Galatians 3:28 has been styled the “magna carta of humanity” (Paul Jewett, Man as Male, 142) by some egalitarians. They say “this verse shows that the church has, in past generations, maintained unbiblical support of a paternalistic church and family order. This has kept Christian women from rising to their God-ordained place of equality of position and authority alongside men in the leadership of the church and in the family."Read More
Christ represents the Husband, and the church represents the bride. They are expected to be symbolically intimate one with another. Speaking of Christ and the church Isaiah says, “For thy Maker is thine Husband” (54:5). If the local pastor represents Christ, and the local church represents the bride, then what would it mean if we took the male pastor out of his position to place a female pastor there?Read More
Do different roles equate to gender inequality? Life is full of paradoxes. From “Jumbo shrimp” and the “Beginning of the end” to “If you didn’t get this message call me”, paradoxes don’t seem to make much sense on the surface. However, the point of a paradox is to illustrate a truth, even if the statements seem to contradict each other.
Men and women have been created equal but unique. At first glance this looks like just another paradox. However, my purpose in this article is to demonstrate from Genesis that both male-female equality and male headship were instituted by God at creation.
Genesis 1-3 lays the very foundation of Biblical manhood and womanhood. All other verses must be interpreted consistently with these chapters. Here, the twin principles of male-female equality and male headship are properly defined, instituted, and remain permanent beneficent aspects of human existence.
Equality. Man and woman are equal in the sense that they bear God’s image equally.
Male headship. In the partnership of two spiritually equal human beings, man and woman, the man bears the primary responsibility to lead the partnership in a God-glorifying direction. The model of headship is our Lord, the Head of the church who gave Himself for us. Right here is a distinction that many fail to make in our world. The antithesis to male headship is male domination. By male domination I mean the assertion of the man’s will over the woman’s will, heedless of her spiritual equality, rights and value. This article will be completely misunderstood if the distinction between male headship and male domination is not kept in mind throughout. Feminism acknowledges no such distinction.
Christian feminism argues that God created man and woman as equals in a way that excludes male headship. According to them, male headship was imposed upon Eve as a penalty for her part in the fall. It follows, in this view, that a woman’s redemption in Christ releases her from the “punishment” of male headship. What then did God intend for our manhood and womanhood at the creation?
Genesis 1:27 “So God created man in His own image, in the image of God created He them; male and female he created them.”
Each of these three lines makes a point. Line one tells us how we got here. We came from God. Line two highlights the divine image in man. We bear a resemblance to God. Line three boldly affirms the dual sexuality of man. We are male and female.
Finally in verse 28, God pronounces His benediction on man. “God blessed them and said to them…” In His benediction, the Creator also authorizes male and female together to carry out their mission to rule the lower creation. To sum up, man was created as royalty in God’s world, male and female alike bearing the divine glory equally. Most Christian feminists would heartily agree with this paragraph. But Genesis 2 and 3 are more controversial. I must challenge a point of feminism before we move on.
As in verse 26 and 27 God refers to both male and female as man in Genesis 5:2. “He created them male and female and blessed them. And when they were created, he called them "man.”
This is a striking fact indeed. It demands explanation. After all, if any of us were Creator, would we after creating humans use the name of only one sex as a generic term for both? I expect not. Our modern prejudices could detect a whiff of “discrimination” a mile away. But God cuts across the grain of our peculiar sensitivities when He names the human race, both man and woman, “man.”
Why would God do such a thing? Why would Moses carefully record such a thing? Surely God was wise and purposeful in this decision, as He is in every other! His referring to the human race as man tells us something about ourselves. Let me suggest that it only makes sense against the backdrop of male headship. God did not name the human race “woman.” If “woman” had been the more appropriate and illuminating designation, no doubt God would have used it. He does not even use a neutral term like “persons”, no doubt to the dismay of the more politically-correct among us.
Genesis 2 So was Eve Adam’s equal? Yes and no. She was his spiritual equal and, unlike the animals “suitable for him.” But she was not equal in that she was his “helper.’ God did not create man and woman in an undifferentiated way, and their mere maleness and femaleness identify their respective roles. A man just by virtue of his manhood is called to lead for God. A woman just by virtue of her womanhood is called to help for God. The very fact that God created human beings in the dual modality of male and female cautions us in an unqualified equation of the two sexes. This profound and beautiful distinction is not a biological triviality or accident. God wants men to be men and women to be women. A man trying to be a woman repulses us, and rightly so. It is perverse. The same is true when a woman attempts be a masculine.
Must the male headship side of the paradox be taken as an insult or threat to women? Not at all. Eve was Adam’s equal in the only sense in which equality creates personal worth. Adoption into God’s family. In a parallel sense, a church member has just as much freedom and significance as a church elder. But the elder is to lead and the member is to support – no cause for offense there. I see this fallacy again and again in feminist argumentation. “Subordination = denigration” and “equality equals indistinguishability.” Where does this convoluted thinking come from? Was the Son of God slighted because He came to do the will of the Father? Is the church denigrated by its subordination to the Lord? Never. Subordination is entailed in the very nature of a helping role (Genesis 2:18).
Why then, do some fellow church members resist this teaching so energetically? One reason is incidences of male domination asserted in the name of male headship. I have seen examples of this, along with examples of hostile, dominating women. Both are wrong. When truth is abused, a rival position (in this case feminism) that lacks logically compelling power can take on psychologically compelling power. In short, feminism is an emotive reaction to male domination, driven by pain or pride. But male domination is a personal moral failure, not a Biblical doctrine.
If we define ourselves out of a reaction to bad experiences we will be forever translating our past pain into the present where it damages ourselves and others. We must define ourselves not by personal injury, or popular hysteria, but by the pattern of gender and sexual truth taught here in the Holy Scriptures. As the head, the husband bears the primary responsibility to lead their partnership in a God-glorifying direction. This is a Biblical principle that stands forever apart from changing cultures. And when we exchange Biblical principles with culture, we can go down all kinds of wrong roads—such as the July 29th vote by the Columbia Union Committee to “ordain” women in opposition to the expressed will of the world church.
Illustration: Christian feminism claims that Jesus’ selection of twelve men as His disciples was merely a cultural accommodation designed to avoid conflict in His missionary enterprise on earth. In others words, Jesus was acting culturally and not on divine principle. Such thinking has a difficult task before it. One, it fails to explain how the foundation of the Holy City itself is based on cultural accommodation (Revelation 21:14). And two, it makes the Godhead guilty of departing from principle in the selection of initial church leadership. It is astonishing that any professed believer could bring such a charge against Him. I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt, and allow that they simply haven’t thought it through.
