I’ve watched with great interest over the past few weeks as a constellation of blog posts have come out calling for a fresh complementarianism. The articles seem to be advocating for a third way between complementarianism and egalitarianism, or at least for an awareness that traditional complementarians have many weaknesses and egalitarians are asking a lot of good questions. The message often has an apologetic edge: we are complementarians, but not the ones you’re used to.

The most explicit post along these lines is Wendy Alsup’s article on new wave complementarianism. The piece struck a nerve, prompting many women to write comments to the effect, “I agree with everything you’ve said. I’ve been wanting someone to say this for years.” Alsup’s article, and others like it, have been recommended and retweeted by some of my good friends. There is something about the idea of a “new wave” of complementarianism that some—I’m not sure if it’s few, several, or many, so I’ll stick with some—find attractive.

I’ve been wrestling for a couple weeks now about how to respond to Alsup’s post (or if I should respond at all). I don’t want to turn something small into something bigger than it needs to be, and I don’t want to discourage new complementarian voices (often women) from being heard. And yet, something about these posts, and Alsup’s in particular, leaves me unsettled. With that in mind, I’d like to ask one specific question and raise one general caution.

One Specific Question

Here’s my specific question: If this is new wave of complementarianism, what was the old wave? Alsup lists eight characteristics of this new movement.

1.      1.  Belief in the trustworthiness of the Bible.

2.      2.  A belief that the Bible interprets itself.

3.      3.  A respect for Church history and creeds.

4.      4.  Strong disagreement for Susan Foh’s interpretation of Genesis 3:16.

5.      5.  Identifying with some aspects of feminism.

6.      6.  Viewing complementarity through the lens of Genesis 1:27 more than Genesis 2:18.

7.      7.  Not setting up marriage and family as the end all for women.

8.      8.  An understanding that men should be elders and women can be deacons.

Surely, there are no “old wave” complementarians who disagree with points 1-3. Let’s cross those off the list (they may be aimed mostly at egalitarians).

Points 7 and 8 are not new either. The very first chapter in Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood (RBMW) was a chapter from John Piper for single men and women. And the last page of Chapter 1 includes a list of more than 100 things women can and should do in ministry, only a handful of which pertain to traditional “women’s work.” Moreover, neither CBMW nor the complementarian movement as a whole has ever made women deacons (or the prohibition thereof) a mark of their ministry. Indeed, in 2010 Alsup wrote a piece arguing for women deacons in which she mentions a number of older complementarians who think Phoebe held the office of deacon. She also notes that CBMW considers the issue of women deacons nonessential to its core mission.

That leaves 4, 5, and 6 as possible new tenets for this “new wave.” Let me comment briefly on each.

Susan Foh – Her argument that the “desire” in Genesis 3:16 is the women’s desire to domineer over her husband makes sense to me from the parallel passage in Genesis 4:7 (cf. Claire Smith’s excellent post defending this view). Alsup believes this is an entirely new interpretation that was never before heard of until Susan Foh argued for it in 1975. Even if this were the case—and my quick perusal of the Reformation Commentary on Scripture shows that Johannes Brenz (1499-1570) wrote about “when women aspire to dominate their husbands in running the household” in his commentary on Genesis 3:16—it doesn’t do much to alter the central point; namely, that the blessing of the male-female relationship has been twisted into a burden by sin. Husbands, who can be tyrannical, need to love their wives; and wives, who can chafe at submission, need to respect their husbands (Eph. 5:33). This basic point is hardly dependent on Foh or her almost 40 year old article, which no one but a handful of scholars has heard of or references.

Feminism – In another article Alsup contends that much good has come from feminism. In the plus column she mentions raising awareness and changes attitudes on sex trafficking, female genital mutilation, sexual exploitation, and the subjugation of women in third world countries. She also notes that feminism is the reason women in America can vote. But surely Alsup doesn’t imagine that old school complementarians are against any of this. The argument seems to be about salvaging the word feminism, rather than any serious disagreement over policy.

Complementarity – There’s certainly no shortage of discussion in the older literature about Genesis 2:18 and Genesis 1:27. Both are key texts for understanding the dignity, worth, and roles of men and women. But Alsup’s contention that “It takes two distinct though obviously overlapping genders to reflect the fullness of the image of God” is a departure from complementarian theology. It’s actually the egalitarian view of Genesis 1:27 that Ray Ortlund Jr. argued against (vis a vis Aida Bensancon Spencer) in Chapter 3 of RBMW. Alsup’s view is reminiscent of Karl Barth’s theology of the imago dei, a theology evangelicals rightly rejected because it implied that the God-Man Jesus Christ, a single male, was incapable of fully reflecting the image of God.

So I’m left with my original question. I don’t mean it as a challenge or an insult, but as an honest question: Who are the old wave complementarians we should leave behind? Are we talking about the complementarianism of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood? Are we talking about CBMW? What is new about the new wave other than the rejection of Susan Foh’s article and a dubious understanding of the imago dei in Genesis 1:27? These aren’t rhetorical questions. I’m trying to understand the attraction to a new complementarianism. Are there specific authors or books in mind? Or are we really talking about the abuses of complementarianism that we know of through painful personal experiences?

Some things are new because they’ve never been seen before. Others things are new because they recover old things that have been lost. But this “new wave complementarianism” seems to suggest that it is leaving some of the old stuff behind. Other than the interpretation of Genesis 3:16 (which Alsup has written on thoughtfully and frequently), what ideas, people, or movements are the new folks leaving behind? I’m not trying to be pushy, but it would be helpful to know the specific documents and people from the “old wave” that have missed the boat.

One General Caution

My one specific question leads naturally to a note of general caution. I hope that younger complementarians will not define themselves by the complementarians they’re not. I don’t doubt that complementarianism can be perverted, just as every other theology or practice can be perverted. I’m sure many points of doctrine could use a power wash every now and then, just to make sure we can see what the clean version is supposed to look like. But in a world awash in sexual confusion and deliberate gender ambiguity I wonder if the main thing we need to do is really convince people we’re not that kind of complementarian.

My caution, then, is that we don’t make a new version of complementarianism that has for one of its main objectives appeasing egalitarians. Let’s be winsome. Let’s answer honest questions. But let’s not think that any amount of apologizing or differentiation will win over those who think everything about complementarianism is backwards, oppressive, and mean. I get nervous when our passion seems less about the theology we say we want to celebrate and more about the ways our theology is a stumbling block to others. The impulse to rescue counter-cultural doctrines from their own unpopularity is one of the first steps to losing the doctrine altogether.

