Headship in the Bible
By Pastor Hal Mayer
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Thank you for joining me today as we study a burning issue in the churches today. So many churches are being roiled by the problem of homosexual ordination and same sex marriage that it seems that the secular culture is rampaging into them, tearing them up and leaving the pieces all around. Along with the ecumenical movement this also plays into the hands of Rome by further reducing their ability to oppose her teachings. But it also plays its role in getting conservatives to take interest in Rome’s authority and its so-called unity under the pope.
Before we begin, let us bow our heads in prayer. Father in heaven, we are living in an amazing time. The enemy is working very hard to gain an advantage over Your people. As we study today, please give us Your Holy Spirit that we may be enlightened about the very important issue of church leadership that is unfolding in our times. Help us to see clearly the will of God. In Jesus precious and holy name, I pray. Amen.
Turn with me in your Bibles to Ephesians 4:14. This passage refers to false doctrine. But it also refers to some in the church who have a hard time being loyal to the Bible. Listen carefully, here it is: “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive…”
You see, my friends, there are those who are looking for opportunity to use slight of hand in wresting the scriptures with cunning craftiness, to get their way in the church. And so many go along with every wind of doctrine that comes along.
Friends, if you are doing any serious Bible study these days, you’ll know that the Bible and its authority are under attack. The Bible, or the word of God, has always been at the center of the controversy between Christ and Satan, God’s people and the people of the enemy. Will the people of God stand firm to scripture? Or will they be tossed by every wind of foolish doctrine that comes along in support of every cultural accommodation.
When you think about it, most churches have succumbed to culture already, with dancy music, celebration type services, emerging church, spiritual formation and its related programs, watered-down sermons that avoid subjects that might seem offensive to some people, and other accommodations including competitive sports, evolutionary theory and gay-friendly churches. Where will it all end? Will there not be anyone that stands for the truth? Will the churches be able to hold together if they adopt these new innovations?
And today, the issue of headship in the church is more potent than ever. You may have heard some things about this, but it is important to understand the Bible teaching on the order that God established for His church in every age.
While some people teach that the issue of women’s ordination doesn’t really matter and proclaim persistently, that “it is time” to ordain women in God’s church, the question remains, does the Bible authorize a change in God’s plan of headship. While some claim that the Bible does not support a male headship in the church, it is important to understand what the scripture does teach. In spite of confusing claims that Paul and other inspired writers were writing in the context and culture of their own times, and that the culture of our times should also influence us like it did them, the evidence of scripture still stands as a testimony against the cultural norms. The Bible even tells us what it will be like in the last days. Friends, let me share with you something to really think carefully about. The sparks of our own kindling will soon leave us in darkness. That is what has happened in the world, and it is what is happening to those who do not want to know the mind of God, or understand His ways. They want their own way. They want what God has not ordained. They think it is time to ordain women to the gospel ministry, but it is time for something else, my friends. It is time to know God and find out why God has these things the way they are.
Second Timothy 3:1-5 make it clear that dangerous times have come upon us. What is the danger? It is the danger of leaving the word of God. Here is what it says. “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”
Friends, we are to have nothing to do with people that are not loyal to scripture. We are to turn away from them. Notice that the Bible warns us about our times in detail, explaining exactly what we can expect from our fellow church members. Oh yes, church members. They have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof. Oh, they may have power, but it is a power, not from above, but from beneath. They have enthusiasm. They have light, but what kind of light?
Listen to this description of the conditions of our time. This is from Early Writings, pages 274 and 275.
“I saw that since Jesus left the holy place of the heavenly sanctuary and entered within the second veil, the churches have been filling up with every unclean and hateful bird. I saw great iniquity and vileness in the churches; yet their members profess to be Christians. Their profession, their prayers, and their exhortations are an abomination in the sight of God. Said the angel, ‘God will not smell in their assemblies. Selfishness, fraud, and deceit are practiced by them without the reprovings of conscience. And over all these evil traits they throw the cloak of religion.’
Imagine being so stone cold to the Holy Spirit that there are no longer any reprovings of conscience. You know, reproof is very important. It helps you stay on the path of the Lord. Reproofs help you from straying too far away from God’s counsel and bring you back when you do. But if you have stifled the voice of the Holy Spirit so much that you cannot hear any more reprovings of conscience, you’re in trouble. Do you think there are people like that today?
