Male Leadership Is God’s Pattern

The pattern of male leadership and headship 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 I discussed in a separate 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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

No negative association in Scripture is attached to women being prophetesses. They could occupy this office for the simple reason that it was not a position of leadership. John Piper and Wayne Grudem explain in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (p. 217):

It is instructive to note in the Old Testament that some women were prophets, but never priests. It is the priests who had the more settled and established positions of leadership in Israel. Prophecy is a different kind of gift from teaching, and when women functioned as prophets they did so with a demeanor and attitude that supported male leadership. Women who had the gift of prophecy did not exercise it in a public forum as male prophets did. The reason for this is that such a public exercise of authority would contradict male headship.

If we consider two examples of the most prominent prophetesses in the Old Testament, we see that they not only don’t conflict with male headship but actually support it…

1. Moses’s sister Miriam

After Israel crossed the Red Sea, Moses led the nation in a song of praise (Exodus 15:1–19). Then Miriam did something similar in Exodus 15:20–21, but with an important difference:

Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took the timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances. And Miriam answered them: ‘Sing to the Lord . . . ’

Miriam led only the women in singing, as opposed to leading both women and men as her brother had done.

What happened when Miriam challenged Moses’ leadership?

In Numbers 12:2 Aaron and Miriam claimed, “Has the Lord indeed spoken only through [you]? Has He not spoken through us also?” Apparently, they thought they should have some of Moses’s authority. God quickly called the people of Israel to the tabernacle of meeting, appeared in the pillar of cloud, rebuked Aaron and Miriam, defended Moses, and gave Miriam leprosy (Numbers 12:4–10).

After Moses interceded for Miriam, her leprosy was removed. But God still commanded that she be put outside the camp for seven days (Numbers 12:13–15). Considering that Aaron engaged in the same sin as Miriam, why was she the only one punished in such a way? While it was bad for Aaron to try to usurp his brother’s authority, it was even worse for Miriam, as a woman, to do so.

2. Huldah the prophetess

During Josiah’s restoration of the temple, the Book of the Law (Pentateuch) was discovered. When it was read before Josiah, he was grieved to discover how far his nation had strayed from following God. Tearing his clothes, he sent messengers to “inquire of the Lord” (2 Kings 22:13). Those messengers went to Huldah the prophetess. The significance of Huldah’s response is that she did not publicly proclaim God’s Word. Rather, she explained it privately to the messengers (2 Kings 22:15–20). She exercised her prophetic ministry in a way that did not obstruct but instead supported male headship.

Other prophetesses and female prophesiers

Numerous other prophetesses are listed throughout Scripture, making clear this was not an anomaly:

  • Deborah, who also served as a judge (Judges 4:4)
  • The wife of Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 8:3)
  • Anna, who spoke about Jesus’s birth in the temple (Luke 2:36–38)
  • The four daughters of Philip the evangelist (Acts 21:9)

In each case, however, like Huldah, there is no record of these women having the public ministries of their male counterparts.

Other women are not called prophetesses but are recorded as prophesying:

  • Hannah, mother of Samuel the prophet (1 Samuel 2:1–10)
  • Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist (Luke 1:39–45)
  • Mary, the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:46–55)

But in each instance, the women prophesied under the headship of a husband or father or, in the case of the widow Anna, the temple’s own male leadership.

The New Testament Supports God’s Pattern of Male Leadership

The pattern of male leadership established at creation is maintained throughout the Old Testament and carried into the New Testament.

The Twelve Apostles were men

Jesus could have chosen six men and six women, but He chose all men for these important leadership positions.

The Seventy were men

They were sent out after the Twelve (Luke 10:1). Again though Jesus could have chosen thirty-five men and thirty-five women, but He chose all men.

Church elders are men

Consider the qualifications for elders in 1 Timothy 3:1–5, and Titus 1:6, 9:

If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work . . . the husband of one wife . . . one who rules his own house well, having his children in submission. If a man is blameless, the husband of one wife . . . holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught.

When churches have female pastors or elders, they have rejected the teaching of God’s Word. God does not recognize women in those positions, because only men can occupy the office.

In 1 Timothy 2:12–14, Paul said:

I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

The foundation of these verses comes from two truths:

  1. Adam was created first.
  2. Eve was deceived. While it sounds as though Adam is commended for not being deceived and Eve is condemned for being deceived, it is actually the opposite. Eve was not as much at fault because she was deceived while Adam was more at fault because he sinned knowingly.

The Real Question

Sometimes people ask: “Why can’t women be in leadership over men in the church or in the home?” It has nothing to do with talent or gifting. Some women are fantastic teachers and leaders, and they should use their skills over other women and children.

