God’s Design, Headship, Complementarianism, Biblical Gender Roles
This series is a review of God’s Design, a children’s book which teaches children about complementarity. For an introduction of the book, click here. All of the titles below (except for The Answer We Already Knew) are chapters in the book.
Today, children, we learn about God’s perfect design for man and woman. Oh, and remember how men and women are equal, but different? We’re totally equal. (sigh)
“God’s Design for Man”
Here we learn that the way God created Adam and Eve teaches us about how God created man and woman. Because God made Adam first, that means that he is the head over the woman. Because God made Adam first, that means that man has the special job of having authority and responsibility over woman. This is evident in that Adam had the special job of being responsible in making sure that the command for not eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was kept.
Great way to be responsible, Adam.
Adam also had the special job of naming all of the animals. This is significant because when you name something, you have headship or authority over it. Just like when a girl is born she has her father’s name because he has headship over her. Just like when a woman marries she takes her husband’s name because her husband now has headship over her.
The authors state that Paul confirms the pattern for male headship based upon creation in 1 Timothy 2: 12-13:
I do not permit a woman to teach or to assume authority over a man; she must be quiet. For Adam was formed first, then Eve.
…as well as 1 Corinthians 11:3
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.
I’m going to leave that there. My personal thought for reading scripture is that we cannot pull a verse out of the Bible without considering the historical context for which it was written. Let’s talk about how these verses are used to define headship in the comment section.
“God’s Design for Woman”
Now we are supposed to learn that woman has a special design. However, the authors continue to talk about the special job of man. Adam had his job of naming the animals and realized that none could help him to be fruitful and multiply. Is the implication here that since sex with animals is not fruitful, God made Eve? hmm
With Adam created first and given the job of headship (again with Adam’s importance), naturally Eve’s job is to be “helping, supporting and submitting to (or accepting)” Adam’s leadership.
This is our lot in life, women. We are designed to help, submit, and support the man that God places over us as our head. Isn’t that special?
“Men and Women are Equal”
How would you begin to explain marriage to a child? Here, the authors attempt to compare men and women to a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?? Yes, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich; both are different but equally important to make the sandwich. This analogy has led to so many questions. What if you’re allergic to peanut butter? What if you don’t like peanut butter, but prefer almond butter? Then there’s the jelly; what if I like jam? This analogy has only left me questioning the whole argument.
Just like peanut butter and jelly:
So the first man and the first woman were given different jobs to do, but they were created equal – equally important, equally valuable, and equally made in God’s image.
With the definitions above regarding God’s design for man and woman, I’m totally picking up on the “equal” vibe. How can anyone think that the authors truly believe that men and women are equal? The constant hammering in the fact that the man is leader and woman completes (complements) man is a dead give-away that we are totally different. The fact that men and women are both made in God’s image seems merely coincidental.
The Answer We Already Knew
When this series first started, the question came up if this book would address the doctrine of Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS). There has been a lot of talk around the blogosphere lately of ESS. For those unfamiliar with the doctrine, the basic premise is that the relationship within the Trinity represents the relationship between men and women. When explaining this to children, it sounds like this:
Like the three persons of the Trinity, men and women are different from each other and have different jobs to do. Jesus, the Son of God, always obeys and submits to God the Father, even though the two are equal in power and glory. God the Father has a kind of headship over God the Son, but this doesn’t mean that the Son is any less important than the Father; they are equal.
Just like in God the Father’s relationship to the Son, the man has been given a kind of headship over the woman. We learn this from the Bible: “The head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God” (I Corinthians 11:3). Even though their relationship and roles are different, a man and woman are equal, and each is just as important as the other.
When I started this series, I had not read ahead in the book. But, knowing that this book comes from a group aligned with Desiring God, I expected ESS to makes it’s way into the hearts and minds of children.
Now, the follow-up question (from the “Men and Women are Equal” chapter) to ponder and discuss: “In many places around the world, women are not treated with the honor and respect they should have as creatures created in God’s image. Why is this? How should we respond?”