What does “Husband Headship” Really Mean?

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Most complementarians and egalitarians claim to have a complete understanding of what “husband headship” means, but I am going to tell you the truth. None of us can be absolutely sure what “head” (kephalé) means in Ephesians 5:23 and 1 Corinthians 11:3 because the consistent meaning of the word is obscure among ancient texts. When we read the Bible through the lenses of the English language, it is easy to assume that “head” means “chief,” “leader,” or “authority over” because this is the way we often use the word. But quite honestly, any language that is not ancient Greek is not only useless in this conversation; it is also a dangerous way to interpret the Word of God.

When I was writing my master’s thesis I had hoped to discover ample evidence that the word “head” means “source,” as in the head/source of a river. This is the way most egalitarians interpret the word. The logic is this: the Apostle Paul is suggesting that man (Adam) is the source of woman (Eve) because Eve was taken out of Adam’s side. This is not bad logic and actually makes a lot of biblical sense, but again, the consistent meaning of the word “kephale” is obscure among ancient texts. In order for scholars to interpret words in the Bible, they search through hundreds and hundreds of texts that were written around the same time the Bible was written.

__________________________ (Below is from my master’s thesis found HERE.)

Leading complementarian, Wayne Grudem has made it his mission to prove the Greek term, “Kephale” is not understood as “source” or “origin;” but rather, a reflection of a “leader” or one who has “authority over.” Grudem has written an extensive article in which he claims to have studied 2,336 examples where the term “Kephale” is found in Greek literature.

Although Grudem’s title suggests he is going to do a non-biased word study to see if “Kephale” can signify “authority over” or “source,” it does not take long for the reader to discover that he has a personal agenda. The piece should be titled in such a way that clarifies Grudem’s real intentions, which is to defend his belief that “Kephale” was commonly used to denote “authority over,” rather than “source” or “origin,” in the Greco-Roman era.

Actually, the main objective of his article is to display 49 examples of “Kephale” meaning “leadership” and only two, very questionable examples of the term signifying “source,” which he discovered during his “scholarly research” of ancient Greek literature.

Scholar, Richard Cervin directly refutes Grudem’s article by stating that his 49 examples are invalid. Cervin agrees with Grudem’s method in analyzing Greek literature from the Classical, Hellenistic, and Greco-Roman eras, in hopes of finding a common thread of term usage. However, Cervin highly questions Grudem’s research. Grudem claims that his authorship studies ranged from Homer (8th c B.C.) to Libanius (4th c. C.E.) and that he found about 2,000 instances from the Thesaurus Linguae Graecae (TLG).

The authors who were checked and the instances which were claimed to be located can be found on pages 66-67 of Grudem’s article. From the beginning, Cervin finds inaccuracy in Grudem’s claims;

he [Grudem] claims “that all extant writings of an author were searched and every instance to Kephale was examined and tabulated with the exception of fragmentary texts and a few other minor works that were unavailable to me” (p.65, emphasis mine). I myself have access to the TLG here at the University of Illinois and I have checked several of the authors in Grudem’s list as to the frequencies. I have found some rather different figures for the same authors in Grudem’s list: Grudem claims that Kephale occurs 114 times in Herodotus — I found 121 occurrences; Grudem found 56 in Aristophanes — I found 59; Grudem found 97 in Plato — I found 90; Grudem found 1 in Theocritus — I found 15. The discrepancy may be due to our using different “editions” of the TLG database; but his assertion that he has checked every instance may be overstated.

Cervin gives Grudem’s research another blow when he points out that Grudem admittedly used translations to aid his word study (p. 65). Cervin finds this method ludicrous and reminds Grudem and all biblical scholars that it is crucial to work with original texts when conducting a word study of Greek, or any foreign language for that matter. Cervin agrees with Grudem when he states that certain studies (mainly the Mickelsens and some New Testament commentators) are wrong in saying that the term “kephale” was commonly used to mean “source,” but does not follow Grudem when he states that the term was commonly used as “authority” either.

Grudem claims to have found 49 instances of “kephale” meaning “authority over” out of 2,336 examples in ancient Greek literature. This would give Grudem a whopping 2.1% of “commonality” to lean on. In case the sarcasm was overlooked, the very low percent of 2.1 hardly allows Grudem to state that it was common for ancient Greek authors to use “kephale” to mean “leadership.” While many Christian feminists are wrong in stating that the ancient Greek word for “head” often meant “source,” there are relevant documents which Grudem may have been too quick to dismiss. When reading Grudem’s article, he makes it clear that he believes there is no evidence for “kephale” translating to “source.” He states,

Authors who propose the sense “source” are proposing a new meaning, one previously unrecognized by New Testament Lexicons. That does not make the meaning “source” impossible, but it does mean we have the right to demand some convincing citations from ancient Greek literature that the editors of these lexicon have overlooked or misunderstood.

Cervin not only meets Grudem’s demand by providing instances in Greek literature where “head” could have very well meant “source;” he also finds that all 49 examples in which Grudem claims as valid evidence for “head” representing “authority over,” are either invalid or highly questionable. Cervin does not claim to be an egalitarian, and does not confirm that the term “kephale” was commonly used to represent “source;” he does however, find that it is a much more likely translation than “authority over.”

Cervin defends those who have contended that “Kephale” means “source” in Herodotus 4:91, against Grudem’s accusations that they have not carefully studied the text. Cervin also notes that Grudem himself must not have been careful enough either, being that he too misunderstood the text in Herodotus. Cervin provides a thorough explanation of Herodotus 4:89-91, within the correct context; this is precisely what Grudem failed to do.

______________________________

Richard Cervin does not claim to be a complementarian or an egalitarian, but he obviously finds bad research problematic. By the time Cervin is done with Grudem’s research, he found that all 2,336 examples Grudem provided for “kephale” meaning “authority over” were either invalid or highly questionable. Cervin concludes that there is not a vast amount of evidence that “kephale” means “source” either, but the chances of the word meaning “source” are certainly better than that of “authority over.”

This research takes both complementarians and egalitarians back to the drawing board. The truth of the matter is that unless archaeologist discover more ancient Greek texts, we will not find the answer we are looking for by doing more word studies of “kephale.” So let us look to Jesus for the answer, as all His words and actions are divine and lead to life and undoubtedly fulfilling marriages.

If husbands are called to be like Jesus by laying down their lives as Ephesians five suggests, then it is time for them to lay down their so called “authority” to empower their bride. If a husband is called to lead in anything, it would be in the first to lead in love. Since Christ-centered love is wrapped in self-sacrifice, it would be a husband’s responsibility to not only love his wife as Christ loved the church, but to submit to her as well. Since Jesus’ commands all his followers to “love one another as He has loved us (John 13:34)” surely wives are called to love and submit to their husbands equally. This leads us back to mutual love and submission between husbands and wives – what egalitarians, Christian feminists, and mutualists have been teaching all along.