What it does have to do with is Adam’s being created first and Eve’s being deceived. Beyond that, we can’t say because those are the only two reasons Paul gave. The real question isn’t “Why can’t women?” The real question—and it is the same question we often face—is: “Will we submit to God’s Word?”

Discussion Questions:

  • Considering God called men to be leaders throughout the Old Testament, what application do you see this having for the church and the home?
  • What can welearn from:
    • The evil examples set by Jezebel and Athaliah?
    • The godly examples set by Esther and Huldah?
    • The inconsistent examples set by Miriam?
  • Has this post caused you to view leadership roles for men and women in the church and home differently? If so, in what ways?
  • What other examples come to mind that are not included in this post?

46 thoughts on “Male Leadership Is God’s Pattern

  1. The largest difficulty I see in this writing here is your proclamation that Esther submitted to King Xerxes when, in fact, Esther was directly defiant of his leadership in defense of her people. Above all (and I do think that we are all called-men and women alike) we are called to serve God: before any type of leadership-whether male or female. Additionally, I encourage you to consider a different perspective that allows the space for both women and men to showcase their giftedness rather than their roles. Take a look:

    The posted link also gives a thorough exploration on the story of female prophets-a fantastic read if I do say so myself.

    1. Hi Katie,
      Thank you for reading and commenting.

      In what way(s) did Esther defy the king? She sought his presence and when it was granted she made the request that the Jews be spared and Haman be killed.

      I have a perspective that allows for women to showcase their giftedness. My wife (and our associate pastor’s wife as well as other women in the church) is a gifted teacher and strong leader. She (and the other women) use their gifts to teach/lead women and children.

      Regarding female prophets, or prophetesses, I made that concession in the post.

  2. Does the passage in 1 Timothy 2:11-15 really only refer to instructions on worship as the section heading suggests in NIV? Do you see any implication in verse 15 that this is for a way of life? What does worship have to do with being saved through child bearing? Saved from what through child bearing? I know I am saved from my sins because Jesus paid the price for them. The passage reads;

    1 Timothy 2:11-15 English Standard Version (ESV)

    11 Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet. 13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve; 14 and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor. 15 Yet she will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

    1. Hello,
      I just checked four other Bibles (NKJV, NASB, and ESV) and NIV is the only one with a title associating the verses with worship. Plus, the title is at the beginning of the chapter (as opposed to further down near the verses in question), and as you get further from the location of a heading it’s easier to move away from the topic.

      With that said, it’s clear Paul is discussing more than just worship, because he moves beyond teaching to authority too. In other words, he’s got a principle in mind (women not being in leadership over men), versus simply a discussion of teaching in the church. We can also tell this by looking at the rest of Scripture. As I stated in the post, it’s really a pattern from Genesis to Revelation for men to lead.

      Regarding your question about childbirth, this has caused plenty of confusion. The simplest way to say it is Paul calls on creation itself (that Adam was created first) to support his point (that women shouldn’t be in authority over men). After identifying what women shouldn’t do, he then discusses what they should do, or you could say what can fill the vacuum. You can make two simple applications from his words.

      First, it means raising children is the primary sphere of ministry in which a women serves the Lord and works out her salvation (as opposed to teaching/leading in the church). While we’re not saved by works, works are evidence of being saved, and childbearing is where the works – or fruit – of a woman’s salvation will be most commonly exercised. For women, the fruit that’s evidence of salvation is commonly produced while raising children.

      Second, it means women will be made holy or sanctified through having children. Children cause a woman to be sanctified over time, and if you have children, I’m sure you’d agree 😊. Are there many many more sanctifying influences on you than your children? Are there many things that teach you to be patient, gentle, longsuffering, sacrificial – and thankful – more than having children? One of the things my wife, Katie, has said is:

      “Are any other things in your life that cause you to cling to the Lord and trust Him more than having children? Is there anything in life that’s scarier and causes you to depend on the Lord more than having children?”

      And again – whether you’re a father or a mother – all of this is very good for us. One of the reasons children are a gift, reward and blessing relates to how God uses them in our lives.

  3. There are two basic assumptions when it comes to Scripture in regard to the roles of men and women. A) That the leadership of men is the norm that God intends, and that female leadership when it is present is an exception to the norm or B) that women sharing authority, leading men as much as men lead women is actually the norm that God intends. If B) is true, then the Scriptures are poorly designed to convey that norm, and you have to proof-text to arrive at it. Those trying to convey norm B) must sow doubt into the intentions of the writers, and/or the translators, and Scripture must be broken into pieces and then re-assembled to fit that presupposition.

