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“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, And the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10). Because of the way this text and others were understood, all through church history until the 17th century science was part of religion. Everything was understood within the framework of faith. The church decided what was true or not in all fields of human endeavor, including science.
Then in the 17th century, along came Galileo Galilei (1564-1642) and said” “No, scientifically true is only what can be confirmed by your five senses (hearing, seeing, smelling, tasting, and touching), not what the church teaches.” Was he right? Yes, scientifically speaking he was right. However, when this kind of thinking was applied to religion and the Bible, Christianity came under attack, because God and miracles cannot be scientifically verified.
Each generation believes it is wiser and more knowledgeable than the previous generation. Now, when we look at the progress of technology, we have to admit this is true. Each generation is more technologically advanced than the previous one.
In my 69 years I have seen tremendous advances in technology: When I grew up we had no television, copy machines, computers, no e-mails, no cell phones, iphones, ipads, and a host of other inventions. Yes, today’s children can handle computers and iphones better than most parents and grandparents. When it comes to technology, mankind is progressing by leaps and bound.
The problems in society come when the idea of progress, that is so evident in technology and many other areas, is transferred to the area of religion and morality.
Just because every generation is more knowledgeable in many areas of life than the previous one does not mean the same is true in the area of religion and morality. In fact, the Bible says just the opposite. The closer we come to the end, the worse the moral situation will become:
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1-4).
But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be (Matthew 24:37-39).
One topic mentioned by Jesus in which the present generation believes it knows better than all previous generations is marriage. By present generation I mean the last 40-50 years.
Not only has divorce become accepted as normal in Western society, but homosexual marriages are now becoming an acceptable alternative. I remember when homosexual activity was a criminal offense, as pedophilia still is. Today in some countries it is a criminal offense to speak against homosexuality.
The concept of absolute equality between men and women, between heterosexual and homosexual marriages is politically correct, but biblically wrong. We live today in the age of unisex. Some may remember the unisex fashion in the 60s; today it is not just in the fashion industry, but in many other aspects of life.
Today women soldiers serve on the front lines, women are professional boxers and wrestlers, police officers, truck drivers, and church pastors; professions which in the past were reserved for men. The idea that men and women, except for childbearing, are interchangeable in every area of life has led to homes where the wives go out to work while the husbands stay at home and care for the house and the children.
Some would say the tradition that the wife stays home and looks after the children while the husband brings home the money is just a man made tradition that can easily be reversed without problems, but can it?
Is the interchangeability of the roles of man and women in every area of life really in harmony with God’s will? As Christians we need to know what the Bible has to say to all this.
The Roles of Man and Women
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28).
Many Christians use this text to support the idea that there is no difference between man and women; that the roles of men and women are interchangeable in all areas of life save childbearing.
However, the context speaks about salvation not about the roles of men and women in society. When it comes to the issue of salvation we are all in the same boat, whether Jew or Gentile, black or white, rich or poor, men or woman, we all have the same need of salvation and the same opportunity. The Adventist Bible Commentary says concerning Galatians 3:28:
Paul speaks of the standing of Jew and non-Jew before God (see on Acts 10:34; cf. on Matt. 20:15). In Christ’s kingdom all are covered with the same garment of Christ’s righteousness, which they receive by faith in Jesus Christ. But to the Judaizing Christians of Paul’s day such an idea was rank heresy. They maintained that the only way into the Christian church was through Judaism, that a Gentile must first be circumcised–become a Jew, as it were–before being accepted into the Christian communion.
That was the issue Paul was addressing in Galatians 3:28. As far as salvation and our value in the eyes of God are concerned we are certainly equal. But does this mean the roles of men and women are interchangeable in every area of life? What was God’s original plan?
And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. . . . And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept; and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place. Then the rib which the LORD God had taken from man He made into a woman, and He brought her to the man (Genesis 2:7, 21, 22).
Why did God first form Adam from the dust of the ground and then Eve from a rib of Adam? Why did he not form Eve from the dust of the ground as well? Paul uses the fact that Adam was created first to argue that women are not to have authority over men.
