This is a two-part blog on the Great Gender Debate. To read the first half of this article, click here.
Role distinction a result of Creation or the Fall?
The second question one must grabble with in dealing with the creation account as it pertains to gender role assignment is the time element where this distinction falls into place, whether it be at the moment of Creation, or a result of the Fall. Egalitarians and biblical feminists alike would contend that role distinctions are a direct result of the sinful choices of Adam and Eve, citing Genesis 3:16 as their banner verse to stand under. Their credo claims on Galatians 3:28 give further insight to their far-reaching hermeneutics as they say that “If men and women enjoy spiritual equality under the new covenant, then this equality is fundamentally contradicted by an exclusively male prerogative to interpret and determine the Word and the will of God authoritatively in the home and in the church. Galatians 3:28 does require the obliteration of this gender role distinction.”
Combating this kind of logic, Renckens, in his work, Israel’s Concept of the Beginning, exposes the fallacy by stating, “The phenomenon of murder is also a consequence of sin (4:1-16), but it remains nevertheless a violation of the law, even of the law of fallen nature. Thus if woman is shown to be the life companion of man, this is not by way of idealization. And still less should her motherhood be considered as essentially a penalty for sin, even if it is in fact only mentioned after the Fall.” Whereas, their claims would make sense to counter-act their misguided interpretation of Genesis 3:16, a natural reading of the first three chapters of Genesis would disprove these allegations. Mary Kassian, in a very logical way, lays this theory to rest in her explanation of the original relationship between Adam and Eve:
“Adam recognized the unity between himself and the female. However, he also recognized his God-given responsibility and authority by naming her. (Adam’s act of naming the woman occurs again in Genesis 3:20 when he gives her the name “Eve” – mother of all living.) If the woman and man were meant to have identical roles, God would have named the woman, just as He had named the man. In giving Adam the responsibility to name the woman, a hierarchical relationship between Adam and the woman is established from the very outset. This in no way belittles the woman or assigns to her a lesser role. It simply reflects the difference between the roles that God had assigned to each. Adam was to be the leader in the relationship and the woman was to be the helpmate. These assigned roles blended together and coexisted alongside a perfect oneness and unity.”
Wayne Grudem supports this claim with ten clear indications from Scripture that male headship in marriage was established before the fall. They are as follows: the order of creation, the representation of the human race (1 Cor. 15:22), the naming of woman (Gen. 2:23), the naming of the human race (Gen. 5:1-2), the primary accountability of God to Adam first (Gen. 3:9), the purpose of Eve’s creation (Gen. 2:18), the conflict that ensues after the fall (Gen. 3:16), the restoration found in Christ does not negate male headship (Col. 3:18-19), the mystery spoken of by Paul (Eph. 5:31-32), and finally the parallelism with the Trinity. These are laid out in his book, Building Strong Families, where he says, “Here then are at least ten indications of differences in the roles of men and women before the Fall. Some of these indications are not as forceful as others, though all have some weight. Some ‘whisper’ male headship, others shout it clearly. But they form a cumulative case showing that Adam and Eve had distinct roles before the Fall, and that this was God’s purpose in creating them.” (I highly recommend the purchase of this book. It is a great resource for exactly what the title suggests – building of strong families.) Dr. Hamilton, assistant professor of Biblical Studies at Southwestern’s Houston Campus, in an article written for the Wheaton Theology Conference, makes a great case by denoting the order of appearance in the array of characters of Genesis 2.
“The characters in the narrative appear in the following order in Genesis 2: God (2:2-5), man (2:7), the animals (2:19), then the woman (2:22), with the solidarity of man and woman stressed in 2:23. This order is upended in Genesis 3, with the characters coming on the scene as follows: the snake (3:1a), the woman (3:1b), the man (3:6), and finally God (3:8). This structure lends itself to the conclusion that by approaching the woman the snake is subverting the created order, an order reflected in 1 Corinthians 11:3: God-Christ-man-woman. Based on what we have seen from Genesis, complementary gender roles are not introduced as part of the curse on humanity. Rather, what seems to be introduced in Genesis 3:16 is feminine rebellion against the structure of authority that God has built into his creation. If the attempt to deceive the woman is in fact a subversion of the created order, this would explain the appeal to the sequence in which the man and woman were made both in 1 Timothy 2:13 and in 1 Corinthians 11:8, with 1 Timothy 2:14 elaborating upon the situation in order to clarify Paul’s point.”
Is there any cosmic significance to these distinctions?
Never before has a generation had to fight harder for the biblical gender roles than the generation of 2000. With wide-spread feminism seeping its way into the congregations of fundamental evangelical denominations, more and more “theologians” have emerged that interpret Scripture with a cultural hermeneutic mindset resulting in a flawed analysis of what Scripture is really saying. For example, Elaine Storkey, an “internationally renowned” theologian and sociologist, says, “The verses of Genesis are about something much bigger, namely, God’s power in creating the human race, making male and female together in the image of God, and giving them the cultural mandate.” Later on when asking what the roles of men and women should be, Storkey remarks, “Not only have these changed considerably over time, but the Bible is also remarkably silent about gender roles in parenting and household activities. In fact, whenever the issue comes up at all, the teaching is almost always non-differentiating.”
Why has this topic of creation order come under such attack by feminism in recent years? Dr. Jack Cottrell, in Gender Roles and The Bible, suggests that “By denying man was created before the woman, they can negate the argument for male headship based on temporal priority of creation.” In his excellent explanation of the effects of feminism on the interpretation of such key passages like Genesis 1-3, Dr. Jack Cottrell argues that “if Genesis 1 does teach simultaneous creation of the male and female, then two consequences follow. First, it puts Genesis 1 in conflict with Genesis 2, which clearly teaches that the male was created first. Second, the idea of simultaneity puts Genesis 1 in conflict with the teaching of the Apostle Paul, who on two occasions affirms the temporal priority of the creation of the male.” These are concepts one finds difficult to work through if they believe in the inerrancy of Scripture and its authority in our lives.
By taking a natural reading of Genesis 1-3, we may see that there is a definite design to the creation order as set forth by God in His infallible Word, and that such design holds with it a mandated order of authority in the home and the church that is undeniably significant to our generation today. So, to answer your question: Yes, Scanzoni and Hardesty, there is an order to creation, and it, indeed, is of much cosmic significance.
Recommend reading and some sources used in this blog: (Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a complete listing of all sources used)