By: Larry D. Harvey


            In the Christendom of the 21st century, one can not help but encounter numerous debates concerning the relationship between men and women in society, the home, the Church, and God’s Eternal Kingdom.  Some say that there is no real difference in the roles men and women are to fill no matter what setting is discussed.  Some proclaim only that women are to be subservient to men.  Others argue that since Christ Jesus has ascended, any order of creation has been transformed by the completion of Christ’s work on earth so that there no longer is any difference between the roles of men and the roles of women.  Within the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod of late, it seems as if there are but two possible teachings, one declaring that God’s Law only prohibits women from being called to the office of pastor, or perhaps those other “auxiliary” offices directly involved in the primary functions of a pastor, or, on the other hand, that God’s Law within His established order of creation not only prohibits women from being pastors, but also having authority over men in the home and in the church.  It is my position that none of these alternatives properly presents God’s revealed Gospel purpose in establishing the roles for men and women within creation.


            I propose that a right understanding of the relationship between men and women within creation requires a right understanding of what the Scriptures reveal about the Name of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that any denial of the Scripturally defined roles of men and women must ultimately lead to a denial of His Name as the God of grace who saves us.  Believers dare not turn deaf ears to anything that He uses to speak or portray the Word of His grace.[1]


            First of all, there is but One God.[2]  An understanding and confession of the “Unity of God” is absolutely necessary for there to be any right understanding of the three Persons of the Trinity.[3]  God exists “entirely uncompounded and without parts”[4] as the Church has always confessed under that part of doctrine known as “The Simplicity of God”.[5]  As God, He is eternal, without beginning or end.[6]  He is also immutable, that is to say, He is changeless from and through all eternity.[7]  That which is an attribute of God since creation, was an attribute of God before creation and will always be an attribute of God.  His Name, that is the sum of all His essence, attributes, and works, is the same for all eternity.  That also means that His essence and His attributes are not truly separate, but in fact are absolutely identical.[8]  He is not divisible, even by dividing His essence from His attributes or from His works.  We also know and confess from the Scriptures that there are three Persons in God.  They are three self-subsisting Persons, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.[9]  An understanding of the Gospel purpose of the order of creation of men and women is to confront what the Scriptures reveal about the relationship within the One God of the three Persons of the Trinity.[10] 


            Begin with God the Father.  He is often called The First Person of the Trinity.  He is called the First Person because His divine essence is not of another, but truly of Himself.[11]  Within His Person, we encounter the divine essence that wills of Himself to love and serve mankind.[12]  He is the fountain and source of grace for His own Name’s sake.[13]  Being the source of grace is His definition of Himself as Father.  It is important to remember that in considering His “Fatherhood”, we must not imagine a male form of His being in violation of His commandments.[14]  It is this will within His essence to create mankind for the purpose of His being the Giver of all good things to mankind without His receiving any addition to Himself or to His eternal existence that provides the definition of Him as God the Father.  Accordingly, there is no “motherhood” within Him.  He requires no other for others to be generated.  It is His will to make a people to be His eternal heirs without the essence of any other being that could constitute the contribution of a “mother.`”[15]  That is God’s grace.[16]  It is His inner will to love us.  Creation is especially attributed to God the Father in Scriptures,[17] but not to the exclusion of God the Son or God the Holy Spirit.[18]  He creates and preserves all things.[19]  We also are told in the Scriptures that He sends God the Son to be our Redeemer.[20]  Accordingly, His name as Father has also always been from all eternity the “One Who Sends The Son To Die” that mankind might be saved.  The Son He begets He sends that we might be saved.  It is to this “Fatherhood” as God of grace that the order of creation speaks.[21]


