The Twelve were male.

The title has been given as a reason why women can’t hold leadership in the church of Christ. Jesus picked twelve men. That automatically disqualifies women from church leadership.

Yep, the twelve were male.

So what?

They were also circumcised, Jewish and rather dense. Shall we make these qualifications for church leadership as well?

God does not have favorites.

Click on that link and contemplate the liberties found in the New Covenant. My next post will be why I think Jesus picked 12 Jewish men.


Problem Passages: 1 Corinthians 11:3-16 (Part 2: Head Coverings)

This post is a part of the series comparing the teaching on various gender passages in the Bible. Read more about the series here.

1 Corinthians 11:3-16 says,

3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

Summary of Disagreements:

Although there is a lot of disagreement about what the individual verses mean; the main arguments, that refer to gender, center around three points.

  1. What does head mean? And how does that affect women in worship? (Part 1)
  2. What is the principle that can be applied in our culture? Women may pray and prophesy, but should they cover their heads in those activities today? What kind of covering is required – spiritual or literal? (Part 2)
  3. How should verse 10 be translated? As authority on the woman’s head or a symbol of authority on the woman’s head? (Part 3)

This post will detail point #2, what is the principle of head coverings?

Culture of wearing head coverings

Fashion, what we wear, indicates time and social constructs. Of course, there is much variety in fashion over the centuries and cultures. What was Paul’s culture at the time? Does it matter to us today? Do we imitate Corinth culture or find a principle to apply in our own way? These are the questions that drive the debate about head coverings.

  • Paul might have been referring to a Corinthian custom of pagan worship when he gave these  instructions about shawls, hair and baldness.
  • He might have been addressing  the Jewish worship customs of prayer shawls and clothing traditions.
  • He might have meant these apparel instructions are important for ALL men and women regardless of culture.
  • Theologians and historians don’t agree. We just don’t know for sure.
  • What we do know, is that most ancient cultures used veils, shawls and cloaks more commonly than we do today in the western world. It was as common for them as a hoodie is for us today.

Either way, we have been influenced by the fashion of the Corinthian culture. The custom of the western world  to remove hats for prayer or for witnessing a solemn ceremony  comes from this passage.  Traditionally,  women did not remove their headwear. Today, this is changing. The Armed  Services require men and women soldiers to bare their heads in respect. But in most churches, men are bareheaded and women keep their hats on.

Complementarian’s application of head covering

Complementarians are divided over the application of head  coverings.

Because Comps believe this passage details an authority hierarchy (verse 3), all Comps agree the principle Paul is teaching is that gender distinctions are important in worship for all time and cultures. Why? Because of the order of creation – man was created first-  and also because angels, who are the guardians of the worship of God, want women and men to act appropriately when they worship.

Where Comps disagree is to what extent they apply the woman’s head covering literally.

  1. Some ask their women to wear hats or kerchiefs (which literally means to cover the head).
  2. Some say long hair is a sufficient covering.
  3. Others have abandoned hear gear and the long hair debate entirely as a cultural reference, and say the principle is that as long as a woman prays or prophecies under a man’s spiritual authority (or covering), she is okay.

All Comps agree that if a woman prays or prophecies on her own authority, she is disgraced.  That is not God’s will for women. For instance, Beth Moore believes she may teach men because she is under her husband’s and pastor’s authority or spiritual covering. Some teachings call this an “umbrella” of authority.

Because Comps believe gender distinctions are important in worship, they  have differing interpretations of what it means to prophecy. Since Paul allows both men and women to pray and prophecy, they  limit what prophecy means. Comps believe 1 Timothy 2:12 and 1 Corinthians 14:34 limit (or silence) the voices of women in church. Some veer away from the speaking aspect of prophecy, even if the woman is covered. Some say prophesy is a spontaneous word from God which should be applied today as Scripture reading. Women may read Scripture aloud, but not prepare a lesson from it. Others believe a woman teacher is allowed as long as the responsibility or authority for her lesson is given to a man. Comps are a little vague and varied on what exactly that means.

