Women and the Church
Michael Jordan - the Greatest Baskeball Player of all Time?

Women in Ministry

I believe that every church should be committed to releasing every person into ministry. Every Christ-follower is 'saved' (not just to go to heaven!) AND 'called' (to a special purpose here on earth - see 2 Tim.1:9). All ministry should be based on 'godliness and giftedness, not gender'.

Unfortunately, many churches restrict or limit women from ministry, and especially from leadership. I believe this is because of a misunderstanding of what the Bible says about women. As with any issue, we need to go back to the beginning - to God's original intentions. Before the Fall, men and women were both created in the image of God and they were both given the dominion and the reproduction mandate. They were called as 'partners' in life and ministry (see Gen.1:26-31). Only after sin entered was there hierarchy and a loss of the partnership model between men and women (see Gen.3:16).

Jesus came to bring us back to God's original intention - partnership. Paul tells us that in Christ there is 'neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ' (Gal.3:28). He is not saying that these distinctions cease to exist (racial, socio-economic and gender differences) but that they should now no longer be a cause for prejudice or discrimination.

Jesus and Paul valued women and released them into ministry. The Holy Spirit was poured out on men and women, and both prophesied (Acts 2). Spiritual gifts are given to men and women, and both will be held accountable for their use (1 Cor.12,14).

Yes, there are a number of places in the New Testament writings that seem to limit the activity of women in the church, but these are always in dysfunctional environments (e.g. at Corinth and in Ephesus, where there was false teaching spreading amongst the women). In healthy environments, women were encouraged to minister and were also involved in significant leadership roles, including leading entire house churches.

It has been terrific to see the focus on racial reconciliation in the broader church world of late. People today would never think of withholding ministry from someone based on their race. I believe we also need to see reconciliation and release of women into the full rights and opportunities of ministry and leadership within the church. It is part of God's plan and I believe it is a key to the church being all that God has called it to be in our generation. Men, I believe it's up to us to create an environment where women feel valued, appreciated and empowered.

Churches can benefit greatly from women who faithfully contribute to our church's ministries, who speak regularly as part of our teaching team, and who lead in various ministries within the church, including as Elders. 

Go girls!

Mark Conner


Excellent word of encouragement Mark! Thank you!

Rise up all you Deborahs!!! :)

God bless you.

Much love in Christ, Marija

Go Mark!!! How many women have never been allowed to develop and exercise their gifts because of incorrect teaching on this subject? Not at CityLife...thank God! We have so many amazing women in every role...a balanced portrayal of the Body of Christ.
A great read on this subject is Jim Reiher's book "We've Been Fed a Lie"...the title says it all!

Thank you Mark. You have no idea how affirmiing it is to hear those words. In the past I have had men get up and leave as I began preaching and their teenage sons did the same thing to me in a youth service. That can really shake your confidence in God's call. I am very grateful to God for leading us to City Life. Nicole is an inspiring role model for women in leadership in general, and for me in particular.

Thank God for a church community where us girls have as much opportunity to learn, lead and all that as the men!

We are constantly blessed by the effective ministry of gifted women at CityLife. On behalf of the guys out there, thanks ladies! Please keep exercising your gifts!

As one who has been incredibly blessed to serve under your outstanding leadership Mark, thank you for your genuine attitude towards women in every area of ministry.
The way in which you release people into their calling regardless of gender, has built courage in us all to rise and become all God has called us to be.
It's an honour to serve the Lord under your leadership.

christ is the HEAD of the church
christ is the HEAD of the man

but christ IS NOT THE HEAD of the woman MAN is.

Can't imagine CityLife's or children's ministry in general without it's leaders who are mostly women : )

In the previous post Chris reminded us of Jim Reiher's outstanding book on this: Women, leadership and the Church. A fantastic read that goes in depth in some of the passages that have caused such controversy over the centuries.

Great articles and discussion Mark, thanks for opening it up.

Angie: your brief statement about headship encourages me to make a few comments:

1) The use of the word 'head' as a metaphor in the NT, has been the cause of much debate. "Head"... If not used literally for an actual head, then what do we think of when we say that word? In 2009 I think of "boss". Like "Headmaster" or "head of a company". But what did 1st century Greek speakers think of when they said that word? Some commentators want us to believe it always meant "boss" or "authority over". But the evidence is compelling. There is a strong case for the 1st century meaning of the word, to be "source of". (Only by about the 400's did the more common metaphor use of "authority" start to really take over the image). So when Paul used it of Christ as the head of the church, and Christ is the head of man, and man is the head of woman... the idea behind each is "source" not "authority over".

2) Think about that: Christ, the same Paul tells us in Colossians, created the universe and all things. So Christ is the source of the first human Adam... Also Christ's atonement and work on earth created the church. So he is the head, or the source, of the church. And the first man (Adam) was the source of the first woman (via his rib). The first women came from man. So man is the source of women. (Paul goes on to add that now men come from women and so there now is interdependence between them - I Cor 11:11,12).

3) So to use Head as if it means boss or authority, is to miss the point.

4) There is still one use of the word Head, where it still means source, even today: the head of a river. The old use has held onto one area still even 2000 years later!

5) To make Jesus the source of the church does not mean he is not also still the boss of the church! But other Greek words tell us that. Not least of all "lord" and "master" etc.

6) Man is the head of woman. And husbands in Ephesians are said to be the head of their wives. How so are they the source? Besides Adam being the actual source of his wife Eve? How so the rest of us? Well, especially in Paul's day, men were the source of provision, protection, nurture, information, etc. Today, it is not quite the same kind of world, and women and wives are much more educated, skilled, and equipped to survive without men in their lives. Our modern world is very different from most of human history in that regard.

7) So... in summary, we do not deny the metaphor is there in the scripture. We just understand it to mean source, not authority over.

Hello Jim and others.

I'm doing PG studies in the Lukan Literature (Gospel of Luke and Acts). As it happens I'm researching and writing an essay on the depiction of women in each group. Some of the theologians I've read say that the women in these books are depicted as being subordinate to men. The equality that the body of Christ was meant to exemplify was never achieved, and will only come when the Kingdom of God comes in its fullness. Are they right, or are they being overly harsh in their reading of the situation?

I have always seen Luke as very affirming of women and ministry.

I have read Val Webb and others who are more cynical of Luke. The Luke 10 passage where Martha is in the kitchen and Mary sits at Jesus' feet, is a case in point. I see it as liberating. Jesus tells Martha to take a leaf out of Mary's book on this one. The woman can be a disciple and sit at the masters feet just as the male disciples do. Women are not restricted to the kitchen! But Webb sees the passage as belittling to women. The woman cant do anything until the man gives permission... that sort of angle (if my memory is working for me).

But really: Luke highlights so many women: Mary, Elizabeth, Anna in the Temple, the women who travelled with Jesus (Luke 8), Jairus' mother as well as father included in the witnessing of the raising of their daughter, etc etc. Women the first witnesses of the resurrection and commissioned by Jesus to tell the male apostles... all that and more.

And in Acts? Stories like Prisca and Aquilla where the wife seems more prominent than the husband; stories of the house church prayer meeting where it is described as "John Mark mother's home"; Lydia the competent business women in Philippi (some traditions have Luke marry her, interestingly...); and more.

Having said all that, I think that there is some truth that real equality and a totally sinless state will only come at the fullness of time. But that is true of every sin and every area of our life. It does NOT give us an excuse not to persue the highest path. We should still aim high and seek to live the way God would want us to live. In this and every area of our lives.

Thank you Mark and thank you Jim Reiher. In the past I have had men, both old and young get up and walk out when I have stepped up to preach. My first sermon was used by the men in that church to make a statement, they all got up together and walked out before I had spoken a word. I just prayed till I could focus :0) Funny when I look back now but not very encouraging for my first sermon. I managed to hang in there because of one very encouraging session with Nancy Beach from Willow Creek where she affirmed women with leadership gifts saying "You are not crazy - over and over until we got it and most of us needed a box of tissues. That's all she said and I needed to tell you, that although I have had more people belittle my leadership, because of my gender over the years than I have had encouragement, that one drop of encouragement went a very long way. I went on to have a very fruitful ministry and I can't thank you enough, on behalf of all the women out there who are confused because they are gifted to lead and yet are blocked by men and women who have dodgy theological filters. I was going to reply to Angie about the 'head of the river' but you have said it so much more clearly than I could have. My husband and I are partners not competitors, we have been redeemed to stand together on level ground at the foot of the cross. Thank you again.

PS Just thought I'd clarify, it wasn't all the men who walked out... just enough of them to rattle my cage!

To summarise our position:

“This matter, like all matters which affect the church, must be determined from clear
Scripture. The sacred Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the only source of
teaching and right practice in the church. They are the only judge of all teachers and
teachings. Practical considerations may deeply affect a particular problem; nevertheless,
they cannot be put in the place of Scripture. They may, however, give support to scriptural teaching.

The Bible gives no specific directions on the subject of the role of women in the church.
What we do find is a pattern of activity which functions as a guide or direction to the
church. There are also a few passages where a clear principle is developed.

The New Testament shows that a comparatively large number of women were actively
engaged in serving Jesus Christ and his disciples in various capacities:
•Mary and Martha and others mentioned in Luke 8:1-3 and 23:49
•Lydia (Acts 16:15) and Priscilla (Romans 16:3,4)
•Philip’s daughters (Acts 21:9) and other prophetesses
•Euodia and Syntyche (Paul says of them that ‘they shared my struggles in the cause
of the gospel, with Clement and my fellow workers’, Philippians 4:3)
•Phoebe (Romans 16:1,2)

However, none of these women worked independently. They were helpers, supporters of
the Lord and the apostles. There was no woman among the Twelve (Luke 6:12-16), and
there is no indication of any women among the Seventy (Luke 10:1-20)

The rule of the apostles excludes the possibility of women acting as pastors and
shepherds of congregations.

