Woman came from man, but she is an independent image bearer and does not live under man’s umbrella and is not simply an extension of him. She is what God declared man NEEDED in order to accomplish the work & mission God gave his image bearing creatures. Man & Woman are partners.
When God created man & woman, he created them as partners. It was in this partnership that the first man & woman entered into a Covenant with distinct roles. However, the partnership dynamic between man & woman comes before any “authority” role distinction.
Therefore, partnership is the foundation of marriage not authority & submission. Any theology or biblical exegesis that places authority as foundational to manhood & submission foundational to womanhood is missing the foundation God laid for his image bearers; they are partners.
A husband and wife are chiefly partners who serve thru distinct roles. If you miss the foundation of partnership and seek to replace it with “authority” & “submission”, you WILL find abuses of power and degrees of subjugation. Men, your wife is your PARTNER not your servant!
Outside of marriage, men & women are partners in stewarding the Earth & in Christ, advancing Kingdom. Man needs woman b/c God decreed that such a work needed a pair with unique differences (gender) to be done most effectively. Women are PARTNERS in the work of obtaining dominion.
A young woman is under the authority of her father. As she becomes an adult she becomes a partner w/ him in stewarding the Earth and advancing the Kingdom. Honor and dignity remain. She may grant him a level of authority thru virtue of fatherhood, but she is chiefly a partner.
Any version of complementarianism that seeks to lay authority/submission as foundation of gender relations is suffering from an over-emphasis & possibly even an unhealthy obsession with power dynamics. So much so many have even inserted concept into Trinitarian relations (ESS).
If we are to talk about gender relations in marriage, we must analyze what the Bible says about how roles within a covrnantal marriage/partnership serve the God intended purpose of marriage (to reflect Christ & the church). In that, we see why certain “roles” exist.
But when roles become THE foundation rather than simply an expression of THE foundation (partnership) we’ll have abuses of power/authority, & victims of subjugation. When we let marital roles overflow into societal roles, we’ve elevated distinct marriage roles to unhealthy place.
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Kyle J. Howard currently serves the church as a Christian counselor. He is a student at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where he received his associate degree in biblical/theological studies and a bachelor’s degree in biblical counseling. He currently lives in Atlanta & is finishing an advanced M. Divinity in Historical Theology and ultimately desires to pastor.