Sunday, March 15, 2015

“Mind and Spirit”–> Man Is To Be The Head

BossLeader

BT Roberts founded the Free Methodist Church.  The Church had the term “Free” due to two clear distinctives:

1. The Methodist Church at the time would charge families for pews in the Church.  You would know who was the rich by the pew that they bought.

2. They believed that slavery had no place in God’s Kingdom, and the were strong believers in abolishing slavery.

Out of this understanding of the scriptures, they had one other clear understanding:  that women were not restricted in their roles in the Church.  While most Churches do no allow women to be pastors, the Free Methodist Church was one of the first to allow women to serve in leadership roles.

I was raised as a Free Methodist, and because I love John Wesley so much, their theology is strangely warming to my soul.  While women pastors are far and few between, our church did have a woman Pastor, who’s first name was Marty.  She was warm and insightful, and I enjoyed her preaching more than our normal Pastor.  I was many years into my teens before I started to understand that other Churches did not allow women to be pastors.  Quite frankly, I believed that the other churches were simply missing the boat.  There is a story in the Old Testament where Deborah led Israel to a great victory.  If women in leadership was a problem, then Deborah should have never existed.

I remember on time when Marty was preaching, she said, “Many people, when they find out that I am a woman and a Pastor ask me, ‘But why did Paul say that women were not to preach?’” Marty had a deadpan look, and se continued, “I tell them that Paul was a chauvinist pig.”  Then she laughed, “Because that’s what they want me to say. I don’t actually believe that at all.”

Marty then went on to explain that all Scripture needed to be looked at in terms of the culture.  If not, then most Christian would be endorsing slavery because Paul talked to slaves.  She would say that there was plenty of balancing scriptures that indicate that women can and should serve. 

I agree with Marty.  Women can be pastors, and Marty had a positive impact on the Kingdom of God due to her service.

However, the controversy continues to rage on today.  My youngest daughter has grave concerns about the role of men versus women.  This happens to be the topic of conversation with her slightly older brother that seems to be delighted in reminder her of versus like the following:

1 Corinthians 14:34-35

New International Version (NIV)

34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.  If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

This squabble between my kids is much bigger in nature.  There are men that love to push that they are the head of the household, and they make sure that everybody knows it.  There are women that say that they are little more than slaves to men.  Their whole goal in life is to make sure that this injustice is overturned. 

The Christian Church has tried to deal with this question for many years, and two views have sprung into view.  The first one is egalitarianism.  This means that in Christ there is no male nor female.  This means that women can hold any role in the Church, and in Churches such as the Nazarene, Free Methodist, and Assemblies of God, women can be Pastors.

The clear verse that supports this view is the following:

 

Galatians 3:28

New International Version (NIV)

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

There is a middle role that the bulk of the evangelical church has embraced, and it is called complementarianism.  This means that while men and women are of the same value in God’s eyes, they are called to different roles.  Church that adhere to this doctrine never have women as Pastors, as they don’t believe that it is their role in the Church. 

The final form, that all Evangelical Churches reject, is the idea of chauvinism.  This view would indicate that men are of significantly greater worth than women. 

So, let’s look at the section of Scripture above.  In I Cor 14, it looks like women can’t even speak.  Yet, if we look at a few verses earlier, in the same chapter, the Bible clearly calls out that women are speaking and prophesizing in church.

 

1 Corinthians 11:3-5

New International Version (NIV)

3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man,[a] and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved.

Or another section of scripture used to keep women from being Pastors is 1 Tim 2:11-15.  However, it is important to understand the culture that the book was written in.  As a bare minimum, most scholars believe that literacy rates were low, and non-exist for women.  It is hard to lead when you can’t read.

 

1 Timothy 2:11-12

New International Version (NIV)

11 A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12 I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet.

Paul’s first section may simply be saying that you have to be literate to teach.  If you are not, which all women were not, then you should not teach.  In contrast to this one verse, many sections of New Testament and the Old Testament should women as leaders.  Paul calls this out.

Many other scholars point to the gnostic heresy that was in the area.  The Gnostics would explain that Eve was thought to be the teacher of Adam.  Thus Paul was criticizing a particular instance of Gnosticism.

My challenge with all of this debate is that it is extraordinarily difficult to judge any one section of scripture.  I have written about this before, and I believe that the only way to deal with the Bible is to read the Bible in whole.

The decision that you will need to make is the following:

a. Do you believe in the egalitarianism or complementarianism viewpoint?

b. What belongs in the above definitions.

For me, I believe in allow women to hold virtually any office in the Church.  In this case, most would brand me as an egalitarian.  However, I actually hold the complementarian viewpoint.