Exclusion from the office of pastor and church leader does not mean that Christian
women have no satisfying and rewarding ways in which to serve the congregation and
church. We may mention here activities such as:
teaching children and adults in Sunday-schools, parish schools, and Bible
>visiting and counseling people in institutions (hospitals and prisons) and
conducting devotions there as opportunity offers
>taking part in congregational meetings, and assisting in congregational
worship – except in acts which specifically belong to the office of the
>conducting devotions under pastoral direction in various church
organisations, specifically in youth groups and women’s guilds
>holding any offices in the church or congregation which do not imply the
exercise of rule and authority”.

Source: http://www.lca.org.au/resources/cticr/dsto1f2.pdf

Mark, I think again, we will have to agree to disagree on this matter. :-)

in your tradition can women be missionaries?
'Sent ones' to proclaim the gospel, and with that establish faith communities in cultures that do not have one?

Oh, one more question. Am i interpreting your other posts (on this blog and previous) correctly by saying that a woman can be in equal standing in every other vocation, except ordination and church leadership?

Hi Nic,

I will answer the questions that you have posed, but before I do, can you please clarify your thoughts on the questions I asked of you in the previous thread (plus two more):

1) What are the constraints and limitations to that must be considered when applying 'cultural context' to the exegesis of scripture?

2) Do you think that the use of 'cultural context' should or should not be applied to the issue of the oridination of gay ministers? (I would like your own thoughts ie. a Yes or No and why response - not a deferral to a previous thread).

3) Do you accept that the orthodox Church throughout the ages (Church fathers, Nicene Council etc) and churches (eg. Lutheran Church) are NOT acting out of a motive to devalue or subdue women - rather they have made their decision/edict/instruction out of honest study of the scriptures and as a matter of and conscience and conviction?

And one more hypothetical:

4) If the technology were readily available (and it maynot be that far off), do you believe that a man should be able to choose to fall pregnant, give birth and fulfill the gender based role of being a mother of a child?

Have a great night!


Just to help you think through my hypothetical, grab a coffee and watch this:


Paul refers to Priscilla and Aquila as senior leaders in the early church. Note that he mentions Priscilla's name first (Rom.16:3-5).

Also, check out NT Wright (undoubtly one of the leading NT scholars alive today)commenting on women in ministry:


The key in all theological debates it to go back to the beginning - to God's original intentions. Before sin, God created man and woman to rule together and populate the earth together.

Notice that God did not give Adam the dominion mandate and Eve the domestic mandate! They were to rule and take dominion TOGETHER and fill the earth TOGETHER. Leadership was never intended to be male.

Sin brought hierarchy and domination, as well as male chauvinism and women's feminism.

Jsus and Paul, in the midst of a highly patriarchial society, move us back towards the beginning. We are to do the same.

Leadership and ministry should be based on godliness (character) and gifting, NOT gender. If a woman has been given a leadership gift, then let her lead ... for the benefit of others. Notice that ALL of the gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12-14, Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 are not limited to any particular gender. They are given to all, just as the Spirit was on the day of Pentecost.

Let's move away from focusing on the dysfunctional churches in the 1st century and the man-made traditions that have held women captive throughout church history and move towards God's original intentions: men amd women partnering together to accomplish his purpose on the earth. Selah

Hello Richard,

Question 1: Yes. To answer that I would have to write a thesis - but fortunately that has already been done.
For constraints and limitations and safeguards for exegesis and application I highly recommend Gordon Fee and Doug Stuart's book "How to read the Bible for all its worth"
Also "Introduction to Biblical Interpretation" by Klein, Blomberg and Hubbard
Also "New Testament Exegesis" by Fee.

Question 2: I think cultural context can never be ignored - for sound exegesis and application , cultural context needs to always be weighed and taken into account. And why should I not refer to the previous post on homosexuality where the debate was never settled on whether someone of same sex orientation can be a brother or sister in Christ?
A debate that you were part of. It saves repeating endless thoughts and reflections.

Question 3:
" Do you accept that the orthodox Church throughout the ages (Church fathers, Nicene Council etc) and churches (eg. Lutheran Church) are NOT acting out of a motive to devalue or subdue women - rather they have made their decision/edict/instruction out of honest study of the scriptures and as a matter of and conscience and conviction? "

I can feel the value and love in these thoughts of church fathers:

" God's judgement on this sex (women) lives on in our age; the guilt necessarily lives on as well. You are the Devil's gateway; you are the unsealer of that tree; you are the first forsaker of the divine law; you are the one who persuaded him whom the Devil was not brave enough to approach; you so lightly crushed the image of God, the man Adam; because of your punishment, that is, death, even the Son of God had to die. And you think to adorn yourself beyond your "tunics of skin" (Gen. 3:21)?" (Tertullian)

Popular held view in the 'orthodox church' : ' Rules of Marriage ' by Friar Cherubino of Sienna: When you see your wife commit an offence, don't rush at her with insults and violent blows...Scold her sharply, bully and terrify her. And if it still doesn't work...take up a stick and beat her soundly, for it is better to punish the body and correct the soul...Readily beat her, not in rage but out of charity...for her soul, so that the beating will redound to your merit and her good.

“Women should not be enlightened or educated in any way. They should, in fact, be segregated as they are the cause of hideous and involuntary erections in holy men.” Augustine

" The divine law indeed has excluded women from this ministry, but they endeavour to thrust themselves into it; and since they can effect nothing of themselves, they do all through the agency of others..."(p.49,IBID).Vol IX,NPNF - St John Chrysostom.

or Martin Luther:

"Men have broad and large chests, and small narrow hips, and more understanding than women, who have but small and narrow breasts, and broad hips, to the end they should remain at home, sit still, keep house, and bear and bring up children." (Table Talk)


"God created Adam master and lord of living creatures, but Eve spoilt all, when she persuaded him to set himself above God's will. 'Tis you women, with your tricks and artifices, that lead men into error."

but then Martin Luther had some orthodox things to say about Jews too:

" Their synagogues ... should be set on fire."
"Their homes should be broken down and destroyed. They ought to be put under one roof or in a stable, like Gypsies, in order that they may realize that they ... are ... but miserable captives."
"They should be deprived of their prayerbooks and Talmuds."
"Their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more."
"What shall we Christians do now with this depraved and damned people of the Jews? ... I will give my faithful advice: First, that one should set fire to their synagogues. . . . Then that one should also break down and destroy their houses. . . . That one should drive them out the country."
"The Jews are the most miserable people on earth. They are plagued everywhere, and scattered about all countries, having no certain resting place. They sit as on a wheelbarrow, without a country, people or government... but they are rightly served, for seeing they refused have Christ and his gospel, instead of freedom they must have servitude."

Of course the 'orthodox' church also had interesting ways to communicate value in the way they treated and spoke of Muslims (crusades), slaves, ethnic groups and people of varying skin colours , women, homosexuals, etc. etc.

And what particular part of the 'orthodox' church are we talking about today - the ones that ordain women or don't? I see that even the Lutheran church has varying views on this - which ones are classed as orthodox?

My take is that as a woman I am deeply grateful that I am not accountable to the various people in history with their traditions and interpretations on women, but I am accountable to Christ. My take on the life of Christ and the NT community is that it was an emphasis on servant hood and humility, and the traditions that have formed around ordination and hierarchy are rather farcical in this light.

4. Brilliant hoax, isn't it ? http://www.livescience.com/health/080328-pregnant-man.html
I don't know what I would think about a guy being pregnant, maybe Arnie and Danny Devito could answer that - film - Junior. But I would definitely buy him a present for his baby.

I hate to be cynical but is the issue of gay ordination and male pregnancies in this particular discussion of women in leadership a bit of a red herring?

Anyway, I doubt we will settle this debate, but would still like to hear your thoughts on female missionaries and the question on vocation - and of course if you are in Melbourne there is the open invite for coffee.

The question of women today, gays tomorrow... It is a red herring.

Some say: if you treat women equally to men, you confuse the genders, and then homosexuality will become common. If you ordain women today, it will be gays tomorrow!

But from history, the opposite can be aruged too. In the Greek and Roman world where men were seen by men as the superior sex, it was quite common for noble men to have male lovers. Women were good to have offspring by, so you marry and have someone who will bear your children. But since men are superior to women, then to have true love, at the highest level, you need another male. (So the argument was put).

So to treat women as less than men, not quite able (or allowed by God) to do some of the things men do, is to open up the path to homosexual activity!

And lets be honest here: while some denominations seem to have gone down both paths, (some part of the Uniting Church, and some branches of Anglicans), other denominations that have been ordaining women for over 100 years, have not gone down that path, and in fact are some of the strongest opposed to ordaining homosexuals. (Salvation Army and AOG now ACC).

There is no automatic link between the two issues. To pretend there is, is to try to scare people into rejecting one issue in case it leads to a different issue. It is not honest discussion. It is emotional persuasion.

[Having said all that, I am not offering any opinion on the deeply complex issue of gays and their place in the church. Just noting a mistaken path of logic in linking two issues together that should not be linked.]

Rhiannon- I wonder if all those men who got up and left had a prostate problem - it can be like that - symptoms are: urgency, frequency, trouble initiating and finishing off urination- it means that when you've got to go, you've got to go- and if the congregation was of a certain age, it might have been catchy- sort of one out, all out- unionism of prostatism! You've got to feel for them- so little freedom!

Reminds me of a story I heard about a female medical student in the early days who was routinely ignored by one of the lecturers- one day she was the only one who turned up to a class- the men were playing a prank on him- the lecturer came in, saw her sitting there, said "humph, no-one here" and walked out!

As for man being the head/source- well it's a chicken and egg argument isn't it since the garden of eden (which after all was a LONG time ago!) At the beginning of the day (as opposed to the end) it's women who give birth- now there's a headship problem esp when the head is too big and gets stuck- agonising! I'm sure there's an allegory there somewhere about what happens when heads get too big.

Ain't no man head of me- none within cooee as far as I can see- if there were I'd get them to do a few chores around the place instead of doing them all myself.

Ah the male of the species- so decorative in the bird world- always the more colourful and attention-seeking- now there's a point worthy of consideration.

Must go - due to the lack of the old XY of the species, I must go and drive my car(forbidden to women in Saudi Arabia) to a confirmation of a friend's child(such an difficult birth- thank the Lord for anaesthetics) and afterwards attend the big nosh-up (all cooking done by the women)- back to real world.

