Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Masculine Directive

For years I’ve wrestled with the Christian concept of male headship of the home and family. I’m sure it’s a combination of the time and the culture in which I was raised, along with the confusion that most people have regarding equality. (Equality is not sameness. We have equal value, but different roles - otherwise, there’d be no reason for different people.)

Until now, I’ve reluctantly “accepted” that it’s the role of the man to be in headship of his household. Frankly, I didn’t like the idea at all, but resolved that if that’s what God directed, then I should accept it.

Then, recently, my 14 year old son asked my wife a question that, at first, might seem to be unrelated, but proved otherwise. It was around Christmas, and he had been thinking about Jesus, in general, and the Christmas story, in particular. He asked, “Do you think Mary knew that Jesus was born without sin?”

When I heard this, my first thought was, “Of course she did. She was a virgin, and yet conceived. The angel Gabriel told her Jesus would be called the Son of the Highest.” Then I realized two things. Gabriel didn’t actually come right out and say that Jesus would be born without sin. In my opinion, it was certainly implied, but maybe not understood. The second thing I realized was that Jesus actually told the disciples things which they nevertheless seemed surprised at when it was borne out. So, maybe she didn’t know. Good question.

This made me ask, “Was Jesus actually born without sin?” I know that Catholic doctrine says that even Mary was born (or even conceived) without sin, so therefore, Jesus was also. I’m not Catholic, and, while I don’t wish to argue the point, I don’t subscribe to this doctrine.

But if the argument is made that Jesus, as well as being fully God, was fully human - and was in fact born from a human mother’s womb - how can it be argued, being as all men are born with original sin, that he was born without sin?

This proved to be a fascinating study for me. I’ve since heard other people talk in similar terms, so I know it’s not original, but it was new to me at the time.

Jesus was born of a woman’s seed - as prophesied in Genesis 3:15. Every other time in the Bible, when it talks about seed, it’s always a man’s seed. That makes sense, as it’s the man who carries the seed. So, why would it speak about a woman’s seed? At first glance, it doesn’t make sense. Until you examine the circumstances of Jesus’ birth.

Jesus was born of a woman’s seed - or stock, if you will - He was born as a baby to a woman. However, He was NOT the result of a man’s seed. There was nothing of Joseph, physically, in Jesus. So, the prophecy makes sense. He was born of a woman’s seed. He was still human, so wasn’t He born with original sin?

No! And this is where it ties in with the subject of male headship. The sin nature resulting from disobedience to God was not carried in Eve (or the woman). It’s was carried in Adam (the man). It was Adam to whom God gave the command to not eat of the tree. Eve wasn’t even created yet, at that point.

Yes, Eve was aware of the command. We know that Adam passed along the command, because she repeats it to the serpent. But if you read Genesis, you’ll see that it was Adam - and only Adam - that God commanded. He was the responsible party. From the beginning, God intended the man to be in headship over his wife - and in SUBMISSION to God! He disobeyed god and bore the punishment by having a sin nature. The reason all humans have a sin nature is because all humans are descendants of Adam. All except Jesus. Jesus has no connection to Adam other than through Mary’s ancestors - but, while the mother may carry the sin nature, she does not pass it along. The father passes it along. Which is why it’s so critical to understand that Jesus was not born of an earthly father.

So, it’s actually for the same reason that we know that Jesus did not have a sin nature, that we also know that God has designed male headship. Adam was the responsible party, not Eve.

To be completely honest, I’m still not sure I LIKE the idea, but now, as well as accepting it, I also understand it.

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