The twelve foundations of the New Jerusalem are named after the twelve Apostles, and the gates are named after the twelve Tribes of Israel (Revelation 21:10-14). By permanently building cultural accommodation into the eternal foundation of the home of the redeemed, “christian feminism” makes the Lord guilty of immortalizing temporal cultural “exclusiveness.” This powerfully illustrates the bankruptcy of feminist theology. The Holy City rests solidly upon the principles of God, not upon the shifting sands of culture. Jesus’ selection of twelve men as His apostles was an intentional and principled choice by God (John 17:6).
Summary Male-female equality and male headship are woven into the very fabric of the Bible. Feminists themselves recognize this, to quote one writer “Feminist theology cannot be done from the existing base of the Christian Bible” (Rosemary Radford Ruether). This is the reason for the influx of current reinterpretations of Scripture to support their purposes. Yet it is wrong to wrest the Scriptures for any purpose. All of us have had the experience of discovering to our dismay that we have been making the Bible say what it doesn’t say. This can be turned around. To make such a discovery and then to repent is to grow in grace.
What might be the principle source of feminist angst to the Biblical text? Consider the following: there is no necessary relation between personal role and personal worth. Feminism denies this principle. To them, any limitation in role threatens or reduces personal worth. But why? Why must my position dictate my significance? Simple answer. Because the world reasons this way. But the gospel tells us that our glory, and our worth is measured by our personal conformity to Jesus the Christ. The absurdity of feminism lies in its irrational demand that a woman is not complete unless she occupies a position of headship. And what do we call something with two heads? A monster.
This past Sunday, a special constituency meeting of the Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists voted to authorize the ordination of women. Despite the pleas of General Conference President Ted Wilson, who was present at the meeting and spoke twice, the vote was not even close: 209 to 51. More than eighty percent (80%) of those present and casting votes voted for the motion to authorize ordination without regard to gender. A number of thoughts occur to me in light of this extremely lopsided vote. 1) The fight over female ordination was lost, in principle, when the church allowed females to be ordained as elders. The scriptural principle of male headship in the church (which is the main reason not to ordain women) was totally eviscerated by this compromise. The fight over female ordination was lost, as a political matter, when women were hired as pastors to do jobs indistinguishable from those done by men, and given a ceremonial confirmation (commissioning) indistinguishable from that given to men. These compromises rendered the refusal to ordain women politically indefensible.
2) The calls for unity, issued by the division heads at the GC some weeks ago and by Elder Wilson personally at this meeting, were unavailing. The world church must articulate a scriptural reason, a doctrinal principle, for opposing female ordination. The mere fact that divisions representing 85% of world membership do not want to ordain women will not suffice to prevent the divisions representing the 15% from doing so. For Adventists in North America, Europe and Australia/NZ, the fact that Adventists in Chad or Zambia are not ready to ordain women is not a good reason why we shouldn't do it. This argument has been made and has failed. Principle must be met with principle, and “unity” is not a principle. If unity were an overriding principle, then we would all still be Roman Catholics; basing faith and practice upon the Bible is more important than unity for unity's sake. If there is a principled basis for opposing female ordination, the church must articulate it.
3) The church has been studying this issue for 40 years; the idea that the church needs yet another study to understand Bible truth is risible, and was, in fact, ridiculed at the CUC constituency meeting. (Potomac Conference President William Miller stated, “One of our favorite pastimes as denomination is to commission another study.”) Ted Wilson knows how the SDA Church works at the highest levels, and he has concluded that another study will be helpful, perhaps as a parliamentary maneuver to prepare the issue for a church-wide vote at San Antonio. But there is no need for another study to see that there obviously is a doctrine of male headship in Scripture. Biblically, this is not a close question, but a closed question. We instinctively defend Sabbath-keeping, but the New Testament authority for keeping the Sabbath is insignificant in comparison to New Testament authority for patriarchy, for male headship in the home and in the church.
4) Although the doctrine of male headship is clear in Scripture, it is an issue that divides liberals and conservatives. Liberals wish to ignore the doctrine, whereas conservatives would uphold it. Studies by panels of “experts” and “theologians” merely reveal who is liberal and who is conservative. Liberals will always conclude that the verses pointing to patriarchy and male headship in the church are culturally conditioned and hence may safely be ignored. Conservatives will always conclude that it is not safe to brush these passages aside, if only because we will soon be brushing aside every verse in conflict with today's culture (most immediately with respect to homosexuality). Ultimately, the question is whether this is a liberal or a conservative church. I had assumed that the SDA Church was a conservative church, but, in light of this lopsided vote, the best that can be said is that the Adventist Church in North America is conservative on many issues, but has blind spots on important biblical issues, such as human sexuality and sex roles.
5) If the church is going to reverse the vote of the Columbia Union constituency (and the upcoming vote of the Pacific Union constituency) the only way forward is to draft a fundamental belief regarding male headship in the church and bring it up for a vote at the 2015 General Conference Session in San Antonio. Only if there is an actual, bona fide, doctrine of male headship, which is violated by female ordination, can the church in North America and the developed world be brought to heel. It isn't too late to win this struggle, but it is too late if Ted Wilson and other conservative church leaders believe that appeals to unity, or appeals to wait for yet another study, can stop the momentum behind female ordination. I know that Ted Wilson wants to uphold Bible truth, and liberal machinations during the Paulsen tenure have left him in a weak position. But we cannot wait two more years to start making the biblical case for male headship in the church. We have to start promoting this doctrine now, while many Adventists are still open-minded on the issue. Most of those who are still willing to accept a doctrine of male headship in the church are now in other parts of the world, not in North America, but we had better start supporting them with Scriptural arguments now, not in two years.
6) It is important to emphasize that the vote in the Pacific Union on August 19 is not limited to the question of female ordination. The vote in the Pacific Union would alter the bylaws of that union, so that the union's working policies need not always be in compliance with the working policies of the GC and the North American Division. In effect, the Pacific Union is giving itself the right to ignore the world church, not just on female ordination but on any issue it chooses. Because this involves a change to the bylaws, the motion must carry by a two-thirds majority. (As we have seen, the motion in the Columbia Union carried by much more than two thirds, but that motion was limited to the issue of ordination.) My sense is that most of the delegates to the August 19 meeting are unaware of the sweeping nature of this change. If you know a delegate to this meeting, please make them aware that they are deciding whether to give the PUC effective carte blanche to ignore the world church whenever it wants to.
