Responding to Feminism in the Church

The prior conviction that men and women must be 'equal' (with 'equality' defined in the modern sense of fulfilling identical roles) has driven egalitarians to several major 'reinterpretations' of Scripture. In 1998 Dr Wayne Grudem wrote an open letter to egalitarians challenging them to answer six simple questions (JBMW 3.1). The questions are still unanswered. Four of the six questions appear below: full article on CBMW web-site.
An open letter to egalitarians

Questions that have never been satisfactorily answered

1. kephale: Where the Bible says that the husband is the "head'' (kephale) of the wife as Christ is the "head'' (kephale) of the church (Eph. 5:23), and that the head of the woman is the man (1 Cor. 11:3), you tell us that "head'' here means "source'' and not "person in authority over (someone).'' In fact, as far as we can tell, your interpretation depends on the claim that kephale means "source without the idea of authority.'' But we have never been able to find any text in ancient Greek literature that gives support to your interpretation. Wherever one person is said to be the "head'' of another person (or persons), the person who is called the "head'' is always the one in authority (such as the general of an army, the Roman emperor, Christ, the heads of the tribes of Israel, David as head of the nations, etc.) Specifically, we cannot find any text where person A is called the "head'' of person or persons B, and is not in a position of authority over that person or persons. So we find no evidence for your claim that "head'' can mean "source without authority.''

Does any such evidence exist? We would be happy to look at any Greek text that you could show us from the 8th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. (a span of 12 centuries). In all of that literature, our question of fact is this: Will you please show us one example in all of ancient Greek where this word for "head'' (kephale) is used to say that person A is the "head'' of person or persons B, and means what you claim, namely, "non-authoritative source''? If you can show us one example, we would be happy to consider your interpretation further. But if you cannot, then we suggest that you have no factual basis for your interpretation of these key verses, and we respectfully ask that you stop writing and speaking as if such factual basis existed. We would also respectfully ask that you also reconsider your understanding of these verses.

Kurtechism: Male headship is not in question. The husband is head of the wife. However, the nature of male headship is in question. Pagan headship models definitely carry the meaning of leader/superior. However, Jesus repudiated the lord over model used in all pagan cultures. Grudem’s appeal to cultural lord over models violates the expressed teaching of Jesus. Jesus is the one and only example required. Egalitarian scholars should not try to find any alternative interpretation of the Greek word for head in ancient usage. An alternative or obscure meaning for headship buried in an ancient text is not necessary. Authority and headship are not to be like the Gentile model. Jesus was repulsed by the Roman and Greek headship/leadership/authority structures. Jesus was crucified by the polytheistic cultures that Grudem uses as his examples of headship. All the erudition in the world cannot overturn the words of Jesus. For Grudem and pagan culture head means position of authority over others. For Jesus head does not mean a position of authority over anyone. There is only one Lord of the Church.


Mark 10:41-45

41 And when the ten heard it, they began to be greatly displeased with James and John. 42 But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.  45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."  NKJV


Jesus alone is the one we should use to define the Christian meaning of headship. Jesus is the definition and final word on headship not a Gentile dictionary. The words authority over and headship over—whatever they meant in Gentile and Greek dictionaries—do not apply to the church, marriage, the family or the home. Why does Grudem take such pleasure in wallowing in the murky non-Christian Gentile model of lord over authority and headship? Why does Grudem ignore Jesus and his teachings on servant-based leadership? According to Jesus there is no greatness in the pagan lord over paradigm. Greek and Roman headship models have no place in the Christian church. Shouldn’t Grudem work as hard to become last and servant of all instead of lord over others? Shouldn’t Grudem work as hard to become the servant of his wife, to give his life and to serve her as Christ loves and serves the church? Grudem’s desire to be first and rule over and head over is astounding for such a scholar. We really don’t care what the word kaphale/head meant to pagans. Polytheism is the wrong paradigm for interpreting the Bible. Let Jesus teach us what headship means to him. Let Jesus be the beginning and end of our theology.



Headship is servanthood not lord over. If we are appointed to a headship position we are appointed to serve as a slave. If we are the head of our wives—we are the head servants of our wives. The wife is master—we are slaves. A slave does not rule over anyone. In Grudem’s mind marriage makes the wife our property and our servant. A husband is not the lord over and master over his wife. She already has a Lord and Master. A husband is the servant of his wife. Authority is servanthood not lordship.


What is the job of a servant? What power does a servant have? A servant is not free.


Eph 6:5-8

5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. 6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but like slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. 7 Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, 8 because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free. NIV


Col 3:22-25

22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. NIV


A servant does not come home from a hard day in the fields to sit down in front to the TV with a beer and order dinner to be served. A servant has no authority over or headship over anyone even in pagan cultures.