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128 thoughts on “New Wave Complementarianism: A Question and a Concern”

  1. Hermonta, why do you assume the burden of proof is on your opponents? Is it really that unreasonable to assume that Paul’s prescription was limited to the Church and is not applicable to civil society? After all, there are Christian egalitarians — a term I presume you would think an oxymoron — who would rail against your assumption that Paul is making a prescription for the whole Church and not addressing a specific, local situation.

    Also, I’m just curious: how far do you take this? Do you believe that all women are to be submissive to all men? Do you believe women will be submissive to men in heaven? Do you think women should not be police officers, judges, or university professors? Do you think the United Kingdom was under judgment from 1979-1990, when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister?

  2. Retha says:

    Hermonta, do you realize God loves YOU? He shows no favoritism and won’t say husbands can keep all their selfish desires while wifes should take on every selfish desire of the husband’s.

    But to answer your question: No, it does not prove that women desire to control.
    A woman who have desires that differ from her husbands do not automatically desire to control her husband, or anyone else. To give an example: The man wants the woman to scrub every wall and floor in the house every day. The woman have other priorities. (For the sake of argument, those priorities could be from herself or from God.)
    Who desires to control another here? Only the man, who wants to tell his wife what to do. In fact, Gen 3:16 certainly speaks of the male desire to dominate. She does not want to control him at all, only her own behavior.
    What does the Bible say of his desire to control? See Mat_20:25-26; Mar_10:42-44; Luk_22:25-26. Should a wife desire only what her husband desire? No, she should not. If a husband desire something unwise – God calls us to use our wisdom. If he desires something exhausting for no reason – God calls us to use our time wisely. If a husband calls to something degrading – God makes us children of the most high, a little lower than the angels. If he treats you as less than that, he is not in accordance with the will of God, and his will to make you less should never change your will to be what God made you. If the husband is selfish, he is giving in to his sinful desires, and we should not help others to sin.
    We should rather obey God than people. For that reason, a woman who “automatically wants to follow her husband” should take care that she still follows God and still uses her gifts, regardless of what her husband wants. That relates to another way of understanding Gen 3:16: Up until the middle ages, the text was always translated “turning” instead of “desire. ” Women turn (away from God and) towards husbands, that gives husbands opportunity to dominate.
    Even this statement of yours: “If a woman will desire only what husband desires, the question is never asked” is technically untrue: If, for example, he desires to sit before the TV while someone else scrubs, and she desires to also sit before the TV while someone else scrubs, she desires what he desires. If she desires to scrub from the morning to the night because he asks it, she does not desire what he desires. And in the investment example, he and she could actually both desire the same thing (a wise investment that gets good interest) but she knows better than him how to get what they both want, and thus will ask the question.
    But the more important point is that a wife should firstly desire to follow Jesus, not the husband. (Acts 5:29) If she only desires to follow her husband, she will give in to his desire for a luxury like a second car while the children are underfed and cannot stay warm. She will care as littleabout them as he does. If, on the other hand, she desires to love her family ( both husband and children) as she should, she will stand up and say what the children need. Not to control the husband, but because with their division of labor (she at home, he earning a salary) he has the money his children needs.
    Could I turn this around to you, Hermonta? Why did you ever think a woman should make the man’s wants her wants? The Bible don’t say it? The Bible want us to become like Jesus, and He never lived for anybody’s selfish trivial desires.

  3. Retha says:

    Hermonta, you seem to believe about voting
    a) A woman should not have authority over a man.
    b) voting is exercising authority over the future of your fellow citizens.
    c) A woman should not vote, as there are men among their fellow citizens.
    I will bet everything I own that the same people who taught you that does not teach:
    a) A Christian should not have authority over another believer (Mat 20:25-26.
    b) voting is exercising authority over the future of your fellow citizens.
    c) A Christian should not vote, as there are other believers among their fellow citizens.
    Hermonta, your teachers are a bunch of self-serving deceivers who want to marginalize women while not setting the same standards for men. If the logic of part 1 holds, the logic of part 2 holds too.

    If men among those who hold to this doctrine vote, they do not really believe authority include voting. The idea of only men voting is dangerous for women: Goverments tend to protect only the interests and safety of those who can vote for them if they do. A world where women have no say will logically become an unsafe world for women.

    You say Paul grounds his command in the created order.
    A temporary or limited-application command can be grounded in a timeless truth. For example: “Appreciate the view, God made the world beatiful. “(God did make the world beautiful. But the command is for the situation of a non-blind person being in a beautiful area of nature.) Or, while there is a huge water-filled hole from a digged-up pipe to the left of the house: “Children are precious, so don’t play that side.”
    (My name, above this post, links to ways that people understand this passage.)
    Hermonta, think and pray and read other Christians long and hard over what you believe. If you choose right, your children have a much better chance to become all God called them to be. If not… well, I encountered women who cannot choose the side of a molested daughter over a molester father, because they can only desire what is good for the man, and they throw their own children under the bus for their husbandolatry.

  4. Dave Boettcher says:

    SELF or OTHERS

    Again, I have not read all the sources mentioned. I have read scripture and have survived almost 33 years in a christian marriage with a very interdependent women, who by 17 was on her own and earned her BS RN. She was in her teens in the 1970’s and 20’s in the 80’s. Yes, for a christian she was bra burner. She has worked full time ever since. She has maintained our fiances and help with the house and kids.

    Theory is nice. Texts are interesting. But, scripture and life is real. Most of what I have read seems to come from a bunch of people who are talking theory and not making a connection to experience or scripture.

    This issue must be put in the frame work within which scripture placed it. I think that is Ephesians 5:22-33, 22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.

    25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing[a] her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.”[b] 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

    Each of us better understand these truths. As a male my concern is treating my wife as Christ does the Church. I should be much less worried how my wife treats me. And, when I do become concerned with her actions it might be best to determine where or how I have failed in my job as a husband.

    I do not have a specific proof text but I believe that it is a biblical truth that we, as Christians, have no rights. The closet text “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.”

    As a Christian, man or woman. what do we give up? A lot if we practice Ephesians 5:22-33.

