Women in the Text: Creation Order 4

Photo: José A. Warletta

Let’s stretch forward thousands of years. The creation order figures into the Apostle Paul’s letters in a few spots. Those spots are hot beds of patriarchy confusion. Can we look at these passages with “ignorant” eyes and hope for clearer understanding? I doubt it. But, I’ll give it a shot. The texts that reference the creation order are 1 Timothy 2, 1 Corinthians 11 and  Ephesians 5. I’ll start with 1 Timothy 2.

A bit of understanding

These verses are foundational to hierarchists. Foundational because the Bible is viewed through this lens. It is the starting point for interpreting any passage that references women. These verses are the filter by which understanding of men and women is sifted. In my previous posts, this is the filter I tried to remove to honestly examine if God designed gender roles into the psyche of humans before the fall.

1 Timothy 2

9 I also want the women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, adorning themselves, not with elaborate hairstyles or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10 but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

Whew, there is a lot to argue about in that passage! Fancy hair, “bling”, quiet women, non-teaching women, the only use of the word authenteō for authority in the Bible, deceived women and women saved by babies! This passage is exceptional…it mentions a number of things that aren’t discussed anywhere else. This makes me reticent to base any major belief on my understanding of it.

The topic for this post is the creation order of genders and roles. The question… is gender authority tied to the creation order or cultural context? I will try to sum one reason why I answer cultural.

Chronological order and deception

Verse 13 says Adam was created first. Yep, he was. Verse 14 links that first formation to what? Authority? Nope. Adam’s  first formation is linked to not being deceived to sin. Does this mean Adam didn’t sin? Nope. It means his sin wasn’t because of deception. His sin was intentional, but that isn’t the point being made in the text.

The implied point (Implying and assuming is where the arguing starts, I realize.) is that Eve’s formation after Adam contributed to her being duped. The deception was due to Eve chronologically arriving later than Adam. This is the reason Paul gives for limiting the role of women in this church. I interpret this reference to the creation order as specific to Adam and Eve’s situation. Eve didn’t witness God’s power as Adam did (Gen 2:8-9;19-23).  Proclivity to deception isn’t hard wired into all women. But Eve was prone to deception because of her immaturity. Just as some women, maybe those Paul is referring to in this letter (1 Tim 2:9-15; 3:11; 4:7; 5:3-16), are limited in understanding and also prone to being deceived and spreading heresy.

I believe Paul uses the chronological creation order in this passage to illustrate proclivity to deception due to limited understanding, not as props for hardwired male authority.

Guard against deception

Paul uses Eve’s particular deception again in 2 Corinthians 11. This time he leaves the creation order out.

I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. 3 But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 4For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.

Paul condemns putting up with another gospel; going along with false teaching. We should not follow Eve’s example regardless of our gender or spiritual maturity.  The only two places Eve is mentioned outside creation, is in context of being easily deceived. And Paul wants us to protect ourselves better than Eve did.

What filter will you use?

We all have our favorite angles. We understand scripture based on what is important to us. Patriarchy supporters use their understanding of the unusual 1 Timothy 2 to interpret gender roles at creation; to dismiss the women leaders in the early church; and compromise the authority-rejecting teaching of Jesus. I don’t. I begin with creation and work through to Jesus, and let that filter my understanding on this passage. What Paul says here will not contradict the truths found at creation and in Christ.

I realize there is much more in this passage related to gender roles, but creation order is relevant to this post.

Previous Creation Order Posts

Creation in Genesis

Headship established at creation?

Last shall be first!

Creation Order and the temptation

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41 thoughts on “Women in the Text: Creation Order 4

  1. “Verse 13 says Adam was created first. Yep, he was. Verse 14 links that first formation to what? Authority? Nope. Adam’s first formation is linked to not being deceived to sin.”

    Why wouldn’t it be linked to verse 12, seeing as the verse begins with the word “for”?

    Also, I understand that if you take the creation passages alone, it would be tough to base a complementarian (I don’t like the word patriarchal) view on Genesis by itself. However, does not Scripture interpret Scripture? Even if this is the only passage that used creation order to define gender roles, it is still Scripture, is it not?

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    1. Hey! Got a break in moving activities? good!