How do I end up at such a strange viewpoint?  Because at the core of the egalitarian viewpoint is the idea of “we need to get back to the state before the fall.  In the garden, both Adam and Eve were equal before the Lord, and this is why women, under grace, can serve in any capacity.  I believe a careful reading of the scriptures will show that the state in the garden was one of clear roles.

Pre-fall, God spoke to the man, and, in turn, man tried to lead in the right direction.  There were words that God only spoke to the man, and the woman recognized the man’s leadership (or what should be called headship) of the relationship.  There is only one role that the woman should not lead in.  This is the role of the marriage.  We are called to be married, when we can, and all marriages should experience the roles of man and woman to God.  As long as the man and woman are agreed, the woman should be able to serve any role in the Church or in this world.  She can be the bread winner.  She can be the Pastor.  But both understand how a marriage is to be run, and the man has the headship.

So where is  this mentioned clearly?  I would argue in many places, but none as clear as in 1 Cor 11:2-3

 

1 Corinthians 11:2-3

New International Version (NIV)

On Covering the Head in Worship

2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

This refers to the line of authority that comes from God.  It also refers to the special relationship that exists in this line of authority with a man and a woman is called headship.

I believe that the concept of headship is not something that started to happen after the fall.  I believe that the concept of headship existed in the Garden of Eden.  Eve was called out to be Adam’s helper.  The Hebrew word for this instance is ezer.  Now God can be our helper, so this does not necessarily speak to any the chain of authority in the the relationship.  However, in light of the bigger picture of Scripture, I believe that there was a line of authority in the Garden.  The man was to lead (not dominate nor boss) and the woman was to help in the direction.

The Bible teaches an enormous amount about authority.  The core of having a strong Christian faith is understanding how we should used these lines of authority.  In my mind, the scripture is pretty clear.  The woman did not throw off God directly, when she ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil.  She threw off the headship of her husband.

So, when Paul says what I believe is the most controversial and difficult section of scripture in 1 Tim 2:13-15, he is thinking through what really happened in the garden.  I believe this is the key in understanding the scripture.  You do not need to know Greek and Hebrew.  You simply need to know the whole Bible and read the stories with a critical, Sherlock Holmes mind.

 

1 Timothy 2:13-15

New International Version (NIV)

13 For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14 And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15 But women will be saved through childbearing—if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

Paul calls out that Eve was deceived.  If you have an interest in this area, how many times have you read this verse, and simply said, “sure the serpent lied.”  But here is the core of true understanding.  What does it mean to be deceived?  How was the women deceived?

Let’s use Google for the definition of deceived:

 

de·ceive
dəˈsēv/
verb
past tense: deceived; past participle: deceived
  1. (of a person) cause (someone) to believe something that is not true, typically in order to gain some personal advantage.
    "I didn't intend to deceive people into thinking it was French champagne"
    synonyms: swindle, defraud, cheat, trick, hoodwink, hoax, dupe, take in, mislead,delude, fool, outwit, lead on, inveigle, beguile, double-cross, gull; More
    • (of a thing) give a mistaken impression.
      "the area may seem to offer nothing of interest, but don't be deceived"

We are interested in the deception of a thing.  The woman was led to believe that the Fruit of the Tree of Knowledge was not harmful but good.

Now, as Sherlock would call out.  Let us reconstruct the events and think logically as per the story that is often heard from pulpits.

1. The woman hears that the fruit is bad from God.

2. The woman hears that the fruit is good from the serpent (which I believe was actually a man, but this goes beyond the scope of this post, but can be found here.)

If you have two witnesses:  God and earthly being, who is a logical, non-sinful being going to believe?

The answer is obviously you are going to believe God.  However, I believe that this wasn’t the choice.  Eve was actually listening to two earthly beings:  her husband and the serpent.

If we look carefully at the series of events in the Garden, we can see that the Tree of Knowledge was planted and the warning gave long before Eve was created from man’s side.  I believe that it is easy to see that God told the man “do not eat from the tree,” and the man told the woman “don’t touch the tree or eat from it.”  If you read the story, you’ll see that by the time the woman is talking to the serpent, she doesn’t pass God’s message of simply not “eating” the fruit.  She says that it can’t be touched.  This is either because God told two slightly different commands, or by the time that the information got translated from the man to the woman, the scope slightly changed.  There was no sin in the change, just simply a simple missed understanding.

The serpent is not directly challenging God.  I would have a tough time believing that if the woman had heard a direct command from God that she simply would have disobeyed God.  She was perfect.  She had perfect will power.  She had no sin nature to temp her.  The issue was one of trusting if her husband had given her the whole story. 

Genesis 3:1-4

New International Version (NIV)

The Fall

3 Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?

2 The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, 3 but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.’”

4 “You will not certainly die,” the serpent said to the woman.