I’ll read on, “I was shown the pride of the nominal churches. God is not in their thoughts; their carnal minds dwell upon themselves; they decorate their poor mortal bodies, and then look upon themselves with satisfaction and pleasure. Jesus and the angels look upon them in anger. Said the angel, ‘Their sins and pride have reached unto heaven. Their portion is prepared. Justice and judgment have slumbered long, but will soon awake. Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, saith the Lord…’ An innumerable host of evil angels are spreading over the whole land and crowding the churches. These agents of Satan look upon the religious bodies with exultation, for the cloak of religion covers the greatest crime and iniquity.”
Friends, we are near this very time. Did you hear that about the evil angels crowding the churches? I can see why this is happening when you see as God sees and you begin to understand what goes on under the cover of religion.
When we leave the plan that God has revealed in His word, we can expect that all manner of sin and worthless chaff will pile up in our lives and in God’s church.
And now we are hit with arguments over headship. Some want to depreciate the Bible’s plain teachings. Though the Bible doesn’t always teach everything by direct revelation, it certainly does make positive assertions and clear delineations and, at times, by implication.
Turn with me in your Bibles to Genesis 2. I have often said that if you want to understand the end times more clearly, study the book of Genesis. Its lessons are so clear. Today’s study is on the order that God established for the human race and how sin changed it. Some of the material I will share with you today, is from a new book by Clinton and Gina Wahlen, called Women’s Ordination, Does it Matter? This excellent book is available on Amazon and perhaps in your local ABC bookstore.
Notice verse seven. “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 soul.”
There are many things in this verse, but I want you to notice that God made man, the masterpiece of creation, from the common dust of the earth. He was not made of gold dust or diamond dust, but of common dust. Notice, that there is nothing more lowly than common dust. From that dust, the Great Maker made the finest piece of creation. God, the great fountain of being and power who made the world of nothing, made man of the dust that He Himself had created. And he gave man a mind to think and create and a heart to love. The other creatures were “created and made” the Bible says, but man was “formed” out of the dust of the ground. He was not just spoken into existence. The word “formed” suggests a process. God took His time and did it all by hand with great accuracy and exactness.
And let us also note that if you wish to be restored in the image of God, you must understand yourself to be from the dust. Then God can take you and shape you and make you what He needs you to be.
No wonder there was such a special bond between God and Adam. This was the crowning act of creation. Listen to this from Healthful Living, page 10. “Man was the crowning act of the creation of God, made in the image of God, and designed to be a counterpart of God…” What does that mean to be a counterpart? That means that he was to be God’s corresponding ruler of the earth, just as God was the ruler of the universe. He would be delegated dominion and would participate in accomplishing the plans and objectives of God.
There is something else about man that is important to note. And this is why Satan was so determined to destroy man if he could. Here it is from Sons and Daughters of God, page 7. “God created man a superior being; he alone is formed in the image of God, and is capable of partaking of the divine nature, of cooperating with his Creator and executing His plans.”
Did you hear that? Man alone is formed in the image of God. No other creature is quite the same as man. He was in God’s image and had many capabilities that were like God.
Lucifer had been cast out of heaven because he wanted a position that was not his. He wanted to be “like the Most High,” Isaiah 14:14. To be “like the Most High” was to be equal with Him. Lucifer wanted to be in the inner counsels of God even though God had not ordained him to that role. Equality was so important to Lucifer that he insinuated that God wasn’t being fair to give him all of that incredible talent and intellect and yet not include him in the inner circle in heaven. He came to the conclusion that God was unjust. And it was equality and “justice” that he sought in his rebellion.
No doubt Satan saw the creation of Adam in making him in the image of God as a direct insult to himself. Adam was given talent and intellect that resembled Christ. And the relationship between Adam and God was so, and they were already laying their plans for the earth, perhaps, and he was jealous of them. Adam was in the inner circle as a created being. He had dominion and authority. How could this be? How could Adam be to Christ what Lucifer thought he should have been to Christ in heaven? His anger knew no bounds. He determined to destroy Adam if he could and thereby damage Christ.
