Role, Value, and Egalitarianism

I highly recommend this book for a wonderfully detailed, careful, scholarly, and convincing interpretation of 1 Timothy 2:8-15. I am in the midst of re-writing my paper on this passage. I hope to submit it for publication within the month.

It is one of the most “established” dictums of egalitarian theology that any difference in role implies a difference in value. So, if women have a different role from men in life, then they are automatically said to be inferior. Thus, Galatians 3:28 is (ab)used to “trump” 1 Timothy 2:8-15 and similar passages. I argue that this view of role and value is deeply flawed.

In the army, for instance, take the ranks of 4-star general and 3-star general. Is the 3-star general inferior in value to the 4-star general, just because he reports to his commanding officer? What about the 4-star general to the Army Chief of Staff? What about the Army Chief of Staff to the President? Is the President of the United States worth one iota more than anyone in the United States, just because he is the President? What then happens when he ceases to be acting President of the United States? Does his value go down? Just this example shows how deeply flawed and illogical this view of role and value is.

But the ace in the hole against this view of role and value is the Trinity. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have different roles, though each is fully God. There is no gradation in value, unless we want to be Arians. It is quite blasphemous to state that the Father is worth more than the Son, because the Father commands and the Son obeys. The Father does command, and the Son does obey. But that implies nothing about their respective inherent worth. It is no accident that egalitarian theologians find modalism to be seriously tempting (see Moltmann, for instance). Modalism allows egalitarians a way out of the plain implications of the role/value debate. Unfortunately for them, modalism is also a way out of Christianity.  

In short, the role/value view of egalitarians is a cultural shift, not a biblical principle. Galatians 3:28 is not talking about the respective roles of men and women, but rather about their standing before God with regard to salvation. This is crystal clear from the context. Faith is the context (vs. 26). Putting on Christ is in the context (vs 27). It is a oneness in Christ Jesus. But God also gave some to be teachers, some to be apostles, some were given the gift of hospitality, etc. 1 Corinthians 12 (all by itself) ought to have axed the egalitarian interpretation of Galatians 3:28. But it is evident that egalitarian interpretations of 1 Timothy 2:8-15, in particular, are influenced by today’s culture far more than they are influenced by first century Christian thought. The egalitarian interpretation of 1 Timothy 2 did not even arise before the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. We must beware of interpreting the Bible according to worldly principles. That is a train wreck.