A Biblical Examination of the Original Doctrinal Statement of the “Christians for Biblical Equality”
Point 6. “The Bible teaches that Jesus Christ came to redeem women as well as men. Through faith in Christ we all become children of God, one in Christ, and heirs to the blessings of salvation without reference to racial, social, or gender distinctives (John 1:12–13; Rom 8:14–17; 2 Cor 5:17; Gal 3:26–28).“
On the surface, this article contains nothing that any Christian could disagree with. Who does not know that “Jesus Christ came to redeem women as well as men”? Who doubts that “Through faith in Christ we all become children of God, one in Christ, and heirs to the blessings of salvation without reference to racial, social, or gender distinctives”? So that one may wonder why it is even here.
But the feminists are building their case, brick by brick. To them, it is significant that both women and men are redeemed; because this shows that there is no difference between men and women anymore. What are women redeemed from? The curse of subjection to men! That the passages they quote have to do with redemption from our bondage to sin does not seem to bother them.
The key to understanding their abuse of these Scriptures is in the last citation, which is one of the most popular and most often insisted upon by Feminists:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28)”
But if the gospel frees women from male authority, and bondservants from their masters, then from whom does it redeem men? Since men as well as women are redeemed; then it would seem to follow that men are also redeemed from whatever authority has been imposed upon them. Any sane person will reject this anarchist position. But it follows from their misinterpretation of Galatians 3:28. And I am bold to say that, since it does not free men from the authority of their rulers, neither does it free bondservants from their masters, or women from the authority of men.
This verse has nothing to do with our social relations or positions. The gospel does not affect these things at all. If these relations were lawful before Christ came, then they are lawful afterwards, for Christ said that He did not come to abolish the moral law revealed through Moses (Matthew 5:17-18).
As for bond-service, we have the clearest proof that Paul did not consider the institution to be immoral. He wrote to the Corinthians the following directions:
“Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.” (1 Cor 7:20-24)
So much for the gospel setting the bond-servant free! That it is bond-servants in view is proved by the words, “if thou mayest be made free”. Only one in bondage can be made free. As a Christian bond-servant, he is spiritually redeemed, not manumitted. He must still fulfill the obligations that accord with his station in life. He is not to run away; but if he can be lawfully set free – say, by paying a price (Acts 22:28) – then he should do so. Freedom is an asset, but not a necessity, in the service of Christ. And the gospel is not intended to destroy the structure of society; which it would have done, if every Christian servant in the first century had claimed a right to freedom, and had abandoned his position!
In just the same way, redemption, in the case of a woman, does not mean that she is freed from her husband’s authority. It does not mean that she has, or ought to have, equal status with her husband in the family, or equality with men in the church, or the community. There is no place in Scripture which teaches that a woman is now made free from her husband’s lawful authority. These Feminists claim that the rule of men over women is a part of the curse which was announced to Eve after the first transgression, which the gospel reverses. There are two misunderstandings here:
First, that Adam was not placed in authority over Eve in the original Divine order.
Second, that the curse was lifted when Jesus Christ redeemed us. Both of these matters were discussed in Part 1 of this series.
We see the word “leadership” substituted for “rule”, “headship”, governance”, or any other word that represents authority throughout this document. The claim is made that the only right which man had to rule over woman was a part of the curse, and before the coming of Christ. He is not to bear rule now; but only lead. But the New Testament does not teach this. A woman is not only under her husband’s leadership; but under his rule. The elders of the churches do not merely lead the churches: they rule over them. This is a good old word that has virtually fallen out of use in modern English. It is a Bible word. Here are some proof texts:
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the 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 every thing.” (Eph 5:22-24)
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)” (1Tim 3:2, 4-5)
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. (1Cor 14:34)”
Let us look at the curse which they claim has been reversed; for if any part of the curse is still in effect, then the whole must be:
“Gen 3:14 And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
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.
17 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; 18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; 19 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.”