    I believe that God is sovereign over the times and placed that his Word was revealed in Scripture, so I reject the argument that the Scriptures were from a more fundamentally ignorant time in regard to men and women. I also believe that the translation of the Bible is an extension the translation of the Gospel at Pentecost, as human languages were God-ordained to be capable of containing his Word. I also believe that God was sovereign over the redacting of Scripture into our 66 books of the Bible and sovereign over their translations.

    I further believe that you can use other translated Scripture to know the meaning of a part of translated Scripture. While there is indeed a value for the study of the original language, I am unimpressed with arguments that rely on hermeutical arcanism to make their point, requiring special knowledge of specific words in the original language.

    So why would Scripture have norm A)? As we are made in God’s image as human beings, we are also made uniquely in God’s image male and female. The different ways we are made in God’s image male and female are designed to work together so that our sexual energy working together more completely reflects the God whose image we are made in. This is not that God is sexual, in a similar manner that a person whose image is reflected in a clay statue is not himself made out of clay.

    Why would male leadership matter for this? Giving space for men to lead gives space for God-ordained male energy of men to bless women, and women allowing themselves to submit to men leading allows the God-ordained female energy of women to bless men, and so the whole is blessed. This part of the “gender holiness” in Scripture that is intended to go along with sexual holiness.

    Feminism, which is secular humanism applied to gender, demands co-leadership as a right of human justice and declares it an injustice when it is not happening. This idea of gender justice that has been embraced by many Christian feminists makes sense if we are totally depraved in our sins as a strategy to protect men and women from each other’s rapaciousness. Scripture acknowledges the reality of sin but also provides a path to be redeemed out of it. When Abigail rejected the directives of her rapacious husband Nabal, the end result was her transferring husbandship from Nabal to David. Abigail’s personal relationship with God and submission to the Holy Spirit is affirmed in all of her actions, as the one who rebelled against Nabal and the one who submitted to David.

    While this would take a larger essay to elaborate on, I deny that we are made in God’s image differently by denying the different leadership space ordained by God to express those differences, which is a move toward Gnosticism that sees our spiritual selves as redeemed and our bodies as being part of a purely material reality.

    1. Hi Gregory,
      Thanks for reading and commenting so thoroughly. I hope anyone who reads the post takes the time to read your comment too. I read it twice and appreciated a number of the points you made.

  4. Scott LaPierre,you asked about Titus 2:5. The word “obedient “is actually not an accurate translation. It is closer to the submit word which I have already e plainer. The word “head” in Ephesians is typically misinterpreted. The Greek word for “head” is kephale which has several meanings. For years people have just gone to the patriarchal meaning but this is not accurate. Another word was used during this time to denote authority over and that was “archon”. That word is not used in any of the marriage passages. The most probable meaning is source or origin and this follows the issues going on in the church during this time. Some teachings had started circulating in the church that included teaching from the worship of Artemis and Diana. These teachings included false teachings about creation and was very abusive and limiting towards men. Most if not all the scholars I mentioned believe this is the most probable meaning of this passage. It makes sense as to why he would mention Adam being created first. I can recommend reading some of Jay Lee Grady, Margaret Mowczko and Bob Edwards.

    1. Laurie,
      Scripture is overwhelmingly clear. Every time wives are mentioned in the New Testament, there’s a corresponding command for them to submit to their husbands:
      • Ephesians 5:22—Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord.
      • Ephesians 5:24 Therefore, just as the church submits to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
      • Colossians 3:18—Wives, submit to your husbands, as is right and fitting and your proper duty in the Lord.
      • 1 Peter 3:1a—In like manner, you married women, be submissive to your own husbands.

      Scripture clearly identifies husbands as the head of their wives:
      • Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church
      • 1 Corinthians 11:3—The head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man..

      Wives are commanded to obey their husbands: Titus 2:5a—Older women should teach younger women to obey their husbands.

      What you’ve done each time is say, “Submit doesn’t mean submit,” “Head doesn’t mean head,” “Obey doesn’t mean obey.” This is what your position demands though. You have to look at Scripture and say that it doesn’t say what it says.

      I mentioned this before, and I’ll mention it again. If your logic is followed, then:
      • The church doesn’t have to submit to Christ
      • Christ has to submit to the church
      • Christ isn’t the head of the church
      • God the Father isn’t the head of God the Son
      When you deny the word “submit” and “head” in the above verses teaching these truths, you also deny these truths, because these truths are taught in these verses with these words.

