Searching the Scriptures

The issue facing the church is whether, through ordination, the church may legitimately commission women to perform the oversight functions of elders or pastors. The key issues raised in the preceding chapters are these: (1) Does the equality of male and female do away with functional differentiation? (2) Does Scripture permit women in ministry to perform the headship/leadership roles that ordained elders and pastors are called upon to exercise? and if not, (3) Can the Holy Spirit contradict Himself by calling a woman to the office of elder or pastor from which she is excluded by the same Spirit's instruction?

By searching the Scriptures, this chapter will explore whether the principle of male headship/leadership in the family--be it in home or church--is rooted in biblical theology, namely, God's divine arrangement established at creation prior to the fall and reiterated after the fall. What is the most adequate, scripturally-consistent explanation of the biblical practice and teaching both in Old Testament times, when women were not ordained as priests, and in the New Testament period, when Christ chose not to appoint a female apostle and Paul prohibited women from the position of elder or overseer? [1]

Headship Principle

Those who favor women's ordination have suggested that the principle of male headship in both the home and the church is either (a) time-bound, culturally conditioned, male-centered (androcentric), rabbinic in origin, anti-female in nature, and conditioned by patriarchal mentality or prejudice; or (b) applicable (if relevant at all) only (i) to the home family, and not the church family, or (ii) to the local situation in particular churches of the New Testament times, and not in the general Christian church.

In evaluating these claims, it will be helpful to note from the Bible just when the headship principle was established and what its subsequent history has been. To whom did it apply, and during what periods? What does the evidence suggest about the continued validity of the principle?

In exploring these issues we will discover whether there are biblical and theological obstacles which must be surmounted if the church is to ordain women as elders or pastors.

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Instituted at Creation. The Bible teaches that the male headship/leadership role and the female supporting/cooperative role were instituted at creation. As part of God's arrangement before the fall of Adam and Eve, this creation ordinance describes the relationship for which men and women were fitted by nature. Male headship/leadership, in contrast to male domination, suggests that in the relationship of the man and woman, two spiritually-equal human beings, it is the man who exercises primary responsibility for leading the family in a God-glorifying direction (cf. 1 Cor 11:3; Eph 5:21-33). This divine arrangement resulted in complete harmony between our first parents before the entrance of sin.

Four biblical evidences establish this headship principle at creation.

First, God expressed His intended arrangement for the family relationship by creating Adam first, then Eve. Therefore, Paul writes, "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" (1 Tim 2:12-13 NIV). As the wider context of the book of Genesis suggests, the divine priority of having Adam "formed first, then Eve" had an important theological significance. The sequence established Adam as the "firstborn" in the human family, a position that gave him the special responsibility of leadership in the family--whether home or church. [2]

Second, God gave to Adam the directions for the first pair regarding custody of the garden and the dangers of the forbidden tree (Gen 2:16-17). This charge to Adam called him to spiritual leadership. When Satan addressed Eve rather than Adam regarding the forbidden tree, the tempter's object was to undermine the divine arrangement by deceiving Eve into assuming primary headship responsibility (see 1 Tim 2:14). Had Eve been created first and then Adam, and had she been charged with the responsibility of leadership, Satan might well have attacked the headship principle by approaching Adam.

Third, God instructed that in marriage it is the man who must act, leaving dependence on father and mother to be united with his wife (Gen 2:24; Matt 19:4, 5), and that in the marriage relationship the woman's role is to complement the man in his duties (Gen 2:18, 23-24). In this instruction, God charged the man with the responsibility of lovingly providing for and protecting the woman (cf. Eph 5:25, 28-31; 1 Pet 3:7; 1 Tim 3:4; Titus 1:6).

