Tag Archives: male headship

It’s Okay to Walk Away

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I’m a nail biter and drink my coffee sans foam art, but otherwise this is totally me.

I made a rash decision yesterday to comment on a Desiring God post by John Piper about the decline of male headship theology.  He was saying that “Christlike headship will endure because it is true to God’s word,” and in explaining its decline, he said that those who are becoming egalitarians are being influenced by secularism or are bitter.

This was my comment:

I can tell you why I became an egalitarian, if you are really curious. I grew up Conservative Baptist, went to an Evangelical college, went to a reformed seminary, maintaining my complementarian worldview/interpretive lens. Along the way I met some egalitarians who deeply loved God, had beautiful marriages, and held to the Bible’s authority with a high view of Scripture. Not like I had been taught egalitarians were like. Then one day, as a stay-at-home homeschooling mom, I was sitting in a Bible study and heard God say loud and clear to me: “I want you to co-pastor with your husband.” I was not reading “liberal” theologians, I had little “secular” influence in my life, and I was not bitter about my role. I am naturally a submissive, quiet person. So I started studying the issue of women in ministry and was convinced by egalitarian interpretations. I think it is helpful to talk to actual egalitarians about why they believe what they believe rather than speculating and painting them as secular or bitter. The Bible tells us to consider others better than ourselves, so in the least, we can give others the benefit of the doubt rather than mischaracterizing their motivations. We are all brothers and sisters in Christ regardless of our complementarianism/egalitarianism, so let us love one another.

I regretted this comment pretty quickly, after receiving the first two comments:

Ken Edwards: Anytime someone says they’ve heard from the Lord I always hope they’ll compare what they’ve heard with scripture. If the two don’t line up one might be wise to question who was speaking.

Annie Carder: Your definition of “submissive” is off. There’s your problem.

I sat on these comments for an hour, telling myself, “You don’t have to reply.  You can walk away,” then I replied,

I realize I posted in complementarian territory, and we all don’t know each other from Adam. Just wanted to say that the overall premise of the argument that egalitarians are influenced by secularism or bitterness is 1) unloving, 2) counter to my experience knowing many egalitarians, 3) untrue of my own change to egalitarianism. Just wanted to make the suggestion that y’all talk to egalitarians as brothers and sisters in Christ rather than maligning them and never engaging with their actual arguments.

At what point do you walk away?  I should have trusted my instinct.  I was in an unsafe place.  When complementarians comment on posts on The Beautiful Kingdom Warriors FB page, I always treat them with respect, kindness, and hospitality.  It is rare that I am treated well on complementarian playgrounds.  They assume that I am worldly and bitter, so they gift me with “tough love.”  Like this man who emerged next…

Steve Hulbert: But then you’re not engaging with what’s being said to you…

I took the bait.

To Ken Edwards: I definitely did. Had to read egalitarian theologians and pastors to understand their interpretation of headship, creation order, women in ministry, etc. Have been taught the complementarian perspective all my life and it always seemed clear and right to me, so I was shocked by the idea of co-pastoring. Also have never experienced anything like that before or since. The next day, someone recommended the book “How I Changed My Mind About Women in Leadership” and this article by Dr. Walt Kaiser, and I haven’t really stopped reading since then (five or six years). http://www.walterckaiserjr.com/women.html

To Annie Carder: Didn’t realize I had defined submission in my original post. Was just trying to say that submitting to my husband as the head of the family was not hard nor was it making me bitter or power hungry. I find that egalitarians take submission further, with mutual submission.

To Steve Hulbert: I was regretting my post, feeling gun-shy about being the odd one out in this comment thread.  I appreciate everyone’s kindness.

Then Steve started in.  He stuck around until he told me to get lost, pretty much.  But here’s how he began:

Steve Hulbert: I’m reading that link and it’s pretty much what I would have expected: poring over many small details and blaming mistranslation for what the text appears to say. It doesn’t make any sense in the context of Corinthians 11 to say that the sign of authority is a sign of the woman’s power when the preceding verse has said that woman was created for man and not vice versa, and earlier that the man is the head of woman. I’m no expert to interpret that passage but I notice he’s only referred to one verse and nothing about the rest of the context.

