The author has decided to prove headship existed before the fall by looking at what happened at and after the fall. It’s a lot like trying to save the free market system by abandoning the free market principles. He has to step outside of Genesis’ time-frame entirely – removing it from it’s time and place and filling in the gaps with information belonging to other times and places. He points to his eighth reason:
The restoration – When we come to the New Testament, salvation in Christ reaffirms the creation order. If the previous understanding of Genesis 3:16 in correct, as I believe it is, then what we would expect to find in the New Testament is a reversal of the curse. We would expect to find an undoing of the wife’s hostile or aggressive impulses against her husband and the husband’s response of harsh rule over his wife. In fact, that is exactly what we find. We read in the New Testament, ‘Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. (Colossians 3:18-19) This command is an undoing of the impulse to oppose (Hebrew teshuqah + ‘el) and the harsh rule (Hebrew mashal) that God imposed at the curse. God reestablishes in the New Testament the beauty of the relationship between Adam and Eve that existed from the moment they were created. Eve was subject to Adam as the head of the family. Adam loved his wife and was not harsh with her in his leadership. This is the pattern that Paul commands husbands and wives to follow.
This might be the shortest reason of them all; which makes me feel a little cheated after having so much said of the other reasons. You’ll note that the curses are only half-reversed; for one, women still experience pain in childbirth and men still have to deal with thorns in the ground. Thing is – a partial reversal doesn’t equate a full restoration. But let’s take a closer look to see if a restoration has really taken place and that the pre-fall and post-Resurrection the verses should match up – the author’s footnote points to Ephesians 5, Colossians 3, and 1 Peter 3:
To be more specific, Ephesians 5:21-6:9; Colossians 3:18-4:1; and 1 Peter 2:11-3:7 form what’s commonly understood as the household codes. Paul’s writing to Jewish and Gentile communities of Christians living under Roman control and Roman family conventions. Before Jesus and Paul arrived on the scene, Aristotle wrote that: “the first and least parts of a family are master and slave, husband and wife, father and children.” He believed that a husband’s rule over his house could be compared with types of governments – “the government of a household is a monarchy, since every house is governed by a single ruler“; he continues by saying that husbands exercise a republican government over their wives and monarchical government over their children, and that they exhibit political office over slaves and royal office over the family in general. All of these relationships are one of power, one where a greater power or force ‘rules‘ over the others who are all not equals. Sounds a lot like ‘mashal‘ from yesterday, doesn’t it?
Out of curiosity, how can Paul’s response to Aristotle’s popular teaching about the nature of family as a unit of the state double as a restoration of the original gender roles? We seem to sell God short, as if this is the sum of His achievement in this area – after cursing Adam and Eve, after having Jesus die to reverse the curses, the final result is … “wives submit to your husbands and husbands love your wives … oh, and don’t be harsh with them either.” I guess God’s power has it’s limits that He couldn’t imagine a world where society has moved beyond the need for power to be organized in hierarchies or lives to be lived in hierarchies – at least, not on this side of heaven.
But there’s something more to the house-hold codes, they were written to undermine the existing status quo under Roman tradition. Romans lived in something of a patriarchal society, husbands were the kings of the citizens subject to them – their wives, their children, and their slaves. Husbands were the legal representation who had status while everyone elses’ status was lesser and subordinate to his. He was also the priest in his own cult and would lead his family in spiritual exercises. He was also a functionary of the state who had life or death power over his family. Romans patriarchs were powerful men with almost no limit to their power and no checks on their behavior. Paul’s advice ‘looked‘ like what the world expected on the outside – men in charge, women not so much. But it ‘acted‘ as if it were it’s opposite – undermining the Roman tradition from the inside-out, destroying gender roles based on power and instead using Christ as a foundation.
Jesus Christ died so that everyone would live. He died so that his church would flourish. Paul’s suggesting that these ‘heads‘ have to remember what their own ‘head‘ did for them and follow his example – to die to selfishness, to die to the thirst for power, to die to privileged. He’s asking women to die to the need to manipulate others in a world where they don’t have power – because if husbands ‘die‘ to their own power, then they will equally be powerless and that’s where they find they are both at their most powerful – in Christ alone.
I don’t think that Paul’s pointing to a restoration of what Adam and Eve might have known, but a far greater reality that they couldn’t have imagined – one that points to one of my favorite sayings: “You can’t un-ring a bell.” or perhaps, “You can’t un-sin a sin.” There is no going back, there is no undo on everything that has been undone – but Jesus’ sacrifice ‘finished‘ the old order of things and gave us something new. Something that couldn’t have existed in Adam and Eve’s time; what we have is better than a restoration … it’s a replacement and an upgrade.