I know that this is a very controversial subject especially in our day. In the church as well as outside the church, we are seeing the weakening if not the demise of male leadership. Since the women liberation movement, many men have given up their territory and conceded defeat as the culture has pressed in on them to take the back seat in the name of gender equality. The results have been less than impressive: the disappearance of strong male headed households; the disappearance of faithful churches led by males; the lowering of societal moral standards – and more.
Many respectable and godly women agree. Read what Elizabeth Elliot writes in a foreword to a book on this subject:
The issue of so-called equality of men and women touches the very foundation of Christian faith, for it goes deep into the nature of God and the great mystery of which the much-maligned apostle Paul writes in his letter to the Ephesians. For years I have watched with increasing dismay the destruction the feminist movement has wrought in the world, in the church, in Christian homes and marriages, and in personalities. I have studied the tortuous arguments of those who would persuade us that Galatians 3: 28 cancels everything the author says elsewhere in his epistles about the vital distinctions between men and women. I have listened to the endless discussions of Paul’s rabbinical prejudice and cultural insularity. I have delved into treatises on the meaning of the Greek word hypotasso, (‘ to arrange under’, ‘to be under obedience’, ‘to put under’, ‘to subdue unto’, ‘to subject to’, ‘to be in subjection to’, ‘to submit self unto’), and I have on a few occasions been asked (as a ‘traditionalist’, whatever that means) to debate those who would rewrite history, literature, psychology and the Bible itself to make them palatable to the woman of the late twentieth century. I have done practically everything but jump up and down and scream about it.
Here is a simple, sane, serious treatment of the subject by a man who loves God, respects women, and takes the inspiration of Scripture and the integrity of the apostles for granted. He deals with all the ‘difficult’ texts. He tells us that his subject is not a clerical issue, nor is it hierarchical, situational, historical, or experimental; it is biblical. With that I agree wholeheartedly, but whether it can be settled, as he says, only by ‘scrupulous exegesis’ I am not sure. I think it is even bigger, even deeper than that – a theological mystery representing Christ and the church, bigger than exegesis, deeper than our deepest understanding. And such things will never be ‘settled’. Read this book. The exegesis points to the mystery. Mysteries are things revealed, not explained. Mysteries are always unsettling.
I have read the book for which she wrote this foreword. It’s a sound book, but one that many modern minds would find hard to digest. Nevertheless, I encourage you to get the book if you can and read it. Wrestle with the biblical arguments on this very important issue and see if you will not agree. But whether we agree or not, at the end of the day, it is a question of whether or not we are willing to obey what the Lord has said on this important matter. That’s ultimately where this issue must be resolved and only the Holy Spirit can produce that kind of obedience in our rebellious hearts. That’s my prayer for us all!