God made every provision for man’s happiness on earth. He provided a garden palace for the new prince of the earth to live in. He provided every food that would delight the tastes. The weather was perfect. The beauty was unmatched. Nothing was left undone for man’s happiness, except for one thing. God knew that Adam needed a companion of his own kind that could enter into his work and help him be creative and to share in the joy of knowing God. But God purposed to develop the conscious need for it in Adam’s mind so that he would appreciate what God was going to do for His friend in His final act of creation.
Oh yes, there was still one more thing that God needed to do for man’s happiness as well. He was to establish the Sabbath, an invention of time set aside for worship and very special communion with God.
But let us come back for a few moments to reflect on Adam’s state before woman was created.
Notice verse 8. “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.”
So, God gave Adam a place to live even before He made Eve. God was building on that special bond and wanted Adam to appreciate the value that God placed on him. He was communing with God a while before Eve came along. We don’t know how long, but we know that it was enough time to accomplish some important things.
Look what happens in verse 15. “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the Garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”
So, now Adam has an occupation, a business, a work to do. His employment was to look after the garden. He was to “dress it.” That means that he was to do something with it to make it even more beautiful and especially more useful to him. He was to make it a showpiece to the glory of God. It was an occupation that would make him happy and fulfilled and he would cooperate with God. It gave him a sense of responsibility and obligation. If you love flowers, as I do, I am sure it was amazing. I’m sure it was fabulously decorated with beauty beyond our imagination. And while Adam’s hands were working with the trees and flowers, no doubt his heart was united with God in communion.
But notice that he was also to “keep it.” In other words, he was to protect it and preserve it. He is the one who was responsible to God for what happened there. God made Adam, the one “fashioned” from the dust, the steward of creation. He was to be the master of it all. And he was to receive instructions from God and carry them out. Plus he was to use his own creativity to assist the Creator in accomplishing His purposes. So, Adam had been given his occupation and his protective role before woman was created.
But that wasn’t all. Notice verses 16 and 17, “And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
God now appears to Adam as the ruler and lawgiver. Adam is put under government for his own happiness and that government was to extend to the other members of his family through Adam. He was to lead them in the way of the Lord and in the law of the Lord. He was to protect them and keep them faithful to God. He was also to answer to God for their loyalty. He was the ruler of the world. Though Eve was to be his equal in every other way, he was still the head of the home. He was the patriarch of patriarchs. He was now a public person, so to speak. He was the father of all mankind. And as their representative, he was to receive the law and explain it to his family. Fathers everywhere would then be given the responsibility to explain the government of God to their wives and children, also. Adam was also therefore the head of the Eden church.
All nature is governed by natural law. And Adam was no exception. But God made Adam capable of understanding moral law and its justice. The law that God gave Adam in the Garden of Eden was simple. “Of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.” He did not need to spell out all of the Ten Commandments. Adam was already in harmony with them by nature. Because sin had already entered the universe, God needed a way for Adam to demonstrate willing obedience.
The simple rule was designed to demonstrate before Satan and his fallen host that the law can be obeyed without coercion, but with freedom of will and freedom of choice based on love and knowledge of God’s will. And this law Satan knew he had to overthrow if he could. But he would have to deceive the woman if he was to succeed. His hostility to this law knew no bounds. He had to get Adam to sin if at all possible.
Already God was creating an order, a chain of command, and a spiritual authority structure. Out of love, Adam was to be the head of the human family. The plan was that he was to represent the world and all its lower orders of beings to the heavenly hosts as one of the sons of God, a delegate to the heavenly courts (See Job 1:6). And in return he was to bear the image of God and represent Him to the human race and all the creatures of earth. All this was involved with Adam before woman came along.
But unfortunately that government was not long lasting. When Adam sinned, he lost that exalted estate and Satan took his place as the rightful prince of this world and head of the human family. But Christ stepped in and through his sacrifice on the cross he recovered what Adam had lost. Christ now stands at the head of the human family.
Headship was something that was very important to God in perfect Eden. And when God made Adam the head of all the earth and the human family, Eve was nowhere in sight. She had not yet been created. She was not involved in the intimate bonding and princely lordship that was given to Adam. She knew nothing of that intimate communion going on between Adam and God at this early stage.