      You are right. Verse 13 is a reason for verse 12. And verse 14 connects why 13 is confirmation for 12. It isn’t because Adam had “authenteō”, but because Eve was deceived. Nowhere does Scripture say Adam had authority over Eve. But we do know Eve was deceived. We have to assume authority on to Adam to say it was Adam’s authority as first man that disqualifies these women from teaching. Whereas, Eve’s deception as second formed is recorded here, and I think that makes a logical reason. At least that’s my take. Lots of argument on both sides of that!

      We should use Scripture to interpret Scripture. I’m not denying that! I’ll re-word the point I’m trying to make. I believe “complementarians” begin their understanding of gender roles in these 3 passages in the New Testament, and then work backwards, viewing the rest of Scripture and doctrine through a “God hard wired gender roles” lens. Does that make sense? I believe most Bible lovers use Scripture to interpret itself, but our starting point for doing that differs based on our own particular “bent” or angle or filter. I realize I have my own angle… it starts in Genesis and works through to Jesus… taking these NT passages after I establish what I think God intended for the genders at creation and the gospels. Understanding that has helped me see why I’ve always had a hard time rectifying these hard passages with everything else I saw in Scripture about gender. I was using different “filters.” When I changed my angle (Creation and on), interpretation on these hard passages altered.

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  2. I see the creation passages in Genesis as being “neutral” (you can’t base either point of view on these chapters), and the Paul passage helping to shed light on the creation Scripture. I don’t take Paul’s words as my lens and then “interpret” Genesis (and the rest of Scripture) based on it. I take Scripture as a whole – and that means using Paul’s words to shed light on Genesis. I think you’re oversimplifying the hermeneutic of complementarians.

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    1. Christy, while Kay may be oversimplifying, most complementarians seriously underestimate how much of their argument is based on culture and history, not God’s commands. When it comes to food purity laws or stoning adulterers most Christians recognize that “that’s what the rabbis practiced 2,000 years ago” isn’t a very good indicator for what God wants us to do today. Why does that logic suddenly shut off when it comes to gender roles?

      Kay’s basic point is that the Creation story, by itself, doesn’t provide clear guidance – we all agree on that. And the two ‘interpreting’ passages are situation specific. Yes, it’s still Scripture as you point out but there are a lot of things in the Bible that stand as examples of what NOT to do, or simply reflect God meeting people with messed up beliefs halfway. I’m sure you don’t think the prohibition against pearls and gold applies to us simply because it’s in the Bible? I have yet to see a convincing argument that those are commandments for all Christians at all times. People trying to make a case for complementarianism really need to look elsewhere.

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      1. John, we don’t stone people because it was part of the Old Covenant. The cultural issues are debatable, of course (which ones translate to our culture, and which ones don’t?), but the principles remain the same. We don’t wear head coverings to show that we are under our husbands’ authority, but we take our husbands’ last names and add “obey” to our vows. The principle stays the same, the application varies with cultures. I don’t think you can throw out the 2 interpreting passages by Paul using the created order to explain husband/wife roles. They may have been instructive to the respective churches in regards to a specific problem, but that doesn’t mean we get to chuck them out the window!

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      2. Christy,

        To avoid talking past each other, it might help to break this down to the basics. We both agree that God’s principles don’t change, but it can be reflected differently across cultures. We can also agree (I think) that God’s ideal for gender roles is not an easily understandable command such as “love thy neighbor” or a settled matter when it comes to orthodox Christian theology (it’s not in any of the creeds, the position was clearly defined by the early Church councils). If that’s the case, then to claim that a particular practice or belief ‘correct’ for all Christians, rather than just personal preference, you need to 1) explain what that principle is, and 2) demonstrate that it’s God’s will for us.

        1) Your principle is that men/husbands have some unique authority which is not shared equally by women. I really don’t think it’s accurate to say that all the Biblical examples mentioned relate to that principle. Are those women told to keep quiet because they’re women, or because they’re illiterate and aren’t qualified to instruct others? Do hair coverings and dress codes reflect male authority, or is the principle that we should show respect to others and be sensitive to cultural expectations? Or maybe God REALLY hates braided hair and that’s the lesson we should take out of it. I don’t want to quibble over this issue but it’s easy for us to make bad assumptions about the underlying principle/reason behind those commands.

