Men and Women and the Creation Order, Part 3
The Confirmation of the Creation Order for Men and Women
Editor’s Note: Does the creation order for men and women only apply to the spheres of family and church, or does it apply to all of life — including the civil realm? This article is part 3 of a 3-part series entitled “Men and Women and the Creation Order” that Pastor William Einwechter has penned to address this critical question.
In Part 1 of this series, the significance of a renewed consideration of the creation order and its implications for the current debate over the roles of men and women in family, church, and society was introduced, and the meaning of the concept of “creation order” was defined. In Part 2, the biblical accounts of the creation of man and woman in Genesis 1 and 2 and of the Fall in Genesis 3 were studied, and it was demonstrated that these accounts establish a clear distinction between the nature, authority, and roles of the man and the woman in the plan of God for mankind.
In this final installment, Pastor Einwechter demonstrates that the rest of Scripture upholds the creation order of Genesis 1 and 2, considers it as normative in the post-fall world and in the mediatorial kingdom of Jesus Christ, and applies it to all areas of life.
III. Confirmation of the Creation Order for Men and Women in the Rest of the Bible.
The creation order of the positional priority of the man revealed in Genesis 1 and 2 is confirmed and explicitly applied to all spheres of life in the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. The fact that the rest of the Bible upholds the creation order for men and women proves beyond doubt that the order of creation in Genesis 1 and 2 is expressive of the creation ordinance of male headship. In a discussion of the ethical foundation of the wisdom of the book of Proverbs, Walter Kaiser makes these observations on the unity of the creation order of Genesis 1 and 2 with the revelation of Old Testament law and Old Testament wisdom literature:
The motivational clauses also reveal the ethos for the admonitions in Proverbs. That ethos is Yahweh’s created order and the knowledge of God that is directed by the . . . “fear of the LORD” . . . The object of right living is to live in harmony with the created order and the knowledge of God. Only then will fullness, wholeness, success, and avoidance of tragedy be ours — both physically, materially, psychologically, and spiritually. For Proverbs to name one aspect, such as material success, is to invite success in every other area as well since life may not be fractured and neatly partitioned as it is currently fashionable to do in the West. The law promotes the same order that creation initiated and wisdom illuminated. Thus the ethos of the orders of creation is the ethos of the law and both form the ethos of wisdom [emphasis added].
Kaiser’s point is very important. The ethos (the universal, objective characteristics and standards) of the creation order is promoted by the law of God and illuminated by the wisdom literature of the Bible. In a sense, all of Scripture is engaged in either the promotion of the creation order or the illumination of the creation order.
This fact is entirely true of the creation order of the positional priority of the man and the submission of the woman to him as his appointed helper. All of Scripture promotes and illuminates this created order and applies it to all areas of life. Although the semi-complementarianism of modern evangelical thought limits the created order to the spheres of the family and the church, the Bible consistently applies it to all spheres of life — family, church, and state. The biblical view is that the creation order of male and female applies to all of the creation.
Due to constraints on the length of this final segment (this series is an essay, not a book), only the first point of this section will be discussed in any detail. The rest will be limited to a summary statement and a listing of Scripture references for the reader to look up and contemplate at his or her leisure. The Scripture references are an attempt to be thorough, though the lists are not necessarily exhaustive.
The Creation Order for Men and Women Applies to All Aspects of Life and in the Mediatorial Kingdom of Christ.
1. The creation order for men and women applies to all aspects of life and in the mediatorial kingdom of Christ.
One of the most important affirmations that the creation order applies to all spheres of life is found in 1 Corinthians 11:3: “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.” In the context, Paul is seeking to correct the abuse of good order in the Corinthian congregation by the failure of certain women to observe the apostolic “ordinance” regarding the woman’s need to cover her head in the assembly as a visible sign of her subjection to the divine law of male headship. 1 Corinthians 11:3 lays the theological foundation for the practice of headcovering. But it also sets forth the divine order for the government (the hierarchy of authority) of all aspects of man’s life in the world. Paul appeals to this God-appointed order for all creation to establish proper decorum in the meetings of the church. According to Charles Hodge, Paul begins his correction of the Corinthians’ problem by stating the principle upon which his instruction will rest:
. . . so that by assenting to the principle, they could not fail to assent to the conclusion to which it necessarily led. That principle is that order and subordination pervade the whole universe, and it is essential to its being. The head of the man is Christ; the head of the woman is the man; the head of Christ is God. If this concatenation be disturbed in any of its parts, ruin must be the result.
