Thursday, March 26, 2009

WOMEN AND CHURCH LEADERSHIP: Part Four of seven

IV. Genesis – The Fall

Dr. Bill Domeris views the fall as “an explanation of the structures of society as experienced by the writer.”[1] Genesis 3:16 – “To the woman He said, ‘I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.’” According to Domeris, the only thing the woman has lost here in the fall is her equality that she had once enjoyed.[2] Woman is to be viewed as man’s “fellow worker” and this should be sufficient to dismiss any idea that a woman’s role is to be some sort of “permanent nurse and housemaid.”[3] Domeris’ low view of scripture becomes evident when he first, refers to the Gospel of Thomas[4] and secondly when he complains that the writers of the Gospels had failed to recognize this new sense of valuing women that Jesus had ushered in; “Sadly the Gospel writers have lessened the revolutionary implications of Jesus’ band of followers by their concentration on the Twelve.”[5] According to Domeris, Paul simply failed to fully realize what he had written in Galatians 3:28, and instead continued in other letters to give the “legalist” in the Jewish synagogues a strong foothold.[6] Domeris’ implication is that in essence, Paul must have been struggling with Jesus’ “new and improved” view of women against his more Jewish “legalistic” understanding of women. He concludes that the notion of “submissiveness” is a travesty, and as long as men are to be seen as the “spiritual head” of the family, women will be nothing less than second class Christians.[7]

Without Genesis chapter 3, the recording of the fall, the Bible as a whole would make no sense, nor would life itself make sense.[8] As moral beings, being created in God’s image, both Adam and Eve knew their roles and it could be argued Satan was aware of these roles as well. Satan’s subtle approach is significant – “Indeed, has God said…?”(Genesis 3:1). Catching Eve when she was alone, without Adam to counsel or warn her, and for the first time perhaps, never imagined by either of them that it was even possible for a creature to actually question God’s word.[9] If scripture is considered to be divine revelation, then it has always been a very dangerous thing, either by addition or deletion, to alter God’s word (Revelation 22:18-19). Eve’s answer becomes quite revealing, for she added to and subtracted from God’s actual words – Genesis 3:2 “From the fruit of these trees of the garden we may eat; but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it or you will die.’” God had actually said they could eat “freely” from “all” the trees except one, and God did not forbid them from “touching” the fruit; Eve’s “supposed” restriction, fueled by Satan’s question, becomes apparent in her developing resentment.[10] Is there any “resentment” today when women are “restricted” from specific roles within the church or family and who might be fueling it?

The text in Genesis 3 relating to the fall is crucial, especially in examining what it does and does not say. Genesis 3:6 – “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate.” What had actually happened? Raymond Orthund observes that it is most “striking that we fell upon an occasion of sex role reversal.”[11] Who gets the blame? Paul clearly blames Adam for the fall in Romans 5:12-21, and God did not summon both Adam and Eve, but it was Adam alone who had the primary responsibility to lead the partnership in a God-glorifying direction.[12] It could also be noted that what deceived Eve is also common today – “it was a delight to the eyes” and “desirable to make one wise.” In essence, Eve had decided that Satan was telling the truth - provoked by physical, emotional, and intellectual appetites.[13] Are some of these same “appetites” the driving force behind the notion that women, as well as men, are called to lead the church and it really doesn’t matter? Will the clarity of God’s word be ignored, either by addition or deletion?

[1]W.R. Domeris, “Biblical Perspectives on the Role of Women,” Journal of Theology for Southern Africa, no. 55 (June 1986): 58.
[2]Ibid.
[3]Ibid.
[4]Ibid., 60.
[5]Ibid.
[6]Ibid.
[7]Ibid., 61.
[8]Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr. “Male-Female Equality and Male Headship: Genesis 1-3,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 106.
[9]Henry M. Morris, The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1976), 110.
[10]Ibid., 111.
[11]Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr. “Male-Female Equality and Male Headship: Genesis 1-3,” in Recovering Biblical Manhood & Womanhood, ed. John Piper and Wayne Grudem (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006), 107.
[12]Ibid., 108.
[13]John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN, 2005), 16.

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