Further Reading:

An article that advances the metaphorical spiritual covering of man’s authority over women:

An article that teaches a literal head covering and refutes the common arguments against the literal covering at all times:

Egalitarian belief about head coverings

This passage, to an Egalitarian, is not about whether a woman should wear a head covering, but how Paul gave women freedom to pray and prophecy the same as men.

Egals interpret Paul’s words to emphasize the relationship between the sexes, not the authority structure of gender. Egals believe that Jesus forbids His followers to excercise authority over another; even to call a human your authority or your leader. (Mat 20:25-27; 23:8-10) Jesus does not want us to follow the worldly model of top-down leadership. Instead, Jesus presents a bottom-up model of servanthood to all people. Because Egals believe so strongly in this “upside down” model, they interpret the principle of headcoverings as this:

Our actions (apparel even) in worship should bring honor to the Lord Jesus and each other, not shame. 1 Corinthians 10:32

In our modern western culture, even unbelievers consider it shameful to limit a person based on gender, race or nationality. Egals believe limiting a woman’s ability to speak (pray and prophecy) simply because she is a woman brings shame, not honor.

Verse 11 – 12 says,

Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

Egals believe these verses are the great equalizer for worship in churches. As Christians, man and women find their origin not in Father Adam or even in their female mothers…but in God himself. In the Lord, we are interdependent on each other.  God is every Christian’s head (source/ origin).

Egals believe the English translations have suffered from patriarchal bias, and make these following points:

  • Verse 2 : Paul describes the practices he taught the Corinthians as traditions. This word describes a set of precepts passed along from person to person. Some Egals believe headcoverings should not be applied to us because it is not an issue of sinful consequence, but of cultural practice. And as Jesus said, it is better to keep God’s commandment if it is in conflict with the tradition of men. (Mark 7:9) Egals believe God has gifted women equally as men. To limit a woman’s sphere because of gender, not by ability and giftedness, is following a tradition of man.  Egals believe literal and metaphorical headcoverings is a tradition of non-consequence for us today.
  • Verse 13: Paul asks us to judge for ourselves the propriety of a woman praying to God uncovered. Egals believe the judgement is affirmative. It is proper for women to pray uncovered.  Because a woman brings glory to her man, why should that glory be hidden? Jesus says let your good works show so it will be bring glory to God. (Matt 5:14-16) A women brings glory by being seen, not by covering up.
  • Verse 14-15: Nature teaches us a man’s hair and a woman’s hair will grow the same, unless cut.  Egals stress the Greek sentence  structure and lack of punctuation in this verse. There is controversy whether this verse should ask a rhetorical question. Instead, Egals claim it is a statement that hair is a suitable head covering, and prefer this translation:

Nature itself teaches you neither that it is disgraceful for a man to have long hair nor that hair is a woman’s glory, for hair is given as a substitute for coverings. (ISV)

Egalitarians use this passage to not only to dismiss the idea of women needing a special covering, but to show that Paul encourages
women to pray and prophesy along with the men. Women should not be silent as that ancient patriarchial society practiced. Does this contradict Paul’s statements 3 chapters later? No. Egals believe it only proves Paul gave specific instructions for an incident that was occurring in the Corinthian church (chapter 14), but is not an indictment for all women since he instructs them to speak here, in chapter 11.

Further Reading:

A verse by verse article on this passage:

Is short hair a sin for women?

My verse by verse explanation: Jewish worship customs of prayer shawls

1 Corinthians 11:3-16

Egals Believe… Comps Believe…
Head means source or origin. means authority or leader.
Head Covering Principle Honoring relationship is important in worship. Our clothes or behavior should not bring shame. Gender distinctions are important in worship.
Head Covering Applied Paul explains a woman’s hair is sufficient covering. Her glory should not be hidden. Women should either cover their heads literally with a hat, or metaphorically by being submissive to a male authority.

Moses’ Misogynic Law?


When my friends tell me the Bible is misogynistic, they’re not talking about Genesis or New Testament stuff, but stuff in the Old Testament where God wanted women stoned if they were raped, or have them married to their rapist. Women are unclean and segregated because they’re on their period? This is the sort of thing that shows Christianity to be misogynistic moreso than other stuff, I think.

