The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. ‘My God,’ you will say, ‘if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world?' Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church's prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you? Dreadful it is to fall into the hands of the living God. Yes, it is even dreadful to be alone with the New Testament. -Soren Kierkegaard (with thanks to Stephen Baker)
One commenter writes: "Taken to its logical conclusion, [God's creation order] would effectively end property and business ownership for women, since property management and business activity require authority over others, including men. If that were the case, we get into a hairy mess of inheritance rights..."
Tim responds: Men, let's make this absolutely clear.
God created Adam first, and then Eve. Anyone want to argue with that? Well then, let’s move on.
The Holy Spirit said the significance of this order of creation is that women are not to teach or exercise authority over men. Everyone still on board? Next.
All through the New Testament we see the application the Holy Spirit made of this creation order to the Church as it was founded. Also to the home. What we don't see is Him applying this creation order to the Roman Empire. But then, Scripture doesn’t tell us how to do much of anything when it comes to the civil authority, except to submit to his authority.
So today, the world is full of men who take this absence of New Testament application of the creation order to the secular world as license to cast off the creation order in any place other than those explicitly addressed by the Holy Spirit.
But what on earth happened to the creation order?
Well, here’s what happened. Christians became sullen children, resentful of their Heavenly Father’s plan and the demands it makes of us in our post-feminist world...
And being sullen and resentful, the more bodacious among us didn’t hesitate to deny the order entirely. Others of us, still possessing a sense of shame, struck a middle course. We denied the creation order but obeyed the specific commands. Yet oh, how few and far between are any specific commands when once we begin to listen to academics who traffic in exegesis, hermeneutics, and text criticism.
Keep in mind that the legalist is never looking for places to grow his obedience.
So what started out as woman being prohibited from teaching and exercising authority over man because Adam was created first, and then Eve, turns into a woman being able to do anything a non-ordained man can do.
Such godliness! Such submission! Such sensitivity to the Holy Spirit! Such reverence for the Word of God! Such joyful embracing of God’s created order! Such holiness.
No. Rather, such stingy, penurious, glum, sullen, willfull, resentful, bitter, legalism.
The mother tells her son, “Don’t eat any more cookies because we’re having dinner soon and I don’t want you spoiling your appetite.”
The son puts two pieces of bread in the toaster.
The mother asks him, “Son, did you hear what I just said? Who’s that toast for?”
“For me, Mom. I’m hungry.”
“Did you hear me or not? I said you weren’t to eat anything before dinner,” scolds his mother.
“No you didn’t,” protests the son. “You just said I couldn’t have any more cookies. You didn’t say anything about toast!”
“Uh, did you hear me say I didn’t want you to spoil your appetite,” responds the mother.
“Sure,” says the son; “But you only told me not to eat any more cookies. And I didn’t!”
So it goes.
The father, walking into the kitchen and hearing this exchange, ought to have at his son. And at the center of his discipline ought to be his finding his son guilty of blatant disobedience.
So those today who make a big show of being complementarian while denying any significance to sexuality outside the church and the home in matters of authority are rebels against God.
Yes, they talk loudly about joyfully submitting to God’s wonderful plan for manhood and womanhood; they make a big show of submission to God’s plan, pointing to their own scrupulous observance of male-only eldership and male headship in the home; but watch what they actually do instead of what they say, and the gig is up.
Their daughters have died in Iraq dressed in a man’s military uniform. Their mothers sit on the board of deacons next to unordained men. Their aunts teach a Wednesday night Bible study attended by hundreds of men. Their grandmothers just love Anne Graham Lotz and Carolyn Custis James. Their wives do the seminar on women in the church held each quarter for newcomers. Their session meetings aren’t really over until the elders have gone home after the meeting, told their wives what decisions were made, and their wives have signed off on those decisions.
And we claim to be in submission to the Word of God?
It’s no doubt true that the application of this creation order is a ticklish thing in secular society, the home, and the Church. But with this as with every other matter of Christian discipleship and sanctification, it’s not that God’s Word has been tried and found difficult, but that it’s been found difficult and left untried.
So brothers and sisters, shall we repent of our faithflessness and return to God that He might heal our nation, families, and churches? Or will we continue to defy Him, sinning that grace may abound?
Every time I write on this subject, I do so as a repenting child of the sixties and seventies who, with my wife, used to be in rebellion against God in these matters. Together, we invite you to join us in our repentance, and then to turn around and help others discover and walk this beautiful, God-honoring path.