Pastor says male/female roles will continue in heaven

A Tennessee pastor says Bible teaching regarding wifely submission isn’t just for the here and now.

By Bob Allen

Wives are to submit to their husbands not only on earth but also in heaven, according to an article posted online recently by the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood.

A 7,000-word article titled “Relationships and Roles in the New Creation” apparently was taken down after the Spiritual Sounding Board blog posted a critique March 12 querying “Is the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood Drinking Mormon-Flavored Koolaid?”

The article by Mark David Walton, senior pastor at Glenwood Baptist Church in Oak Ridge, Tenn., appeared originally in the spring 2006 issue of the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, published twice a year by the organization founded in 1987 by John Piper and Wayne Grudem to “promote gospel-driven gender roles,” including that men and women are of equal dignity and worth but created for different and “complementary” roles.

cbmw-logoWalton reasoned that if that created order was God’s will before the fall, it must follow that those gender roles will continue into eternity. Walton said that Jesus’ words in the Bible "they neither marry nor are given in marriage" does not mean that husbands and wives won’t be united in heaven, but rather that conjugal relations will be transformed into the archetypal “marriage between Christ and his church.”

“Complementarity is not just an accommodation to the less-than-perfect conditions that prevailed during the first century,” Walton wrote. “Rather, it is a divine principle weaved into the fabric of God’s order for the universe.”

“Given, then, that relationships between those married on earth will in some sense remain in the new creation, it remains for us to inquire regarding the nature of those relationships,” he wrote. “To put it more directly, will husbandly headship and wifely submission still obtain in the new creation?”

Walton continued, “Because the new creation is, fundamentally, a return to the divine order that prevailed before the fall, it follows that male headship will remain in the new creation.”

Subsequent to the creation story, he said, “the principle of headship and submission in male-female relations is clearly affirmed in the New Testament.”

“Surely within the context of biblical teaching on the church there would be an unambiguous repeal of the principle of male headship if, in fact, its end reflected the divine ideal,” he said. “Such is simply not found. There is every reason to believe, then, that male headship will continue as the divine order for male-female relationships.”

Walton said that “unencumbered by the flesh,” husbands in the new creation will “be able, as never before, to genuinely love ‘as Christ also loved the church,’” a quotation from Ephesians chapter 5.

“With both man and woman thus perfected and transformed, are we to suppose that the new creation will abandon the order established in God’s original creation?” he asked. “I think not. Rather, such relations will bring to each true joy, and to God, more glory than before.”

The CBMW website includes no mention of why the reposted article was taken down, but the group’s executive director said in a blog post that opponents sometimes “try to paint us into a corner” by linking the council “to figures that most complementarians don’t even know about.”

“When this happens, we have to shake our head and laugh,” wrote Owen Strachan, who also serves as an assistant professor at Boyce College in Louisville, Ky. “But we know that when you stand for something definitive, you always risk being targeted. The body of work in our journal and on our website shows that we publish one piece after another on how biblical complementarity, powered by the gospel of Jesus Christ, transforms us, critiques us and blesses us.”

The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood office is located on the campus of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Denny Burk, associate professor of biblical studies and ethics at Boyce College, is the Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood editor.

Russell Moore, head of the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, is listed on the council’s board of directors. So is Daniel Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.

Council members include Southern Seminary President Albert Mohler and Dorothy Patterson, wife of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, who is identified as a “homemaker” and adjunct faculty member at the seminary in Fort Worth, Texas.