So, let us summarize what we have learned. Adam had a home, the garden, before there was woman. He had an occupation, to dress and keep the garden, again before God made the woman. He had been given rulership or dominion and authority over everything in the garden and on earth before the woman was created. He was already responsible to God for what happened there by the time she came along. His relationship to God was well established by the time God gave him a partner. Adam was also under government before he was given the woman. That government included a prohibition to test and establish his loyalty to his Maker.
The test was given to Adam out of God’s love for the whole universe. He intended to refute a like of Satan that no one could keep God’s law out of freedom of choice. God wanted to demonstrate willing obedience that arises out of love. Isn’t that right?
All these things Adam had FIRST before he had his wife. There was a special relationship between God and Adam that would even benefit the woman too, once she came along. And without it, there would be no headship and submission that would bring happiness to the human race. You see, my friends, humility and love are two of the most important principles of heaven. Submission to God’s order and plan was the only way to real and lasting happiness. The woman could benefit and rejoice in the relationship between God and Adam, but that bond was between the two of them. The woman could have her own wonderful and intimate relationship with God. But it would never be quite the same as Adam. Adam was the designated head of the world. In that sense, he had a different role than woman. She was to assist him or help him in his rulership. She was to be his companion, but not the head.
The problem we face today is that many people do not understand the significance of what God did in Eden. Or they don’t want to, perhaps. Spiritual things are spiritually discerned and often the strong meat of the word is under the surface. Often the mysteries are hidden from the superficial eyes. The carnal mind cannot see them. This is a test to see who is going to go seek to know the mind of God and who is not. Those who push for things that God has not authorized, and those who press for changes by wresting the scriptures to justify their goals, will be left in darkness. In this case, we have the story about the practical details of what happened, but underneath it all is the story of God’s intentions. God does everything with purpose. There was a reason for doing it the way He did.
Now God lays out a problem for Adam to think about and wrestle with. Verse 18 says, “And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.”
But God did not immediately create Eve. He developed the problem in Adam’s mind. He gave Adam an assignment. Adam was to name the animals.
Verse 19. “And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.”
In the Bible, imposing a name is an act of authority. You can find that in Daniel 1:7, for instance, when the prince of the eunuchs gave new Babylonian names to Daniel and his three friends. These were names that involved the Babylonian god’s and in doing this, the Babylonians signified their authority over their charges. Likewise, in giving Adam the job of naming the animals, God was giving him dominion over the creatures He had made.
Now think about this. God had named the day and the night; he had named the firmament, the earth and the sea. He “calleth [the stars] by their names,” Psalm 147:4. This shows his supreme authority over these things. But to Adam, He entrusted the rulership of the lower creatures He had created on the earth. Adam was the subordinate Lord, a son of God. And so, Adam named them all and God accepted whatever name he gave them. You see, God was establishing Adam’s headship over the whole earth and all that is in it, not just the human race. Though the woman would be the mother of all other living human beings, she was not the mother of Adam. This is the only time a woman came out of a man. And it was by surgery, not by some sort of natural birth. She was not to be the head in terms of authority. This is clear by the fact that she came after all the headship issues were settled. She would be an equal in every other way, but in authority and responsibility to God, Adam was the patriarch. Eve was to be his “help meet.” They were to be companions one to another. They were to compliment each other. They were to love each other.
Now read verse 20. “And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him.”
It caught Adam by surprise that there was no companion for him. He noticed after all the abundance of creatures that came before him, either by special instinct that God put in them, or by the guidance of the angels (we are not told), but they all had companions. But not he. “What is this,” he must have thought. “There is none like me.” Each species of creature was matched with another like himself. Nothing that came in front of him, however, matched Adam. “Where is a companion made for me?” he must have asked.
Do you think God planned it that way? Do you think God organized this little task for Adam to realize something about his nature that he had not noticed before? Is it possible that in this naming of the brute beasts, God was creating a hunger in Adam’s soul for a soul mate? He now saw that he needed something that the beautiful garden did not provide. He needs something that even communion with God, wonderful and satisfying though it was, could not offer. He needed a human companion matched to himself; someone that would be an extension of himself. God in his wisdom knew that it was not best for man to be alone.
