Home > Previous Issues > Volume 14, Number 3 > Understanding the Spirit of Prophecy: Some Key Questions and Principles > Prove All Things: A Response to WOMEN IN MINISTRY > Chapter 4 >

Select Table of Contents
Full Table of Contents
Order Information
Chapter 4, Part 3

Headship, Submission, and Equality in Scripture

Samuele Bacchiocchi


Part II - Genesis 2: Equality and Submission

Genesis 2 expands on the creation of mankind covered in Genesis 1:26-31. While Genesis 1 affirms that God created mankind as male and female in His own image, Genesis 2 elaborates on how the two sexes were created and on the relationship between them. God first created man from the dust and breathed into him the breath of life (Gen 2:7). He stationed man in the Garden of Eden to develop it and guard it (Gen 2:15). He instructed man to eat of every tree except of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen 2:16-17).

God paraded the animals before Adam for him to name (Gen 2:19, 20). This task entailed more than slapping an arbitrary label on each beast. It required considering the characteristics of each animal so that its name was appropriate to its particular nature. From this exercise Adam discovered that there was no creature that shared his nature (Gen 2:20). God, who even before He brought the animals to Adam had evidently already planned to create a "helper fit for him" (v. 18), now proceeded to create the woman from Adam's rib (Gen 2:21-22). Adam greeted Eve with rhapsodic relief, acknowledging her as part of his own flesh and calling her "Wo man" because she was taken out of Man (Gen 2:23).

In her equality with himself, Adam perceived Eve not as a threat but as a partner capable of fulfilling his inner longing. God blessed the blissful union, saying, "Therefore a man leaves his father and mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Gen 2:24). The creation account closes with a reminder of the perfection in which Adam and Eve first came together: "And the man and his wife were both naked and they were not ashamed" (Gen 2:25). They felt no shame because they had nothing to hide. They lived together in perfect integrity and harmony.

Although the narrative focuses on the sameness of nature and the partnership between man and woman, within that equality and partnership there exists a clear sense of the woman's submission to man. We use the term "submission" here not with negative connotations of oppression, denigration, or inferiority, but in the positive sense of depending upon another person for direction and protection and to ensure unity and harmony.

Four main elements of the narrative suggest a distinction between the headship role of man and the helper role of woman: (1) the priority of man's creation (Gen 2:7, 22), (2) the manner of the woman's creation out of man (Gen 2:21-22), (3) the woman's having been created to be man's "helper" (Gen 2:18-20), and (4) man's naming of the woman both before and after the Fall (Gen 2:23; 3:20). Our Women in Ministry author examines each of these elements but contends that none of them support the headship-submission distinctions between the man and the woman. Is this right? Let us analyze the arguments.


1. The Priority of Man's Creation

Man Created First

Does the fact that Adam was made first reflect God's plan that man should serve in a leadership role in the home and the church? The answer offered in the chapter we are considering is No! It says, "A careful examination of the literary structure of Genesis reveals that such a conclusion does not follow." 7 It argues that the entire account of Genesis 2 "is cast in the form of an inclusio or `ring construction,' in which the creation of man at the beginning of the narrative and that of woman at the end correspond to each other in importance. . . . The movement in Genesis 2, if anything, is not from superior to inferior, but from incompleteness to completeness. Woman is created as the climax, the culmination of the story. She is the crowning work of Creation."8

The fundamental problem with this interpretation is that it ignores details of the narrative as well as the meaning the Bible itself attaches to the priority of Adam's creation. To say, for example, that "the movement in Genesis 2, if anything, is not from superior to inferior, but from incompleteness to completeness," ignores first of all that the point at issue in our discussions is not superiority versus inferiority (I know of no scholar today who argues that man was created superior to woman), but equality versus functional distinction. Superiority is a non-issue.

Further, role distinctions don't imply inferiority! There are three Beings in the Godhead who are equal in glory and in being but who differ in function. The Father leads, the Son submits to Him, and the Spirit submits to both. These role distinctions do not negate the fact that the three Persons are fully equal in divinity, power, and glory. The Son submits to the Father, but not because He is inferior, a kind of junior God. The ranking within the Trinity is part of the sublime "equal yet different" paradox that serves as a paradigm for male-female relationships.