Fourth, events after the fall (but before God pronounced judgment) confirm that Adam's headship was already in place. Although Eve first disobeyed, it was only after Adam had joined in the rebellion that the eyes of both of them were opened (Gen 3:4-7). More significantly, after the fall God first addressed Adam, holding him accountable for eating the forbidden fruit: "Where art thou? . . . Hast thou eaten of the tree . . . ?" (Gen 3:9-12; cf. 3:17: "Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree. . ."). It appears inexplicable for God, who in His omniscience already knew what had happened, to act in this way if Adam had not been given headship in the Eden relationship. Consequently, despite the fact that the woman initiated the rebel-

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lion, it is Adam (not Eve, nor even both of them) who is blamed for our fall (Rom 5:12-21; 1 Cor 15:21-22), which suggests that as the spiritual head in the partnership of their equal relationship, Adam was the representative of the family.

These facts indicate that even before the fall, God had established the principle of male headship/leadership. He instituted this principle not as an indication of superiority of Adam over Eve, nor was it for dominance or oppression, but for God-glorifying responsibility. [3] Thus when Paul writes that "the head of every man is Christ, the head of a woman is her husband, and the head of Christ is God" (1 Cor 11:3 RSV), and that women should not "have authority over men" because "Adam was formed first" (1 Tim 2:12ff. RSV), he is not concocting an arbitrary "proof text" to justify his alleged concession to Hellenistic or Jewish cultural prejudices against women. As an inspired writer, the apostle Paul fully understood the theological truth of the headshi principle as a divine arrangement instituted before the fall and which remains permanently valid for the Christian.

Reiterated after the Fall. Within the partnership of the two equal human beings in Eden prior to the fall, Adam was called upon to exercise spiritual leadership for the family. This divine arrangement or "law" resulted in complete harmony until sin brought discord. [4] In other words, the male headship role and the female supporting role which were formed at creation, and for which our first parents were fitted by nature, were deformed by the fall. Sin unfitted the first pair to maintain the original harmony in their relationship. "In the creation God had made her [Eve] the equal of Adam. Had they remained obedient to God--in harmony with His great law of love--they would ever have been in harmony with each other; but sin had brought discord, and now their union could be maintained and harmony preserved only by submission on the part of the one or the other" (Patriarchs and Prophets , p. 58).

By directing his temptation to Eve instead of Adam, who had been charged with the leadership responsibility concerning the dangers of the forbidden tree (Gen 2:16-17), Satan struck at the headship principle governing the functional relationships between men and women, and he succeeded in disrupting the harmony our first parents enjoyed while they lived out the principles enshrined in God's arrangement. Both of our parents were responsible for the fall--Eve usurping Adam's headship, and Adam failing to exercise his responsibility to protect his wife and guide her to obey God. The fall soon brought dissonance into the home as Adam and Eve started blaming one another (Gen 3:12ff.). Since then, in place of providing caring, sacrificial male leadership, many men attempt either to dominate their wives or to escape responsibility; and in place of a noble cooperation, many women attempt to usurp men's leadership or they adopt a servile submission. In so doing, both lose blessings God intended for them.

When Satan tempted our first parents, his ultimate goal was to lead them into thinking that they could be "like God" (Gen 3:5). To do so, he approached

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Eve with the suggestion that she could attain a higher role than that which God had assigned her at creation. Thus, Eve took the first step in her desire to be like God when she usurped the man's headship role. "Eve had been perfectly happy by her husband's side in her Eden home; but, like restless modern Eves, she was flattered with the hope of entering a higher sphere than that which God had assigned her. In attempting to rise above her original position, she fell far below it. A similar result will be reached by all who are unwilling to take up cheerfully their life duties in accordance with God's plan. In their efforts to reach positions for which He has not fitted them, many are leaving vacant the place where they might be a blessing. In their desire for a higher sphere, many have sacrificed true womanly dignity and nobility of character, and have left undone the very work that Heaven appointed them"( Patriarchs and Prophets , p. 59).

Male and female roles were reversed as Adam and Eve entered into sin, the woman having assumed the leadership function of spokesman. Consequently, after the fall the necessity of the woman's submission to the man, her head, was further underscored in the so-called curse: "Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee" (Gen 3:16). "Eve had been the first in transgression; and she had fallen into temptation by separating from her companion, contrary to the divine direction. It was by her solicitation that Adam sinned, and she was now placed in subjection to her husband" ( Patriarchs and Prophets , p. 58).