General Answer

We must keep in mind what Moses’ law was intended for. It was not intended to make Israel into God’s perfect, ideal nation. It was intended to keep them from sliding into the ways of the pagans around them. It was not an elevating force, it did not make them better…it was a check. Like Paul says in 1 Tim 1:9-10, the law is not made for righteous people, but for those without rules and the disobedient.  The law makes nothing perfect, only Christ can. Heb 7:19

I always thought these verses meant that it was impossible to KEEP the law, but if you could somehow achieve that, then you’d be perfect. But that is not what it means. Moses’ law was NOT perfect. We know this because Jesus amended it. He made it stricter in parts and more lenient in others. Jesus also said that unless a person’s righteousness is better than the Pharisees, who prided themselves on keeping the law, he could not enter heaven. (Mat 5:20) Moses’ law is not the full will of God.

So what is it? Katharine Bushnell describes it like this:

Let us show the province of legislation by the aid of a homely illustration: A heavily loaded cart is being dragged, laboriously, by a man, up a hill. That cart will represent human progress. The man pulling, will represent moral and religious instruction, including such means of grace as God has put forth for our help, such as conversion, etc. Only one step is gained at a time, and there are many pauses, in other words, the progress of the human race has interruptions. Now human legislation, as aid to human progress, may be compared to a stone, which is being used by a boy (the body of legislators), as a brake, so that when the pull ceases the cart will not run backward down hill again. At each pause in front, the boy pushes his stone close up against the wheel behind, and so he greatly helps the man in front.

 It requires some skill on the part of the boy, in order to give the utmost help to the man in front. So the genius of the statesman consists, largely, in his gift of divining public moral opinion,  in other words, in knowing the precise moment when, and the precise point at which, to apply legislation. The stone will do no good if placed too far behind the cart; in fact, it will do some mischief, for when the cart pauses, its action will be reversed for the want of a stay, and the cart will run backwards, and perhaps gain such momentum as to over-ride the stone entirely, and plunge to destruction. This is the sort of mischief which results from lax laws. Good laws may not make men good; but bad laws certainly demoralize men. A legislative enactment is “good,” not necessarily because it is ideal,  it may be far from ideal but when it precisely meets the need of a brake, and prevents a nation from backsliding. And that law keeps “good” only as it keeps pace with the progress of the nation. (Katharine Bushnell, God’s Word to Women. para 567-570)

Moses’ law was written for the Israelites immediately after they spent a few centuries in slavery. Consider what kind of people they were. Uneducated? Dependent? Childlike? Irresponsible? And the women usually fared worse than the men in slavery.  Like children, they required many rules to keep them from killing themselves, and each other. “These commandments indicate the lowest level, not the highest, for the foundation of character.” (Katharine Bushnell. God’s Word to Women. par 580) Also note the world they lived in. Most historians I’ve read agree that Moses’ law was more humane to women than even Hammurabi’s which makes little provision for justice regarding women as either the victim or the perpetrator.

All that to say… Moses’ law is not God’s law for all people, for all time. It is hard to look down the hill from where we’ve progressed (farther along in kingdom) and judge it fairly. The fact that we’ve come a long way from it is precisely what God intended. Christians, compared to the Israelites, are like adults… with the Spirit of God to guide us. His TRUE law is written on our hearts. Christ came to fulfill the law… He showed us what God’s law truly was. Jesus altered and course-corrected Moses’ law.

So, it may be possible to look at Moses’ Law and conclude it was unfair to women. But, that law was not God’s eternal ideal. It served to stop the Israelites from sliding into even worse behavior that was normal for that day and age.

Specific Answer

Specifically about rape and menstural cycles, I think a thorough reading will show the law is fair.