Hi Mark,

I am still struggling with this - especially the concept that authority (a consequence of the Fall) and that Christ's work has reset everything (or nullified the need for such things) to pre-fall times:

To be sure, the eternal effects of sin have been conquered by Christ's work on Calavry.

However we still live in a present reality that require post-fall functions (including clothing, work, hierarchy and organization).

Consequently, the landscape of the New Testament Church is littered with scriptures requesting wives to submit to husbands and believers to submit to Church Leadership:

"Obey your leaders and SUBMIT to their AUTHORITY. They keep watch over you as MEN who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. Hebrews 13:17

Christian hierarchy is a real concept, but where Leaders set the example of servant leadership.

Hi Nic,

Q1. Constraints and Limitations of Cultural Context

I would have loved to hear your own views put concisely on this matter – not reference to a book.

Q2. Your views on ordination on ordination of gay ministers.

Again, I would of prefer to hear your own views on this in a manner. A Yes or No answer would be suffice – not “that the debate was never settled”.

Based upon your consistent avoidance of answering this question in the way that Jesus told us to respond (let you “Yes” be a “Yes” etc) Are you not in a position to declare your hand on this issue?

Personally, I see the concept of accepting a gay brother in Christ in a lay capacity is different from the ordination of a gay minister. (I do have gay friends and gay brothers with whom I fellowship – but would not endorse their qualification for ordination).

I see both issues as different but parallel arguments – which both rest upon limited arguments by applying ‘cultural context’ to work around scriptures like an old Rubik’s cube.

In the Lutheran Church, worldwide, Churches that have fallen from orthodox views on the matter have also fallen further:


Yes there are Churches that ordain women – but refrain from ordaining gay ministers. Are then examples of Churches that have allowed the ordination of gay ministers – but have not allowed the ordination of women? One may be a predecessor of the other.

Q3. Motive of Orthodox Church Not To Ordain Women throughout the ages

Proving quotes of Church Fathers and reformers that push your buttons does not get to the heart of the issue. Back to the beginning – Jesus never chose a woman as part of the 12, and there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that any women were included in the seventy – as well as the qualifications for Leadership described by Timothy and Titus. This thread has continued throughout the ages.

Quite simply, women played and active but distinct but wonderfully role from men in their service to Christ right from the beginning.

Some roles are served by men, and other functions are wonderfully served exclusively by women (such as the wonderful role and function of motherhood – and the motherhood in particular of Jesus).

I am almost sounding Catholic there!. But isn’t it ironic that the catholic Church who is the strongest opponent to the ordination of women in the Church Universal – also is the Church that elevates and celebrates the role of motherhood above that held by all others.

Q4 Nic, I am aware that this was a hoax – that is why I framed this as a hypothetical.

Nic, please do not take my comments as personal affront. I am still up for coffee when I next come to Melbourne. Strong, Flat white, one sugar – but no hemlock please! :-)

Well Mark and Nicole after being at City life for 2 decades now I have come to the transitional moment of changing my beliefs on this subject matter. I was always of the persuasion that males dominated leadership of the church was of sound scriptural integrity, as has been demonstrated by Richard’ posts.

Due to this discussion, and the drawing aside and contemplating of the Genesis examples of partnership “to God's original intentions.” Before the fall, men and women were both created in the image of God and they were both given the dominion and the reproduction mandate. They were called as 'partners' in life and ministry (see Gen.1:26-31).
It is a fact that cannot be denied, God’s intention is indeed a partnership.
It has liberated my thinking in my marriage*(is a process), and chauvinistic attitudes have been addressed. Praise God.
I think a significant persuading factor was your integrity/ life style for as long as I have watched you, Follow me as I follow Christ, Paul says, so you have provided a good example.
2 Corith 3:18 "But we all, with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit."

Hi Sam,
Thank you for your thoughts and kind words. I was so encouraged by them.

Hi Richard,
Thanks for the interesting critique of my answers and the way you applied Scripture when the answers where not quite what you prescribed :) If you get a chance would you answer mine that i asked earlier?

HI Rhiannon,
I agree with Helen! Such behaviour could not possibly be the lack of maturity, compassion and love for another - it has to be prostate related.

Hallelujah Sam! Praise God.

Good morning Nic,

Re: "...the way you applied Scripture...".

Sorry, Nic, could you please clarify ... I don't think we are on the same page here.

Reading through my own comments - forgive me I my comments appear to pointed and less than graceful.

It is not my intention to appear disrespectfully to you - rather to be as consise as possible and get to the heart of the issues.

I also admit to acting out of frustration when you have not answered my questions appropraitely.

I will answers your own questions later tonight.

In the mean time, perhaps you could find the time to answer my questions openly and honestly - from your own perspective.

Can I lay to rest a myth: Jesus had all male aposltes, therefore all church leadership (at least the most senior leadership) must be male.

It does not hold water for a number of reasons.

First: there is a valid question that needs addressing: Jesus was not backwards in being forward at breaking some of the cultural traditions of his day. He did not wash his hands enough, he broke food laws often, the broke Sabbath rules, often. So some say: he could have broken the "male leadership" rule too. But he didn't - so leadership must therefore be male.

On the surface, there is some appeal to that argument. It falters however, on the following considerations:

1) Jesus still wore the same clothes, the same kinds of footware, ate the same kinds of food, had the same kind of hair cut, and spoke the same language of his culture too. We do not insist on his dress code, his diet, his hair style, or his language, for our's today. He kept a lot of his cultural norms, and he broke some. But in our appeal to that: we are not consistent in seeking to apply the ones he kept! So something else is happening here too.

2) Jesus chose 12 men to be the 12 apostles. There is a rich symbolism in the number 12. It was the number of the Old Covenant: the 12 tribes of Israel, the 12 sons of Judah... Jesus deliberately copied that number for a symbolic effect, in establishing the foundation of the New Covenant: he would mirror the Old with a New 12. And to maintain the symbolism, it made perfect sense to have 12 men.

3) Interestingly most of those men then disappear to history. They are not the most prominent of the New Testament leaders at all. Other than Peter and James and John, the book of Acts is noticeably lacking in detail on the others. We get more about Stephen, and Phillip and Paul and even some women like Prisca, and Lydia, and Dorcus, .... than on the other 9 apostles.

4) This indicates (I think) that the role of the 12 was pretty well over, after the initial days of the New Covenant church began. Their symbolic role was there: The New Covenant was upon us. Now other leaders emerged and become more prominent than most of the 12. And some of the new leadership were women.

5) The apostles, it should be noted, were not the leaders of local churches. They are not the senior pastors of the local church. So to even compare the role (and gender) of apostles with the role (and gender) of ministers is a leap as well.

6) Finally, we could also add that the 12 were all Jewish men. There were no Gentiles among them. Even though Jesus had Gentile followers and some he commended for "great faith". So why did not Jesus break another cultural norm and have Gentiles in his leadership band? He broke other cultural norms, but not that one. Maybe that means all church leaders for all time MUST be Jewish males. ... opps...

7) Of course that would be nuts. It would not only be impractical, but it also ignores the spreading of the gospel into other lands and other cultures. We have adapted to other cultures and other places and of course Gentiles - and women - can be leaders.

8) The 12 apostles were the start of the new covenant. There is not statement in the New Testament that says we must model all leadership patterns on their gender! It was the start, not the norm!

Hope this helps! God bless.

Hi Jim,
Thank you for you great theological input in these posts. It seems, in my limited knowledge and study of Church History, that the faith communities that approached ministry with a partnership model, men and women serving alongside based on gift not gender, seemed to thrive, and the enabling presence of the Holy Spirit seemed so evident? The minute a movement becomes so institutionalised in legalism and policies it tapers and dies?

Hi Richard,
(mumbling to myself in a fairly squeaky voice, but still smiling)
Let me answer this part first :

"In the mean time, perhaps you could find the time to answer my questions openly and honestly -from your own perspective." -
Just because my approach to your questions is not the classic path of modernity and linear thought does not mean I am not open and honest...it simply makes me different to you (personality, style). I grew up in a home of debate where you answered questions with more thoughts and questions, because it encourages more debate...
To then slap this scripture on:
"Based upon your consistent avoidance of answering this question in the way that Jesus told us to respond (let you “Yes” be a “Yes” etc)" - is an interesting application (considering that Jesus drove the pharisees to blind rage by the many times he answered their questions with more questions - again showing context and the way we use scripture, especially against others, is so important).

Q 1 - Simply read ch. 1-3 of Fee/Stuart's book. They would be my main thoughts on boundaries of culture/context. I can fax them to you if you wish.
Q. 2 - YES. I have nearly the whole collection of Henri Nouwen's writings on my shelf. Nouwen was a devout follower of Christ, living a life given to the service of God and helping the poor, inspiring 1000's of people to love God and to love their neighbour . Who would not have read (and snotted their way through ) "Life of the Beloved" or "Return of the Prodigal" or the marvellous "Turn my mourning into dancing", without being deeply impacted by this man's writings and perspective? Nouwen was also of same sex orientation (celibate) - and an ordained minister (and for the sake of the previous debate, a dearly loved, and unmet brother in Christ) - so YES (!) of course context has to be taken into consideration.
Q. 3 - NO - I believe a large portion of the decisions made regarding women was through glasses of prejudice, patriarchy and culture. You would know that those quotes were not haphazard but portrayed the general attitude towards women through the ages. I have great respect for the people who have gone before - but I do not hold all their paradigms or decisions on the same level as scripture.
Q. 4 - What the.... In my current life of dealing with people in pain and suffering I really don't know or care about the hypothetical possibility of a man having a baby. I do know that my leadership gift as a woman is not hypothetical.

Well, Richard, at least we can agree on one thing - coffee. That must count for something.
Look forward to hearing your thoughts on my questions.
p.s. Hey, chilli chocolate = 2 things we agree on... (Kodak moment)

Just for your interest
Jesus only answered 3 of the many (i think it was 42 in total) questions asked of him directly - yes or no - the rest he answered in parables or questions..... He should read his own scripture!
He also asked over 200 questions - it was a learning style. So far removed from our culture today. Context matters!