To which I replied,

Thanks for reading the article! I hate debating but can send links at light speed if anyone ever wants more info. Another egalitarian resource is newlife.id.au. Here’s her post on 1 Corinthians 11: http://newlife.id.au/…/the-chiasm-in-1-corinthians-11…/

Then got this gem, which I ignored:

Enoque Júnio Calado: So did Mohamed, so did John Smith. All have claimed they heard the voice of God and created false religions. No further revelation apart from the bible should be made into doctrine, and those who plainly deny the scriptures should be anathema.

Sola Scriptura

And this,

Jason Warner: Such a facinating discussion. As I see it…evangelical comps and evangelical egalitarians essentially function in the same way. Russel Moore has commented on this as well – regarding the inconsistency of comps on paper and in function – that comps want to check the comp box. Piper and Grudem created the comp concept, as we know it now, within the last 30 years. But even those within the Reformed camp do not agree on what it actually means or how far to take the concept (home, church, work, Trinity, etc.). Last year’s ESS uproar is an example of the “infighting.”

I liked that one.  Then got this,

Joye Stewart: Found this on the internet..

The place to begin in this, as in other biblical questions, is to ask, “What does the Bible say?” Even a cursory reading of the pertinent texts reveals three important observations: 1) there were no known women pastors in New Testament times; 2) none of the instructions regarding church order include instructions for women pastors; and 3) some texts on church order explicitly forbid women to occupy that role. Paul, in 1 Tim. 2:12, states, “I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man” (NIV) . This verse is introduced by a statement that women should learn “in silence,” and it is followed by the statement that “she must be silent.” The word silence means being possessed by a calmness of spirit and peaceful disposition. It is set as the opposite to “teaching” and “having authority over a man.” Paul does not expect that women will not or can not learn or teach (compare with Titus 2:3-5 and 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14,15). He states that they cannot teach or have authority over men. Thus, they cannot have a pastoral position, or perform the pastoral function, for that puts them in authority over men.

If the scripture says women are not to teach or have authority over men, then I would follow the scripture over the voices in my head.

I didn’t have to sit around deciding whether or not to reply to this comment.  Outright misinformation needs correction, for the sake of silent observers.  I said,

In reply to point 1, there are many known women in ministry in the New Testament, even in relation to men. Junia, Lydia, Peter’s daughters, Phoebe, etc. https://godswordtowomen.org/pastors.htm

Per point 2, many instructions have been interpreted with male pronouns where the original text was inclusive. The Holy Spirit descended on men and women at Pentecost, the gifts of the Spirit are never gender specific. It was prophesied that “your sons and daughters will prophecy” and that has come to pass.

Per point 3, I believe the egalitarian interpretations of those passages are compelling and align more with the overall message of Scripture – men and women are both fully created in the image of God and were both given dominion and authority by God. Both men and women are told to submit to one another and to serve and make disciples. The first missionary was a woman (the Samaritan woman at the well evangelized her whole city), and the first person to preach the resurrected Christ was Mary.

Jason Warner commented again, and he seems to be a super nice complementarian. Very kind and gracious.

Jason Warner: Ruth – comps have strong biblical support as it relates to some specifics (elders, etc.) too. You bring up good points to consider though. The idea that women in the Bible didn’t always operate within the modern “comp” structure is an example of how difficult it is to pinpoint what comp actually looks like on any consistent level. Once one gets past elders and pastors (Catholics would then be comps too if that’s the measuring stick) it become merely, in my view, much about talk and labels. I’d like to see Piper and OT Deborah work this out together …now that would be interesting!

Me to Jason Warner: yes, I agree. Comp theology always made sense to me….until it didn’t anymore.

And then Steve got back to me.