Luke 17:7-9

7 "Suppose one of you had a servant plowing or looking after the sheep. Would he say to the servant when he comes in from the field, 'Come along now and sit down to eat'? 8 Would he not rather say, 'Prepare my supper, get yourself ready and wait on me while I eat and drink; after that you may eat and drink'? 9 Would he thank the servant because he did what he was told to do? NIV

Grudem Continues:

2. hypotasso: Where the Bible says that wives are to "be subject to'' to their husbands (Col. 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1,5; and implied in Eph. 5:22,24), you tell us that the verb "be subject to'' (hypotasso, passive) is a requirement for both husbands and wives--that just as wives are to be subject to their husbands, so husbands are to be subject to their wives, and that there is no unique authority that belongs to the husband. Rather, the biblical ideal is "mutual submission'' according to Ephesians 5:21, "be subject to one another,'' and therefore there is no idea of one-directional submission to the husband's authority in these other verses (Col. 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1,5; and Eph. 5:22, 24). But we have never been able to find any text in ancient Greek literature where hypotasso (passive) refers to a person or persons being "subject to'' another person, and where the idea of submission to that person's authority is absent. In every example we can find, when person A is said to "be subject to'' person B, person B has a unique authority which person A does not have. In other words, hypotasso always implies a one-directional submission to someone in authority.

Kurtechism: Again why is Grudem so fixated on securing one directional authority and submission? It is important to Grudem that the unique authority belongs to a husband. Hupotasso is not an inherent male property but according to Grudem only a husband’s property. Men in general do not have authority over women in general. In other words a man must be married in order to enjoy his rulership over his woman. However, what is the nature of the husband and wife relationship in the Christian church? Shouldn’t it be vastly different than in pagan polytheistic culture?


Should the husband exercise his authority like a dictator or an all benevolent source of life and blessing? Our submission to Jesus is not one directional or based on authority but based on love and friendship. Grudem is a fascist. He wants centralized control over his territory and wifely belonging. Yet, a wife doesn’t submit to her husband’s position of authority but to her loving husband in Christ as a shepherd.


1 Peter 5:2-3

2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; NKJV


Jesus said, “Feed my sheep.” He didn’t say rule like a Roman emperor over my sheep. The authority of the shepherd is to protect the sheep from wolves, lions, and bears. Authority is over Satan and for the benefit of the sheep. The shepherd cares for the sheep he doesn’t set up dominion over them like a military general. Husbands are the shepherd of not lord over.


Grudem Continues:

So our question is this: Will you please show us one example in all of ancient Greek where this word for "be subject to'' (hypotasso, passive) is used to refer to one person in relation to another and does not include the idea of one-directional submission to the other person's authority? If you can show us one example, we would be happy to consider your interpretation further. But if you cannot, then we suggest that you have no factual basis for your interpretation of these key verses, and we respectfully ask that you stop writing and speaking as if you did, and that you also reconsider your understanding of these verses.

Kurtechism: Our model for headship and submission is God the Father and God the Son. The headship relationship between the two members of the Trinity is not one directional. The headship relationship is not based on naked authority but on equal respect and unity. Why is Grudem so obsessed with authority over? Why does he love authority so much and desire authority so much. Grudem is like a pyromaniac with matches. We don’t really care what the Greeks, Egyptians or the Romans or other pagans think about submission and subjection. This is where the TLG won’t help us. Who cares what all of ancient Greek literature shows us about anything. We care or should care about the Jesus model and Christian definition of those words. Jesus rejected the authority over definition of the Gentile model that Grudem appeals to for canon.


Grudem Continues:

3. authenteo: In 1 Timothy 2:12, Paul writes, "I permit no woman to teach or to have authority over men.'' Many of you claim that the word translated "have authority'' (authenteo) means "misuse authority'' or "domineer'' (or even "instigate violence'') in this sentence, so that Paul is not prohibiting women from having authority over men, but he is prohibiting women from misusing authority or domineering over men.

Our problem is this: we have never seen any clear example in ancient Greek literature where authenteo must mean "domineer'' or "misuse authority.'' Whenever we have seen this verb occur, it takes a neutral sense, "have authority'' or "exercise authority,'' with no negative connotation attaching to the word itself. We are aware that a related noun, authentes, has several different meanings, but that is not the word Paul used, and we are interested in the word that Paul actually used. So our question is this: Will you please show us one example in all of ancient Greek where the verb authenteo means what you claim, namely, "misuse authority or domineer'' (or even "instigate violence'')?

If you can show us one example, we would be happy to consider your interpretation further. But if you cannot, then we suggest that you have no factual basis for your interpretation of this key verse, and we respectfully ask that you stop writing and speaking as if you did, and that you also reconsider your understanding of these verses.