    One last note. If one is diligently working at the above and praying, God will mold each of us to make us more Christ like. Again, we are back to Ephesians.

    Christian lets apply Scripture. We did not stop fighting, asserting my self above her wrongfully or me acting like a jerk. But Scripture did set the model and goal. We both worked at the marriage with in the frame work of Scripture and so far we have survived.

    Please stop playing semantics or making frog hair distinctions in the meaning of a few words or passages scripture to prove your point. Work out your salvation.

  5. Dave Boettcher says:

    Let me finish up as it was late and I was falling asleep so I hit the send button. The connection between what I said above and the complimentianism discussion is how we should treat each other. It is the example Christ set.

    Christ’s example is given in the context of husband and wife. not all those behaviors explained in Ephesians 5:22-33 are unique to the marriage relationship. They are applicable in many ways to all relationships, especially between men and women. I am not saying that every woman must submit to every man.

    I am saying there is an attitude Christ displayed to all of us that we should display to everyone else. There are rules that we must obey, understanding them seems a problem all children have.

    I suspect that Paul stated these truths between husband and wife, though I know of no biblical support for it, because of the propensity of the males to abuse and dominate due to their strength and size. And, because of that, the wife would naturally object to his headship. Let alone deal with the curse in Gen. 6 of desiring, to kill or adore, that beast.

    We are equally made in the image of God. The roles we play are distinctly and divinely given. There are God created differences between man and women. They are not inferior or superior, stupid or smart, illogical or logical.

    There was a noise right outside the house last night, I did not wake, my wife did. She looked out the window, not seeing anything she woke me to investigate. I jumped, well kind of, out of bed to meet the challenge, once she told me what is was. What made me do that was not my physical ability alone. I am stronger then she but not much more. It was my roll to do that. I have and am best suited for, in emotion, psyche, etc,(believe me not the smartest) to investigate. Even if my wife held our shotgun, I would do my duty.

    If I had said “honey, I am afraid. Give me the gun, you check it out.” Who would have thought that was natural or normal. Even if my wife was a martial artist, no one would expect me to have sent out his wife.

    I am a character actor, husband, father, brother, friend, a man at church, church leader, and maybe a pastor. All rolls are governed by the script, scripture. We need direction given by the Holy spirit, study, prayer, and those specially trained. But, it all must come in the rolls assigned by God.

    There are reason a husband is better suited to to go find what is around the house at night. Maybe, There are reason men are designed to be church leaders that have nothing to do with smarts, logic or being better.

    my suggestion is stop worrying about this curse. Men and women just do not be a curse to others.

    I need you younger people. We need you. Work out these issues as my wife and I have had to do. Argue, fight, debate but do not separate. Work hard and be committed to the Word of God and each other.

    But, in the end, whatever you do, God will prevail.

  6. Hermonta Godwin says:

    Sergius Martin-George,
    I did not place the burden of proof on anyone else. I explicitly laid out my reasoning. If someone disagrees, I would be happy to hear their reasoning and then continue from there. Next, I know that many hold to beliefs opposing me, but I see no reason to be less confident in my belief just because others don’t agree.

    “Also, I’m just curious: how far do you take this? Do you believe that all women are to be submissive to all men?”

    Let me first broaden the question. I think everyone should be submissive to those in authority over them (assuming submission ends win one is told to sin). Such holds for all men and all women. Next, not all submission is the same/equal in depth and breadth.

    Now back to your actual question. I would say no, and I don’t believe my stated position implies such.

    “Do you believe women will be submissive to men in heaven?”

    I have no idea and I don’t think such is relevant to the discussion. (If you disagree, then we can return to this later).

    “Do you think women should not be police officers, judges, or university professors?”

    If the Scripture teaches such directly or by good and necessary consequence, then I have no problem with such a view. Deciding if such is taught, is the question that we are asking. I see no basis for a “Scripture just can’t teach that so why ask” type of position.

    “Do you think the United Kingdom was under judgment from 1979-1990, when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister?”

    I am not sure that I would go that far, but I don’t think she was a very good Prime Minister – http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2013/04/15/3737062.htm

  7. Hermonta Godwin says:

    Retha,

    “Hermonta, do you realize God loves YOU? He shows no favoritism and won’t say husbands can keep all their selfish desires while wifes should take on every selfish desire of the husband’s.”

    Okay…but where have I suggested otherwise?

    “But to answer your question: No, it does not prove that women desire to control.”

    Actually I never said that such proves that women desire to control. It simply means that one cannot say that they are following Calvin and asking such questions. One would have to disagree with Calvin, (which is not the unpardonable sin) and instead hold to some other position. However if such is the case, then one cannot attack Foh’s view for being theologically novel, while being theologically novel, yourself. If you wish to instead attack her views for being in error, then that is perfectly good.

    “A woman who have desires that differ from her husbands do not automatically desire to control her husband, or anyone else. To give an example: The man wants the woman to scrub every wall and floor in the house every day. The woman have other priorities. (For the sake of argument, those priorities could be from herself or from God.)”

    You are correct, having different desires from those in authority does not automatically imply that one is usurperous. In actuality, it is completely consistent with submission, which I take to mean that one defers to the wishes of those in authority, in spite of wanting to do something else.

    Next, I think the example is poor, because such is non existent but even if it was around somewhere, one would find such in the course of a relationship with serious problems/sins and not the course of a normal relationship with a question over a single issue.

    Lastly, if the priorities are from herself when her head has other priorities, then her choosing her own priorities is a paradigm case of lack of submission/usurpation?

    “Who desires to control another here? Only the man, who wants to tell his wife what to do. In fact, Gen 3:16 certainly speaks of the male desire to dominate. She does not want to control him at all, only her own behavior.”

    But that view doesn’t work in the course of a one flesh relationship. She seems to be saying something along the lines of, “I will do what you tell me to do when and how I wish to do it.” That in fact is usurping authority 101.

    Next, you cannot assume that Foh is wrong in the course of this debate. I already laid out why I believe that Foh is correct (or at least better positioned than alternatives), and if someone wishes to attempt to answer that, I would be happy to have that discussion.

    “What does the Bible say of his desire to control? See Mat_20:25-26; Mar_10:42-44; Luk_22:25-26.”

