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Evangelical Feminism & Biblical TruthAn Analysis of More Than One Hundred Disputed Questions
By Wayne Grudem
Multnomah Publishers, Inc.Copyright © 2004 Wayne Grudem
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Biblical Vision of Manhood and Womanhood as Created by God
Most of this book contains answers to 118 claims that have come from evangelical feminism. But before I can interact with those claims, I must first present a clear statement of what I stand for. Just what is a "complementarian" view of biblical manhood and womanhood? How does it work in the home and in the church?
In this chapter, I consider six key issues related to a complementarian view of men and women in creation and in marriage. In the next chapter, I present a complementarian view of men and women in the church.
KEY ISSUE #1: Men and Women are Equal in Value and Dignity
On the first page of the Bible we read that both men and women are "in the image of God." In fact, the very first verse that tells us that God created human beings also tells us that both "male and female" are in the image of God:
So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. (Genesis 1:27)
To be in the image of God is an incredible privilege. It means to be like God and to represent God. No other creatures inall of creation, not even the powerful angels, are said to be in the image of God. It is a privilege given only to us as men and women.
Any discussion of manhood and womanhood in the Bible must start here. Every time we talk to each other as men and women, we should remember that the person we are talking to is a creature of God who is more like God than anything else in the universe, and men and women share that status equally. Therefore we should treat men and women with equal dignity and we should think of men and women as having equal value. We are both in the image of God, and we have been so since the very first day that God created us. "In the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27). Nowhere does the Bible say that men are more in God's image than women. Men and women share equally in the tremendous privilege of being in the image of God.
The Bible thus corrects the errors of male dominance and male superiority that have come as the result of sin and that have been seen in nearly all cultures in the history of the world. Wherever men are thought to be better than women, wherever husbands act as selfish "dictators," wherever wives are forbidden to have their own jobs outside the home or to vote or to own property or to be educated, wherever women are treated as inferior, wherever there is abuse or violence against women or rape or female infanticide or polygamy or harems, the biblical truth of equality in the image of God is being denied. To all societies and cultures where these things occur, we must proclaim that the very first page of God's Word bears a fundamental and irrefutable witness against these evils.
Yet we can say even more. If men and women are equally in the image of God, then we are equally important and equally valuable to God. We have equal worth before Him for all eternity, for this is how we were created. This truth should exclude all our feelings of pride or inferiority, and should exclude any idea that one sex is better or worse than the other. In contrast to many non-Christian cultures and religions, no one should feel proud or superior because he is a man, and no one should feel disappointed or inferior because she is a woman. If God thinks us to be equal in value, then that settles forever the question of personal worth, for God's evaluation is the true standard of personal value for all eternity.
Further evidence of our equality in the image of God is seen in the New Testament church, where the Holy Spirit is given in new fullness to both men and women (Acts 2:17-18), where both men and women are baptized into membership in the body of Christ (Acts 2:41), and where both men and women receive spiritual gifts for use in the life of the church (1 Corinthians 12:7, 11; 1 Peter 4:10). The apostle Paul reminds us that we are not to be divided into factions that think of themselves as superior and inferior (such as Jew and Greek, or slave and free, or male and female), but rather that we should think of ourselves as united because we "are all one in Christ Jesus" (Galatians 3:28).
Whenever husbands and wives do not listen respectfully and thoughtfully to each other's viewpoints, do not value the wisdom that might be arrived at differently and expressed differently from the other person, or do not value the other person's different gifts and preferences as much as their own, they neglect this teaching on equality in the image of God.
Speaking personally for a moment, I do not think I listened very well to my wife, Margaret, early in our marriage. I did not value her different gifts and preferences as much as my own, or her wisdom that was arrived at differently (often, it seemed, quickly and instinctively) and that she expressed differently from how I expressed things. Later we made much progress in this area, but, looking back, Margaret told me that early in our marriage it felt as though her voice was taken away, and as though my ears were closed. I wonder if there are other couples where God needs to open the husband's ears to listen, and needs to restore the wife's voice to speak.
A healthy perspective on the way that equality manifests itself in marriage was summarized as part of a "Marriage and Family Statement" issued by Campus Crusade for Christ in July of 1999. After three paragraphs discussing both equality and differences between men and women, the statement says:
In a marriage lived according to these truths, the love between husband and wife will show itself in listening to each other's viewpoints, valuing each other's gifts, wisdom, and desires, honoring one another in public and in private, and always seeking to bring benefit, not harm, to one another.
Why do I list this as a key issue in the manhood-womanhood controversy? Not because we differ with egalitarians on this question, but because we differ at this point with sinful tendencies in our own hearts and with the oppressive male chauvinism and male dominance that has marred most cultures throughout most of history.
Anyone preaching or teaching on manhood and womanhood has to start here-where the Bible starts-not with our differences, but with our equality in the image of God.
If you're a pastor and you don't start here in your preaching on biblical manhood and womanhood, affirming our equality in the image of God, you simply will not get a hearing from many people in your church. And if you don't start here, your heart won't be right on this issue.
There is yet one more reason why I think this is a key issue, one that speaks especially to men. I personally think that one reason God has allowed this controversy on manhood and womanhood to come into the church at this time is so that we could correct some mistakes, change some wrongful traditions, and become more faithful to Scripture in treating our wives and all women with dignity and respect. The first step in correcting these mistakes is to be fully convinced in our hearts that women share equally with us men in the value and dignity that belongs to being made in the image of God.