While, in a sense, God's statement to Eve ("he shall rule over you") reiterated His original arrangement, it was a "curse" because the exercise of true female submission (and also true male headship) does not come naturally to unregenerate women (and men). [5] It is only through the transforming grace of Christ that God's original prescription can be fulfilled in this sinful world.

Realized "in the Lord." The harmnious relationship that existed at creation between male and female, and which was deformed by the fall, can only be re-formed (i.e., transformed for its original purpose) by the gospel. Through transforming conversion and a living experience with Christ, male and female can discover the true harmony of God's ideal: complementarity in male-female relationships in both the home and the church families. Thus, when the man and the woman are "in the Lord," they are able to view the male headship and the corresponding female cooperation as a complementary relationship, in which both depend on the other: "In the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman" (1 Cor 11:11 RSV). In other words, the harmonious relationship for which men and women were fitted by nature, but unfitted by sin, can only be refitted by grace.

Christ's work of redemption, however, does not abolish gender-based roles, contrary to what advocates of women's ordination often suggest. When Paul stated in Galatians 3:28 that "there is . . . neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus," this statement on equality of being did not do away

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with gender as a basis for role distinctions in the home or church family. The context of Galatians 3:28 itself clearly explains the sense in which male and female are equal: they are equally justified by faith (v. 25), equally children of God (v. 26), equally clothed in Christ by virtue of their baptism (v. 27), equally Christ's possession (v. 29), and equally heirs to the promise (v. 29). Peter shows that this equality between male and female does not invalidate the headship principle; he links the last blessing--joint heirs to the covenant promise--with the submission of women to their husbands: "Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands . . . . Likewise, ye husbands, . . . giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life" (1 Pet 3:1, 7).

Ellen White recognized that even after the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross, the headship principle was still valid: "We women must remember that God has placed us subject to the husband. He is the head, and our judgment and views and reasoning must agree with his, if possible. If not, the preference in God's Word is given to the husband where it is not a matter of conscience. We must yield to the head" ( Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce , p. 28). "The husband is the head of the family, as Christ is the head of the church; and any course which the wife may pursue to lessen his influence and lead him to come down from that dignified, responsible position is displeasing to God" ( Testimonies for the Church , 1:307).

Just as the "neither male nor female" statement (Gal 3:28) cannot be used to endorse homosexuality (cf. Rom 1:24-32), so it cannot be employed to abolish the divine arrangement of role distinctions. There is therefore no conflict between Paul's "neither male nor female" principle, which addresses our present standing before God and our future inheritance, and his headship principle that "women should not have authority over men," which teaches that in the partnership of equality between male and female, the man bears primary responsibility of leadership in the family--both home and church. Because of Christ's redemptive work, even in this sinful world men and women can realize "in the Lord" the true harmony that results from living in accordance with God's ideal of complementarity (1 Cor 11:11).

Conclusion. The biblical teaching on headship establishes role distinctions between males and females. God Himself instituted this pattern of relationship at creation. Bible-believing Christians cannot, therefore, accept the liberal or "radical" suggestion that the principle of man's headship is time-bound, culturally conditioned, male-centered (androcentric), rabbinic in origin, anti-female in nature, and hopelessly rooted in a patriarchal mentality. Neither can they accept "moderate" or "progressive" reinterpretations which view the texts on headship as setting forth a kind of 50-50 arrangement--a partnership in which the male should not necessarily fill the leadership role.

The headship priniple was instituted by God at creation, re-iterated after the fall, and upheld as a model of male-female Christian relationships in the

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home and church. In other words, the male headship role and the female supporting role describe the relationship for which men and women were fitted by nature, unfitted by sin, and refitted by grace. This relationship was formed at creation, deformed by the fall, and re-formed (i.e., transformed for its original purpose) by the gospel. The headship principle, then, is the theological basis for the Bible's prohibition of women from the headship role of elder or pastor (1 Tim 2:11ff. and 3:2; Titus 1:6).