        2) The larger issue here is whether those verses represent God’s ideal or just Paul reacting to the situation. Obviously there are a LOT of commands in the Bible that are specific to individuals or particular groups, or originate from humans, not from God (e.g. Paul directed other apostles using his own judgment. It may not have contradicted God’s will but the command didn’t come from God). Show me why the model of male headship is how God wants Christians in all cultures to live. You haven’t made that argument at all – unless you want to count this: “We don’t wear head coverings to show that we are under our husbands’ authority, but we take our husbands’ last names and add “obey” to our vows. The principle stays the same, the application varies with cultures.” Unless you’re saying that it’s God’s universal truth simply because both ancient and modern day Christians do it, then that statement is totally irrelevant.

        What passages in the Bible give clear indications of complementarian gender roles? Paul’s letters written to address unique situations in particular churches 2,000 years ago. As Kay’s posts demonstrate, the Creation order doesn’t provide clear guidance by itself. And in the Gospels Jesus was considerably MORE egalitarian toward women than Jewish cultural norms would dictate. A lot of complementarian beliefs would seem absurd if you hadn’t grown in a culture that already embraces them, because there’s really not much Biblical support that God wants all Christians to live that way. God recognizes the society is screwed up and creates rules that help us deal with it. Slaves are told to obey as well – is that because God actually wants slavery to exist or because it’s the best way to respond to a bad situation? Is there a specific reason you think Paul’s commands about gender roles reflect God’s ideal but the ones about slavery don’t? So I ask again, can you show that those highly contextualized instructions explain one of God’s unchanging principles? Because if the evidence isn’t there, it’s awfully dangerous to presume that your personal opinion about gender roles happens to be the same as God’s.

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  3. “Verse 13 says Adam was created first. Yep, he was. Verse 14 links that first formation to what? Authority? Nope. Adam’s first formation is linked to not being deceived to sin.”

    Actually, verse 14 BUILDS on the argument found in verse 13. It’s yet another, further reason for the command found in verse 12.

    I’m curious to see what you’ll do with I Timothy 3:4-5, and again in verse 12. There seems to be quite a few places where it is implied and/or commanded that a man [or deacon and pastor] “rule” his own house. I don’t see where a woman is commanded to “rule” her house (only keep it).

    I think too many “implications” are adding up to be a principle or guideline, don’t you?

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    1. Since I hate to keep you waiting, (that passage’s interpretation doesn’t bother me as much as others, so its going to take me a while to get to it), I’ll pass along this site. This lady’s articles are terrific. Here is one on the 1 Timothy 3 passage.

      http://strivetoenter.com/wim/2009/05/13/paul-women-pastors-8/

      The issue here is a generic “he” used in the bishop verses (same pronoun used in salvation verses that reference a “man” but we know Jesus doesn’t limit salvation to only men); and whether or not Paul is listing ALL the disqualifying marks of an elder or some of the qualifying marks. Read her article, it may shed some light for you.

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  4. It’s interesting that Paul uses a different word for “rule” in I Timothy 3 (for men – no, I think you have to do a whole lot of stretching to go with your lady’s interpretations) and the one he uses for “guide” in I Timothy 5 for women. (I’ll admit, that is a close comparison, though.)

    I think it’s a slippery slope to attempt to generalize Paul’s references to husbands and wives in I Timothy 3 – or anywhere. Being that this chapter directly follows his arguments in I Tim. 2:11-15, it is extremely “twisting” (in my opinion) to suppose that a bishop can be a man OR woman. I believe the translators took the previouis chapter’s context in view when they translated it “man” in 3:1, also especially in light of the rest of the chapter.

    To take this argument to its full extent, you’d have to arrive at the belief that it is not GOD speaking, but Paul, who somehow missed God’s ultimate plans for women because he, Paul, was limited to the chains of culture around him when he wrote. Oh, wait…there are already those teaching this!

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    1. I haven’t looked into the different words for rule, so I can’t comment on that.

      Lol, I can see it as twisting the other way. I’m wondering what you think its a slippery slope into?

      I don’t understand what you mean by saying Paul was limited to the chains of culture? I do believe God works through culture and time.