The narrative does indeed suggest that the creation of woman is "the climax and culmination of the story" because in her, man found at last the "helper fit for him" (Gen 2:20). This is evident by Adam's explanation: "This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man" (Gen 2:23). The movement of the narrative is indeed "from incompleteness to completeness," but it is Adam who experiences the process of becoming complete as a result of Eve's creation, and not the other way around. But the woman's creation as the climax and culmination of the narrative does not necessarily imply that there are no functional distinctions between man and woman, for we have already noted that at least in the process of producing children there are very clear distinctions.


Paul's Interpretation of the Order of Creation

Paul's interpretation of the creation of man and woman is the most decisive line of evidence that discredits the attempt to deny headship significance in the priority of Adam's creation. It is unfortunate that our Women in Ministry author interprets the critical passages in Genesis 1 to 3 in isolation without taking into account the inspired commentary provided by Paul. Doing this is typical of higher criticism, but not of responsible Seventh-day Adventist scholarship nor of the author's work in other areas.

We should note that later in his chapter the author briefly discusses what Paul says about headship and submission, but he makes no attempt to explain Paul's appeal to the order of Eve's creation. Instead, he merely argues that such passages refer to the role of women in the home and not in the church. But even the editor of the symposium appears not to be persuaded. She observes, "The text [1 Tim 2:11] seems to be discussing attitudes in worship rather than marriage relationship."9

Paul appeals to the order of the creation of Adam and Eve to justify his injunction that a woman should not be permitted "to teach or have authority over a man" (1 Tim 2:12 NIV). He writes, "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" (1 Tim 2:13-14 NIV). In the Greek, the order of Adam and Eve's creation is strongly marked by "protos, first" Adam and "eita, then" Eve.

The logic of this passage (1 Tim 2:13-14) and of the parallel one in 1 Corinthians 11:8-9, where Paul speaks of the manner of the woman's creation out of man and not vice versa, is abundantly clear. Paul saw in the priority of Adam's creation and in the manner of Eve's creation a clear indication of the headship role God intended man to exercise in the home and in the church. The fact that the woman was created after man, out of man, and as his helper, meant to Paul that God intends the woman to fulfill a submissive role in relation to man. In the church, this role is violated if a woman teaches in a headship position or exercises authority over a man.

By rooting the headship-submission principle in the order of creation rather than in the consequences of the Fall, Paul shows that he views such a principle as a creational design and not the product of the curse. Contrary to Women in Ministry's argument that headship and submission are the consequences of the Fall, Paul grounds such a principle in the pre-Fall order of creation described in Genesis 2.

The local circumstances of the Christian congregations in Ephesus and Corinth may have provided the context of Paul's injunction, but they do not provide the reason. Paul's reason is creational, not cultural. This is a most important consideration, one that makes Paul's injunction relevant for us today. It is unfortunate that pro-ordinationists choose to ignore the creational reason given by Paul for not permitting a woman to teach in the church as the head of the congregation.


The Meaning of "First-Born"

To some it may appear arbitrary and irrational that headship should be assigned on the basis of priority of creation. From a biblical standpoint, however, the arbitrariness and irrationality disappear, because the priority of creation represents not an accident but a divine design, intended to typify the leadership role man was created to fulfill. This typological understanding is reflected in the meaning that both the Old and New Testaments attach to primogeniture (being the firstborn). The firstborn son inherited not only a "double portion" of his father's goods, but also the responsibility of acting as the leader of worship upon his father's death.

Paul uses the typological meaning of the firstborn also to refer to Christ in Colossians 1:15-18: "He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation; for in him all things were created. . . . He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent." The rich imagery of this passage presents Christ as (1) the Image of God, (2) the Firstborn, (3) the Source of Creation, (4) the Head of the church. All of these are drawn together to establish the preeminent authority of Christ over everything.

This use of the "firstborn" typology to express the headship and authority of Christ suggests that Paul attached the same meaning to Adam's being "first formed." In light of the Old Testament background, Paul saw in the priority of Adam's formation a type of the headship God called man to fulfill, and thus, a reason why men, rather than women, should teach in a headship, authoritative position in the church.


2. The Manner of the Woman's Creation out of Man

Genesis 2 suggests the principle of headship and submission not only by the order of creation of Adam and Eve, but also by the manner of their creation. God created man first and then made woman out of his rib (Gen 2:21-22). He did not make Adam and Eve from the ground at the same time and for one another without distinction. Neither did God create the woman first and then man from the woman and for the woman. God could just as easily have created the woman first and made man out of Eve's rib, but He did not. Why? Most likely because that would have obscured the distinction between the male-headship and the female-submission roles that God wanted to make clear.

