We shall now turn our attention to the most fundamental Scriptural motivation for the proper place of the woman in the church respecting the teaching office. The place of the woman is that of subordination. She is to learn in silence in all subjection.
The term in the Greek for silence is “Heesuchia,” that is, that quietness which is rooted’ in the fear of God and which is descriptive of one who remains at home doing his own God-ordained task without officiously meddling in the affairs of others.
And the term subjection comes from the Greek term “upotagee.” In the classic Greek this term has an active sense: subjecting others. However, in the New Testament the term is used in a passive sense: that of being subjected.
The term itself is a composite of “upo” and “tagee.” The latter comes from the verb “tassoo” which refers to that which is placed in a certain “order.” God has assigned each creature his own place, dignity, honor. Thus the angels have their own “order,” man has his own “order” in all things, and Christ is also said to have His own peculiar order in all things as the first-born out of the dead and the first-born of all creatures. When this order is disarranged by sin we have revolution, the overturning of the ordinances of God. The recruit in the army must not attempt to parade with the uniform of the five star general! He will be court-martialed.
Applied to the subject at hand here in the test this means that God has assigned the woman a place which no one may or can take from her with impunity. However, that place is that of “subordination” to the man. Hers is the place of obedient subjection to her husband in the home and in the church. What a place of glory this is in the plan of the history of the church and the salvation of the redeemed of all ages we have pointed out in our former essay.
Paul points out the place of women by pointing to two matters recorded us in the book of Genesis. The first is that of the manner of the creation of Adam in distinction from the creation of Eve. The second is the prominent place of Eve in the fall in distinction from Adam.
We do well to pay close attention to both.
In the first place then the manner of the creation of Adam in distinction from the creation of Eve. Writes Paul: “For Adam was first created and then Eve.”
We do well to observe that this is not simply a trite saying on the part of Paul. He here posits a basic truth. There is something unique about the “forming” of Adam. God so formed and constructed Adam that he is not simply created “first” in the sense that it refers to the order of time, but also in the sense that Adam was so formed that he is “first” as to his God-ordained place in the created world. He is so formed that he has the pre-eminence!
When God as the sovereign potter took the earth from which he formed “Adam” he made a vessel of him that was pre-eminent! Man is the glory of God. He made the “man” so that Eve is created in him. For this reason he made but one individual man. He did not make many men, bringing forth each man individually from the earth. Thus He must have made the male animals and also the female animals. Says He: “Let the earth bring forth animals . . .” However, in the case of Adam not so. Here but one individual man. And, this very distinction in creation, Adam must be taught to see when God brings the animals to him to see what he would name them. And this pre-eminence of Adam over Eve is emphatically underscored when God causes a deep sleep to fall upon Adam and he takes Eve out of Adam, separates her from him by His creative act. Then, when God brings the woman to’ Adam, he interprets this act of creation thus: “This timeGod hath made this bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” And ever the ordinance of God is that the “man was not formed for the woman, but the woman was formed for the man.” That is not simply true physically, but this is also true psychologically. In her very nature the woman is a “help-meet.” I was once in the house of representatives of a certain State of our Republic. There were women representatives. I observed that they were rather “helpers” of the male representatives. They could not rise above their own created limitations.
Such is the lesson of creation.
And in the annals of history such too is ever the case. “Adam” is lx-e-eminent! And although the woman shares equally in the grace in Christ Jesus with the man, her position in this world is that of “subordination.” Sin did not destroy this created ordinance of God; it can only pervert it. And, for this perversion of this ordinance, godly women must needs allow no room in their lives as they work out their salvation with fear and trembling!
In the pre-eminence of their husbands, women professing godliness will see the prototype of the mystery of godliness that is great, to wit, that Christ as the first-born, the last Adam, has the pre-eminence over all things, subjecting all things unto himself. He has his own “order,” rank, dignity. And so does the man in relationship to the woman. This “order” of the man is perverted by sin in sinful lordship and tyranny. But the ordinance, as created by God, is maintained by Christ in the church and restored to, its integrity and dignity as it was “from the beginning.” He sanctified it in his blood on the Cross of Calvary. It is part of our salvation here in this life ere we enter the life to come where men do not marry, but are like the angels in heaven. And that pre-eminence a godly woman will honor in the Lord.