Observations of 1 Timothy 3:1,2 & Titus 1:5,6
Both proponents and opponents of women’s ordination have staked their claim to divergent interpretations of 1 Timothy 3:1,2 and Titus 1:5,6. While some see a plain reading of the verses as clear enough, others are challenging these passages with legitimate, yet more complex textual arguments. What did Paul mean when he wrote that a “bishop . . . [should be] the husband of one wife”? Or literally translated- “a bishop . . . [should be] a one wife husband“? Some view this passage through the lens of “culture”- claiming it should be applied to different times and places in “relevant“ ways. In a future article I will review why the “culturally-conditioned” argument is nothing more than subjectivism since it relies on conjectures, guesses and the social sciences (sociology, anthropology, etc.) rather than the biblical text. Furthermore, it constantly changes with time and location. Recently, some have jettisoned the “culturally-conditioned” argument for a “leading of the Spirit” one. Going so far as to claim that the Spirit cannot fall on the church until it ordains women as pastors and elders. Unfortunately, this is biblically untenable. The conditions for the “Latter Rain” are clearly outlined in Acts 2,3 and Revelation 3:18-20- and women‘s ordination is nowhere mentioned. One often hears the assertion “no conference, union or church should stand in the way of God‘s calling to me . . .” In my last article, we saw that the position of “pastor” (poimen) can indeed be filled by a women- since it is a “Spiritual Gift.” However, the functions of the “pastor” are NOT the same as those of the “bishop” (episkopos) and the “elder” (presbuteros) which are NOT spiritual gifts! Certain objective qualifications must be met before one can “apply“ for those positions (including 1 Timothy 3:1-7). Furthermore, the Spirit does NOT lead the church independently from the written Word He inspired. If some feel God is leading them to become “Bishops“ or “Elders,” the only way to confirm this would be with the “Measuring stick” of Scripture.
Still others feel that to continue “debating theology” is not “biblically practical”, that we don’t need theoretical perspectives, but to focus on being “mission-driven.” They see this “theological” argument as getting in the way of the mission of the church, an ecclesiological issue. But instead of carefully examining the text of Scripture and following a “thus saith the Lord”, they are using pragmatic and emotional reasons (women “pastors” in China, etc.) to buttress their position. “Legal” but questionable policy changes are being hastily pursued in order to vote in changes before the world church can study the issue and respond. These efforts, based on faulty hermeneutics, threaten to further disrupt the global unity of the church.
While this “mission-driven-movement” sounds nice and very “Adventist,” if it is not on rooted in Scripture, but on policy or ecclesiology- the efforts will be unsuccessful. For all these reasons (and others), it is helpful to re-visit the texts upon which those who oppose and affirm women “elders” are based: 1 Timothy 3:1,2 and Titus 1:5-7. My purpose is not to present a scholarly exegesis- but an overview of the clear textual evidence.
“The fact of gender, when considering a word in isolation, is of little importance . . . But in analyzing a sentence as a whole, gender may play a key role, especially when considered along with the adjectives, pronouns, and relative clauses that may be present. Taking note of the gender may alter altogether what a sentence may seem to be saying in English.” Interestingly, in Titus 1:5, the word “elder” (presbuteros) is in the accusative masculine. In the context of verses 5-7, nine of the descriptive nouns and adjectives of presbuteros are in the masculine. In 1 Timothy 3:2, the word for “bishop” (episkopos) is also in the accusative masculine. In the context of 1 Timothy 3:2, there are eight descriptive nouns and adjectives which are also in the masculine. These grammatical parallels seem more than just coincidental. While it doesn’t definitively show that an “elder” or “bishop” should be a “male,” it is grammatically consistent with that conclusion and strongly points that way.
1. “Elder,” “bishop,” “pastor” are different, distinct offices
In the last article we saw that the offices of “elder,” “bishop,” and “pastor” (presbuteros, episkopos, poimen) are distinct, although (as we noted) there is some overlap between them. To summarize the findings: the “elder” (presbuteros) deals primarily with executive, administrative and judicial areas of church policy. The “bishop” (episkopos) has supervisory, investigative and guardianship functions, while the “pastor” (poimen) is nurturing, guarding and teaching. We also saw that the “elder” and “bishop” are recognized and selected based upon external, objective criteria (1 Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-8). After evaluation of the candidates based on these biblical standards, they are ordained. On the other hand, as we mentioned, the “pastor” is a spiritual gift that is recognized and affirmed without ordination and an explicit list of “external” qualifications. I described what seemed to be modern equivalent of these positions in the church today. (Please see previous article.)
The significance of these findings can’t be overstated, especially where Christians assert the Holy Spirit’s calling to be a “pastor”. Obviously, the word “pastor” doesn’t have the same meaning that it did in the Bible. So the etymology of this English word has undergone some changes since the New Testament. If one takes the position that the Holy Spirit has given them this gift then the position that they should fill is the poimen. However, if they desire to fulfill the role of the episkopos or presbuteros, even if they are called by the Spirit, they must be evaluated by criteria found in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:5-7. The claim of the Spirit’s leading does not supersede the Spirit’s inspired word, which is used to “test” all “callings”.
2. Lexical (dictionary) meanings for episkopos and presbuteros are delineated for “men”
A word never means what it never meant. The purpose of a lexical (“dictionary”) definition, is to find out what a word meant at the time it was written. An important clue to what episkopos and presbuteros mean today is to understand their meaning when Paul penned Titus and 1 Timothy in the first century A.D. In order to do this, analytical, critical and theological Greek New Testament lexicons, expository Greek dictionaries, Greek-English concordances and New Testament Greek theological wordbooks should be consulted in order to understand. Strong’s Concordance has several weaknesses that I addressed in my previous article and should be probably be avoided when doing serious Bible study (at least it should not be used by itself).
A summary of the definitions are as follows:
- “The name given in Athens to the MEN sent into subdued states to conduct their affairs”
- “A MAN charged with the duty of seeing that things to be done by others rightly”
- “A body of old MEN” (presbuterion) ; “An old MAN” (presbus, presbutis)
- “Rulers of people, judges, etc., selected from elderly MEN”
- “Aged MEN” ; “In the Christian church they were MEN appointed”
- “Old MEN of the Jewish Sanhedrin” “Officers in the congregation of the Jewish Synagogue”
Interestingly, one area that was intentionally left out of my last study, was the significant use of masculine names (“men,” “man,”) when defining presbuteros and episkopos. Since the purpose of that study was only to show that there is a difference between the three offices, these were omitted. However, from a lexical standpoint, it seems likely that both the “elder” and “bishop” were to be served by men. There is no dictionary definition from the era the New Testament was written that define these Greek words as being filled by “women.” This isn’t a “cultural” issue since the “men” were from both the believing “Jewish community“ (Jewish Sanhedrin, etc.) and the non-believing “Greek community” (Athenian statesmen, politicians). This further strengthens the case against gender neutral inclusion for an episkopos or presbuteros.