Steve Hulbert: So you don’t have an answer to my point then.

Please don’t spam this page with questionable links.

Does Steve run the Desiring God page?  Did he even open the link?  Marg Mowzcko’s blog is a highly rated Bible scholarship website.

Got these lovely comments next:

Julie Castin Cordeiro: praise the Lord!!! I am getting a master in theology…my husband is a 3year convert. God has called me to ministry not him.

Ruth dont waste your time…God has called you be happy and submit to His calling. If these who object you can prove your gifts are from the devil, then ok…otherwise praise the Lord and serve . And by the way ridiculous those who compare your quiet time with the Lord with Mohammed…like they never read and heard God speak!!!

Rosie Turner: Thank you for sharing Ruth, I agree with you 100% and it is encouraging to hear your voice on this thread and after reading such an upsetting article from DG. Thank you.

And these not-so-nice comments:

Darnell Turner: That was Satan not God.

Joye Stewart: Sorry but I don’t buy into that Ruth. You’re forgetting your place. Whenever someone says God spoke to them I always cringe. The devil is a liar. The best lies are the ones that are mix: ed with a little truth. It doesn’t say that you should be a doormat in the Bible but you are not equal with men and you’re not to have authority over them. You’re making up your own gospel to suit your fleshly desires. The devil was proud and wanted to be equal too, he wanted to be God and he was cast down for his rebellion. The devil spoke to Eve and she ignored Gods instruction seems like a mistake a lot of women nowadays are making.

Steve likes Joye’s comments.

Had the conversation with myself again, “What are you doing here?  Walk away!”

Didn’t listen.  Things went downhill quickly from here.

To Steve Hulbert: Walt Kaiser was the president of Gordon-Conwell Seminary, where Tim Keller went. Not a scholar to dismiss, someone to engage with and consider. I got the feeling that you were trying to find the weakest argument in his article that you could defeat and I am not interested in debate. I find that debate is not a fruitful endeavor when both sides are in defense mode rather than listening to understand. My primary beef with the original article by John Piper was that he was maligning egalitarians to complementarians who are eager to agree. If you really believe male headship will stand the test of time, you can defend it without tearing down your “enemies,” who are actually part of the Church. I shared another article on the passage you asked about because if you want to understand egalitarian theology, an actual theologian will explain it better than I can.

To Joye Stewart: Paul said that Adam was the one who sinned. Both sinned, both were punished, and that is where hierarchy among gender began. In the Creation story, God told both Adam and Eve to rule over Creation. The Hebrew “ezer kenegdo” that is translated “suitable helper” literally means “corresponding strength.” God is repeatedly our “ezer” throughout the Bible, swooping in to “help” God’s people in battle, and is in no way subordinate to us. “Kenegdo” connotes equality, partnership. Together, men and women are a strong, dynamic duo. No gender hierarchy in God’s original design. Makes sense that God would give Adam a partner rather than an assistant for the big task of ruling Creation. Two heads are better than one, it’s not good to be unequally yoked, etc.

Steve Hulbert: I didn’t look for a weak argument. I found one on the first page.

Sarah Allen: And yet, in Britain there are women in the role of prime minister and head of police, there are women working as judges, police officers, CEOs, university lectures… everywhere there are women in positions of authority; instructing, guiding and managing the lives of men and other women. Why can equality not translate to the church?

Me to Steve Hulbert: Ok, I respect your pov. We probably aren’t going to change each others minds but I appreciate your gentlemanly engagement.

Steve Hulbert: “Why can the church not be more like the world”

I wish every egalitarian would be so honest

Me to Steve Hulbert: patriarchy is the way of the world. Although the tide is shifting towards equality in some cultures, we aren’t there. It would be nice if the Church were leading the way, as the early Church did in elevating the status of women.

Steve Hulbert: Ruth I feel rather nauseous hearing you talk about something God has clearly instituted as “the world’s way”. I think perhaps we should quit while we’re behind.