      Can I ask you a personal question? Why do you believe its okay to wear gold and pearls and expensive clothes? And does your church teach the men to lift their hands when praying? (1 Tim 2) And do you believe an unmarried man can be a pastor? (1 Tim 3) How about a man without children?

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  5. You say, “What Paul says here will not contradict the truths found at creation and in Christ.”

    I believe what God says here through Paul does not contradict God’s declaration found after the Fall. I believe you leave that out, assuming the “curse’s” effect no longer should affect believing women. By the way, do you still experience pain in childbirth? Another one of the judgments on the gender of women proclaimed after the Fall.

    Romans 8:19-23 may be the only place we learn about “creation groaning and travailing in pain”; I Peter 3:19-20 is probably the only place where we learn about Jesus “preaching unto the spirits in prison”; yet, these one-time mentions are important truths which shape our doctrine and practice.

    A second mention of this command is in I Corinthians 14:34, which also commands women to keep silent in the church; in fact the I Timothy chapter helps to “soften” this command by teaching that the woman is not to “usurp authority” over the man [it is a specific gender in the Greek on each of these words, by the way – God wanted to make it clear, did he not?] within the church and the teaching of doctrine.

    So…later I’ll be glad to go into more of what I believe “personally” on the other subjects you brought up, but what I wrote here is the foundation for this passage – and the next chapter as far as whether or not a woman can be a bishop/pastor of a church [for which I need to go get ready…lol].

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  6. Me too. (get ready for church) Thank you for continuing to dialogue on this. It helps me work out my thinking, and practice explaining myself clearly…which I don’t think I’m doing too well! 🙂 I have many thoughts in my head, and assume my readers have the same thoughts, and so I miss giving an explanation when its needed.

    You are right that the fall has affected gender roles. Totally agree. These series of posts are exploring if the Bible makes it clear if God established gender roles when He created humans. Did God hard wire men to have authority and women to serve them? So, I’m not necessarily looking at the affects of the fall on gender. And maybe I can’t leave that out when I look at the New Testament passages. But, I assume if Paul refers to the creation order, he is talking about pre-fall “hard-wiring.” Do you think that is accurate to do?

    Again, our differing interpretations are birthed in our filter. I want to filter these gender commands with equal rule and unity found at creation and the right-now equality found in Christ and the “each other” commands. I believe you alter your view of gender creation and the right-now equality of genders to make these gender passages work literally (but not literally on some parts?). We both make assumptions. We both have to because these passages are hard.

    I don’t disagree women have been subordinated historically. But, like slavery, there comes a time when the church must change its view for Christ’s sake….He prefers mercy to sacrifice. I disagree with you that God ordered women to be subordinate, so its open for change, in my opinion. Because we are starting with different views on that, we will probably always disagree on the interpretation of the gender passages. But, I’ll keep writing, and I hope you keep reading and commenting!

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  7. [But, I assume if Paul refers to the creation order, he is talking about pre-fall “hard-wiring.” Do you think that is accurate to do?]

    I Tim. 2:13 IS a reference to pre-Fall, of course. However, verse 14 refers to the FALL itself and, I believe, is alluding to the repurcussions of Eve’s fall. This sheds a great light on why God is commanding verses 11 and 12.

    [ But, like slavery, there comes a time when the church must change its view for Christ’s sake….He prefers mercy to sacrifice]

    Nowhere in Scripture – New Testament, that is – does God command men/women to have slaves; He simply commands slaves to live godly within their subordinate situation (even calling it “thankworthy” and “acceptable” by God). However, God DOES command the woman to desist from teaching or usurping authority over the man (at least within the church of God). And, yes, I guess I do believe there was a gender role established at Creation. History bears God’s plan out, also, in that it was men with whom He covenanted (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob); men who bore the mark of the covenant with God (circumcision); men from which God principally ordained the truth/doctrine to go forth (apostles); men who are called to bear “rule” or authority over the church (bishops, elders, deacons), the pillar and ground of the truth; and, again, men (the ‘sent ones” for the Lamb) whom Scripture says will be particularly honored in Heaven (Rev. 21:12, 14). Of course, that doesn’t mean women won’t receive rewards and honor, but it seems Scripture makes it “a man’s world,” to put it bluntly.

