The pattern of male leadership in the community of faith began at creation. Then it’s maintained throughout Scripture:
There were patriarchs instead of matriarchs.
The tribes of Israel were named after men.
The only legitimate mediators between God and people were men (i.e., priests instead of priestesses).
God appointed kings instead of queens.
God called men to be the focal points of His covenants with mankind (i.e., Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, and Jesus).
So why do we see examples of female leadership in Scripture? What about queens, prophetesses, at least one female judge—Deborah? Were these women an anomaly? Are they examples of rebellion against God’s design, or is there another explanation? To answer these questions, with the exception of Deborah who will be in the next post, let’s look at them individually.
Queens support God’s pattern of male leadership
Scripture mentions three prominent queens, and they fall into two categories:
Jezebel (1 Kings 16–22; 2 Kings 9) and Athaliah (2 Kings 8, 11) were evil women who seized control and became tyrannical leaders. Jezebel instituted the worship of the false god Baal across Israel and persecuted followers of Yahweh. Athaliah murdered her grandchildren upon the death of her son and then seized the throne of Judah. Clearly, neither woman serves as a good example.
Esther stands in contrast as a godly queen. She supported male leadership through her submission first to her adopted father, Mordecai, and then to her husband, King Xerxes of Persia. In doing so, God used her to save her entire people from annihilation (Esther 5:1–8, 8:1–8).
Priestesses support God’s pattern of male leadership
Under the Mosaic Covenant, only men could be priests because they were the teachers: “[The priests] may teach the children of Israel all the statutes which the Lord has spoken” (Leviticus 10:11).
When female priestesses are mentioned, they are associated with pagan religions such as the worship of Astarte or Baal. Wayne Grudem, co-founder of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, explains in Evangelical Feminism & Biblical Truth (p. 82):
Think of the Bible as a whole, from Genesis to Revelation. Where is there one example in the entire Bible of a woman publicly teaching an assembled group of God’s people? There is none.
Prophetesses support God’s pattern of male leadership
The 4th of July is one of my favorite holidays, because of the Christian reminders that come with it.
1. The 4th of of July can remind us that our nation was founded by men who recognized God was their Creator.
The 4th of July celebrates the adopting of the Declaration of Independence by Congress on July 4, 1776. The document begins with Thomas Jefferson’s famous words:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”
There’s quite a bit to notice from this one sentence:
The words, “all men are CREATED equal” reveal Thomas Jefferson did not believe in evolution.
Thomas Jefferson believed men have a “Creator.”
With the words, “endowed by their Creator” Thomas Jefferson gave credit to God for the “Rights” we have. He called them “unalienable” because he knew they were given by God and couldn’t be taken away.
Thomas Jefferson saw the authority for our freedom and liberty coming from God Himself.
2. The 4th of July can remind us of our true freedom.
I’m thankful for independence from Great Britain. But I’m more thankful for the greater independence Jesus has given us from the Law:
Romans 10:4—Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.
Galatians 3:24-25—Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor.
Our independence from the Law motivated Martin Luther to take a stand for the Gospel. The freedom we have as Americans is great, but the infinitely greater freedom we have is from having to be saved by works.
3. The 4th of July can remind us of our dual-citizenship.
During a Facebook Live video a woman asked: “How can a wife give her husband accountability in the area of sexual purity?” I interpreted this to be a question about pornography, which I see causing terrible problems in the home and the church. It robs men of their dignity, makes them passive, and destroys initiative and motivation. It stops men from being the leaders they should be in the home and the church. When men look at pornography they won’t feel comfortable praying, reading the Word, or leading in their home or church.
As a result of these consequences, I was glad to answer the woman’s question. Although, since I didn’t have time to prepare my response, I wasn’t as thorough as I would’ve liked. Here’s the video containing my answer, and below that is the post that’s more thorough.
1. Pray for his salvation if he’s unsaved
A pattern of unbroken sin is evidence of being unsaved (1 John 3:4-9). There’s a good chance that a husband who habitually looks at pornography isn’t saved. Pray for his salvation. As an unregenerate man there’s little chance he’ll develop victory over his addiction in his own effort. He needs the indwelling Holy Spirit helping him.
