A review of Frank Viola’s article


In Genesis 3:16 God said to Eve after she ate the forbidden fruit, “Your desire shall be for your husband and he shall rule over you.” What God put in place concerning the proper roles of men and women gets misunderstood in human “logic” because humans tend to think too much about such things as “my rights” and “who is boss over whom?” God does not. Viola’s persistent complaint against this distinction is a charge of “discrimination.” When God designated the man as leader of the family, “the woman’s head” (1 Cor. 11:30) it had nothing to do with dictatorship. It had to do with leadership. When He designated the woman as submissive it had nothing to do with enslavement. It had to do with supportiveness, cooperation. In fact, in Malachi 2 when the men mistreated their wives, God was so angered that He cut off communication, did not receive their worship. He said “She is your companion and the wife of your covenant.” (Verse 14) So marriage is a companionship, a cooperative venture. The couple have a covenant in which the wife agrees to her role and the husband agrees to his role. When this is not respected God is displeased.

This is the principle Paul cited as the reason for saying what he did in 1 Timothy 2:11-14. One thing Viola is right about is that the word translated “silence” there refers to a temporary holding back from speaking for a specific purpose, not permanent silence. What the passage specifically says is that the woman is not to deviate from the proper role of women by taking a leadership role and taking authority over a man. There is no question that the text says this. The only problem is that from the human perspective this looks like discrimination. So the question “Why did God set it up this way?” is a question that needs to be considered.

As in the beginning when God instituted the home and family he appointed the man to be the bread winner, protector, leader etc. it was because this is a system that works. It is not a matter of authority. The man is the leader and the wife is the supporter, or “help meet.” Together they work it out. Several times in the Bible God told a man to give heed to his wife’s counsel. He told Abraham to heed what Sarah told him. (Gen. 21:12) But any institution or organization has to have the order that comes when persons are appointed to fill the necessary roles and each one fulfills that role.

So it is in the church. The principle of male leadership and female supportiveness is prescribed because it is a system that will work. God appointed that men shall fill the leadership roles. Elders and deacons are to be “the husband of one wife” and must be men who have demonstrated an ability to lead in what they have done with their own families. No woman can do this. But, as Viola mentioned, women had a definite place in the life of the church in apostolic times, even in evangelism, as many scriptures attest. But everything they did had to be within the scope of their proper role as women. They were not to reverse the appointed roles of men and women. This is the Biblical position between the two extremes. The extreme in one direction has it that women cannot speak at all where men are present and the other extreme has it that if women are restrained at all it would be discrimnation.

If the divinely prescribed principle is set aside chaos and confusion ensue. The man who does not func- tion as a leader of his family, the head of his household, goes off course in either direction, will cause great harm to a lot of people. Men in the church who do not function to provide leadership will see their churches deteriorate and fail in the most important of life’s challenges. God knows what is best. People of faith will do things His way and the result will be success in the things that are of real value. Do not be deceived. This is very important. Satan will destroy it if he can.


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