On ”Lording” Over Women: Does Genesis 3:16 Override John 3:16? And What of The Great Commission?

Phyllis Beveridge Nissila

THE TRAGEDY

I am prompted to post this commentary today because of what has been exposed about the teachings promulgated by those involved in a neo-patriarchal belief system wherein men are presumed to be “kings, priests, and prophets” in the home and women are believed subservient in all matters to their fathers’ and husbands’ “lordship.” [1]

For daughters and wives in this system, many extra– and non-biblical restrictions on their lives apply, including restrictions on when, where, how, why, and to whom they can preach and teach the Gospel which was Jesus’ parting assignment to all believers (Matthew 28:16-20).

The exposure of this belief system, and exposure is needed, has been aided by the recent sexual molestation/incest scandal of a very large (former) TLC “reality show” family that follows the teachings of at least one of the leaders in this movement: Bill Gothard.

However, it is not my intention here to dwell on the family, the scandal, or Gothard. The family, particularly the victims, need our prayers while the law and social services handle the fallout. Gothard is in God’s hands.

My focus is the damage that restricting, even forbidding, in certain circumstances, the Gospel preaching and teaching ministries of one half of the Body of Christ, women, can do to Jesus’ mandate, noted above, aka the Great Commission.

On that, the following.

THE RATIONALE?

Whenever I hear leadership in that movement chastising women for attempting to teach or preach to men—and boys of various ages (age depends on the local group)—thus, “usurping the male role,” as they believe—I wonder if they have ever thoughtfully considered the context of Genesis 3:16, a verse often cited as the ultimate proof of this kind of (spiritual) male privilege and female subordination:

“I will make your pains in childbearing very severe;
with painful labor you will give birth to children.
Your desire will be for your husband,
    and he will rule
(mashal: have dominion, gain control…) over you.” [2] (Emphasis mine.)

I wonder if those teaching that “lordship” is a husband’s right because of Eve’s sin (as I have so often heard from that camp) realize such control wasn’t Adam’s commission but rather, in the context, one of Eve’s curses, while Adam had his own curses to deal with (see verse 17)? In short, one could say it was a warning to Eve, even as God warned Adam of certain consequences of his own sin.

In that Bible scene, often used to support the neo-patriarchal mindset, what we actually view is Paradise lost, gates closed, sinners confronted—curses revealed. (Although God had a plan of redemption via Jesus—for both men and women—already in motion.)

THE REALITY

This biblical tableau was not, you might also put it, a session of premarital counseling on “How to Live Happily Ever After.”

It was, rather, “Show Time for Sin.”

In fact, the couple had already experienced what could have been “happily ever after” before they both willfully disobeyed God—no matter who or what each of them tried to blame.

Prior to making bad choices, they had both walked and talked with God in their innocence in the cool of the evening sharing equally in His presence, wisdom, and blessings, prototypes of God’s will for us all along as echoed in Micah 6:8: “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

They worked side by side, Eve a suitable (ezer [3]) helper for Adam in a new world bustling with many species; he, suitable for her. Both created by God for God, in His image, and called “good,” as was all His creation.

They were physically fit for each other, spiritually suitable for their Creator.

And their “lord” was not one or the other, but THE Lord.

A perfect union and Union.

It was afterwards that things changed. Adam and Eve would live out their consequences, aka curses, individually—and together.

Fortunately, God had that redemption plan already in play. Fast forward from Paradise lost to Golgotha where Jesus would not only make things right according to God’s plan of just retribution as the ezer sacrifice, you might say, He would also enable men and women to make things right between themselves.

THE REDEEMED

How?

Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole” (Galatians 3:13).

Put another way, ”For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). No restrictions noted.

Because of Jesus, we rise from The Fall—and the curses—because He rose on that tree, as it were, and later, from the grave.

Because of Jesus and our choice to put our faith and trust in Him—not in mankind’s deeds and dogmas—we are redeemed from our debt, curses are lifted, the Union of God and mankind is restored while restored unions are also made possible.

Why?

For personal blessing and to bless the world with the Gospel by word and deed sans restrictions imposed “by the flesh”.

Adam and Eve walked humbly with God before the Fall; men and women can again walk humbly with God after the Fall by submitting to the headship of One Lord, Jesus, and enabled by the Holy Spirit (Who “gifts severally” as HE wills–1 Corinthians 12:11) to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth before the Lord’s return.

And, many believe, that return is “more imminent,” if you will, than ever.

THE GRACE AND THE CALL

So then should we not ALL be about Jesus’ Commission instead of fussing over who preaches or teaches or takes the spiritual “lead” when, where, how, why and to whom by virtue of gender?

But perhaps more importantly:

Will curses be counted as mandates and grace be denied? In other words, is she who was redeemed by Christ still cursed? [5].

I think Paul clarified the latter question, here: “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:27-29).

And Jesus satisfied the former question, there—that day, on the cross, at the apex of time, one sacrifice fit for all where He died not just for one daughter, Eve, but for all; not just for one son, Adam, but for all…

Brothers in Christ: discern.

Sisters in Christ: minister in the freedom that is yours in Christ Jesus and in Him alone.

Meanwhile, for my contribution to the Commission today, may I encourage all members of the Body of Christ to be about our Father’s business…

today…

now…

as never before, continually seeking the Lord as to when, where, how, why and to whom as He directs you, working alongside other members of the Body of Christ as He so leads.