Steve Hulbert: It grieves me that godly submission is being misunderstood and resisted in the church as in the world. God led me to start taking a submissive attitude to my father and it’s been a challenge as I’ve always liked to think I know better than him. But it’s a game changer in terms of how God is able to bless you. Submission is so much at the heart of God’s way of life that you forfeit your blessings in a huge way by not embracing it. Joye will probably tell you precisely that if you listen instead of arguing. Feminism is of the enemy. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and that’s what feminist is. I’ve had to learn to put aside the MRA stuff and the bitterness it engenders which is fine for the world but not fit for God’s people. You’ll be misled into thinking feminism is better and it’s not. Entitlement culture is not God’s culture. Grasping for equality is the antithesis of Christlikeness. In fact making sinners feel or appear equal has never been a biblical concern or slavery would have been prohibited.

Since I was making Steve nauseous with my argumentativeness, I let him have the last word and will leave things at that.  I realize that I don’t have to attend every argument I am invited to, but it is a fine line figuring out when you are having a fruitful conversation and when things are becoming toxic.  It’s not every day that I get compared to Mohamed and John Smith, get called entitled, bitter, grasping.  I reject those words.

This comment thread was also a good reminder to me to watch my words so that I do not do this to others.  It is tough to oppose a doctrine that I believe is inherently abusive without demeaning those who hold to it.  How else can you describe a system that subjugates some under the authority of others due to one factor alone: gender?  Not spiritual maturity, callings or gifts.  Gender.  GENITALIA.

Hierarchy in the Church sidelines the majority and celebrates the ministry of the few, the John Pipers.  Their words have authority and power while others, who also have a relationship with God and have the power of the Holy Spirit within them, are powerless in the Church.  It is not just women but also most men who find their God-given authority and gifts unused and unvalued in hierarchical churches.

We must also consider the epidemic of domestic violence and emotional abuse in the Church.  Or the epidemic of gender violence, rape culture, sexism, FGM and femicide, financial inequality, objectification and sex slavery, etc., in our world.  Let the Church be a force for the empowerment and honoring of women and girls!  Let us heal the brokenness that patriarchy has brought to the world since the Fall!

Typing conversations is hard.  It is easy to misunderstand and hear unintended tones.  The moral of this story should be, love one another, give one another the benefit of the doubt, and if your gut is telling you to walk away, listen! 😉


Here’s a link to the comment thread on FB if you’d like to see how it has devolved since I posted this article.

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Saeed Abedini bares his misogyny for all to see

Early this morning (around 3 a.m.), Pastor Saeed Abedini posted an anti-Hillary rant on Facebook that centered around his personal views on male headship and women’s submission to that authority.

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Those were the pictures I took around 10:30 this morning.  Since then, Saeed has edited the second-to-last paragraph to emphasize the point of his message:

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Not surprisingly, this post has incited some lively discussion.  In the past 22 hours, there have been 182 reactions, 154 comments and 44 shares. And just now, as I am typing this, I tried to look at the post again and see this:

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Evidently, I’ve been blocked!

There were some really lovely comments made by egalitarians in response to Saeed’s post, and now I wish I had captured more screenshots.  Marg Mowzcko, the scholar behind the egalitarian exposition of Scripture at newlife.id.au, left several powerful comments.  This was my favorite:

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The Chiasm in 1 Corinthians 11:2-16

And Debbie Folthorp made an important observation:

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AG – The Role of Women in Ministry

I replied to a couple comments and left one of my own:

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I am hopeful that others are also responding to Pastor Saeed’s incorrect and damaging views on women in leadership.  It is important that examples of blatant cherry-picking of Scripture and patriarchal interpretation be publicly refuted and challenged so that those who may not otherwise hear another view may perhaps question these teachings.