Hence, a godly woman will reverence her husband, as she does the Lord himself. And such reverence is of great price before God.
However, there is also the lesson of the fall of man.
In his fall the woman, Eve, played the prominent role. Writes Paul: “And Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression.” The Greek here in the text is instructive on two points. The first point deals with the term where it is said that “the woman was beguiled.” The form of the verb, “ex-apateetheisan” seems to point toward the fact that the woman was completely beguiled by the Serpent. She was beguiled once and for all, and that, too, irreparably! She reached the point of no return. Hence, she came into the state of permanent transgression when Adam was still in the state of rectitude. When Adam was still in the original state-sand condition of rectitude, Eve was in the state of having fallen. Such is the implication of the perfect tense in the Greek “en parabasin gegonen,” that is, became into the permanent state of having fallen. She had become an enemy of God, hater of God and her husband. Shehad become incapable of doing any good and had become prone to all evil!
Let us underscore this from the actual account in Genesis 3. The moment Eve ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, she turned to give to her husband. Shecould do nothing else but be the accomplice of the Devil. She could no longer live with a good husband. She became a temptress, a veritable Delilah! And that is ever the role of the sinful in history. There are many Cleopatras in history. Such are the deep intrigues in national and international life. Women, sinful women, are not to be trusted. And the fact that Eve, the woman, was first in the transgression is not to be minimized! Eve sallied forth to tempt Adam and drag him with herinto her own destruction. It is, stated very simply and factually in Genesis 3: “And she gave also unto her husband with her and he did eat.” But God knows the prominent role that Eve played in this “transgression” for he says to Adam, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife . . . .”
God has put this in His book of remembrance.
It is written for our instruction and admonition.
In the church and in the Christian home this is still to be remembered. The “flesh” in the Christian wife is still the same flesh of Eve that was first in the transgression. And, therefore, the woman must be in subjection. At her best in Paradise she could not, when she went out of her role, be an instructor. She corrupted the text of God when she spoke to the Serpent.
Hence, when a woman, professing godliness, must complain about her flesh in which “dwells no good,” but is “sold under sin” she has a different complexity of sin than has the man. Her nature, the old man, is very subtle. She does well when she doesn’t speak in the church!
A godly woman who knows the greatness of her misery as confessed in the Heidelberg Catechism says: “I cannot keep the commandments perfectly.” I am prone, as a woman is prone, to hate God and my neighbor. And that is the experience in the church.
Wherefore let her learn in all subjection. It must be totalsubjection. That is her freedom. Thus she is the very opposite of the tempting Eve. She is the picture of the saved church. She is, in her subjection, as picture to Adam of the new obedience. Instead of a temptation to sin to her husband, she is the “help-meet” in the Lord to strengthen him in his calling as “Adam.” Next to and under her husband she rules over the children, demanding the same subordination in her children, which she exhibits in her life. Where such a “quiet” godly woman dwells we have the perfect “kindergarten” of the Lord, where children are brought up in the fear and nurture of God. The honor that the children accord their father will reflect the honor and subordination a wife accords her husband.
In this new obedience we will have a strong church and homes.
And when presently the church shall be in glory in the full silence of obedience to Christ, then it will be seen that the godly woman was the picture of the church in relationship to Christ.
Such is the “mystery” revealed.
Small wonder that those who would teach a social gospel, the experts in the field of marriage relationship, and marriage counselors are themselves the blind that lead the blind. A noted marriage counselor was himself divorced. Yet he posed as a know-all before a large radio audience. And the name of such counselors is legion.
We have the more sure prophetic word unto which we do well to give heed as unto a light shining in a dark place until the day dawn and the day-star arise in our hearts.
No “Dorothy Dix” advice which is at best earthy, natural and devilish! What we have here is the fear of the Lord which is the beginning, the principle of wisdom.