The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, the Christian version of a think tank for all the ways in which female subordination can be argued from the Bible and applied to 21st century living, recently posted an article positing that God’s sovereign will for women is eternal submission to men.
The post garnered a bit of attention from the blogsphere, particularly because it smacked of Mormon theology. The article was thus hastily removed from the CBMW Website, although you can still find it online and you can read an example of the critique here.
What strikes me is that the CBMW article gets right to the central question for the discussion of gender roles in the home and church : the eschaton.
For those unfamiliar with the term, it refers to the future integrating of Heaven and Earth that God promises to complete, a work that began with the Incarnation of Jesus and that will eventually bring Shalom to the entire created order.
Think of it this way: Genesis and the eschaton form bookends of the epic story of God and God’s people. If you think Genesis establishes female submission as God’s perfect choice for the created order, you will of necessity conclude that this model must continue to be God’s perfect choice for the created order in the eternal future, and so it ought to be modeled in the here and now as a way of illustrating God’s perfect creation.
If on the other hand, you believe that Genesis establishes a partnership of equals between males and females, you will conclude that the fundamental relationship between men and women was broken by sin early on, establishing a hierarchy with men at the top and women subordinate, and that part of God’s eschatological shalom will be returning men and women to equal standing, side by side as it were, partners in God’s world. If you take that one step further to the idea that as Christians, our job in the here-and-now is to bring Heaven to Earth, to be an outpost for God’s shalom now while we wait for the not-yet Kingdom, then you understand why equality for women on a global scale is so important to those of us who call ourselves “egalitarian.”
It is not only about women’s rights. It is about God’s shalom covering the whole earth.