Perspectives In Titus: Teaching Young Men

Titus 2 6 thru 8

Titus 2:6-8 seems like an inappropriate text for a women’s blog. I’d argue that, although the passage indeed specifically focuses on young men, women certainly can learn from the principles it lays down.

I’ll quote the passage in the context of the verses leading up to it, just to keep everything in proper perspective:

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. ~~Titus 2:1-8 (ESV)

Paul has been showing Titus how to minister to various groups that make up a local church, explaining how each group best  demonstrates Christian behavior. For the past two weeks we’ve concentrated on the instructions aimed at older and younger women, but now verse 6 of the text moves our attention to young men.

In contrast to Paul’s instruction that Titus delegate the training of young women to more mature ladies, Paul charges Titus to directly work with young men. As we’ll see momentarily, Titus is specifically told to urge these young men to exercise self-control. Presumably, that term would include controlling sexual lusts (see 2 Timothy 2:22).

Paul’s word “likewise” refers back to the previous three groups.  Paul emphasizes self-control as a contrast to the self-indulgence that marked the Cretan lifestyle. This command, however, especially challenges young adults, who aren’t accustomed to restraining themselves. Fleeing  youthful passions, particularly while living in an environment like Crete, would demonstrate God’s power to transform young men.

Just as young men like Titus would be asking for trouble in counseling young women regarding sexual purity, so he would be the most appropriate person to mentor young men in maintaining self-control in respect to their sexual purity.

Verse 7 slightly shifts the focus from young men in general to one particular young man: Titus himself. Why? My personal opinion is because, since he is a young man at the time of this epistle, Titus could serve as a practical example of how young men ought to   conduct themselves.

The context of this verse leads us to  think that Titus was still a young man at the time Paul wrote this letter, and therefore Titus had to model proper behavior for young men to emulate. Consequently, he was to set an example of performing good works.

He would set this example largely through his conduct as a minister of the Gospel. In his ministry of teaching, Titus would need, first of all, to show integrity. Since Paul elaborates on how to show integrity in the next verse, let’s merely say here that his teaching must be free of any corruption.

By “dignity,” Paul means that Titus should teach in a manner that commands respect. Not only must his doctrine be grounded in truth, but he must deliver it in reverence and seriousness to underscore its importance as the very Word of God. Again, Paul expands on this idea in verse 8, but I want to quickly mention that it makes me think of present-day pastors who resort to gimmicks and theatrics to capture the attention of their “audience” rather than treating the pulpit with dignity.

Verse 8 continues Paul’s instruction to Titus by urging him toward sound speech. In his teaching, Titus would need to speak doctrinally sound words that no one could find fault with. By doing   so, he would silence his critics, proving that their arguments were ridiculous.

Sound speech needed to characterize Titus’ public and private conversations.  This point both reiterates and emphasizes the call to integrity in the previous verse. Barnes comments:

Such as cannot be shown to be weak, or unsound; such that no one could find fault with it, or such as an adversary could not take hold of and blame. This direction would imply purity and seriousness of language, solidity of argument, and truth in the doctrines which he maintained.

Barnes is not alone in his observation; The Believers Bible Commentary adds that sound speech “should  be free from side-issues, doctrinal novelties, fads, crudities, and the like.” As I mentioned earlier, many 21st pastors apparently disregard this call to sobriety in the ministry of God’s Word. Yet Titus, and by extension all representatives of the Lord Jesus Christ, bear a responsibility to be faithful to God’s Word.

Paul insists on Titus exhibiting sound speech because of the opponents to the Gospel. He probably thought about the Judaizers in particular, who would be eager to discredit both Titus and Paul. He wanted Titus to ensure that no one could charge them with practicing evil (see 1 Peter 2:11-12).

As Christian women, we can learn from Paul’s instructions to Titus. Even though we don’t teach in mixed congregations, we do teach other women. Therefore, like Titus, we must model integrity, dignity and sound speech that silences the opponents of the Lord Jesus Christ. We represent Him, and consequently our deportment should reflect that fact.

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Perspectives In Titus: What Should Older Women Teach Younger Women?