And how many today suffer under the burden of being alone. Their marriages break up because of selfishness and Satan exalts that he has once again destroyed the beautiful experience of soul partnership in God. Oh, the sadness in this world because of sin. Oh, the aching loneliness and pain that is suffered by so many. Oh brother or sister, if you are dealing with such a problem please take courage in the Lord. If you are faithful to Him, He will be your companion, a better companion than any earthly friend. Deuteronomy 4:31 is for you. “(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.” And here is another wonderful promise. Psalm 94:14 says, “For the LORD will not cast off his people, neither will he forsake his inheritance.”
So, God caused Adam to fall asleep in the first use of anesthesia and surgery. And this was not a surgery to repair something, but rather to create some-one new.
Listen to verses 21 and 22, “And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.”
God did not take a piece of Adam’s skull to signify that woman was to rule over him. He did not make her from a bone of his foot to signify that she was to be subservient or “to obey him unquestioningly.” She was not to be subjugated or less important than him. She was equally important as he, though she had a different role. God could have made her of the dust of the ground to indicate that she was exactly like him. But God took her from a rib to show that she was to be an extension of himself, to be respected as an equal in nature, not in role. She was equal in comparison to him. She identified with him. But they were not the same in headship. What was going on between God and Adam before Eve was created shows us that God intended Adam to have the primary responsibility for leadership in their family and in the church. For Adam and Eve made up the first church too, you know. Woman was to be a companion, one with Adam in love and sympathy. After all, she was part of his flesh. While she was one with him in marriage and in labor, she was to yield to his leadership; to submit to his gentle loving authority in God.
Paul brings out this principle in Ephesians 5:22 when he says, “wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is head of the wife, even as Christ is head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.”
Paul is not saying that wives are to be under their husband’s dominion or control, like slaves, but in love, they are to yield to him as the head of the family. They are not to fight him, but encourage and help him with his work, ministry and in his problems and difficulties.
What was Adam’s response when God brought him his companion? Verse 23 says, “And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.”
Don’t miss this; Adam was entrusted with naming this beautiful creature that God had given him. She seemed so much like himself, but wonderfully different. She had many of the same characteristics, yet she was distinct and had her own. She was like him, yet, not quite like him. But since God took her from him, he called her woman. Naming her shows us his primary role as leader of the home. She came out from him, not the other way around. He was to nurture her and protect her. She was to assist him in fulfilling his mission as the leader of the planet and the representative of the human race before God.
Listen to this important statement from Patriarchs and Prophets, page 46, “God Himself gave Adam a companion. He provided “an help meet for him”–a helper corresponding to him–one who was fitted to be his companion, and who could be one with him in love and sympathy. 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. A part of man, bone of his bone, and flesh of his flesh, she was his second self, showing the close union and the affectionate attachment that should exist in this relation. “For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it.” Ephesians 5:29.
By the way, perhaps I should point out that there are many ways in which God reveals to us His will concerning male headship. He does not have to give instruction, or a commandment, or a law. He often reveals things by illustration or by things He does or doesn’t do.
Notice this statement from Story of Redemption, page 20. “Eve was not quite as tall as Adam. Her head reached a little above his shoulders.” Her smaller stature was also an illustration that she was his companion and equal in nature, but not his equal in headship.
God ordained male headship. Even in verse 24 the concept comes through again. “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.”
Observe that the man is to take the initiative to leave his father and mother, and cleave, or cling unto his wife. He is to take responsibility for her and to protect her. As Adam was under government, so the woman would be under government too.
Satan saw and understood the significance of this happy and harmonious plan. He knew that if he could ruin it he would bring untold sorrow on the human race and wrench the new planet and the crowning act of creation from Christ his archenemy. And this he set out to do. The sad story is recorded in Genesis three.
Obviously, Adam isn’t present when the serpent talks to Eve, else he would have probably intervened. Listen to what Satan does through the serpent to lay the foundation for feminism in verses one and two.
“Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.”
Notice that Satan did not quote everything to her. He asked her the question but doesn’t include the prohibition of the very tree before which she is standing. She then quotes back the prohibition, which he directly confronts with a lie. And in so doing he insinuates that God has lied to her. “Ye shall not surely die,” he says in verse 4. “God isn’t telling you everything you need to know. He is withholding something important.”
“For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.”