Complementarian doctrine on “husband headship” and “male headship” is the very opposite of Christlike love and self-sacrifice. Sure, they teach self-sacrifice in theory, but when it comes down to it, actions speak louder than words. A husband (or a male pastor/male elder) even suggesting that he owns the final say and allowing no women at “the decision making tables” is self-centered – a way hoarding power and dominance. Jesus warns us,

If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. -Matthew 16:25

The “kephale” of the home (or the male leaders in the Church) should be the first to say, “You first dear; what do you want to do? What do you think about this decision? I will die to what I want for what you want.” In turn, a wife (or the female leaders of the Church) who truly loves and respects her husband (or male brothers in Christ) will respond by saying, “You first dear, what do you want to do? What do you think about this decision? I will die to what I want for what you want.” This is true Christ-like love. This is what the Apostle Paul was urging Christian couples to do because this is the way of the Cross and represents a resurrected marriage and a functional church.

There is but one leader in the Christian Home and Church and His name is Jesus Christ. We do not need a human leader to operate. Instead, we need men and women who are willing to die to their human selfishness, function as an equal team, mutually love and submit to one another, seek the direction of the Holy Spirit, and then follow the lead of whoever seems to have the best “God idea” in each specific moment. 

Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all.” -Mark 9:35

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80 Comments

  • Hi
    The remaining issue is from both scripture and science, even granting all your arguments above.

    Jesus is the head of the church. Would you really want to question his authority? The marraige is said to be the physical analogy or type or model for that relationship.

    Additionally all organizations operate best with a leader. Management by committee or consensus works well in good times but not in times of high conflict. The best leadership model is one of consultative input and high delegation but that has a final authority. The science of this can be seen in Jim Collin’s work.

    Moreover God’s design has to work without technological material aids (sanitary products, birth control, pain killers etc). Women are the child bearers in all cultures leader to a default male leadership outside the tribe. The exceptions are rare. Technology lessens the gender divide and makes other options possible.

    I am a big Psalm 19 fan. Sometimes it hard to see how scripture and science converge. Not here….And when they agree that is a pretty strong statement about God’s design. So while there is a lot of freedom given the servant model of leadership, there is also provision for a leader and in optimum case of a Marraige with an able bodied and sound of mind male that would be the husband.

    I’m not sure God has any issue with other options in individual cases where they make sense to the involved parties, but for human flourishing in most times and places (the default if you will) he assigns that job to the male.

    • Thank you for your comment Teresa, but I think perhaps you misread. I am giving ALL the authority to Jesus. I believe that to say all men are leaders makes no biblical or science sense. This is crazy pressure to put on husbands and it almost never works unless the husband happens to be born a natural leader and the wife happens to be born a natural follower. Think of it this way, a husband and wife become one flesh, as the Word says. If they are the same spiritually, how can one have more authority than the other? Likewise, if the father, son, and holy spirit are of one, how can one have more authority than they other? No doubt, mutual submission and teamwork can be difficult, but it is best because it gives everyone equal say and value, and we are forced to die to self and hear one another out. This is what love is.

    • Interesting Teresa…I think you have identified why I personally do not accept empirical generalizations (“science” as some call it) as the final word on anything. I tend to prefer rational, absolute truths, which is why I am an egalitarian. Many people look down on such “black-and-white” thinking, but ironically it is this kind of thinking that informs my egalitarianism.

      Here is my question: Beyond biology (yes, I know certain people are born with certain organs, etc…), are there any differences between men and women? In other words, are there any metaphysical, absolute, God-designed differences that separate all women from all men?

      • There are an awful lot of hormonal differences — probably as part of child bearing design. They change by age and individual. I do not see any need to exaggerate their meaning. However we find more about hormones influence us all the time. The latest is we have hormones getting produced by our gut bacteria based on what we have eaten influencing mood. Whole new meaning to gut feeling! Ok off topic.

        In bad times when hard decisions are needed good people can still differ after prayer. In horrible terrifying times fast decisions can aid survival. I believe their is a role for leadership and final authority in a family. I believe my words can only dimly echo NT Wright’s anslysis of this in his book The Authority of God in Scripture, where there is a chapter on Marraige.

        Teresa

        • Hi Teresa,

          “Hormones” constitute one’s “biology,” and different individuals can be affected by their hormones differently.

          I am asking about absolute, metaphysical differences (you could say “spiritual” if you are looking for plainspeak) that separate ALL men from ALL women…otherwise it is not a difference. Are there any?

          • Bible says no spiritual difference in 12 ways–created for God’s glory Gen 1:26, Isa 43:7), equally part of “mankind” translated “man” unfortunately in some Bibles (Hebrew Gen 1 AND 2), image of God (Gen 1:26-27), God’s likeness (Gen 1:26), blessedness (Gen 1:28), equally charged to reproduce (Gen 1:28) which can be spiritual as well as physical (Matt 28:19), equal dominion or stewardship over earth (gen 1:26,38), equally recipients of provision by God (gen 1:29), personal relationship w God (Gen 1:28, Gen 3:18), accountability to God (Gen 1:28, 3:11), heirs to Grace ( Gen 1:27, 3:15, 1 Peter 3:7). So therefore that seems a pretty solid no spiritual difference.

            That doesn’t change the benefits of a family servant leader making clear delegations of authority … And more than it changes the benefits of a leader in any other organization. I suppose Quakers come closest to a church trying to do without a human leader–using only God as head. They do not consistently recognize God’s authority in scripture either so the picture is quickly muddled.

          • Hi Teresa, even if for the sake of concession, we grant your leadership model is the correct one (although Jory presented some compelling arguments to the contrary…should one spouse really have the final “say” in everything? My parents have a wonderful marriage because neither has the final say in everything…their individual, not gendered, gifts inform who makes what decisions.), I still have this question:

            You mention “design” frequently. Did God design all men to lead (or “servant-lead”) in certain contexts (marriage, for instance) and all women to not lead in those contexts?