3. The lexical (dictionary) definition for “Aner” is limited to three possibilities
As with the preceding section, we must also understand what the meaning of the word translated “husband” (aner) was in the First Century. These meanings are:
- An adult human male (of full age and stature- as opposed to a child or female)
- A husband
- A human being, an individual; someone; a person, generally (in terms of address)
Interestingly, in all the lexicons consulted (around 12), the word aner never means a “female,” “woman,” etc., but can refer to “people in general.” On the other hand, it definitely refers to a “male” or a “husband.” The third definition shouldn’t be considered in Timothy or Titus, since the phrase “human being of one wife” makes no sense. “One wife husband,” or “one woman man” seem to be the clear interpretation of “aner.” Since the context refers to “children” (1 Tim. 3:4) a “wife” (v. 2) and a “house” (v. 4), the most logical and contextually consistent interpretation would be to translate “aner“ as “husband”. Therefore, the Greek phrase “mias gunaikos andra (aner)” should probably be translated “one wife husband.”
Why did Paul use a word that may not always be referring to a “male” (aner) rather than a word that always refers to a “man” (arsen - pronounced “Are-sane”)? Because arsen does not lexically mean “husband.” It seems that Paul was trying to convey both “maleness” and “marriedness” within the same word. Therefore, the best word he could have used is aner. Another word anthropos also means a “male”, but like arsen, doesn’t define the marital status as aner does. Understanding aner as being a “(male) husband” is a significant point buttressing the argument that a “bishop” must be a “ married man.”
There are 215 references for the word aner in the New Testament. Of these, about 40% do not have “contextual markers.” A “marker” is a word(s) the author uses in context to identify which lexical (dictionary) meaning he intends for the word in question. These 40% are translated in the general sense of “humanity,” “people,” etc. Interestingly, however, when aner is to be interpreted as a “man” or “husband”, there are contextual markers that support that understanding. The remaining 60% have at least one of the following contextual markers:
- NAME OF THE MAN: Mentioned in the immediate context (“Joseph”- Matt. 1:16; “Peter”- Luke 5:8; “Jairus”- Luke 8:41; “Zaccheus”- Luke 19:2; “Adam”- 1 Tim. 2:12; etc.).
- FEMALE GENDER WORDS: In contradistinction from “males” in the same context (“Aged Women”- Titus 2:5; “Woman”- 1 Cor. 11:7; etc.).
- MARRIAGE WORDS: Speak of a “male’s spouse” in contrast to himself (“Wife”- Mark 10:2, 12; “Wives”- Eph. 5:24,25; “Widows”- 1 Tim. 5:9; etc.).
- FAMILY WORDS: Referring to male/female relations and progeny (“Women and children”- Matt. 14:21/Mk 6:44; “Father”- Lk 9:38; etc.).
- REPRODUCTION WORDS: Contrasting a “male” with “female characteristics” (“Virginity”- Luke 2:36; “Adulteress”- Rom. 7:2; “adulterer”- Rom. 7:2,3; “Childbearing,“ etc.).
- CONTEXT: There are times when the context makes it explicitly clear that “males“ are being spoken of (“twelve disciples”- Acts 1:21; The “Apostles”- Acts 5:25; “seven deacons”- Acts 6:3; etc.).
In 1 Timothy 3:2 there are several contextual markers that identify that a “male” is being spoken of: “Wife” (3:2; “Childbearing” (2:15), and “Woman” (2:11,12,14). In Titus 1:5,6, there is the marker “Wife” present. This contextual evidence strongly implies that a “bishop” and “elder” should only be a “male.”
The words “one woman man” or “one wife husband” (mias gunaikos andra) is an interesting and unusual way to communicate this phrase. If Paul wanted to convey a married man, why didn’t he say “a bishop must be a man who is married”? When we look at the syntax (sentence structure) we see that he was describing the quality or character of the man as well as his marital status.
The Greek word for “woman” is gune, and refers to any adult female (including wives). The King James Version translates gune as "woman" 129 times and "wife" 92 times. In 1 Timothy 3:2, gune (gunaikos) is “in the genitive and therefore deals with attribution. It may refer to relationship or quality, for the genitive defines by attributing a quality or relationship to the noun which it modifies."
Tony Capoccia has made the following insightful comment regarding the genitive:
“This should not be considered a possessive genitive, for that would mean that the word in the genitive indicates one who owns or possesses the noun it modifies. In that case the translation would be "a man owned by one woman." Nor can this be considered as a genitive of relationship ("a man who has [possesses] one wife") for there is no indication within the phrase or context that that relationship is implied. It is best to understand this "gunaikos" as being a genitive of quality, that is, giving a characteristic to the noun it modifies.”
The noun andra is the accusative singular of aner. “This accusative functions here as an object of the main verb ‘be’ along with a long list of other accusative nouns and participles. Stated simply, the clause is ‘Therefore . . . an elder must be . . . a man . . .’ The words ‘one woman’ modify "man" to explain what kind, or to qualify the noun by attributing to him this character.” N.T. Greek scholar Robertson adds that genitive of quality (also called attributive genitive). ‘expresses quality like an adjective indeed, but with more sharpness and distinctness.’ “Since the other qualification in 1 Timothy 3 deal with the man's character and since the grammatical structure is more naturally consistent with this emphasis, it seems best to understand the phrase as meaning that he is a one-woman type of man” or “a one-wife type of husband”.
In conclusion, the unique way of expressing the phrase “one wife husband” was Paul’s method of representing the “character” of "the bishop" ("ton episkopon") as well as his marital status. Syntax doesn’t negate the lexical, contextual and comparative evidence that has already shown that aner also refers to a “male husband.” Rather, the syntax shows what KIND of a “husband” Paul is referring to. Scholar Getz makes the following observation: "Paul needed it very clear that an elder in the church was to be a 'one-wife man' — loyal to her and her alone." The emphasis of sentence structure shows that the “bishop” must be completely faithful to his wife, and emphasizes moral purity. The syntax does not change the marital or gender status that we have already affirmed; it only clarifies its quality.
The context of 1 Timothy 3:1,2 extends back into chapter two. The foundation of what Paul lays for the office of the episkopos, is rooted in the creation and fall account of Genesis two and three. The issue of “teaching” and “women keeping silence” is the subject of my next article, so I won’t address this interesting topic now. We see Paul addressing the “authority” of man over a “woman” for two reasons. First, “Adam was formed first” (v. 13). Second, “Adam was not deceived” (v. 14). Genesis two and three give us some clues of Adam’s role as the leader/head of his “home”:
- God gave Adam instructions on how to care for the Garden (2:15)
- God instructed Adam in regards to the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil
- Adam named all the living creatures (2:19,20)
- Adam named “the Woman” (2:23)
- Only after Adam ate the fruit, were their “eyes opened” (3:7)
- God called unto “Adam” first (3:9)
- Man shall leave parents, “cleave” unto his wife- a sign of protection, guardian
Interestingly, the roles of the episkopos and presbuteros are similar to those seen in Adam’s functions. The executive and administrative roles of the presbuteros are seen in Adam’s naming the animals, directing the custody of the garden, and naming of “the Woman”. The supervisory and investigative functions are seen in Adam’s role as the informant of God’s will concerning the Tree of Knowledge and man’s “leaving father and mother.” The second reason for man’s “authority” over “woman” was rooted in the statement “Adam was not deceived.” Adam momentarily “investigated” the matter in his mind and knew what was right. He chose to follow his wife, however, and sinned blatantly. His ability to discern the deception (while Eve did not) play a role in why Paul mentions that “Adam was not deceived.” However, most importantly, Paul’s foundation for 1 Timothy 3 is rooted in the Genesis creation and fall account, not culture.
