(Tim: this is a rerun) The Apostle Paul prohibits the exercise of authority over man by woman, saying "I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, for Adam was created first, then Eve." (1 Timothy 2:12a)
With this simple statement, Paul explicitly affirms what is implicit throughout God's Word: that the order of creation establishes patriarchy as God's pattern for leadership in human relationships. Addressing the matter of propriety in prayer, the Apostle Paul again emphasizes this order: "For man does not originate from woman, but woman from man; for indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake" (1 Corinthians 11:8,9).
Imagine a new believer, thoroughly confused by our disordered world, discovering the truth of passages such as 1Corinthians 11:3-16, 14:34-35, Ephesians 5:22-33, 1Timothy 2:9-15, and 1Peter 3:1-7. What a deep sense of relief to discover that the order of creation gives us universal principles for the relationships between men and women.
But while the facts of Eve's creation are instructive for establishing proper order between man and woman, Genesis goes on to reveal another important biographical note about Adam and Eve. The significance of this biographical detail, also, is revealed more fully in the New Testament.
The first hint of this element comes after the Fall when God, walking in the Garden in the cool of the day, inquires of Adam, "Where are you?" When Adam responds by explaining that he and Eve found themselves naked and hid, it is notable...
that God directs His follow-up question again to Adam, asking him, "Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?" (Genesis 3:11). [Footnote 1]
It was Adam, not Eve, who was required to explain the tragic alienation from God they both had suffered, and this despite Eve having been the one deceived, [Footnote 2] the first one to sin, and the one who enticed her husband to follow her into that sin. This is neither a small nor unimportant aspect of the Genesis account: it was Adam God first held responsible for the Fall despite Adam being the second sinner in the Garden.
The Holy Spirit records that it is because of the sin of Adam--not Eve--that the race of Adam remains under the curse of judgment and death down to this present day.
Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned--for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law. Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come. (Romans 5:12-14).
A quarter-century ago, now, my father noted that, despite efforts to neuter the language of our Faith, he had yet to hear anyone propose that the Church become a 'he' or Satan become a 'she.' Similarly, it seems ironic feminists don't object to the essential inequality between the sexes revealed by this portion of the Biblical account of the Fall. Shouldn't Eve be recognized as the leader in the Garden? Shouldn't Eve have been penalized more severely since she was the one who took the lead in the sin of the Garden? Aren't we being patronizing when we attribute the cosmic penalties of the Fall to Adam's account?
Perhaps feminists fail to argue the issue because this particular point happens to be one where they rather like the clear meaning of God's Word. There's no question but that the Bible is clear enough on this issue... as the New England Primer puts it succinctly:
In Adam's fall
We sinned all.
God's Word makes clear that because God made Eve for Adam and placed her under his authority, it was Adam whom God called to account for the Fall. Adam was the patriarch of his home and his race. This is not to say that Eve escaped personal accountability; in Genesis 3 we read that God also placed Eve under a curse--the punishment that even today brings suffering to all women in childbirth. So too the serpent and his descendants suffer under God's judgment. Yet it is through Adam alone that death comes to all men, it is because of Adam's sin that all creation groans awaiting its release from the corruption of sin (Romans 8:22,23), and it is in Adam that we all die:
For since by a man came death, by a man also came the
resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all
will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. (1 Corinthians 15:21-22).
One might think Adam's fatherhood over us all is neglected in the Church today because it reinforces patriarchy. I think it more likely that we neglect Adam's federal headship in preaching and teaching because individualistic autonomy is written deep in the hearts of modern man.
Consider, for instance, how long it has been since this kind of theological understanding has appeared in services of infant baptism (or dedication): "O merciful God, grant that the old Adam in this Child may be so buried, that the new man may be raised up in him." [Footnote 3] Federal headship is a doctrine modern man finds hard to swallow. As a result, the significance of Father Adam to his human progeny is slipping away within the Church, just as in the world, leaving the imputation of Adam's sin to all mankind just one more antique notion rooted in the culture of the Biblical writers and needing revision by today's dynamic equivocators.
For centuries Americans have been enamored of the legend of the autonomous loner. It's a cultural ideal we've propagated worldwide. Consider loner movie stars such as Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood, John Wayne, or Humphrey Bogart, look back on what you remember of character development in the novels of Ernest Hemingway, not to mention Hemingway's personal life, think about Mother Earth News and the idyll of natural self-reliance it and similar cultural organs promoted throughout the Seventies; in each case individualistic autonomy serves as a fairly good interpretive grid for American culture. And it goes without saying that the ideal of the autonomous loner and the doctrine of federal headship are worlds apart.