If you are unfamiliar with Pastor Saeed Abedini beyond his 3.5 years of imprisonment in Iran and the powerful movement among Evangelicals to have him freed, Spiritual Sounding Board and A Cry for Justice have many excellent posts and links to articles explaining his history of marital abuse and questionable character.  We also posted about The Courageous and Wise Naghmeh Abedini and abuse in marriage, which is important for the Church at large to be educated on, as victims of abuse are almost always further victimized in the process of protecting the celebrity figures and reputation of the organization at large.

May we continue to pray for healing in the Abedini family.


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Was Jesus Really a Complementarian???

In an article published today on The Gospel Coalition, Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor of University Reformed Church in Michigan, writes that Jesus was simultaneously pro-woman and complementarian¹.  He shares a long and beautiful list of interactions that Jesus had with women throughout his life and ministry, and then points to Jesus’ 12 male disciples as the proof that although women were of equal value to Jesus, he reserved leadership for men and was therefore complementarian (i.e. traditional, hierarchical, or patriarchal).  TGC is almost synonymous with complementarianism, posting regularly on God’s design for gender roles, even positioning gender roles as a critical part of the Gospel – generally understood to be the Good News that Jesus came to restore his creation and redeem us to right relationship with God…and to our gender roles for all eternity?   

kevin deyoung
I certainly agree with DeYoung that Jesus’ interactions with women were revolutionary.  It is often these same interactions that plant a seed of doubt in the mind of complementarians who come around to an egalitarian² theology.  If this is how Jesus treated women at a time when Jewish men daily were thanking God that he did not make them women, why do our churches treat them any differently?

In “Our Pro-Woman, Complementarian Jesus”, DeYoung says,

Out of a cultural background that minimized the dignity of women and even depersonalized them, Jesus boldly affirmed their worth and gladly benefited from their vital ministry. He made the unusual practice of speaking freely to women, and in public no less (John 4:27; 8:10–11; Luke 7:12–13). He also frequently ministered to the needs of hurting women, like Peter’s mother-in-law (Mark 1:30–31), the woman bent over for 18 years (Luke 13:10–17), the bleeding woman (Matt. 9:20–22), and the Syrophoenician woman (Mark 7:24–30).

Jesus not only ministered to women, he allowed women to minister to him. Women anointed Jesus and he warmly received their service (Matt. 26:6–13; Luke 7:36–50). Some women helped Jesus’s ministry financially (Luke 8:2–3), while others offered hospitality (Luke 10:40; John 12:2). A number of women—Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Susanna, Mary the mother of James and Joses, Salome, Mary and Martha—are mentioned by name in the Gospels, indicating their important place in Jesus’s ministry. Many women were among Jesus’s band of disciples. And perhaps most significantly, women were the first witnesses to the resurrection (Matt. 28:5–8; Mark 16:1–8; Luke 24:2–9; John 20:1–2).

DeYoung could elaborate on his mention of John 4 – the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, who Jesus ministered to despite cultural taboos (and even contradictory to the much-followed complementarian “Billy Graham Rule” of never being alone with a woman), who then went into her city as the first missionary, converting many.

He could mention that Jesus submitted, at somewhere around 30 years old, to his mother’s wish that he turn water into wine at the wedding at Cana, his first miracle.

love that women were the financial backers of Jesus’ ministry.  There is no mention in the Bible of any men doing so.  Complementarians generally assign finances to the role of males, as a source of power and authority that transcends the domestic duties of women.

At a time when women were not eligible to give witness in a court of law because of their lowly status and questionable ability in the eyes of the patriarchal culture, Jesus first appeared to women at his resurrection.  Let that sink in.  If women are not to teach men, as complementarians believe that teaching is a form of authority, and women are not to have authority over men, should they have gone back to the 12 grown men and told them, or held the Good News under their hat until Jesus spoke directly to the men who could then spread the Good News to others?