    What exactly are you attempting to prove from these passages? That 1 Tim. 3 is wrong when a qualification of an Elder is a person who rules well his home? The only way to read your passages is a rebuke of bad rule or something along the lines of what men wish to do in Gen 3:16.

    “Should a wife desire only what her husband desire? No, she should not. If a husband desire something unwise – God calls us to use our wisdom. If he desires something exhausting for no reason – God calls us to use our time wisely. If a husband calls to something degrading – God makes us children of the most high, a little lower than the angels. If he treats you as less than that, he is not in accordance with the will of God, and his will to make you less should never change your will to be what God made you. If the husband is selfish, he is giving in to his sinful desires, and we should not help others to sin.”

    Remember Calvin was putting forward a descriptive not a prescriptive position. No one here is saying that a wife should only have identical desires with her husband, the issue is what do we call it when she refuses to submit when sin is not being commanded. That is usurpation of authority.

    “We should rather obey God than people. For that reason, a woman who “automatically wants to follow her husband” should take care that she still follows God and still uses her gifts, regardless of what her husband wants.”

    That would be considered rebellion in any area of life. If a boss told an employee a certain way to do a project, and the employee decided that they knew better and they went another direction, they would be out of a job due to insubordination. You seem to be confused as to what submission entails.

    “That relates to another way of understanding Gen 3:16: Up until the middle ages, the text was always translated “turning” instead of “desire. ” Women turn (away from God and) towards husbands, that gives husbands opportunity to dominate.”

    If the proper understanding of the passage is that women are naturally too submissive to their husbands and not properly submissive to God, then why does the Bible in multiple places tell wives to submit to their husbands?

    “Even this statement of yours: “If a woman will desire only what husband desires, the question is never asked” is technically untrue: If, for example, he desires to sit before the TV while someone else scrubs, and she desires to also sit before the TV while someone else scrubs, she desires what he desires. If she desires to scrub from the morning to the night because he asks it, she does not desire what he desires. And in the investment example, he and she could actually both desire the same thing (a wise investment that gets good interest) but she knows better than him how to get what they both want, and thus will ask the question.”

    My statement was not about my position, it was that one cannot hold to Calvin and still ask that question.

    As far as the investment example goes, if the husband says, “Do whatever you think it correct”, then if she does so, then all is well. But if he says, do X and she does Y because she does not think X is the best option, then she is in rebellion and usurping authority.

    “But the more important point is that a wife should firstly desire to follow Jesus, not the husband. (Acts 5:29)”

    If she is being told to sin, then she must obey God instead of man. If the question is not sin, and she refuses to follow her proper authority, then that is the definition of rebellion.

    “If she only desires to follow her husband, she will give in to his desire for a luxury like a second car while the children are underfed and cannot stay warm. She will care as little about them as he does. If, on the other hand, she desires to love her family ( both husband and children) as she should, she will stand up and say what the children need. Not to control the husband, but because with their division of labor (she at home, he earning a salary) he has the money his children needs.”

    Do you think that husbands are naturally more stupid than their wives? If not, then when does this scenario come to past?

    “Could I turn this around to you, Hermonta? Why did you ever think a woman should make the man’s wants her wants? The Bible don’t say it? The Bible want us to become like Jesus, and He never lived for anybody’s selfish trivial desires.”

    No doubt a wife should attempt to convince her husband when they disagree, just like any one under authority should attempt to do when they believe that their head is doing the less than optimal thing. The question becomes when one is not able to convince your head to change their mind. Do you go off in whatever direction you want or do you submit?

  8. Hermonta Godwin says:

    Retha,

    “Hermonta, you seem to believe about voting
    a) A woman should not have authority over a man.
    b) voting is exercising authority over the future of your fellow citizens.
    c) A woman should not vote, as there are men among their fellow citizens.
    I will bet everything I own that the same people who taught you that does not teach:
    a) A Christian should not have authority over another believer (Mat 20:25-26.
    b) voting is exercising authority over the future of your fellow citizens.
    c) A Christian should not vote, as there are other believers among their fellow citizens.
    Hermonta, your teachers are a bunch of self-serving deceivers who want to marginalize women while not setting the same standards for men. If the logic of part 1 holds, the logic of part 2 holds too.”

    The problem comes with your view of Mat 20:25-26. If your view is correct, Christians could never be judges, police officers, hold elected public office, Elders could not rule over their homes, etc. Is that really where you wish to go?

    “If men among those who hold to this doctrine vote, they do not really believe authority include voting. The idea of only men voting is dangerous for women: Goverments tend to protect only the interests and safety of those who can vote for them if they do. A world where women have no say will logically become an unsafe world for women.”

    First off, the discussion is about what the Bible teaches and not your speculation of what might happen if such was implemented.

    Second, it seems that you argument reduces to: “Male headship in the home is a bad idea”. If such is a proper position to hold, then why should those in head of the home, voting in representation of that home, somehow vote in ways that are not in the interest of that home?

    “You say Paul grounds his command in the created order.
    A temporary or limited-application command can be grounded in a timeless truth. For example: “Appreciate the view, God made the world beatiful. “(God did make the world beautiful. But the command is for the situation of a non-blind person being in a beautiful area of nature.) Or, while there is a huge water-filled hole from a digged-up pipe to the left of the house: “Children are precious, so don’t play that side.””

    Accepting your view for the sake of argument, on what basis do you see the Bible telling us that such is a temporary or limited-application command?

  9. Retha says:

    “The problem comes with your view of Mat 20:25-26. If your view is correct, Christians could never be judges, police officers, hold elected public office, Elders could not rule over their homes, etc. Is that really where you wish to go?”
    You misunderstand my view of Mat 20:25-26, in both your answers to me. The point here is that people can be “judges, police officers, hold elected public office, be Elders” without breaking the “exercising authority” rule.
    If all these things can be done without breaking the “exercising authority” rule, then certainly women can vote without breaking the rule. That is the argument, not oppositon to legal authority.

    Even though the question was not what will happen (and this is not speculation, I can tell you very real stories of what happens in Saudi Arabia, where women do not vote) but what God asks, Christian “love others as yourself” and “show justice” should very much influence our interpretation of scripture. If a passage can be interpreted in two ways, one loving and just and one not, it is likely that the just, loving, way is right.

