Saturday, December 08, 2007

Subordination in Genesis?

Here I continue why I disagree with Grudem's Systematic Theology with regard to Chapter 22, Man as Male and Female.

Part C. 2. Indications of Distinct Roles Before the Fall

I agree that there are indications of distinct roles before the Fall. Adam was created first, and woman from man. Woman was created as a help to man. The biology of man and woman does give each a special role in making a child. But Grudem is not arguing for distinct roles, or he would not have overlooked the rather obvious roles with regard to reproduction. Instead the section should be titled, "Indications of Female Subordination in Genesis."

2a. Adam created first, then Eve.

Order of creation does not denote authority. In fact, the opposite is true. Plants and animals were created before humans, but humans were given authority over them. Authority is something that belongs to God alone, and he delegates that authority as he wills. Thus, for man to authority over woman, we would need a special and explicit command to that effect. Grudem argues that priority gives authority according to primogeniture. However, God repeatedly violates primonegiture by choosing the youngest child to rule (e.g., Joseph, David.) Primogeniture is a construct of human culture.

2b. Eve was created as a helper for Adam

I agree. But a helper can be one in authority or a subordinate. The Hebrew word for helper used here is 'ezer, which is usually used to refer to God helping humans. Grudem argues that God is putting himself under the authority of humans when he helps. This is difficult to reconcile with God's sovereignty. A temporary setting aside of authority on the part of the Son is difficult enough to comprehend. Did the entire Trinity do this repeatedly in the Old Testament? I agree that a superior can voluntarily, temporarily act as an inferior by serving. At best, Grudem has proved that woman can voluntarily, temporarily act as under the authority of a man.

2c. Adam named Eve

Eve was not named "Eve" by Adam until after the Fall. Before the fall, he recognized her female-ness, which he could hardly fail to notice, given that God had just paraded all the animals in pairs in front of him. (On the other hand, I think that Adam probably would have noticed her female-ness anyway. She was naked, after all.)

2d. God named the human race Man, not Woman

"Adam" is the Hebrew word for humanity. Thus, when God created the first human, he called him "Human" - as in English a word derived from dirt, mud, or "humus." We would more accurately say that Adam's name was Mud from day 1. He was the only human and thus referred to God as "Hey, you - human." In Genesis 1, God says that the human was male and female. After the fall, Adam insisted that he retain the title of Mr. Human, while giving woman a subordinate role, a different name, "Eve." Thus, the fact that Adam was named human was the result of his being the first and only, not an indication of his God given authority.

2e The serpent came to Eve first

This does not denote that Eve was of less authority than Adam. Several plausible explanations can be put forward to explain the serpent approaching Eve. Perhaps she was approached because she was younger and less experienced. To suggest that Eve was approached first to usurp Adam's authority changes the nature of original sin and makes it gender specific. Instead of original sin originating from the Human's ("Adam's") usurping God's authority and rejecting God rule, Grudem's reading is that woman's original sin is usurping male authority and man's original sin was rejecting God's authority. Thus, Jesus died to reconcile men (males), and women are reconciled through their husband. This is a Mormon teaching, not orthodox Christian teaching.

2f. God spoke to Adam first after the Fall

A new heading should start here. Grudem titled this section on distinct roles "before the Fall." From here he argues from incidents after the Fall.

The man was created first, and was called to account first. This does not indicate, necessarily, that man had authority over woman. One might argue that if the male and female were of equal authority, they should have been both called to account at the same time. However, God likely wanted to underline each individuals' responsibility for their own actions.

2g. Adam, not Eve, represented the human race

Well, yes, that is Adam's name - Human. Thus, we are all sinful because of the first Human's sin. Genesis 1:27 clearly says that Adam ("Human") is male and female. Is Grudem arguing that original sin really only applies to the male part of human?

2h. The curse brought a distortion of previous roles, not the introduction of new roles

Grudem here makes a statement, but offers no evidence to back up the statement. In the curse, God states the results of sin. One of those is the Man will rule over Woman (3:16). That is a distortion of their previous relationship, which was one of equal imaging of God (Genesis 1:27), not a previous benign rule of man over woman.

2i. Redemption in Christ reaffirms the creation order

I agree that we should see the curse being undone in the New Testament church. I see evidence of the curse being overturned with regard to men ruling over women in Galatians 3:28 "Their is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Grudem argues that Paul would not institute female submission if male rule was part of the curse. I agree and I disagree. We are all to submit to one another. Ephesians 5:21 "Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ." Thus, I am a proponent of female submission, just as I am a proponent of male submission. Grudem also argues that husbands or men are referred to as "head," and thus they must have authority. However, as I discussed at length in a previous post, reading the "head" metaphor to refer to authority does violence to the doctrine of the Trinity, and by extension Jesus' divinity and our salvation.

More on mutual submission in the next post.


John Boy said...

I've studied many of the Catholic Church's documents put out on this important issue. I don't see any reasons for disagreement with your logical insights on this matter. Grudem seems to make a great deal of inferences, likely based in his worldview.

Lin said...

Very good points. Thanks.

Greg Anderson said...

I too fail to see Dr. Grudem's thesis of female subordination as doctrinally binding for the Church age. It seems that much of western theology is trapped inside an Aristotelian box, and the minute one tries to think outside of that box, one is accused of post-modernism, emergent church heresy, or worse.

Corrie said...

Great post. I appreciated how you took each point and fleshed it out. I look forward to reading more of your insights.

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