Male headship is hotly contested today. The consensus of our culture is that we ought to take a flat iron to every realm of life to flatten out every wrinkle of gender-oriented authority.
Yet you cannot escape the fact of it in Scripture, particularly in the opening chapters of Genesis.
Genesis 2:2 recounts the creation of man and woman and gives us some insight into the structure of authority as God originally designed it. That God created man first says something. Wayne Grudem sums it up well when he says, "The fact that God first created Adam then after a period of time created Eve suggests that God saw Adam as having a leadership role in his family. No such two-stage procedure is mentioned for any of the animals God made, but here it seems to have a special purpose."
Grudem goes on to recount the OT pattern of "primogeniture," which is the idea that the
firstborn son of the family is given a leadership role. Even a quick reading of the OT will reveal the importance of one's birthright as it pertains to privileges and responsibilities in the household.
Eve was not only created second, she was created to serve a distinct role. She was the "helper." We do not doubt the importance of a helper. The helper enables one to achieve the end he desires. But a helper is never the one in charge. Their role is be subservient to the one they help. To put it another way, a helper isn't the one who is supposed to call the shots.
We must not think that this is something that faded away with the coming of the New Testament period either. The Apostle Paul picks up on this in 1 Corinthians 11. He reinforces this notion of hierarchy when he says, "Neither was man created for woman, but woman for the man." Paul unabashedly affirms the created order.
The story of the fall also chimes in on the idea of male headship. The story ends with Adam's eating of the apple, and rightfully so. It would have been incomplete without it. Adam, as the federal representative of the race, was the one who plunged the world into sin; not Eve.
Commentators are also quick to point out that the whole story of chapter three is a reversal of the created order. We might picture the original design like this:
Adam was over Eve, and they were both to have dominion over the animals. But in the story of the fall the snake takes an authoritative role and influences Eve. Adam then submits to Eve when she prods him to eat. The sum of the narrative recounts a complete reversal of the divine order.
Certainly more Scripture could be sited. However, it suffices for now to say that God has knit into the fabric of society a certain authority structure. God did not create a democracy or egalitarian society. He designed men to be leaders. They are to fill their authoritative role in society by executing their duties with honor.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.