Our Women in Ministry author rejects the possibility that the woman's derivation from Adam implies submission. He argues that "derivation does not imply submission. Adam also was `derived' from the ground (v. 7), but certainly we are not to conclude that the ground was his superior. Again, woman is not Adam's rib. The raw material, not woman, was taken out of man, just as the raw material of man was `taken' (Gen 3:19, 23) out of the ground. . . . As the man was asleep while God created woman, man had no active part in the creation of woman that might allow him to claim to be her superior or head."10

These arguments are based on invalid reasoning. First of all, they ignore the biblical distinction between Adam and the ground from which he was formed. The ground could never be Adam's superior because it is inanimate matter given to man to cultivate. To compare Adam with the ground is worse than comparing apples with oranges, because there is no similarity of nature and function between the two.

Second, the fact that Adam was asleep when God created woman is irrelevant, because male headship is not based on Adam's part in Eve's creation but on God's assigned roles revealed in the order and manner of the first couple's creation.

Third, the different ways God created man and woman are closely related to the different tasks they are called to fulfill. This point is well expressed by Werner Neuer: "The man is formed from the soil, whose cultivation is entrusted to him by God (Gen 2:15; 3:17), while the woman is created quite differently, out of man's rib, to be his helper. This is her God-given task in life (Gen 2:18). The appointed tasks of the sexes are as basically different as the ways in which they were created by God. Their different modes of creation are intimately related to their tasks in life. It is worth noting that Genesis 2 and 3 in their own language make clear the very different world-outlooks of the sexes. . . . While the man has an immediate relationship to the world of things, the woman is primarily directed to the world of persons (i.e., in the first instance to her husband)."11

Lastly, the notion that "man had no active part in the creation of woman that might allow him to claim to be her superior or head" again reflects the subtle and deceptive assumption that headship implies superiority--a concept that is foreign to the Bible and to the issue of women's ordination.


Equality and Oneness

We cannot know all the reasons why God created the woman from Adam's body instead of making her as a separate creation from the dust like Adam. However, three possible reasons stand out. First, creating the woman from man's rib suggests the sameness of nature between man and woman. Adam could acknowledge that the woman was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh (Gen 2:23). Her creation from his rib suggests that "she was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him."12

Second, the human race, including the first woman, derives from the same source, Adam, who is the head and representative of humanity (Rom 5:12; 1 Cor 15:22).

Third, woman's creation from man establishes the basis for the one-flesh principle in marriage (Gen 2:24; 1 Cor 7:4), a principle that rests on a real biological and historical foundation.


Paul's Interpretation of the Manner of Creation

The decisive line of evidence that undermines our author's interpretation of Genesis 2:21-22 is the inspired Scripture's own interpretation of the passage.

In 1 Corinthians 11:8 Paul defends his call for women to respect the headship of man by appealing to the manner of the woman's creation: "For man was not made from woman, but woman from man." For Paul the order and manner of the creation of Adam and Eve are the theological foundation of the headship-submission principle. In biblical thought origin and authority are interrelated (see Col 1:15-18). A child must respect the authority of his parents because he derives from them. In Adam's historical situation Eve derived from him in the sense that God formed her from his body. Thus, Adam was her "source" to whom she owed due respect.

This line of reasoning, though present in Hebrew thought, is not explicit in Genesis 2. What is explicit there is that God entrusted Adam with certain responsibilities. He named first the animals (Gen 2:19-20) and then the woman herself, both before and after the Fall (Gen 2:23; 3:20). By this act Adam exercised the leadership role assigned him by God. Man was also instructed by God regarding the forbidden tree and was apparently held responsible for passing on the information to his wife (Gen 2:16-17). After the Fall, God held man accountable for the original transgression (Gen 3:9). In light of these facts, Paul's terse remark that the woman was taken "out of" the man represents a faithful interpretation of Genesis 2 and a legitimate theological reason for the apostle to call upon women to respect the headship role of men.


3. The Woman Created to Be Man's "Helper"

Genesis 2 further suggests the principle of headship and submission by the central role of man in the account of the woman's creation. God created man first and provided him with a garden, an occupation, and finally a wife to be "a helper (`ezer) fit for him" (Gen 2:18). Though the word "helper" suggests the woman's supportive role, our author rejects this interpretation. Instead, he argues that the Hebrew word `ezer (helper) does not imply submission because "The Hebrew Bible most frequently employs `ezer to describe a superior helper--God Himself as the `helper' of Israel. This is a relational term describing a beneficial relationship, but in itself does not specify position or rank, either superiority or inferiority."13

It is true that the word "helper" in itself, whether in Hebrew or in English, does not necessarily imply submission. But the meaning of a word cannot be determined without consideration of its context. In this case the word occurs within the phrase which says that God created woman to be a helper fit for man. "If one human being is created to be the helper of another human being," as George W. Knight rightly notes, "the one who receives such a helper has a certain authority over the helper."14 This does not mean that woman exists solely for the sake of helping man, but rather that she is a helper who corresponds to man because she is of the same nature.