Our overview of 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6 shows that a convincing biblical argument can be made for a “male” “elder” or “bishop”. Grammatical considerations showed that contextual nouns and adjectives are in the masculine, thus matching the genders for episkopos and presbuteros. The lexical considerations gave additional evidence that the offices of the episkopos and presbuteros, whether as “rulers of people, judges, statesmen, Sanhedrin, etc.”, were filled by “men.” Furthermore, the definition for aner (“husband”) supports a “male”/“husband” understanding over “humans in general.” A comparative study (using contextual markers) demonstrated that aner, when referring to a “male,” contains at least one each in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Titus 1:6. Further supporting the contention that Paul intended “males” to be the episkopos and presbuteros in the church. The syntactical considerations emphasizes the character of the “husband” while not negating the gender. Finally, the theological/contextual considerations shows that the office of episkopos (and by extension the presbuteros) are rooted in the creation and fall account, not in culture.
All references for this article are available in a PDF file. Download PDF here.
Several studies have concluded that there is a difference in the average number of words that men and women speak daily. Nancy and I have found this to be true in our own lives and in the lives of almost everyone we minister to. Last evening we went to our favorite Chinese restaurant for another round of fried bean curd and vegetables. As I was making the food disappear, my wife wanted to talk. Between my eating and checking the weather updates on my iPhone, I overheard my wife comment quietly, "You're fun tonight.." Uh-oh™. On the surface we were at a typical male-female roadblock. Nancy wanted to connect, and I wanted a bit of space to eat and plan our work for the rest of the week. Part of the fun of marriage (29-years) is that moments like this happen all the time, but we have learned how to navigate around them. She has learned how to listen better, and I have learned how to communicate beyond monosyllabic, caveman grunts.
The consensus between such relationship stalwarts as Dr. James Dobson, Dr. Gary Smalley, and more recently, Mark Gungor is that men speak about half of the words daily that their female counterparts do. “Not wrong, just different" as Emerson Eggrich says.
There are various reasons for this difference. When a woman is upset she generally needs to talk about it. Wise husbands recognizing this will lend a listening ear to their wives during such moments instead of thinking about how cool it would be to parachute off a skyscraper (umm…guilty).
On the flip side, when a man is troubled, we tend to go quiet or go ape, depending on the circumstances.
In 2007 researchers at the University of Pennsylvania conducted functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging scans to try to understand how men and women handle stress. Among the findings? Anxiety activates the "tend and befriend" reaction in women's limbic systems and the "fight or flight" response in men's prefrontal cortexes. Translation: Under pressure, women reach out, while guys go Rambo or clam up (1). I’m not a big fan of the “men are from Mars and women are from Kansas” or whatever that book was called, but I am a fan of the Bible, and the Scriptures tell us that men and women are fundamentally different in our created roles. And it’s a good thing.
"The brains of men and women, while similar in many ways, are more different than most scientists ever realized," says Larry Cahill, Ph.D., an associate at the University of California, where he researches emotion, memory, and the brain (2).
In spite of the evidence, there will always be modern-minded multitudes who don't want to believe that men & women are fundamentally different in our God-created cores (Pennebaker, Mehl, and CBS News itself). But hard truth is truth nonetheless and the hard truth is that we are different in a complimentary way. Guy’s brains have boxes, women have wires.
In 1996, I purchased the book Brain Sex for my library. Despite its provocative title, this informative book by David Jessel and Ann Moir helped me to understand what people like James Dobson and Gary Smalley already knew. Men and women tend to think differently. Not wrong, just different.
One benefit that some women derive from their wiring is the ability to utter those three little words—“I was wrong.” They may not admit it to men but they’ll admit it to others of their persuasion. Men have that ability too. Just not very often. The last man to use the “Sorry, I was wrong” box was Custer at Little Big Horn after he told his men, “Here they come boys. Don’t take any prisoners!” Oops. With God we can do better than that!
If I am focusing on my laptop at breakfast when Nancy wants to talk, she will feel frustrated/ignored. If she wants to tell me about a sister's emotional mood swings when I am reading Russell Sullivan's book on Rocky Marciano, I will feel like turning on the ceiling fan to blow some of the words out the windows. If I am waxing eloquent to my wife about the specific merits of polymeric isocyanates, it may cause her to have an out-of-body experience. What's the solution?
Quality over quantity. The solution is to learn how to communicate heart-to-heart. This takes less words (all the guys say YES!!) and the words have a heavier specific gravity, meaning they are worth more. This builds emotional intimacy (right here all the girls say "Yes!!"). So whether it is 20,000 words a day for women and 10,000 for the guys, or 16,000 words for the women and 8,000 for the guys—there are really only three words necessary for heart-to-heart communication. Are you ready?
“Are you happy?” “I need you” “I am lonely” “Can we pray?” “I love you” “We need Jesus” “There is hope” You are special “Let’s resolve this” “I was wrong” “Can I care?”
As you communicate on this deeper level beware of three bad words:
“Ready, aim, fire!” “I don’t care.” “Just shut up” “I won’t listen” “You are wrong” “I’m usually right” “What an idiot” “All about me…” “Get a life!” “I’m in charge” “Got my rights!”
So instead of counting words, smart couples will count the cost, count their blessings and count on God. That will give our words life, and most importantly quality over quantity.
- Corporate Wellness Magazine, “It’s all in your Head” Jason Krausert and Donna Tosky, May 2011
- Scientific American, May 2005
Last year, the world's media were abuzz with stories of the “Arab Spring,” a revolt against autocratic rulers that swept across the Arab world from west to east. The revolt started in Tunisia, with the overthrow of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, then spread to Libya, where Muammar Gaddafi was ousted in an armed revolt, and swept on through Egypt, where Hosni Mubarak was removed from power. The Arab Spring sparked protests in many other Arab countries, led to an ongoing and very bloody civil war in Syria, as many sought to oust second-generation dictator Bashar al-Assad, and led to a relatively peaceful change of government in Yemen. This year, the Seventh-day Adventist Church is witnessing its own “Arab Spring” over the role of women in the church. Because of clear apostolic guidance, most churches with a high view of Scripture, including the Seventh-day Adventist Church, historically have not ordained women. The world church in General Conference session has twice voted against the ordination of women, first at Indianapolis, in 1990, and again at Utrecht, in 1995. But church officials in North America and elsewhere have nevertheless pushed to hire female pastors, and have promoted a form of ordination for female pastors, “commissioning,” that is ceremonially indistinguishable from the ordination of male pastors. Finally, they have sought to erase any meaningful distinction between commissioning and ordination, which brings us to the genesis of the current revolt.
