Applying the Creation Order

Question

In Women's Issues (and elsewhere) you make the case that Paul's citation of the order of creation proves that his point was not merely cultural or situational. I agree, but frankly I don't understand Paul's reasoning. Can you provide any insight as to why the order of creation demonstrates a model for male headship and authority in the church (and family) but not in the world at large (cf. Deborah, prophetesses, Pricilla, etc.)?

Answer

In the Bible, pre-lapsarian creation was seen as an ideal world that reflected God's character. He created the world to be pure and perfect. As a result, creation itself presented a standard of righteousness to which man was accountable (cf. Ex. 20:9-11; Rom. 1), much like the law, though somewhat less easy to interpret. The facts of creation apply equally to everyone, including to women in the Bible who had authority, like Deborah, et al. They apply to headship in the church and equally to other issues in the world at large. Women like Deborah represent exceptions to the norm; Paul's statements in 1 Timothy are the general rule. When circumstances are such that the norm is not possible or reasonable (e.g. when men refuse to rule properly, such as Barak in Judg. 4:8-9), God may raise up women to do what must be done. But in Scripture, raising up women in this way appears to be a pragmatic rather than a perfect solution (akin to the modern existence of denominations in the face of Christ's call for a unified, likeminded church). It is not wrong when circumstances require it, but only sinful circumstances require it. In the case of Deborah, she was righteous and right to rule. But the men of her day were sinful for refusing to rule, which refusal created the need for God to put Deborah in charge.


Answer by Ra McLaughlin

Ra McLaughlin is Vice President of Finance and Administration at Third Millennium Ministries.