The Old Testament does portray God as our Helper (Ps 10:14; 54:4; 22:11). This only serves to prove that the helper role is a glorious one, worthy even of God Himself. But this fact does not exclude submission, because the very nature of a helping role presupposes submission. Whenever God undertakes to help us, in a certain sense He subordinates Himself to us. But this does not "undo" His deity in helping us. To help us Christ emptied Himself and assumed a servant role, but this did not make Him any less God. The difference, however, between the helping role of God or of Christ and that of the woman is that while God assumes the role of Helper to meet human needs, Eve was created specifically to function as a helper suitable for Adam.


Corresponding Helper

The author seeks support for his interpretation in the adjoining word kenegdo, usually translated as "fit for him" or "suitable for him." He writes: "The word neged conveys the idea of "in front of" or "counterpart," and a literal translation of kenegdo is thus `like his counterpart, corresponding to him.' Used with `ezer [helper], the term indicates no less than equality: Eve is Adam's `benefactor-helper,' one who in position is `corresponding to him,' `his counterpart, his complement.'"15

The attempt to transform the word neged which denotes "in front of" or "counterpart," into a "benefactor-helper" role for Eve, is ingenious but is based on invalid reasoning. What Raymond Ortlund correctly observes in regard to alleged superiority applies also to the allegation of equality: "If neged means `superior to [or equal, in our case]', then what are we to make of, say, Psalm 119:168? `All my ways are before (neged) you.' Is the psalmist saying `All my ways are superior [or equal] to you Lord'? Not only is that an unbiblical notion, [but] the whole burden of Psalm 119 is the excellency and authority of the law over the psalmist. The neged element in kenegdo merely conveys the idea of direct proximity or anteposition. The woman, therefore, is a helper corresponding to the man."16

The woman's creation from man and for him ("a helper fit for him," Gen 2:18) suggests a functional dependency and submission. As Gerhard von Rad points out, Genesis describes the woman not in romantic terms as a companion to man, but in pragmatic terms as a "helper" to him.17 Bible writers speak of human relationships with a certain practicality.

Like many others, our author rejects the notion of a functional submission of woman to man in Genesis 2. He argues that in Eden before the Fall there was a perfect 50-50 partnership between husband and wife. He sees God as having introduced the notion of the headship of man and the submission of woman as part of the curse. This raises an important moral question to be examined later: Why would God establish role distinctions after the Fall if He knew such distinctions to be (as feminists claim) morally wrong? And, we might add, why did God assign the headship role to man rather than to the woman (Gen 3:16)?

This view, which finds no submission before the Fall, stems from a negative evaluation of all forms of submission and especially that of woman to man. This conviction has led our author and others to interpret all the Scriptural references to submission as reflecting the post-Fall condition. The strongest objection to this view is that submission, as we have seen, is present in Genesis 2, that is, before the Fall (described in Gen 3). We have seen that Paul calls upon women to be submissive to the headship role of man, not on the basis of the curse but on the basis of the order and manner of God's creation.


Paul's Interpretation of "Helper Role"

The decisive factor against Women in Ministry's interpretation of the phrase "helper fit for him" (Gen 2:18) is Paul's allusion to this text in 1 Corinthians 11:9: "Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man." Paul makes this statement in the context of his admonition that women should respect male headship in the church by covering their heads according to the custom of the time. The head covering was a custom (1 Cor 11:13-15) subservient to the principle of male headship (1 Cor 11:3). While the principle is permanent, its application will vary in different cultures.

Significantly, Paul alludes to Genesis 2:18 to buttress his admonition to women to respect male headship, but he does so without using the phrase "helper fit for him." Instead he gives his own interpretation of this phrase, namely, that woman was created for man and not the other way around. There is no doubt in Paul's mind as to the meaning of "helper fit for him." He did not have to dissect kenegdo in order to come up with an interpretation. The apostle states unequivocally the plain meaning of the phrase "helper fit for him," namely, that woman was created for the sake of man. If woman was created for man's sake, that is, to help him in the tasks God gave him, then it follows that her helping role is a submissive one.