  • Sure, women were unclean while on their periods, but men were also unclean if they had any discharge…semen, blocked bowels, blood (STDs). (Lev 15) The first part of the chapter covers men, the second half the women. The law is fair. The law also takes the health of the woman into account by regulating marital relations in this way.
  • The repercussions of harming a woman is the same for harming a man. Eye for eye. Tooth for tooth. (Ex 21:20-27) *Notice the husband serves as witness before the court for the harm inflicted to his wife and child. This is not a case of fined reimbursement for destroyed property as in verses 30- 36.*
  • Maligned wives are protected under Moses’ law. If her husband lies about her, she is to live with her parents yet remained married and not disgraced. Her husband provides for her still. (Remember virginity was important  because lineage was figured through the man’s line, and the only way to insure a child had a certain father was to guarantee the faithfulness of the wife or the virginity of the bride. See my post on female lineage to understand this concept better.) These laws erased illegitimacy. (Deut 22:13-21)
  • In cases of rape where consent is questioned, the law is again fair. If a woman screams or fights back or there is no one near to hear her, the man is charged. If there is no sign of struggle or its obvious they both agreed, both of them are punished. (Deut. 22:22-27)
  • In cases of rape where a virgin maiden is involved, marriage is required. Why? A “spoiled” woman was a drain on her father’s income because she had no way to provide income as an umarried woman, and it was hard to find a husband for a non-virgin. So the rapist is required to provide shelter and provision for the woman he stole. He is never allowed to divorce her. Remember, this was a hand-to-mouth society. A woman not under protection of a man, has no way to support herself. Happiness is not a factor compared to staying alive. The law provides a just solution for a horrible crime that destroys her chances of marriage, shelter, children and even food. The law was written to protect the virgins by preventing rape , not to harm them by requiring them to marry their rapist. (Deut 22:28-30)

Here are some other ways Moses’ law elevates the plight of Israelite women.

  • God gave women their father’s inheritance and allowed them to earn their own income. Number 27
  • Single or widowed ladies could marry who they wanted within their own tribe (probably due to economic reasons). Number 36:6 and 1 Cor 7:39
  • Maidens gave their consent to marriage patterned after Rebekah’s choice in Genesis 24:57-58.
  • You shall not commit adultery is another way to reinforce God’s ideas about marriage: one flesh/unity. (Exodus 20, Genesis 2) In ancient times, this protected the wife since a roving husband was a danger to her well being. It also protected children from illegitimacy and being a societal outcast.

Yes, this ancient law was primitive. It could have done more to lift the position of women. But compared to the laws of the land of the time, Moses’ law revealed that God cared for justice for women and children as well as the men.

Who belongs at home?

Traditional roles for men and women shift with the times.

Prior to the Industrial Revolution, home life was markedly different. There were no modern conveniences and no fast food. That meant a great deal of time was spent on “staying alive” tasks. And those jobs involved both men and women. For instance, most families had an extensive garden that required constant upkeep by all members of the family. The garden was a large portion of their yearly food. The family livestock (chickens, pigs and cows) took hours of care to provide things we can hardly separate in our minds from plastic jugs and pre-packaged cartons.  If there was a family trade (blacksmith, carpenter,etc) it was located at the homestead. This necessary agrarian focus kept the family home-bound and together.

When factories were invented, men started to leave their homes to work the line. The shift into industry removed men from the home sphere for most of the day. What was once shared labor at home is now shouldered by the women left behind. Men GO to work. Women stay home and work. Even though there has always been distinctions in man’s work and woman’s work, it has only been in the last 200 years that the work required differing locations.

World War 2 scrambled things  further. All the young men vacated the factories for uniforms. The call went out to women to fill the gaps they left open. The women tied their polka dotted kerchiefs  and entered the workplace in droves. They set about their work vigorously. Their arms were strong for the task! (Prov 31:17) While the men fought the Nazi evil, women were learning they were equal to men in most tasks. This education changed the workplace, the home and the core of our culture.

Not only had the men left the home, the women were leaving it as well.

The woman’s place is at home!

The problem began when the young soldiers began coming home after the war. Where would they work? The women had taken all their jobs. So to make space for the returning male workforce, society began to push the ladies back home. Appealing home designs, new appliances and TV show icons were the propaganda on the fifties.   Thank you very much for your service to the country in time of need, but the woman’s place was at home. Of course, the jig was up. Women had realized they could have pursuits and passions outside the domestic realm and they weren’t going back into the box without a struggle.

