By Yemi Akperi
Femi Aribisala’s article entitled Paul’s Male Chauvinism Against Women published in the Sunday Vanguard of January 26, 2014 queried male head-ship in the church. God’s intent about headship in creation is the premise for this response.
Genesis 1:26 emphasizes man’s creation, humanity is presented as man “Let us make man…”
Genesis 1:27 underscores, that man came from God and bears resemblance to God and thirdly male and female were created, this becomes the first mention of sexuality. In Genesis 2 there is a paradox, God saw that it was not good for the man to be alone. The woman was later created and presented to Adam, for naming, thereafter the first human words ever recorded were: “This is now bone of my bones…she shall be called woman…” (Gen. 2:23). Natur-ally as the first to be created, the man is the senior.
Secondly, specific roles were given to them based on their sex, the man was in charge of the garden, while the woman was his helper.
Thirdly, the woman was made from the man and for the man. They share the same bone which shows love and equality, but she was made for him, and from him. Her creation is partly dependent on the man.
Fourthly, it was Adam that named Eve; this prerogative was given to Adam, by God and in naming Eve, Adam demon-strated to Eve, her identity as defined by him.
In addition, Genesis 2:24 states: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife…” This implies that it is the man that initiates the process of marriage, by leaving his own family to plan a new house-hold.
Furthermore, the word helper suggests the woman’s support-ive role to the man. The Bible does not prove that the concept of a helper subtracts subordin-ation.
In Genesis 3, this divine arrangement was usurped by the woman which led to the fall and God called Adam; “Where are you?” God knew it was the woman that was deceived, but He instead inquired from the man who He entrusted with the headship of Eden.
The most potent description of male headship came as one of the punishments, meted on the woman after the fall: “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Gen. 3:16b).
Adam’s punishment was meant for humanity such as toiling the ground to eat and death.
Deborah, a heroine in Biblical narrative, was mentioned in Aribisala’s article as a leader over men. In as much as we all agree that Deborah was a judge over Israel which encapsulated influence over men and wo-men, her case was unique and the only one.
Deborah’s introduction is however significant, as it clearly described her role(s) Judges 4:6. She, “was a pro-phetess, the wife of Lappidoth was leading Israel at the time.” Remarkably, Deborah after being described as a pro-phetess was further acknowle-dged as wife of Lappidoth. This clearly portrays her as a faithful wife, subservient to her hus-band’s rule which was the contextual attribute of a virt-uous woman during that era.
Her subordination to male headship is further revealed when Deborah said: “I will go with you. But because of the way you are going about this, the honour will not be yours, for the Lord will hand Sisera over to a woman (Judges 4:9) Deborah was reluctant to assume the role divinely appropriated, to a man. Judges 4:9 is an indictment of male weakness to seize leadership in Israel. Barak exemplified it. Deborah was not a priest, Israel never had any female priest, but prophetess.
God’s design of the family is for men to be head while women help; the challenge and agitations today regarding the roles of male and female, evolved from Satan, not God. Paul’s epistles, concerning women have its moorings on God’s role distinctions for every member of the family.
Evangelical feminist agita-tion, that women can assume leadership roles over men in church, is not backed by scripture; but by echoes of sentiments and emotions evolving from worldliness. The crusade for equality amongst the sexes is a replay of Satan’s ploy in Genesis 3.
African culture is in tandem with biblical culture with regards to family headship. In Africa women of virtue are expected to be silent, when their husbands are talking. It signifies good upbringing and an understanding of her role as a wife; it does not undermine her gifts.
The Christian family is a microcosm of the Church: Christ is the head of the Church (bridegroom) believers are his body (bride.)
However, women should not be treated as servants or slaves by men, they both carry God’s image, only different roles.
In conclusion a preview of the New Testament books (not my present praxis) reinforces male leadership role. Jesus’ disciples were all male, why were the Marys and Marthas not included? Jesus discarded obnoxious traditions, yet he maintained culture in selecting his disciples?
The seven deacons were all males (Acts 6 and Rev. 4:10) mentioned 24 elders; males again! Paul’s letter was a reply to the problem of women speaking in churches. We do not have that letter; we only have Paul’s reply.
*Yemi Akperi writes from Benin City. ( firstname.lastname@example.org)