I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man, but to be in silence. For Adam was formed first, then Eve (1 Timothy 2:12, 13).
Whatever the situation was that Paul is addressing, and we don’t know exactly the circumstances he has in mind. But whatever the situation, the principle Paul refers to is that a woman is not to have spiritual authority over man in the church. The context is the issue of worship. Now, Paul is not forbidding women to speak in church because in 1 Corinthians 11 he has women praying and speaking in church. What he does forbid women is the authoritative teaching in church that belongs to the elected elders.
Why should women not have spiritual authority over men in the church? The reason is the biblical principle of the spiritual headship of man to which he appeals. To support his point Paul refers back to the creation order–man was created first. Not just chronologically, but Eve came out of Adam; bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. He was her origin.
NB: Paul refers to the creation account not to the story of the Fall to support his argument. Some want to see the origin of the headship of man in the story of the Fall in Genesis 3, but Paul goes back to Genesis 2.
What is clear from the Genesis text is that God clearly distinguished between man and woman. They are equal in value but they have different roles in God’s plan for humanity.
Ellen White wrote:
Eve was created from a rib taken from the side of Adam, signifying that she was not to control him as the head, nor to be trampled under his feet as an inferior, but to stand by his side as an equal, to be loved and protected by him (Adventist Home, p. 25).
NB: “to be loved and protected by him.” Adam was to be the protector and provider for Eve. Of course, there was also a physical aspect to this. Inspiration tells us, Adam “was more than twice as tall as men now living upon the earth, and was well proportioned. His features were perfect and beautiful. . . . Eve was not quite as tall as Adam. Her head reached a little above his shoulders” (Conflict and Courage, p. 5).
In general this is still true today. Women are generally physically the weaker sex, even though they may be the stronger sex in other areas.
A Creation Ordinance
Does anyone remember the names Alex Tevez, Jon Blunk, and Matt McQuinn? You may remember the Aurora Massacre of July 20, 2012, in Colorado, when a gunman killed 12 people and injured 58 others in a movie theater? Alex Tevez, Jon Blunk, and Matt McQuinn were the three men who were killed while protecting their girlfriends with their bodies. Why did these men throw themselves on top of their girlfriends and die? Why didn’t the girls throw themselves on top of the men? The reason is that men have a God-given inborn reflex to protect women and children.
This is how God created us. To avoid this responsibility is displeasing to God as we read in Genesis 3:9. “Then the LORD God called to Adam and said to him, “Where are you?” Why did God call Adam and not Eve? Why didn’t he say, “Where are you Adam and Eve?” After all, it was Eve who sinned first, she took the fruit and gave it to Adam. But God addressed Adam and said, “Where are you?” In Hebrew the word “you” is a masculine singular pronoun.
The NT makes Adam not Eve responsible for the entrance of sin into the world:
Therefore, just as through one man [masculine noun] sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned (Romans 5:12).
Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over those who had not sinned according to the likeness of the transgression of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come (Romans 5:14, emphasis added).
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive (1 Corinthians 15:22).
It is always Adam not Eve who is made responsible for the Fall Why? Because Adam’s God-given role was to be the protector and provider for Eve, but he failed. Unfortunately, throughout history many men have failed to live up to their God-given role to love, protect and care for their wives.
“Adam, where are you?” is a question God is addressing to us men today. Where are the men today who take their God-given role seriously?
Unfortunately, too many men in Western societies have abdicated their roles as provider and protector of their families. In America today, we are told, we have about 14 million single parent homes and most of these single parents are women.
God said “Adam where are you?” because in creation God made Adam the head of the human family. Yes, man and women are created equal, but they have different roles in life, and to Adam God assigned the role of headship in the family and in the church, which is an extension of the family. To claim man is the head in the family but not in church is unbiblical and illogical.