Enter the women’s liberation movement of the 60’s and 70’s. That’s a whole ‘nother subject, so I’ll skip it today.

What are the traditional roles?

In the argument over what the traditional gender roles are, it helps to understand history. The emphasis on the domestic realm for women did not occur prior to 1800’s because both genders were at home. The home was the center for life, literally. Machines and cities altered home life by removing the father for long periods of the day. The extra responsibilities his void left were filled by the wife. When machines began to lift some of the wife’s responsibilities at home, it is only natural that she began to look around and wonder if she too could move away and pursue other jobs.

Is it unfair to remind women of their “traditional” role without reminding the men that their “traditional” place was at home as well?

Women in the Text: Creation Order 5

Is male authority established in the creation order? Are women subordinate to men based on God’s design? Important questions. After looking at Genesis without the filter of the hard passages in the New Testament, it is hard to find evidence written in the creation text for Adam trumping Eve. It is these hard passages that force us to assume much into the creation order. Now, let’s look at how the creation order applies in 1 Corinthians 11. It’s going to get long because I want to quote the text in full context.

1 Corinthians 11

2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head —it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

7 A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

Whew, there is a lot to argue about in that passage! Headship, veils, length of hair, angels?  But the topic for this post is the creation order of genders and roles. The question… is authority tied to the creation order or cultural context? In this passage, authority is tied to creation…but whose authority? Woman’s.


What is this cultural context?

This passage is shrouded with cultural assumptions. Paul is not writing to us, he is writing to 2nd century Roman/Jewish Christians. It is a WORLD of difference! This doesn’t mean that what he writes isn’t applicable to us, it means that to find what is applicable, we must sift through his culture’s assumptions.

  • Paul is talking to Christians. It is helpful to remember this when you read the words Man and Woman. Simply add “Christian” before the word. It helps to define what Paul is saying in terms of gospel, not gender alone.
  • In these verses Paul is discussing the custom (vs 2) of Jewish prayer shawls (men) and veils (pagan and Jewish practice for women depending on region).
  • Jewish men wore a tallit out of reverence for God and a covering for their sinful state. God commanded all the Jews to wear blue threads and tassels which symbolized the law. They put these tzitzit on garments which evolved into shawls that they used in worship. Hence, the covering was a symbol of the wearer’s intent to keep all God’s commandments. (Numbers  15:38-40; Deuteronomy 22:12; tzitzit; tallit)
  • Women are not treasured. They are property. Men were not proud of their wives. In fact, there was a sense of wanting to remain aloof from wifely attachment.  Women were kept at home and in many regions under veils out of obedience to the Pater-men. Women gained value by the men she was attached to. Culture did not think they were equal.  Read more about the Pater Familias (Men-led families).
  • Some regional laws required a veil to cover the woman’s hair or Jewish men to cover in temple, but regardless of law, wearing a head veil was a common accessory for men and women in ancient times. Unlike today. (,
Ara Pacis Augustae

Christ is the head of every Christian.

I believe, the most important thing to remember in this passage is that just because Paul details the gender’s heads and glory, it does not negate the heads and glory he doesn’t detail. Which means the conclusions he draws for one, will apply to the other. And his neglect to mention these details clarifies what he is teaching. For instance,

  • Christ is the head of every Christian man.
  • Christ is also the head of every Christian woman. So, the same conclusion will apply to her. It’s just not the point Paul is making here. (Eph 1:22, Col 1:18)
  • But, woman has another head…her man…father or husband according to the law. See Ephesian Marriage.

The concept Paul is teaching is that Christ is head, not man as head. He uses “man as head” as a simile that everyone in that day understood. Woman gained status only through her head – her man (husband or father), in the same fashion that sinful men (all Christians) gain spiritual status through his head – Christ. And this is the comparison Paul makes.