Hi Nic,

(First of a few posts)

Re: “….Comment ending in > institutionalised in legalism and policies it tapers and dies?”.

Nic, Hang on! This is a loaded question.

Are you labeling Churches that share similar views as mine on the ordination of women as being ‘legalistic’ and ‘institutionalized’ and ‘legalistic’…?

The missionary efforts of (say) the Lutheran World Service, Baptists and Roman Catholic Church far outweigh and out reach those of the Charismatic and Pentecostal Church worldwide. .For example if you go into the outer most reaches of the Australian outback (eg. Finke River) or New Guinea – you will find the Churches and missions alive and well.

More to come ... I have been told by my wife that I have to unload the dishwasher.

Hi Nic,

Thanks for answering my question. I am happier with the response. :-)

Now, to answer your questions of me.

Firstly, “(Can) a woman can be in equal standing in every other vocation, except ordination and church leadership?”

My answer is ‘No’ - to every other vocation. Yes to the majority of vocations.

This is on the basis that (as a general principle) there are also some roles (or functions) that are gender specific (or have naturally a better fit with a particular gender) in the secular world. Examples may include: Armed forces direct combat, AFL Player, Father, Mother, Curves Health Club Proprietor, etc.

In may other roles or functions, I see no problems with either gender performing a particular role eg. Accountant, engineer, teacher, brick paver, house wife :-).

Hi Nic,

Last one for tonight - I will deal with your women as missionaries question tommorrow.

Re: “I believe a large portion of the decisions made regarding women was through glasses of prejudice, patriarchy and culture … but I do not hold all their paradigms or decisions on the same level as scripture”.

I agree that the paradigms or decisions are not to be held on the same level as scripture.

But I beg to differ that the views on the ordination of women was “(largely) through glasses of prejudice, patriarchy and culture”.

This is where you and I both differ. Both you and I read the same scriptures yet interpret these same scriptures differently.

As with the case of our attitudes to infant baptism, I am of the opinion there is something very deep within our theological DNA (belief system) on this issue that is at odds.

Of course I see a 'hierarchical model' (based on servant leadership, love and submission, equal value but different roles) at play and you see it as egalitarian (partnership).

My worldview may seem ‘patriarchal’, but there seems to be a pattern that is set by God himself.

We have a God that is revealed as ‘Our Father’, we have God himself coming as a male (‘The Son’).

You appear to see patriarchy as a negative, error, or even ill-motive.

I see a pattern that seems to be established through the Father himself, the Son, the scriptures and most of Church History as being a positive and reflection and revelation of the Father Heart of God.

Please do not assume chauvanism or ill-motive as the basis for this worldview - rather an interpration based our reading and understanding of the scriptures. :-)

"You appear to see patriarchy as a negative, error, or even ill-motive." - not necessarily, but when outworked through cultural prejudice it become distorted.


Re: " not necessarily, but when outworked through cultural prejudice it become distorted”.
This is so True.

It is like nearly every aspect of our faith lives. Tainted. Imperfect.

But that should not stop us from striving for that ideal. And it is also not a reason to disparage the ideal.

We need to be careful – because in offense lies a snare.

When we see or have been hurt by the imperfections – we can take consciously or subconsciously we can take offense – creating our own prejudices and offenses.

For an interesting article by George Barna showing the increase in women in the role of senior pastor, click here:


Hi Richard,
Please do not assume offense on my part simply because I perceive church history with less rosy glasses. My interpretation of scripture would flow from seeking to understand God's intent before the fall. Jesus Christ is God's redemption plan made manifest, He became the curse, in Him the Kingdom came, and from that moment on the kingdom has been at work, including through the lives of imperfect men and women. I glance to the current context from that angle, and appreciate the men and women who have gone before. But do not necessarily agree with all their traditions and doctrines. That approach does not mean I am offended - that becomes an assumption on your part.


I am glad that you are not offended and are free of any prejudices towards my conservative views. Good stuff!

Nic, can you please explain - as I still honestly do not get it...!

If Christ's redemption plan included resetting everything back to God's intention in pre-fall times - then even in this present age why:

-Do Christians still wear clothes.
-Christians still are required to labour for their living
-The pain experienced during labour by christian women has not returned to pre-fall levels
-Physical death is still a reality

-And why the hierachial order between a man and a woman has been rest to pre-fall - even though most scriptures instruct 'man to love their wife / wife to submit', '(Christians) to obey the men who are leaders'.

Did St Paul simply get it wrong when writing these scriptures?

Richard, please forgive me. But I do have to end my discussion here. This is not an avoidance of your questions, or a 'let your yes be yes' stuff. For me this is simply a time issue - as you can imagine I have numerous roles that yell for my attention. Also, there are so many excellent resources available, and countless hours of research done, to answer your questions, and I simply would not do them justice. I do highly recommend the writings of Kevin Giles and Jim Reiher (Australians) for a really sound exegesis on some of the more difficult contexual writings of Paul. Of course, Mark has also attached many resources, including those of N.T. Wright, in his posts.
To leave you with one thought (not the whole answer) to your question above I would say that we are living in the "now and not yet" time of the kingdom. Jesus has come, the kingdom is at work, but we will not see the totaly fulfilment of this until redemption is completely outworked (all of creation yearns for that time - Romans 8). There will be a time when there will be no more suffering, no more death, no more hunger, poverty, greed, malice, and the suppression of any people group. A time when the redeemed stand before their King and marvel - for He has done all things well.

In your journey I wish you Shalom.


"To leave you with one thought (not the whole answer) to your question above I would say that we are living in the "now and not yet" time of the kingdom"

I think that one line answer gets to the very heart of our issue which again lies in differences in our 'theological DNA'.

We see it all very differently as to exactly what goes into the "what's now" and the "what's next" buckets.

Thanks for the discussion. It has been insightful.

Let me know if coffee is still on! ;-)

And of course in our tradition, wonderful women have been and are involved in missionary activities over the centuries!.

All the best.

The discussion has been very rich.

I find the denominations that do not allow women to preach or lead, or be ordained, or be ministers or pastors.... but they allow women to be missionaires - I find this to be a most unusual contradiction.

A single women on the mission field, preaches, administers communion, leads, instructs men and women builds churches with her bare hands, wrestles lions... (well, now I am getting carried away).... but does everything in fact that a minister does back here.

It seems to me to be convenience to have a principle here in our land, but to bend it when in other lands. In fact, it seems hypocritical. It is also argueably racist. White men can only be taught by men, but other races can have lesser teachers and leaders...

Why can women in the same churches teach boys and girls in Sunday School? If women cant teach men (based on a very questionable use of I Tim 2:12-14), then why can they teach young men who later become leaders of the church? If (to really give a poor interpretation of I Tim:2) women are prone to error (like Eve was) and therefore cant teach in church, why entrust the children to such erroneous teachers? The answer: Convenience. Not enough males will do (or want) the job. But it is inconsistent.

I also need to express my frustration at the idea that just because Eve was decieved therefore somehow all women are prone to deception. That seems ridiculous to me. It would be like saying because Judas betrayed Jesus and was male, all men are prone to betray Jesus - therefore none should be leaders. The extrapolation from Eve to all women is a huge jump that is not said in the Genesis text. It is based on a poor interpretation of I Tim 2:13-14 which has other ways of interpreting it (as a previous post of mine explained).

Finally, I find the way Deborah in the book of Judges is treated, by those who don't let women be leaders, is terrible as well. Deborah was the leader over Israel, answerable to none except God. Just like the other judges when they were judges. What do denominations that keep women out of leadership, say about Deborah?
- she was an exception to the rule: God wants men to be leaders but when he cant find a man, he will use a women.
- she did not really rule over men, just women (that is incredible misuse of the text: it is no where said, and she is just as much a judge as the male judges. In fact, she was also a prophet.)
- she really was under Barak. (Nonesense: she commanded him to do things).

The exception excuse really eats at me for two reasons:
1) The very denominations that say this don't have any exceptions of their own. So they are tighter than God.
2) To say God has a principle: male leadership, but then to say that he bends it for convenience, has made God less than perfect. We have reduced God to the level of humans: imperfect and compromising. We have moulded God into our image!


Hi Jim,

Thanks for your thoughts. I have to respond to say that I do think that to label a denomination that is living out its faith in accordance with it’s reading of the Word, as well as having a solid worldwide missionary body, serving far reaching places from the outback to the jungle as being ‘tighter than God’ (read ‘legalistic’) on this particular issue is misrepresentative and really not helpful.

(Would it be legalistic if a Church ruled not to send missionaries who did not believe in a literal resurrection or literal miracles or even a couple that had (re)married after leaving previous marriages?)

When it comes down to it, it is about how we read the scriptures and how we best live out how we read the scriptures.

With regard to the issue of ‘Eve being deceived’ this was written not by denominations such as ours – but rather by St Paul in himself in the scriptures who is (it would appear) to be falling back on a timeless principle rather than a custom or specific context. This is something that we need to take up with God and St Paul not the denominations that read and apply it in their faith-lives.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1 Timothy+2&version=NIV

Again, after St Paul commands that ‘women be silent’ he goes on to say that his words are a ‘COMMAND from God’ (1 Cor 14:36-38).

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1 Corinthians+14&version=NIV

The Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) explains their conservative position on the ordination of women here:


Yet it has a very strong Women’s missionary which is an auxiliary body that acts out to serve Christ through support and assistance to missionary groups and has done great things over a long period of time within the same ‘hierarchal’ framework here:


When it comes down to it, we don’t believe that it is ‘hypocritical’ for a Christian or a Church to try their best to be faithful to the balance of instructions in scripture ─ quite the contrary! :-)

For the record, I also do not try to reconcile the ministries of heroines in the faith (such as Jackie Pullinger’s mission in the Walled City of Hong Kong) with scripture.

Personally, I have learned to let them go and leave these things to God and still live out my own faith as best I can in accordance with my (our) revelation of his Word.

There are a number of ambiguities and inconsistencies in both the Bible and in life that would drive us all into madness (or war) if we had to insist on settling them.

