Published on November 8th, 2013 | by Jeff Price
Is God A Sexist?
For many of us in this post-modern world, the concept of women submitting to men is perceived as an outdated, oppressive and unfathomable notion. Modern society, for the most part, has finally realized and accepted the fact that women are every bit as capable as men in virtually every aspect of our lives. So, why then, if God created all of us equally, does He call for women to submit to the authority of men?
For the most part, women all over the world have shown themselves to be at least as capable as men with regard to leading a household, running a business or handling leadership rolls in a church. In fact, some studies have shown that women are perhaps in some ways better equipped for leadership than men. Combine these details with the fact that a great number of men fail miserably at leading their households or managing subordinates at work or performing their duties in the church, and the idea of women submitting to the authority of men becomes almost laughable.
So, with women being equal, if not superior to men in every aspect of life, many will ask why a woman should feel led to place herself in a position of submission? That is the question we will attempt to answer in this article.
The word, “submission” has ugly connotations in today’s society. But, as we move through this study, we will discover that our idea of submission and God’s idea of submission is vastly different.
In 1 Corinthians 11:3 we are told that the man is the head of a woman, Christ is the head of every man and God is the head of Christ. Thus, God has set up a hierarchy. God and the Messiah are equally divine, but there is a subordination of function between Christ and God. Likewise, man and woman are equal, but between the two, there is a subordination of function.
The need for leadership is inherent in any group of two or more people. Likewise, with the union of a man and a woman, a need for headship is inherent and God has decreed that the man is the headship over the woman. Passages such as Colossians 3:18 and Ephesians 5:22 support this. But, men must remember that submission is not a command for the husband to enforce. There is never even a hint in scripture that a man, through conniving, brute force, manipulation, or mind-control is to bring his wife into submission. Submission is not something a man demands of a woman – it is something a woman demands of herself. For example, a wife submits – not out of love and respect for her husband, per se, but out of love and respect for God. In doing so, a woman is able to fulfill her commitment to the Lord’s command in Colossians 3:18. But, the question remains; why is such a commitment required of women to begin with?
Many today would say that the idea of a submissive woman, both in the secular world as well as in the context of the bible has cultural as opposed to divine origins. But, the apostle Paul tells us that this is how God designed it from the beginning, as in 1 Timothy 2:13-14. Moreover, 1 Corinthians 11:8-9 tells us not only that man was formed first, but that man was made for God and the woman was made for the man.
It is the priority of creation that places man in a position of authority over the woman. Eve was made for the sake of Adam, to be his helper as we see in Genesis 2:18-25.
So, we see that women have a unique and esteemed roll as man’s coworkers in this life and also serve to enhance the glory of God by enhancing the splendor of man.
Both men and women are uniquely created to bear the image of God. They were created in God’s image, but as Paul points out, the original creation from the “dust of the ground” was Adam, the man. Eve was created later from part of Adam himself. The male was given the dominion and authority over God’s created world and is, by that fact, the glory of God.
Likewise, woman is the glory of man. Woman was made to manifest man’s authority as man was made to manifest God’s authority. The woman is a vice regent who carries out man’s will, just as man is God’s vice regent, who carries out His will on earth.
Moreover, the man was created directly for God; the woman, on the other hand, was made directly for man. She was created on his account, and not he on hers. God could have simultaneously created Adam and Eve as He did the animals, but He created Adam first, then Eve. God made this distinction for all times and with it He reveals his design and purpose for the sexes. Woman was created under the headship of man. She was created from man, for man, brought to man, and named by man. In biblical thought, because Adam was Eve’s source of origin, she must honor and subordinate herself to him. Like the doctrine of the first born son, Adam’s position as head of the family is due to his prior formation.
Thus we see that women’s subjection is tied to creation just as much as it is tied to the fall. Eve was created for Adam and Eve was the first to fall. Eve’s fall occurred when she ignored her divinely ordained position. The moment she partook of the forbidden fruit, she chose not to follow God.
But, isn’t Adam as much to blame for sinning as Eve? Certainly, he is! In fact, Romans 5:12-21 places the blame on Adam. We are told that through Adam, sin entered the world. Adam, in a moment of selfishness, allowed his bride – this wondrous gift from God whom he was supposed to respect, cherish and protect – to defy God at her own peril. One can only wonder why? Perhaps it was because he had always been curios about what exactly would happen had he had the nerve to defy God himself and allowed the woman to be his test subject.
Eve needed protection and she received none from Adam. She needed a head and Adam had failed her. She acted independently and was deceived and fell. In a sense, the fall was caused by a violation of God-ordained roles of the sexes; Eve took authority, and Adam submitted.
But, there is yet another reason most women find submission to their husbands so distasteful. It stems from the fall. After eve had disobeyed God, He pronounced a curse on all women from that time forward. In Genesis 3:16, not only does God curse the woman with pain in childbirth, but He also decrees that a woman’s “desire shall be for her husband, yet he shall rule over her”. This “desire” is not a romantic desire, but a covetous one. God’s curse caused women to have contempt for man’s authority over her and caused her to “desire” to take the leadership roll.
Thus far, we have attempted to discover what the command to be submissive means. But, we should also address what it doesn’t mean. It doesn’t mean that a woman is commanded to obey her husband as a child would obey his parents or an inferior to a superior. That is not the kind of submission the Lord decrees a woman should show a man at all. Charles Hodge, a noted theologian of the 19th Century, put it beautifully; “She receives and reveals what there is of majesty in him. She always assumes his station; becomes a queen if he is a king, and manifests to others the wealth and honor which may belong to her husband.”
We must realize that, spiritually speaking, men and women are equal in terms of their relationship with God. The same holds true in terms of personal worth, intellect, or spirituality. It is only in terms of authority and function that men and women are different.
Thus, we have to dispense with the notion that a wife’s submission is equivalent to inferiority! A submissive wife may, in fact, be superior in some aspects of their lives together. She simply chooses to place herself as an equal underneath another equal in order that there can be order and function in the family. Women must be determined to live in a state of submissiveness to their husbands in order to have a properly functioning family.
So, we can conclude that the reason why wives are to submit to their husbands is not because he deserves it, but because God decrees it and God deserves it. It is because a Christian woman is now to set her mind on things above and put to death the things that belong to her sinful nature. And out of her submission toward God, she can submit to her husband – not because she loves her husband that much, but because she loves God that much.