    2. And I will say it again, the Bible was not written in English. The people who wrote the Bible were inspired by God. The translators, the annotators, the commentators…not all the time. They have biases, prejudices because they are human. I am not making up reasons to deny something the BIble says. I am digging deeper to find out the original intent of the author. And God’s ways work. When husbands and wives honor each other and submit to each other marriage works. There are complementarian (patriarchal) marriages that work because the man is domineering and the wife is naturally a passive person, but typically there is pent up frustration from the one being dominated. Then the church steps in and makes the woman feel convicted for feeling frustrated and so the cycle continues.
      I mentioned before God’s ways work, Barna research have done many studies on Christian marriages. They typically don’t fare any better than non-Christian marriages. They did a poll of 100 Christian couples (Read their Bibles, attend church every Sunday, tithe), and 100 atheist couples. When asked how fulfilled and happy the Christian couples were 65% were unhappy and unfulfilled in their marriages. When they asked what the primary reason was for the problems they answered the headship/submission doctrine. 17% of the atheist couples were unhappy or unfulfilled in their marriages. You can look it up if you don’t believe me. If you have a problem with that study there are many others from Barna you can read.
      God’s ways work! When men hold on to doctrines of tradition that lift themselves up (pride) by beating down women I don’t believe God wants any part of that. When men humble themselves and realize they are not God for women but they serve the same God and that the Holy Spirit leads both men and women I believe God is honored in that and He can work there.

      Interestingly enough you seem to be fixated on this submission thing. You haven’t mentioned one time what the Bible says regarding husbands.

      I believe you said you were a pastor. So when you give a sermon do you never look for background information? Do you never look for the reason something was said? No historical context? No cultural context? No taking a verse in context of the whole chapter or book? No looking up Greek words and finding out their definitions? Because that is what your position demands and that is what you are doing with this issue.

    3. Hi Laurie,
      Yes, the Bible was not written in English, but there are reasons the translators chose the English words they chose, and it’s because those are the English words that best translate the original Greek and Hebrew. While there might be some differences, there’s a reason all the versions of Scripture say “submit” or “be subject.” NIV, NLT, ESV, NASB, NKJV, KJV, HCSB, etc.

    4. You know you are more than welcome to look up these words yourself since you don’t believe me. Then you can see the word for obey is actually a different word than the word they translated as obey.

    5. Hi Laurie,
      I’m very familiar with the Greek word for obey: hypotassō. It’s the same word for “submit” in Ephesians 5:22, 24, Colossians 3:18, and 1 Peter 3:1 when wives are commanded to submit to their husbands.

      The definition for hypotassō is, “to arrange under, to subordinate, to subject one’s self, put in subjection, obey, to submit to one’s control.” It sounds exactly like the word obey, and obey is even used as a definition or synonym for it.

  5. Scott LaPierre,
    You asked me a question and I answered it. You asked for specific scholars who had shaped my beliefs about mutuality in marriage. If you did not want me to list people and what I had learned from them then you shouldn’t have asked me about that. Yes. I know you can list people too who believe the same way you believe but I have yet to hear anyone go through the Bible and tell me they believe in the complementarian theology and use the Scripture and explain away the historical context, the cultural context, the definition of the Greek words, the verses that teach mutual love and respect, etc.
    The Bible was not written in English!
    You have to go back to the Greek to see the words. Comp preachers typically love to talk about the Greek words and definitions of those words, the historical context of a verse, the cultural context of any Scripture except these verses. There was a very well known Baptist who had been the President of the SBC and he preached an entire month on marriage spending one sermon on this idea of wifely subjugation and submission. He typically loves to delve into the Greek, mention history of that time, explains culture and customs. In this particular message he couldn’t. Because if he did he would prove himself wrong.
    I realize that what I believe is a hard pill to swallow for men because it takes away your man card to get whatever you want. That is why the comp theology is very popular in churches. Men typically run churches and they want power over their wives (pride) and they have to have a doctrine to support that.

    I could go through every verse that you want to quote about submission, headship and tell you why I believe it supports mutuality in marriage (mututal submission) but you would not accept it and would find some way to explain it away but I actually did explain why I believe what I believe then you basically told me my facts and proof was not valid because it wasn’t what you believed.

    Basically the state of marriage in the church is not good. Some would disagree with that statement but its the truth. It’s not because wives don’t want to submit it is because the church uses the Bible to disrespect, dismiss, and devalue women because of their gender. When some scholars realize from hard factual proof that No! Paul was not a misogynist and he didn’t place women in a second class role. He did not infantilize women (which is actually abusive), then comps go all out to discredit these scholars and their beliefs because they want the power they have had for a long time.