2. Communicate how difficult it is to respect him when he looks at pornography
When our children are only a few months old we don’t punish them, because they don’t know better and they lack self-control. Growing up means knowing better and developing self-control. When men look at things they shouldn’t it’s not masculine. Instead, they’re showing they’re like babies who have no self-control. Pornography turns men into boys (or babies). This is why few (if any) things destroy a wife’s respect for her husband faster than pornography. A wife should pray for the opportunity to share with her husband respectfully, but honestly, how difficult his sin makes it for her to respect him. Continue reading How can a wife give her husband accountability?
In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good for man to be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.” In six days God created dry land, sun, moon, stars, sea creatures, birds, and animals. At the end of each day, “God saw that it was good” (Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25). But for the first time in the creation account He saw something that was not good—man being alone.
God’s statement is even more interesting when we consider that Adam and Eve had not yet disobeyed. We don’t typically think of anything being “not good” until after the fall. Since Adam had not sinned yet, it was not Adam himself who was not good. Neither was it anything he had or had not done that was not good. It was simply Adam’s being alone that was not good. Here are five reasons why it isn’t good for man to be alone:
1. It is not good for man to be alone, because he won’t have the help he needs
Leading and providing for a family is a lot of work, and a wife can help lighten that load. This is why Paul said, “Man was not created for woman, but woman for the man” (1 Corinthians 11:9). A lot of discouragement can come a husband’s way, and if he does not receive encouragement from his wife, where will he get it? Yes, there are other resources such as Scripture and relying on the Lord, but if that was all God wanted men to have, He would not have said, “I will make him a helper.”
2. It is not good for man to be alone, because he won’t receive the blessing of fulfilling God’s second command
In Genesis 2:18 God said, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it.” Whenever the Bible discusses children they’re always presented very positively. Psalm 127:3-5 says:
Behold, children are a heritage (some translations say “gift”) from the Lord, The fruit of the womb is a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior,
So are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them;
They shall not be ashamed,
But shall speak with their enemies in the gate.
In Genesis 2:18 God said, “It is not good that man should be alone. I will make him a helper comparable to him.” God could’ve created Eve and given her to Adam. Instead, He had Adam name the animals for two reasons:
Genesis 2:20 records, “So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him.” Adam noticed the animals were in pairs, but he was not part of any pair. With Adam longing for a mate, God was ready to create Eve.
A Helper Comparable to Him
The Hebrew word for “helper” is ezer. It means “help” or “one who helps.” The word occurs twenty-one times in the Old Testament, including twice in Genesis 2, first in verse 18 and then in verse 20 when Adam named the animals and could not find “a helper comparable to him.”
Some women might find it offensive to be identified as their husbands’ “helpers,” but the title is not a criticism of Eve’s insufficiency. Instead, it is an identification of Adam’s inadequacy! In the Amplified Bible Genesis 2:18 reads: “Now the Lord God said, ‘It is not good [sufficient, satisfactory] that the man should be alone.’” Woman is the helper man needs because he is not sufficient without her! God created woman to remove man’s deficiency. In Holding Hands, Holding Hearts (pp. 26–27) Richard and Sharon Phillips write:
To call a woman a helper is not to emphasize her weakness, but her strength. Not to label her as superfluous but as essential to Adam’s condition and to God’s purpose in the world. Helper is a position of dignity given to the woman by God Himself.
Here are four reasons wives should be encouraged being identified as their husband’s helper!
What is complementarianism? Egalitarianism? Is one biblical? Unbiblical? Read on!
God created Eve because He wanted Adam to have “a helper comparable to him” (Genesis 2:18). The Hebrew word for “comparable” is neged. Other translations say:
NASB & NIV—“suitable for him”
ESV—“fit for him”
The literal translation actually means “opposite or contrasting.”Men and women were designed to fit in all ways. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. When a husband and wife become one flesh at their wedding, they perfectly complement each other. Together, they become something stronger and more magnificent than they could be alone. The strengths of each compensate for the weaknesses of the other:
When a husband thinks about his wife, he should see her as God’s suitable companion for him.
When a wife thinks about her husband, she should see herself as God’s perfect fit for him.
