Full Text for Dogmatics 4- Volume 21 - What about the issue of subordination of women? (Video)

No. 21. >> Thank you for delving into Ephesians 5. While we're on the topic, what about the issue of subordination of women? So many in the 21st Century regard the church's teaching about the subordination of women to men to be folly. Help us understand what Saint Paul is doing in Ephesians. And why he says what he says. >>DR. JOEL D. BIERMANN: Joshua, that's a great follow-up question. And I had kind of anticipated you might ask about that. I think the way we answer this question is very important. Very relevant for our culture. And if we're going to be faithful to God's plan for his creation, we need to come to terms with this stuff. I really believe that what Saint Paul is doing in Ephesians 5 is the way the New Testament always handles this issue. The issue of how husbands and wives are to work together. What is God's plan for marriage? And in Ephesians 5 we see that Paul clearly understands unique and distinct roles for husbands and wives within marriage. Husbands are given the responsibility to love their wives as Christ loved the church. And wives, interestingly enough, are given the task to respect their husbands. I think that's really fascinating that wives are not told to love their husbands. That just comes -- it's pretty much an automatic thing for a woman. And yet a man is told to love his wife. And the wife gives the husband what he needs to respect. So what's being reflected there is what I believe is a difference between men and women that is simply just built in. Men need respect. Men need to be appreciated and admired. And what women want is to be loved and cared for and protected and cherished. It's very different. So men and women are just fundamentally different. And what Saint Paul is doing Ephesians 5 then and what he's doing in I Corinthians and what he's doing in I Timothy and what Peter does in I Peter, in all of these different places, what's consistently going on is these apostles are reflecting on what I would call the design that was built into creation. Some scholars call this the order of creation. Which usually gets a few people's hackles up because they say: Oh, you're trying to say because Adam came first, he matters more. That's not what we're saying at all. What I'm saying is there's a certain built-in design which is reflective of that natural law order. Simply the way God has put it together. It's the way things are supposed to be. So this sometimes gets called subordination because that's how the translation comes into us from Greek. The Greek word is more interesting. The Greek word is hupotassw, which literally means to be ordered into your place. To find your niche in a sense. And I think that gets the idea even better. What Saint Paul is saying is there's a certain way things work in the world. And we all find our place, our niche, within that order. So parents have their responsibility. And children theirs. And husbands have their responsibility. And the wife has hers. And we all find our places. In I Corinthians 12, you actually have this order going God the Father to God the Son and the Son being under the Father in this ordering and then to the husbands and to wives. And you see this ordering all the way through. Now, it's tempting to say: Oh, come on. That's all old stuff. We're in the Gospel now. That's all blown away. And Saint Paul says in Galatians 3:28: There is neither male nor female, slave nor free. We are all one in Christ. You say that's the norm. That's the standard. So all of this male-female distinction, that's all been washed away. That's a very strong argument and a very tempting argument. But the basis of that argument would be to say that somehow what God has done in the redemption of Christ has blown away and wiped away all of his plans for the order of things in this world in the left hand. And you can already guess how I'm going to answer that. If you think about everything I've done before, with that distinction of the two realms. And the left hand functioning still as the order of creation under God's plan for his creation. In other words, the law. That's still in place. It has not been set aside. So coram deo or in God's presence, according to the Gospel, yeah, we are all one. And a woman and a man and a slave and a free and a Greek and a Jew all have equal standing before God. All receive his grace equally. All are equally important and valuable and precious. None is higher than the other. None is lower than the other. No superiority or inferiority. It's all this beautiful oneness. But in this created realm, there are differences. Not a matter of value or of worth or of superiority or inferiority. But a matter of differences. Different responsibilities, different tasks, different gifts. And we need to fulfill our vocations within those differences which are still in place in this world while we live in this world waiting for Christ's second coming. So is subordination a bad thing? No, it's a good thing. To be subordinate doesn't mean to be inferior. It means to find your place and do it. I'm insubordination to all kinds of people. I have a department chair who is my superior when it comes to my responsibilities. I have a synodical president. I have a seminary president. All of these people are my superior. I answer to them. So there's always an ordering. None of us function as autonomous individuals. We have our place and fit in there. So that's where we go. Are we equal? In God's presence, yes. In the world's responsibilities, not necessarily the same. Equal value. Equal worth. But not equal responsibilities. And not equal ability to do all the tasks. Equal does not mean same. So a man and woman are not interchangeable. They are different. So Ephesians 5 I believe is Paul reenforcing God's plan for creation. The design that was built into creation. And he's honoring that, supporting it and advancing it even in the New Testament. And as we in the church today are functioning, I believe we should be doing the same.