    When churches start reading what the Bible actually says instead of reading it with Complementarian glasses on I believe that they will see marriages saved, and I believe the church will fill up with people hungry for God. Disrespecting half the human race isn’t Godly or Biblical.

    Also you have stated a few times that I don’t believe in submission in marriage. Actually I do. I believe the husband and wife submit to each other as we both submit to Christ. My husband does not have a man card he can play to get what he wants. We make decisions together. And when I say together I really mean together not where he just asks me what I think so he can check that box and then go do what he wants. He treats me with respect and I treat him with respect. We also have emotional intimacy because no person feels dismissed or devalued. That is what I believe marriage should be. When both parties are respected emotional intimacy can thrive. That is what I believe because marriage was made to mirror the love that Christ has for HIs church.

    1. Hi Laurie,
      You’re right. I forgot that I asked for those names. Sorry about that.

      So then, if I understand you, you’re saying Christ should submit to the church as much as the church should submit to Christ?

    2. Why are you putting words in my mouth? I looked back at my reply. Nothing I said even insinuates that. If you want to know the truth, He showed the ultimate act of submission by dying on the cross for us.

    3. Hi again Laurie,
      You said:

      I believe the husband and wife submit to each other as we both submit to Christ.

      And you said…

      That is what I believe because marriage was made to mirror the love that Christ has for Hiss church.

      Marriage does “mirror” Christ’s relationship to the church as you said, and so if husbands and wives submit to each other, than Christ also submits to the church.

      Also, if you’re interested I’d still love to hear your thoughts on Titus 2:5, which commands wives to be “obedient to their own husbands” and 1 Corinthians 11:3 which says, “the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (also Ephesians 5:25).

  6. Scott LaPierre, Where is your proof that that (context) was their reason for restating the word “submit” in verse 22 of Ephesians 5.
    You are right that it says in several other places for the wife to submit to her husband. Catherine Kroeger and David Scholer have done extensive research as well as Dr. Susan Hyatt into the word submit used in these passages. They state that it is important to look at the people and what marriage looked life in their lives. Back then a big problem in marriages was wife abuse(probably even worse than today). So Roman Emperor Augustus Caesar instated “sine manu” or “Marriage without hand”. in an attempt to deal with the wife abuse. IN this kind of marriage the wife would remain under the authority of her father along with her inheritance. The wife’s family could remove from the husband’s home at anytime. During the New Testament era this was the most common form of marriage. When we look at the word “submit” we cannot just pick the definition that suits us best or gives us the upper hand we have to stay as true to the context. In light of this nothing in this passage allows for the meaning “to subject” or “subordinate”. The most likely definition of “submit” is “to be identified with”). There are other cases of this word being used with similar but minorly different definitions. The historian Josephus used “hupotasso” (to attach or to append) when speaking of attaching 2 documents together. Paul’s intention was for wives to “submit” or “attach themselves” to their husbands instead of always having the option of returning to her father’s home. Instead “be joined together with your husband and form a new social unit. Paul also asks husbands and slaves to obey (hupakoua)- different word. Chain of command subjugation and unilateral obedience of the wife to the husband is not a biblical doctrine. A truly Biblical should be built on and have the goal of “oneness” through deep intimacy. Not authority over and subjugated to or subordinated to. The husband and wife should be a cohesive unit of equal partners- equal in substance and value, privilege, responsibility, function and authority.

    1. I’m sorry. Big typo. Paul did not ask husbands and slaves to obey. He asked children and slaves to obey. And a little further down: A truly Biblical marriage should be built on….
      Sorry for so many typos here.

    2. Hi again Laurie,
      You can find people who claim to be Christians but deny the existence of hell, deny that homosexuality is sinful, deny the Virgin Birth. The point is, quoting people’s names and saying, “They support what I’m saying,” isn’t convincing. I can do the same with many prominent respected pastors who are strong complementarians and teach that wives should submit to their husbands. So the question isn’t, “What do all these people say?” The question is, “What does Scripture say?” I’m saying wives are commanded to submit to their husbands, because that’s what’s said a number of times in Scripture; it’s one of the most common commands in the New Testament. It’s not remotely vague or inferred. Yes, I know there are abusive husbands, but just because some men have disobeyed God’s Word doesn’t mean we change what God’s Word says.

      Even if you write all this about the word “submit” Titus 2:5 still commands wives to be “obedient to their own husbands” and 1 Corinthians 11:3 says, “the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (also Ephesians 5:25).