            If God did design men and women as such, where are those absolute design features? (Once again, if a said “design feature” cannot apply to all women or all men, it is not a design feature, and complementarianism unravels…)

          • It appears to me he gave us a family design, and recommend the church relate to Jesus in a similar way. I do think he describes an optimal design in the absence of technology and sin. But we have both. Sin complicates things, technology can be used to make them better or worse. I think we are each individual and more than that each marriage relationship is individual and what the parties agree to as a working relationship is what matters. It is when they cannot agree that the notion of final authority would kick in….and if mutual prayer allows them to let Jesus decide via scripture that’s fine too. One of tools in scripture is that the husband is the leader God would look to in a perfect optimal situation. God wants us to flourish across generations as a family, so his solution optimizes our ability to reproduce as he has commanded us to do. But for reproduction pre-fall scripture doesn’t really give another reason for creating gender, but reproduction is a big deal. As Jory ably points out “rule over” and women “desiring” relationship to the point of idolatry is part of the fall, not the optimal design. Both of us are looking at scripture to find answers and our models aren’t very different…except on the point of family optimal design. I think she is focused on day-to-day and on the woman’s (everyone’s) full child-of-God — in the presence of past oppression of women which does need correction, and the Bible describes a model that continues to operate in the worst of economic and situation times when training and model really counts (not the time for negotiation then). In the presence of a couple’s mutual agreement there is nothing in scripture that I see that implies it can’t be customized, but the danger becomes a customization that either ceases to work in hard times or doesn’t adequately consider the stresses of children.

          • Thank you for your response, Teresa 🙂

            Here is another question that might clarify things:

            You mention, “It appears to me he gave us a family design, and recommend the church relate to Jesus in a similar way. I do think he describes an optimal design in the absence of technology and sin.” If there is an ideal “family design” why does Jesus say there will be no marriage (and consequently, no “husband headship”) in Heaven?

            If the “family design” or the complementarian marriage design is so ideal, why will we not find it in the most ideal Heaven and Earth to come?

            Thank you again for interacting!

    • Teresa,

      I think you bring up a really interesting point regarding the analogy of husband to wife as Christ is to the church. I, too, have heard that point brought up a lot to question whether we should really see the husband and wife dynamic as being completely equal in leadership authority.

      For me personally, the problem with that argument boils down to this: it’s obvious that we can’t apply the Jesus metaphor to husbands completely, because Jesus fulfills a lot of roles to the church that husbands can’t do for their wives (such as providing salvation) and Jesus obviously holds a type of divine authority over all humans that one human being could never hold over the other. So the question becomes, then, WHAT aspects about Jesus CAN we apply to the husband/wife dynamic? And the Ephesians verses seem to pretty clearly paint the husband’s role as being love and support without mentioning the husband’s authority. To me, it seems that Paul was trying to emphasize Jesus’ sacrificial nature towards the church, rather than to emphasize Jesus’ authority over the church–since we know that he couldn’t possibly have been advocating for an exact equivalence between how Christ is to the church and how husbands are to wives 🙂

      If the verses had said “Husbands, *lead* your wives as Christ *led* the church, by determining wisdom and direction, by indicating which decisions she should make, by granting her truth about God’s word”…then I would feel that there is a stronger argument in favor of equating a husband’s role as mirroring the authority of Christ.

      • We often say a leader “heads” an organization in a corporate setting. We also say he or she supports her/his employees– much the same servant leader model as Christ and the church or husband /wife … Not sure why it feels so different in a family.

  • Teresa, no one is questioning Jesus’ authority in the church. But the point is, the Greek word “head” isn’t used to mean that. We derive Jesus’ authority from his Lordship, not his headship.

  • Good points. I admit some of it went over my head (but I’m a simple woman with simple thoughts 🙂 ) and you raise some valid things to consider.

    One question: and if you already answered it in your thesis, I’ll read that just point me to it; if indeed the word means ‘source’ as egalitarians postulate, wouldn’t that still be a sign of authority? Please correct me if I’m wrong. I’m drawing from the fact that our ‘source’ is from the Lord and we obey Him as our Lord. I believe Adam and Eve would have recognized their submission to the Lord even before the Fall. Wouldn’t that be the same way?

    And if you already responded to a question similarly in your thesis, I’ll read that. This is great. I’ve gotten so many new wrinkles on my brain on this subject. Yes!

    • Parker, if the “Kephale” means source, it would imply that Eve was taken out of Adam’s side – not for him to be above her or beneath her, but to be his co-leader in the garden. Eve was called Adam’s helper, but the greek word for “helper” is used to describe “God as our helper” in other parts of the OT. Therefore, Even was not created to be Adam’s subordinate helper, but rather his co-helper – they were to rule over the earth together.

      It is not until the fall of mankind and the consequences of this that patriarchy gained a foothold (See Gen. 3:16). Men ruling over women and even women having an unhealthy desire for a man are results of the curse.

      But Jesus came to break the curse over all lives, for it is written, cursed is a man who hangs on a tree (the cross).

  • Hi Jory!

    Several years ago, I read a book by Dr. Sarah Sumner (who doesn’t call herself “egalitarian” for what I think are nitpicky reasons, but in truth she fits into that camp almost 100%), and she addressed this very issue–that “source” and “authority” are both unlikely translations of the word “head.”

    She argues that the word “head” in that passage is meant literally–as a human head. It’s meant to carry forward the metaphor of the husband and wife being “one body” rather than to make some conceptual statement about their hierarchical position toward each other.

    What do you think of that? I realize it might be hard to respond unless you’ve read the book yourself, but I thought it was at least a fair option for what it might mean. However, I’m with you that ultimately what we need to know is how Jesus treated others, and that is our guide.

    • I personally lean towards “kephale” meaning “source,” but I think “head” literally meaning “head” is more much more likely than it meaning “authority over.”

  • When I read about marriage in the Bible, I find that the most practical and functionally applicable result is an egalitarian relationship. Putting the word “head” aside, I can go to the words “love” and “submit” and still end up with mutuality as God’s desire. If I, as a wife, am submitting to my husband then that means I am not being selfish and seeking my own way. I am being agreeable and doing my best to live in peace and harmony with him. If my husband is loving me then he is not being selfish and seeking his own way. After all, “love does not seek its own (1Corinthians 13:5)”. He is living in peace and harmony with me. I truly believe that love and submit are different words for the same kind of action. I don’t think Ephesians 5 is in the Bible so that one partner can walk away from the passage saying, ” I’m the boss!”

  • It is best to simply teach wives to submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ and to teach men to love their wives as Christ loves the church. That has to be the controlling metaphor. Complementarianism runs the risk of replacing love with leadership. And egalitarianism runs the risk of obliterating Paul’s analogy. Husbands should be constantly searching the Scriptures asking, “How does Christ love His church?” And wives should be constantly searching the Scriptures asking, “How does the church submit to Christ?” It really is a beautiful approach to marriage and picture of the gospel!

    • Hi Brad,

      First question: If marriage has created by God specifically to be a “picture of the gospel,” then can we say God specifically created slavery to illustrate his relationship to his creatures? There is a reason that Paul talks of marriage and slavery in the same breath…

      Second question: Do wives still submit to their husbands in the New Heaven and Earth, where Christ says there will be no marriage?

