One of the strange things about culture is how invisible its influences can be on us. Fish do not know when they are wet, frogs do not know when they are being boiled, and people do not know when they are rebelling.
It works the other way as well: once you become aware of your acculturation and correct it, the correction can seem very obvious and the acculturation of others very frustrating. I’ve explored this with respect to the role of women in combat, [ D. Bnonn Tennant, Why a woman bearing the sword is an abomination to the Lord (May 2018).] and movies; [ D Bnonn Tennant, Can badass female characters ever be redeemed? (May 2018).] today I’d like to offer a much briefer piece on the role of women in government.
What I’m going to do is give merely the outlines of five transparent reasons for Christians to oppose female rule. I doubt anyone living in the culture of the first century would have seen need to overtly state these, let alone develop them further. They are either clear to you, or they are not; and if they are not, the problem is not your conscientious desire to inspect the individual trees, but rather your need to do so before judging on the existence of the forest.
- Teleological: women exercising headship violates the creation design, for Adam was formed first, and then Eve (cf. 1 Timothy 2:13). Thus the prohibitions on women exercising headship in families and congregations are not arbitrary restrictions over specific domains, but merely two instances of a broader teleological principle.
- A fortiori: nations are comprised of collections of households. If a woman is not to exercise headship over one household (1 Peter 3:5–6), how much less should she exercise headship over many households.
- Exegetical: Scripture describes the rulership of women over a nation as a curse, akin to being defeated by children (Isaiah 3:12, 4). A curse is a fitting inversion of God’s intended order, as a judgment on rebellion against it (cf. Romans 1:18ff).
- Inductive: Women are not to exercise headship in the assembly (1 Timothy 2:12). The assembly is a kingdom and a nation (e.g. 1 Peter 2:9). Therefore, women are not to exercise headship in kingdoms or nations generally.
- Missional: Israel, and now the church, are God’s models for a rightly ordered society (Deuteronomy 4:6–8; Psalm 19:7; Matthew 5–7 etc), which is why we are commanded to teach all the nations to conform to this model (Matthew 28:18–20). Thus, Christians must preach all the nations to reject female heads of state.
You may see a kind of progression to these individual arguments; they sum up to a larger cumulative case. That’s because there’s a redemptive-historical angle here; God’s design for kingdom in general is unfolded via the establishment of his own kingdom in Scripture. He is a father-king, and thus the people he requires to represent his rule are men. This is true of the greatest King on his throne over his father’s house, to the least pauper in his TV armchair over his own house (Ephesians 3:14–15).