Male and Female Complementarity, Part 7

Citing a “conceptual parallel” between Gen. 5:3 and 1 Cor. 11:7. and the formation of Seth and the woman, Ware makes this assertion in the second paragraph of his fourth indicator (see prior post):

“What is true in both texts, of Seth’s and the woman’s formation respectively, is that they derive their human natures, as Scripture specifically indicates, through the man. Another parallel is clear and is significant: both Seth and Eve are fully and equally the image of God when compared to Adam, who is image of God. So, the present discussion reaffirms and reinforces our earlier declaration that all human beings, women as well as men, children as well as parents, are fully and equally the image of God. But having said this, Scripture indicates in addition to this important point another: God’s design regarding how the woman and how a child become the image of God seems to involve inextricably and intentionally the role of the man’s prior existence as the image of God.”

Among other things, the linkage between Seth and “the woman” – a child and an adult female – is interesting.  Scrutinized closely, doesn’t Ware’s male/female paradigm sound more like the relationship between a parent/child than one between two mature adults?

An aside: I know a woman who feels biblically compelled to request permission from her husband before leaving the house for any reason.  The relationship is characterized by “male priority” in the form of an authoritarian, lord-of-the-manor daddy figure (husband) to the wife’s little girl-child, subservient serf figure.  The husband claims this “relationship” is “divinely designed.”  Is it?  Back to the Ware text.

Question: How can someone be both a derivative and “fully and equally” at the same time?   Is this merely a question of source regarding formation and human nature vs. “image of God-ness,” or something else?

If a female’s “being in the image of God” is dependent upon and defined by her relationship to a male – rather than based on her creation as an independent, unique and fully formed individual – what does she become when no male is around?

During the Civil War, a number of Southern towns were virtually emptied of adult males.  Did the women in these towns stop “being in the image of God” during the war, then regain that “being” after Appomattox Courthouse?  What if all their male relatives were killed?  Ditto WWI.  You can come up with your own examples.  Is suggesting that a female “derives” her human nature “through the man” and “so does her being the image of God” problematic?

Further on, under Male and Female Complementarity as the Image of God, Ware discusses “priority in the concept of the image of God” that “must go to our functioning as God’s representatives who carry out our God-given responsibilities.”  He posits that “… it is essential that man and woman learn to work in a unified manner together to achieve what God has given them to do.”  No elaboration here.  Picking up:

“There can be no competition, no fundamental conflict of purpose if we are to function as the image of God.  Adversial posturing simply has no place between the man and woman who are both image of God.  The reason for this is ismple: both man and woman, as image of God, are called to carry out the unified set of responsibilities God has given.  Since both share in the same responsibilities, both must seek to be unified in their accomplishment.

Four paragraphs later Ware again qualifies this “unity,” citing I Cor. 11:

… while unified in our essential human equality and our common responsibility to do the will God, the temporal priority of the image of God in the man, through whom the woman is formed as a human bearer of God’s image, supports the principle of male-headship in functioning as the image of God persons both men and women are.”

Here we go again…

“Priority” means, “Status established in order of importance or urgency.”  Synonyms include: precedence and precedency.  How can anyone or anything be both “unified” and “equal” if one has higher status, greater importance, or precedence over the other?  How can something or someone be “unified” within a hierarchical pecking-order based on “priority”?


Stay tuned for Part 8, where we look at the Creation account in Genesis from another perspective.

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7 Responses

  1. God’s design regarding how the woman and how a child become the image of God seems to involve inextricably and intentionally the role of the man’s prior existence as the image of God.”

    I think that this statement is true, except that the woman and child are the image of God from their inception; they do not become it. Woman and child do not get the imago dei through man, but from him. The reason God makes the point that woman is from man is to show how she, and only she, is a helper/companion meet for him. If you have one ball of Playdough, and you take a piece of it and form another ball, the second ball does not get its Playdough-ness through the first, but from it, because it is of the same “stuff.” This is what is “inextricable” and “intentional” about the formation of woman: she is of man. And this is why a wife submits to her husband, and he loves her as his own body.

    More later, perhaps, gotta go…

  2. Is Ware arguing petitio principii ?

  3. Well, perhaps. I think he and others start from I Tim. 2:11-15, Eph. 5:22-24,

  4. Oops. Let’s try that again.

    I think he and others start from I Tim. 2:11-15, Eph. 5:22-33, and I Cor. 11:3-16–the latter two in which they read an incorrect understanding of “head”–and then apply this to the Genesis account.

    I do think that the man’s position (not “role”) of having been created first gives him a certain priority, both chronological and temporal, but I do not see it as one of rule. The rule tendency (Gen. 3:16) is a sin thing, not a “created design.”

    After asserting that both child and woman are fully and equally the image of God as man, Ware proceeds to add a quantity–“God’s design regarding how the woman and how a child become the image of God[, i.e.,…] the role of the man’s prior existence”–to this equation, rendering it in fact not equal at all.

    Ware and others seem to define “unity” as each man and woman fulfilling their role; i.e., one leading and the other assisting, or following, according to their supposed design. Conflict is thus avoided. But elsewhere in Scripture we do not see such a model given for unity –see Romans 12 and Philippians 2. Unity comes not by leading/following, but by mutual deference and service, in the unity of Christ and the Holy Spirit. Why would there need to be a different model for two adult peers, just because one is female and the other male, or because the male and female happen to be married to one another? You would think such a difference would be mentioned in these and other passages if it were in fact true.

    The instructions for unity inform our actual hierarchical relationships (for example, deacons vs. laity in a church). Someone might argue that this same unity can inform a hierarchical relationship between husband and wife, but I see no necessity for there to be such a relationship to begin with, just as there need be no hierarchy between two best friends.

  5. An argument used by complementarians to try to show that, though there is a hierarchy between men and women, they are still equal in Christ and in the imago dei, is to point to other adult hierarchical relationships such as teacher/student, employer/employee, CEO/Project Asst., and master/slave (as in Eph. 6), in which the persons are fully equal in nature/derivation yet different in vocation. However, these relationships are defined by status or office and lived out in role (as are also husband and wife to a large extent) but this status has nothing to do with the secondary derivation of their nature or imago dei, nor priority in order of creation. So, in effect, in Ware’s, et al, description, woman does end up lower on the totem pole than even a male slave, despite their protestations to the contrary.

    What they do is use these arguments to show the “glory” of man rather than to show how these passages actually show the glory of the woman. In their scenario, men get their glory from woman’s glory, rather than from God. IOW, it’s backwards. They do this because they take the God-Christ-man-woman analogies of Eph. 5 and I Cor. 11 too far. I suspect that this could be because they themselves have a fundamental misunderstanding of even their own nature and role in relation to Christ and God. They perhaps see themselves as servile, in a way, rather than lifted up to glory in Christ. And so they think that woman exists to glorify them as they exist to glorify Christ, though this glory (glorification of Christ) actually comes as God shows His glory in them, and man shows his glory in woman. (IOW, it’s granted, not earned nor stolen.)

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