            “Begetting” and “begotteness” brings us to God the Son.  The Son is begotten of the Father.[22]  This terminology is used to express the eternal communication of the Father’s essence to the Son such that the essence of the Father is truly also the essence of the Son.  They do not have “like kind” essence.  They have but one essence.[23]  Accordingly, the essence of grace of the Father is communicated, without beginning or end, to be the essence of the Son.  The Son is often called the Second Person of the Trinity, because the Son has the divine essence of the Father.[24]  There is no knowledge of the essence, the attributes, or work of the Father except through the Son.[25]  The Son’s Name within the “inner forum” of the Trinity has always been The Redeemer of Man.  He has always been the “One Sent Twice” so as to be the One through whom the Father’s gracious plan for a redeemed people to be with Him for all eternity is fullfilled.[26]  He was sent first to be God Incarnate, Emmanuel, who was born of Mary, crucified, rose from the dead, and ascend.  He is also the One who will be sent again on the Last Day.[27]   


            In His Incarnation, the Son of God assumed male flesh into His eternal Person.[28]  His assumption of the masculine mode of human being so as to thereby unite to Himself the entire human race was so that He might give what He has, the relationship of Son to the Father.[29]  He is thereby the Firstborn and the Second Adam.[30]  It is through His male flesh that we encounter the gracious essence of the Father.[31]  His maleness testifies to the divine definition of Fatherhood as grace within the Trinity.  Accordingly, Christ Jesus is the Head of His church.[32]  This relationship of the Son of God as the Head, with the Church, as His bride, is the true picture of marriage in the Scriptures, and not the marriage of Adam and Eve in the garden even before the Fall.[33]  The groom is the one from whom the bride receives grace as His grace is in Christ.[34]  On the Last Day, Christ Jesus, Son of God and true man, will submit the Church, male and female, to the Father so that the Father’s essential will to have a people upon whom to pour out His grace, love and all blessings for all time, will be completed.[35] 


            The Third Person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit, proceeds from the Father and the Son.  “Proceeds” denotes that the Third Person receives the communication of the one divine essence from both the Father and the Son.[36]  Both “begotten” and “proceeds” present eternal communication of the one divine essence.  The Holy Spirit is revealed as the Breath of God, the Paraclete, the One who guides people into Christ Jesus that those people may be the redeemed people of God for all eternity.[37] 


            All three Persons of the Trinity were involved in the work of creation.[38]  The Scriptures reveal that Adam was “made” rather than simply spoken into being.[39]  This first Adam was to be the pattern of the One to come, Christ Jesus, the only begotten Son of God.[40]  The goal in the making of Adam was ultimately the generation of the redeemed people to be presented to the Father.  Adam was made male.  From Adam’s male flesh, Eve was made by God.[41]  She received Adam’s flesh and was to receive Adam’s self-giving for all time.[42]  Accordingly, in the order of creation within the garden, we see a picture of the One who communicates His gracious essence, God the Father, in Adam, and the one who receives that gracious essence without any act or will of her own in Eve.  Their marriage in the garden was to be the picture of the communication of free grace and the free receipt of grace.  But Adam and Eve sinned, a fall known by God from all eternity which required within God’s own gracious and eternal will the plan for the redemption of man through Christ Jesus.[43]  God mercifully continued the existence of mankind.[44]  Husbands continue to find their right definition as ones who are to be free givers.  Men are to contribute their essence and be the heads according to a will which typifies the grace of the Father.[45]  Wives are to be those who can receive that communication of essence, who, with thanksgiving, willingly submit to their husbands, who live in the benefit of the husband’s gracious self-giving, and who “discover” new life within themselves.[46] Men and women are equal,[47] but men are to be the heads of their wives and families, and women are to submit to their husbands even as the Son is co-equal to the Father, but also obedient to the Father’s will in His flesh.[48] 


            From the men and women, and the children born of them, Christ creates His Bride, the Church.  The unity within the Church is to be as the Father and Son are one.  Christ Jesus appoints male public ministers who are to publicly exercise the Office of the Keys in and by the means of grace.[49]  It is through these male called and ordained servants of the Word that we see, hear and truly taste of the grace of God freely given to us in and through the life, sufferings, death, resurrection and ascension of our Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus. The Pastor is not Christ in flesh, but truly is called by Christ to be the flesh and blood sinner and saint through whom He distributes Himself.  However, within the Church, the picture of the gracious Fatherhood of God is not limited to only the maleness of pastors.  That picture is also to be seen and celebrated in the roles of men and women within the Church as the men are to continue their headship and the women are to continue their submission, all for the sake of the Gospel.[50]  In the Church, women are not to exercise authority over men anymore than the Son of God claimed authority over the Father. 


