Patriarchy Professor Proves Women Are Spiritual Leaders Over Men

[From the archives.]

Wayne Grudem recently gave an interview (my thanks to Joan for linking to it) in which he argues that women should not lead men, that men are the spiritual leaders over women, and that all of this has been God’s plan since the dawn of creation.

I’m not convinced, despite his list* of reasons why he believes this:

As I explain in detail on pages 30-42 of Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth, I think that at least the following 10 reasons indicate that there was male leadership in marriage before there was sin in the world:

(1) Adam was created first, then Eve (Genesis 2:7, 18-23).

(2) Adam, not Eve, at [sic] a special role in representing the human race (see 1 Corinthians 15:22; also Romans 5:12-21).

(3) Adam named Eve (Genesis 2: 23).

(4) God named the human race “Man,” not “Woman” (Genesis 5:1-2).

(5) Adam, not Eve, had the primary accountability for their conduct, because God spoke to Adam first and called him to account first after the Fall (Genesis 3:9).

(6) Eve was created as a helper for Adam, not Adam as a helper for Eve (Genesis 2:18; compare 1 Corinthians 11:9).

(7) The curse that God imposed after the Fall brought conflict between Adam and Eve for leadership, but this was a distortion of previous roles, not the introduction of new roles (Genesis 3:16, where “desire” means “desire against, desire to rule over,” as the same Hebrew word does a bit later in Genesis 4:7).

(8) In the New Testament, salvation in Christ restores the beautiful creation order of male leadership and female support of that leadership in marriage (Colossians 3:18-19).

(9) God designed marriage from the beginning of creation to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church, in which the husband represents Christ and the wife represents the church (see Ephesians 5:31-32, where Paul draws a quotation from Genesis 2, prior to sin, to show what marriage should be like).

(10) The equality, differences, and unity between men and women in marriage reflect the equality, differences and unity in the Trinity (1 Corinthians 11:3).

My purpose in reproducing the list here is not to deal with his misunderstanding of the Bible, but to address his lapses in logic.

In fact, if you follow his logic then women should be recognized as the spiritual leaders over men under the New Covenant.

Women Have Primacy, So Men Submit

Items 1, 2 and 5 are each based on primacy: Adam is first in creation, first to receive instruction from God, and has a special role in representing creation (according to Mr. Grudem). Well then, let’s take a look at instances of primacy between Jesus and the people in his life when he walked the earth.

  1. God told Mary (Luke 1) about her upcoming pregnancy with the promised Messiah before Joseph (Matthew 1), who only got word to keep her as his wife after he learned she was pregnant.

    Annuciation, by Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo (Wikipedia)

    Annuciation, by Bartolomé Esteban Perez Murillo

  2. Jesus told the woman at the well that he is the promised Messiah before the men in her village found out. Plus, she had a special role in representing him to her neighbors and bringing them into a relationship with him. (John 4.)

    Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well, by Giacomo Franceschini (Wikipedia)

    Jesus and the Samaritan Woman at the Well, by Giacomo Franceschini

  3. The first people to learn of Jesus’ resurrection are women (Luke 24), and Mary Magdalene is the first person to see Jesus after his resurrection. (John 20.) The women – and Mary Magdalene in particular – are explicitly given a special role in bringing the good news (the Gospel) to the men.
    The Holy Women at the Sepulchre, by Peter Paul Rubens (Wikipedia)

By Mr. Grudem’s logic about Adam in pre New Covenant days, these instances of women with Jesus mean that under the New Covenant women are in a special leadership role and men should be in submission to them.

That’s not my conclusion, of course. I don’t think only women are leaders and all men are in submission to them under the New Covenant, and I don’t think only men can be leaders and all women are in submission to them either. In fact, there are too many instances of both men and women leading God’s people and delivering the word of God in Old and New Testament passages to conclude that leadership and teaching is categorically reserved for just one sex.

No, my conclusion is that Mr. Grudem’s list doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. He picks and chooses his examples and this causes his logic to fall apart.

He’s just not logical.


*Mr. Grudem’s list-making seems to be more problematic than helpful.


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5 Responses to Patriarchy Professor Proves Women Are Spiritual Leaders Over Men

  1. James Williams says:

    Hi Tim – Wayne Grudem’s list doesn’t prove as much as he would like it to, but your list is short on both logic and sound exegesis. Gen. 1-2 are clearly normative – revealing God’s original, creational intent for humanity, in ways that are not remotely parallel in the resurrection accounts. Jesus himself treats “in the beginning” as morally normative; no one in scripture regards Easter in the same way – it established no institutional or relational patterns.

    • Tim says:

      Hi James: I wasn’t really trying to prove logically that women are spiritually superior to men. I was just pointing out that Grudem’s points don’t really stand up to scrutiny, as I said in the last couple of paragraphs of the post.

  2. Pastor Bob says:

    Somehow this fits best….
    “Each according to abilities….”

    A paraphrase, but who remembers the original source?

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