Jewish men, who wore the tallit as a symbol they were under the curse of the law, should stop! Christ is now their covering, not the law. Christian women, whose head veil symbolizes her status to her Pater – man, has a choice to make.

Christians should remove the veil.

Paul believes ALL Christians should remain uncovered.  But, because of cultural considerations (read chapter 10 for another way Paul details culture considerations) he frees women to decide for themselves what best honors her husband and Christ.

13 We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away. 14 But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. 15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. 16 But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. 17 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. 18 And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  ~2 Cor 3

  • Man is the image and glory of God. (So, uncover.)
  • Woman is also the image and glory of God. So, the same conclusion will apply to her. (Uncover.) (Genesis 1:27; 5:1)
  • Additionally, woman brings glory to man. This is Paul’s point. Woman is free to remain covered if uncovering dishonors her husband … according to custom.

I believe Paul is going against his culture and elevating woman by giving her the freedom to choose to cover or uncover. Notice the similarities within the cultural context in his list. Man, who has been covered by the shame of law-breaking (tallit and tzitzit) is reminded that he is the glory and image of God Himself! Especially as a Christian! God delights in us! Paul says to take off the veil and reveal the glory of God.

In the same way, woman has been covered, and in some sense, shamed by being woman and not man. But Paul says no! Woman should be the glory of her man! Especially Christian women! Husband should delight in his wife!  Take off the veil and reveal the glory of God and your husband! But if being unveiled is considered “loose,” keep it on and don’t bring shame to your husband.

Creation order proves both genders should uncover.

It is at this part of the passage that the creation order becomes relevant. I start with the truths found in Genesis and in the gospel. Here is how I understand Paul’s circle logic. Look over this illustration. Open your Bible in front of you and read the verses that it references. Remember the creation story in Genesis. Recall the freedom of the gospel of Christ for both genders.

I’ve put the pivotal point of Paul’s argument at the prominent spot at the bottom of the circle. Here is verse 10 with links to Strong’s so you can test the meaning of each Greek word:

For this 5124 cause 1223 ought 3784 the woman 1135 to have 2192 power 1849 on 1909 [her] head 2776 because 1223 of the angels 32.

In other words, because of the creation order, Christian women ought to have the liberty to choose to wear the veil or not…for the glory of God.


Again, this series of posts is to look at how creation order should help us understand gender roles. When we take the truths found in Genesis and the gospel, this hard passage takes on a different meaning than those who espouse male authority teach. Sadly,  complementarians may  be teaching the OPPOSITE of what Paul intended: freedom for women to decide for themselves how to best reflect the glory and image of Christ.

Previous Creation Order Posts

Creation in Genesis

Headship established at creation?

Last shall be first!

Creation Order and the temptation

Creation Order in 1 Timothy 2

Biblical Masters and Slaves: A defense of God’s established order

I’ve not read Uncle Tom’s Cabin until this week. Shame on me. It is a monumental and courageous book. I have been meditating on how a generation of Christians justified slavery. Slavery was so entrenched in the religious culture, to NOT believe in slavery was labeled anti-biblical and secular. Liberal.

On April Fools I wrote a satirical defense of biblical slavery based on the arguments of the antebellum South. I didn’t get it done in time, obviously. I present it now with this little disclaimer. *I am using satire. I believe slavery was practiced in biblical times, but that does not mean we MUST practice slavery to be biblical or godly. I wrote a post on why I believe slavery is wrong, here.*

The Bible and common sense make a clear case for slavery.

1.       The relation of slave and master is not sin.

“There is not one verse in the Bible inhibiting slavery, but many regulating it. It is not then, we conclude, immoral.” Rev. Alexander Campbell

a.       The Ten Commandments confirm both the lawfulness and rightness of slavery. (Exodus 20:5, 20:17).