Kurtechism: Why does Grudem believe that authenteo is synonymous with exousia? Whatever is left of authenteo after scholars are done shredding it—authenteo is not synonymous with exousia. Show the world one example in scripture where exousia is forbidden to women? If exousia is not forbidden to women or restricted why do you write as if it is? Would you please stop writing as if it is a fact that exousia is not the divine property of godly women. Nowhere is exousia prohibited from women in scripture. Exousia is only limited and restricted to women by male culture and culturally driven theologians.

Grudem Continues:

4. Women teaching false doctrine at Ephesus: In 1 Timothy 2:12, where Paul says, "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man,'' many of you say the reason for Paul's prohibition is that women were teaching false doctrine in the church at Ephesus (the church to which 1 Timothy was written). Our problem in understanding the basis for your claim is that we see no evidence inside or outside the Bible that tells us that any women were teaching false doctrine in the church at Ephesus. More than that, since Paul's prohibition applies to all women, it seems to us that your position really needs to show that all the women at Ephesus were teaching false doctrine. So we are wondering if there is any text that tells us that all (or any) Christian women were teaching false doctrine in the church at Ephesus.

We recognize that some women were gossiping at Ephesus (1 Tim. 5:13), but that is not the same as teaching false doctrine--we all know people who gossip but who don't teach false doctrine! And we know that there were pagan religions in Ephesus where non-Christian men and women did a number of things that were not done by Christians--but to say that they did such things after becoming Christians just strikes us a speculation, not evidence. In fact, we have read evidence in the Bible about people teaching false doctrine at Ephesus, but they are not women, they are men. So, for example, Paul talks about "Hymenaeus and Philetus, who have swerved from the truth by holding that the resurrection is past already. They are upsetting the faith of some'' (2 Tim. 2:17-18). He also speaks of "Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme'' (1 Tim. 1:20), but these are men, not women. Similarly, Paul warns the Ephesian elders, "from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them'' (Acts 20:30), but here he says these false teachers will be men (Greek andres), not that they will be women.

Kurtechism: No one should be allowed to teach false doctrine: male or female. However, we know for certain that Priscilla taught Apollos advanced biblical doctrine at her church in Ephesus. She is commended for many things in scripture and considered a fellow worker by Paul. Even if Priscilla were the only example of a godly female authoritatively teaching men within the church—she would be enough to show the future for other godly women. Not all women at Ephesus were prohibited from teaching nor restricted to teaching women. Priscilla was not silent in the churches. She was a church planter with a home church in Ephesus. Priscilla benefited from her relationship with Paul. She taught others, including men, what she learned from apostles. Priscilla didn’t need instruction from her husband at home. Instead, she instructed others from the church in her home. Priscilla is a pioneer not a problem. Let there be thousands of Priscillas. Why not? What did Priscilla do that was wrong, bad or intrinsically evil? There is no innate female gender role that prohibited or restricted her from full participation in growing the body of Christ. Grudem’s interpretation of scripture would not allow Priscilla to speak or teach Apollos or any other male. Why does Grudem work so hard to stop Priscilla? Why does Grudem seek to forbid what scripture affirms, approves and commends?

Grudem Continues:

So our question is this: Will you please show us one reference in all of ancient literature, whether inside or outside the Bible, that states that all the Christian women at Ephesus (or even that any Christian women at Ephesus) were teaching false doctrine? If you can show us one example, we would be happy to consider your interpretation further. But if you cannot, then we suggest that you have no factual basis for your interpretation of this key verse, and we respectfully ask that you stop writing and speaking as if you did, and that you also reconsider your understanding of these verses. We know that there are many other questions of interpretation on which we may differ, and we realize that these matters do not solve all of those questions. But we thought that these matters might be the simplest to resolve, since they just involve questions of factual evidence. Are there any real facts to support your claims?

Kurtechism: The advice given by Paul in 1 Timothy is typical marriage counsel given in every other place in scripture. 1 Timothy 2:11-12 is not dealing with all women everywhere but wives married to weak husbands; the kind we read about in 1 Peter 3. No matter what legalistic pharisaic position Grudem takes—it can’t mean that good Christian women should not lead a man to Christ and if necessary disciple him into the kingdom of God. There are too many examples of godly women fully involved in gospel ministry for General Grudem’s interpretation of this passage to be the only canon. Grudem is so smart he talked himself right out of obeying Jesus. Jesus told the women to go and speak to men. Grudem subjects them, silences them, subordinates them and lords it over them, with authority and headship over women into repression and fear. His pagan model for headship is a brilliant and erudite reflection of everything that contradicts Jesus.


