It’s important that we take a slight detour.
- We need to explore the relationship between Genesis 1-2 and 1 Corinthians 11 and male and female imaging.
- To do that, however, we need to review a few things.
Review of Gen 1 & 2:
Genesis 1:26–27 (ESV) — 26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. 28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
From Genesis 1 we learned the following about “man”:
- “Man” was made male and female.
- “Man”, both male and female, was made in the image and likeness of God.
- “Man”, both male and female, was given dominion over creation.
- “Man”, both male and female, was blessed.
- “Man”, both male and female, were to multiply.
We saw that image-bearing’s meaning was functional:
- Our function as image-bearers is to represent God on earth.
- This is played out by “having dominion over God’s creation” – TWOT.
- Mathews sums it up this way, “Mankind is appointed as God’s royal representatives (i.e., sonship) to rule the earth in his place.”
We also found that the text does not reveal what aspect of humanity is physically made in the image of God.
- “Selem” as representative “merely describes the function or the consequences of the divine image; it does not pinpoint what the image is in itself” – Gordon Wenham.
- “Although Genesis tells who is created in the ‘image of God,’ both man and woman (1:27; 1 Cor 11:7; Jas 3:9), it does not describe the contents of the ‘image.’” – Kenneth Mathews.
- Hamilton says, “It is clear that v. 26 is not interested in defining what is the image of God in man. The verse simply states the fact, which is repeated in the following verse.”
We then saw in Genesis 2, providing more details for humanity’s creation, that the creation story came to a screeching halt after the creation of the male “man”.
- Genesis 2:18 tells us that “It is not good that the man should be alone”.
And then curiously, to show the male “man” how necessary a female of his same kind was, God paraded various animals before male “man”.
- We are told that among the animals none were found that were suitable for Adam – of his kind.
- God’s solution was to “build” the female “man” from the “sela” of the male “man”.
- Adam immediately recognized that the woman was a female “man” to his male “man” – “issa” to “is”.
From this review, we can summarize the differences/similarities between man and woman.
- In Common – Both are “man”; are image-bearers; have dominion; are to multiply; and are blessed.
- Difference – Man is made first; made of dust (by extension and death woman is also); alone; and “not good” without woman.
- Difference – Woman is made second; made from living creature (man); and helper.
Paul’s Take on Gen 1 & 2:
Keeping these things in mind, we now need to look at Paul’s take on Genesis 1 and 2.
- 1 Corinthians 11:3 & 7–12 (ESV) — 3 But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, the head of a wife is her husband, and the head of Christ is God. 7 For a man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God, but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. 9 Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 That is why a wife ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; 12 for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.
There was cultural issue at play here.
- We need to take this into account.
“Women’s hair was a prime object of lust in the ancient Mediterranean world” – DPL & DNTB.
- So frequently, women in public with uncovered heads were seen as licentious and “sexually revealing”.
- Therefore, it was typical for Palestinian women, Jewish women, and Roman women (& men – vs. 7) to cover their heads in worship as well (apparently Greek women didn’t?) – DPL.
Interestingly, “exposed hair became rare enough that on one occasion women with exposed hair reportedly threw guards into a panic, because the guards thought them night spirits” – DNTB.
There were also differences among classes about this taboo.
- The upper classes (where most house churches met) were more tolerant of uncovered heads.
- Lower class women, who embraced the taboo, were also attending these house churches.
- Tension was bound to exist, and it did so in Corinth (vss. 21-22 show this) – DPL.
Paul and Genesis:
So what is Paul not saying?
- He is not contradicting Genesis.
- He is not saying women are not made in the image of God.
- He is not saying that women are not the glory of God.
So what is Paul saying?
- He is using creation order to make a rhetorical point.
- Therefore, Paul basically is saying, “Adam was created before Eve, therefore women should wear head coverings” – DPL.
- It is a little more complicated than that – but that is the gist.
- This is in agreement with Gen 1 & 2 – Adam first and then Eve.
So most commentators see Paul’s words as a form of rhetoric to address the tension and restore unity.
- To restore unity, his view was that women should cover their heads in Church at Corinth.
- Women were not men; apparently the head coverings were a cultural way to honor the difference.
- And they also were a way to alleviate sexual tension and lust (perhaps similar to short skirts, etc. today).
Fascinatingly, after making his point about head coverings and man as the head=source, look what he says in verse 11.
- “Woman is not independent of man nor man of woman; for as woman was made from man, so man is now born of woman. And all things are from God.”
- After making his point with Gen 1 & 2’s creation order, “he takes it back” – DPL.
