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Sun, Jun 01, 2003

60 - Male, Female Difference

1 Corinthians 11:3 & Genesis 1:26-28 by Robert Dean
Also includes Genesis 3:16
Series:1st Corinthians (2002)
Duration:1 hr 6 mins 32 secs



This section from verses 4-16 specifically addresses some problems, and probably some questions that the Corinthians church had posed to the apostle Paul. This is a passage that is often cited and it often the focal point of a tremendous amount of controversy today, as well as 1 Timothy 2:8-15; and 1 Corinthians 14 which says that women should be silent in the church, which is like a red flag to the feminists, and they want to interpret all of those passages in light of Galatians 3:28. This is such a lightning rod of controversy and it is a difficult passage to interpret because to understand what is going on here you have to understand a lot of what was going on in the Corinthians church and in the culture at the time. So we have to weave our way through two very difficult issues. The first is, you don't want to go too far on the culture side, which is what one tendency is, because then the tendency is to end up saying that everything that Paul is saying about the relationship between men and women, the hierarchical relationship of the man over the wife, is all culturally determined. Once you do that then you could easily go into a lot of passage sin Scripture, take your razor blade and cut those Scriptures out because you could make some sort of culturally relevant argument. On the other hand, if you go too far in the other direction, which might be called a hyper-literalism, you end up making some serious mistakes, and where the Roman Catholic  church and other hyper-traditionalist groups take the head covering as some type of hat or veil and that women can't come intro public worship unless they are wearing a hat or a veil. That goes into a rigid literalism and formalism where women are wearing hats and saying that it shows that they are under the authority of their husbands, and then they go home and wear the pants in the family. So there are all kinds of problems in understanding everything in this passage, but it is crucial to understand this passage if we are going to have the right kind of relationship in the marriage, in the home and in the church that honours and glorifies God.

Paul's argument here is not based on culture. He is approaching this apart from the Jewish distinctive. At this time they were wearing a prayer shawl when  going into the synagogue, and Paul says in v. 4 "Every man who has {something} on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head." That clearly goes against Jewish practice. Furthermore, the high priest had a specified head dress that he wore when he went into the tabernacle and into the temple. So if Paul was talking about covering the head with a physical covering then he would be saying some things that go completely against Judaism and the Old Testament. So there are some real problems here because Paul would then have a difficulty going into a synagogue and participating in the worship there. He would be expected to cover his head with a prayer shawl and that would run counter to that which he says in 1 Corinthians chapter 9 where he says he is going to be all things to all people and when he was with the Jews he was going to be as much like a Jew as possible without sacrificing doctrine. If he was violating those traditions then when he went into the synagogue he would have some major problems, he wouldn't be able to participate in Jewish worship. So it is obvious from looking at the text here that there are many difficulties in understanding this and the most important is that we have to get back to Paul's basic argument. That argument has to do with the created purposes of God for males and females in marriage, in family, and in society at large. The problem we have today is that too many people want to approach the text from a human viewpoint background and it is that culturation, from whatever their background is—for us it is late 20th and early 21st century postmodern and feminist culture—and we want to approach the problem from that framework to make the Bible somehow less abrasive to the way life is generally practiced. 

There were at least three different groups in Corinth that were raising questions about the covering of a woman's head or a man's head. There were those who thought that how they wear their hair was just an irrelevant issue and doesn't have anything to do with worship or daily life, so the women were wearing their hair however they wanted to. On the other hand there were those who said there had to be a strict traditionalism, and so they were arguing that the women had to wear their hair a certain way. Then there was a third group that was arguing for a literal veil type of covering. There were at least those three groups and there may have been a number of others, and each was approaching this from the idea that they were trying to do what Paul said to do. This is not a passage where Paul was dealing with an over-rebelliousness on the part of the Corinthian congregation. He is recognizing (v. 2) is to be biblically correct and to apply the word here but they had gotten off base. So he begins the argument by going to ultimate reality, he doesn't start by how the Romans and the women in Roman society were dressed or how they related to their husbands. He goes back to ultimate reality in terms of man's relationship to God.

He goes to verse 3 NASB "But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ." What we have seen is the word KEPHALE does not mean source, it means authority.