DeYoung goes on to say,

Underlying Jesus’s ministry was the radical assumption that women have enormous value and purpose. The clearest example is his mother Mary, who’s called highly favored in Luke 1:28. Moreover, Jesus used women as illustrations in his teaching, mentioning the queen of the south (Matt. 12:42), the widow of Zarephath (Luke 4:26), women at the second coming (Matt. 24:41), and the woman in search of her lost coin (Luke 15:8–10). He held up the persistent widow as an example of prayerfulness (Luke 18:1–5), and the poor widow’s offering as an example of generosity (Luke 21:1–4).

Jesus addressed women tenderly as “daughters of Abraham,” placing them on the same spiritual plane as men (Luke 13:16). His teaching on divorce treated women as persons, not mere property (Matt. 5:32; 19:9), and his instruction about lust protected women from being treated as nothing more than objects of sexual desire (Matt. 5:28). And in a time where female learning was suspect, Jesus made a point to teach women on numerous occasions (Luke 10:38–4223:27–31; John 11:20ff).

I would elaborate on the story of Martha and Mary from Luke 10, in which Jesus insisted that Mary sit at his feet alongside his male disciples, learning from him rather than serving them in her subordinate female station–which was inconsistent with what DeYoung calls “God’s original design for role distinctions”.  If it was better for Mary to sit at the feet of her teacher, in the posture of a disciple, is it not better for women today to pursue their callings in the Kingdom of God than it is to remain in supportive roles, always deferring to and serving the men?

DeYoung was doing well until this point in his article.  While acknowledging that Jesus’ treatment of women was revolutionary in his patriarchal culture, he veers off course with his assertion that Jesus’ selection of an “all-male apostolic leadership” points to complimentarianism.

First of all, if Jesus is being consistent with God’s original design for male and female roles, it is important to point out that gender roles as expressed by complementarian theology were not present in humanity before the Fall.

Complementarians say that because God made Adam first, he intended that Adam would be the leader.  But Adam was not made first.  The animals were!

When God went to make an ezer kenegdo for Adam, which is often translated “suitable helper”, he was making an equal partner to yoke with Adam.  A truer translation renders ezer kenegdo “corresponding strength.”  It is not preferable to be unequally yoked in marriage, with one spouse carrying a greater load than the other.  In most appearances of the word ezer  in the OT, it is referring to God or to a warrior in battle.  Certainly not an image of domestic servitude!

When God fashioned Eve out of Adam, he declared that she was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, meaning she was the same.  None of this “weaker sex” talk here.  Women are made of tough stuff!

And God did not give Adam alone authority over creation.  The mandate to be fruitful and multiply and rule the earth was given to both Adam and Eve.  We do not see a brokenness in male and female equality and partnership until sin entered the picture.

Second of all, pointing to the fact that the twelve disciples were male does not prove that Jesus would have withheld positions of authority from women for all time.  Jesus also chose only Jewish, middle-aged men.  Are Gentiles, slaves, and elderly or young people also excluded from church leadership?

There was symbolism behind Jesus choosing his original twelve disciples, pointing to the restoration of the twelve tribes of Israel and the coming of their long-awaited Messiah.  These twelve were then titled apostles after Jesus ascended to heaven, but others were also later called apostles, including Paul and a woman named Junia.  The prophesied Messiah had come, and another prophecy from Joel 2:28 was also fulfilled when the Holy Spirit came at Pentecost and landed on all who were gathered together waiting – both men and women – and they all began to prophecy.  With God’s Spirit in each of us, there is no longer Jew nor Gentile, slave nor free, male nor female (Galations 3:28).  We are all one in Christ and equally equipped to serve God’s Kingdom.

How is complementarian theology practiced in most churches?  When looking for leaders, half of the church is immediately disqualified because of their genitalia.  From there leaders are chosen.  It boggles the mind to see spiritually mature and qualified women barred from using their gifts for the Kingdom of God, while our culture has progressed to a place where women are able to lead in secular organizations to the great benefit of all!