If Eve had heard God saying “Don’t eat from the tree,” Eve would have simply said, “Sure, I was standing there.  I heard it.  God said not to eat it.”  To me, the issue is exceptionally clear.  Eve got the information second hand.  She got it from her husband.  The serpent was trying to say, “Listen, things get messed up.  Some times you think you know what God wants, but it really isn’t clear.”

What happens next is amazing.  Her husband, who clearly knows better, eats the fruit also.  Paul calls it out.

1. The woman was deceived. 

2. The man wouldn’t stand up for what was right.

The man knew better.  The man had heard the word proceed from the mouth of God.  The serpent did not go to the man, because when you have the Word of God rolling around in your mind, you simply can’t dismiss it.  I believe that there was no way of getting the man to flip because he had heard the word directly.  It was the woman that was asked to rely on the message from her husband that was the attack point.  It was here that the serpent could find a weak spot because all she had to do was doubt that her husband was really communicating the word correctly.

I believe that even before the fall, there was a sense of headship in the relationship of the man and the woman.  The woman was created from the side of man.  The woman was created after man.  The role of the man to lead the relationship. The role of the woman is to have followership.  I believe that the whole of the Scripture points toward the idea of submission.  The idea that the woman is something less because of this submission is not logical.  For everybody has to submit.  Even Jesus submitted to the will of the Father, even though he is co-equal with the Father. 

But the idea of submission is half (or maybe even less than half) of the story.  Because the man or husband is call to be self-sacrificing for the wife.  He is to give his all to protect, lead, and serve his wife.  This is the reversal that finds itself so many times in the scripture.  Now that the man recognizes that he is to lead, he must now serve.  It was through serving that Jesus found the pleasure of the Father.

When Adam found out that his wife did something wrong in the Garden, what did he do?

He went along. 

I believe that the fundamental sin in the garden is the act of screwing up the relationship that a husband and wife should have together.  It is not about being a Pastor.  It is not about women not speaking.  All of that is cultural.  The one point that is not cultural is the way that man and women should act in a marriage relationship.

This is the other side of the coin that I’ve seen broken in numerous marriages.  To lead, the man must take up the mantle of leadership.  Really, I’ve found that leadership is not easy nor pleasant. If you are doing leadership right, you are seeking the Lord.  You are reading the Bible.  You are considering others.  You are praying for direction.  It is tough.

Many times, it is simply easier to go along with whatever the wife wants.  Let her do the work.  Let her lead.  Go along for the ride.  The passenger seat is a nice place to be because you don’t have to put in the effort.  And this is wrong.  The man must seek out what is right for the entire family.

I am not suggesting that this is a solo road.  I am not saying that the wife should be left out of the thinking.  I am saying, however, the ultimate direction that the marriage must take is driven by the headship of the husband.  When a man and a woman are thinking about marriage, the man must look at the relationship and ask the following questions:

1. Is the man capable of being the head of the relationship? 

In some instances, the man is simply much weaker than the woman.  He has less fiscal sense, less brainpower, less discipline, and less spiritual leadership.  Almost always in these relationships, I have seen one of two things happening.  In the first case, the man tries to lead but is incapable.  This kills the wife and quenches her capabilities.  It is a crime to have a wife that you make weaker.  The alternative is to allow the wife to lead the relationship and be the head.  However, this often results in the wife resenting the husband. 

2. Is the woman capable of being the follower?

Being a follower is not an easy road, yet it is the one that our Lord sought.  Even when the husband is capable of leading, sometimes a woman will not be willing to be the follower.  I have often seen this as the woman trying to reshape her man into something that he is not.  Now, I am not talking about something as trivial as money.  There are many women who are more capable of making money.  The question is if the the woman is willing to be lead Spiritually.  Or does the woman want to be the one driving the bus?

Image result for atomThis world is made up of atoms.  If the atoms are not solid, then the whole world falls apart.  Our spiritual world is made up of marriages, and it the most fundamental of all the forces.  God made us in his image, but male and female.  Marriage is the atom of our spiritual relationship.  If we have strong marriages, we will have strong families.  If we have strong families, we will have strong churches.  If we have a strong church, we will understand what it is to Love the Lord our God with our heart, soul and mind. 

All I can do is related my marriage.  I give my wife an extraordinary sense of freedom.  She gets to lead in so many ways, but we understand that I am supposed to be the head.  I do not always do it well, but I do try and do it.  She is not repressed, but supported.  However, we both understand that the Lord will speak to us through me.  I eagerly seek her advice, council and love.  I am not an island, but I am called to lead.

Finally, a word to the men.  If you are willing to lead, then realize that there is a chain of authority.  You may be called for headship in the the family.  However, you are also a man under submission and one that must follow.  You must be willing to follow both your Spiritual master (Jesus the Christ) and you Fiscal Master (your boss at work.)

The most important choice that you will make is where you seek spiritual guidance, and who you will submit to in your Church.