Egalitarian: believing in equality: maintaining, relating to, or based on a belief that all people are, in principle, equal and should enjoy equal social, political, and economic rights and opportunities (Encarta Reference Library 2003). Egalitarianism is contrary to the satanic hostility projected against women in Genesis 3:15.


In Genesis 3:15 there is hostility between the serpent and the woman. Notice the hostility, enmity or war is aimed at the woman not the serpent toward men. The Bible clearly shows that the pogrom in opposition to women was embedded in history at the beginning of civilization. How would this demonic agenda against women be worked out in world culture?

Will women be:

Honored or dishonored

Exalted or despised

Protected or rejected

Included or excluded

Free or restricted, limited, bought and sold

Leaders or subordinated

Equal or inferior

Respected or abused

Life or death

Valued or devalued

First or last

Positive or negative

For or against

Rulers or subjected

Individuals or objects

Permitted or prohibited

Allowed or disallowed

Authorized or forbidden

Public or private

Selected or silenced


Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil including the satanic hostility against women.


1 John 3:8

The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil's work. NIV


Grudem speaks from the point of view of the Greek and Roman world.


1 John 4:5

 5 They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. NIV


Grudem’s foundation is pagan culture. Our foundation should be Jesus.


There is no other foundation except Christ. Be careful how you build (1 Cor 3:10).

Where in the entire OT are women expressly prohibited by God from speaking the word of God to men? No one benefits from the silencing of godly women…except the devil.

Thank you for considering our questions. We look forward to hearing a response from you.

Sincerely yours,

Wayne Grudem, Ph.D. Please send your responses to me via e-mail at:

Recommended Resources:

Men, Women and Authority, ed. Brian Edwards, Day One, 1996.

Equality in Christ: Galatians 3:28 and the Gender Dispute, Richard Hove, Crossway Books, 1999.

Women and the Church: A Fresh Look at 1 Timothy 2, eds. Schreiner, Baldwin and Kostenberger. Baker, 1995.


Kurtechism: There is only one headship model for Christians and that is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the one and only head of the entire body. Men are not the head of the church. Why does Grudem write that men are the head of the church? There is no male hierarchy in the body of Christ. There is no all male chain of command in the church modeled after the Roman military. A husband is not head of his wife as Emperor Grudem states like “the general of an army, the Roman emperor.” In the body of Christ there is hierarchy of one. In the kingdom of God roles and positions are stripped of the pagan concept of power over, lord over and authority over. In the kingdom of God roles and positions are reversed; leaders are servants and slaves of others not heads and mini-lords. Male headship should reflect Jesus not usurp Jesus. I can just imagine General Grudem at home with his wife and kids. I can’t imagine what the church structure would look like modeled after Imperial Rome. Oh yeah, the Roman Catholic Church with its all male regime. Emperor Grudem could rule over and exercise authority over and be head over all those subordinates subjected to his lordship.


1 Cor 15:28

28 Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all. NKJV


Rom 13:1

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. NKJV


1 Cor 16:16

16 that you also submit to such, and to everyone who works and labors with us.  NKJV


Eph 1:22-23

22 And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. NKJV


Eph 5:21

21 submitting to one another in the fear of God. NKJV


Eph 5:24

24 Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. NKJV


Col 3:18

Wives, submit to your own husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. NKJV


Titus 3:1-3

Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men. NKJV


Heb 2:8

For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him. NKJV


James 4:7

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. NKJV


1 Peter 2:13

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake, whether to the king as supreme, NKJV


1 Peter 2:18

Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh.  NKJV


1 Peter 3:1

Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, NKJV


1 Peter 3:22

22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him. NKJV


1 Peter 5:5

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, NKJV




Gen 2:18

18 And the LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him." NKJV


The LORD God said, "It is not good that man should be alone.” It is not good for 10 men to be alone. It is not good for 7 men on a church council to be alone. If woman is complimentary to man—an all male church board is incomplete, unbalanced and “not good.”

God’s final word about male headship, male primacy and the “Me first” order of creation is “it is not good.” There was nothing uniquely special or incredibly extraordinary about the creation of men. It is not good for a man to be by himself. What would the omnipotent, omniscient, benevolent God make to help Adam out of this condition? Would the Creator make an inferior subordinate incapable of any real help?

Alone (OT:905 bad bad) means separation, alone, being alone, only, by itself, apart from, besides; a part of the body, branch of a tree, bar for carrying; figuratively, chief of a city; especially (with prepositional prefix) as an adverb (Strong's Concordance; Brown Driver & Briggs Hebrew Lexicon; Vine's Expository Dictionary).


My wife in on the board of our family. I don’t make decisions for my family based on decisions made in the man house.