In Genesis 3:16 God addresses the woman: NASB "To the woman He said, 'I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you will bring forth children; Yet your desire will be for your husband, And he will rule over you.'" What happens in this section from verse 14 to verse 23 is that God outlines to each of those involved in the fall what the consequences are of the fall. These are the consequences for the fall, not the penalty for the fall; there is a difference. The penalty for the fall was spiritual death. Spiritual death reverberates throughout all of creation and has numerous consequences. The idea in the Hebrew here is not that the woman could not conceive before hand but that there would have been no pain, no labour, nothing negative related to childbirth whatsoever, and now there is going to be pain, sorrow associated with that, and difficulty. Then, "your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you" is a negative statement relating a consequence of the fall. The Hebrew word for "desire" here is the word teshuqah, and this word is used by Moses in one other place in Genesis, in 4:7,  "If you do well, will not {your countenance} be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire [teshuqah] is for you,…" This is not something positive; this is a desire to control and to dominate. This is a general trend, it doesn't mean that every woman is going to want to dominate and dictate to her husband to the same degree. The desire here is a desire to control, to dominate, to usurp authority. This is a sin nature predilection for every single female in the species, that given a conflict between what she wants and what her husband wants, in 99.9% of the time, unless there has been some serious spiritual growth, she is going to want to do it her way and not his way. That just goes back to the fall. And the other side of the problem is "And he will rule over you." This is the Hebrew word mashal which has the idea in the context of a negative tyrannical reign. This is the beginning of the war of the sexes. Originally under God's order man and female were both created in His image to work together in harmony to fulfil the dominion mandate. The man was the leader, the woman the responder, and yet because of the curse instead of being the helper she wants to be the leader. And now that the man's responsibility is toilsome the tendency on the part of the male is to avoid burdensome responsibility. The trend of the woman is to pursue leadership and responsibility. That structure is only reversed ultimately through salvation and sanctification.

That is how we got this way in a general sense. How did we get this way in our own culture? It wasn't always this way in our culture. It began with the rejection of a biblical view of origin, i.e. creationism, for the mythology of evolution and geologic uniformitarianism. As soon as modern man from the end of the Enlightenment threw out the truth of the Bible in terms of origin he began to come up with his own mythology for origin. We call this Darwinism in a very broad sense, and according to Darwinism:

1)  If all living things evolve from the one time chance transformation of one inorganic molecule into an organic molecule then there are no external absolutes (in terms of absolute laws).If all life is just by chance and just happened that way, then all meaning and values, all norms and standards, are all just a product of chance and random happenings. In other words, it is the creature; man has just generated these things on his own to make life work, therefore they are not based on any absolutes whatsoever.

2)  The current term for this is that all values and societal structures are social constructs. That means that in one society they may construct relationships one ay where they have a matriarchy; in another an extreme patriarchy; in another there way be an emphasis on a non-marital family, i.e. where the family is raised by the mother and one of the brothers; then others where you have two-parent, opposite-sex family structure. So all of these would be simply constructs developed by each individual society, and in postmodernism every society or culture has its own views, they are equally good and equally bad; none is better than the other; none is worse than the other. According to postmodernism everybody comes out of some kind of social construct and this is the bias and the prejudice that they bring when they com e to the Bible. This is what introduce the interpretation problem.

3)  One of the many problems with this is that if all of these are equally good, then extreme patriarchy is as good as matriarchy. But that is not the conclusion they reach, they can't live within their own system. In their own system any view is equally good unless it happens to support male leadership or Christianity or the Bible. They have to throw that social construct out; all other social constructs are valuable. 

4)  The result of this is that men and women are no longer to be understood to be what they are by virtue of God's creation plan, but their identity is determined by sociological factors and culturally relative norms and standards.

5)  That means that man determines these categories and man can reconstruct the categories. They are just socially relative. Thus we have in our day a huge social experiment to make males and females interchangeable. The core problem is that we have bought the lie that men and women's roles are completely interchangeable. However, this flies in the face of a lot of basic observations.

Looking around we can tell the difference between a lot of the men and a lot of the women and it doesn't take a whole lot of intelligence to do so. Nevertheless a major plank in the platform of modern feminism rejects that idea. They try to act as if that is not true and they set forth the notion that men and women are virtually interchangeable. The very fact that they go in and try to change the wording in text books, change pictures, and all that, shows that they want to redefine these differences and act as if they don't exist. Despite the absurdity of that idea they have practiced this big lie technique—i.e. even if something is completely absurd, if you say it loudly enough and long enough then people will begin to believe it; sooner or later it breaks down their defences—many people and many believers have inadvertently absorbed enough of this poisonous idea to have become toxic to modern society. There are many people who don't realize how deeply this has affected their own outlook on life. 