            Men and women, within their relationships in marriage, family, and church, are to portray the essence of the Father as the God of Grace known to us only through the One begotten of the Father.  It is through Christ Jesus that believers, as the new people of God, discover new life within them, worked by the Word and the Sacraments with the power of the Holy Spirit.[51]  When we consider the maleness of the First Adam, husbands, pastors, men in the Church, and God Incarnate in Christ Jesus, we hear creation’s prophetic voice of the Fatherhood of God as the God of grace who for His own Name’s sake has promised salvation in Christ Jesus.  He has known each saint’s name as one redeemed in Christ from all eternity.[52]  To deny any voice God has chosen to use that speaks of God’s gracious plan for our redemption sounds strikingly similar to the Israel of the Old Testament turning away from its rightly defined role as the Chosen People of God within His plan of grace.  That so often resulted in an outpouring of God’s wrath upon them.  To eliminate any part of the picture of God’s grace is to challenge ultimately the very definition of God by trying to present a different Gospel of God’s plan for the salvation of man.  A different Gospel than by His grace alone, in Christ Jesus alone, revealed in the Scriptures alone, and ours through faith alone, is no Gospel at all.[53]  How much worse is it for people who have been confronted by God’s gracious Word and claimed to be His to reject His one way for our salvation.  Let us not be people who can remember God’s promise in a rainbow, but who forget the grace of God within His creation.  Rather, as the Bride of Christ, His Church, let us celebrate with joy and thanksgiving all the ways He reveals to us His grace in His Word!  To God alone be all glory, honor and praise for all eternity.



[1] I am proposing nothing new here.  I am a layman grateful to the work of others for their scholarly work on this subject, particularly (1) David P. Scaer, “Christology and Feminism”, LOGIA, Vol. IX, No. 1, Epiphany 2000, (Crestwood, Mo.:The Luther Academy, 2000, pp. 3ff); (2) Armin-Ernst Buchrucker, “The Ordination of Women and Feminist Theology”, LOGIA, Vol. IX, No.1, supra, pp. 9ff; (3) Paul T. McCain, “Luther on the Resurrection – Genesis Lectures, 1535-1546”, LOGIA, Vol. XIII, No. 4, Reformation 2004 (St. Louis, Mo.:The Luther Academy, 2004, pp. 35ff); and (4) William Weinrich, “‘It Is Not Given to Women to Teach - a Lex in Search of a Ratio”, Church and Ministry Today, Three Confessional Lutheran Essays (St. Louis, Mo.:The Luther Academy, 2001, pp. 173ff.)

[2] De 4:35; 6:4; 32:39; Is 44:6; 45:5-7; 22-25; 1Co 8:4-6; Ep 4:6.

[3] Excellent presentations of the “Unity of God” are available in (1) Martin Chemnitz, Loci Theologici, Vol. I, trans. By J.A.O. Preus (St. Louis, Mo., Concordia Publishing House, 1989, pp. 63f.) and Francis Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I, (St. Louis, Mo., Concordia Publishing House, 1950, pp. 437f).

[4] Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I, p. 439.

[5] Jn 4:24; Col 2:9; Ac 5:3,4 – See Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I, pp. 439f.

[6] Ge 21:33; Ps 90:2; Is 40:28; Ro 16:26.

[7] Ps 102:26,27; Is 54:10; Mk 9: 43-48; Jn 3:36.  See Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I, pp. 440f.

[8] See The Augsburg Confession, I and Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I, pp. 427-434.

[9] Note the use of the plural in the Hebrew in Ge 1:1-3, 26 and 11:7.  Mt 28:19; Jn 5:32,37; 14:16,17.  See the Augsburg Confession, Vol. I; Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol 1., p. 383; Chemnitz, Loci, Vol. I, pp. 65-73.

[10] We must remember the caution and awe required so well spoken by Hilary, “This is God; when He is spoken of, He cannot be spoken of; and when He is described, He is beyond description.” Quoted by Chemnitz, Loci, Vol. I, p. 81.

