Most people reading the Nashville Statement recently published by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (CBMW) will notice the repeated uses of the words “homosexual” and “transgender” in its fourteen articles. Strong opinions and visceral feelings regarding people who are LGBTQI and the church – whether the reader falls on one side of another of that discussion – might cause the reader to skip past the importance of a different set of labels found in Article 4:
We affirm that divinely ordained differences between male and female reflect God’s original creation design and are meant for human good and human flourishing.
We deny that such differences are a result of the Fall or are a tragedy to be overcome.
What are these “divinely ordained differences”? The statement doesn’t say. Other CBMW writings, though, show the difference is that women are subordinate to men in all things: home, work, play, education. If a man and woman are involved, the man takes the lead and the woman follows. Always.
The Bible shows a lot of men and women working and living together. Sometimes the man takes the lead and sometimes the woman does. If a man ever lords it over a woman, it’s an example of sin entering the relationship and not of God’s original plan.
Here’s a brief look at what tell Bible tells us about the relationship between women and men, how it has been corrupted by sin, and the hope Jesus brings for restoration to God’s original design:
Genesis 2– From the beginning Man and Woman were created to stand side by side to do the work of God.
Genesis 3– They disobeyed God and one consequence of their sin was that in the fallen world women are oppressed by men, who are now in a ruling position over women.
Luke 4– In his first synagogue sermon, Jesus said he came to free people from the captivity and the oppression caused by sin.
Matthew 20– Jesus told his friends that only those outside God’s family strive to rule over others, and that in his new way of life the point was always to strive to serve everyone else.
John 13– Jesus showed them what serving others looks like by wrapping a towel around his waist, getting down on his knees before them one by one, and washing their dirty, smelly feet.
All other passages on men and women in the kingdom of God must be understood in light of God’s original design (Genesis 2), the problems caused by sin (Genesis 3), and the freedom we now have in Jesus from the consequences of our sin.
And that is where CBMW goes wrong with Article 4 of the Nashville Statement. The notion that women were meant to be subordinate to men before the Fall and entry of sin in the world leads to the misbegotten conclusion that women will continue to be subordinate to men after Jesus returns and brings in the new Heaven and Earth. It becomes an eternal dynamic.
But God gave women teaching and leadership roles over men repeatedly in Bible history: Deborah, Huldah, Anna, Philip’s daughters, Junia, Phoebe, Priscilla, and more. He broke through the bondage of sin even in this fallen world in order to give a glimpse of life in the new and eternal kingdom to come with Jesus on the throne.
This is the true design for women and men under the New Covenant. There is no subordination to one another, only to God as he lifts all of us up.
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us up with him in the heavenly realms with Christ Jesus … . (Ephesians 2:6.)
The curse of Genesis 3 is no longer binding us. The relationship between men and women in Christ need no longer follow the design of the curse. There’s no place for it in the presence of Jesus in heaven, and that’s where you now sit. Right next to Jesus.