This past October, the North American Division Executive Committee, for the third year in a row, voted for a policy change that would allow commissioned pastors to be elected to the office of conference president. This policy change is out of harmony with General Conference Working Policy. NAD president Dan Jackson was informed that the NAD does not have the authority to vote for or establish policies that conflict with GC Working Policy or the GC Model Constitution. This was confirmed by the NAD's legal counsel in an an opinion letter issued on January 3, 2012, which noted that the NAD does not have a constituency. The Church later made clear that the divisions, including the North American Division, do not form a separate layer of church governance, but are essentially administrative territories or sub-divisions of the General Conference.
In a January 31 letter to the NAD Executive Committee, Elder Jackson reiterated his commitment to placing women in the headship role of conference president, and called for more work to bring that about:
“While we, as a Division family, have philosophically supported women in leadership in three successive Year-End Meetings, the time has now come for us to become more practical in our application of philosophy and belief. . . . We must also develop intentional methods of mentoring women who can take on executive leadership positions within our conferences.”
Elder Jackson went on to lament that there are so few female pastors in North America (only 107 out of approximately 4,000 pastors), his implicit assumption being that the church should be moving toward a pastorate more evenly divided between the sexes.
Mid-American Union Conference President Thomas Lemon is on the NAD Executive Committee, and on March 8, while he was explaining to his own executive committee why the NAD's vote to allow women to become conference presidents was reversed, the Mid-America Union Executive Committee decided to vote, then and there, “to support the ordination of women in the Mid-America Union.” This was followed, on March 15, by the Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee voting to “reaffirm its commitment to the ordination of women,” and, on March 20, by the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee voting to reaffirm its previous request to ordain women. On March 22, the Southeastern California Conference Executive Committee voted to issue only one credential, “ordained,” to all of its pastors regardless of gender, effectively retroactively ordaining all commissioned female pastors. On March 29, the Southern Union Executive Committee stated that, while they would not take an action contrary to the policy of the world church, they were “actively supporting, encouraging, and empowering women in all areas of ministry including . . . conference and union leadership . . .” On April 23, the North German Union voted to amend its constitution to end gender discrimination in ordination.
On May 9, the Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee voted to hold, on August 19, a special constituency session to authorize ordination without regard to gender distinction. On May 15, the Atlantic Union Conference Executive Committee voted a statement almost identical to that voted by the Southern Union, supporting the ordination of women, but declining to take any action contrary to world church policy. On May 17, the Columbia Union Conference Executive Committee took an action essentially identical to that taken by the Pacific Union, voting to hold, on July 29, a special constituency meeting “for the purpose of authorizing ordination to the gospel ministry without regard to gender.” Also on May 17, the North Pacific Union Conference Executive Committee voted “to appoint an ad hoc committee to create specific recommendations on how to fully integrate committed and called Adventist women into all levels of church leadership within the NPUC territory.”
It is important to emphasize just how this Adventist “Arab Spring” began: It began not over the ordination of women, per se, but over the North American Division's attempt to amend the “E-60” policy to allow women to serve as conference presidents. The issue is female headship in the SDA Church at the level of conference president and higher. Elder Jackson's letter made this clear, as have several of the statements issued by the various executive committees. So we can now put to one side such issues as the meaning of ordination, whether ordination is biblical, whether there is a role for women in ministry, whether women can serve as tithe-paid pastors, etc. None of these is the issue that now confronts us. The issue that has crystallized is female headship in the Adventist Church at the level of conference president and higher.
Even those unions--like the Southern and the Atlantic--that acknowledged and deferred to the authority of the world church nevertheless voiced support for women in headship roles. With a couple of exceptions, the executive committees have not offered any theological or biblical justification for their actions. Female headship has been treated as an organizational or administrative issue, not a doctrinal issue. This is perhaps not surprising, because although the Bible has much to say about the roles of the sexes, the Seventh-day Adventist Church has had little to say; we have not formulated a doctrine of sex roles. But the present crisis demonstrates that it is now necessary to do so; neglect is no longer an option. As a church, we need to familiarize ourselves with what Scripture teaches about sex roles.
Scripture specifies male headship in the Christian church. God the Son, Jesus Christ, was incarnated in the form of a male, and Christ is the head of the church. The Twelve Disciples chosen by Jesus were all men. Mat. 10:2-4; Mark 3:13-19; Luke 6:12-19. When lots were cast to replace Judas Iscariot, both of the candidates were men. Acts 1:12-23. When deacons were chosen to perform some of the practical tasks of the church, the seven appointed to the office of deacon were men. Acts. 6:1-7. Both the office of episkopēs (“bishop” or “overseer”) and deacon are described as male offices, to be filled by sober men who are the husband of only one wife, and capable husbands, fathers, and heads of their families. 1 Tim. 3; Titus 1:5-9. In 1 Timothy 3, Paul makes clear that capable leadership of the family is a prerequisite to leadership in the church: “He must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)” And Paul elsewhere makes clear that the husband is the head of the home. Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Peter 3:1. Since the husband is the head of the home, and successful headship in the home is a prerequisite to headship in the church, it follows that headship in the church is also reserved for men.
Not only are leadership offices reserved for males, a submissive, non-headship role is specified for women. “As in all the congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.” 1 Cor. 14:33-35. “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.” 1 Tim. 2:11-14. Even a very relaxed application of these passages upholds the principle of male headship in the church.
These scriptural principles are too clear to need elaboration, which perhaps is why the Seventh-day Adventist Church has never bothered to articulate a “fundamental belief” regarding male headship in the church. Another reason may be sheepishness over the prominent role played by Ellen White in the founding of the denomination. Proponents of women in headship roles argue that the prophetic authority exercised by Ellen White sets aside, by implication, the patriarchal church governance specified in the New Testament. But female prophets were common in biblical times---Miriam (Ex. 15:20-21), Deborah (Judges 4:4), Huldah (2 Kings 22:14)---and in fact there were New Testament-era female prophets, such as Anna (Luke 2:36) and the daughters of Philip (Acts 21:8-9), who would have been well known to the Apostle Paul. Yet Paul nevertheless gave clear instruction that leadership roles in the church were reserved for men. Neither Paul nor any of the other Bible-writers hint that the existence of female prophets suggested a non-patriarchal organization for the Christian Church.
