fitting for.”`Ezer kenegdo thus means “a support, a source of strength who is an equal counterpart to, one who is just like” the man. Here there is no inferiority or superiority, but equality. The woman is thus a true counterpart and equal of the man, who, unlike the animals, corresponds to him in every way, and who is thus able to meet his need for community, for intimate relationship – something the animals cannot give to the man (Genesis 2:20)
Man Was Created To Take Leadership
- God establishes His covenant with the Man before the woman was created (Genesis 2:16-17; Hosea 6:7). God expects the man to be faithful to that covenant as his bond of integrity.
- God expected the man to take leadership in that covenant by communicating His word to his wife (Genesis 3:1-3) and to ensure that his wife obeys His will (Genesis 3:6, 17)
- God holds the man responsible for his sin and the sin of his wife (Genesis 3:9-11, 17)
- The Fall is the results of the man’s failure to take leadership
Headship Is Not Superiority; Submission Is Not Inferiority
· Both husband and wife are commanded to demonstrate mutual submission (Ephesians 5:21-24) and respect (Ephesians 5:33; 1 Peter 3:7)
· Headship is just an assigned role or function, it does not imply a superior nature – 1 Corinthians 11:3; Philippians 2:5-6; Colossians 2:9; Ephesians 5:25,28-29
· Subordination is just an assigned role or function, it does not imply an inferior nature – 1 Corinthians 11:3,7-12; Galatians 3:28-29; Ephesians 5:25,28-29; Proverbs 31:10-31; 1 Peter 3:3-5
· 1 Peter 3:7 “Fellow-heirs of the gracious gift of life”
· Malachi 2:13-14 (God rebuffs men who are unfaithful to their wives)
· Male abuse of their headship and their abuse of women is the product of sinful NATURE and CULTURE, but not of SCRIPTURE.
· The Answer to ABUSE is NOT ABOLITION of Divinely Assigned ROLES, but the restoration of mutual RESPECT and HONOR between the genders as people equally created in the image of God.
Equality of dignity & worth
- 1 Peter 3:7 “Fellow-heirs of the gracious gift of life”
- Malachi 2:13-14 (God rebuffs men who are unfaithful to their wives)
- Male abuse of their headship and their abuse of women is the product of sinful NATURE and CULTURE, but not of SCRIPTURE.
- The Answer to ABUSE is NOT ABOLITION of Divinely Assigned ROLES, but the restoration of mutual RESPECT and HONOR between the genders as people equally created in the image of God.
· 1 Timothy 2:11-14
- Cmp. Romans 16:3-5; Philippians 4:2-3; Titus 2:3-5; Acts 18:26
- 1 Corinthians 14:32-28
o Cmp. OT & NT Prophetesses Miriam (Exodus 15:20), Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14), Anna (Luke 2:36) and the Four Daughters of Philip (Acts 21:8-9)
o Mirriam questions Moses’ headship and was subsequently judged by God (Numbers 12:1-12)
· 1 Timothy 3:2-5 (context: in the Christian assembly)
· Man is to exercise his authority as head in the humility of a loving leader who serves, cares for, sacrifices for, cherishes, understands, respects, and protects the woman, just as Christ treats the church.
· Husband and wife should listen to each other and arrive at decisions by consensus as much as possible, but when they differ in non-moral matters, the wife must defer the final decision to her husband in loving submission.
· Both husband and wife must show mutual respect and honour for one another by their words and treatment of each other.
· Women can exercise their ministry according to their callings and giftings in the church, but must remain in submission to male leadership. The woman in ministry must remain in submission to her husband.
Reflection and Application
· Am I faithfully fulfilling God’s appointed role for me as a husband/wife and obeying His commands towards my spouse?
· In what ways can I show respect and honour for my spouse? What course of action will I take to do this?
· Do I need to ask forgiveness from my spouse for my wrong ways of treating him/her that clearly violate God’s commands?
· Decide on what course of action you will take to follow God’s commands and take note of the results.