    I do not understand your question, based on your idea that I argue “male headship is a bad idea.” It seems it suffers from the same problem you aimed at me: “the discussion is about what the Bible teaches and not your speculation of what might happen if such was implemented.” If so, it would be irrelevant whether male representation will vote in the best interest of the home or not. However, I know males representing households will not be in the best interest of my home, as no man live in it. Nor will one man, one vote be in the best interest of a family, as this gives a man with a family one vote like a single man. At least, having him and his wife vote gives them more representation than having one vote.

    “Accepting your view (temporary/ limited commands can be grounded in creation)for the sake of argument, on what basis do you see the Bible telling us that such is a temporary or limited-application command?”
    Firstly, Paul is saying “I do not allow” instead of “God does not allow.” Secondly, the Greek suggest the best tense for it is “I am not currently allowing” Then there is the meaning “a woman” possibly have in Greek (Cheryl Schatz specialize in that topic), and how a certain limited application fits in with countering the beliefs prevalent in the main religion of the era… In short, read the blog pieces I linked to from my name above that comment – and this one -, about how people understand the 1 Timothy 2:11-15 passage.

    (I will answer the submission post later)

  10. Hermonta Godwin says:

    Retha,
    “You misunderstand my view of Mat 20:25-26, in both your answers to me. The point here is that people can be “judges, police officers, hold elected public office, be Elders” without breaking the “exercising authority” rule.
    If all these things can be done without breaking the “exercising authority” rule, then certainly women can vote without breaking the rule. That is the argument, not oppositon to legal authority.”

    Let us go back to your previous post – “a) A Christian should not have authority over another believer (Mat 20:25-26.”

    That is simply an improper understanding of Matt. 20:25-26. It instead says that a Christian should not exercise authority in a certain/bad way. It has nothing to do with Christian judges etc unless they are exercising authority in a bad way (which is not inherent to being a Christian judge etc.) There is no insight to be gained about women exercising these roles from that section of Scripture, one way or the other.

    “Even though the question was not what will happen (and this is not speculation, I can tell you very real stories of what happens in Saudi Arabia, where women do not vote) but what God asks, Christian “love others as yourself” and “show justice” should very much influence our interpretation of scripture. If a passage can be interpreted in two ways, one loving and just and one not, it is likely that the just, loving, way is right.”

    It looks like you are using the fallacy of the complex cause. Saudi Arabia is the way it is for more reasons than women are not allowed to vote. This can easily be demonstrated by looking at the United States. Universal Suffrage does not go all the way back to its founding. Before such changes, the United States was not Saudi Arabia.

    Next, appealing to love and justice does not help your case outside of demonstrating that universal suffrage is more loving and more just than the alternatives. Otherwise, you are just begging the question.

    “I do not understand your question, based on your idea that I argue “male headship is a bad idea.” It seems it suffers from the same problem you aimed at me: “the discussion is about what the Bible teaches and not your speculation of what might happen if such was implemented.” If so, it would be irrelevant whether male representation will vote in the best interest of the home or not. However, I know males representing households will not be in the best interest of my home, as no man live in it. Nor will one man, one vote be in the best interest of a family, as this gives a man with a family one vote like a single man. At least, having him and his wife vote gives them more representation than having one vote.”

    If universal suffrage is against what the Bible teaches, then any practical benefits are moot. Also to be fair, if one wanted to have families to count more than single adults, then the system can be altered to accomplish such.

    ““Accepting your view (temporary/ limited commands can be grounded in creation)for the sake of argument, on what basis do you see the Bible telling us that such is a temporary or limited-application command?”
    Firstly, Paul is saying “I do not allow” instead of “God does not allow.”

    Okay, what you say is true, but I see nothing in your point that leads to the view that the command is only temporary or limited? Paul is saying that he does not allow such because of something that does not change. The only way that I can see your point as being helpful to your position, is if you deny Inerrancy and believe that Paul was somehow wrong in making his statement. If such is the case, then please state such clearly.

    “Secondly, the Greek suggest the best tense for it is “I am not currently allowing”

    Even accepting such for the sake of argument, does not help your position. If you believe Paul is saying, “I do not currently allow women to have authority over a man because Adam was created first and Eve was deceived while Adam was not” that in no way can be turned to make it a temporary or limited statement. This is simply because for Paul to at some point in the future change his position, then his reasons would have to no longer hold. His reasons are timeless so they would never cease to be the case.

    “Then there is the meaning “a woman” possibly have in Greek (Cheryl Schatz specialize in that topic), and how a certain limited application fits in with countering the beliefs prevalent in the main religion of the era…”

    Paul’s explicit reason is “because of the created order”, not because of the prevalence of some other religion.

    If you believe that Paul is only referencing a particular woman and not women in general, then why would he ground the argument in the created order (I do not permit woman A because of the created order?) If he was going after a particular woman while leaving women in general alone, he would have listed what made that woman unique from other women, who would have his blessing to have authority. that is not what he did.

  11. Hermonta, thanks for responding to my questions.

  12. Susanna Krizo says:

    I have a lot to say about this article, but I will limit it to one subject: the comparison between Gen 3:16 and 4:7, which the writer claims to prove that women desire to control men.

    Despite all efforts, it is not possible to create an analogy between the woman and sin, for as Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato explains, when the objects are found to be dissimilar, the analogy is invalid. In chapter 3 God speaks to Eve about the man’s rule, while in chapter 4 God speaks to Cain about his own rule over sin; one is acted upon while the other is the actor. In other words, Cain is warned that the he must resist sin to protect himself, but the woman is warned that the man is going to rule over her when she turns to him.

    The pre-Christian Greek translation of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, (ca 250 B.C.) translated teshuwqah, usually translated “desire” in Genesis 3:16, with apostrophê, which means “to turn,” “to resort, to recourse,” and rhetorically, “when one turns away from all others to one, and addresses him specially.”

    Sin does not turn to Cain for help; sin crouches at his tent door, ready to attack, and it is Cain’s responsibility to control, and master sin. Eve does not crouch at Adam’s tent door ready to devour him, instead she turns to him for help when becoming a mother and caring for an infant, which gives the man an opportunity to rule over her.

    Sin is an enemy, the woman isn’t.

  13. Susanna Krizo has totally nailed the error in Kevin DeYoung’s interpretation of Gen.3:6 and 4:7. Thank you Susanna; I have studied the interpretation of Genesis 3:16 for years, and I have never read such a succinct refutation of the false analogy between 3:16 and 4:17 as what you wrote above.