“The Oracular Decisions of God have positively declared that the Slave-Trade is intrinsically good and licit, [and that the holding of slaves] is perfectly consonant to the principles of the Law of Nature, the Mosaic Dispensation, and the Christian Law” wrote one Raymond Harris in Scriptural Researches on the Licitness of the Slave-Trade. Thus, he said, slavery has “the positive sanction of God in its support.” (

b.      The Old Testament, as well as the New Testament, affirm that people can be owned as property, regardless of spiritual equality. (Gen 12:16; 12:50; 16:9; 24:35-36;26:13-14; Lev 25:44-46; Josh 9:23; 1 Kings 8:2; 8:6; 9:20-21; Job 1:15-17; 3:19; 4:18; 7:2; 31:13;42:8;1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:28; Ephesians 6:5-9; Colossians 3:11; Philemon).

“It [slavery] was established by decree of Almighty God…it is sanctioned in the bible, in both Testaments, from Genesis to Revelation…it has existed in all ages, has been found among the people of the highest civilization and in nations of the highest proficiency in the arts. Let the gentleman go to Revelation…Slavery existed then in the earliest ages, and among the chosen people of God; and in Revelation we are told that it shall exist till the end of time shall come. You find in the old and new testaments – in the prophecies, psalms and the epistles of Paul; you find it recognized, sanctioned everywhere.” [ Jefferson Davis, Vol 1, by Dunbar Rowland, pp. 286 & 316 – 31]

2.       God ordained slavery as one form of government over depraved mankind.

a.        After the Fall, God intended the superior to rule the inferior; husband to wife, parent to child,  teacher to scholar, commander to soldier and master to slave.

b.      God made Ham lower than Shem and Shem lower than Japeth.  “Shem was blessed to rule over Ham. Japeth was blessed to rule over both.” (Slavery Ordained of God by Rev. Fred. A. Ross, D.D.)

“When the great Patriarch was moved upon by the Holy Ghost to speak as he did on that occasion, we have no doubt but he did it with real pain and sorrow of heart, and yet it must be done, as it was dictated by the influence of the Eternal’s mandate: “Oh Ham, my son, it is mot for this one deed alone which you have just committed that I have, by God’s commands. thus condemned you and your race; but the Lord has shown me that all your descendants will, more or less, be like you, their father, on which account it is determined by the Creator that you and your people are to occupy the lowest condition of all the families among mankind, and even be enslaved as brute beasts, going down in the scale of human society, beyond and below the ordinary exigencies of mortal existence, arising out of war, revolutions and conflicts, for you will and must be, both in times of peace and war, a despised, a degraded and an oppressed race.” (Bible Defense of Slavery ,Josiah Priest)

3.       Slavery is only evil in some circumstances. We should encourage Masters to use the Golden Rule in their treatment of their slaves.

a.       Most slaves are happy and glad to be cared for.

“The negro slaves of the South are the happiest, and, in some sense, the freest people in the world. The children and the aged and infirm work not at all, and yet have all the comforts and necessaries of life provided for them. They enjoy liberty, because they are oppressed neither by care nor labor. The women do little hard work, and are protected from the despotism of their husbands by their masters.” George Fitzhugh

b.      There are cases of cruelty and injustice in all systems of power. So, there will be cases in the system of master and slaves.

c.       Slavery elevates the African.

“We would remind those who deprecate and sympathize with negro slavery, that his slavery here relieves him from a far more cruel slavery in Africa, or from idolatry and cannibalism, and every brutal vice and crime that can disgrace humanity; and that it christianizes, protects, supports and civilizes him; that it governs him far better than free laborers at the North are governed..” George Fitzhugh

4.         Abolitionists have  eroded the foundation of Scripture. If you say the Bible does not mean what it says in this case, can we trust it at all? Next you’ll  be liberating wives from their husbands!


I think it bears repeating.

I believe slavery was practiced in biblical times, but that does not mean we MUST practice slavery to be biblical or godly.

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Women in the Text: Reflections on Submission

This isn’t a Bible post, its a reflection. Beware, lots of CAPS and bolds.

Graceful Election

Yes, I went to THAT school.

Have you ever had a shift of purpose? A time when your actions didn’t change, but YOU did? And then it seems EVERYTHING changes? When I was in college, I had one of these shifts. I was raised a Christian. I know I had that child-like faith that saves. But, I didn’t KNOW Jesus. Jesus, to me, was something I did. I chose Him. I learned about Him. I did good things for Him. I didn’t do bad things for Him.