God became flesh in a patriarchal world where leadership was not accessible to women.  But in the early days of the Church women played pivotal roles as leaders.  Christianity can be credited with progressing the equality of women throughout culture at large.  And so it is ironic and sad that hierarchical Christianity today is a leading force in subjugating women.  Complementarianism may seem benign to many who have not examined their life-long assumptions about gender roles, but to those of us who have been exposed to the plight of abused and marginalized women around the world and in our own backyards, we are horrified that the Church is not stepping up to honor women in the same revolutionary way that Jesus did in his day.


¹Wikipedia: “Complementarianism is a theological view held by some in Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, that men and women have different but complementary roles and responsibilities in marriage, family life, religious leadership, and elsewhere…For some Christians whose complementarian view is biblically-prescribed, these separate roles preclude women from specific functions of ministry within the Church.  Complementarianism assigns primary leadership roles to men and support roles to women—based on their interpretation of certain biblical passages from a Complementarian perspective. One of its precepts is that while women may assist in the decision-making process, the ultimate authority for the decision is the purview of the male in marriage, courtship, and in the polity of churches subscribing to this view.”

²Wikipedia: “Christian egalitarianism (derived from the French word égal, meaning equal or level), also known as biblical equality, is a Christian form of egalitarianism. It holds that all human persons are created equally in God’s sight—equal in fundamental worth and moral status. This view does not just apply to gender, but to religion, skin colour and any other differences between individuals. It does not imply that all have equal skills, abilities, interests, or physiological or genetic traits. Christian egalitarianism holds that all people are equal before God and in Christ; have equal responsibility to use their gifts and obey their calling to the glory of God; and are called to roles and ministries without regard to class, gender, or race.”


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Did Kirk Cameron say that husbands have authority over the life of their wives?

I was browsing Netflix a couple weeks ago, looking for something to watch while I did bookwork, when I noticed Kirk Cameron’s 2013 film, “Unstoppable,” in which he addresses the problem of pain and suffering and how you can reconcile that with the idea of a loving and good God.  Out of curiosity, I hit play.

I’m not writing this post to critique the movie, but I do want to address Kirk Cameron’s comments about husbands and wives as he is sharing the Creation story.  I find his remarks problematic, and I would like to do my part to make sure there is something on the internet pointing this out.

Kirk sets up the movie with a heart-wrenching story about friends of his who lost their ten year old son to cancer after years of pain and grueling treatments.  A couple weeks before he died, the young boy asked his dad if he could fix him.  Holy cow, I’m crying again just thinking about this poor family.  I can’t bear it.

So Kirk asks the question, Where is God in the midst of tragedy and suffering?  And he begins to answer this question by going to the beginning of pain and suffering (the Fall), first describing the creation of Adam and Eve and the perfection of their life in the Garden.  Here is a short video in which Kirk explains why he goes back to the Garden of Eden in this film:

Around twelve minutes into “Unstoppable”, he is describing how God created man from dust and then he says,

Adam, he’s made of the earth (that’s what Adam means, it means dirt), and he’s not like any of the other creatures.  Not only is he made in the image of God, he is given authority to rule over every other creature.  He’s given privilege and authority to name every other living creature.  When you have authority to name something, that means you have authority over their life. 

After God makes Eve, Kirk goes on to say,

So now, man is no longer alone.  He has his woman, and the two of them are beautifully, perfectly designed to compliment one another.  They have become one flesh.  Adam says, “This is bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh.  She shall be called woman.”  He names her.
 

And then God gives them The Assignment, The Great Mission.  And that is, to be fruitful, multiply, have lots and lots of babies, fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule it, take dominion over all of God’s creation.

Adam had one job, and it was to tend and keep the Garden.  In other words, to cultivate and guard.  To beautify and  protect.  Well, if I said that to you, “Guard this.  Protect what has been entrusted to you,” the obvious question is, “From what?”  And this is the worst part of the story up to this point.