***

[1] For information on this belief system, here are some suggested readings. By listing them here, this is not to say I agree with everything written by these authors or in the reference sites. But for the uninitiated, there is much to familiarize you with the major themes, topics, and recent news related to the movement which I call neo-patriarchalism, as a new and more restrictive brand of the classic teachings has surfaced since the 1970s in the United States under the loose “headship” of Bill Gothard-styled adherents that include the so-called “Quiverfull” teachers and many concepts promoted by the “Biblical Manhood/Biblical Womanhood” movement. Let the reader discern.

http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/search/search.php?zoom_sort=0&zoom_query=bill+gothard&zoom_per_page=10&zoom_and=0

http://www.solasisters.com/2014/04/bill-gothard-legalism.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quiverfull (many neo-patriarchalist families are in practice, if not by self-definition, of the “Quiverfull” group).

https://adaughterofthereformation.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/whats-wrong-with-biblical-patriarchy/

http://cryingoutforjustice.com/2014/03/17/eternal-patriarchy-the-council-on-biblical-manhood-womanhood-says-you-bet/

http://undermuchgrace.blogspot.com/2014/03/cbmws-problematic-doctrine-of-god.html

[2] Although I have heard several such preachers suggest that if a man is not available to, say, go on a mission field or, say, if he is an unbeliever in the home, a woman might preach, teach, or lead “by default,” to which I would respond: By default? Where did Jesus teach that?

[3] Ezer also appears elsewhere. See http://www.biblestudytools.com/lexicons/hebrew/nas/ezer-2.html

[4] Another side note: I sometimes wonder if the “headship” teaching is based on fear. I wonder if some men are fearful of in any way submitting to women when it comes to listening to them preach or teach the Gospel—though the same men could easily study, as did the Bereans, to verify the preaching/teaching? I wonder if these men are fearful of how they might be tempted away from the Lord by a woman’s preaching or teaching because Adam was influenced by Eve, despite the power of the Holy Spirit to lead and guide each one of us to truth in all matters no matter who is presenting the instruction? For them, here is some encouragement: “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” 2 Timothy 1:7.)

[5] And, if you think about it, should men forswear any and all machinery that would ease their burdens tending the soil, as it were, which was their primary curse and, come to think of it, shouldn’t they stay out in the fields? And should women refuse all pain medications in the delivery room even during C-sections? Such teaching does beg these questions and more.

[6] Here are just a few suggested sites to help those who have been spiritually abused by extra- and non-biblical teachings that restrict the activities, and demand the subservience, of some of their members:

http://www.churchleaders.com/pastors/pastor-articles/155481-10-ways-to-spot-spiritual-abuse.html

http://www.spiritualabuse.com/?page_id=6

http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/32305-spiritual-abuse-christian-cults-and-controlling-ministries

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2 Responses to On ”Lording” Over Women: Does Genesis 3:16 Override John 3:16? And What of The Great Commission?

  1. hoot1926 says:

    Great article. I shared this with a small group on fb. The point you made about the woman’s desire towards her husband and he would rule over her, being her curse was excellent and on point. Certainly never heard this from the pulpits. Thank you

    Like

    • pnissila says:

      Thanks, Mike. I have never heard it from there, either. But why would men involved in such teachings want to study the curses verses in any other way when a simple reading seems to build a mighty case for subduing women?

      And then if you add that women are not to interpret Scriptures but to learn them from men, you have cinched the deal.

      And here’s more, though it might have to be another blog post. When I have scoured the commentaries on the “desire” term in that verse as well, the assumption is that use of “desire” is usually referenced as the same “desire” used in the account of Cain:
      “6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? 7 If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it” (Gen. 4:6-7).

      The thinking extends this metaphor to women, as in “women crouching at the door to have (overpower, conquer, or, as one preacher put it, ‘wear the pants in the relationship’).” Sadly, the lesson of Abel is missing in that entire analysis, not to mention grace. Were I to encourage such thinkers, I would ask this: if you really do think you are completely at the mercy of women who are likened to “sin and temptation,” please note that it IS possible to overcome temptation…we are not slaves to sin, or we do not have to be.

      But this also begs the concern over the utter rudeness and lack of respect toward women who are then considered evil just as temptation and sin are evil!

      But the term for “desire” used there, teshuqah (Strong’s, 2352), meaning “the desire of a man for a women, a woman for a man, and a beast to devour” (choice “c” is likely why it was used in the story of Cain) is otherwise used in the first two senses in Song of Solomon and at least one lexicon, the Brown-Driver-Briggs ascribes the “desire of a woman for a man” to this term used specifically in Genesis 3.

      Th next question to answer (which would be pretty much hard for men to comprehend, I think) is, “Why, then, is Eve’s ‘desire’ in this sense also included in with curses?” I have often pondered this, too. I can only say, from the perspective of a woman, that even though there might be much pain associated with such a desire for a man (in childbirth, for example), this feeling is a strong one. Maybe that’s why it is harder for women to leave abusive men? I don’t know. Somebody smarter than me will have to tackle that. However, that’s the scene and those are the words and there are the contexts of those words.

      But to the bigger picture: how we interpret them. Our view of any of the Scripture verses MUST be connected to the larger picture of redemption where Jesus Christ is the answer and what He did on the cross for all of us, men and women alike, was the “finished” work, otherwise the curses remain. Otherwise He was just another fallible prophet or teacher.

      And there are always those who will use curses to rule over others (or even the mere guilt associated with the curses), especially if they can convince the “others” that they are not even able to perceive spiritual truths. I fear this is what may be happening in the new patriarchal cult.

      As a side note: I was researching a completely different topic yesterday and came across one commentary by a “preacher” who insisted that, and I am not making this up: “women preach only heresy.”

      “Whoa, Bud,” I thought. “You better tell Jesus to rewind history then, and choose somebody else to preach the very first and single most powerful sermon ever preached: “He is risen!”

      Like

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