Titus 2 v 5

Even though we talked about Titus 2:5 in last week’s study of verses 3-5, I wanted to return to this verse and examine it in a little more detail. I’m doing so because this blog, as stated prominently in my mission statement on the sidebar, is exclusively for women. As such, it lends itself to a thorough discussion of the Bible’s instructions specifically to women.

Today I’ll quote only the immediate verses, hoping that you’ll look at your own Bibles to remind yourselves of the context.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.~~Titus 2:3-5 (ESV)

Before we get to verse 5, let’s make a few brief comments about verses 3 and 4. In verse 3, Paul says that older women are to teach what is good.  Notice the parallel to his charge to Titus in verse 1. Teaching “what is good” would naturally mean teaching what accords with sound doctrine.

This verse does  not give women permission to use their teaching abilities indiscriminately. Please note this vitally important point. God’s Word limits us to teaching other women  (1 Corinthians 14:34, 1 Timothy 2:11-12). Yet older women can powerfully influence younger women towards holiness.

Moving to verse 4, we see that Paul gives older women the responsibility of counseling younger women in their relationships with their husbands and children. Especially regarding marriage, this sort of counseling can touch on some pretty personal issues. Therefore, Jamieson, Fausset and Brown make the excellent point that Paul shows wisdom in having women teach each other rather than having men directly teach younger women.

Obviously, men addressing marriage, as well as some of the intimate subject matters listed in verse 5 has potential for creating emotional entanglements. Looking at it from this perspective, we see that men also have restrictions concerning whom they teach.

Now let’s delve into verse 5, which is the heart of the passage. First off, we older women are to teach younger women to be self-controlled, or temperate. You’ll recall from Chapter 1 that the people of Crete were known for their volatile tempers and self-indulgence, making it important for Christians to display a moderate temperament. This instruction goes back to verse 2, where Paul  insists that older men exercise self-control in contrast to the self-indulgent lifestyle of the Cretans.

Following that injunction, older women should teach younger women to be pure. This purity, first and foremost, refers to sexual purity. (On this point in particular, a pastor needs this older women to teach the younger ones.) Faithfulness to one’s own husband, particularly in a culture that celebrates sexual “freedom,” isn’t easy. Young women need encouragement toward such purity.

But we also must train younger women in doctrinal purity. 2 Timothy 3:6 reveals that false teachers can easily captivate the attention of women who don’t strengthen their wills with sound doctrine. This clause points to the importance of women teaching other women Biblical discernment and doctrine.

Workers at home comes from a Greek phrase meaning “guardians of the house.” This clause doesn’t necessarily prohibit outside employment  (which is often helpful to a family), but it clarifies that a woman’s foremost responsibility is to the home.

Furthermore, we must teach younger women to be kind, particularly to their husbands and children. Kindness pulls us away  from ourselves, training us to look to the needs, interests and feelings of those around us.  Again, remember that the First Century Cretan culture (much like 21st Century culture) revolved around self-centered behavior, which disregards the needs and feelings of others.

Finally, we older women should teach younger women to submit to their own husbands, as commanded in Ephesians 5:22, Ephesians 5:24 and Colossians 3:18. The Greek word for “submit” carries the idea of voluntarily placing oneself under the authority of another. Thus, Christian wives recognize that God gives husbands the authority to lead a family.

Please notice that the text directs women to submit to their own husbands, not to men in general. This point shouldn’t have to be made. Sadly, I’ve been in circles where the men expected submission from all the women. Ladies, don’t fall for that distortion of Scripture. Submit exclusively to your husbands, not the husbands of your friends.

Paul explains that we need to teach younger women these principles  in order that non-Christians can’t disregard God’s Word on account of our hypocrisy. Cross-reference to Romans 2:24, where Paul quotes an Old Testament accusation that Gentiles blasphemed God’s name because of Jews who lived in disobedience. As we’ll learn over the next few weeks, all segments of the church should comport themselves in ways consistent with the Gospel. Including women.

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Perspectives In Titus: The Example Older Men Should Set

Titus 2 v 2Last Monday we saw that Paul commanded Titus to teach the Cretans “what accords with sound doctrine.” We noted that this meant teaching them to reflect the Gospel by how they lived their daily lives. Today we will begin studying the practical application of living in accordance with God’s Word. Let’s look at the passage to see Paul’s approach.