Yet avoiding the doctrine of Adam's federal headship over all mankind brings harm in three ways. First, we hide one of the principal supports for the patriarchal ordering of the race of Adam which God has written on the hearts of all men. Second, as the federal headship of Adam becomes an obscure doctrine rarely mentioned, the corporate nature of God's ordering of human society which God's Word reveals also is obscured. Third, as the Church, out of a mistaken sense of what is and is not fair, backs away from the imputation of Adam's sin to all men, it must also inevitably back away from the similar imputation of the righteousness of Jesus Christ to His elect.
Feminism is not taking aim simply at the practice of assigning leadership roles by sex; it also is attacking the corporate solidarity of marriage and family life which, historically, has led to so much real suffering on the part of wives and children. Consider, for instance, the misery endured by Abigail while she was married to Nabal; the suffering of Jephthah's daughter;[Footnote 4] or the shame endured on August 17, 1998 by President Clinton's wife, Hillary, and daughter, Chelsea, when the head of their home went on international television to confess he had committed adultery in the Oval Office. Why should the destinies of wives and children be tied to such men? In fact, in such a context who really would have any trouble understanding Chelsea Clinton going back to Stanford and joining the local chapter of the National Organization of Women?
Feminism, then, is bound up with a revolt against these twin pillars of the Biblical account of creation: federal headship and the corporate nature of human society. Both egalitarianism and the autonomous individualism at the heart of feminism are at war with the Biblical story of Adam. But though feminists have not fully recognized it, any attempt to alter the story of Adam involves a parallel destruction of the salvation brought by our blessed Savior. Today those called to preach and teach God's Word must resurrect all the doctrines connected with our father Adam; not just the doctrine of essential patriarchy, but even more importantly, the doctrine of federal headship. Pascal wrote:
Certainly nothing jolts us more rudely than this doctrine, and yet, but for this mystery, the most incomprehensible of all, we remain incomprehensible to ourselves. [Footnote 5]
God has named the human race "adam." This name reinforces what the account of the creation of Adam and Eve reveals; that the first woman was made after and for the first man and that for all time this structure is to be mirrored in the lives of God's people by their living together under patriarchy rather than matriarchy or a utopian egalitarianism. Further, this name also makes clear that every woman or man ever to live has been born under the curse of a God-decreed solidarity with the First Adam, our federal head, and that only those who come under the Head of the Second Adam can be saved. John Murray wrote,
The principle of solidarity is embedded in the Scripture and is exemplified in numerous ways. It is not necessary to enumerate the instances in which the principle comes to expression. It is a patent fact that in God's government of men there are institutions of the family, of the state, and of the church in which solidaric or corporate relationships obtain and are operative. This is simply to say that God's relations to men and the relations of men to one another are not exclusively individualistic; God deals with men in terms of these corporate relationships and men must reckon with their corporate relations and responsibilities. [Footnote 6]
We may very well wish to deny our solidarity with the First Adam but it is fruitless and futile; in him we all died having been one with him in his rebellion in the Garden.
Yet God from the riches of His mercy also calls us to solidarity with the Second Adam through Whom we may have imputed to us, immediately upon faith, a perfect righteousness which is effective "far as the curse is found."
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[Footnote 1] U. Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1998), part 1: From Adam to Noah, pp. 155-156. Also Nahum M. Sarna, The JPS Torah Commentary: Genesis (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 1989), p. 26. See also Raymond C. Ortlund's, "Male-Female Equality and Male Headship: Genesis 1-3," in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, John Piper and Wayne Grudem, eds., (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 1991), pp. 95-112.
[Footnote 2]2Corinthians 11:3; 1Timothy 2:14.
[Footnote 3]Anglican Prayer Book (1611 edition). Note: this is a prayer of desire, not a declaration of faith.
[Footnote 4] Judges 11.
[Footnote 5]"For it is beyond doubt that there is nothing which more shocks our reason than to say that the sin of the first man has rendered guilty those who, being so removed from this source, seem incapable of participation in it. This transmission does not only seem to us impossible, it seems also very unjust. For what is more contrary to the rules of our miserable justice than to damn eternally an infant incapable of will, for a sin wherein he seems to have so little a share that it was committed six thousand years before he was in existence? Certainly nothing offends us more rudely than this doctrine; and yet without this mystery, the most incomprehensible of all, we are incomprehensible to ourselves." (Blaise Pascal, Pensees; vii.434, W. F. Trotter, trans.) With thanks to S. Lewis Johnson in Bibliotheca Sacra, October-December, 1975. pp. 316-327.
[Footnote 6] John Murray, The Imputation of Adam's Sin (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1959), pp. 5,22.