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Published Date: October 15, 2014

Published Date: October 15, 2014

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A Warrior Priesthood Is Essential: Really? – Part 2

Last week, I introduced why Alastair Roberts’ view that an all-male “warrior priesthood” is essential is both non-biblical and illogical. Now we turn our attention specifically to Genesis 1 and 2.

The True Teaching of Genesis 1 and 2

Some interpreters speak of “two creation accounts” in Genesis 1-2.  My own view is that Genesis 1:1-2:4 is a chronological, though somewhat abbreviated historical account of creation, in which certain key events are highlighted.[1]  Furthermore, I understand that Genesis 2:5-3:24 as a further elaboration and clarification of all that happened during “Day Six”, with a flashback in 2:5-24 to what occurred before God gave Adam and Eve the “cultural mandate” of Gen. 1:28, and then a review and explanation in Genesis 3 of how, perhaps some time after “Day Seven,” God’s vice-regents and coworkers turned away from him and had to be rescued.  Let us first look at Genesis 1:26-28:

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”

So God created human beings in his own image.  In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.

Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply.  Fill the earth and govern it.  Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.

Genesis 1:26-28, NLT

Obviously, in this text, both men and women are fully human; both are created in the “image of God,” both are commissioned to reign over and govern the earth and its creatures for God; and they both apparently serve as priests and prophets between God and the rest of the created world.  But whether engaged as rulers, priests, or prophets, no inequity in their partnership and relationship is either clearly stated or implied here.  As Allison J. Young comments:

What is clear form Genesis 1 is that both man and woman were equally created in the image of God (vv.26-27), told to be fruitful and multiply (v. 28), and given dominion over the world God created (vv. 26-31).  Both were created equal in value in the image of God, and both were given the same task of caring for the earth. Genesis 1 gives no indication that man and woman were created any different, other than one being “male” and the other “female.”  Both are included in the Hebrew term for humanity, adam.

In Genesis 1, man and woman are created at the same time, and no temporal ordering appears. Hierarchists agree that man and woman were both charged with authority over creation, but argue that they will not exercise authority over creation in the same way. Women, they claim, are to be stewards within a position of submission under authority, and men are steward with a position of leadership.  But, such a distinction is not made in Genesis 1.[2]

Now, if as we said earlier that later progressive revelation in Scripture cannot contradict a previous foundational revelation, but only elaborate and clarify it, then Paul’s teaching about men and women in the NT cannot contradict what has been revealed in Genesis 1 and 2.  Therefore the hierarchist position, which pits Paul against Genesis 1 and 2, must be seen as being a position based on faulty interpretation of Paul. The true problem with the hierarchist position is not the text of Scripture itself, but the preconceived ideas and prior theological commitments which the hierarchist tends to bring to the text, which in turn prevents a clear and objective examination of the text.  And so now let us turn to Genesis 2.

In Genesis 2, after God creates Eden, he forms Adam, warns him not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and seeing “it is not good for the man to be alone” creates Eve, “a suitable helper” for him.  And it is this passage where hierarchists argue most for the “creation order” and “male dominance.”  But is that the real intention of this passage?  Carefully consider Gen. 2:18-25:

Then the LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.  I will make a helper who is just right for him.”  So the LORD God formed from the ground all the wild animals and all the birds of the sky.  He brought them to the man to see what he would call them, and the man chose a name for each one…But still there was no helper just right for him.

So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep. While the man slept, the LORD God took out one of the man’s ribs and closed up the opening. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib, and he brought her to the man.

“At last!” the man exclaimed.

“This one is bone from my bone, and flesh from my flesh!

“She will be called ‘woman,’ because she was taken from ‘man.’”

This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.  Now the man and his wife were both naked, but they felt no shame.

Genesis 2:18-25, NLT

Again, it must be asked, what is main intention of this text?  Not to support “male” dominance or primacy per se.  Rather, it is to demonstrate there is a great similarity and unity among men and women as human beings made in God’s image, and to affirm their great need to live in common fellowship that seems paramount here.  Indeed, considering that up until this point everything God has created has been deemed “good,” it is surprising that God declares “not good” man’s living a solitary existence; the clear implication being that Adam, by himself, is incomplete as God’s image bearer.  He needs a helper and partner that “is just right for him” and will work with him to accomplish God purposes on earth.  Hence the necessity of God’s creating Eve.  And why this elimination process of studying and naming the animals before Adam is given Eve as his partner and helper?  To make him appreciate the great gift he had received from God, and so treasure her.  Apparently, Adam got the point about why God had taken him through this process.  For in Genesis 2:23 he says, “At last!  This one is bone from my bone, flesh from my flesh!”  Not what you would expect Adam to say about someone whom he merely viewed as his servant, eh?  No, Adam is here rejoicing in the fact of her similarity and unity with him, as well as her uniqueness.

The story of Adam and Eve, as it is related in Genesis 1-2, demonstrates that both man and woman were created in God’s image, that both were fully and equally responsible for governing and managing the earth for God, and that Eve was created in such a manner as to demonstrate the similarity and one-flesh relationship.  Indeed, as the “strong rescuer” or “mighty ally” (ezer, Hebrew) that complements Adam, Eve is the pinnacle of creation, completing the creation of humanity. Next week, we will see how the Bible says humans are created for unity and mutuality with one another and that this is only restored through the work of Jesus Christ.

Read “A Warrior Priesthood Is Essential: Really? Part 3” here

[1] See J. Oliver Buswell’s discussion on Genesis 1-2 in his Systematic Theology of the Christian Religion, pp. 220-230.  Gen. 2:4, which states, “This is the history of the creation of the heavens and earth, in the day when God created the heavens and the earth (my translation),” is a key text in understanding the connection between Gen. 1 and 2.  As Buswell demonstrates in other portions of Genesis (e.g., Gen. 10:32; 11:27), Gen. 2:4 is a” bridge verse” which summarizes the historical account of Gen. 1:1-2:3 and then connects with Gen. 2-3, which in further clarify and elaborate on Day Six, Gen. 1:24-28.   Now, one could be either an Old Earth or Young Earth Creationist, and arrive at a similar understanding of the “chain of events” occurring within Day Six, though those holding to a strictly 24 hr. creation day might have some difficulty fitting everything together into that one day.   As to whether there is some overlap between the end of Day Six and Day, well, that is something I haven’t quite figured out yet, and a topic of further study for us all, I believe.

[2] Allison J. Young, “In Likeness and Unity: Debunking the Creation Order Fallacy,” Priscilla Papers, Vol. 23, No. 2, Spring 2009, p. 12.