Satan spoke with Eve as if she was just as much responsible for the human race as Adam. He speaks to her as if she is equal with Adam as the head and representative of the human race, which she is not. This flatters her. And in this, he lays the seed of discontent, not only with God, but also with the order that God had established. Here is the foundation of the feminist movement today. He even suggests that God was unfairly keeping them in the dark, so to speak, and that they need to be liberated from this terrible oppression so that they could obtain this special hidden knowledge. He suggested that she should lead Adam into the light of knowledge and power and that she should be the instigator of a new age of enlightenment. Perhaps she could even lead the movement.
Now Eve was in trouble. She assumed that what Satan told her was true and she began to reason on her own. It was her consideration of Satan’s lie that led her into sin. She consulted herself in the matter. She did not flee from the familiar spirit that appeared to her in the form of a serpent, to inquire of the multitude of spiritual counsel that Adam had, whether these things were so. She didn’t even consult God in the matter. Like so many today, both old and young, she accepted the presumptions of the wizards that peep and mutter and it had disastrous consequences.
Look at verse 6. “And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
Now notice what happened. There is a complete change in roles and a reversal of headship. Pay attention. It is an important point that is being made now. In chapter two, verse 24, when God’s order of male headship is in place and God brings Adam a woman she is called “his wife.” She belongs to him. He is the head of the home and she is his loving helpmeet, or companion in life. Now in chapter three verse six, Adam is now called “her husband.” Now it appears that she is in charge. She has taken the role of headship. She has her own agenda now and is no longer subject to Adam. Their roles are reversed. She is now leading him. He has yielded to her. He is now subject to her. He should have taught her, but instead she taught him. She led him into a new way of seeing, which would also open a new kind of worship. She led him into sin. Now who was going to rule over Adam, God or his wife?
Do you think we have this same problem today? How often do women take on the role of headship in the home and in the church? How often do they rule over men in this world of sin? Did you know the Bible makes this very plain? Listen to Isaiah 3:12, “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.”
Friends, that’s talking about the leaders of the church. They cause God’s people to err and destroy the old paths, wherein is the good way. The equality argument actually destroys true headship and lead God’s people in the way of error.
Are there men who think that it is time to do that which God has clearly said we should not do? Have men made excuses for women’s headship roles in the church today? It is amazing to me that men in leadership, men who are given heavy responsibilities in God’s church can be so culturally conditioned that they cannot understand the word of God and stand against the feminism that is so rampant today.
If men in headship roles will not stand against these modern Eve’s, what will they stand against? Will some of these women lead them to also justify same-sex marriage or to ordain homosexuals? Will some of these women encourage them to support Sunday observance too? Where will it end? If men in leadership cannot withstand the pressure to compromise the word of God in headship, how will God’s church resist the culture war that is sure to intensify in its wake?
And what about other cultural encroachments? We’ve already seen unholy music come in under male headship. We’ve already seen the emerging church movement come in under insipid male leadership. We’ve already seen Spiritual Formation come in under compromising male leaders? And now some women have co-opted the male leaders of God’s church to compromise yet again in the push for the ordination of women to the headship role. Many of the leaders and former leaders of God’s church should be ashamed of their anemic leadership and for promoting something that is patently and obviously counter to God’s revealed will. They’ve allowed a counter-culture to take root in the churches. And it is gaining in popularity.
Notice too that Satan got to Adam through Eve. That is his pattern. He often uses those least suspected to get to us, those who have interest and influence upon us. He used Job’s wife to try to get at Job. He tempted Christ through Peter. Eve led out in the rebellion. She was the first at fault. She was the ringleader. Yet, when God came to the garden, He doesn’t call upon Eve, he calls Adam, since Adam is the one held responsible before God. Verse 9, “And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?”
God questions the man about eating of the tree first. Adam blames God by saying “The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat.” That’s verse 12. Only then does God ask Eve what happened. She said, “The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.” She blamed God too. After all, he created the serpent and permitted it in paradise.
Notice what Satan accomplished. He got the “blame game” going. He made them fearful and suspicious of God. He disordered the principled relationship in the first home. He laid the seeds of feminism and even ordination of women in the churches. Here is the seed of immodesty, licentiousness and even gender confusion. He created a spirit of competition and divorce. The list could go on and on. He ruined the whole world. Now women everywhere, though not all women, are often ambitious for the same roles as men. And today, it has even penetrated into the church. Women more often want to assert themselves into responsibilities that they cannot fill, at least not well, and neglect responsibilities for which they are perfectly suited. No longer is there peace and happiness in multitudes of families, but strife and war continue to roil our planet on every hand.