In order for the church to ordain women as elders or pastors, those who favor this ordination must show from Scripture: (1) that this pre-fall creation arrangement regarding role differentiation (which was reiterated after the fall) is not applicable to Christians; (2) that it is impossible for Christ to enable Christian believers to live out this biblical requirement in both their homes and their churches; (3) that the headship principle, supported in numerous Bible passages (e.g., Eph 5:21-33; Col 3:18-19; 1 Pet 3:1-7; 1 Tim 2:11-15; 1 Cor 11:3, 9-12), has been annulled by Christ; (4) that Christ's redemptive work removed the "curse" on the woman to respect the leadership of the man, but not the "curse" on the man to labor with "sweat" for his daily bread; and (5) why Adam (not Eve) is repeatedly referred to as the representative of the human family if he had not been given a headship role in the Eden relationship prior to the fall (Rom 5:12-21; 1 Cor 15:21-22). Until this is done, Christians need to take seriously Paul's assertion that the headship arrangement originated at creation and was reiterated after the fall: "For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman . . ." (1 Tim 2:13-14).

Pattern of Authority: Home and Church

Those who favor women's ordination sometimes argue that while the headship principle established at creation may be relevant today, the principle is only valid for the home situation and not for thechurch family. They interpret texts which prohibit women from exercising authority over men (e.g., 1 Tim 2:11-14; 1 Cor 14:33-36) as applicable only to the home setting.

Will searching the Scriptures for Bible evidence support this interpretation? What relationship, if any, does the Bible establish between the home and the church?

The Family: Home and Church. The church is not just another social institution; it is a worshiping community--a group of people who relate to God through a faith relationship in Christ. Thus the church, in both the Old and the New Testaments, exists whenever and wherever "two or three have gathered in my [Christ's] name" (Matt 18:20). Rightly understood, the worshiping household is a miniature model of the church. In this "home church" the man, assisted by his wife, exercises the primary function of spiritual leader.

Even before Jesus Christ established the New Testament church (Matt 16:18-19), the church was already in existence in Old Testament times. Israel,

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with its priests and ceremonial system of worship, was "the church in the wilderness" (Acts 7:38). But long before the Exodus brought Israel the opportunity to be "a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation" (Ex 19:6), the church existed in the homes, wherever "two or three . . . gathered in my name" (Matt 18:20). "God had a church when Adam and Eve and Abel accepted and hailed with joy the good news that Jesus was their Redeemer. These realized as fully then as we realize now the promise of the presence of God in their midst. Wherever Enoch found one or two who were willing to hear the message he had for them, Jesus joined with them in their worship of God. In Enoch's day there were some among the wicked inhabitants of earth who believed. The Lord never yet has left His faithful few without His presence nor the world without a witness" (Ellen G. White, The Upward Look , p. 228).

The Bible teaches that in the "home church" both mothers and fathers are to exercise leadership in nurturing, training, disciplining and teaching their children (Ex 20:12; Lev 19:3; Deut 6:6-9; 21:18-21; 27:16; Prov 1:8; 6:20; Eph 6:1-4; Col 3:20; 2 Tim 1:5; cf. Luke 2:51). As Ellen G. White put it, "In ordinary life the family was both a school and a church, the parents being the instructors in secular and in religious lines" ( Education , p. 41). But while "every family is a church, over which the parents preside . . . as priest and teacher of the family" ( Child Guidance , p. 549), it is the man who, assisted by the woman, assumes the leadership role in worship.[6] We see this illustrated in Ephesians 6:1-4, where after discussing the shared responsibility of parents in training their children, Paul shifts the focus to fathers and charges them regarding the training of the children: "Children, obey your parents. . . . And, ye fathers, . . . bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." (Note the same shift from parents to fathers in Col 3:20-21.) [7]

