Where and how we start in our interpretation of Scripture determines where we will end up. When seeking to understand the relevance of the Bible’s teaching for our lives, interpretive starting points are particularly significant. The method by which we read and derive meaning from Scripture is the fundamental determinant of the nature of the meaning we will derive.
In this lecture, Dirkey traces the beginnings of patriarchy from the fall through the patriarchal years of the Old Testament. He argues that both Jesus and Paul were against patriarchy before ending by explaining that patriarchy will be abolished in the end times.
A man and woman are seen on stage. The man has two envelopes in his hands. The words "To: Husbands" are written on one envelope, and "To: Wives" is written on the other. The
man holds the envelopes so the audience can read the inscriptions. He takes the message from the envelope marked "To: Wives" and reads it quickly.
Upon first acquaintance with Ephesians 5:21–33, I was pretty turned off. The husband is the head of his wife? How could this be taken as anything other than an insult to women? My reaction: I already have a head, thank you very much. It may not be perfect, but it’s at least comparable to that of any male I know.
Whether through sermons or wedding vows or Christian books, we have been conditioned to see different primary roles for husbands and wives. Many churches teach that a wife’s role is one-way submission to her husband. Sometimes we are vague about what submission means, but feel strongly that there is hierarchy in marriage and that it is of utmost importance. The apostle Paul’s letters are often the basis of these teachings. Yet, is Paul advocating hierarchy in marriage, or is he encouraging mutuality?
The exclusion of women from church leadership has often been justified by a misinterpretation of the New Testament household codes. Paul actually opposed the cultural relegation of women to a secondary status. In fact, the household codes’ treatment of women conveys the love and grace of the gospel, in contrast to the patriarchal hierarchy that dominated the first-century Greco-Roman world.