I recently had an argument with a Christian who was adamant that men are to be the leaders only, as they are made for that purpose and are answerable to God. I of-course disagree with this notion and with good reason.
Male dominance has been inherent in eastern cultures for a long time. Bible speaks of male dominance because that is how the society was constructed. Very few women were literate in O.T times and even in the N.T. Most of the first century women were not educated. The idea that the male should be superior, is not a spiritual requirement. It is a social one. The context greatly matters here.
In a male dominant society as the first century Jews, Paul could have not written
Gal 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus…
and not understand what he was saying. You do see that Paul clearly speaks out against the Jew authority of the O.T, he starts with that and comes to male and female as well. In the immediate context, I must treat these the same way. The same way Jews are not the only special people now, that men are no more special than women. This means that women can have the spirit of God and lead men.
Let me ask a question and this is one which often makes people angry but I ask it nonetheless, why does our GOD is always referred to as a masculine identity while we clearly know that God is neither male or female? Where do you think that masculinity came from?.
the objection I got on this point was this
Gal 3:28 is an incredibly difficult verse to completely understand. You cannot take that verse and apply it as is. Reading it like that would be blinding our differences all the way up to God himself.
The thing is I do not think think that Gal 3:28 is that incredible to understand. It may be for someone who has no clue about biblical scholarship but I can not see how WE can miss out the plain meaning. And what is being called out as an error is what the verse goes on to do in the plainest reading, blind out the difference. But in this case it is against the biased tones of the culture of that time. If you have read Romans, does it not make clear that the specialty of the “Jew” does not matter in terms of who God favors above others, anymore? And while the difference is there, God’s response to it has changed.
Another objection I got was Eph 5:23 here is the quote I was asked
Eps 5:23 absolutely does entail spiritual leadership. Don’t kid yourself. What do you think its telling the man to be the HEAD of? Nothing? Yes, there are different kinds of relationships. However, there is only one truly perfect loving relationship with God. Just 1. One leads, the other follows. We are told to reflect this. One in authority showing all the incredible qualities of God along with command be SUBMISSIVE to our wives. The other to be in complete OBEDIENCE.
My answer is simple, No it doesn’t. At least not the way people make it sound. First of all, if men are to be the spiritual leaders and then also submissive to their wives, then how come they be the head? Further we do not share the leadership of Christ, is Christ also submissive to us, his bride? For the symbolism used, is of Christ. We have to compare it to that.
In actuality, the essence of Eph 5:23 is not the spiritual leadership of men rather than it is of Christ, and the order with which it can be identified in the culture of the first century, in which Paul lived. Paul refers man as the head of the wife, is because that is the social construct he has inherited and lives in. It can not be spiritual, as in no one is different in that way. Had it been the other way around, with the Jewish culture being female dominant, the order would have had been reversed, with Christ on top, then women and then men.
To say that men are the only leaders spiritually is just plain reading it wrong, with as much context as to proof-text your way to your desired conclusion. But there is an order present and that is clearly reflected in Eph 5:23, but this order is specifically according to the first century culture. To import it in the current time where women are literate, have rights and significant places in society, is fallacious. I think there is ample room for correction on how we view things.
Sharing leadership role in church DOESN’T equals the leadership role of Christ. A woman can be as Christ like as men, for you would agree that the same spirit that works in a man, and gets him appointed by God, and it not because of the merit of the man himself, rather the grace of God, is the same way a women is to serve God, for again it is not the gender itself that makes someone special rather the one who decides to make someone special.
Then I was given the famous appeal to Biblical order. That Men indeed lead in spiritual matters.
I think this is the same problem, Jews had, they could not comprehend the idea that the gentiles could be equal to them, worse they are partakers in the inheritance of God, which only they had the claim to, up till then. As for the appeal to the “biblical order”, I simply think it is to bring an unnecessary inference which could easily change in each individual case with either the women or the man taking the leadership role.
The criteria for spiritual leadership is the spirit of God and the grace of Christ. His appointment matters, not who sinned first, who is more prone to emotional appeals or who is better able to handle matters. Godly attitude takes more than resolve of a certain individual, that Godly resolve is not the product of how brave, strong you are, neither does that Godly attitude inherited in all men.
I am not against a leadership in a relation, what amuses me is when that position by default goes to man. And while I can certainly see where man must be the protector for his family, and the women the caretaker, I dont see how this is a set in stone thing.
Someone’s wife looking up to him in spiritual matters is admirable indeed but does male leadership comes from God in spiritual matters, always? certainly not. It is a stretch to assume. Am I responsible for my wife as a husband? Indeed I am, is she responsible for me? yes she is. I have my role, she has her’s. We are equals in the eyes of God, we may be not equal with respect to skill, talent or such in our personal lives, she is good at something, I am at others but in terms of spiritual readiness we both qualify in the eyes of God.
Husbands are called to be on a higher plane of responsibility. 100% man 0% woman decided. It is not the body that makes the decisions, the head does.
This was another attempt to misconstrue the true meaning of the biblical passage because in most cases the head turns out to be a complete idiot, as well.
I am not saying women cannot be good leaders and God loving people. Biblically, however, husbands are to be the leader. We’re not trying to stomp on our wives. We’re simply fulfilling our obligations to God to love our wives. Even as far as spiritually defend them from others. Why are women up in arms against this? That isn’t sound Christianity. Thats satan himself doing his best to create destruction where he has been doing it recently. The family unit.
And finally the above, That is a typical description of a Jewish family unit that existed in Biblical times, and is used as the default reference. And while this is a perfectly fine unit in its context. I do not think that any problems exist in terms of God favoring the other gender because times have changed and women are better equipped.
Just for the record, I have objection to anyone leading in spiritual matters, that be male or female, if that person is not qualified and called out to be so.