      • Hey Sensible!

        1. I am not aware of any passages in the Bible that say slavery is a picture of the gospel. So I would not say that God created slavery to illustrate his relationship to his creatures.

        2. Yes, I agree with you. There will be no marriage in the New Heavens and the New Earth. So obviously wives will not submit to husbands!

        Hope that helps!

        • Hi Brad,

          There are several NT passages dealing with slaves and masters. Right next door to Paul’s discussion of wives and husbands (“Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord….” Ephesians 5:22) there is a discussion of slaves’ “duty” to masters (“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ…” Ephesians 6:5).

          I find it interesting that Paul here talks of marriage (which we are accustomed to regarding as a sacred category) in similar terms to the relationship between slaves and masters (a secular category, much like the taxpayers and Caesar Christ speaks of). When Christ speaks of Caesar, and when Paul speaks of slave masters, they are not institutionalizing these powers, but speaking of them as fallen realities that Christians must live with (although Paul encourages slaves to gain their freedom if they can in 1 Corinthians 7:21; likewise he encourages unmarried women to remain so…if “husband headship” is a good, sacred construct, why would Paul encourage women to avoid marriage?). Jesus did not create new Caesars where none existed; likewise Paul did not recommend Christians invest in the slave trade 🙂 Could it logically follow that Paul is instructing Christians how to “cope” with the marriages they are already in? I realize we have romanticized marriage to the point that we are unaccustomed to looking at is as a temporal, even secular category–a relationship we will not find in the best world to come. I’ll admit that I am kind of a quirky egalitarian, and there will be plenty of egals who disagree with some of the points I have made, but I think these are great questions to consider…they certainly played a formative role in my theological persuasion.

          Thank you for interacting 🙂

          • Hey Brad,
            Here’s a post-script to my comments on marriage as a temporal category:

            You might rightly ask, “But what about fathers and children. Paul speaks of those in Ephesians too. Wouldn’t that relationship be a sacred, not secular, category?”

            Not so…are you familiar with the classical reality of paterfamilias? To give you a wikipedia-level definition: it is the practice of the oldest male in a household having complete control over his household, even adult children (no leaving home by 18 in Rome). If you are familiar with Greek or Roman plays such as “The Clouds” you might have an idea the kind of strife, and comedy, this kind of relationship between parent and child could inspire 🙂

            My point is, when Paul mentions the relationship between parents and children, I suspect he does not merely mean infants or individuals below the “age of reason,” rather, he is touching on a secular, cultural category that involved grown men and women.

            Thanks again 🙂

          • Certainly. Take your time and read the prior posts afterwards…they raise some questions that highly influential in my personal journey towards an egalitarian interpretation of marital roles.

            Here is the thought I am asking you to experiment with: that Paul approaches marriage as a secular category, while complementarians regard marriage as a sacred category.

            I can further clarify if you like…

          • And here is another version of this thought to experiment with: that Paul places marriage in the same category (or rhetorical box, if you will) as slavery. He uses a similar narrative to define the two relationships. Is slavery then a beautiful metaphor for how creatures serve and submit to their creator?

        • Thing is, there will not be reproduction in Heaven either. Even in networks we pair servers with one in charge or primary for reliability. God wanted reproduction reliable. We are commanded to reproduce–even spiritual reproduction (new believers) is often best done in pairs.

          Paul says if we can stand it not to marry…that means celibacy and degree of aloneness that not many like.

          Kingdom arriving yet not all here. Marraige should stay until reproduction command is over at minimum, and until as C S Lewis says it until we have the something–that we can’t see yet –that is even better than sex and chocolate.

          • “Paul says if we can stand it not to marry…that means celibacy and degree of aloneness”

            Does it? I know that is public opinion of celibacy…I am single by choice and find I have more friendships (and time for friendships with men and women (which shall last longer than any sexual relationship, the best marriage in fact is one founded on Christ and friendship, not some cultural concept of temporal “headship” and “production”) than I know what to do with…I am not lonely…marriage can be lonely too, you know…but that is just my experience 🙂

            “Marraige should stay until reproduction command is over at minimum, and until as C S Lewis says it until we have the something–that we can’t see yet –that is even better than sex and chocolate.”

            But we do have that something right now…that is Christ and friendship…they are wonderful, and I will take them any day over sex and chocolate…regardless of what C.S. Lewis says 😉

          • “Paul says if we can stand it not to marry…”

            I suspect one reason it is difficult to swallow Paul’s remarks on celibacy (for complementarians, and even some egalitarians) is that we do not realize that when he speaks of marriage, he is not speaking of the romanticized 21st institution our culture knows and loves, but of a brutal reality in his own time and place. A Christian woman in Paul’s day more likely had to “stand” and cope with marriage. We caricature celibacy and singleness as lonely when they were probably one of the best forms of self-care for Paul’s audience, both in the ancient world and even our own.

      • We have to follow Paul’s reasoning and allow him to explain his terms and analogies. In verses 22-31 Paul describes what verse 21 looks like: Wives submitting to their husbands as the church submits to Christ and husbands loving their wives as Christ loves the church. It’s a profound mystery but a beautiful one!

  • I just want to add that calling me a complementation is pretty extreme…really really extreme OK? I like the word. I think that in its native meaning men and women do complement each other…but I also think some people have abused it horribly–and done REAL AND LASTING DAMAGE TO MEN, TO WOMEN, and to MARRAIGE. See, you hit the HOT button now…

    Specifically…women/gender is made for MANKIND…not for a man. She was made to let the system reproduce….

    I lay at the feet of the complementarians the entire transgender movement…they have so confused naturally fluid states for men and women by forcing them onto specific sets of genetalia. Women are strong. My pioneer great grandma was STRONG. Men are soft. My daddy cried so hard when my first husband died at 29 years. Let it be. I think what is the SADDEST of all is that Bruce Jenner had to give up being male in order to have the close relationships to that girls get–he /she described it as conversations at the beauty parlor or over fingernail polish but it had to be deeper seated than that. Mens oxycontin rises once married with kids. Women’s testosterone rises at menopause. Children are relatively free of gender restrictions in a healthy world not over-sexualized. What kind of pain are we putting people not at the end of some hormonal spectrum or gene sequence through. God is the one that put fluidity in the system. We are supposed to love people all across the spectrum!

    Now that had to be controversial… but none of changed the benefits of a good family leader.

    • “I just want to add that calling me a complementation is pretty extreme…really really extreme OK? I like the word. I think that in its native meaning men and women do complement each other…but I also think some people have abused it horribly”

      I do not think that is extreme…if you believe God created an ideal “family design” in which men and women complement one another, that sounds to me like a complementarian thought process. There are a variety of complementarians…including some who think that other complementarians have gone “too far.”