God spoke to Adam because Adam had failed in his responsibility of protecting Eve from the tempter. Ellen White explains,
Under God, Adam was to stand at the head of the earthly family, to maintain the principles of the heavenly family. This would have brought peace and happiness. . . . When Adam sinned, man broke away from the heaven-ordained center. A demon became the central power in the world. Where God’s throne should have been, Satan placed his throne (Counsels to Parents Teachers and Students, p. 33).
Please note: That “Adam was to stand at the head of the earthly family” refers to God’s original plan before sin entered the world. The headship of man in the family and in the church is not the result of the Fall. as some claim, but is God’s original plan for the human family.
A ship can only have one captain and a car only one driver, so the human family can only have one head not two who fight it out and if they can’t agree they split.
Now, before you call me a chauvinist, listen to the Apostle Paul. In Ephesians 5:22-28 he says
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, so husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.
Ellen White Commenting on this text wrote:
Paul, writing to the Ephesian Christians, declares that the Lord has constituted the husband the head of the wife, to be her protector, the house-band, binding the members of the family together, even as Christ is the head of the church, and the savior of the mystical body (Review and Herald, December 10, 1908).
But she also says in volume 7 of the Testimonies after quoting Ephesians 5:
Neither husband nor wife is to make a plea for rulership. The Lord has laid down the principle that is to guide in this matter. The husband is to cherish his wife as Christ cherishes the church. And the wife is to respect and love her husband. Both are to cultivate the spirit of kindness, being determined never to grieve or injure the other (Testimonies, vol. 7, p. 47).
Headship does not mean rulership. Headship means love, care and protection not dictatorship. Unfortunately, Western society has abandoned the headship of man a long time ago because men have misused God’s creation order in terrible ways. Today even many conservative Christians in the Western world are abandoning the biblical principle of headship.
Isn’t it ironic that Jesus in Luke 18:8 says “when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” The implied answer is “no!” And yet Christians today believe that they have greater faith and a better understanding of God’s will than any generation of Christians before them.
In the message to Laodicea which applies to our time and also to our church Jesus says:
Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked—I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see (Revelation 3:17, 18).
Jesus describes present-day Christians, including our church, as “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” and yet we claim to have more knowledge and a better understanding of God’s will than all the Christians that have lived before us. We claim to be so clever, so spiritual that we now know that what Paul said about women only applied to his generation and not to ours. But God says we are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.”
The headship of man is not meant to give the husband control over his wife and dominate her or treat her like a slave. That this has happened too many times is the result of the curse in Genesis 3:16.
To the woman He said: “I will greatly multiply your sorrow and your conception; In pain you shall bring forth children; Your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you” (emphasis added).
Too many men have taken this prophecy as license to treat their wives like servants or worse, like animals. But for Christians, Paul’s counsel to love one’s wife as Christ has loved us is God’s marching order for us men. What does it mean in practical terms?
I would recommend that every husband and wife should read sections nine and ten in the book Adventist Home entitled: “Father, the House-Band” and “Mother-Queen of the Household.” Here a few snippets:
“The husband and father is the head of the household. The wife looks to him for love and sympathy . . .” (211).
“The father is in one sense the priest of the household” (212).
“Never, never are you to show a tyrannical spirit at home” (213).
“The father should encourage and sustain the mother in her work of care by his cheerful looks and kind words” (216). NB: Do some of the housework.
“Let the husband aid his wife by his sympathy and unfailing affection . . . let him help her bear her burdens” (218).
In conclusion, I would simply say, husbands love your wives as the Lord loves you.” Pray with your wives and be the spiritual leader of your family God wants you to be. Make sure your family has regular family worship because only with the help of God can we be the families and the witnesses He wants us to be.
And pray that you will be strong to resist the pressure of modern society in matters of morals and faith. Remember Paul’s counsel:
And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Romans 12:2).
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BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Gerhard Pfandl is an Associate Director of the Biblical Research Institute. He is a native of Austria and holds an M.A. and Ph.D in Old Testament from Andrews University. He has served in pastoral ministry in Austria and California, served in the South Pacific Division, taught theology at Bogenhofen Seminary, and published numerous books and articles.