God cursed the serpent. It could no longer fly and would crawl on its belly. And to this day it is a universally hated creature. Satan cannot help but think of his own doom every time he sees a snake.
God’s words to Eve are very interesting. Notice carefully what he says in verse 16. “Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
“Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” Pay attention here. God knew that Satan had just disordered the creation hierarchy. Now women would be discontented with the role that God had given them. Confusion over headship would come in and women would desire equality with men in the headship role. In saying these words to Eve, God wisely re-established the principle of male headship and clarified the principle in more stark terms so that the restored relationship would be well understood. Again, God makes a distinction between the one who leads into sin and the one who was led into sin. “He shall rule over thee.” God is not justifying male abuse and oppression of women. Men must still love their wives. Husbands must still respect their wives and treat them as an equal in nature. She must still yield to him and not fight him. But he had to spell it out more clearly.
But, there is something else in this. God pronounced this sentence as a blessing, not as a curse. It was a chastisement to bring repentance and humility and to restore the lost order. If man had not sinned, he would always have ruled with wisdom and love; and, if the woman had not sinned, she would always have obeyed with humility and meekness; and under those circumstances, the dominion would have been no burden or grievance. It is sin and folly that makes our burdens heavy and our tempers rough and our love waxes cold. But if Eve would have never sinned and given the forbidden fruit to her husband, she would have never complained of her subjugation. But now her heart was changed and she began to compete with him and reverse the roles that God had appointed. Now, it is all disordered, and those women who try to achieve headship don’t seem to consider that they are violating divine order and thwarting a divine sentence meant for the good of the human race.
Listen to this from Patriarchs and Prophets, pages 58 and 59, “Eve had been the first in transgression; and she had fallen into temptation by separating from her companion, contrary to the divine direction. It was by her solicitation that Adam sinned, and she was now placed in subjection to her husband. Had the principles enjoined in the law of God been cherished by the fallen race, this sentence, though growing out of the results of sin, would have proved a blessing to them; but man’s abuse of the supremacy thus given him has too often rendered the lot of woman very bitter and made her life a burden.”
Oh, how terribly sad! It makes my heart ache when I see and hear of the heavy and bitter burdens some women face each and every day. Oh, don’t you hate sin? Don’t you want Jesus to come and end this nightmare? Oh friends, I suspect that one of the key reasons we have the push for female headship in both the home and the church is because men have been derelict in their duty to love and nurture their wives. God was attempting to restore and clarify the relationship between Adam and Eve, including the role of male headship.
But look what God says to Adam. Verse 17, “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree…”
Let’s stop there for a minute and break that down. God reproves Adam for listening to the voice of his ambitious wife. He points out that Adam has surrendered his headship and leadership responsibility and that this has led him into sin. He knew there would be power struggles and to prevent them at least in the homes of His people there must be a clear understanding about headship.
Friends, where will all this push for female headship in the family and in God’s church take us? Think about it. Why are so many people confused on this issue? Friends, it is because so many of us do not study our Bibles to know what the Bible says.
“And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” That’s verses 17-19.
Paul, in the New Testament, for the New Testament church reiterates the fact that Adam was the one responsible for the fall. Take a look at I Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die.” Notice that it is not in Eve that all die, but in Adam. That’s heavy. Adam must have bowed his head in sorrow over every lamb that was slain as a sacrifice. He must have grieved over his one wrong step every time he saw a flower fade. And he had to live for 930 years and watch the wickedness develop; crime, immorality and bloodshed. He must have wept and wept over his son Abel and over the curse of his son Cain. He had the full weight of responsibility for every sin committed. It must have been equally painful for Christ or perhaps even more. And what of Eve? What humiliation and sorrow must have come upon her? It makes my heart ache to think what they must have gone through.
Yet Christ did not abandon them. He certainly explained to them the plan of salvation. And He offered them hope.
Adam again takes up the role of headship and in verse 20 we see how. “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve; because she was the mother of all living.” He changed her name to re-establish his leadership.