    • “Now that had to be controversial… but none of changed the benefits of a good family leader.”

      My family has two leaders…and it is the best family I have ever encountered! In spite of not having one leader, my parents have overcome every crisis throw their way.

      Yes…I am biased 🙂

    • Teresa, don’t know if you are still following this thread. I just found it. 🙂

      I have to STRONGLY disagree with your concept that woman was created primarily for the purpose of reproduction. NOT EVEN CLOSE. That is actually a horrific statement. And I pray that no woman EVER believes it. Of course every created thing needs to reproduce it’s own kind. But the ultimate purpose for gender is for companionship intimacy, not flesh intimacy. That is why God gave the first human a strong lesson on aloneness before creating the woman. Their are creatures that reproduce themselves without any help. God could have done that throughout if that is all that was needed.

      Your view places the man as more important than the woman. Your view says that all a woman is, is a walking womb at the disposal of men. And I know many comps and patriarchalists who believe just exactly that. Why would a man who as male is more important that a female, ever need to establish any kind of equal communication or work with a woman if all she is is a walking womb for his procreation.

      Horrible thinking. 🙁

  • I’m with you on this, Jory and interested that you did your masters on this. I’m going to repost into the Kyria Facebook page.

    Thanks for your dogged determination on these things.

  • “This is what the Apostle Paul was was urging Christian couples to do because this is the way of the Cross and represents a resurrected marriage and a functional church.”

    I especially like Jory’s use of the adjective “resurrected.” It implies bringing life to a dead reality, a dead institution in this case. A dead institution, steeped in temporal power-struggles and property exchanges, resurrected to accommodate a friendship of equals.

    • Not buying that even modern marraige is just friends. It is a partnership for the central purpose of reproducing life (physical and spiritual )… A hard job. There are ways to make it fragile and ways to make it reliable. I do agree it should improve with resurrection of Christ as all the curse is slowly lifting– but what should lessen? The rule over bit and the extra desire for dependent relationship… The curse parts.

      • Unfortunately modern marriage is generally not “about” friendship (or love shared between equals if you want another plainspeak option)…it is about power struggles and productivity (you seem to be very keen on “productivity,” particularly sexual productivity….not sure if Christ looked at people as producers the way you do)…that is why we will not find that institution in Heaven, but we will still maintain the friendships forged between fellow Christians, whether they happen to be married or not.

        • And that will be my final point before I am off to work. I left some great questions that remain either unacknowledged or unanswered. I can understand why, on the one hand…but frankly, I don’t have the time or energy to keep restating these questions over and over and over and over…if someone else would like to distill or retranslate my points, they are welcome to do so…although my posts seemed pretty clear to me…and pretty clear to other single, childless Christian women who have had the productivity talk thrown at them.
          Wishing all the best!

          • Sensible, I responded to one of your posts, and agree wholeheartedly about the idea that we are not created primarily for the purpose of reproduction. Even the animals were not created for that, which is illustrated by the fact that they were created two at a time. Jesus said that He desires that we may all me One as He and the Father are One. This is about harmonious connection, deep intimacy. God is Love. And we have much to learn about the power of God’s Love. It’s not about sex. Love carries us into heaven, not sex.

        • Jory
          I think producers of spiritual children is actually a frequent but certainly not the only metaphor of Jesus — from the great commission to the parable of the steward.
          Paul ties it also back to physical.

          I am focused on organizational reliability for production. I am focused there because the family is an organization.

          Sensible makes some great points including one about the format making it difficult to find all points now.

        • I agree about the “producers” bit. God did not give the first human a woman just for “producing” offspring. God created woman as a strong help equal to him, for deep companionship. Sex is just the “icing on the cake”. The real relationship is in the relationship.

      • I don’t know if you are still following this, but I have to mention–if marriage is for the express purpose of “producing,” where does that leave persons like me who cannot “produce” physical offspring? I find this thought very troubling, because as a woman who tried and failed to have children (due to both partners being fertility challenged), it seems that my marriage, in your eyes, is for naught. And yet my husband is my best friend, biggest cheerleader, and most patient caregiver during my current ill health (which is related and will end my fertility permanently). The church does not address this possibility because “you can always adopt” and “pray harder,” as well as pointing to Sarah, Hannah, and Rachel as examples, are their ways of doing it. Complementarianism requires children, it seems, while our marriage as “just us” is doing just fine, with our guinea pigs as furkids, and mutual submission and love that goes well beyond the bedroom. We attend a campus worship service as friends of the ministry that is part of our church, but we don’t consider them our “spiritual children,” They’re friends and spiritual siblings.

        • One more comment here…offspring are spiritual (new Christians) as well as physical and it was pointed out to me that couples that cannot have physical offspring work to produce the fruit of spiritual offspring…not sure that has much to do with why we were physically made male and female…the organs that give us a sex are optimized for physical offspring. It may have a lot to with ways partnership in marriages or periods of marriages without children can glorify God. If we are blind or choose to close our eyes it does not mean we do not have eyes; it does mean a major purpose for those eyes is not working or not in use. Doesn’t change how human we are.

  • Jory,

    Thank you for your post. However, I had one challenge:

    Wayne Grudem’s seminal article on kephale was published in 1985. Richard Cervin’s response, the basis for this post, was published in 1989. In 1990, Grudem published a lengthy, 70-page response to Cervin and others (“The Meaning of Kephale (“Head”): A Response to Recent Studies”), followed by another 58-page update in Biblical Foundations of Manhood and Womanhood (“The Meaning of Kephale (“Head”): An Evaluation of New Evidence, Real and Alleged”).

    However, you don’t engage with either of Grduem’s more recent responses, even though he thoroughly responds to Cervin and presents, in my opinion, a very clear explanation for his views. Grudem concedes points where Cervin is correct (e.g., counting two instances of kephale where there was only one but two English translations of “head”). However, these are minor concessions and leave Grudem’s overall point intact. In fact, some of the main arguments made by Cervin (e.g., his point about Grudem using translations and not original texts) are clearly wrong and are shown to be so.

    Given that Grudem’s first response is 25 years old, it seems that you intentionally ignored his response in favor of allowing Cervin’s rebuttal to be the last word.

    • Grudem is not a credible source in my opinion: then or now. He is a scholar who leans towards sexism in the name of God, searching for ways to to “biblically” limit women, which makes him biased and bent towards gender inequality. This goes against Gal. 3:28 – the foundation of Pauline theology.

