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> May 15, 2012 - James P. Steel
Women's Ordination as it Relates to Marriage Models
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The Ordination of Women
(Are you an egalitarian, a complementarian, or something even better?)
Numerous media sources have reported on Saddleback Community Church’s Mothers Day ordination of women to the ministry.
The decision by pastor Rick Warren and his elders to ordain women is a watershed. Not only is it a shot across the bow of the good ship S.S. Southern Baptist (already at odds over Beth Moore’s departure over similar issues), but it is also a shot which will reverberate throughout the evangelical community.
This discussion is important because it reflects a far broader undercurrent being observed in evangelical schools of higher education that involves not only ordination but the whole scope of women’s roles in the Bible, especially as seen in biblical marriage models. As a biblical issue, the ordination of women embodies a fresh attempt to change our paradigm by placing heavier emphasis on what is commonly called the egalitarian (equality based) marriage model. For this reason, the issues of marriage models and women’s ordination share some common talking points and need to be discussed together.
How Marriage Models Play in the Issue of Women’s Ordinations.
First, we will offer a brief overview of marriage models. Then, we will weigh in on the issue of women’s ordination.
I. Understanding Marriage Models
A. The purpose of the egalitarian marriage model.
When we speak of the egalitarian relationship between men and women, we are acknowledging that men and women were both created in the image of God. Therefore, they are equal in every way. While men and women are equal before God in every way, equality does not imply being identical any more than being made in the image of God makes us identical with God. The fact that males and females are not identical does not speak to their inequality. Both men and women are inheritors of the same rights and privileges as defined by God (1 Peter 3:7).
B. The purpose of the complementarian marriage model.
Note: Because this model is under attack, we draw a little more attention to it.
Definition: When we speak of the complementary or complementarian model we are reminded that, for at least one purpose, woman was created to be a helpmeet (a helper fit) for man. Man needed an equal with which to commune, and a helper for him to carry out his divine mandate. But don’t miss this point: By virtue of her creation, woman was also given the mandate to have dominion over the creation. It is clear that that dominion was to be asserted in the context of her relationship with man, but the mandate is clear, she too, is to have dominion (Genesis 1:26-28). This is an important point because this does away with the idea that a woman’s only creative purpose is to free up the man for his creative role and that woman has no purpose outside of man.
Basic Facts: When we think of the complementarian model, we understand that there are at least three considerations which shape our thinking.
1. First, the complementary model is for all time. God imposed this model before the fall. Its scope precedes Adam and Eve’s lapse, so we may conclude it is not punitive, and it is extended to all mankind in all time (Genesis 2:20-24, esp. Vs. 24; Matthew 19:3-6). When we discount this model, we discount the very words of Christ.
2. Secondly, the complementary model is good. Its value can also be associated with the overall goodness of God when providing the curse for fallen men to live under. Men and women experience the curse equally, but in different contexts (Genesis 3:16-19).
When we speak of “the curse” we become aware that four entities were affected. Satan was affected, men and women were affected, the creation was affected, and God Himself was affected. Satan’s curse was clearly punitive. The curse placed upon the creation, however, was no fault of the creation. It was a merciful act on God’s part for our benefit. If we can imagine fallen men and women living in a paradisiacal world without the effects of the curse, we soon get a glimpse of the wisdom of God.
By requiring both men and women to struggle daily against the effects of the curse, God has saved us from our own natures. The struggles of men and women, however, are both similar and unique to their gender. In an overall context, the man struggles against the thistles and the woman struggles in maternal matters. The consequences of the curse are lovingly tailored to each gender. God did not dissolve marriage as a result of the curse. He strengthens marriage as Adam and Eve face the issues together and share in their struggle against the curse. The complementary model, then, is a gracious gift from God to help men and women navigate the effects of the curse together in their respective gender identities.
3. The complementary model corresponds to our natures. Gender roles relate to how God made us. They are not externally imposed through environmental conditioning, though they may be perverted and abused. By nature, men and women respond differently to their worlds in a variety of ways. This does not make one gender superior to the other. Both are “good” in the eyes of God and both enrich the other gender (Genesis 1:1-31).
One major gender difference is cited by the apostle Paul, when arguing forward from the creation and the fall. Paul asserts one dominant differential which is inherent in our physical bodies and will not be erased either by culture or by spiritual regeneration until the resurrection. Due to her nature, and for good reason, the woman is more easily deceived (1 Timothy 2:14). While we do not understand the full implications of this statement, we understand that its immediate context has to do with spiritual perception. We can mitigate this by pointing out other areas where the female gender outshines the male gender, but the fact itself remains. The woman is more easily deceived, as was evidenced by the fall of the proto woman. It is for this reason, and this reason alone, that she is not to lead or assert spiritual authority over the man. The complementary model, then, is graciously given by God for the woman’s benefit and protection as well as the man’s.