  14. Hermonta Godwin says:

    Susanna,
    It seems that you get to the conclusion that you desire only by begging the question.

    “Despite all efforts, it is not possible to create an analogy between the woman and sin, for as Rabbi Moshe Chaim Luzzato explains, when the objects are found to be dissimilar, the analogy is invalid. In chapter 3 God speaks to Eve about the man’s rule, while in chapter 4 God speaks to Cain about his own rule over sin; one is acted upon while the other is the actor. In other words, Cain is warned that the he must resist sin to protect himself, but the woman is warned that the man is going to rule over her when she turns to him.”

    First, one has to demonstrate that the items are dissimilar not just assume that they are before one can dismiss an analogy.

    Next, we are not talking about simply an analogy. We are talking about the same wording being used one chapter apart but then the claim is being made that they meaning is significantly different. Now I won’t say that such is impossible, but the heavy burden of proof is on the one making such a claim.

    Next, I take your position on 3:16 to be that women are submissive by nature (and perhaps one could say too submissive). Due to such submissiveness her husband will rule over her.

    The main problem with such a view is that the New Testament over and over again commands wives to be submissive to their husband (and correspondingly for husbands to love their wives and not be harsh with them). Since such is the case, how can Gen 3:16 be interpreted in such a fashion, which it makes such New Testament commands akin to “When hungry eat food”. Are you also willing to read the commands to husbands as being redundant because men by nature are loving of their wives and not harsh towards them?

    “Sin is an enemy, the woman isn’t.”

    I think here that you may be misunderstanding that a person can act in an evil and disordered fashion without consciously planning to do so.

    For example, the claim is not that women (as a rule – there are super evil women as well as super evil men) plot against their husbands to usurp their authority etc. In the same way, men do not consciously plan and plot to rule with harshness and lacking love towards their wives. That such is the case, does not overrule that there is a natural fallen tendency/trend etc to do just these things.

    An explicitly Biblical example is Matthew 16:22-23 which shows the sequence where Peter is attempting to do the right thing but he was in fact aiding Satan by his claims/actions.

  15. Hermonta Godwin, Eve’s desire in 3:16 and Sin’s desire in 4:7 *are* dissimilar. It is wrong, and very slanderous to women, to draw a parallel between them. And as you probably know, this parallel was only proposed in 1980s by Susan Foh; no other commentator had ever proposed it, and for the conservative evangelical world to have adopted it so hungrily since the 1980s says a lot about the state of the church, the hegemony of men, and the attitude towards women in many complementarian churches, IMO.

    In 3:16, Eve is told that she will desire her husband and her husband will rule over her. The word ‘desire’ means simply desire, or else it might mean ‘turning’ as Susannah Krizo pointed out. But to claim that it is a wrongful desire or a negative tendency on the woman’s part is to go beyond the text of 3:16.

    Yes, the overall context is the Fall and God’s pronouncement of its sad consequences for humanity, but that does not mean we have to locate the negative aspect in the woman’s desire. The negative aspect can be found in God’s double-barrelled announcement in 16(b): “your desire shall be to your husband and he shall rule over you” can very easily be understood as woman desiring her husband’s care and protection and her husband ruling her harshly or dominating over her. This rule by the husband would not be so painful to the woman if she did not so strongly feel the need for his care and protection. When we need something greatly and it is withheld from us, the pain is greater than if our need were not so intense. It might even be that Eve felt this need more deeply after the Fall than she did before, when all was sweetness and light between her and Adam and God. (But I’m not saying we can *certainly* infer that from Genesis 1-3, so please don’t make out that I’m turning a speculation into a definite assertion.)

    It is true that a person can act in an evil and disordered fashion without consciously planning to do so. But I think the question of intentionality in unrighteousness is not all that relevant to our debate here. Some people (abusers) are very intentional in the way they plot and scheme to be cruel to their spouses. Others do bad things without conscious intentionality. And there are degrees along this spectrum of intentionality. But that proves nothing in this debate. We are talking about whether or not it is fair to see an analogy between Eve and Satan/Sin.

    The NT instructions to women to submit to their husbands, and the instructions to men to love their wives rather than be harsh towards them and live with them in an understanding manner, are most probably there to remind each sex to be on guard against tendencies that each sex has to selfishness. But if there is a tie-in back to Genesis 3:16, surely the tie-in is more to do with the man’s tendency to rule over his wife than the wife’s tendency to desire her husband?

    Genesis 3:16 does not say the woman will desire her husband in a negative way; it does not say she will desire to control her husband rather than submit to him. It simply mentions that she will desire him. . . and the context must tell us what kind of desire that might be. And if the passage is not all that specific about the quality of the woman’s desire, surely we should be very cautious about attributing qualities to it that we cannot be sure of from the text?

    To import the meaning of desire backwards from Genesis 4;7 to 3:16 is to posit that Adam and Eve knew what would happen between Cain and God, and would infer the contextual meaning of desire in 4:7 when they heard God’s statement in 3:16. That is patently ridiculous.

    As for the argument that we, reading our Bibles millennia later, should see a parallel between Eve’s desire and Satan’s desire simply because they are recorded one chapter apart by (presumably) the same writer, doesn’t that make us more important as hearers than Adam and Eve as hearers listening to God’s grave pronouncement in the garden? To me, that seems rather superior of us, and rather solipsistic. Whatever our interpretation of 3:16, it must be in harmony with how Eve and Adam would have heard and interpreted God’s words on that very day. They had no idea about Cain and Abel, nor of God’s word’s to Cain that were still to come. Neither did they know that Paul would be exhorting believing wives to submit and believing husbands to love. They could not back-read any interpretations.

    It’s odd, is it not, that no-one has ever proposed that when God said to Cain: “It’s [sin's] desire is for you, and you must rule over it” God was intending Cain to interpret this as “Listen here Cain! Sin’s desire is for you in the same way as your mother desires your father; and you must rule over sin the way your father rules over your mother.” If anyone dared propose such a bold-faced assertion of the so-called likeness between 3:16 and 4:7, they would raise lots of eyebrows, would they not?