But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. ~~Titus 2:1-10 (ESV)

As you can see, Paul breaks his instructions down to specific groups within the Church. Notice, however, how the instructions overlap, saying much the same thing to each segment of the church while still maintaining distinct roles. Therefore, although we are women reading this blog, we can apply the principles given to each group.

Today we will focus on verse 2 of this passage, which addresses older men. The term “older men” does not refer to those holding the office of elder, but rather to men of a certain age (probably over 60). They serve as examples to the rest of the church, and therefore must set the start of godly behavior.

As  much as I love the ESV, they missed the boat by translating that first characteristic as “sober-minded.” The Greek word actually denotes avoidance of drunkenness, as seen more clearly in Titus 2:3 and Titus 1:7. Remember the cultural context of this epistle; the Cretans were known for their self-indulgence. Paul wanted Christians to stand out in contrast to that cultural norm as a reproach to those who lived in ungodliness.

Similarly, Paul instructed Titus that older men in the church should be dignified.  This word suggests reverence and proper behavior. According to John MacArthur, reverence for the Lord is assumed, so Paul uses the term to implies honorable conduct.

As if to double-down on this theme of behaving differently from the surrounding culture, Paul adds that older men must be self-controlled. Self-controlled  carries the idea of restraining one’s emotions, and goes back to Titus 1:8.  Clearly, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul insists that older men set an example of godly behavior for the rest of us to follow.

Finally, Paul requires older men to demonstrate soundness in faith, love and perseverance. Barnes cross-references “sound in faith” with 1 Timothy 1:10 and Titus 1:13, both of which speak of sound doctrine. Based on this cross-reference, it appears that Paul wants older men to be well established in the Christian faith, which can happen only through understanding Christian doctrine.

Soundness in love would show itself through the qualities described in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7.  Christian love seeks the good of others, even at one’s personal expense. This type of love contrasts the self-serving attitudes that marked Cretans. Indeed it contrasts the self-serving attitudes that mark present-day Western culture!

Paul concludes by encouraging soundness in steadfastness. Older men, having the experience of surviving various trials, should see how the Lord produces steadfastness, or patience, through those trials (see James 1:2-4).

As we said earlier, the character qualities described for each group Paul mentions in this section of his letter to Titus somewhat overlap. Although this blog addresses women exclusively, we can learn from the example of older men (or at least from Paul’s instructions to them). Next Monday we’ll discuss ways that both older and younger women should live in accordance with God’s Word.

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He Said, “Look Mommy — I’m Wearing A Dress!”

glory-cloudA few days ago, someone told  me that her three-year-old godson met his mother when she came to pick him up from preschool, greeting her with the words, “Look Mommy — I’m wearing a dress!” Horrified, his mother asked him why he was in a dress. He pointed to his teachers and claimed, “Them gave it to me!”

“Oh no,” the teachers argued, “we gave him a choice. We want our children to use costumes to express themselves.”

My friend said that her godson, if he’s not telling the truth about something, normally changes stories when he’s later asked again. But this time, he firmly stuck to his narrative that the teachers made him wear a dress. Therefore, his parents believe that the school pressured him into wearing the dress, perhaps letting him “choose” between two or three dresses.

It turns out, as I suspected it would, that this little boy attends a preschool that accepts state monies. I pretty much believe that the purpose of giving him a dress was to desensitize him, as well as the rest of the children, to transgender issues.

I do believe public schools have a mandate to normalize LBGTQ orientations. Since Obergefell legalized same sex marriage just over two years ago (it seems like it’s been so much longer!) and Bruce Jenner declared himself to be a woman named Caitlyn, I’ve noticed a greater push to force Americans to embrace these sexual deviations wholeheartedly. And the best way to reach this goal, obviously, is to indoctrinate young children.

And people wonder why I so strongly advocate homeschooling?

As troubling as the attack on Biblical views of gender and sexuality is, however, I have confidence that the Lord has complete control. While He hates the sin engulfing our world today (and please, I mean much more than simply sexual sin), He’s allowing a rise in lawlessness to demonstrate our need for Him.

