Monday, November 15, 2010

Roles of the Sexes

We have, in the last post, laid out that an equal may submit to another equal - a point made very clear in the Godhead. But that men and women may be equal and have separate roles is rather unimportant, unless men and women actually do have a mandate for different roles.

Unfortunately to many, this is very clear:
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father. Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart. Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.

(Col 3:17-24 -emphasis mine)
Does the idea that a wife should submit to her husband bring up some anger in your heart? Probably. Human beings are rebelious things. Even when Satan is locked in prison for 1000 years, people will rebel against God. Not because they doubt God's holiness, fairness and power - that will be abundantly clear. Because there is something fundamental about rebellion in the nature of all sin. It is the pride of life which causes all sin. Pride's firstborn is rebellion. Satan said he would be like God because he was proud. He rebelled. Adam and Eve saw they could be like gods and they rebelled. In the millenium, we will still cry out: "We will not have this man to rule over us! (see Luke 19:11-27 for a parable on the consequences of rebellion)"

But, submission is godly. We are all to submit to God, just as Jesus submitted to the Father. In a slave based society, slaves were to submit to their masters - if slavery were still lawful, God would still demand slaves submit to their masters. Today, wives are still to submit to their husbands. Employees are to submit to their employers. Whatever we do, we are to do wholeheartedly, because God will reward us based on how well we handle the responsibilities of our station.

"Stop beating around the bush, Justin. Tell us what the responsibilities are."

Okay, okay. But you asked.

Men are to be the religious teachers.

A woman must quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet. For it was Adam who was first created, and then Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. But women will be preserved through the bearing of children if they continue in faith and love and sanctity with self-restraint.

(1Ti 2:11-15)
If ever a passage needed explanation, it is the end of this one. But the beginning is very simple: women may not have teaching authority over a man. In context, quietly is not to be taken as not speaking, but as not teaching men herself. Women may have teaching authority over children and other women, but not men. Where then comes the apparently cryptic reference to Adam and Eve and something strange abour bearing children?

I ask you to recall the Garden of Eden. Eve sinned first and was deceived. Adam was not deceived and sinned intentionally (his sin was worse). God then placed a curse which has caused all creation to 'groan' ever since. The curses on Eve and the serpant are the relevant parts here:

And I will put enmity Between you and the woman, And between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, And you shall bruise him on the heel." To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you."

(Gen 3:15-16)
In pain women bore children and in pain Mary brought forth Jesus. The seed of the serpent bruised the Child of Woman on the heel - a painful experience. But the Child bruised the serpent on the head - a lethal one. Jesus Christ was the child of woman only - born of a virgin. So while women are subject to their husbands because of Eve's sin, women alone have claim to bringing the solution to sin into the world, who slew death (1 Corinthians 15:54-58). She, if she is faithful, is then saved through childbearing indeed!

The second part of the curse, that a woman's desire would be for her husband, is not sexual in nature. It refers to the desire of women to teach, to usurp their husband's authority. A woman not willing to submit is simply acting in the same rebellious spirit which the curse of sin brings. We then see where the teaching authority of man comes from and why a woman may not hold it in church. A woman may not be a pastor for this very reason. The ordination of women is a product of caving to the curse of sin.

This does not exempt women from learning! Christ and his followers disagreed sharply with what the arrogant Jewish Rabbis said at the time: "a woman should know nothing but the use of her distaff." A woman is to learn and be as capable in the faith as any, able to witness and teach in private. Paul clearly commands women to learn, even as he prohibits them from teaching.
Wives are to Submit to their Husbands.

This has already been discussed, but I return briefly to qualify it. Wives are not to submit to their husbands if their husband commands them to sin. The Bible also commands that we submit to government, but we are expected to engage in peaceful protest if asked to sin (see Daniel). Children are to submit to their parents, but if they sin on their parent's orders, they are accountable (see Joshua 7). So a wife is free from this responsibility if her husband leads her to violate the Bible's commands.

Further, the husband who sees this authority he is granted and is prideful of it has an analog we are almost all familiar with. Imagine the quarterback who points at himself when he makes a touchdown and dances in victory. Because he is the 'leader' of the team, did he make it to the end-zone alone? No, he had the support of an entire team. So it is with husbands and wives. More on this will be found in the quotation from Proverbs at the end of this post.

Husbands are to Provide for their Family.

But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

(1Ti 5:8)
Paul is plain here. He is also very harsh. This requires little elaboration. As a husband is accountable for his family being provided for, it must be of primary concern to him. Does this mean husbands are not to do anything but work? No, of course not. The passage here is strictly a positive command, not a prohibition. But if their family's needs are not met, they have sinned.

Women are to care for their household.

Therefore, I want younger widows to get married, bear children, keep house, and give the enemy no occasion for reproach;
(1Ti 5:14)
Note that while Paul speaks of widows here, his comments may be extrapolated to all women without error. 'Keep house' does not mean 'clean' in the common sense, but to manage the household affairs. Then do we forbid women from working? No, the same as a man, she may extend beyond this list (but not into preaching or teaching authority). But if this sphere is neglected because of it, she has sinned as well.  So a woman may work and a man may keep house, but only if their own proper sphere is not neglected because of it. It is in that station they will be judged.

There are of course many more responsibilities for each sex, but these are the Biblical basics. In closing, on the subject of women working outside the home and on men lording over their wives cruelly, I share with you the wisdom of Solomon:

An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, And he will have no lack of gain. She does him good and not evil All the days of her life. She looks for wool and flax And works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships; She brings her food from afar. She rises also while it is still night And gives food to her household And portions to her maidens. She considers a field and buys it; From her earnings she plants a vineyard. She girds herself with strength And makes her arms strong. She senses that her gain is good; Her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, And her hands grasp the spindle. She extends her hand to the poor, And she stretches out her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household, For all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes coverings for herself; Her clothing is fine linen and purple. Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land. She makes linen garments and sells them, And supplies belts to the tradesmen. Strength and dignity are her clothing, And she smiles at the future. She opens her mouth in wisdom, And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue. She looks well to the ways of her household, And does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; Her husband also, and he praises her, saying: "Many daughters have done nobly, But you excel them all." Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, But a woman who fears the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her the product of her hands, And let her works praise her in the gates.

(Pro 31:10-31)

Vaya con Dios, until the next time!

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