    [As a nod to your previous post, the creation order should not include animals and things. Humans are in a totally separate category; otherwise, we are giving a nod to Darwinism. It is only humans who were created in the image of God; thus, we learn that God gave deference to whomever was created first (as God teaches us in I Timothy 2:13)] I don’t think the seraphims will be upset that they were not included in “the bride of Christ”; neither will women (in their perfect state once more) be upset that they were created to be a “help meet for man – or mankind.” It is the role – and it DOES imply a need as well as leadership for men – for which God created women.

    Hey, I guess you brought me around full circle. Your posts are always challenging, helping me to define more precisely what I believe Scripture teaches, even though I may disagree with your findings. I am not one who reads after commentaries or other’s teachings, but prefer to simply look at the Scripture itself, and Strong’s concordance to study the original wording, to attempt to discern God’s meaning. But…it will be interesting now to go back and read after some of these men of God to see how they address this very subject.

    Sorry I’ve taken up so much of your “space,” but you are some sharp iron to rub against (ha!). This very subject has always lingered uncomfortably in the back of my mind; I’ve always chalked it up to the needful “groaning” from the results of the Fall. I do still believe that’s what this “disputing” is for women down through the years.

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    1. Jesus commands those who wish to be chief and have honor and power… (Mat 20) to become a slave. And I’m not being funny. I think that is relevant to this discussion. Being a leader in Christ’s kingdom is slaving for others. I find it sad Jesus would teach this principle time and again, and then we go and teach our men how to “rule” and claim the chief spot?

      Regardless, my point with slavery was not that God commanded it, but that he accommodated it. Slaves must obey. They must be content with their situation. At some point, good Christians in the States had to go against these verses when it no longer made sense with the gospel. Rome is quite a different situation for slaves than cotton plantations, and if Christians in the US were to live the law of Christ, they must go the opposite of Paul’s commands for slaves and work to free them instead of teach them to be subject.

      Wait for my post on the fall. I know you won’t agree, but it may help you see how I answer some of your points. I know our interpretation of Revelation differs too much for me to comment on Rev 21. (Do we interpret anything the same?! 🙂 hehe)

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  8. [Can I ask you a personal question? Why do you believe its okay to wear gold and pearls and expensive clothes? And does your church teach the men to lift their hands when praying? (1 Tim 2)]

    To answer – as I said I would: I take these passages as literally as I do verses 11-12. The principle command in verse 8 is that men PRAY; the lifting up holy hands is a style of praying – not the only style. The main thought in verses 9 and 10 (also borne out in I Peter 3:3-4) is to emphasize inward adornment (good works; meek and quiet spirit) in order to honor God. It is THIS adornment that has “great price” rather than costly array, extravagant hair, and expensive jewels.

    I also “lighten” up the literalness (if that’s a word) of verses 11 and 12 so that the emphasis is on the command to not teach men or usurp authority (within the church – I Tim. 3:14-15) rather than insist women cannot say hello to one another in church (be in silence). Again, I believe I can remain consistent in the extent of the “literalness” throughout these verses in this passage. But I can’t completely throw them out (verses 11-12) and chalk them up to a cultural non-issue, especially since nothing has changed in God’s method of revelation (new covenant; new church age; inspired Scripture, etc.) since that command was given to the church – and if God didn’t mean it, he wouldn’t have “breathed” it into Paul to write.

    Just sayin….

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    1. Hmmm… I think you’re in denial that you are actually NOT being literal here. And, that’s a bit frustrating. (I say that to be honest, not insulting.)

      Definition of literal: in exact accordance with or limited to the primary or explicit meaning of a word or text; word for word.

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  9. Linda, you said women’s subordinate roles are part of God’s plan for the church because the curses of the Fall still affect us today.

    I assume you believe it’s ok for men to use weedkillers, hoes and plows, to mitigate the effects of the curse on the ground. I hope you also believe it’s ok for women to use medication and pain-control techniques to mitigate the effects of pain in childbirth.

    But do you believe we should just let males rule over females? Is this the only thing in the curse that’s actually good for us, that it’s not ok to try to change?

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  10. “God DOES command the woman to desist from teaching or usurping authority over the man (at least within the church of God).”