And look what verse 21 says. God Himself re-sets the principle and calls the woman “his wife.” “Unto Adam also and to his wife did the LORD God make coats of skins, and clothed them.”
And Moses picks up on it again in verse 24, “So he drove out the man, and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.” I actually pity the Cherubims that had to do that task. They too must have sorrowed every time they saw Adam bring a lamb for a sacrifice with his wife Eve. Yet, in that sacrifice, they saw the promise of a redeemer who would take the place of these poor sinners and recover their lost home.
Turn over to Genesis chapter 5. We see it again. In this chapter we are told, is the “generations of Adam” in verse one, not the “generations of Eve,” or even the “generations of Adam and Eve.” It is the “generations of Adam.”
Verse 2 says, God “called their name Adam.” In other words, both Adam and Eve together, their family name was Adam. And this was what God called them when He created them.
Friends, it is so obvious, I can hardly imagine how anyone can be confused, unless of course they are unwilling to walk not in the way of the Lord.
Now listen to what is written in Patriarchs and Prophets, page 59, “Eve had been perfectly happy by her husband’s side in her Eden home; but, like restless modern Eves, she was flattered with the hope of entering a higher sphere than that which God had assigned her. In attempting to rise above her original position, she fell far below it. A similar result will be reached by all who are unwilling to take up cheerfully their life duties in accordance with God’s plan. In their efforts to reach positions for which He has not fitted them, many are leaving vacant the place where they might be a blessing. In their desire for a higher sphere, many have sacrificed true womanly dignity and nobility of character, and have left undone the very work that Heaven appointed them.”
While there are many questions about some curious statements made by the apostle Paul that some try to use to support a change to the headship principle in the church, most of them, when examined carefully and honestly, do not support it. Nevertheless, there are those who still try to demand equality. They argue that male headship isn’t fair or that it is discrimination. They play on the emotions of the people to stir up their sense of justice.
But it is a false sense of justice that pushes for women’s ordination in conflict with God’s revealed will. God Himself created the headship order and He re-established it after the fall. While as human beings, we should be concerned about fairness in the way we treat each other, we cannot wrest the principles of God’s word in doing so to create our own reality.
The problem is that often the words of scripture are taken out of context, or misapplied, or misinterpreted in order to support some personal theory or agenda. Support for a change in headship strain scripture texts to say what they want them to say rather than to determine what they actually say. The issue of women’s ordination has been foisted on the various denominations and churches all over the world in the name of fairness, anti-discrimination and equality.
Friends, please don’t let culture guide your reasoning. Only the word of God can be the foundation of your faith. As people of the Bible, we must be willing to take the clear statements and principles of scripture and rule our lives, homes and churches accordingly.
Let me ask a few questions before we close. Has women’s ordination helped churches to grow? The answer is a resounding no. All the churches that have gone down that road have lost large numbers of members. Of course, there are other reasons as well for the departure of members, but rejection of the Bible, as evidenced by women’s ordination and homosexual ordination have been sited as one of the key reasons for the decline. That has been documented quite well.
Should God’s church be split over the issue of women’s ordination? Actually, it should not be. There should be a solid unity in understanding of the Bible. Remember the Bible is at the center of the problem. If you can take clear passages of scripture, such as the bishop or minister or elder is to be the “husband of one wife,” (1 Tim 3:2), which is a very clear statement and understand them to say something they do not say, then what other scriptures can be changed as well? There will be no end to it.
As we near the end of time, the close of probation and the end-time crisis, let us give ourselves unreservedly to Christ, my friends. Let us maintain a clear-headed loyalty to the authority of scripture. Let us always lean on the obvious meaning of scripture and avoid reasoning that will take us down the path of decline that others have already travelled. If we learn from their mistakes, and if we keep the faith once delivered to the saints, we will have God to guide us and keep us from falling into specious error. The enemy would want nothing more than to derail God’s end-time church, wouldn’t he? And that is exactly what he is attempting to do. God bless you. Let us pray.
Our Father in heaven, please help us to be loyal to scripture. Help us to understand its principles in our daily lives. Give us Your love and kindness toward those who disagree with us, and may Your power sustain Your church and protect Your people. In Jesus name, amen.