I do respect that you have different views and practices than mine. But please make sure that we are not labeling directly or by inference each other as ‘infidels’, ‘chauvinists’, ‘feminists’, ‘legalists’, ‘hypocrites’ or being ‘ill-motivated’ when an other denominations have diligently read the scriptures and are trying to live out their faith with clear conscience and in the best way possible.

After all, this is not a ‘core issue’ of faith, nor is it a ‘salvation’ issue.

And it’s certainly not a reason to not want to discuss these things over coffee. :-)

Thanks for your thoughts Richard. You are right: there are tensions and difficulties and problems in seeking to interpret the scripture and it should make us tolerant of differences as a result.

You have come across pretty strong in some of your blogs, though. Your appeal to your denomination (Lutheran) with its hundreds of years of traditions, prayers, and interpretation... and you kind of imply that because of that, then they are more likely right than anyone who disagrees with them. But there are other Prostestant denominations with their own history, traditions, prayers, councils and interpretation - and they don't necessarily agree with the Lutherans on this or other issues. And then there are the Catholics: they have an even longer tradition, more scholarly minds and more prayers and discussions and councils, than any of us - and you and I both disagree with them on various issues at times.

You have also appealed to the Church Fathers at times, but then don't adhere to all they say when it does not fit your theories.

And despite your appeals to church fathers, church councils and traditions and prayers and discussions, you also say that the scripture must guide us. But we dont agree on how best to interpret scripture. For example when you discussed I Tim 2 saying "saint Paul said it" about Eve's decepption, you did not acknowledge the other ways of interpreting that particular text (such as Kroeger and Kroeger's thesis in "I suffer not a woman"). In fact, even that text does not actually say "therefore all women are easily deceived". Even in I Tim, that is still an extra interpretation on top of the text. You might feel it is "clearly there". But I believe that the Adam and Eve pictures are illustrative of the situation in Ephesus, not causative or timeless.

But you have been gracious enough to say that there are varieties and grey areas etc. I agree. There are. Nevertheless I think we both agree that despite that we seek to find the truth as best we can.

You used a number of phrases to sum up a point about being careful how we argue. You noted: ‘infidels’, ‘chauvinists’, ‘feminists’, ‘legalists’, ‘hypocrites’ or being ‘ill-motivated’. Out of all those terms, the only one I actually used was hypocrites. (I did mention racism as well though!) Sometimes, some words do describe what is going on. I hope my use of them was done carefully and not in a judgmental way (we are all imperfect!)

Thanks for your thoughts Richard. I don't feel as though you really addressed the issue of women being able to teach and lead and take communion and minister in other lands, but those same women not being allowed to do so back here, in some denominational traditions. Nor have you addressed my point about Deborah.

But I am happy for this debate to end. Or continue. It has been going on for ages, and probably you and I are the only people still reading it!

Hi jim,

We can continue - but I'm too tired to debate tonight. :-)

Please do not take my point 'infidels’, ‘chauvinists’, 'hypocrits' etc. as being directed necessarily at yourself - I was speaking rhetorically.

One question re Deborah - Jim, do you think that she would have been able to perform the duties of the High Priest ie. Offer sacrifices or enter the holy of Holies etc (if the temple was accessible)?

Deborah and the duties of the High Priest? No... she would not have. Nor would the other male judges of course. You had to be the descendant of a particular line of Aaron. (male descendant, but of course most Hebrew males were excluded on the basis of "wrong family line").

Hi Jim,

STay with me for a few days - I have to attend to my real job - the one that pays the bills!

I will also have to reaquaint myself with the book of Judges - and do some research on Deborah.

In the meantime could you please address the questions I posed to Nic (above):

If Christ's redemption plan included resetting everything back to God's intention in pre-fall times - then even in this present age why:

-Do Christians still wear clothes.
-Christians still are required to labour for their living
-The pain experienced during labour by christian women has not returned to pre-fall levels
-Physical death is still a reality

-And why the hierachial order between a man and a woman has been rest to pre-fall - even though most scriptures instruct 'man to love their wife / wife to submit', '(Christians) to obey the men who are leaders'.

Did St Paul simply get it wrong when writing these scriptures?

Ps. Mark, if you read this, I will have to resume my alias "Lionfish" as there is another "Richard" commenting on thi site (ie. 'Change' thread) that is not me. It also provided for constency across Blog!

Christians should aspire to the ideals that God would have us aspire to. So we aspire to the things Jesus taught, (he fulfulled the Law and the Prophets). We should also aspire to the ideals that were established in the Garden before the fall.

So before the fall, both men and women were instructed to rule the world and fill it. Men were not told to rule and women fill. Both were told to do both. Before sin came into the world that was God's plan. But sin ruined it. But then, Christ dealth with sin! So we are now living in this world and awaiting its fulness. We are not yet perfect but we aspire towards perfection. So I seek to treat women as my equals in all ways, and not wallow in the results of the fall. (Male dominion over women being one of them).

You ask about other things before the fall like nakedness. If my perfection was here and I could maintain perfect control of my thoughts and actions, then yes, I would say that is the ideal way to live. I suspect it will be the way we live in the fully restored and complete creation after the return of Christ. But I am on a journey and I would not be doing myself a favour to personally advocate that now. But that is a different dilemma on a different issue: I don't think we can say the same risk happens when we treat women equally! That pre-fall aspect is much less dangerous morally, for me to persue.

You mention work or no work before the fall. Adam and Eve were requried to labor and care for the garden even before sin came into the world. It is a part of God's ideal plan, for us to be working. Sin just made it harder (thorns thissles sweat of brow...) but work was always there. So yes: we still should aspire to work.

Pain in child birth is an interesting one! I have heard some say that Genesis 2 and 3 reveal "more pain" in childbirth, and so even before the fall, childbirth was not pain free. But if Adam scratched his arm on a branch before the fall, do you think he did not have pain? So like work existed before the fall, there seems to have also been some pain in child birth before the fall. After the fall, it gets worse. Now? In Christ? It can be less again. But like my thought life, and like working for a living and like treating women equally - we are on a journey and we don't always get to the ideal.

Physical death is a reality too. But when perfection and completion come, that too will be done away with.

I have heard others say similar things. They really want a reason to stay living in the repurcussions of sin, rather than to aspire to God's ideals as best we can. But the same people do not say that men have to be farmers or else they are out of the will of God. And yet the results of sin included instructions that Adam must toil all the days of his life with the earth to get his food from it, from the sweat of the brow... in fact if Christian famers use air conditioned combine harvesters, are they disobeying God's intent of the punishment for sin? If we are not farmers and not sweating each day, are we sinning? If we pull out the thorns and the thissles or use poison against them, to make our farming a bit easier and more successful, is that sinning? If we allow women to have pain relief during child birth, are we sinning? There is no one I know who insists on applying all the other punishments for the sin of Adam and Eve, literally to their lives today. But when it comes to the husband ruling over the wife... now that one we want to keep it seems!

The premise such people are working from is flawed. The fact is that we should not want to wallow in sin and its repercussions. We live more victoriously and seek to live in the victory of the Cross and the freedom that gives us to aspire more successfully to reach God's ideals.

I wont be starting a Christian nudist camp in this life though. But I will be seeking to treat all women equally and never hindering them from expressing God's gifts and call in their life.

Hi Jim,

Good and thorough response to my questions. It may take me some time to digest and respond.

Can you also explain why you think the NT scriptures instruct 'man to love their wife / wife to submit', '(Christians) to obey the men who are leaders'etc.

Did St Paul simply 'get it wrong' when writing these scriptures? Have we become more enlightened since these times with regard to God’s intentions for mankind?

Hi Richard

I explained in an earlier blog (on Mark's first article I think), about the meaning of the word "head" in the first century. How it more likely means "source" or "origin" not "authority over". That should explain my position on this latest question of yours. I don't think "Paul got it wrong". It think we get Paul wrong.

Paul had women in his ministry team. Aquilla was a competent teacher. Phoebe was a "deacon" (can be "servant" or "minister") in the church (see Romans 16:1,2). Paul names Junia as an outstanding apostle in Romans 16:7, (even Douglas Moo's conservative commentary - Moo does not believe women should be leaders or preachers - even Moo has to admit that Junia really is a woman's name, not a male name, as commentators since the 1200's have tried to say. Moo also says that there is no ambiguity in the Greek - she is an outstanding apostle, not an outstanding Christian in the eyes of the apostles).

Paul did not get it wrong. He got it right. But some of us misread Paul and assume that "head" as a metaphor 2000 years ago, must mean what "head" as a metaphor today means. That would be like saying "law" back then, meant "law" today in our culture.

But man is the source of woman (Adam's rib). Christ is the source of man (he created all things Paul says in Colossians). And God is the source of (the incarnate) Christ. A husband in the first century really had to be the source of all things to his wife back then. Not so much today, in our culture, but it was certainly the way it was back then.

Hope this disjointed summary is helpful!

PS from Jim

I should add that the scripture does not tell women to "obey" their husbands, rather to "be subject" to them. Different Greek words with different meanings.

In fact, all of us are told to "Be subject to one another" - (Eph 5:21) that is all of us, to all of us! Men to men, men to women, women to women, women to men,... when appropriate and in the right context, submit to one another.

Eph 5:21 is the lead comment that takes us into the rest of the chapter and right up to 6:9. It has to be linked to 5:22 because in the Greek there is no verb in 22 and so it is dependent on the last very just used in verse 21.

And so from 5:22, Paul goes on to give lots of examples of how we should be subject to one another.

Wives get a relatively short comment (they already know what it means to be subject to their husbands!).

Husbands can do it by loving their wives like Christ loved the church. (He gave everything for the church -even his life. He served the church; he washed the disciples feet; he brought the best out of the members of the church: he sent people out to minister and he specifically commissioned Mary to tell the male disciples of his resurrection; he permitted the Samaritan women at the well to go back into her town and instruct the men of the town about him being the Messiah; etc).

Kids get told to obey their parents (as their way of being subject to them). Obey, used here - for kids, not for wives - (obey means do as you are told).