    While there are superficial similarities in the wording of 3:16 and 4:7, there are deeper and much more significant ethical differences between the two passages. Sin’s desire for Cain is indisputably evil. Eve’s desire for her husband is not indisputably evil; there is nothing in the passage that impels us to see it as evil, or even mildly wrong. God tells Cain he must rule over sin because sin’s desire is wicked. God does not tell Adam he must rule over his wife, and he certainly does not tell Adam that Eve’s desire is wicked. He is addressing Eve in 316, he isn’t instructing or addressing Adam. And though Adam is no doublt listening, he is still not being told how he ought to behave. It’s more likely that, as a bystander, he is hearing that from now on he is likely to behave insensitively (at the very least) to his wife, but he is certainly not being told that he MUST behave that way. And Adam is not being told that he must distrust or resist the desire his wife has towards him. The pronouncement in 3:16 is a grave announcement of one of the blights of the Fall, not an exhortation about how people *should* behave from now on in order to resist those blights.

    So the parallel between 3:16 and 4:7 breaks down at multiple points.

  16. beth says:

    I know this will sound more than a little elementary to most of you on this board. I am not academically gifted to say the least and not only will not sound scholarly but will probably sound kind of dumb. I can’t quote from books written hundreds of years ago because I don’t read them, I haven’t read strongs concordance front to back, although I do occasionally use one. These are just my thoughts so please don’t attack my lack of academia.

    1. have we never heard of homonyms? You know two words that sound the same but mean something completely different? Is it possible that the wording and phrasing should be interpreted by the chapter that it is written in not 2 or 3 chapters before and/or after?

    2. On a conflicting note, to me the Word should be interpreted in it’s entirety not scripture by scripture or verse by verse. The verse thing was only put in AFTER the Word was written and was then being translated. If you take the Word as a whole, front to back, what is the picture of God for women? or men? Probably a bit different than when cherry picking verses occurs.

    3. MOST of what and who scripture deals with is not so much with the man/woman issue and the husband/ wife issue, it deals with our individual hearts before God. We put so much emphasis on ONE, count it ONE, aspect of the life that God carves out for us that we often lose sight of the bigger picture. God says a whole lot more about my behavior as a created being than He does about my being a wife or a woman.

    4. There was something about the whole wife giving up her desires somewhere in all of this. WHY? I should move on no desire that my selfish, human, sinful, flawed husband doesn’t agree with? Because really he’s the expert on what God wants and desires for me?

    Don’t get me wrong I adore my husband and he adores me. We have been married for 26 years and I support his leadership in the home. However I am no less a created being of the Lord. I am supposedly equal, at least until I get married?

    How does that jive with God’s Word? I am created in His image, by Him, for Him until I get married and I am handed over to man to be used and abused ( or not if you have a great husband )and controlled? Then I become the star trek slave woman who’s desires are melded to the man she is with? No where does it say that I have all these God given desires and passions to be used for God UP UNTIL I get married, then a switch gets flipped and if my husband doesn’t deem those things necessary then God no longer gets that glory.

    I make cards, I love making cards and I am good at it. I make them to donate to the church, I make invites for friends weddings, I make them to give away to make others happy. I have blessed MANY people with the gift of a hand made card that brought Glory to God. But by your meaning if my husband said I can’t make cards I just have to give that up. God gave me skills and giftings and He wants me to use them…and I intend to with our without my husband “permission” . So what is more important to God is that my husband rule is obeyed rather than His glory revealed?

    So basically what the comp version says is that I was made a puppet to be handed over and manipulated by man for his pleasure? That version of things does not line up with the entirety of God’s Word.

    I do believe that men and women are different and we have different roles, different skills, different ….. pretty much everything. But as far as our standing in God’s eyes there are no differences. Maybe we should stop trying to define everything and everyone with our finite little minds and start trying to find the heart of God.

    Here we are a bunch of wannabe theologians trying to define God, the creator of the universe BTW, so that we can better control our lives and the lives of others. Sounds pretty dumb to me.

    5. my last and final thoughts. All the theologians from 50,000 years b.c. or a.d or whatever, they were still all just men. None of them wrote the inspired Word of God. You people quote these men as if they were Moses and what they wrote was written in stone. They were just like you and me, just trying to figure out their place in the world the best that they could

  17. Hermonta Godwin says:

    Barbara,
    Here are a few links to earlier in this long thread of comments where some of your comments have already been addressed

    My first comments on Gen. 3:16
    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2013/05/03/new-wave-complementarianism-a-question-and-a-concern/comment-page-2/?comments#comment-36729
    Hannah’s response:

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2013/05/03/new-wave-complementarianism-a-question-and-a-concern/comment-page-2/?comments#comment-36740
    My counter-response:

    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2013/05/03/new-wave-complementarianism-a-question-and-a-concern/comment-page-2/?comments#comment-36743
    —-
    “Hermonta Godwin, Eve’s desire in 3:16 and Sin’s desire in 4:7 *are* dissimilar. It is wrong, and very slanderous to women, to draw a parallel between them.”

    There is nothing slanderous about interpreting Eve’s desire in a similar fashion to sin’s desire in 4:7. Such comments makes even less sense given the number of folks who are willing to interpret man’s rule over his wife in a negative fashion (I have no problem with such an interpretation by the way).

    “And as you probably know, this parallel was only proposed in 1980s by Susan Foh; no other commentator had ever proposed it, and for the conservative evangelical world to have adopted it so hungrily since the 1980s says a lot about the state of the church, the hegemony of men, and the attitude towards women in many complementarian churches, IMO.”

    Her interpretation is not against all previous interpretations, it simply goes further. And when we turn to other passages, one will find similar views defended from other passages. So the view that the Bible was turned on its head in order to go after feminism, is unwarranted.

    “In 3:16, Eve is told that she will desire her husband and her husband will rule over her. The word ‘desire’ means simply desire, or else it might mean ‘turning’ as Susannah Krizo pointed out. But to claim that it is a wrongful desire or a negative tendency on the woman’s part is to go beyond the text of 3:16.”

    As I pointed out to Hannah earlier, your claim of a neutral desire would make sense if the passage was pre-fall, but in a post fall world, all the natural desires of men and women are at the very least tainted with sin and disordered. That is why we have to fight to re-order our desires and affections and not just expect that what we naturally want to do is the correct and proper action.

    Given that men and women are both fallen why would one interpret man’s ruling to be disordered but women’s desires to be perfectly neutral/good?