To avoid possible misunderstandings, we must note that Genesis 2:18 and Paul's interpretation of it in 1 Corinthians 11:9 do not say that woman was made to be man's slave or plaything; they say rather that she was made to meet man's need for a fitting companion and fellow-worker. When men view their wives as less than God-given helpers, they are unfaithful not only to the teaching of Genesis but also to the example of Christ's servant headship, which is the model for husband-wife relationships (Eph 5:23-30).

The foregoing considerations show the fundamental importance Paul attached to the order and manner of the creation of Adam and Eve as found in Genesis 2. For Paul, the creational order constitutes the theological basis requiring that women not serve in a headship role in the church. Such a role would not accord with the submissive, helping role God envisaged for woman at creation. To reject Paul's interpretation of Genesis 2 means to reject the internal witness of the Bible.


4. Man Names the Woman both Before and After the Fall

Genesis 2 indicates the principle of headship and submission still further by the fact that God entrusted man with naming not only the animals (Gen 2:19-20), but also the woman herself, both before and after the Fall (Gen 2:23; 3:20). In the Bible, name-giving often indicates authority. God exercises this prerogative by naming things He created and by later giving new names to such people as Abraham and Jacob (Gen 17:5; 35:10).

Giving a name is more than labeling. It is, as Gerhard von Rad puts it, "an act of appropriate ordering, by which man intellectually objectifies the creatures for himself."18 God entrusted man with the responsibility of naming the animals to help him comprehend their characteristics and the environment surrounding him. Naming expressed an assessment of each creature's character (Gen 2:19).

"God was not waiting to see what sounds Adam would associate with each animal," James Hurley observes. "The prerogative of assigning them names reflects control. He was allowing his vicegerent to express his understanding of and to exercise his rule over the animals by assigning them names. Adam does so, and demonstrates his control: `whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name' (Gen 2:19)"19 In naming the animals Adam fulfills part of his commission to subdue the earth (Gen 2:18), which consists not only in transforming it physically, but also in comprehending it intellectually. It is significant that Adam, not Eve, is entrusted with naming the animal kingdom. This was to enable man not only to comprehend his environment, but to lead him to realize his need for a "helper fit for him" (Gen 2:18).

When Adam discovered that there was no animal suitable to be his companion, God proceeded to fashion a woman from his own body. In his reaction to the creation of woman, Adam revealed not only his joyful astonishment but also his intellectual understanding of the nature of male and female:

"This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of man" (Gen 2:23).

Note that God does not introduce the woman to man, nor does she introduce herself. Adam himself grasps the new situation. In designating her "Woman" Adam defines her identity in relationship to himself. He interprets her as feminine, unlike himself and yet his counterpart. He sees her as part of his own flesh. He defines the woman not only for his own understanding of her but also for her self-understanding. Adam's defining of the woman is in keeping with the headship responsibility God entrusted to him.

"Adam's sovereign act [of naming the woman] not only arose out of his own sense of headship, it also made his headship clear to Eve. She found her own identity in relation to the man as his equal and helper by the man's definition. Both Adam and Eve understood the paradox of their relationship [equal and yet different] from the start."20 Adam's responsibility to serve as God's subordinate ruler continues after the Fall. In Genesis 3:20, Adam assigns the woman a new name which reflects God's promise that, despite their transgression, the woman would bring forth children to continue the race (Gen 3:15-16). "The man called his wife's name Eve [Hawwah, life-giving], because she was the mother of all living" (Gen 3:20).

There is no indication that Adam's assigning of a personal name to the woman after the Fall was any different from what he did originally in giving her a class name after her creation. In both instances the man exercised his headship responsibilities. By the first name, "woman--'ishshah," Adam defined the woman's nature as "taken out of man" (Gen 2:23); by the second name "Eve--Hawwah," Adam defined her function as "the mother of the living" (Gen 3:20). Both naming acts were in keeping with Adam's headship responsibilities.


The Author's Interpretation

Rejecting this interpretation, our author argues that although "assigning names in Scripture often does signify authority over the one named, . . . such is not the case in Genesis 2:23."21 The first reason he gives is that "the word `woman' ('ishshah) is not a personal name but a generic identification. This is verified in verse 24, which indicates that a man is to cleave to his 'ishshah (`wife') and further substantiated in Genesis 3:20, which explicitly records man's naming of Eve only after the Fall."22

This argument has three major problems. First, while indeed the word "woman" is not a personal name but a "generic identification," this does not diminish the responsible role of Adam in giving her a class name. Such a name was designed to define who she was in relationship to himself at the moment of her creation. By giving Eve a class name Adam fulfilled the role assigned him by God to name all the living creatures according to their characteristics. We do not know what language was spoken in Eden. In Hebrew the name for woman, 'ishshah, sounds very much like the name for man, 'ish. A pun of sorts may have been intended.