Slaves are told to obey their masters. (obey used there too).

Fathers are told not to drive their kids to distraction or frustration (their way of being subject to their kids).

Masters are told to treat their slaves well (their way of being subject to their slaves). We are all meant to submit to one another, and depending on the culture and the setting, it might be expressed in different ways.

Interstingly too, men are NEVER told to make their wives be subject to them. It is an instruction to the wives. Not to the husbands.

"Being subject to", is different to "obey": we line ourselves up with the person, and support them and do the right thing by them. But we might not always obey them. That is why Christians are more often told to be subject to governing authorites, rather than obey them. (Roms 13:1 for example).

This went longer than it was meant to! I hope it is clear.


They seem like good and plausible explanations. I thank you for your efforts - this is the depth of thinking that I need to think through. Sorry, I missed your comment on the other thread.

If you don't mind, I am going to have to go DEEP, DEEP under cover and check to see if what you say is true.

As I am only a 'hack-amateur theologian' with no greek skills - and I may have to phone-a-friend - or two :-)

Be back on the long weekend. :-)

Ps. It is a little off topic, but because of the longer rains this winter - the wildflowers are strating to bloom everywhere over here in Peth ... it is really something to behold.

All the best with your on going reflection and study Richard. We are both on that journey. Hopefully it is a ride we never stop through all of life.
God bless

To digress slightly.

The word head - could also allude to the creation act where Eve was drawn out of Adam the source. There is an interesting Rabbinic myth that Adam was a hermaphrodite -one half male the other female until she was drawn out.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Apart from the interesting thought about the male and femaleness of God, it is pretty obvious that both men and women were created perfect and in his image and therefore equal in value. Therefore one shouldn't be slave to the other or dominated over, or overlooked for work that they are physically, emotionally, spiritually and mentally qualified to do.

Could it only be historic bigotry that reinforces a male-centric world view in some churches. It worries me that it can take decades for people to reconsider their own beliefs and seriously dig a little deeper than their own prejudices. I thought we were supposed to be transformed by the word, this means constant renewal not molding the word to fit our world view.

Back to the creation- could Eve have been the first cloned human, except a portion of her (or his) DNA was altered so that the sex chromosomes where different. It seems unlikely that Adam would have existed with half of his body genetically different from the other half - to be sectioned in his sleep- and have the other half grow back on each body. Talk about a split personality :)

I also wonder what genotype the giants of old were. If they were indeed the offspring of Angels (which I doubt) then they would contain 'alien' DNA. Cross species reproduction is rare- how would an angelic species acquire a body, sex cells and DNA? Perhaps they were just a race descended from some particularly tall humans- rather like we still have pygmies etc today on the other end of the spectrum (sorry to all the short people). Considering the 6 fingered giant- extra fingers and toes are associated with genetic mutations. So perhaps they were some from of random mutant humans.

Peter - that could do my head in ... Adam a hermaphrodite! :-)

Jim and Mark -

I have been researching this topic over the past weeks.

It has caused be to rethink my own views, however I have come across some good work and thinking that really challenges the assertion that in Genesis before the fall there was even an 'egalitarian' relationship in place - infact the 'hierarchal' viewpoint is more correctly couched as a 'complementarian' relationship between Adam and Eve.

A clsoer look at the scriptures (especially genesis Ch2) provides a picture that Adam had 'Primary' responsibility before the fall, and even before Eve was 'sourced' from him ... and this is why St Paul saw the significance in the created order (1 Timothy 2:12-15).

Points of interest from Gen Ch1 - 3:

1: Man (Adam) was created (in His image) before woman
2: Man (Adam) was given the task to name the animals (before Eve was ‘sourced’ from Adam)
3: Man (Adam) was given the commandment not to eat from the tree of knowledge (again before Eve was ‘sourced’ from Adam)(Gen 2:17)
4: After the fall – God came and called out to Adam (man) as he had been given primary responsibility (Gen 3:9).
5: St Paul explained that sin entered the world through the actions of Adam (Rom 5:12-14)

Theologians have pointed out that the fall corrupted this model - (ie. a husband with Primary responsibility acting in love, and a wife lovingly submitting and carrying out her own set of dsitinct responsibilities) we see the rise of feminism (by the woman) and hard-hearted abuse of (physical?) power by the man:

"And you will desire to control your husband, but he will rule over you". Gen 3:16 (NLT)

In the balance of scriptures, especially that St Paul saw the significance in the created order, I have to believe that even the pre-fall 'egalitarian' model appears to be untenable in this debate.

Hi Richard

You raise some points that have often been raised, and they are good questions and comments.

I think the real weakness of the position is trying to make Genesis 1 fit into a heirarchical model. It is forcing the material in that chapter to fit with post fall material. Genesis 1 screams equality. God made man and women and spoke to them both and said "rule and fill the earth". He did not speak to just man and say rule and to women and say fill. Genesis 1 - before sin entered the world - is very much full equality in person and function.

I have read books that try to say Genesis 1 "whispers" or "hints at", male domination, and female subordination. But such writers are desparate and have nothing to really prop up their pre-formed views. Their arguments are shallow and shakey to say the least!

Genesis 2 is a better place to get a debate going. But before addressing Gen 2, think again about Genesis 1. The first mention of men and women in scripture is God treating them equally. The first mention, before sin enters the world, is God giving the both the mandate to rule the world and fill it. The intent of God at creation was equality in person and function between men and women. This is BIG. Sin will mess with it, but Christians should not wallow in sin and its results. They should seek to live victoriously in Christ and aspire to God's ideals. Like full equality of men and women.

But let's talk about Gen 2. There is nothing in the text that says Adam was in charge and Eve was subordinate to him. God created Eve as his "helper". That Hebrew word is used about 20 times in the OT and in many of the useages it is said that God is the helper of humans. If helper means subordinate, we are reducing God to a subordinate to humanity. Even Piper and Grudem's volume tries to say that is okay! I think they border on blasphemy in their very lame logic and attempt to do that.

Regarding your 5 points that you raise:

1) Adam was created first. Okay,... yep... so how does that mean he is the boss over Eve? Animals were created before humans, are they more important or more in charge of the earth, than humans? Order of creation is not an argument for anything. Even in Hebrew culture, first borns were suppose to have more rights than later siblings. But think about who God raised up to be great leaders: Moses (2nd born); David (last of about 8); Solomon (4th born); Jesus came from the tribe of Judah (4th born, I think... someone can check), etc. Order of creation is not an argument for subordination of those who are not number 1.

2) Adam named the animals - true. Some say that implies leadership over them - I think that is a valid suggestion. Eve comes along and she is called woman, first noted as she is being created by God (2:22), and then repeated by Adam (2:23). Does that imply domination over her? Not really. That domination naming, takes place after sin comes into the world. Then she is called Eve, by Adam (3:20). So when the repurcussions of sin come into the world, then man "names" woman in a way that reflects his domination over her - the very domination that is the outcome of sin. It was not part of God's plan and intent to see woman subject to man.

3) You are right: Adam was told not to eat of the tree before Eve was created. But now a question to you: when God made woman, did God ever speak to her? Or did God tell Adam to speak to her on his behalf? Now the text is not clear. We get the briefest of stories. There must have been more happening than what is recorded. But did God ever speak to Eve personally before sin entered the world? Or did God expect Adam to pass on what God had said to him? Answer: the text does not tell us. But hang on... it kind of does... back in Genesis 1 in the summary of human creation, it says God spoke to "them" and said rule and fill.... and in Genesis 3 when Eve speaks to the snake, she says that "God said not to eat of the tree..." (She does not say "Adam told me that God said not to eat of the tree...") So it really does seem that God spoke to Eve as well as Adam. The details of the conversations they had are not recorded for us, just as so much is not recorded in these brief chapters.

But what do some Bible teachers say? They say that God gave man the role of teaching the woman and Adam had to tell Eve not to eat from the tree.... BUT THAT IS ALL CONJECTURE. And bad conjecture at that. It is not in the text. And think about what is then said by these teachers. They then say: either Adam did not tell Eve accurately the things God said because Eve added "nor touch it" after "dont eat it". And in Genesis 2 the words "dont even touch it" are not there. So Adam taught her wrong. Or they say Eve added to Adam's teaching by adding those words. The silliness of this line of argument is glaring. First, it implies that nothing else was ever said by God other than the one or two lines he said that are recorded in Genesis 2. I would rather see God as having many conversations with Adam and Eve and he probably said something like "Dont eat it, and dont even touch it - because once you touch it, you will be even more likely to eat it." Or whatever!

It is also bad teaching because it brings imperfection and sin into the garden BEFORE THE FRUIT WAS EATEN. If Adam taught Eve incorrectly, or if Eve added to Adam's words and God's words, and she said "God said this" when he did not say it, then we have lies and imperfection in the garden before the fruit was eaten! Think about how impossible that is! Sin was in the world before the first sin happened!

But despite this extremely serious problem, the mythology is spread that somehow Eve "got it wrong" or "added to God's words taught to her by Adam"...etc.

4) After the fall, both Adam and Eve are punished for their sins: they will both die now. Not just Adam. This means Eve was responsible to God for her lifestyle and for her sin. She was not answerable to Adam - she was answerable to God. You cant say Adam is responsible and had to teach Eve, and she was answerable to him. They both blew is, so Eve gets punished just as Adam does. That equal punishment implies equal responsibility for sin and each stading before God on their own two feet. Adam was not given "primary responsibility" for the sin. He was simply spoken to first. That implies nothing about leadership or responsibility.

5) Perhaps your best argument is why does Paul say Adam brought sin into the world in Romans 5. It is worth thinking long and hard about. Romans 5 talks of Jesus as the second Adam - the one who got it right. The first man got it wrong, but this man got it right. Paul uses a wonderful picture to describe the great work done by Jesus in bringing all people the possibility of salvation. I think that Paul paints the picture and loves comparing Jesus to the failed first man, but for the picture to work, he has to talk about another man. Technically Eve sinned first. Adam quickly sinned after her, but he sinned 2nd. Interestingly the one who sinned first is not used by Paul in the picture. But to compare the 2nd man to the first woman would not have worked in Romans 5. The picture painting a contrast needed to talk "perfect man" and "failed man". I do not for one minute think that Paul ever expected his picture in Romans 5 to be used as a clever way to suppress women! That would have been nowhere in his mind. And of course, that is always the danger of doing any analogy or any picture or metaphor. People might run with it in directions it was never designed for!

