NLQ FAQ: The Bible and Male Headship – Part 3

by Kristen Rosser ~ aka: KR Wordgazer

The question we began with was:

Doesn’t the Bible say the man is the head of the woman and that the husband is the head of the house, the instrument of God for directing the family? Isn’t he God’s designated authority, the one God holds responsible for all decision-making on behalf of the couple and their children?

We have looked at the question of male “headship” in light of the Bible’s overarching “Great Story,” and we have examined Ephesians Chapter 5 in light of ancient cultural understandings and original word meanings. Now we turn to some of the other passages and the questions they raise.

But doesn’t 1 Peter 3 say Sarah obeyed Abraham and called him lord, and Christian women are to imitate her?

Let’s look more closely at this Scripture in light of its context in 1 Peter. The First Epistle of Peter was written to scattered believers living in pagan societies in northern Asia Minor. The main subject of the letter is how these Christians are to live in these societies, enduring persecution when necessary, but also doing their best to present themselves as good citizens in a surrounding culture which viewed them with suspicion. To this end, Peter tells them in Chapter 2, verse 12 to be “having your conversation [behavior] honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works which they shall behold, glorify God . . .” With this in mind, Peter goes on in verse 13 to tell them to “Submit yourselves to every ordinance [institution] of man for the Lord’s sake,: whether it be to the king, as supreme; or unto governors. . .” Immediately following this, Peter goes into his own household code.
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NLQ FAQ: The Bible and Male Headship – Part 2

by Kristen Rosser ~ aka: KR Wordgazer

The question being asked in Part 1 was:

Doesn’t the Bible say the man is the head of the woman and that the husband is the head of the house, the instrument of God for directing the family? Isn’t he God’s designated authority, the one God holds responsible for all decision-making on behalf of the couple and their children?

With the understanding from Part 1, of how the covenant community of the church fits into the Bible’s Great Story as a redeemed spiritual family– a family in which all Christians are brothers and sisters and God is our Father– let’s begin now to examine some of the passages that refer to men as “head.” As discussed in “Quiverfull and the Bible,” we will look at the cultural assumptions that would have been shared between a writer of a New Testament Epistle and the original audience, in order to see how the message might have been heard differently by them than it sounds to us today.. Hand-in-hand with this, we must look carefully at what the original audience would have understood the Greek word translated as “head” to actually mean.

Beginning, then, with the most frequently cited “headship” passage, Ephesians 5:21-22:

“Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the savior of the body.”

In the Epistle to the Ephesians, Paul’s big theme is who the church is “in Christ.” The first three chapters are about the church’s salvation, adoption, spiritual position and unity. In the fourth and fifth chapters he goes on to speak of how unity is to be maintained in the way individual members relate to one another. It is into this context that he places the section on how members of individual households are to relate to one another. This type of teaching has come to be known as a “household code.” The passage on husbands and wives is part of this code. (See Michael Kruse, “Household of God” online series, “Household: The Household Code,” http://krusekronicle.typepad.com/kruse_kronicle/2007/07/household-the-h.html ) [Read more...]

NLQ FAQ: The Bible and Male Headship – Part 1

by Kristen Rosser ~ aka: KR Wordgazer

Doesn’t the Bible say the man is the head of the woman and that the husband is the head of the house, the instrument of God for directing the family? Isn’t he God’s designated authority, the one God holds responsible for all decision-making on behalf of the couple and their children?

In “The Bible and the Nature of Women,” the first two chapters of Genesis were explored, making the point that God’s initial plan was not that the man should have “headship” over the woman, but that the man and woman together would have dominion over the Creation. That unity and mutuality was shattered by the Fall. Part of the curse of the Fall, as God told the woman, was “he shall rule over you.”

In “Quiverfull and the Bible” we discussed reading the Bible as a Great Story of creation, fall and redemption. We have seen God’s purpose for male and female in the creation, and what the fall did to their relationship. What does the redemption that comes through Jesus Christ do to the relationship between males and females, husbands and wives? [Read more...]

NLQ FAQ: The Bible and the Nature of Woman

faqs20questions2001

by Kristen Rosser ~ aka: KR Wordgazer

Q: Doesn’t the Bible say I was created to be my husband’s helpmeet, that God designed me to joyfully give myself to my husband’s vision for our family?

To see what God’s plan and purpose for women is, we need to go back to the beginning– Genesis 1. What is the first thing the Bible says about women?

“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 all the earth. So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He him; male and female created He them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth on the earth.” Gen. 1:26-28.

Is there any distinction made here between the male and the female? No, what we see is identical treatment of the man and the woman, and identical status of the man and the woman before God. He formed them both to be in His image and to have dominion, and then he told them to be fruitful and multiply and rule the other creatures.

Of course we must be careful not to take these commands in an unqualified state. The life and writings of the Apostle Paul make it clear that not every individual must “be fruitful” by having offspring (See “The Bible and Birth Control” for more on this topic.). Indeed, in the New Testament, being “fruitful” in terms of having children is not mentioned; what is important is “bearing fruit,“ which means good character and good deeds that help grow the Kingdom of God. Nor does “subdue the earth” give us the right to mistreat our fellow creatures; we are to be good stewards over the creation. But the important thing to note here is that Genesis Chapter 2 must be read in light of Genesis Chapter 1. The woman, no less than the man, is given rulership. There is no hint in Genesis 1 that the man is to rule over the woman.
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