      One of the biggest problems with egalitarian arguments, which I think they regularly overlook, is God compares the marriage relationship to Christ’s relationship to the church. If the verses are not saying wives are supposed to submit to their husbands, then they’re also saying the church doesn’t need to submit to Christ.

  7. Scott LaPierre, I am sorry if I misunderstood or misread your question. You mentioned all the books you referenced for your book and thought you were asking the scholars who had shaped my beliefs based on their evidence. I didn’t realize you were asking specifically who said what.

    1. No problem Laurie. It’s just that I don’t remember reading any commentaries (and I look at quite a few for my studying) that attached Ephesians 5:21 to the marriage passage. With that said, even if it was part of that passage, Scripture has to be reconciled with Scripture, and plenty of other places command wives to submit to their husband; including even that passage in verse 24.

  8. Scott LaPierre, You mention Ephesians5:22 which if I can borrow your wording is THEE verse comps. Love to quote. And you mention that Verse 22 stands alone as a directive towards wives in marriage. And that verse 21 is to all believers. But in verse 22 the word “submit ” was not in the original Greek text.
    That word was added in the 5 AD. That is why in the New American Standard version that word”submit” is in italics. Therefore verse 22 cannot stand alone it has to be a continuation of verse 21. You also mention that there was a verse break between verse 21 and 22 and a heading before verse 22 that indicated those verses were regarding marriage. But in the original Greek there were no verse numbers, chapter numbers, or headings. Those were added to organize the text. The authors of the Bible were inspired by God. The editors, annotators, translators did have biases, and some prejudices. Some of those biases were inspired by tradition. Dr. Susan Hyatt’s book “In the Spirit We’re Equal” gives many more details and evidence concerning this.

    1. Hi Laurie,
      You’re right about the word being in italics in verse 22, but the reason they added it was the context. Verse 24 does have the word “submit” or “be subject,” so they put it in verse 22 so it would make sense; however, even if it’s not in verse 22, it is in verse 24 commanding wives to submit to their husbands. Also, Colossians 3:18 says, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord”, 1 Peter 3:1 says, “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives,” and Titus 2:5 commands wives to “obey” or “be obedient” to their husbands.

      So if you don’t want to use Ephesians 5:22, that’s okay. You can use Ephesians 5:24, 1 Peter 3:1, Colossians 3:18, or Titus 2:5. There’s actually no mention of wives in the New Testament without a corresponding command for them to submit to their husbands.

  9. I have a toddler who has a lot of energy so my posts are here and there when I have a moment. Scott La Pierre, you said you had 2 questions then proceeded to ask several. I will answer them as I can but probably won’ t be in same post. The scholars I follow are Dr. N.T.Wright, Dr. Catherine Kroeger, Philip Payne, Scott McNight, Dr. Kevin Giles, Dr. David Scholar Dr. Kenneth Bailey, Margaret Mowczko and there are others. I have not read everything these have written so can’t answer for everything about them. But the facts that shape my beliefs I check and recheck and hold up to the Authority of the Bible.

    1. Hi again Laurie,
      We have six children, the oldest is nine and the youngest is less than one, so I can understand that!

      You said:

      Interesting you mention Eph. 5:22-31. Scholars have pretty much proven that Paul started his discourse on marriage in vs.21.

      Then I asked you for the names of those scholars and you provided the names of scholars you read. Are you saying these scholars say Paul’s marriage passage begins at verse 21? Otherwise, I’m not sure the point, at least in relation to this argument, of sharing those names with me?

      I’m glad you “check and recheck and hold up to the authority of the Bible.” If that’s the case, you believe Paul commands husbands and wives to submit to each other, and then commands wives to submit to their husbands in the following verse (22) and then again in verse 24?

  10. Hi Scott – I want to just start with I understand that the point of your blog is to support your book on marriage – and in marriage there is an order – God, Husband, Wives… with love and respect weaving in and out and through to keep the bonds tight all provided by God in the Spirit. (totally a summary, but I think you understand my point.)

    All that being said – on this point you might have forgotten that we are living in a broken world filled with sin. In this world our society has taken these points and pushed women down – even young girls are told they have a position of submissiveness that is expected while boys are told to climb the ladders to success. I’m not saying this is good, bad, right, or wrong, I’m saying this is our current culture. A culture that impacts the words people chose to use. So please remember that. Many women bare scars of this in our society and your words do not help them heal.

    And culture is an important aspect that you seem to omit in your article. For example:
    “The Seventy were men

    They were sent out after the Twelve (Luke 10:1). Again though Jesus could have chosen thirty-five men and thirty-five women, but He chose all men.”