Some would add that Paul used Adam not Eve in that picture, because Adam willfully sinned. Knowingly and with "eyes wide open". Eve was actually deceived. Her sin was not wilful. The picture Paul draws would not work if he compared the purposeful sacrifice of the perfect man with the accidental sin of the first woman. It has to be the purposeful act of the perfect man with the purposeful sin of the imperfect man.

So: as much as I appreciate the comments you are making, I am simply not persuaded by them. They create more problems than they "solve", and they put sin and imperfection into the garden before the fruit was eaten.

Ummmm Jim.... Wasn't Jesus the first born of Mary? Luke 2:7 says, Mary gave birth to her firstborn child, a son...

Hi Marija:

Sure Jesus was the first born of Mary. He was descended from Judah - Judah was the 4th born of 12 brothers - sorry if I was unclear about the number 4 there.

My point was that you cant say that someone who comes before someone else has to be greater than the person who followed. Some like to say that about Adam and Eve: Adam was first so he is greater. He is the boss. He is the authority over the others. They then try to say that even Hebrew culture made the first born more special. Well... there are a lot of problems with that brief summary of ideas.

First: Adam and Eve were not siblings, so the Hebrew culture argument about sibs does not apply.
Secondly: even if the Hebrew culture made the first born get a double portion at inheritance time, there is mixed evidence about how much authority the first born had over the others siblings. And the examples are many, like Moses (younger than Aaron); David (younger than all his brothers); Judah (not the oldest of the 12 brothers - but the one Jesus descended from); Jacob (the 2nd twin, not the first to be born); Solomon, not the oldest of David's boys, etc.

Another point: the Pharisees all believed that the Messiah would come from the line of David. They were right. But they could not answer Jesus when he quoted David saying about the Messiah: "How is it then that the Lord said to my Lord sit at my right hand?" David came before the Messiah - so he had to be greater than the Messaih - right? That is what the Pharisees thought. But Jesus says "No!". In fact The Lord in heaven calls the Messiah "Lord" and David calls the Messiah "My Lord". David is not greater than the Messiah - the Messiah is greater than David. Even David recognised that by calling him "my Lord".

Enough on that... thanks for pointing out my ambiguity. Hope this all makes more sense now.

Thank you for your clarification Jim :)

Hi Jim,

Thanks for your thoughts – I have been busy camping with my boys until Friday and then getting ready for work.

I will raise a few concerns that I have with your thinking – you have offered much, so I can only respond to the highpoints:

Re: Equality in Genesis Chapter 1

You state "I think the real weakness of the position is trying to make Genesis 1 fit into a hierarchical model. It is forcing the material in that chapter to fit with post fall material. Genesis 1 screams equality. God made man and women and spoke to them both and said "rule and fill the earth". He did not speak to just man and say rule and to women and say fill. Genesis 1 - before sin entered the world - is very much full equality in person and function".

Genesis Chapter one paints a picture of creation and origins of mankind in broad strokes.

To assert that this chapter ‘screams’ (God’s intention for) equality between the created male and female (in the aspect of role and function) is (in my opinion) one dimensional – especially when these scripture is decoupled from the more detailed context outlined in Gen Ch 2 & 3.

Yes, I agree with you that Genesis Ch 1 does promote ‘equality’ – clearly in terms of intrinsic ‘value’. The scriptures plainly states that God created two people (i.e. ‘models of the same make’) in His own image ─ (“He created Human Beings in His own image.” Gen 1:27 NLT).

But Genesis Ch 1 also promotes ‘distinction’ – as God created man in two distinctly different ‘models’ to complement one another – each with a distinct set of strengths and weaknesses. (‘MALE and FEMALE He created THEM’ Gen 1:27 NLT). (Note for Peter: ‘He created Adam as a male’ – not a hermaphrodite!  )

God created two humans that have vast distinctions in form – socially, physiologically, emotionally, and spiritually.

In design principles (including technical and organizational design), naturally form will always follow function.

It is clear that God’s intention was for Male and Female to perform distinct roles and functions.

Genesis Ch 1 does also promotes the concept that both male and female both have a part to play in terms responsibility over creation –the stewardship mandate was given to ‘them’ collectively.

The verse states that both were to be “fruitful and multiply” – surely you do not believe that Adam and Eve would function in the same way in fulfilling this mandate?

Accordingly, it cannot be implied that both Adam and Eve were to rule in the same way or to have the same level of authority ─ especially when Genesis is read in context with Genesis Ch 2&3 and the patterns established throughout the rest of the Bible.

.Re: Romans 5 and your following comment:

“Some would add that Paul used Adam not Eve in that picture, because Adam willfully sinned. Knowingly and with "eyes wide open". Eve was actually deceived. Her sin was not wilful. The picture Paul draws would not work if he compared the purposeful sacrifice of the perfect man with the accidental sin of the first woman. It has to be the purposeful act of the perfect man with the purposeful sin of the imperfect man”.

My reading of the scriptures is quite different. Adam (and Eve’s) eyes were not opened to sin until they had eaten of the fruit (ie...”So she took some (of the fruit) to her husband, who was with her and he ate it, too. At that moment their eyes were opened and they suddenly felt shame at their nakedness”.

So Adam could not have committed the sin with beforehand ‘eyes wide open’– rather he was held accountable (as St Paul states in Romans Ch 5) as we are told in the scriptures for a number of reasons:

1: Adam had ‘listened to his wife rather than being obedient to the word of God (Gen 3:17).
2: God had directly given Adam the command to NOT eat of the fruit (Gen 2:17, 3:17). (Nb: To say that God had given Eve the command himself is as you say conjecture).

The reason why Adam was held accountable in Romans 5 (whilst Eve technically sinned first) is that is he was given primary responsibility; he had acquiesced to his wife and partook in the disobedience.

RE: Created Order and Authority

At the heart of the issue lies a fact that you have avoided answering ─ that is that why St Paul saw significance in the created order:

“BUT I SUFFER NOT A WOMAN TO TEACH, NOR TO USURP AUTHORITY OVER THE MAN, but to be in silence. FOR ADAM WAS FIRST FORMED, THEN EVE. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety”.

St paul feel back in principle (for man was created first) rather than custom or situational context. Why?

Re: Are you aware that the work that you have labelled as heretical ie. Piper and Guder, ‘Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood’ was awarded A Response to Evangelical Feminism and was awarded Book of the Year for 1993 by Christianity Today magazine?

Thanks Richard.

I am very aware of the Piper and Grudem book and the award it received in 1993. (A very disappointing decision by the American Christianity Today magazine, I might add - but not all that surprising as it resonated with their own position).

I Timothy:

I have in a previous post given considerable attention to Paul's verses in I Timothy, and I wont rehash all the arguments here in detail. In summary: There are other very convincing ways to read that passage than saying "women cant be leaders or teachers because Adam was made first..." The word for "for" (gar) can mean "because of" but it can also introduce an illustration to prove a point. The Kroeger and Kroeger thesis shows that early Gnosticism was growing in Ephesus (where Timothy was situated) and Paul was rebutting early Gnostic thinking that was being brought into the church there by recent upper class women who had been converted. They taught things like: Eve was created first; Eve was not deceived rather Adam was; and even some strands of the Gnostics taught that if you had sex or had children you could not be saved (see 2:15, after 13 and 14 that you quote). Paul is not necessarily saying "Women cant teach because Adam came first." Rather he is saying "these particular women cant teach until they are trained up (v.11), for example, let me remind you of some of their erroneous teachings by stating the true story: Adam was created first, then Eve; and Eve was deceived, not Adam. And women will be saved through child birth." Please see the earlier detailed comments to unpack that more.


It brings me to another point: Paul just said "Adam was not deceived" in the I Tim verse. But you want to say that both Adam and Eve were both deceived and only knew they sinned after "their eyes were opened". Here we seem to get Paul's take on whether or not Adam sinned willfully or not. Adam's eye's may well have "been opened" to the depth of betrayal to God, that he had just done. His eyes may have been opened to how tragic a thing it was to succumb to temptation. He seems to have sinned without being deceived. He knew what God had said and was not tricked as Eve was.

No matter who reads Genesis 1-3 we all add to the text as we seek to make sense of it. We all expand on it and try to unpack it and make it meaningful. So you and I both enter the realm of conjecture.

When you try to explain your understanding of Genesis 1 you add so much to the story that is nowhere said there. Here are your words:

"God created two humans that have vast distinctions in form – socially, physiologically, emotionally, and spiritually. [I don't agree with this, but more importantly: where is that in the text?] In design principles (including technical and organizational design), naturally form will always follow function. [I tend to agree with this - but again - where is that in the text? And how far do you take it? To bearing kids? Or further?] It is clear that God’s intention was for Male and Female to perform distinct roles and functions [I don't necessarily agree - and again - where is that in the text?]."

None of the things you just said are anywhere said in the Bible. None of it. It is all your speculation added to the text.

Now it is okay to speculate and try to make sense of the text, but you can not assume your speculation is the only way to understand things as if it is obvious and stated in the Bible. It is not.

I have to admit the same. When I try to make sense of the text I have to speculate too. I think Adam and Eve and God talked more than is recorded for example. I think that Adam did not dominate over his wife until after sin entered the world and that domination is a repercussion of sin, not the will of God.

We have to look at everyone's interpretation and ask: which makes the most sense?

And the conservative school that keeps women out of leadership and preaching, still faces the problem of sin and imperfection being in the garden before the fruit was eaten. It has to ignore the radically equal passage in Gen.1. It has to rest on the repercussions of sin in the world as if that is God's desire for the world.


Finally re Romans 5. I would still say that you have taken a picture being painted by Paul to make a point - and applied it to a totally different area of discussion that the picture was never designed to contribute to. This is another danger of biblical interpretation that tends to happen often.