Is His Second Corning imminent? I hope so. Actually, I really believe it’s probable. But I also believe I would be presumptuous to make a dogmatic prediction. I can, however, assert that the Lord is using our collective sin as a judgment on our culture. Please see Romans 1:18-32 as substantiation for my position.

Certainly I reject the idea of coercing a three-year-old to cross-dress. If I was his mommy, he’d never set foot in that school again! But as reprehensible as the school’s actions were, I don’t wring my hands in helpless dismay. The Lord, even though He hates such perversion, remains completely sovereign. In His perfect time, He will bring His righteousness to us so that all creation will bow before Him, confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord.

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It’s Not Easy Being Gay (Or Any Other Type Of Sinner)

Rainbow Bible02People trapped in the sin of homosexuality have a valid point when they accuse Bible-believing Christians of being unloving. All too frequently, we communicate the erroneous message that God has a particular disdain, not just for homosexual behavior, but for homosexuals themselves.

Don’t misunderstand me as softening my conviction that homosexuality is, indeed, sinful. Scripture uniformly condemns it as a violation of God’s intent for human sexuality to serve as a representation of Christ’s relationship with the Church  (Ephesians 5:25-33,  particularly verse 32). In my 33 years of studying what God’s Word says on this topic  (including reading pro-gay theologians like Troy Perry and Sylvia Pennington), I have never seen solid Scriptural evidence that God endorses any form of sexual expression outside of heterosexual marriage. Okay, I’m politically incorrect. But I believe I correctly understand the Bible’s teaching on this subject.

Yet Christians can maintain a Scriptural position on homosexuality without treating members of the LBGTQ community like moral lepers. In dealing with these friends, family members and coworkers, we have the same responsibility to treat them with respect that we have towards everyone else on the planet. Consequently, let’s remember a few simple principles.

First and foremost, we need to keep in mind our own sinfulness. Recently, the Lord used frustrating circumstances to confront me with sins in my life that should have been dealt with decades ago. As frustrated as I was with the outward circumstances, I was much more frustrated by my sinful response to  them. Although I’ve finally accepted the Lord’s forgiveness for falling  (yet again!) into my pre-Christian behavior patterns, the episode reminded me that I’m definitely not God’s little darling.

Galatians 6:1 directs Christians to correct sinful behavior in others with an attitude of humility, remembering how easily we fall  when we’re tempted. I may not be tempted towards lesbian behavior, but I’m tempted in other ways that grieve the Holy Spirit just as deeply. How dare I assume an attitude of moral superiority with people in the LBGTQ community when  I need God’s grace every bit as much as they do! The Bible leaves us no room for sanctimony.

We also need to understand that people who experience same sex attractions or feelings that they were born with the wrong gender assignment honestly can’t distinguish between their sin and the essence of who they are. When we say homosexuality is sinful, they believe we’re saying that God rejects them.

Truthfully, I still haven’t figured out how to help them understand the distinction between their personhood and their sin. I sometimes try to explain that I often feel as if anger is intrinsic to who I am, the Lord has convinced me through His Word that I must confess anger as a sin (the sin of murder, according to Matthew 5:21-22) and repent of it. That’s actually the proper explanation, but it’s extremely difficult for them to accept. I can only pray that the Holy Spirit will open their eyes.

Someone who used to be close to me gave up his battle against homosexuality several years ago. Since then, I’ve read his various writings, which have helped me understand his perspective. While I believe he is completely wrong in embracing homosexuality as his  identity, the Lord has used his writings to give me empathy for people who struggle in this way.

Empathy, of course, must never cause Christians to compromise God’s Word. On any sin, actually. We must proclaim the Gospel to everyone, assuring them that the blood of Christ cleanses all sinners, regardless of sexual expression.

Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, 10 nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. 11 And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God. ~~1 Corinthians 6:9-11 (ESV)

 

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The Gender Card And The Revision Of Scripture

Woman Asking FramedAs I’ve studied arguments for both the ordination of woman and the evangelical acceptance of homosexual relationships (and I’ve studied both issues separately many times over), I’ve noticed that advocates of both practices use similar types of reasoning. First, they’ll claim that the passages that prohibit these practices reflect cultural biases, and therefore God didn’t really mean for them to dictate 21st Century behavior. Then they’ll twist Scripture by taking it out of context and/or reading things into it.