      • Jory
        Ouch. He’s an awfully careful and respected scholar by an awful lot of people including a past pastor of mine who is a major champion for women in ministry. Might be good to deal with his arguments, not his person. Point out biases, help him and all to correct them if they are still there —
        Thanks and all Christ’s love—
        Teresa

        • I didn’t say he was a bad guy, I said I did not respect his sexist theology. I would not respect a scholar who used various Bible texts to support enslaving or limiting a person based off their skin color, so why would I respect a scholar who supports limiting a human based off their gender? If this is an issue of “fair” and “justice,” Grudem lost my respect a long time ago.

        • Numbers of people who agree with one don’t really equate to sanctioning one’s teachings. I think that is what Jory is speaking about. Grudem may carry himself well with fellow men. But his teachings on the wide subject of women in Christ are hugely destructive to both men and women. I cannot emphasize this more. Grudem’s teachinga can limit women from fully allowing God to use them at His will and for His purposes, and thus limit their intimacy with God.

          There is no helping a person who will not listen. I’ve been a Christian 46 years and watched Grudem and his inner circle of patriarchal complementation Christians only grow stronger in their errors. And he would probably say the same for us.

          Only God can help him. And I will not stop praying for him and all those who spread such teachings.

      • Whoa…wait a minute!

        So, you will cite Cervin, someone who does treat Grudem’s argument with respect (though he disagrees with it), and then (misleadingly, in my opinion) act as if Cervin got the last word…but then you won’t be fair and see how Grudem responds?

        With all due respect, that’s not fair scholarship. I disagree with a lot of people and question their perspectives and even their motives. But, if I’m going to fairly, thoroughly, and truthfully engage an issue, I can’t cite someone, agree with someone’s response, and then leave it at that. That’s like someone responding to one of your posts and then everyone ignoring your rejoinder.

        Furthermore, how could you, with integrity, refuse to acknowledge Grudem’s response when he clearly shows that Cervin was in error at points? You favorably point out Cervin’s comment about Grudem and original texts, but Grudem shows that he did not say what Cervin thought he did. Aren’t you misleading your readers?

        Also, I think dismissing Grudem outright is also uncharitable. I don’t agree with everything he says, but the meaning of kephale is an important issue in the gender debate in the Church, and there’s probably no one who should be engaged more than Grudem, even if you disagree.

        I’m sorry, but I found your response to be very disappointing. You accuse Grudem of having a bias, but you’re not grappling with your own. Grudem would disagree with your points, but he would also engage you charitably.

        Finally, I’m not sure I would consider Galatians 3:28 to be the foundation of Pauline theology. Furthermore, I’m not sure it means what you think it does, especially since it was this same Paul whose words lead Grudem to the position that he holds.

        • I would not respect a scholar who used various Bible texts to support enslaving or limiting a person based off their skin color, so why would I respect a scholar who supports limiting a human based off their gender? If this is an issue of “fair” and “justice,” Grudem lost my respect a long time ago.

          • Jory
            Be patient with me while I tell a story. There was once an offensive sales guy who made me angry with his off-color comments trying diminish my technical credibility. When I was sent to executive coaching the coach asked me to work with this very guy — said it would teach me more than anything else he could do. Very much to consternation I did this– I did not tell the sakes guy I just did what the coach said. He made me listen and defuse the guy, listen and defuse. When I couldn’t take it anymore he made me ask to remove myself physically for a break. It made me retch. Thing is the dude knew how to sell. By listening I learned how he thought, how to explain to him. Once he saw me as a person and was able to listen himself to our great techy stuff, he became one of the best at selling our techy stuff. Maybe the best.
            Wayne Grudem is not a bully like this dude was, so the comparison is not perfect. In order to defuse bias we have a lot of listening and defusing to do. I’d like your continued leadership in that! It will require however being able to listen to many you will not in the end agree with, at least not before a long back and forth completes. The road is long, the goal worthy.
            Teresa

          • Thank you Teresa. I will consider that. But you do need to understand that I have spent all of my adulthood listening to these complementarian arguments and no matter how “nice” they put it, the arguments are the same as slave owners use to make (using the Bible). “Separate but equal” is NOT equal. I have had enough of this sort of inequality. I think Grudem is a “Bible bully.” He writes theology that limits people based off a non-choice. I did not choose to be born a girl and neither did you, yet I am being limited based off this and so are you. Comps do not limit men whatsoever. I serve a God of justice and this is not just.

          • Jory,

            I appreciate your passion on this, but allow me to make two points.

            1. I loathe the fact that Jonathan Edwards both owned slaves and justified it Biblically. I thin

          • Jory,

            I appreciate your passion on this, but allow me to make two points.

            1. I loathe the fact that Jonathan Edwards both owned slaves and justified it Biblically. I think his thought and actions are a stain on Christianity, especially since he is so highly esteemed by some. However, in challenging his arguments, it’s not fair for me to selectively ignore certain writings just because I don’t like the individual. Doing so undermines my own position and integrity. Do you really want to model that form of dialogue? As Christians, we will encounter many people whose position we despise, I hope that we can do so charitably.

            2. I understand that you can’t stand complementarianism, but I would pause before comparing it to a slave-holding theology. Slavery was based upon the idea of blacks being ontologically subordinate to whites, justifying any form of brutal treatment. Complementarianism affirms the ontological equality of the sexes, but sees that women and men have different yet complementary roles. Unlike slavery, I see people trying to grasp with the Scriptural witness the best they can, evidenced by the fact that many women are complementarians while no blacks supported slavery. If a separation of roles based upon gender is hateful, then I wonder how you read the OT.

            Also, I don’t know where you stand on the issue of homosexuality. Do you believe that LGBT individuals should have the right to marry and serve at any position of leadership in the Church because denying them that right is limiting them based upon a non-choice?

          • I plan to write on the similarities of complementarianism and slave owners sometime in the near future. I encourage you to follow the blog for an adequate and well researched response to your questions.

          • You won’t respond to the portions of my posts regarding a Christian, gracious, and charitable way of dealing with people that you disagree with and, perhaps, despise. But, I understand that that’s secondary to your overall goal (in this post and your responses, at least) of presenting complementarianism in an unfavorable light and its proponents as analogous to slave owners.

            I’ll leave you alone, but hopefully this brief dialogue will encourage your readers – even those who agree with your gender position – to frame the issue differently than you do.

            Amazing: Gandhi was friends with British politicians who were colonizing his land and people, Israeli and Palestinian leaders can sit down and negotiate despite centuries of a tortured history, but complementarians are off-limits for egalitarians?