- “He uses this [creation order] only as an ad hoc argument for head coverings, not for everything one might extrapolate from it” – DPL.
- In other words, a patriarchal view of husband and wife as some are prone to do.
“Paul nowhere in this text subordinates the woman (making her less than man), failing even to touch on that issue” – DPL.
BTW – It must be noted that in Ephesians 5, Paul is clearly speaking of husband as the head=authority over the wife.
- Importantly, this is a functional difference not a qualitative difference.
- And taking it up a notch, the husband is to sacrificially love her as Christ loved the Church.
- Have fun with that!
Paul’s teaching (despite what it seems to moderns) would have been scandalous.
- He was operating in a context that already belittled women.
- But with his words he upsets the apple cart and “and modifies it in a more progressive direction” – DPL.
BTW 2 – There are a few competing ways to play out Paul’s teaching on man and woman.
- (1) An egalitarian view of marriage.
- (2) A patriarchal view of marriage.
- Spanking of wives; women educated for homemaking (no college); Dad picks daughters husband; etc.
- (3) A complementarian view of marriage.
Quick Summary of Complementarian view:
- This view holds that image-bearing is not just functional (as we reviewed above) but is also a physical (Bruce Ware).
- Therefore, male and female are not only “different ways…of being human” but also are physically different ways of image-bearing – Bruce Ware.
This view uses the temporal priority of Adam (as pointed out by Paul) as a basis for this view.
- “While both are fully and equally the image of God, there is a built-in priority given to the male that reflects God’s design of male headship in the created order” – Bruce Ware.
- (I think this point is not needed to support this view).
- Female image-bearing includes acknowledging that God gave man the function of head in his image-bearing.
BTW 3 – Interestingly, “Women may have also been shaving their heads (or cutting their hair short) to prevent men from thinking about them sexually. A woman who shaved her head would have frustrated her husband, since it would have stripped her of her sensuality. Thus, head coverings were the best option” – Mike Heiser.
Why We Misread 1 Corinthians 11 (and Ephesians 5) as Patriarchy:
Hannah Anderson, in “Made for More: An Invitation to Live in God’s Image”, makes the following observation.
- She suggests that our core identity as man/woman, and husband/wife has been derailed by cultural gender roles.
- Moreover, these gender roles have been divorced from the Bible.
- She says Genesis 1 makes clear that “our core identity is to be an image-bearer”.
- It is not found in fulfilling gender roles.
In other words, there is no doubt that men and women image God differently.
- However, women do so informed by Biblical standards not by informed by June Cleaver.
- Likewise, men do so informed by Biblical standards not informed by Ward Cleaver.
- She says the 50’s was “not a fully formed expression of humanity” for men nor for women.
- A fully formed expression is to be found in the Bible.
Recently, Andreas Kostenberger was asked about this very issue on The Gospel Coalition.
- “In what ways can evangelical Christians be in danger of confusing conservative cultural expectations [gender roles] with biblical complementarity?”
“Scripture doesn’t give a lot of detail as to how God’s design for man and woman is to be worked out, so a traditional division of labor (women in the kitchen, changing diapers; men at work letting women do all household chores) doesn’t square with the biblical design (we’ve discussed the inadequacy of labels here)…There is flexibility within the basic framework, and each couple has unique circumstances in which to work out God’s design and plan for them personally, both leader and partner. The biblical pattern is loving, self-sacrificial complementarity where the couple partners in conscious pursuit of God’s mission. Marriage is part of God’s larger purpose of reuniting all of humanity under one head, the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10).”
He goes on to say:
“Succinctly put, the overarching model that many have implicitly understood in recent years has been male leadership and female submission…we believe that this approach may unduly constrain the woman’s role and contribution in marriage and the church. We might rather categorize the biblical teaching in these terms: male leadership and female partnership.”
I would say a more literal Genesis 1 & 2 way to put his term would be…
- “male image-bearer” and “female image-bearer helper”
Where We Are Headed – Genesis 3:
The Fall presents us with far more questions than answers.
- We have to be patient and humble as we dig in.
And with respect to our male/female discussion, there are some interesting things to consider going forward.
- Man was given the sacred priestly duties of obeying and worshiping (priestly tabernacle language).
- We saw that part of this responsibility was guarding the sacred space.
- Question…according to Genesis 2, was Eve around when God gave the commandment to not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil?
- Based on the text in Gen. 3, from who did Eve first learn about the prohibition?
- Don’t know – presumably Adam.
- Was Adam there when the Serpent tempted Eve?