    Actually, that passage is not worded as a command. The only command there is “Let a woman learn.” That’s the only verb in the passage that’s in command form. The verse doesn’t say, “God commands women not to teach,” it says, “I (Paul) am not permitting” (that’s the tense in the original — first person present indicative). How does “I am not permitting” become “God says never”? Is this not reading a permanence into the verse that isn’t actually there?

    What if the real point of this passage was, “let a woman learn”? What if everything else was about what happens if uneducated women try to teach before they’re ready?

    (Since the focus of this letter is that Paul wanted Timothy to deal with false teaching problems in Paul’s absence — see Chapter 1– this makes more sense than that he would take a no-women-teaching-men absolute rule, and bury it in a private letter to one person rather than telling the whole church.)

    There would be no reason to throw anything out or chalk it up as a cultural non-issue. The meaning of the passage for our time today would be, “let groups of people who are not educated, sit down and learn. Don’t let them teach until they have learned, or they may try to dominate and usurp authority.”

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  11. [I assume you believe it’s ok for men to use weedkillers, hoes and plows, to mitigate the effects of the curse on the ground. I hope you also believe it’s ok for women to use medication and pain-control techniques to mitigate the effects of pain in childbirth.

    But do you believe we should just let males rule over females? Is this the only thing in the curse that’s actually good for us, that it’s not ok to try to change?]

    Kristen, the difference, I think, is that we don’t see men crying out against the injustice of having to work so hard to produce fruit; that somehow they should be able to produce a crop without ever pulling a weed or killing a bug. I do agree totally with Kay that the New Testament passages instructing men to honor, love and respect women (not just wives either) should be applied and encouraged (including the submitting to a woman’s choice, when appropriate). I simply believe the outcry of women against the injustice (some of it real, some merely perception) of male dominance/leadership is simply a cry against what God put into effect after sin entered the human race.

    Oh, and the snake is still crawling around on his belly. It seems the only phrase within the judgments of God in Genesis 3 that is objected to and bantered around by Christian women and men is “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” (kjv) [Note: there were only two people in the garden at the time; so, I believe, precedence was set there.]

    I’ll try to answer your second post later – will research the original phrasing a little first.

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    1. To help me understand you: Do you think “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” means men must dominate women? Like a curse-command? Or that it was just a natural result of the fall and its something we have to deal with?

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      1. This is why understanding the created order is so important. Was male headship instituted by God pre-fall, or as part of the curse? I believe it was pre-fall, and the curse is the sinful domination of women that men struggle with because of the curse that they must work hard to fight against. I believe the woman’s “desire being for her husband” means that women will struggle with placing her husband in the place of Jesus. Making him lord and savior. And that is something women have to fight against. I don’t believe we can’t say that the curse is a command. It is the repercussion of sin.

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    2. I’m afraid I don’t understand the logic here. To use weedkillers is to try to stop weeds. To use medications is to try to stop pain in childbirth. Both of these are ways to fight the effects of the fall. Do you deny that?

      I assume you don’t believe we should use poisons or medications against men. (grin) The only appropriate way to fight against the fleshly, sinful inclination of men to rule women (I believe the passage makes it clear that this inclination is born of the sin nature that came about because of the fall) is through words. But you say we should not use words– thus leaving no appropriate way to fight the effects of the fall in this area.

      But this does nothing but allow the fleshly nature of men free rein. Unless you think we should stop using weedkillers and pain medications, your logic is inconsistent.

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  12. The “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee” – I believe – means that part of the repercussions for her sin was that woman would no longer, by nature, yield gladly, peaceably and with full, willing compliance to her husband. Rather, this submission to his “rule” would be a struggle and grating against her will (and, yes, probably principally due to her husband’s own sinful nature from this point on). That same “resistance” we also see between Cain and sin in Gen. 4:7 (it will be an ongoing struggle).

    So…basically, I do believe Adam was “non-sinfully” the leader in his relationship with Eve; it just wasn’t a problem whatsoever til AFTER the Fall. I don’t think it was a “natural result of the fall,” but rather the consequences to women for Eve’s sin (in the same way men experience the consequences of Adam’s sin).

    “Men rule – and women drool!” (Ha! – Not funny, I know.)

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  13. Kristen, I’m just saying that the godly “rule” of a husband over his wife is not sinful. A wife should accept it as God’s plan and recognize that the “resistance” within her is part of the long-term repercussions of sin (Eve’s).