Key Issue #2: Men and Women Have Different Roles in Marriage as Part of the Created Order
When the members of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood wrote the "Danvers Statement" in 1987, we included the following affirmations:
1. Both Adam and Eve were created in God's image, equal before God as persons and distinct in their manhood and womanhood. 2. Distinctions in masculine and feminine roles are ordained by God as part of the created order, and should find an echo in every human heart.
3. Adam's headship in marriage was established by God before the Fall, and was not a result of sin.
The statement adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention in June 1998 and affirmed (with one additional paragraph) by Campus Crusade in July 1999 also acknowledges God-given differences:
The husband and wife are of equal worth before God, since both are created in God's image. The marriage relationship models the way God relates to his people. A husband is to love his wife as Christ loved the church. He has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family. A wife is to submit herself graciously to the servant leadership of her husband even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. She, being in the image of God as is her husband and thus equal to him, has the God-given responsibility to respect her husband and serve as his helper in managing the household and nurturing the next generation.
By contrast, egalitarians do not affirm such created differences. In fact, the statement on "Men, Women and Biblical Equality" published by Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) says:
1. The Bible teaches that both man and woman were created in God's image, had a direct relationship with God, and shared jointly the responsibilities of bearing and rearing children and having dominion over the created order (Gen. 1:26-28).
5. The Bible teaches that the rulership of Adam over Eve resulted from the Fall and was, therefore, not a part of the original created order....
10. The Bible defines the function of leadership as the empowerment of others for service rather than as the exercise of power over them (Matt. 20:25-28, 23:8; Mark 10:42-45; John 13:13-17; Gal. 5:13; 1 Pet. 5:2-3).
11. The Bible teaches that husbands and wives are heirs together of the grace of life and that they are bound together in a relationship of mutual submission and responsibility (1 Cor. 7:3-5; Eph. 5:21; 1 Pet. 3:1-7; Gen. 21:12). The husband's function as "head" (kephale) is to be understood as self-giving love and service within this relationship of mutual submission (Eph. 5:21-33; Col. 3:19; 1 Pet. 3:7).
So which position is right? Does the Bible really teach that men and women had different roles from the beginning of Creation?
When we look carefully at Scripture, we can see at least ten arguments indicating that God gave men and women distinct roles before the Fall, and particularly, that there was male headship in marriage before the Fall.
A. Ten arguments showing male headship in marriage before the Fall
1. The order: Adam was created first, then Eve (note the sequence in Genesis 2:7 and Genesis 2:18-23). We may not think of this as very important today, but it was important to the original readers of this text, and the apostle Paul sees it as important: he bases his argument for different roles in the assembled New Testament church on the fact that Adam was created prior to Eve. He says, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man.... For Adam was formed first, then Eve" (1 Timothy 2:12-13).
According to Scripture itself, then, the fact that Adam was created first and then Eve has implications not just for Adam and Eve, but for the relationships between men and women throughout the church age.
2. The representation: Adam, not Eve, had a special role in representing the human race.
Looking at the Genesis narrative, we find that Eve sinned first, and then Adam sinned: "She took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate" (Genesis 3:6). Since Eve sinned first, we might expect that the New Testament would tell us that we inherit a sinful nature because of Eve's sin, or that we are counted guilty because of Eve's sin. But this is not the case. The New Testament does not say, "as in Eve all die," but rather, "For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive" (1 Corinthians 15:22).
This is further seen in the parallel between Adam and Christ, where Paul views Christ as the "last Adam":
Thus it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.... The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.... Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven. (1 Corinthians 15:45-49; see also Romans 5:12-21, where another relationship between Adam and Christ is developed.)
It is unmistakable then that Adam had a leadership role in representing the entire human race, a leadership role that Eve did not have. Nor did Adam and Eve together represent the human race. Adam alone represented the human race, because he had a particular leadership role that God had given him, a role Eve did not share.
3. The naming of woman: When God made the first woman and "brought her to the man," the Bible tells us, "Then the man said,
"'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.'" (Genesis 2:23)
When Adam says, "she shall be called Woman," he is giving a name to her. This is important because in the context of Genesis 1-2, the original readers would have recognized that the person doing the "naming" of created things is always the person who has authority over those things.
Some egalitarians (such as Gilbert Bilezikian and Stanley Grenz) deny that Adam gives a name to his wife in Genesis 2:23. But this objection is hardly convincing when we see how Genesis 2:23 fits into the pattern of naming activities throughout these first two chapters of Genesis. We see this when we examine the places where the same verb (the Hebrew verb qårå', "to call") is used in contexts of naming in Genesis 1-2:
Genesis 1:5: "God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night." Genesis 1:8: "And God called the expanse Heaven." Genesis 1:10: "God called the dry land Earth, and the waters that were gathered together he called Seas." Genesis 2:19: "So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name." Genesis 2:20: "The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field."
In each of these verses prior to Genesis 2:23, the same verb, the Hebrew verb qårå', had been used. Just as God demonstrated His sovereignty over day and night, heavens, earth, and seas by assigning them names, so Adam demonstrated his authority over the animal kingdom by assigning every living creature its name.
Excerpted from Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth by Wayne Grudem Copyright © 2004 by Wayne Grudem . Excerpted by permission.
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