          • I have spent lots of time responding you and have shown your respect as a human, but you will never see me painting complementarianism in a positive light. I think it is an evil doctrine that many great, godly people have bought into. Love the complementarian, don’t love the complementarianism. God bless. 🙂

          • Teresa, I really appreciate what you are saying about giving everyone a break, about long suffering type of taking a breath and going on. That is my mental picture of what you did. Grudem does have social gifts and he is a believer in Christ as Lord. So, you are correct that we should not kick him ‘out of the ballpark’ of Christian fellowship. If we met him in person, he may even be likable on some levels.

            However, and a big however, his erroneous teachings about women are indeed bullish. Since I have conversed online rather closely with those close to Grudem, (sometime in the nineties) those men who deeply believe the ‘comp’ teachings, I will say that those in the same inner circle as Grudem all share a certain disdain for womenkind based on their views that God values men more. I won’t bore you with examples of the “trash mouth” , condemning and public ridiculing ways they talked with me and other women at that time. I won’t go into intimate details of how they tried to destroy my and other women’s credibility with our own churches. And I am sorry to say that this is not all that uncommon. These men are dangerous to a woman’s spiritual life. While it may be that it could be possible to influence a one on one interaction with kindness, patience and sincere affection, they don’t work that way. Their beliefs hinder and limit their interactions with women. A black man is more welcomed than a woman of any society.

            Another’ however’ is that I agree that we can learn from them. They stick together like glue. They would never publicly criticize one of their own. They’ll do it behind public eyes, and never talk about it. They will always support, honor and respect one of their own. If one of their own falls, they will rally around them to get them back up (more often sooner then they should); considerMark Driscoll.

            So, we need enough balance to love and honor them as fellow humans and fellow Christians as well as enough wisdom to recognize they can do damage to us like a fire, if we get too close to them. I may not be saying this perfectly, but please consider this.

        • PA, the other responses by Grudem have already been answered more than one qualified Biblical scholars. Suzanne McCarthy who was a linguist has done extensive research on this very subject, and has thoroughly checked each and every one of Grudem’s claims. She has published online her research repudiating Grudem’s hugely erroneous claims regarding the usage of ‘kephale’. You can find some of her research at http://bltnotjustasandwich.com/author/suzmccarth/. There is more research at her old personal webpage which I think is still up.

          It is my recollection also that Kevin Giles, who is still living, has also refuted Grudem’s claims in a few of Giles books. Check “The Trinity and Subordinationism”, ‘The Eternal Generation of the Son’, and Jesus and the Father. Philip Payne’s , One In Christ, is also helpful. However, the most extensive research on the meaning of ‘kephale’ has been done by McCarthy and Giles.

          Regarding Grudem, he has been found in so many inacurracies of research regarding the whole subject of women that it is easy to see his agenda is that of maintaining male dominance in family and church.

  • Hey Jory–Still following! Certainly I don’t females were created just for reproduction. They were created fully human in image of God to glorify him! But the attributes that make them female (as opposed to male) specifically are surely for reproduction… I think it is a mistake when people try to make female-ness be something more…the rest of us is HUMAN.

    Happy New Year!

    PS I also saw that you responded to re Sensible’s comments on Grudem somewhere…do you have a way to get his response to the arguments on the site you reference. I think that would be interesting. Should we try?

  • Has anyone ever responded to Wayne Grudems 1990 and 2001 critiques that have never been countered by the two respective scholars that he was arguing against? And what about the argument that kephale meaning a position of greater authority in the new testament is the consensus among scholars https://christianstudies.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/does-kephale-mean-source/? Also what about the claim that egalitarian scholars were a result of the 70’s feminist movement and that there were no arguments in favor of egalitarianism before then?

    • Eric
      I’m not sure if dates on replies but the most recent work seemed to be Suzanne McCarthy, a linguist, 2014 at bltnotjustasandwich.com. However references to Kephale work may go back to 2008 not sure there was substantive response past that or not.

      Does it matter if first surfaced in 70’s?
      There may many jewels hidden in scripture till we are ready for them. some things that were done do to culture or lack of technology have changed…

      Teresa

  • Hi Jory,
    In the above article, you make the following claim: “There is but one leader in the Christian Home and Church and His name is Jesus Christ.”

    Would you mind providing your source (Biblical reference) from which you derived this claim?

    Thanks!

  • Has anyone ever responded to Wayne Grudems 1990 and 2001 critiques that have never been countered by the two respective scholars that he was arguing against? And what about the argument that kephale meaning a position of greater authority in the new testament is the consensus among scholars https://christianstudies.wordpress.com/2011/05/07/does-kephale-mean-source/? Also what about the claim that egalitarian scholars were a result of the 70’s feminist movement and that egalitarianism wasn’t a thing before then?

    • Didn’t see that my comment was posted this whole time. I saw conversations in differing numerical orders, so had no idea where to find this on above that I now double posted.

  • Thanks for the discussion. By googling Cervin, I was able to find an even better informed meta-study of the kephale dispute by Alan F. Johnson, summarizing Grudem, Cervin and a number of other excellent studies.
    http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&frm=1&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwjvnsv9pJnNAhVLKiYKHY3nDewQFggcMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.cbeinternational.org%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fpp204_5amsotdotmohipw.pdf&usg=AFQjCNFxOdIvXJAhVNrCjM73jfoPvpC2Ng&bvm=bv.124088155,d.eWE
    From this I am led to conclude that Grudem overreacted to the “source” interpretation and that neither “source” nor “authority” are strong interpretations of the term in either Eph 5 or I Cor. 11.
    By stepping back from our egalitarian/complementarian debate, we can occasionally remove some of the clutter and get back to Scripture. My own studies of the headship presented in the OT leads me to a view that representation is one of the best interpretations. If there is Union, there need be but one spokesman, who is not necessarily the decision-maker. Ideally decisions are consensual, but within a mutuality of love and service, decisions are never authoritarian.
    And yet I remain baffled at the attractiveness of authority to some eager to deny authority in headship. “Lording it over” is the opposite of Christ’s call in any role.
    Just wanted to pipe in. I have enjoyed reading the back and forth.