In college, I read the Bible myself and BELIEVED it. In the middle of that avid reading, I fell in love with doctrine. Not because it was something more I could know, but because I wanted to know more about WHO God is because of Him. One doctrine in particular smacked me hard. God chose me. I wasn’t taught election (If I was, I don’t remember it.) by people or books. I found it myself in the words of Jesus. I knew Jesus loved me. I believed He is the Son of God. But the understanding that He knew me and wanted ME transformed my life. Grace.  Outwardly, I still acted Christian. But because my understanding had shifted, I REALLY acted Christian. Does that make sense?

It was no longer duty, it was love. My actions pointed at God because they were birthed in thoughts of God, not thoughts of self. That’s love. Other-orientation. Self forgetfulness. Funny how grace does that. Humans would reason why God deserves our choice. God gives freely regardless of our choice. Reason won’t transform a soul. Free grace does.

Lovely Submission

Submission is another shift of motive. For years, I submitted to my husband because my mom submitted to dad. Crazy as this sounds, I was kinda competing with her. My husband didn’t help. He’d ask, “Why can’t you treat me like your mom does your dad?” And no, I wasn’t wise enough to NOT answer that. lol. Submission was about how I behaved. It was self focused. I wanted to be the best submissive wife for my husband that I could be! There was love involved. I love him. But for many years, we were both a mess because we were  pointing our actions, that were supposed to be wrapped up in the other, back at ourselves. A manipulation dance. I’ll “love” her so I can get my way. I’ll “submit” so he’ll love me and let me get my way. You know what I mean.

BUT. I changed. My husband did too, but he’s not writing. So I’ll tell you how I changed. I didn’t become more or less submissive. Submission just wasn’t my purpose. This was: loving him, hanging out with him, learning to like what he liked, seeing him as a legitimate other that I could intimately know as well as I knew myself.  (If this sounds like I have it all together, don’t be fooled.  I SO don’t.) I was no longer focused on MY submission, I was focused on HIM.

How did this happen?

In the same way the grace-filled doctrine of election made me choose Jesus all over again in love, equality (not fighting for it, but a genuine belief I am on the same spiritual level as men) taught me submission. I no longer HAD to submit. I wanted to.

A recent email to me put it like this:

“As I think about how I’ve been steeped in “godly womanhood,” I realize that I have told myself over and over to accept that my husband is somehow automatically more… ummmm something, what’s the word? Responsible to God? than I am.  That God would choose to talk to and direct our family through him.  I am so used to that idea.  The very idea of God seeing my husband and me as standing side by side accountable as a team in mutual submission and Him seeing me as equally accountable/valuable/usable is at once, exciting and terrifying.

My actions look the same but I serve my husband first simply because I LOVE HIM and I am choosing to be second to him NOT out of duty or rank.  I am honoring HIM not his position. Holy Crap.  That is so radical when you think about it.

It’s blowing my mind to think of the implications of taking the duty and rank out of the equation.  It’s causing me to wonder, did Christ come out of duty or simply love?”

I love how she says “I am honoring him, not his position.” I can’t count the number of times I’ve been told as a wife that I am submitting to the position, my head. Gah, I don’t care about that! I want to submit to the man I love! Because I love him, not because he has authority over me.

Unity, Equality and Luv


Jesus enjoys equality with the Father. If he doesn’t, becoming submissive while on earth was no big deal. Rather like a lead angel. It was BECAUSE of His equality, that He proved his love by refusing to claim his equal rights. And that’s not paying lip-service to equality. Jesus is God, not some lesser form of God, not now or ever. There is no hierarchy in the trinity; no inherent superiority or responsibility or authority of the Father over the Son, or the Son over the Spirit. They are one. And they love each other.

This equal love; this setting aside of personal rights; this other-focus; this self-forgetfulness; this unity; this is the marriage God calls us to enjoy. There is no danger to the gospel in this. This is gospel.

I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. ~John 17