What Christ and Creation Reveal About Spiritual Leadership

God intended for males to be spiritual leaders in both the church and in their respective families. Wives are told to submit to their own husband’s authority in the home (Ephesians 5:22-24); women are told to submit to male leadership in the church. They do the latter by not taking positions of teaching or authority over men in religious gatherings (1 Timothy 2:12).

This is an incredibly hard teaching in our culture because our culture sees submission as an act of inequality. Women who are tempted to view submission this way would do well to reflect on the comparison that Paul makes when he says, “I want you to know that the head of every man is Christ, the head of woman is man, and the head of Christ is God” (1 Corinthians 11:3). In the Divine family, Jesus submits to His Father as Head. Does that make Him unequal to God? If not, how can women be seen as being unequal for submitting to male leadership in the home and in the church?

When Paul presents the case for female submission, he doesn’t tie his arguments primarily to culture but rather to creation (1 Corinthians 11:8-9; 1 Timothy 2:12-14). In creation, we see an established order: 1) God was (and is) Creator and the spiritual Head of creation; 2) Man, created in God’s image, was tasked with leadership over creation (Genesis 1:26) and guardianship over the garden (Genesis 2:15 – “keep” is the same word translated “guard” in Genesis 3:24); 3) Woman, also created in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), was placed in the garden as a helper to man (Genesis 2:18); 4) the serpent, like all the beasts, was subject to mankind’s authority, both male and female (Genesis 1:26-27).

When sin entered into the picture, God’s order was totally upended. The serpent, who was supposed to be beneath mankind, challenged God’s authority by challenging His Word (Genesis 3:1-5). The woman set aside God as her authority and allowed Satan to take His place by accepting his word over God’s and by not consulting her husband. Her husband, who was with her while all of this was happening (Genesis 3:6) not only submitted himself to Satan but to his wife, whose voice he “heeded,” or listened to obediently (Genesis 3:17). Through all of this, God was effectively dethroned in humanity’s heart and placed at the level of beasts, where Satan should have been. The order of creation was totally upended.

All of the pain, suffering, and death in this world can be traced to the decisions that Adam and Eve made that day (Genesis 3:14-19). Before we set aside God’s will for male leadership, let’s try to reflect upon both Christ and creation.
-Patrick Swayne  
patrick@tftw.org

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