    For instance, as a quick example, the reaction of fear is not a sin, but a natural response as a long-term consequence of sin (in the Garden). However, to allow that spirit of fear to go on, neglecting faith, would be sinful (God hath not given us the spirit of fear).

    If men were to stew bitterly and vocally to their task of working “by the sweat of their brow,” laboring to provide for themselves and their families – or refusing to work at all because the task is too difficult – this would be (in a rough way) the equivalent of what, I believe, wives (and even women) do today in responding negatively to the authority of their husbands, as well as pastors and elders (as taught in the New Testament) – or by attempting to end the “rule” altogether because submission is hard and being the “teacher” is much more appealing and satisfying within the church.

    And, because most churches are made up of husbands and wives, this tends to carry over into the gender roles of Christians as well.

    I hate to be the one “opposing” this principle in your posts, Kay, but I’m willing to give you someone else to “bouce off” as long as you don’t get tired of it. Just let me know, and I’ll stop.

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  14. “…by attempting to end the “rule” altogether because submission is hard and being the “teacher” is much more appealing and satisfying within the church.”

    Do you find room for a third reason for women to oppose man rule? Because I believe I fall into the third reason. I believe its wrong to teach it as the CBMW does as core doctrine. That begins to sound like false doctrine.

    Keep commenting, I don’t mind.

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    1. Just because some have made it too high in the priority, or have taken it too far, you can’t start calling it false doctrine.

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  15. Linda, I’m really not sure how you turn “desire for” into “resistance to,” but it seems related to the common idea that “your desire shall be for him” means “your desire shall be to rule him.” That, however, is again reading something into the word that isn’t there. Just because Cain was told, “Sin is crouching at your door, and its desire is for you,” doesn’t mean we should read “desire” as “desire to rule.” In Song of Solomon, the Lover tells the Bride, “my desire is for you.” Clearly he isn’t saying he wants to rule over her!

    It doesn’t say sin desires to “rule” over Cain. It says sin desires Cain himself. In other words, sin desires an intimate connection and oneness with Cain. Whether this desire for intimate connection is good or bad really depends on who is desiring it, and why. It’s good in the case of the Lover in Song of Songs, and it’s bad in the case of sin.

    I think in Eve’s case, the desire being spoken of is part of her new sinful nature, and thus is going to tend towards possessiveness and clinging– but this is different from desiring to “rule” Adam and chafing because he’s ruling her instead.

    But I think this idea that male rule is God ordained is really not present in the text. Look at how the New Covenant Kingdom is described, and you will see a reversal in the relationship brokenness that came about in the Fall. There are a number of scriptures that talk about this. “Henceforth we view no one any longer according to the flesh” in 2 Cor 5. Jesus’ words that anyone coming to the kingdom must become “as a child” — that is, without status in the social heirarchies of the times. Galatians 3:26-4:5 asserting that there is no “male and female” in Christ– and this is not just referring to salvation, as Gal 4:5 makes plain, but to everyone having the same status as “adopted sons” in the Kingdom.

    The Fall may still hold sway in the flesh– but the New Creation, the Kingdom of God, is a spiritual kingdom in which we are all “kings and priests” and we all enter as “children” and are raised up to be “sons.” Spiritually, there is to be no more “ruling over.” “Not so among you,” Jesus said. It’s time to be “one in Christ Jesus” and let go of flesh-based systems of heirarchy and control.

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    1. Ha! I should have read further down the comments before I posted earlier in response to Linda. I agree with you about the interpretation of the curse verses. (but I still think headship is in the created order) =)

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  16. Another thing that seems contradictory is your assertion that the male desire to rule is something that should be accepted as part of God’s plan, while the supposed female reaction against that is something contrary to God’s plan which should not be accepted. This looks pretty arbitrary to me.

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  17. “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.” Matthew 6:24

    I think this can also apply to wives when they are told to serve both God and their husbands as their masters. I tried it for many years and it didn’t go well for me–or my husband. Serving God *alongside* my husband has been much better for the both of us.

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  18. When God declared the judgment against Eve, saying “thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee,” these two statements play off of each other – they interact. They aren’t making two separate statements of: “The woman will desire her husband’s closeness and attention, sometimes going too far in her clinginess. Oh, and he will rule over her.”