    These people were never all named… so we do not know who they all were. But more importantly, we know that that culture didn’t count women in their numbers, even when they were present – take the feeding of the 5 thousand… It is safe to assume there were always women in these groups… it’s even a probable assumption that there were women who remained in the group of the apostles – they were not named because there were men there, and that culture would not have mentioned women when men could be used as an authority on validity of the documents (the scripture). This assumption is because we know that there were women at the cross… how did they get there if they were not at dinner with Jesus that night? Who would have found them, and brought them to such an event, if they had not been there to see it all happen? They are not named before hand in the account because a woman’s testimony would not hold water as long as there were men who could account for it. Once all the disciples scattered, the writers of the gospels started listing the women by name because they were there and could give an account. So it is not reasonable to say there were never women in the inner circles of Jesus simply because they were not named. that ignores the culture and society of the time.

    Now I know you are going to say you get my idea, and give me some follow up questions, but how about thinking over what I said, and do some research on how women were treated by the culture at the time… then we can talk…

    1. Hi Marissa,
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      I’m familiar with the way women were treated in that culture (and our culture today). What I can tell you is when the Gospel is introduced – then or now – it always elevates women to a position of prominence and love they don’t know otherwise. Look at non-Christian areas of the world to see what I mean.

      Just because men have sinned doesn’t deny the truth of God’s Word. Your point seems to be that because women have been abused, or because we live in “a broken world filled with sin” the plain teaching of Scripture doesn’t apply. That’s completely untrue. Also, if you look at the marriage instruction, husbands are commanded to love and cherish their wives, and wives are commanded to submit to their husbands. If the commands to wives are denied, then the commands to men are too, and that introduces women into poor treatment.

      Since you don’t want any follow up questions, that closes off communication.

    2. I think you misunderstood my point – this specific post of yours does not specify wives in a god-centered marriage with husbands who understand their responsibility. You addressed the societal and cultural roles of women rather than the roles of husbands and wives. The issue, and why so many comments from other women on here are going on the defensive, is that you are pointing to societal stations for women, and putting the idea of submissiveness along with it. The logical conclusion of that assertion is that women could not be in a leadership role whatsoever and that they must defer to a male if he happens to be present regardless of that particular male’s relationship with Jesus. When you reply to my comment and only point to marriage to support the submissive relationship between men and women rather than only applying to Godly marriage covenants it hardly supports the arguments you’ve made in your article.

    3. Hi again Marissa,
      You’re right that my post “does not specify wives in a god-centered marriage with husbands who understand their responsibility,” but that’s because the post isn’t about marriage. The point of the post is contained in the title. I have lots of other posts about marriage that you can read if you like! In those posts I discuss husbands, wives, their roles and responsibilities, etc. You said:

      You addressed the societal and cultural roles of women rather than the roles of husbands and wives.

      Actually, no, I didn’t address that at all. The point of the post is demonstrating that male leadership is God’s pattern, so I provided examples of male leadership throughout the Old and New Testaments, showing that it has been, and still is, God’s pattern. You also said:

      [Women] must defer to a male if he happens to be present regardless of that particular male’s relationship with Jesus.

      1 Peter 3:1 says, “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives.” The words “even if some do not obey the word” mean even if they’re not believers, so yes, a wife’s submission is “regardless of that husband’s relationship with Jesus.” But with that said, there are qualifiers I’d make regarding a wife’s submission, and I discuss this at length in my book. I don’t want to get into it here, because that’s not the point of the post, and it would make this comment really long.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting!

  11. Reading the Bible in a historical and cultural context is important. Going back to the Greek and taking into account idioms ofthe day etc. is important . This is what most egalitarian Christians have done. This is what most egalitarian scholars have done. To paint egalitarian Christians as stretching the Scriptures is dismissive. Of course you can read the Bible with complementarian glasses on and come up with your views but take the glasses off and you most likely will find a very different picture.

  12. Wow! Way to pick a few verses, pull them way out of context and dismiss the verses that don’t agree with your theory. Then when someone challenges you with their belief you talk so patronizingly to them. Interesting you mention Eph. 5:22-31. Scholars have pretty much proven that Paul started his discourse on marriage in vs.21. In vs 22 the word wives was added several centuries later. That verse was written as a for example. You also didn’t mention anything about submitting ourselves a God as it says in James, only our husbands. Nor do talk about being led by the Holy Spirit, only our husband. Teaching that women are subordinate,2nd class citizens who can only work in the nursery or in women’s ministry is anusive , and disrespectful and dismissive. I would suggest that you read the book by Dr Susan Hyatt, “The Spirit,the Bible and Woman “. My prayer is that one day the church will stop limiting, and disrespecting the women and start using them as fellow heirs to win the world.

