The Issue I Can’t Evade -- By: Gilbert Bilezikian
PP 17:2 (Spring 2003) p. 5
The Issue I Can’t Evade
Gilbert Bilezikian is professor emeritus of Biblical Studies at Wheaton College (IL) and cofounder of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois. Among the books of which he is the author are Beyond Sex Roles and Community 101. This article is on CBE’s website: www.cbeinternational.org.
The headship of husbands is a New Testament teaching.
I believe in male headship unabashedly and unreservedly. I cannot evade the issue or rationalize my way around it. The headship of husbands is clearly and unassailably taught in the New Testament. Moreover, the Bible clearly declares that the response of wives to their husbands’ headship is submission in everything. Indeed, the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church. As the church is subject to Christ, so wives must be subject in everything to their husbands (Eph. 5:23-24). This precept is not given in Scripture as a recommendation, a suggestion, or a piece of advice that may be optionally followed. It is an absolute mandate that requires the same level of adherence as any of its commandments.
Coming from an advocate of the reform movement called egalitarian or, more accurately, nonhierarchical “complementarian,” the above statement sounds regressive. For this reason, I also caution against citing it without referencing what follows.
A basic rule of sound hermeneutics requires that no biblical term or concept be infused with meanings foreign to it. For this reason, the meaning of head in the New Testament must be defined from within the New Testament itself. It cannot be assumed that the value of head in the English language as authority, leader or master carries over automatically into the New Testament’s use of the same word head.
There is no doubt that, among his multiple functions in regard to the church, Christ is authority, leader, and master over the church since the scope of his universal lordship includes the church. Therefore, what is under scrutiny is not the concept of the lordship of Christ over the church. Rather, it must be determined whether the word head, when used to describe Christ’s relationship to the church, carries the same meaning of lordship or whether it is invested with a different value. The glib assumption may not be made that, because head denotes authority in English, it also does so in the language of the New Testament.
Fortunately, the meaning of head can be easily determined within its scriptural use with reference to the headship of Christ in relation to the church, his body. Whatever function the church performs i...
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