    Stated in this way, it makes no sense that God put the two statements together. Again, we see those two statements used to describe the interactive relationship between Cain and sin in Gen. 4:7. Don’t know if this was a coloquial way of saying, “There’s going to be real tension and conflict in your relationship as to who will have the power and dominion” – or what? But, I believe one needs to take the two statements as working together – to describe a relationship that is NOT.

    I may have taken some liberties with interpreting “rule” as “resisting sin” since my Bible has a commentary suggesting that interpretation, and I had thought it was suggesting that was the meaning of the word in the Hebrew. Went back and checked that, and it wasn’t the case…sorry. However, the word “resist sin” does capture the flavor of the verses in protraying the conflict between the two parties (Adam and Eve; Cain and sin) that is suggested by this phraseology (coloquialism?)

    […while the supposed female reaction against that is something contrary to God’s plan which should not be accepted.]

    Again, I believe the headship/leadership of Adam over Eve was in place before the Fall; her willing and eager submission to him was also. After sin, the conflict began. It changed in that Adam SOUGHT to dominate rather than lead lovingly and Eve resisted. It WAS God’s plan that they both were going to have to resist their tendencies to sin for the rest of their lives – as do we. Loving, godly, servant-leadership IS still God’s plan for a husband and wives should accept that.

    Hope that makes it clearer… As far as the New Testament theology of being “in Christ” and what that means in roles for men and women, I’ll leave that for Kay’s further posts on that subject.

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    1. I think they actually work together nicely – how’s this? Wives, you will be forever seeking to make your husbands your functional “lord”, while husbands, you will be forever sinfully “lording” over them.

      That is what we must resist – and both wives and husbands find the power to resist these tendencies in the Gospel!

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      1. Another blog I read introduced me to this great verse in Hosea 2:16. I think it shows the heart of God in contrasting the rule of Baal (master or lord) with husband.

        “I promise that from that day on, you will call me your husband instead of your master.”

        Footnotes: Hosea 2:16 husband. . . master: In Hebrew the word ” master” is the same as the name of the god Baal. But the LORD promises that his people will have a deep personal relationship with him (like a devoted wife and husband) rather than merely a legal tie (like a wife and her ” master” ).

        http://biblicalpersonhood.wordpress.com/2011/05/06/the-christ-as-husband-metaphor-its-about-love-not-leadership/

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  19. Linda,

    You said:

    “Again, I believe the headship/leadership of Adam over Eve was in place before the Fall; her willing and eager submission to him was also. After sin, the conflict began.”

    Yes, that’s clear, but it only holds water if it can be established that Adam did have leadership/headship over Eve before the Fall. I don’t think the text establishes that at all. And I think 1 Tim 2:12-15 should be read in the light of what Genesis actually says.

    You said:

    “these two statements play off of each other – they interact. They aren’t making two separate statements”

    I don’t deny that there’s interactiveness implied in the two statements. But I see no lack of interactiveness in, “Despite the sorrow and pain of conception and childbirth, you will desire oneness with your husband, but instead you’re going to get ruled over” — which is what I think God meant.

    Since we have reached an impasse here due to coming at the text from completely different perspectives, we will have to agree to disagree. 🙂

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  20. John, It doesn’t make sense to compare Paul’s commands to husbands & wives to those of slaves. The point of the command wasn’t to condone slavery, any more than the command to husbands & wives was condoning marriage. In other words, if we still had slaves today, those commands would still apply to slaves. And as for the argument that the commands to husbands and wives were equal to the commands about head coverings and the like, we have different cultural expressions today than we did back then, but we still have the institution of marriage – we still have husbands (who are commanded to act a certain way), and wives (who are commanded to act a certain way).

    I think you tread dangerous ground when you just decide that Paul’s writings were simply a response to specific issues of that day, and that means we can disregard them, or re-write them to suit our culture. Why not start throwing out verses like “For by grace are you saved through faith”, since that was “just” a response to the Judaizers, or “Do you not know that your body is the Temple of the Holy Spirit”, since that was “just” a response to the Gnostics?

    But if you insist on needing more proof than Paul, “Wives, in the same way [as Christ was submissive to His Father while on earth] be submissive to your husbands.” I Peter 3:1

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