Adam is in the Garden, with his wife, the most precious thing in the Garden.  He is to be protecting her, beautifying her, doing his job.  And a serpent enters the Garden.  This is exactly what Adam should have been watching for.  He should have smelled him a mile away and ran to him and crushed his head the second he saw him.  Especially after he saw what he was doing to his wife!  This is the ultimate breakdown of a man’s responsibility.  This is a story of a man throwing his wife under the bus and using her as a guinea pig in the human experiment.  Remember, God had said to Adam, “the day you eat of this fruit, you will surely die.” (emphasis mine)

First of all, Kirk is not “shooting from the hip.”  The script has been carefully crafted and he is performing it, even though the effect is to seem off-handed and natural.  So when he gives special attention to clarify that naming something is in effect having authority over their life, and then breezes past the statement, “Adam named Eve,” the message is very loud and clear that Adam had authority over Eve’s life.

Did he?  Really?

Kirk Cameron is clearly understanding the Creation narrative through a complementarian/patriarchal lens, and is reading inherent roles into the text that simply aren’t there.  He believes there is an implicit authority given to men to rule over animals and women that is signified through the act of naming.  However, as Kirk states after Eve’s creation, God gives them both authority over the animals, although Eve was not there for their naming.  And the truth is, God named both the man and the woman Adam (human-being in Hebrew), and never told Adam to name his wife.

When God created mankind, he created them in the likeness of God.  He created them male and female and blessed them.  And he named them “Mankind” [adam] when they were created.  Gen. 5:1b-2.

God did not create a hierarchy of authority at Creation.  Adam and Eve are both given the same directive from God: “And that is, to be fruitful, multiply, have lots and lots of babies, fill the earth and subdue it.  Rule it, take dominion over all of God’s creation” (Kirk’s paraphrase of Genesis 1:28).  Kirk describes Adam’s “responsibilities” as “one job…to tend and keep the Garden.  In other words, to cultivate and guard.  To beautify and  protect.”  And then he extends those descriptions to Adam’s responsibility to Eve, “He is to be protecting her, beautifying her, doing his job.”  But that isn’t coming from the Bible.  That is coming from a complementarian patriarchal reading-into of the text.  God created Eve as Adam’s ezer-kenegdo (“strength-corresponding to” rather than the traditional mistranslation of “helper suitable to”) and gave both of them the authority to rule over creation, sans gender-specific roles.

In Marg Mowzcko’s article, A Suitable Helper, she says,

The whole purpose of the Creation of Eve narrative in Genesis 2:21-24 is to emphasise the equality of husband and wife.  To read it any other way is to miss the point and distort its meaning! . . . When Adam looked at his new partner he exclaimed that she was “flesh of my flesh and bone of my bone”!  A profound expression of equality.  There is no hierarchy here! But to further emphasise the point, verse 24 says that when a husband and wife join in marriage they become one flesh – a point which Jesus also highlighted (Matthew 19:4-5, Mark 10:6-7).  Men and women together are made in God’s image.  God’s ideal at creation was that the husband and wife be completely equal and rule over nature together (Genesis 1:26-28).  Complete gender equality is the Godly ideal we should be aiming for.

I could say so much more from watching Kirk’s film, but the concept of Adam having inherent authority over the animals and Eve because of naming them was a striking error that needed correction.

Blessings to you as you have dominion over Creation today! – and I would hope you do that by making the world a better place, reconciling things to the beauty and perfection of God’s original design.  Carry on, warriors!


Marg Mowzcko just posted this excellent article yesterday, relating directly to this issue of gender roles as understood from the Creation narrative: Kenegdo: Is the woman in Genesis 2 subordinate, suitable, or similar to the man?

I would also highly recommend this article by Bob Edwards: Must women keep silent?  1 Corinthians 14 – The Apostle Paul and the traditions of men.  He discusses how proponents of male-authority point to the pre-Fall Genesis account to support their views.

Don’t forget to “Like” our FB page if you haven’t done so already!  We post lots of articles pertinent to empowering women to find their callings as ezer-kenegdos alongside their brothers in Christ, and to raise awareness of areas where redemption work is needed.