[11] See Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I, p. 391.

[12] See Weinrich, p. 203.

[13] Ps 36:9; 68:5; Je 2:13; Mt 7:11; Ro 8:15.  One should consider what God is revealing about Himself when He identifies Himself in the original Hebrew text of Genesis 1 as “Elohim”, and as “YHWH Elohim” in Genesis 2.  YHWH reveals Him as the Lord God who out of His grace established His covenant with Israel. Exodus 3:12-15.

[14] De 4:15-18.

[15] See Weinrich, pp. 204f.

[16] De 7:6-8.

[17] Is 64:8; Mal 2:10; 1Co 8:6; He 1:2.  See Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. 1, p. 422.

[18] Ge 1:26; Ps 33:6; Jn 1:3,10; 1Co 8:6; Col 1:15,16; He 1:2.  See Chemnitz, Loci, Vol. I, pp. 73-76.

[19] Ps 36:6; He 1:3.

[20] Jn 3:13-21; 1Jn 4:9,10.

[21] Ge 17:1-8.  See Weinrich, pp. 205f for excellent discussion of this passage and how it speaks of The Fatherhood of God in God’s choosing of Abraham and Israel by His grace.

[22] Mt 3:17; Jn 1:1-4, 14,18.

[23] Jn 10:30; 17:2-6, 14,21.  See Chemnitz, Loci, Vol. I, pp. 89ff and Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I, pp. 387ff.

[24] See Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I., p. 391.

[25] Mt 11:27; Jn 8:54-56; 14:6,7; 17:25,26.  See Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I., pp. 82ff; Vol. II (St. Louis Mo.:Concordia Publishing House, 1951) pp. 252f, and Vol. III (St. Louis, Mo.:Concordia Publishing House, 1953) pp. 259ff.

[26] Gal 3:24-27; Sp 1:7-10; 1Pe 1:18,19.

[27] Ac 1:11; He 9:28.

[28] Gal 4:4,5.

[29] Gal 4:4-7.  See Weinrich, pp. 194,198, 208.

[30] 1Co 15:45; Re 1:5.

[31] Jn 14:9-11.  See Weinrich, p. 207.

[32] Col 2:19.

[33] Ep 5:21-31.  See Weinrich, p. 201.

[34] Ro 5:15; Ep 2:6,7; 5:23; 1Ti 1:14.

[35] Jn 14:1-4; 1Co 15:24-28; Ga 3:26-29; Ph 3:20,21.

[36] Jn 15:26. Nicene Creed. See Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, Vol. I, pp. 424ff; Chemnitz, Loci, Vol. I., pp. 140-145.

[37] Jn 16:8-15; Ro 8:15,16.

[38] See note 18 above.

[39] Ge 2:7.

[40] Ro 5:14.

[41] Ge 2:21,22.

[42] Ge 2:23,24.

[43] Jn 6:64; Ro 8:28-30.  See Chemnitz, Loci, Vol. I, pp. 205ff.

[44] Ge 3:16-24; 1Co 11:7-12.

[45] Ep 5:25-31; Col 3:19; 1Pe 3:7.

[46] Ep 5:22-24; Col 3:18; Tit 2:4,5; 1Pe 3:1-6.  Consider the normal order of procreation described in Jn 1:12,13 contrasted with Christ or believers in their new births.

[47] Ge 1:26,27; Ga 3:28; 1Pe 3:7.

[48] Lu 22:42.

[49] 1Ti 3:2-6; 2Ti 2:2; Tit 1:6-9.  Those who would challenge the required maleness of pastors should consider the baptism of Christ Jesus along with the Scriptural qualifications for a pastor.  The Son of God, in His public identification with the sins of mankind as Redeemer, willed to be baptized by John the Baptist, not his mother Mary.  See Weinrich, p. 176.

[50] 1Co 11:1-16; 14:33b-35; 1Ti 2:8-15.

[51] Jn 14:3; 1Co 4,5; Ga 3:26-29; Ph 3:20,21.

[52] Ro 8:29,30; Ep 1:3-10; 3:10-12; 1Pe 1:18-21.

[53] Ga 1:6-9.


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