Currently, I want to limit my discussion to women in church leadership, though at a later date I anticipate addressing the typical relationship between the two issues. To open our discussion today, let me show you just a couple examples of how professing Christians try to explain away 2 Timothy 2:11-12.

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. (ESV)

The website for Brethren In Christ Church (I find amusing irony in the sexist name of the denomination in light of their position on gender issues) offers this explanation:

Paul’s seemingly prohibitive statement about women in public ministry is likely a response or plan of action to deal with women who were new Christians, talented, and endowed with spiritual gifts of leadership, but not yet trained and seasoned for leadership in the congregation. These new Christian women likely were also mixing pagan practices and Christian doctrine. One must keep in mind that prior to this time, only the men had the privilege of learning through formal study. Paul’s assertion in verse 11 that “women should learn” was indeed a new day for the believing woman.
Responding to the women’s lack of training and maturity, Paul therefore declares, “I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over a man, she is to keep silent (2:12 NRSV). The literal translation from the Greek is, “I am not presently permitting a woman to teach or to have authority over men….” The verb used is present active indicative. It was never intended to be a prohibitive statement or a prescription for all times, places, and cultures. If it had been written for that purpose, there are Greek verbs and tenses which would have been used to clarify the intention. (Source)

The appeal to Greek verb tenses almost convinces me, except for the fact that the apostle Paul based his restriction, not on 1st Century custom, but on God’s original order of creation and Eve’s vulnerability to deception (for this, please see 1 Timothy 2:13-14). And as for  “mixing pagan practices with Christian doctrine,” might I suggest that “Christian” feminism pretty much does the same thing by adopting worldly standards?

A website called Circle Of Christian Women evaluates 1 Timothy 2 in the context of wives and husbands rather than women in general:

1 Timothy 2:12 is not a blanket rule for all women of all churches. If it were, then the women could not speak at all, for the same verse that tells them not to teach also tells them to be silent.

If all women had to keep silent in church, then that would be promoting disobedience to God, for they could not prophesy, pray, testify, sing, exhort, do personal work, or even get saved.

Whenever an interpretation to a verse contradicts the rest of the teaching of the Bible, we know this interpretation is incorrect, for the Holy Spirit will never contradict His own Word.

This is the chief verse that is used to oppose women preaching and yet it says nothing about preaching, nor does it say anything about a public worship or church service. But, on the contrary, this verse is giving instructions to wives as to how they were to conduct themselves in regard to their husband. Paul says in 1 Cor. 14:35, “And if they will LEARN anything, let them ask their husbands at home.” Now he states in 1 Tim. 2:12 that the woman should learn in silence, and should not usurp authority over the man. Paul is dealing with more of a home problem than a church problem.

This verse still applies to us today. It is wrong for a woman to usurp authority over her husband (in church, home, or any place else) as was the case in Paul’s day. She should not try to teach him or speak words that would cause discord and confusion, but should rather be silent and in subjection to her husband.

It is also to be understood that if anyone, whether man or woman, is usurping authority over the God-given leadership of the church, she or he is to be silent, and not to teach, or act in such a way that would create discord in the assembly.

Um, no. 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, if anything, places further restrictions on women in church, and certainly doesn’t soften the impact of 1 Timothy 2:12. This argument just makes no sense, and it completely ignores the context of the verse.Furthermore, their appeal to the “Holy Spirit” makes me suspect some sort of extrabiblical revelation as opposed to believing  that He speaks through Scripture rather than in addition to it.

1 Timothy 2:11-12 flies in the face of 21st Century views on gender roles, prompting professing Christians to find intricate ways of explaining that they don’t really mean what they say. Essentially these arguments, much like the arguments favoring homosexuality and same sex marriage that   currently circulate among evangelicals, reject the fundamental truth that the Bible is both inerrant and authoritative. Of course, they don’t want to openly admit their rejection of God’s Word, so they cleverly bend it to their agenda.

These are only two examples of how “Christians” manipulate God’s Word to justify the worldly practice of women in church leadership. Rather than remaining faithful to Scripture, they twist verses to fit the 21st Century attitude that we must avoid any type of gender distinction (thus tying in with the homosexual and trans gender agenda). And God created binary gender distinctives to reflect Christ’s relationship with His bride, the  Church.  For that reason, we must stand firmly against their human reasoning.