The most common argument in favor of women in headship roles is that, in the Bible era, society was organized along patriarchal lines (patriarchy = “rule of fathers”), and in order to conform to the culture of that time, Scripture specified that the Christian Church would also be patriarchal in organization. Today, however, society is less and less patriarchal, and the church may properly reflect today's cultural realities. After all, Paul frequently told slaves to obey their masters (Eph. 6:5-8; Col. 3:22-25; Titus 2:9-10), but this is not interpreted as an apostolic mandate that all societies should embrace the institution of slavery. Likewise, just because Paul specified male headship in the church of his time and culture does not mean that all societies must embrace the restrictive prerogatives of patriarchy. Scripture's mandate was culturally conditional, and our culture is different.
This reasonable-sounding argument runs afoul of the fact that male headship in the church is based upon the order of creation and the history of the Fall: “For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.” 1 Tim. 2:13-14. These facts of history are never going to change, hence the biblical rationale for male headship in the church does not rest on the shifting sands of culture. Obviously, there is no comparable biblical statement basing slavery on the order of creation or the history of the fall, so there is no legitimate comparison between slavery and patriarchy.
It is certainly true, however, that the move toward female headship in the SDA Church is being driven by cultural changes in what is referred to as the developed world or the “first world.” The “executive committees” involved in the Adventist Arab Spring have felt little need of a biblical rationale for their actions, but no need whatsoever to critically re-examine the cultural trends that are driving their actions. The members of these executive committees tend to be practical people who know how to operate within the prevailing cultural/legal complex of mores, laws, rules and regulations. Such people excel at running enterprises and organizations, but are unsuited to the task of critically examining the culture in which they operate. And the question of whether the SDA Church should bend to the dominant culture or resist it turns on a broad overview of cultural trends.
In the biblical-patriarchal form of sexual-social organization, the family, not the individual, is the basic unit of society, and legitimate sexual expression is restricted to opposite-sex married couples. Since the “sexual revolution” of the late 1960s/early 1970s, however, Western elites have promoted a post-patriarchal form of sexual-social organization in which the basic unit of society is the individual, not the family, and legitimate sexual expression encompasses anything consenting adults can think of to do with each other. These two different forms of sexual-social organization have very different ideas about the sexes, about proper sexual conduct, and about what is just and unjust. A contrasting summary of the assumptions and attributes of the two systems follows.
|Attributes and assumptions of Biblical-patriarchal culture:||Attributes and assumptions of Post-patriarchal culture:|
|1. The Sexes, and the differences between the sexes||God created us male and female. (Gen. 1:27; Mat. 19:4-5; Mark 10:5-9) The very significant differences between the sexes are part of the created order, and not something we should strive to efface. These differences mean that men are better suited than women to certain roles and tasks, and women are better suited than men to certain roles and tasks.||Except for their obvious physiological differences, men and women are the same. Persistent non-physical differences between men and women are the product of culture; they are not innate.|
|2. Sexuality, and the difference between male and female sexuality||Men and women have very different sex drives. Male sexuality can be problematic, even destructive. (2 Sam. 11, 12; 1 Kings 11:1-13) An important goal of Christian patriarchy is to curb the negative potential of ungoverned male sexuality, and to channel male sexual energy into monogamous (1 Tim. 3:2; Titus 1:6), heterosexual marriages, that build families, societies, and civilizations (see 7 & 8, below).||Men and women are the same in their sexual drives. Women are just as likely as men to want casual sex with multiple partners, and men are just as likely as women to want to marry and raise children.|
|3. Marriage||Men and women need each other in long-term relationship in order to live the fullest, happiest, and most productive lives. It is not good that man should be alone. (Gen. 2:18; Heb. 13:4) A happy marriage is an important goal for all, and young people, 19 or 20 years old, are old enough to get married. Marriage is intended to last until death. (Mat. 19:6-9; Mark 10:2-12; Luke 16:18)||Traditional heterosexual marriage is one option for sexual expression, but not the only legitimate option, nor the socially preferred condition. People should probably postpone marriage until they are fully educated and in their late 20s (and it is obviously unreasonable to expect chastity for the first 15 years after puberty). Marriage should last as long as both parties are happy, and no longer; during the sexual revolution, no-fault divorce was adopted in all states, meaning that either party could end the marriage at any time, for any reason or no reason. More recently, same-sex “marriage” has been enacted in several jurisdictions.|
|4. Raising Children||Men and women each bring something unique and irreplaceable to the rearing of children. The man's biological role in producing children is trivial, but he makes up for that by providing protection and support for the woman. The woman is a nurturer and has a greater role in the raising of infants and young children. (Isaiah 49:15; 1 Kings 3:16-28) When a wife gets pregnant, she reduces her participation in the money economy in order to concentrate on her physically and emotionally demanding role in bearing and raising the child, whereas the husband increases his participation in the money economy so as to be able to fulfill his complementary role of protector and provider.||Because men and women are not different in any meaningful respect, it doesn't matter who raises children. Two daddies or two mommies are as good as a mother and a father. Even a single mother is just as good as two parents. Discrimination in adoption in favor of married heterosexual couples has been outlawed in many jurisdictions; Catholic adoption agencies in several jurisdictions have closed because they can no longer discriminate in favor married heterosexual couples.|
|5. Out-of-wedlock Births||Stigmatized and frowned upon in patriarchal societies, because they are the product of illegitimate sexual activity, and also because complementary, opposite-sex parents are viewed as crucial to successful child-rearing. (Deut. 23:2)||Because there is nothing wrong with sexual activity outside of marriage, and because a single parent can raise a child as effectively as an opposite sex couple, there is no stigma whatsoever attached to childbirth outside of marriage. In the U.S., 40% of births, and the majority of births to women under the age of 30, are out of wedlock). If anything, there is now a stigma attached to disapproval of what used to be called illegitimate births and bastard children.|
|6. Sexual behavior||Legitimate sexual expression is limited to opposite-sex married couples. Adultery is proscribed. (Ex. 20:14; Mat. 5:27-28) Unmarried heterosexual sex is proscribed. (Mat. 5:32; 15:19; Mark 7:21; Acts 15:20; 1 Cor. 7:2; Gal. 5:19) Homosexuality is proscribed (Lev. 18:22; 20:13), and widespread open homosexual conduct is a sign of the removal of God's Spirit (Rom. 1:18-27) and even cause for immediate, supernatural judgment. (Gen. 18:16-19:29)||Between consenting adults, anything goes. Homosexuality is fine; pre-marital and extra-marital sex are fine. Since age and consent are the only guidelines, sexual expression is discouraged in situations that raise the possibility that consent is not genuine, such as when one party has power over another by reason of economic or social circumstances. Laws against workplace sexual harassment, and against sex within various relationships of trust, have multiplied pari passu with the acceptance of extra-marital sexual activity.|
|7. Female virtue-chastity||This is highly prized and protected in truly patriarchal cultures. The father is the protector of his daughter's virtue until she is married, after which her husband is her protector. The desire of husbands, fathers, and brothers to protect the virtue of their female relatives puts an important check on voracious and variety-driven male sexual appetite; it protects women from the worst male impulses. (Gen. 34)||This is viewed as quaint, if not actually oppressive. It is a woman's prerogative to be as sexually active and adventurous as a man, if not more so.|