Similarities in men and women

1)  The are both create din the image and likeness of God. Genesis 1:26, 28.

2)  Men and women have the same capacity to reason, to think, to understand, and to communicate.

3)  Physically there are many similarities.

4)  They are both equally marred and defaced by sin, and thus equal in their capacity for sin in their sin nature. Romans 3:23.

5)  Men and women stand in equal need of salvation, and both men and women had their sins paid for by the substitutionary spiritual death of the one Man, Christ Jesus. 1 Timothy 2:5.

Differences in men and women that are documented in medical literature

1)  Men and women differ in every cell of their bodies. This difference is in the chromosome combination and is the basic cause of development into maleness or femaleness as the case may be.

2)  The female has greater constitutional vitality, perhaps because of this chromosome difference. Normally she outlives the male by three or four years in the US.

3)  The sexes differ in the basic metabolism, that of a woman being normally lower than that of a man.

4)  They differ in skeletal structure. The woman has a shorter head, broader face, her chin generally less protruding, shorter legs and a longer trunk. (This is general)

5)  There are differences in the sizes of the internal organs. A woman has a larger stomach, kidneys, liver and appendix, but a woman has smaller lungs and therefore smaller lung capacity.

6)  Women have several important functions totally lacking in the male. Women have menstruation, pregnancy, and lactation. This all relates to the unique role that women have in terms of producing life.

7)  The woman's blood contains more water, she has 20 per cent fewer red cells, and since the red cells supply oxygen to the body cells she tires more easily, she is more prone to faint, and her constitutional viability is therefore strictly a long-range matter.

8)  In brute strength men are fifty per cent above women. In fact, if you take an out-of-shape middle-aged male he can usually bench-press a greater percentage of his body weight than an in-shape younger female.

9)  A woman's heart beats more rapidly: 80 beats per minute versus 72 for the male. A woman's blood pressure averages 10 points lower than a male but it varies from minute to minute. Women have a much lower tendency to high blood pressure until after menopause.

10)  The woman's vital capacity or breathing power is lower than the male by a ratio of seven to ten.

11)  The woman stands a high temperature better than a man does.

There are also some other differences

1)  The male is clearly designed to be an aggressor, to initiate and to penetrate. The female is designed to receive and respond. There are also various differences in brain functioning that are biologically inherent and not determined by cultural factors alone. For example, verbal and spatial abilities in boys operate out of different areas of the brain than in girls.

2)  From shortly after birth females are more sensitive to certain types of sound, particularly to a mother's voice but also to loud noises.

3)  Girls have more skin sensitivity, particularly in the fingertips, and are more proficient at fine motor performance.

4)  Girls speak sooner, have larger vocabularies, rarely demonstrate speech defects, exceed boys in language abilities and learn foreign languages more easily. 

5)  Boys show early visual superiority.

6)  Girls are more attentive to social contexts, faces, speech patterns and subtle vocal clues.

7)  Boys have better total body coordination but are poorer at detailed hand activities, e.g. stringing beads.

8)  Boys have different attentional mechanisms and will react as quickly to an inanimate objects as to a person.

9)  Boys are more curious about exploring their environment.

10)  Boys are better at manipulating three-dimensional space.

11)  Of eleven sub-tests given for psychological measurement in "the most widely used general intelligence test" only two, i.e. digit span and picture arrangement, revealed similar means scans for male and females. These sex differences are so consistent that since the 1970s the standard battery for this intelligence test now contains a masculine and feminine index to offset sex related efficiencies and deficiencies.

12)  Girls who are assertive and active and can control events have greater intellectual development. While these factors are not as significant in male intellectual development.

13)  More boys are hyperactive—more than 90% are males.

14)  Because the male brain is primarily visual and learns by manipulating his environment listening instruction for boys in early elementary grades is more stressful for them. Girls, therefore, tend to exceed them at that age.

15)  Girls do less well on scholarship tests that are more geared for male performance at higher grades.

16)  Men are generally more aggressive, more inclined toward planned organization, and more likely to be interested in external environment, while women are more people-related and better at details and communication and hand dexterity.

These are general trends noted in a variety of different studies. All of this supports the biblical teaching that there is a difference between men and women. God designed them not only different physically but different in terms of their soul talents and makeup. The man is designed as a leader; he has leadership traits, whereas the woman is designed to be a responder and a receiver.