    1. Hi Laurie,
      Thanks for reading and commenting.

      Will you please do two things for me? First, tell me how the verses are used out of context. Second, you said I dismissed verses that don’t agree with my theory. Can you share those verses with me? Also, I mean more than just mentioning the names of different women in Scripture. I know there are plenty of women in Scripture, but that doesn’t mean they were in leadership over men. So can you provide verses showing women in leadership over men?

      You said, “Scholars have pretty much proven that Paul started his discourse on marriage in verse 21.” What scholars is that? I have lots of commentaries in my office, and when I studied Ephesians 5 for my sermon and book, I don’t remember any scholars say that. Also, if you look here you can see these translations have a heading identifying the marriage passage beginning at verse 22.

      Plus it would make no sense for Paul to be discussing marriage in verse 21, because then he’d be contradicting himself in verse 22. Here are the two verses:

      21 submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ. 22 Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

      The fact is in verse 21 Paul is discussing the mutual deference Christians should show to each other, which fits the context of verses 15-21. Then in verses 22 through 33 he discusses marriage.

      As far as the things I didn’t mention, you’re right. They don’t relate to the main point of my blog, that male leadership is God’s pattern, so I didn’t discuss them. A post about submitting to God or being led by the Holy Spirit would discuss those topics though, but again, that wasn’t the topic of this post.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting!

    2. These were many of my points too Laurie – I even stepped back from this post, and discussed it with my husband – as faithfully submissive wife… but I’ll write my own comment too – no worries

  13. It is interesting that you place so much importance on Adam being created first. I have always tried to follow the teachings of Christ who said”the first will be last” and admonishes those who try to lord it over others as the pagans do. May we all humble ourselves to be the servant of all.

    1. Hello Melinda (forgive me if that’s not your name),
      Thank you for reading and commenting!

      I wouldn’t say I “place so much importance on Adam being created first.” I copied those verses from Scripture, so you could say Scripture – or God – places so much importance on that fact. Paul lists that as one of the two reasons women can’t “teach or have authority over men.”

      If you’re interested, here are two other posts that elaborate even more on the topic:

  14. Yet the Bible also says: There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. In Galathians. After Christ there is no difference. We are all equal and we are all one in Christ.

    1. Hi Teodora,
      That is THEE verse quoted by egalitarians. Will you look at this post I wrote a few weeks ago? Complementarianism Versus Egalitarianism. Here’s part of it:

      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.

      Using the verse to support egalitarianism takes it out of context because it deals with salvation. Everyone, whether Jew, Gentile, slave, free, male, or female is saved by grace through faith apart from the law and works (Galatians 3:1–25). If Paul were saying men and women are identical in terms of responsibilities, he would be contradicting numerous Scriptures he wrote outlining the differences between the genders.

      Equal doesn’t mean identical. People can be equal and still have different roles.

      If you don’t mind me asking, how do you interpret the passages Paul also wrote (Ephesians 5:22-31, 1 Peter 3:1-7, 1 Corinthians 11:1-11, Titus 2:1-5, etc) that discuss the different responsibilities between men and women?

    2. I had no idea that was thee verse used by equlitarians.
      Yes, agree that equal does not mean identical, but still means equal.
      I think there is a woman of who Pauls speaks as being an apostle. Have to look up this.
      I also think the Catholic church has tried to do everything to dismiss the role of women in the new testament.
      Regarding the examples of women in the article. Just want to say there are examples of good and bad men, too, and we can learn from all the examples.

    3. Hi again Teodora,
      I’m almost certain you’re referring to Junia in Romans 16:7

      Greet Andronicus and Junia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me.

      They seemed to be a married couple, and their ministry was well-known and appreciated “among the apostles.” The NLT says, “They are highly respected among the apostles” and the ESV says, “They are well known to the apostles.” It’s an unbiblical stretch to say Junia is a female apostle. Although, and I don’t mean this harshly, it’s a stretch some egalitarians are more than willing to make to attempt to defend their views.

      Regarding your other comments:
      1. I definitely wouldn’t dismiss the role of women in the New Testament or the church. There are wonderful women throughout Scripture, and there have been wonderful women throughout church history.
      2. Yes, there are definitely examples of some terrible men: Nimrod, Cain, most of the kings of Israel, and even some of the most prominent male leaders were very flawed: Judah, David, Solomon, etc.

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