Summary: Does headship by its very nature imply superiority, and submission inferiority, or is headship and submission simply a distinction of functions, two different kinds of responsibilities which God has ordered for men and women?
Compiled by: Herman Abrahams (Pastor), Cornerstone Faith Ministries, P.O. Box 740, Westridge 7802, Rep. of South Africa.
Note to the reader:
If you have been blessed with this sermon compilation, I would be honoured to receive an e-mail from you merely telling me where in the world you are based- I do not need any other information. This is merely so that I can have the pleasure, and give thanks to Almighty God, that all over the globe the ministry which he has entrusted to me, is blessing the body of Christ and helping to extend the Kingdom of God.
Thank you. Herman Abrahams, Cape Town, South Africa.
DOES SUBMISSION IMPLY INFERIORITY?
“Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything”. (Eph 5: 22-24)
DIFFERENT and EQUAL
1. “If woman must of necessity be SUBORDINATE, she must of necessity be inferior”. (Virginia B. Mollenkott).*
2. “The headship of the man is not a question of value, dignity or honour, but of ORDER”. (Karl Barth)**
* and ** (As quoted by Larry & Nordis Christenson in “The Christian Couple”)
Which one is right?
a) Does headship by its very nature imply SUPERIORITY, and submission INFERIORITY?
b) Or is headship and submission simply a distinction of functions, two DIFFERENT KINDS OF RESPONSIBILITIES which God has ordered for men and women?
The way we answer this question will shape our understanding and experience of the husband -wife relationship. (The very thought of being “ submissive to” or “being subject to” one’s husband will stir up negative feelings within many capable and intelligent women who think of it in terms of being an ACTIVE, INSIGNIFICANT DOORMAT).
There is lots of misunderstanding regarding this issue because society sees headship in a fundamentally different way than the Bible does. The distinctiveness of the biblical concept of headship can be seen most clearly in the way it handles TWO SPECIFIC ISSUES:
1. The STATUS of the wife i.e. how is a wife regarded who is “subject to her husband?
2. The CONDUCT of the husband - how does a husband who is head of the home “exercise that headship?”
1. The Status of the Wife
“St. Paul, you say that a wife should be subject to her husband. Doesn’t that mean that she is Inferior to him? Some people draw that conclusion from the Apostle’s words, for they are convinced that no other conclusion is possible. “Subordination by its very nature implies inferiority” - DOES THE BIBLE TEACH THIS?
A) A Relationship Parallel
1) God the Son (Jesus) is subject to the Father.
“...the Son can do nothing of his own accord but only what he sees the Father doing.” (Jn 5:19) This subjection was not limited to his days on earth. It is part of the eternal relationship between the father and Son.
a) Active headship of the Father both before and after the incarnation is evident in the opening verses of Hebrews: “In the last days God has spoken to us by His Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe” (Heb 1:2).
b) 1 Cor 15:28 looks forward to the new age in which all things, including the Son shall be subject to God the Father: 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
c) Speaking of the present relationship between the Father and Son, the Apostle Paul says, “The head of Christ is God” (1 Cor 11.3).
FROM ETERNITY TO ETERNITY THE SON IS NECESSARILY SUBJECT TO THE FATHER.
2) Yet the Son is not inferior to the Father.
Jesus said, ‘I and the Father are one” (Jn 10:30) and “He who has seen me has seen the Father” (Jn 14:9) Jesus was in the very nature God (Phil 2:6) The teaching of the church through the centuries has been that the Son is equal to the Father GOD OF GOD, LIGHT OF LIGHT, VERY GOD OF VERY GOD. SUBJECT TO GOD...EQUAL TO GOD.... That is Christ’s’ relationship to the Father. THE SUBORDINATION CARRIES WITH IT NO HINT OF INFERIORITY.
B) It is possible for Subordination Among Equals to exist
1) Christ is equal to God yet subject to God.
2) Believers who are equal to one another, “fellow citizens with the saints” are admonished to be “subject to one another” (Eph 2:19, 5:21).
3) Believers who are all brothers (Matt: 23:8) are called to “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority” (Heb 13:7)