The reason given for assigning Eve such a class name is "because she was taken out of man" (Gen 2:23). This explanation suggests that Adam called Eve 'ishshah, woman, because he realized that she was indeed his own kind, from his own body.

Second, while Genesis 2:24 "indicates that a man is to cleave to his 'ishshah (`wife')," this does not minimize the headship role of man. The function of this text is to affirm man's responsibility to form a committed marital relationship. This commitment involves leaving father and mother and cleaving to his wife. In both instances it is man who is called upon to take the initiative and responsibility to form a committed marital union. The use of the "generic" class name 'ishshah (wife/woman), rather than a personal name, reflects the general principle stated in the text that man is to cleave to his wife.

Lastly, Adam's assigning the personal name "Eve" to his wife after the Fall (Gen 3:20) only serves to reconfirm his headship role. After Eve's creation, Adam gave her a class name to define her identity in relationship to himself. After the Fall, Adam gave her the personal name "Eve" to define her role as "the mother of the living" (Gen 3:20). In both instances Adam acts in keeping with his headship responsibilities by defining the woman's nature and function.

The second reason the author gives for rejecting any headship role in man's naming of the woman in Genesis 2:23 is his claim that this text "contains a pairing of `divine passives,' indicating that the designation of `woman' comes from God, not man. Just as woman `was taken out of man' by God, with which man had nothing to do, so she `shall be called woman,' a designation originating in God and not man."23

Assuming for the sake of argument that the designation of "woman" originates from God and not from man, does this negate the headship role of man? Hardly so! Why? Because Adam would then be using a term coined by God Himself to define the woman's derivation from himself. In this case, Adam exercised his authority by using a divinely coined term to define the woman's relationship to himself. However one looks at it, Adam is involved in naming Eve before and after the Fall, simply because this is part of his God-assigned headship role.


Are Submission and Equality Contradictory?

Most feminists today view the principle of equality in nature and submission in function, which is present in Genesis 2, as a contradiction in terms. For example, Scanzoni and Hardesty write, "Many Christians thus speak of a wife's being equal to her husband in personhood, but subordinate in function. However, this is just playing word games and is a contradiction in terms. Equality and subordination are contradictions."24

The claim that equality and subordination are an unacceptable contradiction fails to recognize that such an apparent contradiction exists in our Savior Himself. On the one hand Christ says, "I and the Father are one" (John 10:30) and "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9), and on the other hand He states, "I can do nothing on my own authority; . . . I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me" (John 5:30) and "the Father is greater than I" (John 14:28). Christ is fully God (John 1:1; Col 1:15-20) and yet "the head of Christ is God" (1 Cor 11:3; cf. 15:28).

The submission in Genesis 2 is similar to the one that exists in the Godhead between Father and Son. In fact, Paul appeals to the latter model to explain in what sense a husband is the head of a wife, namely, as God is the head of Christ (1 Cor 11:3). This is a unique kind of submission that makes one person out of two. Man is called to be the head of a one-flesh relationship. Submission in Scripture does not connote subservience, as commonly understood, but willing response and loving assistance.

Susan T. Foh aptly remarks, "We know only the arbitrariness, the domination, the arrogance that even the best boss/underling relationship has. But in Eden, it was different. It really was. The man and the woman knew each other as equals, both in the image of God, and thus each with a personal relationship to God. Neither doubted the worth of the other nor of him/herself. Each was to perform his/her task in a different way, the man as the head and the woman as his helper. They operated as truly one flesh, one person. In one body does the rib rebel against or envy the head?"25


Next Page
Chapter 4, Part 2
Chapter 4, Part 4

Samuele Bacchiocchi, Ph.D., is Professor of Religion, Andrews University.

Home | Contact | Previous Issues | Store | Links | About Us | Women's Ordination FAQs | Site Menu
SiteMap. Powered by SimpleUpdates.com © 2002-2018. User Login / Customize.
HomeAbout UsWhat's NewPrevious IssuesStoreContact UsLinksFAQ'sSite MapSubscribe NowLoginSubscribe Now