Awake! 1967 August 22 p.27, 28
The apostle Paul, in giving instructions on congregational meetings of Christians, stated, among other things: "I do not permit a woman to teach, or to exercise authority over a man." (1 Tim. 2:12) Today many religious organizations take exception to these words of Paul. In fact, we find more and more women being ordained to Protestant pulpits. Just why did the apostle state this rule?
This rule is based on a principle that governs the relations between the sexes, namely: "The head of every man i s the Christ; in turn the head of a woman is the man; in turn the head of the Christ is God," (1 Cor. 11:3) The logic of headship must be apparent to all. If two or more intelligent persons are to cooperate, there must be organization, and for organization to be successful there must be a head. That Jehovah God, the Father, is the Head of his Son, Jesus Christ, is obvious; also, that his Son should be the head of his congregation. But not so readily appreciated is the statement that man exercise headship over the woman and that therefore woman should not exercise authority over the man.
However, the facts show that the headship of a man is both somatically and psychologically sound and in the best interests of all concerned, even as we shall see. Thus a leading authority on the human body (soma), Gray's Anatomy (1966 Edition), tells the interesting fact that as regards the human skull there is no difference between the male and the female until the time of puberty; but then as adulthood is reached the difference becomes more and more apparent. The female skull is lighter and its cranial capacity is about 10 percent smaller than that of a male, even as is the rest of the anatomy. The contour of the female skull is also more rounded and the facial bones are smoother. Apparently, with the lines of beauty goes less rugged strength.
True, mere brain size in itself is not as important as brain quality, but where the quality is the same the larger brain size has an advantage. Thus Science News, April 1, 1967, told of twenty African children who were so extremely undernourished in the first few years of their lives that "head circumferences...averages an inch less that the others, indicating smaller brain." And over the years all these were found to have verbal, mathematical and perceptual capabilities far below those of other children. Implicit in these findings is that man is advantaged by a greater brain size.
That it is in the best interests of both sexes for man to take the lead is also supported by psychological evidence. One of New York city's leading psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, Dr. Marie N. Robinson, in one of her books, which deals with certain frustrations of married women, skillfully demonstrates by case histories that many of these particular frustrations can be ended if women will but recognized the fact that the way their bodies are made gives evidence that it is intended for man to be the head. As she expresses it, women must learn the art of "eternal acquiescence" and "deep altruism" in dealing with their husbands if they want to find happiness.
The children also stand to benefit when the Scriptural principles governing the sexes are followed. To woman falls the lot, not only of conceiving and bearing children, but also, to a great extent, of nurturing them in their earliest infancy and on to maturity. It stands to reason that for a mother to do justice to her task she must have an abundance of love and devotion, she must have much patience, great gentleness and mildness and be extremely sensitive to the needs of her offspring from infancy onward, if they are to thrive.
It follows that her entire personality must be of such a sensitive and gentle nature as to do justice to the delicate needs of the tiny developing minds and bodies. However, an abundance of such qualities does not go hand in hand with those needed for leadership and meeting stern challenges. More than that, by the Scriptures' limiting the woman's role in the congregation it makes it more likely that she will have the needed time and energy to look after the needs of her family properly. So, while she may have other interest, she should never forget that as a wife her career is caring for the physical, mental and emotional well-being of her family.
The Scriptural position might be said also to take into consideration woman's biological nature. As every woman in the prime of life is well aware, she has certain difficult days each month during which she cannot give of her best and during which she very much appreciates her husband's showing her consideration. But if she had responsibilities of oversight and was required to hold forth regularly on the public platform regardless, either her performance or her health would suffer. Recognizing the factor, God's Word counsels husbands to dwell with their wives "according to knowledge, assigning them honor as to a weaker vessel, the feminine one." -- 1 Pet. 3:7.
Of course, the foregoing does not mean that mothers are not to teach their own children. The Bible speaks of "the law of your mother" and tells of the good results of mothers' teaching their offspring the Word of God, as in the case of the Christian minister Timothy. (Prov. 6:20; 2 Tim. 1:5; 3:14, 15) Nor does it mean that women may not be schoolteachers, instructing youths and adults in secular subjects. But women are not to exercise authority over Christian men in the Christian congregation nor are they to assume authority over their own husbands in their homes.
That women are not precluded from preaching to those outside the Christian congregation can be seen from the prophecy quoted by the apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost: "I shall pour out some of my spirit upon every sort of flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy and your young men will see visions and your old men will dream dreams; and even upon my men slaves an upon my women slaves I will pour out some of my spirit in those days, and they will prophesy." (Acts 2:17, 18) In keeping with this prophecy, today there are literally hundreds of thousands of women ministers who "prophesy" by preaching the good news of God's kingdom and who teach Bible truths to both men and women in their homes and who receive many blessings from doing so.
The headship that the Scriptures assign to the man indicates that man and woman have different roles to play in life. The fact that Christian husbands are commanded to love their wives as Jesus Christ loved the congregation, he even dying for it, should certainly preclude any criticism of the role that God's Word assigns to the man. His is a difficult assignment, but for it he has also been equipped. Truly the Scriptural position is seen to be sound, practical and wise. Happy are all those governed by it! -- Eph. 5:25-33.