|8. Female economic independence||This is not a value in patriarchal systems, because fathers are expected to support their daughters, and husbands are expected to support their wives. Fathers typically demand that their daughters' suitors be able to support their daughters; as a result, young men are forced, in order to gain sexual access to a woman, to channel their energy into hard work and economic success. (Gen. 29:16-30)||Very highly prized in the post-patriarchal sexual-social order. Economic independence, they are told, means freedom from male domination; it means that women don't need to get married for the wrong reasons, but can wait for “Mr. Right.” (A darker reason, seldom mentioned in polite society, is that a large cohort of single, self-supporting women creates a large pool of potential partners whom men can sexually exploit without being expected to financially support; Hugh Hefner was an early and constant supporter of “women's lib,” or equal economic opportunities for women. Moreover, when a woman is economically as powerful as a man with whom she has sex, the genuineness of consent is not usually in question, and, again, consent is the sole criterion of legitimate sexual expression between adults.)|
|9. Gender fairness and economic justice||Men and women have different roles and functions and perform different jobs. Not all jobs open to men are also open to women, and vice versa. Since the basic unit of organization is the family, not the individual, as long as jobs and other economic opportunities are open to all families on an equal basis, the fairness/justice element is met.||Because the basic unit of society is the individual, not the family, and it is not assumed that most adults will be, or will have been, married to a person of the opposite sex, family opportunity is irrelevant. Every individual, whether male or female, should be eligible for every job. Gender-based discrimination in employment has been almost universally outlawed (clergy being a rare exception). Any job that men do, women should also be encouraged to do, even to the extreme of putting women in military combat. (Again, in the post-patriarchal system, this isn't just an issue of fairness and justice; it is critical to the logic of the system to have a large cohort of women who are self-supporting and can freely consent to sexual activity.)|
|10. Headship||Headship, in the home (Eph. 5:22-33; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Peter 3:1) and in the church (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1:5-9), is a male prerogative, but it is servant-leadership, to be exercised in a Christlike, self-sacrificing manner. (Eph. 5:25-33).||For the dwindling few who choose to get married, the marriage should be a 50/50 partnership; there is no “headship” in marriage. In society, women should be in leadership roles as frequently as men. Since there are actually more women than men in the church, there should be at least as many women as men in church leadership, preferably more.|
If one reads down the column, it becomes apparent that each culture has an internal logic and consistency; there is a coherent rationale behind each. And if one reads across the columns, it becomes apparent how sharply each culture conflicts with the other. (Obviously, neither the United States nor any other developed country is purely patriarchal or purely post-patriarchal; rather, they are at points along a continuum. In the mid-20th Century, most were still largely patriarchal societies, but for the last 40 years, they have been rapidly transitioning into post-patriarchal societies, although that transition is not complete.)
The Bible's values with regard to sexuality are part and parcel of the patriarchal system, but are rejected by the post-patriarchal system. Obviously, then, the Seventh-day Adventist Church should not view the fact that female headship is demanded by post-patriarchal culture as a point in its favor, but rather as a compelling argument against it. If we reject biblically prescribed male headship in the church on the basis that biblical culture was patriarchal but modern culture is post-patriarchal, we are consenting to be ruled by a neo-pagan culture, the sexual norms of which are anathema to biblical values. If we accept the foundational assumptions of post-patriarchal culture, we render irrational and unsustainable the entire complex of biblical prescriptions and proscriptions relating to human sexuality.
Christian patriarchy need not apologize to women. Wherever the gospel has taken root, the social, legal, and spiritual status of women has been elevated. Consider the position of women in Christian cultures versus their position in Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Shinto, Confucian, or other Eastern cultures. But whereas Christianity elevates women, post-patriarchal culture devalues femininity and female attributes. Created sex differences are downplayed, dismissed, despised, and denied. Post-patriarchy has contempt for women who embrace family and motherhood as their first and highest priorities; it denies that there is anything unique or extraordinary about women, insisting that women are just like men, except for the plumbing.
Moreover, an unspoken but obvious aspect of post-patriarchal culture is the enabling of immature male sexual instinct by creating a huge pool of self-supporting women whom men can sexually exploit without commitment or financial responsibility. Instead of ennobling men by demanding that they become responsible husbands and fathers, it degrades women by demanding that they shorten their own sexual horizons, and knuckle under to male patterns of sexuality.
Denominations that have embraced female headship are coasting toward oblivion. Liberal Presbyterians began ordaining women to the ministry in 1956, and by 2001 there were almost as many women as men in the PCUSA clergy. But the Presbyterians have witnessed a 40 year decline in membership. In 1968, there were over 4 million members, or almost 2 % of the U.S. Population; today membership hovers around 2 million, or about 0.6 % of the U.S. Population. Their membership was halved and their percentage of the population was reduced by more than two thirds. The United Methodists also began ordaining women to ministry in 1956, and first ordained a female bishop in 1980. Their U.S. membership has declined every year since 1968, from around 11 million (5% of the population) to 7.8 million (2.5% of the current population). The Episcopal Church began ordaining female priests in 1974. Their American membership has declined from about 3.2 million to about 1.95 million. Promoting female headship in the church is not the path to church growth and cultural relevance; it is the path to irrelevance and extinction.
The liberal churches that have embraced female headship have also embraced (or are in the process of embracing) homosexuality, as witness the confirmation of openly gay Bishop V. Gene Robinson in the Episcopal Church in 2003. Why? Because the culture of post-patriarchy is opposed to the entire corpus of biblical directives relating to sex, sexuality, and gender, and once a denomination has placed post-patriarchal culture above Scripture, the biblical rules will all eventually be jettisoned. It is also important to note that no church adopted female headship until after it had made peace with Darwinism and rejected a literal reading of the Genesis narrative. We have seen that Paul grounded male headship in the church upon a literal understanding of the story of the creation and the Fall. 1 Tim. 2:11-14. Patriarchy is part of the created order, if we understand the creation narrative literally. Liberal activists, unlike many serving on the “executive committees,” well know that these issues are all connected, which is why Spectrum divides its time about equally among: 1) agitating for female headship, 2) arguing for normalization of homosexuality, and 3) promoting Darwinism. They understand that these three issues are inextricably bound together.
Last year's “Arab Spring” was a disaster for American and Western interests; in every case, a more secular autocrat was replaced, or is in the process of being replaced, by a more Islamic government that embraces the sharia ideology of the Muslim Brotherhood and its ideological offspring, Al Qaeda. This year's Adventist Arab Spring will prove just as disastrous for the Seventh-day Adventist Church, because it signals a willingness to thoughtlessly embrace the cultural imperatives of post-patriarchy, in derogation of clear Bible truth.