On Headship and Households

What is the teaching in Genesis on this issue, and how is it further brought to light in the New Testament?

Burk is right that there are many questions left about the mystery of manhood and womanhood, and how that all plays out in culture. Neither Carl nor I deny there are many differences between the sexes, some cultural, and some innate. But I do deny that male headship is imperative to living out my womanhood in civil society. I believe headship is a factor when it comes to household order, and I do not believe that headship is a micromanaging role.

 
Denny Burk says he would like to see more discussion on how the “headship norm” established in Genesis 2 as a “creation norm” informs one’s view on maleness and femaleness. In his response to the questions and challenges we at MoS have raised to some of the popular teachings within complementarianism , Burk says:

To be fair, I think complementarians have a lot of work to do in this area. The Danvers Statement itself is pretty limited in its application to the church and home. But its minimalism is not consistent with its own first principles when those two domains are deemed the only relevant domains for living out manhood and womanhood.

While pushing back at Carl’s claims that Piper’s teaching on complementarianism “focuses ‘almost exclusively on issues of authority, hierarchy, and submission,’” this is exactly what he is concluding with by saying that the “headship norm” is extended beyond church and home and directly correlated to our manhood and womanhood.

But what is the teaching in Genesis on this issue, and how is it further brought to light in the New Testament? We should first point out that God made man and woman in his own image (Gen. 1:27).* And in this garden/temple/household of Eden, the overarching theme between Adam and Eve is not authority and submission, but unity in one flesh. I am not saying that Adam was not set as the head of the household, but that the point is unity.

That unity is disrupted in the Fall. And after the Fall, we have the division of the holy from the common. Adam and Eve are expelled from the garden/temple. The temple, the home, and the civil community will now be separate. And yet, we see later in Scripture that the church is referred to as the household of God (1 Tim. 3:15).

Burk is right that there are many questions left about the mystery of manhood and womanhood, and how that all plays out in culture. Neither Carl nor I deny there are many differences between the sexes, some cultural, and some innate. But I do deny that male headship is imperative to living out my womanhood in civil society. I believe headship is a factor when it comes to household order, and I do not believe that headship is a micromanaging role.

The Household Manager

Gregory Beale has done some great work on Christ as household manager and how that connects to the first married couple in his book Hidden But Now Revealed. This is certainly not a book about gender roles, but his teaching sheds some light to this question.

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