I have a feeling we will never find agreement Richard. We are both strong on our positions, and nothing I say seems to make any impact at all on you. And I guess you feel the same about what you say and me!

Piper and Grudem:

Finally, I began by referring to Piper and Grudem, so I will end with a comment on that book. I have read it many times, and gone back to it often, and I am very unconvinced by their poor arguments, their poor use of reason, their proof texting and denial of sound counter arguments, and their overall arrogance at anyone who differs from them. It pretends to be scholarly, but ignores important material and debate. It is not do open and honest discussion. It has an agenda to push from the start and all will be fitted to make it so. Just one very quick eg: the way they try to make Junia in Romans 16:7 into a man! Unbelievable! Even the conservative scholar Moo, (who writes the I Tim Chapter of that Piper and Grudem book), admits Junia is a feminine name, in his commentary on Romans. The way Piper and Grudem destroy evidence and mangle logic and reasoning, is deplorable. That book is still, to this day, one of the very worst Christian books I have ever read.

PS - on Piper and Grudem, a few years ago, I wrote a detailed article on their poor use of evidence and irrational arguments, specifically on their handling of the Junia discussion. If anyone would like to read that article, it can be found on my facebook page:


or it can be sent to you by me as a word doc attachment. Email me for it on [email protected];

Hi Jim,

Thanks again for your time and your response -

I am not sure where I have stated or inferred that sin was in the garden before the fall. can you please clarify what gives you this impression of my position?

I am not wedded to this concept - but perhaps the pre-fall world was not 'perfect', rather it was 'very good'. Perfection may be resrved for a time to come.

Sorry Richard, you are right. You did not specifically say that. Others who hold a similar position to you have said on a number of occasions the following: [you will see that nearly all of it is conjecture]. They say:

Adam was given the creation ordinance [a term not in scripture] to rule, and Eve was to be his helper (in a submissive and obedient kind of way). Adam got told by God to not eat of the fruit or else you will surely die. [That is in the text!] He was told by God to tell Eve this teaching [not in text]. Eve was dependant on Adam for instruction [not in text]. God did not teach Eve directly [not in text]. That was the husband's role [not in text]. Eve was tempted by the snake [yes!]. She said "God said not to eat it, not to even touch it" [yes]. Why did she add the extra words "not even touch it"? God did not say that [not in text]. Adam either taught her wrong, or Eve remembered it wrong, or Eve knowingly added to Adam's and God's teaching [not in text].

Okay... if that is supposedly what happened, then imperfection at best, and sinful lying at worst, was in the garden before the fruit reached Eve's lips.

And so as a part of the package deal to keep women submitted to men, some create that story as their understanding of what happened in the garden. As you can see most of it is simply conjecture.

I do apologise though: you did not personally say that. And you may not hold to it for that matter.



Interesting note that the Tree of Life appears in the Book of revelation, but the tree of knowledge of good and evil does not.

Genesis says that eve desired the 'wisdom' that eating the fruit would give her. Maybe wisdom can only come with the experience of seeing and experiencing the consequences of bad (sinful) choices - so no need for it in the time to come.

Maybe the Garden of Eden was deemed 'very good' not perfect - because at this time it had the potential and temptation for sin to enter.

Just some thoughts. Conjecture... :-)

I'll get back to the topic at hand soon. There is a couple more points I want to make. :-)

Hi Jim,

In summary, it seems:

1) The Conservative/traditional (commplemntarian/hierachal) view is God gave Adam primary responsibility (headship) before the fall and this 'model' was CORRUPTED after the fall

2) Recent thinking is that the egalitarian viewpoint is that there was equal responsibility given to Adam and Eve before the fall and a NEW hierachal model put in place as a consequence of the fall (thus the work of Christ reversed the model to pre-fall ('very good') state.

Out of curiosity, how long has the egalitarian model thinking been circulating? Was it endorsed by any of the Church Fathers or historical theologians prior to the 20th Century - or is the egalitarian understanding something that has occured predominantly in the 20th Century - a new truth or revelation, progressive understanding?

Hi Richard.

1) Your summary of the conservative traditional view is honest, but ironically there is nothing in Genesis chapter 1 to say that! All we have in Genesis 1 before the fall is God speaking to both man and woman and telling them both to share in the work of ruling and filling the earth. Very much equal in being and function. To make it anything else denies what is there and speculates on what is not there.

2) That same view in Genesis 2 rests on conjecture not data. God spoke to Adam when Eve was not created, yes. But there is nothing in the text that says he told Adam that Adam was in charge and would be over Eve. That is speculation and addition to the text. All we have is the equal passage in Chapter 1 and speculation after that.

I should acknowledge that there is a statement later when God punishes Adam for "listening to his wife and eating the fruit". Some say he should never have "listened to his wife" and use that to say God wants men to rule and women have to never give advice or suggestions etc. Of course that is nonesense. It is unworkable for starters - we could never live it consistently. It would be insanely cruel to women as well. And of course, most obviously, it means that "you listened to her when she told you to do the wrong thing". It does not mean 'NEVER listen to her." It would be like a little brother getting in trouble for "listening to his sister when she told him to jump off the garage roof for fun". If the sister told him "don't play on the road" you would hope he would listen to that!

3) The word "headship" never appears in the story. It is added by interpreters.

4) I would say that the egalitarian model was the very first model in the early church. It is in the book of Acts. Women being named as well as men as ministering and leading, in the stories that are told. Nothing specific: no sub-section saying "Digression: how gender and leadership worked". It was actually Roman and Greek culture for women to rule their homes and men to rule in the community. So when house churches were the first churches it was common for women to be leaders in them, just as they were in charge of whatever happened in the house. (I Cor. 111: "Chloe's household"; 2 John 1: "the elect lady and her children"; Acts 12:12 - Peter escapes jail and goes to "Mary's" house where there is a prayer meeting happening etc). When the church meetings moved from homes to public meetings (noticable in the 200's but big time after Constantine in the 300's), women were squeezed out of leadership and it was quite a disucssion for quite a while. Different documents written by men began appearing to justify men ruling in such settings. All sorts of speculation justified it. The same has been happening ever since.

That's it from me. A relatively short piece for a change! :-)
God bless.

Hi Jim,

Thanks for your ongoing thoughts and discussion. I apreciate the time, tone and the spirit in which you engage.

I have been 'drilling' deeper in order to pressure test your theology and also my own beliefs - and have come across some things that are quite disturbing - epecially when we evaluate some of the apects of the Kroegers work ... More on that in a few days.

First I will respond to your thoughts:

1 & 2) Genesis 2 & 3 ‘shout out’ the traditional view – especially when read in context with the rest of the Bible.

Honestly Jim, there is no denying that St Paul saw this (the created order) as so significant – he included it in his discourse:


(I would particularly like to explore this verse in more detail in a few days time – as I have some concerns about the way that has been ‘reinterpreted’ in the Kroeger work).

3) What you say is correct – (on occasion however tempting that may be), to never ‘listen to ones wife’ would be unworkable. However, on this occasion God punished Adam for because he “listened” (past tense) to his wife rather than being obedient to the command that God gave to him:

And to Adam he said, Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow shall you eat of it all the days of your life;

It is clear that God gave the commandment to (Adam) “You” (singular). Whether he did or did not give the command directly to Eve is conjecture.

3) Re: “The word "headship" never appears in the story. It is added by interpreters”.

The word Trinity also never appears but the doctrine is clear. In addition, the highly skilled Bible translators for all English translations render Ephesians 5:23 as

“For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head
of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior” Source: http://bible.cc/ephesians/5-23.htm

To assert that all of the Bible scholars of the various versions mistranslated κεφαλή is a weak argument when you consider the weight of the scholarship used on all of these translations.
Further more, Wyane Gudrem of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School concludes:

“The survey of instances of κεφαλή used to mean “authority over” is complete. If we were to go beyond the time of the New Testament into the Patristic writings (only two of our extrabiblical quotations in the list above came from after the first century A.D.), we could greatly expand this list of examples. The use of κεφαλή to mean “authority over” is common in the early church Fathers.28 But this survey is probably sufficient to demonstrate that “source, origin” is nowhere clearly attested as a legitimate meaning for κεφαλή, and that the meaning “ruler, authority over” has sufficient attestation to establish it clearly as a legitimate sense for κεφαλή in Greek literature at the time of the New Testament. Indeed, it was a well-established and recognizable meaning, and it is the meaning that best suits the New Testament texts that speak of the relationship between men and women by saying that the man is the “head” of a woman and the husband is the “head” of the wife”.
Source: http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/pdf/tj/kephale_grudem.pdf

Thanks Nicole for alerting me to the extended and interesting bog on the women debate Mark initiated. I felt quite tired by the time I go to the end. You and Mark not only have got your theology of ministry right but what is so encouraging is that you are trying to put it into practice. Jim Reiher’s additional very informed input has certainly added a lot to the debate on this blog site. As someone who has been publishing on the partnership view of marriage, gift-based not gender-based ministry and the Trinity as model for co-equal relationships I think this blog is one of the best ongoing discussions I have read. As many of its readers are sure to be charismatics and Pentecostals I recommend to the readers the excellent new book edited by Drs Shane Clifton and Jacqueline Grey (both on the staff of Alphacrucis College in Sydney) Raising Women Leaders: Perspectives on Liberating Women in a Pentecostal and Charismatic Context (Chester Hill, NSW: Australasian Pentecostal Studies, 2009).

I also mention that next year Christians for Biblical Equality (CBE) are holding their 22nd international conference here in Melbourne at the Jasper Hotel, 489 Elizabeth St, Melbourne on the 11-14th June 2010. Over thirty significant leaders, men and women, from Australia and overseas, including Shane Clifton and Jacquie Grey, are speaking. Everyone interested in what the Bible teaches on the relationship of the sexes and how differing teaching on this mater impacts on men and women in the West and the Third World should consider attending. For more on the conference see www.cbe.org.au.

Kevin Giles

Great to have you visit this blog, Kevin ... and thanks for the recommendations. Really aprpeciate it!

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