The numerous Bible references to the church as the family of God [8] suggest that the relationship of male and female in the church--"the household of God" (1 Tim 3:15 RSV)--is to be modeled after the home family, of which the Eden home was the prototype (Eph 5:22-23; Col 3:18; 1 Pet 3:1-7; 1 Cor 11:3, 7-9; 14:34-35; 1 Tim 2:11-3:1-5). The frequent correspondence between home and church found in Scripture (e.g., Acts 2:46; 5:42; 1 Cor 14:34-35; cf. Phil 4:22) confirms John Chrysostom's (A.D. 347-407) statement that "a household is a little church" and "a church is a large household." [9] And the pastoral epistles of Paul to Timothy and Titus, the very books which describe the qualities of an elder/pastor, view the church as the family of God, thus establishing the family structure as the model for church structure: "If a man does not know how to manage his own household, how can he care for God's church?" (1 Tim 3:4, 5 RSV; cf. Titus 1:6).

Ellen White also understood the home as the pattern for the church, with a distinct role assigned to each of the parents. "Some households have a little church in their home. . . . As parents faithfully do their duty in the family, restraining, correcting, advising, counseling, guiding, the father as a priest of the household, the mother as a home missionary, they are filling the sphere God would have

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them fill. By faithfully doing their duty in the home, they are multiplying agencies for doing good outside the home. They are becoming better fitted to labor in the church. By training their little flock discreetly, binding their children to themselves and to God, fathers and mothers become laborers together with God" (Ellen G. White, Lift Him Up , p. 253, emphasis added).

The description of the church as "the household of God" (1 Tim 3:15; Eph 2:19) and the patterning of church authority after the headship arrangement in the home reveal the high estimation God places on the home family. "In the home the foundation is laid for the prosperity of the church. The influences that rule in the home life are carried into the church life; therefore, church duties should first begin in the home" (Ellen G. White, My Life Today , p. 284). "Every family in the home life should be a church, a beautiful symbol of the church of God in heaven" ( Child Guidance , p. 480).

Not only is the pattern of authority in the church patterned after the home, but the home government is patterned after the church. Ellen G. White wrote, "The rules and regulations of the home life must be in strict accordance with a 'Thus saith the Lord.' The rules God has given for the government of His church are the rules parents are to follow in the church in the home. t is God's design that there shall be perfect order in the families on earth, preparatory to their union with the family in heaven. Upon the discipline and training received in the home depends the usefulness of men and women in the church and in the world" ( The Signs of the Times, Sept. 25, 1901 ).

Is it possible that those who attempt to drive a wedge between the patterns of authority in the church and in the home are betraying a contempt for or disillusionment with the family institution? Or is it rather a failure to have a biblical understanding of the true nature of male headship and the complementary female supportive role?

The Nature of Headship Authority. Paul's statement that "the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God" (1 Cor 11:3) is probably the clearest statement presenting Jesus Christ as the model for the headship principle. The Bible teaches that whereas Jesus was equal with God (i.e., He was truly God even when He became Man, and therefore had the same mind or purpose as the Father [Jn 1:1; 5:18]), in Their different roles in the salvation of humanity the Son subordinated Himself to the Father (Phil 2:5-8; Jn 5:19; 6:57; 14:28, 31). Thus, when the apostle links his statement that "the head of the woman is the man" with "the head of Christ is God," Paul wants us to understand that although man and woman are equal in essence and being, they have different roles in relation to each other, the man exercising a headship function, and the woman a supporting role. The roles are different but complementary. "In the Lord, however, woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman" (1 Cor 11:11).

The headship role to which men are called is not "domination" or "control." This follows from the fact that God, in being "the head of Christ" (1 Cor

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11:3), does not dominate Christ; neither does Christ, as "the head of the church" (Eph 5:23), dominate the church. "The Lord has constituted the husband the head of the wife to be her protector; he is the house-band of the family, binding the members together, even as Christ is the head of the church and the Saviour of the mystical body. Let every husband who claims to love God carefully study the requirements of God in his position. Christ's authority is exercised in wisdom, in all kindness and gentleness; so let the husband exercise his power and imitate the great Head of the church" ( The Adventist Home , p. 215).