  • Jory, you do realize that almost every lexical source in existence has no qualms about the meaning of κεφαλή, right? They reject the meaning “source” or “origin”

    Here are MANY examples with citation references for your convenience:

    “It has been pointed out, however, that the images of Christ as head and of the church as body are distinct metaphors. The former can describe Christ’s supremacy over the whole universe (Eph 1:22; Col 2:10), even though the universe is never described as the body of Christ. This usage may reflect the LXX associations between κεφαλή and ἀρχή/ἄρχων when translating Heb. רֹאשׁ (see above, JL 2). E. P. Clowney argues that “usage has so faded the original metaphor that there is no necessary implication whatever that the head stands in any organic connection with the body.… Even when Christ as ‘head’ is brought in close connection with the body the independence of the metaphor remains. When Paul describes the members of the body of Christ, he does not hesitate to use the eye and the ear as sample members of the body. If he thought in composite terms, of Christ as the head and the body as the torso, he would not have chosen parts of the head to illustrate members of the body. Efforts to explain the physiology of Paul’s supposed composite metaphor in Eph. 4:11–16 have been in vain. How does the body grow up into the head? How is the body framed and knit together by the head? The point is that Paul’s image of the church as a body is the image of a whole body, head included, a new man in Christ. Christ is the head over the whole body as the husband is the head over the wife (cf 1 Cor. 11:3; Eph. 5:23). Only by keeping the metaphors distinct can they be properly understood” (E. P. Clowney, “Interpreting the Biblical Models of the Church,” in Biblical Interpretation and the Church, ed. D.A. Carson [1985], 64–109, esp. 81).” [NIDNTTE, 671]

    “The underlying issue was one of freedom in the light of the new and equal standing of the sexes before God. Paul is concerned not only with freedom but V 2, p 672 also with order in society. For him the role and relationships of the sexes that are determined by creation are not abolished by the gospel, and this fact must be reflected in public worship. His initial argument is the God-Christ-man-woman hierarchy (1 Cor 11:3). The view that κεφαλή here means “source/origin” rather than “chief/ruler” (see esp. S. Bedale, “The Meaning of κεφαλή in the Pauline Epistles,” JTS n.s. 5 [1954]: 211–15) is not supported by the lexicographical evidence (cf. W. A. Grudem, “The Meaning of κεφαλή: A Response to Recent Studies,” TrinJ 11 [1990]: 3–72). One must admit, however, that the figure of head as “ruler” normally denotes authority over a group or community, and it seems odd to speak of someone as being the head of a single individual in this sense. More likely the term here conveys the general notion of a person having priority or preeminence. If so, how the woman behaves “reflects upon the man who as her head is representative of her, the prominent partner in the relationship” (A. C. Perriman, “The Head of a Woman: The Meaning of κεφαλή in 1 Cor. 11:3,” JTS n.s. 45 [1994]: 602–22, esp. 621).” [NIDNTT, 671–672]

    “② A being of high status, head, fig.
    Of the husband in relation to his wife 1 Cor 11:3b; Eph 5:23a.” [BDAG, 542]

    “87.51 κεφαλήb, ῆς f: (a figurative extension of meaning of κεφαλήa ‘head,’ 8.10) one who is of supreme or pre-eminent status, in view of authority to order or command—‘one who is the head of, one who is superior to, one who is supreme over.’ ὅς ἐστιν ἡ κεφαλή, Χριστός ‘who is the head, (even) Christ’ Eph 4:15; παντὸς ἀνδρὸς ἡ κεφαλὴ ὁ Χριστός ἐστιν, κεφαλὴ δὲ γυναικὸς ὁ ἀνήρ, κεφαλὴ δὲ τοῦ Χριστοῦ ὁ θεός ‘Christ is supreme over every man, the husband is supreme over his wife, and God is supreme over Christ’ 1 Cor 11:3.” [Louw and Nida, 738]

    “Most often kephalē refers to the human head (Matt 6:17). The word can also refer to the entire person (1 Cor 11:4). By extension, the word can refer metaphorically to those who are of high status (Eph 1:22).” [LTW]

    “Both the independence of Ephesians and its dependence on Paul and Colossians are seen in the three κεφαλή passages, in literary terms most clearly in Eph 4:15 (→ 5.a on Col 2:19). The (pre-)Pauline motif of the subjection of the cosmos (→ πᾶς) and of Christ’s exaltation over everything determines the cosmic-ecclesiological κεφαλή Christology of Eph 1:22 (cf. Steinmetz 86–89). In 5:23 also, where the dominance of the husband over the wife (cf. 1 Cor 11:3, → 3.b) finds its analogy (ὡς) in the relationship of Christ to the Church; κεφαλή is intended to express sovereignty (cf. Howard 355f.). An association with the idea of the unity of Christ the head and his ecclesiastical body is made by means of the appearance of σῶμα in the immediate context (on the similarity of “the conception of the God of all as macroanthropos” see Fischer 76–78).” [Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, 286]

    • Everyone is aware, Rafe, that many lexicons make such claims about κεφαλή. Quite a few that you did not cite don’t list authority as a possibile definition at all.

      The most prominent lexicon of ancient Greek is the Liddell Scott. In its entry it lists 25 metaphorical uses of the word kephalé, and none of them refers to authority. So the issue is not at all as settled in the complementarian’s favor as you would have us believe. Even Wayne Grudem admits that the use of κεφαλή in that way was very rare.

      I think the Septuagint provides overwhelming evidence that those early translators knew full well that there was a conflict between κεφαλή and the idea of authority. They avoided such connotations like the plague, resorting to such a use only when it couldn’t be avoided.

      Here is a piece I wrote about that: https://thisbrother.wordpress.com/2015/08/11/ancient-bible-scholars-weigh-in-on-the-meaning-of-the-word-head/

  • To assert that Cervin favors “source” over “chief of authority” is a misleading thing for Jory to do. He actually favors a meaning that is not far from what Grudem is proposing, and is not at all conflicting to complementarians:

    “What then does Paul mean by his use ofhead in his letters? He does not mean “authority over,” as the traditionalists assert, nor does he mean “source” as the egalitarians assert. I think he is merely employing a head-body metaphor, and that his point is preeminence.”

    Grudem notes this in his response to Cervin, something that Jory did not feel was valuable to interact with in her so called, “Master’s Thesis”,

    “Cervin says that “head” does not mean either “authority” or “source” in Paul’s Epistles, but rather means “preeminent.” Cervin writes, “What then does Paul mean by his use of head in his letters? He does not mean ‘authority over,’ as the traditionalists assert, nor does he mean ‘source’ as the egalitarians assert. I think he is merely employing a head-body metaphor, and that his point is preeminence” (p. 112). Cervin goes on to explain how this would apply to the passages on husband and wife in the NT: “How can the husband be preeminent over his wife? In the context of the male-dominant culture of which Paul was a part, such a usage would not be inappropriate” (p. 112). So it seems to me that even if all of Cervin’s criticisms of my article were valid, his article would still have to be seen as a rejection of the egalitarian claim that κεφαλή means “source” in the NT, and an affirmation of an understanding of the NT teaching on male headship that is congenial with (though not identical to) the one that I previously argued for. If his final explanation of the meaning “preeminent” with reference to “the male-dominant culture of which Paul was a part”3 were correct, his article would have to be seen as a modification of my position, not a rejection of it.”

    Not interacting with Grudem’s response to Cervin, or those such as Thiselton or Perriman on this issue really shows Jory’s bias.

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