First, there is a curse on the serpent. That this is not a curse on the animal kind called “snakes” is proved by verse 15, which can only mean Satan. The serpent was the innocent victim of the Evil One who possessed him. The point is that the Wicked One was cursed to go about like the snake that he had chosen to possess for his malicious scheme. He was to experience increasing humiliation from that day forward:
First, he failed to utterly ruin mankind; for God in His mercy redeemed Adam and Eve; and many of their numerous progeny would be saved through “the seed of the woman” who would “crush his head”. He failed to destroy any of the elect. He will fail to hold on to the power he now has in the world. And he will finally be utterly defeated when Jesus Christ commands that he be cast into the lake of fire!
Is Satan still under this curse? It has not been removed yet, for we read in the New Testament, “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly…” (Rom 16:20a) Christ is the seed of the woman and of Abraham and of David. And all the spiritual seed of Christ – all who believe in Him – are the seed to whom the promises apply. We shall walk on him ourselves (Luke 10:19), and the Lord Jesus will personally “crush His head”, and finish him off. Satan is still accursed. Why would the curse on Him be lifted? Christ did not die for Him.
Next, we come to the curse on the woman. John Gill explains this much better than I could:
“I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception, or “thy sorrow of thy conception”, or rather “of thy pregnancy”; since not pain but pleasure is perceived in conception, and besides is a blessing; but this takes in all griefs and sorrows, disorders and pains, from the time of conception or pregnancy, unto the birth; such as a nausea, a loathing of food, dizziness, pains in the head and teeth, faintings and swoonings, danger of miscarriage, and many distresses in such a case; besides the trouble of bearing such a burden, especially when it grows heavy: and when it is said, “I will greatly multiply”, or “multiplying I will multiply”, it not only denotes the certainty of it, but the many and great sorrows endured, and the frequent repetitions of them, by often conceiving, bearing, and bringing forth:
“in sorrow shall thou bring forth children, sons and daughters, with many severe pangs and sharp pains, which are so very acute, that great tribulations and afflictions are often in Scripture set forth by them: and it is remarked by naturalists , that women bring forth their young with more pain than any other creature:
and thy desire shall be to thy husband, which some understand of her desire to the use of the marriage bed, as Jarchi, and even notwithstanding her sorrows and pains in child bearing; but rather this is to be understood of her being solely at the will and pleasure of her husband; that whatever she desired should be referred to him, whether she should have her desire or not, or the thing she desired; it should be liable to be controlled by his will, which must determine it, and to which she must be subject…
and he shall rule over thee, with less kindness and gentleness, with more rigour and strictness… the subjection of her to him was more pleasant and agreeable than now it would be; and this was her chastisement, because she did not ask advice of her husband about eating the fruit, but did it of herself, without his will and consent, and tempted him to do the same.”
Finally, the curse on the man was pronounced:
“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.”
The effects of the curse on the ground can still be seen. It is hard work to raise crops, especially with the simple tools of ancient times. Weeds must be dealt with, and insects and other animals will eat as much as they can get of the ripe fruit. Blights and diseases will destroy their share. The farmer, and even the raiser of cattle must deal with all kinds of problems and discouragements that did not exist in Eden. The curse on the ground, on man’s labor is still in effect. Here is what Paul says:
“For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Rom 8:19-21)
“The creature” in this context means the lower creation: what we call “nature”. It is not the sons of God, the new creatures in Christ; for there is a patent distinction between it and them. Nature “was made subject to vanity”, that is, cursed for the sake of man’s sin. It is now in the bondage of corruption, but it will be delivered when the sons of God are manifested – at the return of Christ. (see 1 John 3:2; Col 3:4) The curse remains in effect.
The curses will never end until Jesus comes again and creates a new heaven and a new earth, in which the glory, peace and perfection of Eden will be restored.
I have digressed from our subject to show that the curse pronounced in Eden was not removed from woman at the first coming of Christ. Like all the other curses of Genesis 3, it remains in effect. So that, even if I were to grant that the subjection of woman to man’s authority was because of the curse laid upon her after the fall; since that curse has not been revoked, she remains under his authority today.