True headship leadership, to which men have been called (as husbands in the home and as elders and pastors in the church) is not a self-aggrandizing domination but a servant-leadership which protects the church and empowers its members for service (Luke 9:1; 1 Cor 4:19-21; 2 Cor 10:8; 13:10; Philemon 8-10). This is what elders and pastors are called upon to do when they are described as they who "rule well" (1 Tim 5:17; 3:5); the same is expected of husbands as heads of their wives (Eph 5:25-26).

Conclusion. The headship principle that was established at creation is valid today for the government of both the home family and the church family. Every Christian family is not only a little church but is also a "model of the heavenly family" ( Child Guidance , p. 549) which will soon be united with the church on earth (Eph 1:9, 10). To ascribe the headship principle to the marriage setting but not to the church situation, as some proponents of women's ordination do, is arbitrary and not supported by Scripture.

In order for the church to ordain women as elders or pastors, it will have to provide a biblical justification for limiting the application of texts that prohibit women from exercising authority over men (1 Tim 2:11-14; 1 Cor 14:33-36) to only the home setting and not to the church as well. We will explore this concern by searching the Scriptures in more detail in the next chapter.


[1] Those desiring to pursue this subject in greater exegetical and theological detail will greatly benefit from John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood: A Response to Evangelical Feminism (Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1991). Detailed in scope but written for the informed church member, this volume by 22 scholars of different professional backgrounds deals with all the main passages of Scripture used by "evangelical feminists" (those feminists who, unlike "liberal" or "radical" feminists, believe in the Bible and the essential doctrines of the Christian faith). Its exposition of some of the strengths and major weaknesses in the arguments for ordaining women has enriched the study presented here.

[2] Some people try to dismiss the "creation order" principle by claiming that such reasoning would place animals in headship over both men and women, since the animals were created first. Their dispute, clearly, is against the Bible, because Paul cited the creation order as the basis for his counsel (1 Tim 2:13). But the argument also fails to recognize the "firstborn" element in the issue. "When the Hebrews gave a special responsibility to the

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'firstborn,' it never entered their minds that this responsibility would be nullified if the father happened to own cattle before he had sons. In other words, when Moses wrote Genesis, he knew that the first readers would not lump animals and humans together as equal candidates for the responsibilities of the 'firstborn.'" See Question #39 of John Piper and Wayne Grudem, "An Overview of Central Concerns: Questions and Answers," in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, p. 81.

[3] Over the centuries, some scholars have justified the headship principle with arguments which mistakenly assign superiority to the man and inferiority to the woman. Richard Davidson summarized these arguments: "(a) man is created first and woman last ([Gen] 2:7, 22), and the first is superior and the last is subordinate or inferior; (b) woman is formed for the sake of man--to be his 'helpmate' or assistant to cure man's loneliness (vss. 18-20); (c) woman comes out of man (vss. 21-22), which implies a derivative and subordinate position; (d) woman is created from man's rib (vss. 21-22), which indicates her dependence upon him for life; and (e) the man names the woman (v. 23), which indicates his power and authority over her" (Richard M. Davidson, "The Theology of Sexuality in the Beginning: Genesis 1-2," Andrews University Seminary Studies 26/1 [1988]:14, emphasis added).

From our earlier discussion in chapter III (under the subheadings "Equality of Women and Men" and "Biblical Headship"), perceptive readers will recognize that our position on the headship principle is not the same as these summarized views. Against these mistaken scholarly views, and in agreement with Davidson, we maintain that Genesis 1-2 teaches an ontological equality between the sexes; consequently, no inferiority or superiority exists within the complementary relationship of man and woman. However, we differ with the assertion that the headship principle is post-fall rather than pre-fall (see part II of his article, "The Theology of Sexuality in the Beginning: Genesis 3,"Andrews University Seminary Studies 26/2 [1988]:121-131). The four evidences given above trace headship to the time before the fall.