C. The Purpose of the Christological Marriage Model.
Will the best marriage model please stand up?
As the women’s ordination conversation moves toward center stage in evangelical discussion, it is important for the Bible student to understand that these two aforementioned marriage models are not intended to be pitted against each other. Both the egalitarian and complementary models are alive and well and, pardon the pun, complement each other equally. It is not a question of which has priority in a particular cultural context. This is because the Old Testament models of marriage have been enhanced by a yet to be revealed mystery, an all-encompassing New Testament model. This pastor prefers to call it the Christological model. As beautiful as Old Testament marriages could be, they were not enriched by the doctrine of Christ and the mystery which was yet to be revealed. Ephesians 5:22-33 articulates this glorious truth in words so glowing, yet so concise, that they form the basis of most biblical marriage ceremonies. Careful readers will notice that this passage blends the egalitarian and complementary models under an even higher authority, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself who represents the head of both the man and the woman. The old models are not negated (they had nothing to do with the law) but, rather, are gloriously enriched and finely balanced in Christ. The Christological marriage model goes far beyond mere marriage contracts. It celebrates our essential oneness and unity in Christ.
Herein lies the danger underlying the ordination issue. A lion’s share of the argument offered by those in favor of the ordination of women will be built by insisting that we have overstated the complementary role of women in marriage. There will be a pendulum effect (in step with our rights-obsessed culture) which will emphasize the egalitarian rights of women while diminishing their complementary role. That is why we call this issue a watershed. It is paramount that the biblical pastor be able to explain and impose the Christological marriage model, a model which places Christ at the head of both our homes and churches.
II. How marriage models do and do not relate to the ordination of women.
Let’s summarize the truths which inform this discussion of women as pastors (and/or elders). They are, as follows:
1. Ordination is not an equality issue either in our homes or in our churches. Both men and women are heirs of the promises of God, both are recognized equally in scripture, and both are integral to God’s plan and program. Equality is not on the table.
2. Ordination is an authority issue. God is a God of order. God commonly establishes lines of authority through primogeniture and headship. What comes first is first in both responsibility and authority. Adam was first created, then Eve (1 Timothy 2:9-13). This is not a matter of intelligence. Outside of the creation, Jesus Christ is in submission to the Father, though He reigns co-equally with Him. He is not inferior.
3. Ordination is a church issue. Because the church is a large composite family consisting of multiple families, the same dynamics can be observed. More importantly, Paul insists that the same dynamics are in play as we have noted in Ephesians 5. The relation between a man and his wife is reflected in the relationship between Christ and the church. This is the point where marriage models and ordination models converge. The relationship between Christ and His church are reflected in marriage and vice versa.
4. Ordination is a spiritual issue. As with the role of the husband in the home, the role of elders and pastors concerns itself first and foremost with biblical and spiritual issues, and in this respect, the male is most highly qualified, albeit imperfect and less qualified than the female in other contexts. The spiritual welfare of our homes and churches are directly related to the commands of a God who knows what is best for us, even when we cannot see it ourselves.
Rick Warren is to be admonished for flying against the direct admonitions of the Word of God. He has been cited with numerous biblical references by numerous men of God. He follows in a long line of men and women who prefer to kowtow to the dictates of a modern culture gone awry.
Be aware that the arguments Saddleback has employed to loosen biblical standards in the church, will be used to weaken and dissolve the biblical dynamics God has embedded in the biblical home.
TODAY'S NEWS RELATED SCRIPTURES
Both men and women are inheritors of the same rights and privileges as defined by God (1 Peter 3:7).
“Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7, NKJV)
The mandate is clear, the woman is also to have dominion (Genesis 1:26-28)
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”” (Genesis 1:26–28, NKJV)
1. First, God imposed the complementarian model before the fall. Its scope precedes Adam and Eve’s lapse (Genesis 2:20-24)
“So Adam gave names to all cattle, to the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper comparable to him. And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, Because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.” (Genesis 2:20–24, NKJV)
“The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”” (Matthew 19:3–6, NKJV)
2. … Men and women experience the curse equally, but in different contexts (Genesis 3:16-19).
“To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you.” Then to Adam He said, “Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat of it’: “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return.”” (Genesis 3:16–19, NKJV)
The basis of the Christological marriage model:
“Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.” (Ephesians 5:22–33, NKJV)
This is a natural issue. The woman was more easily deceived. (See next reference as well)
“And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.” (1 Timothy 2:14, NKJV)
This is an authority (order) issue:
“in like manner also, that the women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with propriety and moderation, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or costly clothing, but, which is proper for women professing godliness, with good works. Let a woman learn in silence with all submission. And I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.” (1 Timothy 2:9–13, NKJV)