The word “head” is based on the Hebrew word for “head” (rosh) which means a chief or leader, one in a position of authority over others. The word was used of: 1) the king of Israel, 1 Sam. 15:17; 2) the High Priest, 2 Chron. 19:11; 3) the head of a household, Ex. 6:14; 4) the leaders of the tribes of Israel, Num. 1:16. The word “head” refers to divinely appointed offices in the Old Testament. Paul is using the word to depict God’s hierarchical structure for the world. The divine order of authority is thus: God - Christ - Man - Woman. As God is the head of Christ in all areas of the divine government of the world, so is Christ the head of man in every aspect of man’s life. Thus, the only logical conclusion is that the man is also the head of the woman in every aspect of man’s life; i.e., in all spheres of government: family, church, and state.
It is significant to note that this order is the same order as the creation order established in Genesis 1 and 2 with one notable addition: the inclusion of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. “Christ” is the divine title for the Messiah, the Seed of Abraham and the Son of David who has come in fulfillment of the promises of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants. According to Psalms 2 and 110 and the New Testament interpretation of these Psalms, Christ is now seated at the right hand of God and all authority in heaven and earth have been granted to Him (Matt. 28:18; Acts 2:33-36; Eph. 1:20-22; Phil. 2:9-11; Rev. 1:5). Furthermore, He has been commissioned to bring an end to the rebellion of the nations so “that all people, nations, and languages should serve him” (Dan. 7:14). Christ is the appointed mediator between God and man. He stands as a mediator in regard to both the redemption of sinners and the rule of God over the world — the two aspects of the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants.
What this all means for the subject of this study is that the creation order of man’s headship over woman is reaffirmed as the divine order for the mediatorial kingdom of Christ — a kingdom that governs all of life. Thus, the claim of evangelical feminists that Galatians 3:28 removes the idea of male headship from the kingdom of Christ is here definitively refuted. In its context, Galatians 3:28 is stating the equality of spiritual privilege and covenantal standing for all who believe in Jesus Christ, irrespective of ethnic, social, or sexual differences. In the terms of the Abrahamic covenant, all are the seed of Abraham by faith in Christ; this is the focus of Galatians. In terms of the Davidic covenant, the appointed order of authority for Christ’s kingdom is God - Christ - Man - Woman.
Christ’s headship extends to all the governments established by God: family, church, and state. Because the extension of the creation order to the civil sphere is denied by semi-complementarians, it is vital to understand that Christ is the mediatorial king of all civil rulers — God has placed Him over them all; cf. Ps. 2:10-12; 110:1-2; Isa. 9:6-7; Dan. 7:14-15; Matt. 28:18; Rom. 13:1-2; Eph. 1:20-22; Phil. 2:9-11; Rev. 1:5; 19:16. This fact leads to the conclusion that it is His will that civil rulers be men, for in the order of divine government men stand directly under Christ. To have a woman in the office of civil ruler would make the order of the civil government within her jurisdiction as follows: God - Christ - Woman - Man. This hierarchy is a clear denial of 1 Corinthians 11:3 and the appointed order for Christ’s mediatorial kingdom: God - Christ - Man - Woman.
The Creation Order for Men and Women Applies in Marriage and Family
2. The creation order for men and women applies in marriage and family.
In the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, the creation order of male headship in marriage and family is affirmed both explicitly and implicitly. That the man is the head of his household is upheld in the patriarchal order of the Old Testament and the patriarchal order of the New Testament. The Bible leaves no doubt that the creation order of male headship is the divinely appointed order for the home (Gen. 2:24; 18:12; Exod. 6:14; Num. 30:1-16; Josh. 22:14; Matt. 19:4; 1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:22-25; Col. 3:18-19; 1 Tim. 3:4-5, 12; 1 Pet. 3:1, 5-7).
Furthermore, the Word of God confirms and illuminates the creation order of distinct roles for men and women. In the Bible, the man is seen as the leader, provider, and protector of his family, and the woman is portrayed as a keeper at home who supports her husband, nurtures her children, and manages her household (Gen. 2:15; 3:16-19) — note that the terms of the curse are applied to each according to their God-given spheres; Num. 1:20; Prov. 31:10-31; Eph. 6:4; 1 Tim. 2:15; 5:8, 10, 14; Titus 2:4-5).
