The Fall and Women's Role

This post was originally posted over at Chi Rho Live. That was a shared blog with two friends from college. I include the comments below the original post.

"To the women he said, "I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing, in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you" (Genesis 3:16).

Women's role in the church has come up a lot lately, and I wonder what the best way to approach it for people is. I have one friend that explains the role of women in ministry throughout the Bible. I take the approach of talking about the kingdom and God's desire for us to reach perfection.

In the perfect world before the fall, women were not ruled over by men; that was a consequence of sin. As Christians, if we are forgiven of our sins and are striving to live in perfection, then we should treat women as they were treated before the punishment of sin. As much as is possible by us, we should live as the redeemed people we are and bring about the kingdom that will fully manifest itself someday as much as possible in the here and now. That would include women not being ruled over but being treated as equals as they were before the fall.

Now how to bring that about in an environment where the church believes a woman should never teach an adult male, I do not know how to deal with that effectively.

Orignal comments from this point on:

Sam said...
I find that hard liners for submission of women get their logic from one passage - 1 Timothy 2:11-15:
“A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. For Adam was formed first, then Eve. And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

To them, Paul’s logic seems irrefutable. The woman was created secondly. The woman screwed up. The woman must be subservient. But never fear – women can still be of value by becoming Super Susie Homemaker.

I don’t know what to do with that passage. I think it contains some faulty logic and exposition on Paul’s part. It flies in the face of much of the rest of Paul’s (and of course Jesus’) understanding of equality that comes from the inauguration of God’s reign.

Perhaps instead of debating this passage, ask them (your church or setting) to reconcile it with the overwhelming proclamation that men and women are of equal value in God’s kingdom. That there are no longer roles and expectations to fill based on gender, but each person has something to offer.
FEBRUARY 18, 2008 9:58 AM

 Troy said...
You seem to miss the several other passages where Paul talks about women being in subjection to their husbands and keeping silent in church: Ephesians 5; 1 Peter 3; Titus 2; 1 Corinthians 11 and 14 to name some. And how do you explain away the passage that Sam quoted from above? It sounds pretty straight-forward to me. If Paul and his congregations were striving for perfection, why did he reiterate this hierarchy? Just curious of your thoughts.
FEBRUARY 20, 2008 6:27 AM

 regan said...
The problem is that it seems either one side or the other has to go explaining away some passages. Each side thinks they are doing justice to the other sides key passages, while both sides agree that the other side is wrong. It is one of those difficult issues, and it all comes down to what passage is placed as the prism passage through which the other passages are interpreted through.

Unfortunately, I do not have the time to do the topic justice at this moment since I was just checking online prior to going to work. I think I will write more about this on Monday and deal with the all the relevant verses then. Or at least try to.
FEBRUARY 20, 2008 9:39 AM

 regan said...

If you don't mind, would you share how you interpret the woman deacon in the last chapter of Romans, men and women being equal in Corinthians (in Christ there is neither male nor female, jew nor greek, slave nor free), and with the teaching that there was no inequality between male or female before the fall combined with the kingdom principle of us trying to be perfect as God is perfect?
FEBRUARY 20, 2008 9:43 AM

 Troy said...
First of all, woman was created to be mans helper (help meet Gen. 2:18). I personally don't see that as equal. If I get a helper at work, it's my duty to direct and guide them (whether it's male or female).
If the Corinthian passage your referring to is 1 Cor. 12:13, we are all equally important in the body of Christ. By the same Spirit were we baptized into one body, this by no means says we have the same duties or functions. Quite the contrary. Read 1 Cor. 12:15. And my translation doesn't mention male or female. We may not be using the same translation. If this isn't the passage you were thinking of, let me know and I'll take another whack at it.
As for the woman deacon (KJV translates "servant" but could easily interchange deacon), deacon could also mean servant, teacher, pastor and minister. Paul doesn't directly specify which role she performs. I have no problem with deaconesses in the role of a servant or teacher. Paul exhorted the older women to teach the younger women (Titus 2), but he also told the women not to teach the men (1 Timothy 2:12). Obviously women can't fulfill perfectly all of the requirements set forth by Paul as deacons. They are not the husbands of one wife, nor can their wives be grave (1 Timothy 3:11-12). I know several women who serve at church. Obviously this woman made an impact on Paul for him the mention her like this.
As for Sam's "Susie Homemaker" comment, should we be opposed to women being homemakers? Part of the older women teaching younger women is to encourage them to be keepers at home. Unless this passage (Titus 2:5) doesn't apply anymore. No it's not a salvation issue, but I believe it's God's best for families.
FEBRUARY 20, 2008 10:14 PM

 regan said...

I mentioned the wrong book. It was Galatians 3:28. The Corinthian verse omits "male nor female".

And I will write more later. I am trying to finish my school assignments tonight.
FEBRUARY 21, 2008 9:22 PM

This post is part one of three.

Part 2 - Women's Role in the Church
Part 3 - Living in a Church that Disagrees with me on Women's Role