But even more importantly, my beloved sisters in Christ, we must stand for the authority of Scripture, especially when our culture assails it. In our Tuesday posts about the Reformation, we will look at how the Reformers stood for the restoration of God’s Word, even though the Roman Catholic Church preferred their traditions. Now we must stand against a compromised church that prefers politically correct attitudes on gender. We must imitate the Reformers’ faithfulness.

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Women: Distinctly Equal

“The Bible says it. I believe it. That  settles it.”

Many post-modern evangelicals dismiss that quote, as well as that line of reasoning, arguing that it equates to “checking one’s brain at the door.” (Do they realize that they’re equally trite?) When gender roles  come up, such people particularly assume that accepting the Bible’s declarations at face value demonstrates an unwillingness to reason things out.

Sometimes, certainly, we do need to study a verse in more detail, particular when it appears to contradict the general flow of Scripture (1 Timothy 2:15, for instance), but much of Scripture needn’t undergo massive torture simply because we don’t like it. And therefore, the passages that teach the distinct roles between men and women don’t require a vast amount of explanation. The Holy Spirit pretty much moved on the men who penned Scripture to write clearly.

Moses, for instance, described Eve’s creation by emphasizing that she came from Adam for the purpose of helping him.

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” 19 Now out of the ground the Lord God had 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. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 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 2:18-23 (ESV)

Clearly, the order of creation places Man in a leadership position. But note that Man’s position in no way suggests Woman’s inferiority or spiritual inequality. Her very purpose as Man’s helper, in fact, demonstrates that she brings something to the table that he couldn’t have brought without her.

In 1 Corinthians 11:3-12, the apostle Paul discusses this headship of Man and the simultaneous mutuality between Man and woman. Let me point out two sections of this passage that I believe refer back to Genesis 2:18-23. 

Firstly, Paul establishes male authority within marriage.

But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. ~~1 Corinthians 11:3 (ESV)

Husbands, although they are accountable to Christ, have the responsibility to exercise leadership in their households. Ephesians 5:22-24, Colossians 3:18 and 1 Peter 3:1-6 all enforce this marital structure by instructing wives to submit (always balancing this command by telling husbands to love their wives). The New Testament consistently promotes male leadership.

Secondly, Paul affirms that husbands and wives, while having leader/follower roles, are mutually dependent.

For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God. ~~1 Corinthians 11:7-12 (ESV)

As far as spiritual standing, the Lord makes no qualitative distinctions between men and women. I refer you to Galatians 3:28 (in proper context) and 1 Peter 3:7 as evidence that women share equally in the inheritance that Christ has for believers. The dignity of women that Genesis 2:18-23 implies, therefore, comfortably co-exists with gender specific roles in marriage.

The principle of male leadership doesn’t stop at marriage, however. Scripture also consistently upholds a model of male leadership in the structure of churches. 1 Timothy 3:1-13 and Titus 1:6-9 enumerate the qualities necessary in holding leadership positions, decidedly couching the instructions to assert that only men meet the criteria.

Liberal people typically argue that these passages reflect 1st Century values, and so do not apply to the present-day church. I would counter by pointing out that Paul directly appeals to Genesis when he told Timothy that women should not hold positions of authority or teaching over men.

11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. ~~1 Timothy 2:11-14 (ESV)

As I’ve studied these Scriptures over the past four decades (often looking for loopholes that might permit me to teach men), I’ve repeatedly concluded that churches, to be Biblical, require male leadership. Paul bases this requirement on both the order of creation and Eve’s rebellion against Adam’s leadership when she ate the forbidden fruit. Paul connects the restriction to the Genesis narrative in order to refute claims that he limited the scope of women’s ministry as a capitulation to 1 Century Ephesian culture.

Scripture definitely affirms spiritual equality between  men and women, but that equality doesn’t negate the Lord’s institution of gender roles. Post-modern society resists these roles, just as it tries to distort gender and sexuality as a whole, but Christians must accept the Bible’s teaching over culture’s demands. God created us male and female for His purposes, and we should celebrate our gender distinctions as a way to honor Him.

 

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