    “Yes, the overall context is the Fall and God’s pronouncement of its sad consequences for humanity, but that does not mean we have to locate the negative aspect in the woman’s desire. The negative aspect can be found in God’s double-barrelled announcement in 16(b): “your desire shall be to your husband and he shall rule over you” can very easily be understood as woman desiring her husband’s care and protection and her husband ruling her harshly or dominating over her. This rule by the husband would not be so painful to the woman if she did not so strongly feel the need for his care and protection. When we need something greatly and it is withheld from us, the pain is greater than if our need were not so intense. It might even be that Eve felt this need more deeply after the Fall than she did before, when all was sweetness and light between her and Adam and God. (But I’m not saying we can *certainly* infer that from Genesis 1-3, so please don’t make out that I’m turning a speculation into a definite assertion.)”

    The problem with such an interpretation is again all the passages in the NT where women are told that they are to submit/obey their husbands. It is such an issue that Paul tells the older women in the passage Titus 2, to teach the younger women to be obedient to their husbands. If your interpretation is accurate, then such just makes no sense.

    “It is true that a person can act in an evil and disordered fashion without consciously planning to do so. But I think the question of intentionality in unrighteousness is not all that relevant to our debate here. Some people (abusers) are very intentional in the way they plot and scheme to be cruel to their spouses. Others do bad things without conscious intentionality. And there are degrees along this spectrum of intentionality. But that proves nothing in this debate. We are talking about whether or not it is fair to see an analogy between Eve and Satan/Sin.”

    The reason that I put forward what I did here is that many recoil at the idea that women plot against their husbands to take authority from them. I think that is a fair recoil, and therefore I stressed that one can do evil/act in a disordered fashion even when one does not consciously wish to do so. Given such, there is no offhand reason to be offended by the analogy unless you somehow just simply wish to assert that it is not true. There is no Biblical reason to be offended by the analogy.

    “The NT instructions to women to submit to their husbands, and the instructions to men to love their wives rather than be harsh towards them and live with them in an understanding manner, are most probably there to remind each sex to be on guard against tendencies that each sex has to selfishness. But if there is a tie-in back to Genesis 3:16, surely the tie-in is more to do with the man’s tendency to rule over his wife than the wife’s tendency to desire her husband?”

    Why should the tie in simply be for men and not also for women? Again, I see no Biblical justification that “women just dont do/struggle with that”

    “Genesis 3:16 does not say the woman will desire her husband in a negative way; it does not say she will desire to control her husband rather than submit to him. It simply mentions that she will desire him. . . and the context must tell us what kind of desire that might be. And if the passage is not all that specific about the quality of the woman’s desire, surely we should be very cautious about attributing qualities to it that we cannot be sure of from the text?”

    Again in a post fall world, on what basis, does one attribute neutrality to the desires by men or women? The context is a fallen world and that is simply enough to attribute sinfulness to such desires/motives.

    “To import the meaning of desire backwards from Genesis 4;7 to 3:16 is to posit that Adam and Eve knew what would happen between Cain and God, and would infer the contextual meaning of desire in 4:7 when they heard God’s statement in 3:16. That is patently ridiculous.”

    What? Are you forgetting that the stories that we have were written by Moses, thousands of years after the fact. He wrote it the way he did for those who would read it, not for Adam and Eve to understand it.

    Next, the whole curse scenario would have been hard for Adam and Eve to understand completely. First, Eve had never been pregnant, so what does extra pain mean? Adam had never ruled over Eve in a sinful fashion, so what does the end of vs. 16 mean?

    “As for the argument that we, reading our Bibles millennia later, should see a parallel between Eve’s desire and Satan’s desire simply because they are recorded one chapter apart by (presumably) the same writer, doesn’t that make us more important as hearers than Adam and Eve as hearers listening to God’s grave pronouncement in the garden? To me, that seems rather superior of us, and rather solipsistic. Whatever our interpretation of 3:16, it must be in harmony with how Eve and Adam would have heard and interpreted God’s words on that very day. They had no idea about Cain and Abel, nor of God’s word’s to Cain that were still to come. Neither did they know that Paul would be exhorting believing wives to submit and believing husbands to love. They could not back-read any interpretations.”

    I believe that I dealt with this properly above. If you disagree, then we can go further into this.

    “It’s odd, is it not, that no-one has ever proposed that when God said to Cain: “It’s [sin's] desire is for you, and you must rule over it” God was intending Cain to interpret this as “Listen here Cain! Sin’s desire is for you in the same way as your mother desires your father; and you must rule over sin the way your father rules over your mother.” If anyone dared propose such a bold-faced assertion of the so-called likeness between 3:16 and 4:7, they would raise lots of eyebrows, would they not?”

    I don’t have a problem with such understanding, however one would normally not do the interpretation in that fashion, because we have a much clearer view into how sin is the great enemy throughout the Bible and how we must fight against it. Such is easily seen to be true even if one grew up in an environment with no one of the other sex around.

    “While there are superficial similarities in the wording of 3:16 and 4:7, there are deeper and much more significant ethical differences between the two passages. Sin’s desire for Cain is indisputably evil. Eve’s desire for her husband is not indisputably evil; there is nothing in the passage that impels us to see it as evil, or even mildly wrong. God tells Cain he must rule over sin because sin’s desire is wicked. God does not tell Adam he must rule over his wife, and he certainly does not tell Adam that Eve’s desire is wicked. He is addressing Eve in 316, he isn’t instructing or addressing Adam. And though Adam is no doublt listening, he is still not being told how he ought to behave. It’s more likely that, as a bystander, he is hearing that from now on he is likely to behave insensitively (at the very least) to his wife, but he is certainly not being told that he MUST behave that way. And Adam is not being told that he must distrust or resist the desire his wife has towards him. The pronouncement in 3:16 is a grave announcement of one of the blights of the Fall, not an exhortation about how people *should* behave from now on in order to resist those blights.”

    Genesis 3:16 is definitely not telling anyone how they should behave because both sides are disordered. It is telling us how it will naturally happen. Both men and women have to fight against their natural unsanctified urges and desires in order to live holy and proper lives. In light of this interpretation of the passage, the passages later on where women are told to obey and men are told to love etc make perfect sense.

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Kevin DeYoung


Kevin DeYoung is senior pastor of University Reformed Church (RCA) in East Lansing, Michigan, near Michigan State University. He and his wife Trisha have six young children. You can follow him on Twitter.

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