From Poet To Judge: What Does Ephesians 5 Teach About Male-Female Roles? -- By: Aída Besançon Spencer

Journal: Priscilla Papers
Volume: PP 04:3 (Summer 1990)
Article: From Poet To Judge: What Does Ephesians 5 Teach About Male-Female Roles?
Author: Aída Besançon Spencer

From Poet To Judge:
What Does Ephesians 5 Teach
About Male-Female Roles?

Aida Besançon Spencer, Ph.D.

Aida Besançon Spencer is Associate Professor of New Testament at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, S. Hamilton, MA. She is also Pastor of Organization at the Pilgrim Church in Beverly, which was begun to encourage women in leadership. Practical hints on how to practice mutual submission in the home may be found in her husband’s, the Rev. Dr. William David Spencer’s, Afterword in Beyond the Curse: Women Called to Ministry (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1985), available from the CBE office. She has also written Paul’s Literary Style (Winona Lake: Eisenbrauns, 1984) and 2 Corinthians. Bible Study Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1989) [co-author W.D. Spencer]. The Prayer Life of Jesus: Shout of Agony. Revelation of Love is forthcoming from Lanham: University Press of America, 1990.

Dr. Spencer is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church USA. She holds an M.Div. and Th. M. from Princeton Theological Seminary and she received her PhD. from Southern Baptist Seminary.

This paper was presented as a talk “What Does Ephesians 5 Teach About Male-Female Roles?” at the 1989 CBE national meeting.

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood created quite a sensation by paying for a two page advertisement in the January 13,1989 issue of Christianity Today. The group was begun in response to groups such as Christians for Biblical Equality because, Wayne House explains, “There is a tendency to think biblical feminism is the only biblical view.”1 What a great affirmation to biblical feminists who hold the Bible as authoritative and reliable that some should now see our position as “the only biblical view”!

However, this Council believes (among other things) that “Scripture affirms male leadership in the home” between “the loving, humble leadership of redeemed husbands and the intelligent, willing support of that leadership by redeemed wives.” In contrast, many fine studies have been done to disprove the notion that Ephesians 5:22-23 affirms male leadership in the home.2 I would like to reinforce those studies by an in depth look at the literary context of the passage, and also by highlighting the figurative language Paul uses.

We evangelicals must begin to differentiate between figurative language and literal concept. Many things are claimed for Paul. But what does he really teach?

The Larger Context


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