[4] The perfect harmony that existed in Eden before the fall may perhaps be likened to the harmony in heaven before the fall of Satan, when "So long as all created beings acknowledged the allegiance of love, there was perfect harmony throughout the universe of God. . . . And while love to God was supreme, love for one another was confiding and unselfish. There was no note of discord to mar the celestial harmonies" ( Patriarchs and Prophets , p. 35). Though God's law governed everyone, "When Satan rebelled against the law of Jehovah, the thought that there was a law came to the angels almost as an awakening to something unthought of" ( Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing, p. 109). The angels responded freely and spontaneously to God. They seem to have been almost unconscious of a "law" to obey God or to worship Christ. These things were their delight. (SeePatriarchs and Prophets , pp. 35-37.)

[5] It is instructive to note that the "curse" on Adam was no different from the "curse" on Eve, as far as role assignments were concerned. Before the fall, God "took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" (Gen 2:15 NIV), a headship assignment that was, no doubt, a joy. After the fall, however, the exercise of Adam's headship role as provider and protector of the family was to be carried out with toil, pain and sweat (Gen 3:17-19). The divine judgment on our first parents (the so-called "curses") recognized that it was not going to be easy to fulfil the original headship arrangement which assigned different roles to man and woman for their mutual blessing. Christ's redemptive work did not remove these gender-based roles. Yet through a faith relationship with Him, Christians can experience the joy and harmony that results when regenerate men and women seek to live in harmony with God's creation ordinance.

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[6] In the Bible, although the father assumed ultimate responsibility for teaching in the household family, the mother also played a significant role in teaching, instructing and exhorting the family (see Prov 1:8; 6:20; 31:26). Thus, while the man filled the headship role, the ministry of both the man and woman were necessary in the home. This illustrates the biblical understanding of man and woman as complementary to one another.

The analogy of the home may help us understand how to deal with unusual church situations, such as when there are no qualified men to provide leadership. A widowed or divorced woman may have to earn the living, discipline the children, and get the lawn mower fixed--responsibilities her husband had largely carried. But in doing these things she does not become a man or start to call herself a husband. Furthermore, her singleness may be only temporary until she has another husband to fulfill some of those roles. Likewise, women in unusual church situations may have to provide leadership for a time, but this does not require that they be ordained as elders or pastors (cf. note 7 below).

[7] Despite the fact that women have a major part to act (see note 6 above, and also 2 Tim 1:5), these texts illustrate the responsibility God has placed on fathers for the rearing of their children, a responsibility too widely ignored in today's world, even within the church. The example of Barak in the Old Testament shows how men in leadership often default in their leadership responsibility (Judges 4). When such situations arise, there is a need for God-fearing Deborahs (see chapter 3, note 1).

The unique leadership of Deborah as prophet and judge in Israel is probably the best model of how women can exercise their leadership gifts in the absence of capable men (Judges 4:4ff.). But note that whereas other judges led Israel into victory in battle, God told Deborah that Barak was to do this (vv. 6-7). Apparently, she was the only judge in the book of Judges who had no military function. She does not assert leadership for herself, but she gives priority to a man--even though the man was reluctant to go to battle without her (v. 8). The failure of Barak to exercise his leadership is rebuked when he is told that the glory that day would go to a woman--not Deborah, but Jael (vv. 9, 17-25.). Thomas R. Schreiner therefore concludes that Deborah's "attitude and demeanor were such that she was not asserting her leadership. Instead, she handed over the leadership, contrary to the pattern of all the judges, to a man" (Schreiner, "The Valuable Ministries of Women in the Context of Male Leadership: A Survey of Old and New Testament Examples and Teaching," in John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, p. 216).

[8] See V. . Poythress, "The Church as Family: Why Male Leadership in the Family Requires Male Leadership in the Church," in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, pp. 233-236, for the various expressions used in the Bible to refer to the church as God's family.

[9] Chrysostom, Homily XX on Ephesians, cited by Stephen B. Clark, Man and Woman in Christ (Ann Arbor, Mich.: Servant Books, 1980), p. 134.

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