The Creation Order for Men and Woman Applies in the Church
3. The creation order for men and woman applies in the church.
Male headship in the government of the church is affirmed in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. The redemptive community is first placed in the hands of the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Israel is delivered from bondage under the leadership of Moses and conquers the Promised Land under the leadership of Joshua. The Old Testament priesthood is of the house of Aaron and open to men only. In the New Testament, Jesus appoints only men to be his apostles, and the leadership of the church is placed in the hands of men—elders and deacons. Male headship is explicitly stated to be the order for the church. All the books of the Bible are written by men (Gen. 12:1-4; Ex. 3:10; 28:1; Mark 3:14-19; Acts 6:3; 14:23; 1 Cor. 11:3; 14:34; 1 Tim. 2:11-12; 3:1-13). The Word of God teaches that men are the leaders and teachers in the church and women are to be silent learners (1 Cor. 14:1-40; 1 Tim. 2:11-12).
The Creation Order for Men and Women Applies in the State
4. The creation order for men and women applies in the state.
In accord with the creation order, the Bible teaches that men are to bear rule in the civil sphere. By precept and example the Word of God establishes the headship of man in civil government. All the appointed civil leaders (i.e., the patriarchs, elders of the tribes, Moses, Joshua, commanders of the army, kings, judges, and elders of the town and cities) of the Old Testament are men. Furthermore, the qualifications for civil rulers in Israel specifically state that only men may serve in that office. The New Testament does not overturn this order, but in fact establishes it through the mediatorial kingship of Jesus Christ. Whenever the Bible speaks of civil magistrates it does so in terms that refer to men and never in terms that refer to women (Ex. 18:21; Deut. 1:13; 16:18-20; 17:15-20; 31:28; 2 Sam. 23:3; Neh. 7:2; Isa. 3:12; Rom. 13:4; 1 Cor. 11:3). In Scripture, the man serves in the “gates”, and the woman serves in her home (Prov. 31:23).
The Creation Order for Men and Women Applies in Society
5. The creation order for men and women applies in society.
As mankind is the creation of God, human society (all of mankind’s social relations) is necessarily grounded in the creation order; it is impossible for it to be otherwise. If the creation order establishes male headship, then society must be under that order. Furthermore, all of society is based on the institutions of family, church, and state. If the Bible establishes male headship in the family, the church, and the state, then it is hard to see how any other conclusion can be reached than the conclusion that male headship is the divine order for society. Finally, if all aspects of man’s life are under the lordship of Jesus Christ, then the order of God - Christ - Man - Woman must apply to all aspects of man’s life. In the Old Testament, the foundations of a stable and prosperous society are defined in terms of male leadership (Isa. 3:1-3, 12). In the New Testament, the order of authority in Christ’s kingdom (a kingdom that rules over all) places man over the woman (1 Cor. 11:3).
We live in a society that has almost entirely rejected the creation order. Therefore, every aspect of life and every area of government in our society is currently out of order (at least to some degree). Because of this, seeking to live according to the creation order will be difficult and perhaps costly. Though God’s people cannot impose the creation order on an unwilling society, they can get their own lives, houses, and churches in order in obedience to God and as a witness to the truth of God’s appointed order. Furthermore, it will be impossible for the people of God to entirely separate themselves from the structure of the egalitarian society in which they live “for then must ye needs go out of the world” (cf. 1 Cor. 5:9-13). But as much as lies within their power and jurisdiction should be structured according to the creation order of male headship.
In conclusion, we assert, on the basis of the Genesis account of creation of the man and woman and on the teaching of other Scriptures, that the creation order establishes a full complementarian view of the relationship between men and women. In summarizing our study and drawing out its implications for the debate over the roles of men and women today, we offer the following affirmations:
- The creation order reflects the plan of God and establishes the lawful arrangement of all things in the creation. The creation order is universal in terms of time, place, and culture.
- Male headship is part of the creation order, and thus it applies to all of man’s life and to all spheres of government—family, church, state, and society. Male headship is a creation ordinance, and it continues in the post-fall world being affirmed in the Old Testament and specifically affirmed in the New Testament as part of the order of Christ’s mediatorial kingdom.
- Egalitarianism is false and stands in direct contradiction to the specific revelation of the creation order in Scripture and to the many individual texts that affirm, apply, and uphold the creation order in family, church, and state.
- Semi-complementarianism (or “two-point complementarianism”) is correct in applying the creation order to family and church, but is wrong in denying the application of the creation order to civil government and society. Semi-complementarianism is really, to coin a phrase, semi-creation orderism because it denies that the creation order applies to all spheres of life. It also introduces conflict between the various spheres.
- Full complementarianism is the biblical model for all mankind. It is only when men and women live in harmony with this model that they will experience fullness, wholeness, and success — physically, materially, psychologically, and spiritually.
- The successful integration of family, church, state, and society is based on the faithful application of the creation order to all of these spheres. When the creation order for men and women is ignored, confusion and conflicts between these spheres will be introduced.