In the previous post of this series, we looked at Luke 10:38-42 and the reality of the restoration of woman to God. We can now evaluate (or re-evaluate) submission and headship derived from Paul and his letters.
The Created Order. Man is not completely man without the creation of and the initiated relationship with woman (Gen. 2:18-24). Though he was man prior to the woman’s creation, it was not until her creation that he was able to know that he was man—man in relationship with woman and, by experience of this relationship, in relationship with God. The same holds true for woman—without the creation of and received relationship with man, woman is not woman. It takes a Thou to emphasize the
Submission. The emphasis on submission within the NT (1 Cor. 14:34; Col. 3:18; Eph. 5:21, 24; 1 Tim. 2:11; Tit. 2:5; 1 Pet. 3:1) is not “…to be conceived on the analogy of the relationship between subject and prince, subordinate and superior, or chattel and owner…” (Barth III/iv 172). In fact, “In [Eph. 5:22] there is no absolute decree enjoining women always to take, or to be bound to, an inferior place. On the contrary, the call to [submission] is qualified…by the overarching exhortation which calls for mutual [submission]…” (Marcus Barth 621). A woman submits not because of man’s authority, but because of Christ’s authority; both submit to this same authority. “It is not saying too much to comment that in so far as man in his sphere is obedient to the direction of the same Lord of the same [authority] he ipso facto
subordinates himself to woman” (Barth, III/iv 172). As both submit to Christ’s authority, both man and woman submit to each other—Love flows into love flows into love. A woman so overwhelmed by the Christ inspired love of a man will love in response. Much like the woman in the Song of Solomon “…awaits her lover’s coming and the ever-new experience of his love with fear and trembling1” (Marcus Barth 649-50)2.
Headship (1 Cor. 11:2-16)3. Commonly, the word translated as “head”, “headship”, or “male headship” is defined as “authority”—and, in some circles, defined as “source”. However, there is a third way to look at the term “head” (and its related terms). Head contains the notion of “that which is glorified”. When looking at the relationships Paul uses in verse 34—Christ the head of man, man the head of woman, God the head of Christ—one may notice that one part of the coupling is the person/being that is glorified and that the other part is the agent by which the glorification occurs (i.e. woman glorifies man, man is glorified by woman). This glorification is not the realization of a selfish desire for glorification by the one in detriment to the other. Rather, there is mutual reciprocity within the relationships (Thiselton 804). As one is glorified so is the other part (Thiselton 804). In other words, to take the example of Christ as the head of man—Christ is not glorified out of selfish motive, but to the contrary, his glorification is inseparable from his own sacrifice. In the same way, the other relationships enumerated in this verse are inextricably linked to a sacrifice made on the part of the party being glorified.
In Ancient literature, head was often applied to the most honored or prominent part (Keener 92; also, Barth III/iv 173-4). One could even use the terms: preeminent, foremost, and synecdoche (representative) for a whole for the translation of head, “The public face is linked with responsibility and representation in the public domain, since head is both the part of a person which is most conspicuous and that by which they are most readily distinguished or recognized. These aspects feature more frequently and prominently in first-century Greek texts than either the notions of ruler or source… (821, emphasis Thiselton’s). Each of the secondary (not inferior) parts of the relationships glorify their corresponding primary parts “by which they [the secondary aspects] are most readily distinguished or recognized” (Thiselton804). Knowing Jesus, we know God; knowing woman, we know man; knowing redeemed man we know Jesus. If head is translated in this way, there is reciprocity and mutuality between the two parts of the relationships (including man and woman), rather than subjection as manifested in the curse. In this passage, Paul draws his audience back to the Garden of Gen. 2 and proclaims: As it was then, so it is now…again.
She watched as he approached her from across the room. When he neared, he extended his hand to her. She stood still and didn’t respond. He smiled and asked, “Will you?” She looked inquisitively at him and, slowly, put her hand in his. He gently wrapped his fingers around hers and pulled her toward him. The music played in the background; they started to move. Slowly. She felt awkward at first pulled up against him participating in a motion, nearly unfamiliar to her; he seemed to know what to do and guided them both. She followed and eventually picked up the beat and the rhythm, familiarity of this interaction returned to her mind and heart. She had done this before. She raised her head from starring at her feet to look into his eyes. Their glance interlocked and they began to move as one…as if they were truly one. She smiled and let her head dip back and laughed as he twirled her. It had been years, but they were once again dancing.