I could start in the beginning of Genesis with “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” But that’s not really the beginning that I’m talking about. As much I just want to move on past it – I’ve just remembered that it’s part of the story all the same. So I guess I will start at a beginning – just not ‘in the beginning.’
When I first began looking into this story, I was told that everything can be explained by creation order. I was obviously confused because I was taught that the order of events at creation went a little like this:
Day 1: created light, named day and night
Day 2: created a vault, named it the sky
Day 3: moved the waters, named seas and dry land; created vegetation, seed-bearing plants and fruit trees
Day 4: created lights in the vault (sky): the sun, the moon, and stars
Day 5: created fish (and other sea creates) and birds
Day 6: land-dwelling animals and mankind
Day 7: God finished the work of Creation and so He rested.
In this creation order – the account of the creation of mankind goes like this:
“Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.
God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”
Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds in the sky and all the creatures that move along the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.” And it was so.
God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.
From this I drew these conclusions: that God created man and woman at the same time, and that God gave man and woman the same blessing and instruction.
So when complementarians said “the creation order plainly teaches male headship” I didn’t see it. It turns out that they weren’t referring to the ‘In the beginning’ that begins with Genesis 1. They were talking about the Garden of Eden Creation order …
Right from the start, Genesis 2 suggests that Day 1 and Day 2 had already happened but there wasn’t any vegetation so we safely guess that it’s Day 3. God makes one man, then he plants the Garden of Eden and places the man in it. Then God forms the wild animals and the birds which the man names. Then …
“So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds in the sky and all the wild animals.
But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.
The man said,
“This is now bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called ‘woman,’
for she was taken out of man.”
That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh.
Adam and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
The complementarians tell me that somewhere in these verses, male headship is affirmed in the events of creation before the fall. In fact, one them created a list with ten reasons ^1 that show male headship before the fall:
1.) The order: Adam was made first, then Eve.
2.) The representation: Adam, not Eve, has a special role in representing the human race.
3.) The naming of woman: Adam named her woman.
4.) The naming of the human race: is ‘man’ not ‘woman’.
5.) The primary accountability: God spoke to Adam first after the fall.
6.) The purpose: Eve was created as a helper for Adam, not Adam as a helper for Eve.
7.) The conflict: The curse brought a distortion of previous roles, not the introduction of new roles.
8.) The restoration: When we come to the New Testament, salvation in Christ reaffirms the creation order.
9.) The mystery: Marriage from the beginning of Creation was a picture of the relationship between Christ and the church.
10.) The parallel with the Trinity: the equality, differences, and unity between men and women reflect the equality, differences, and unity in the Trinity.
While the author admits that some of them are pretty weak arguments that ‘whisper’ male headship, to his way of thinking some of them are strong arguments that ‘shout’ male headship clearly. Taking Genesis 1 through this list, 1-3, 5-10 are all inadmissible evidence; Looking at Genesis 2, 7-10 are also inadmissible as they’re not contemporaneous with the events at the fall (It’s a lot like reading about the origin of the Roman empire by comparing and contrasting it with the fall of the Roman empire, you can guess what the original might have been light, but odds are if you aren’t really well-versed in the subject you’d be wrong more often than not).
Also, any verses from the New Testament weaken the ‘strength’ of the pre-fall arguments for the remaining verses because it’s depending on a teaching after the fact to bolster the original idea. I see a whole lot of whispering and not a lot of shouting. But that’s in the English; when looking at the story in the original language, then many of the the reasons lose even more strength and the ‘whisper’ becomes inaudible.
So here we have the Genesis 1 Creation order which doesn’t really help the complementarian cause, and the Genesis 2 Creation order which is far easier to use the New Testament to arrive at a satisfactory interpretation to strengthen their own interpretations. My friends ^2 who had confused with me with a discussion about creation order posted this series of questions using 1 Corinthians 11 to bolster Creation Order to lend strength to their interpretation:
“Paul says why women must have a have a symbol of authority on their head; because of the created order.
Where do you find man being directly created in the image of God? Genesis 1.
Where do you find woman being created from man, or being the “glory of man”? Genesis 2.
Where do you find that the woman was created for man, not the other way around? Genesis 2.
And when do you find sin entering the picture? Not until Genesis 3.
So this foundation is not only based in creation, it’s based in God’s perfect creation before sin. Headship & authority was God’s original intent. It wasn’t a post-fall disaster, but a pre-fall masterpiece.”
This begs the question of what does it men for women to be image bearers of God, are they co-rulers and co-image bearers made at the same time as men in Genesis 1 or are they a subordinate and derivative image of God as “the glory of man” in Genesis 2? Read Genesis 1 again and you’ll notice that both the man and woman are directly created in the image of God. But the need to harmonize the two creation accounts often creates this tension where we think that the humans made on Day 6 in Genesis 1 are the very same ones made on Day 3 in Genesis 2. So we have to get a little creative with what we interpret and how we interpret it; but that’s nothing new – it’s what we’ve done in all the days since Day 1.
If headship and authority is God’s original intent, why isn’t there a Genesis 2.5 where God explains what headship is, what it does, what it look’s like, you know – the perfect version? Looking at what the Bible says, it seems more clear in Genesis 1 that His original intent is to let men and women rule over the world together. In Genesis 2 it was to keep the Garden of Eden and work the ground and be together. The only authority is over animals and plants, which is, again – together; there’s no loud and clear teaching that God originally intended for headship (whatever that means) to be the modus operandi of how man and woman were to interact with each other, and certainly not how it’s taught in New Testament verses. After all, how could something like women being required to wear head coverings in 1 Corinthians 11 be God’s original intent when man and woman lived together in the Garden of Eden? They were without clothes (or coverings of any sort) and God said it was very good.
^1 from Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth by Wayne Grudem
^2 the Head Covering Movement: Creation Order