We should give thanks to God for His wonderful design and do everything we can to fulfill the roles He has given us as husband and wife. One of the best ways to do this is by embracing the different roles and responsibilities He gave men and women.
What is egalitarianism?
Egalitarianism is the rejection of the different roles and responsibilities. Egalitarians believe God does not have separate and distinct plans for men and women. They see them interchangeably. Homosexual marriage, transgenderism, and bisexuality are simply extreme forms of egalitarianism.
The Scripture most cited by egalitarians is Galatians 3:28:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
We are so familiar with the creation of Eve that it’s easy to miss the importance of some details. If we approach the account as though it’s our first time reading it, a number of significant points arise…
1. Eve wasn’t created “out of the ground”
One recurring theme has been God’s creation of living things from ordinary dirt:
Genesis 2:7—And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.
Genesis 2:9—And out of the ground the Lord God made every tree grow.
Genesis 2:19—Out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the air.
With this repetition, we would expect to read: “The Lord God formed woman of the dust of the ground, and breathed into her nostrils the breath of life; and woman became a living being.” Instead, Genesis 2:21–23 says:
And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
In being fashioned from Adam, Eve has the unique distinction of being the only part of creation not created out of the ground. Since Adam was created in the image and likeness of God, Eve was just as wonderfully created in the image and likeness of God. Also, while God created woman from man, He brought forth every other human being since Eve from woman. 1 Corinthians 11:8–9, 11–12 records:
For man is not from woman, but woman from man. Nor was man created for the woman, but woman for the man . . . Nevertheless, neither is man independent of woman, nor woman independent of man, in the Lord. For as woman came from man, even so man also comes through woman.
A woman wrote me about a miscarriage she experienced. She asked if she was being punished. It was heartbreaking. Miscarriages are painful enough without having to wonder if God is upset with you.
We experience trials because we live in a fallen world
Trials take place as long as we’re on this side of heaven, but they’re not our fault. Why does God allow them? He uses them to:
Mature us: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing” (James 1:2–4; see also Romans 5:3–5).
Strengthen our faith: “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6–7).
As I look back at trials I’ve experienced, they were painful, but I’m thankful for them. God used them for my benefit.
We experience discipline because we sinned
Hebrews 12:5–6 records:
And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: “My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.”
God punishes us when we sin. He wants to produce fruit and righteousness in our lives. While this doesn’t feel good, we should embrace the chastening, understanding God is doing something worthwhile. The author of Hebrews goes on to say in verses 11–13: Continue reading Don’t confuse discipline and trials
Twice the apostle Paul stated the headship of a husband:
1 Corinthians 11:3—But I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.
Ephesians 5:23—For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body.
Although these verses are found in the New Testament, a husband’s headship didn’t have its beginning under the New Covenant. Neither does male headship have its beginning in the Old Testament under the Old Covenant. It doesn’t even have its beginning at the fall.
Male headship began at creation itself
Understanding this is important, because if we think headship began after the fall, then it becomes part of sin’s curse. If we see headship beginning at creation, we understand it is part of God’s natural, healthy, divine plan for husbands and wives.
Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” and the rest of Genesis 1 gives an overview of all six days of creation. God created man and woman on the sixth day. Then, in Genesis 2:7–25, God zooms in on the creation of Adam and Eve since mankind is the pinnacle of God’s creation. It is in this account that God established man’s headship.
1. God established Adam’s headship by creating him first
Have you ever considered that tension in your relationship can be a good thing? Often God is introducing areas that need to be improved. He wants you to embrace these marriage struggles. The best way to do this is by asking each other tough questions:
A husband might say, “Outside of the Lord Himself, do you feel like you are taking second place to anything in my life?”
A wife might ask, “Do you feel like I respect you?”
Then there are right and wrong ways to respond to these questions:
Imagine a wife answers that she does not feel that she is the supreme relationship in her husband’s life. He should not try to talk her out of the way she feels or persuade her to see things differently. This will make her feel even more misunderstood.
Imagine a husband answers that his wife makes him feel disrespected. She should not argue with him and try to convince him he is wrong. This will make him feel even more disrespected.
Instead, each spouse should listen to the other, apologize the right way, and try to make the appropriate changes. When couples ask each other these difficult questions, they should expect some painful discussions. That’s great.