Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Male and Female in Heaven

This is another example of complementarian thinking. Here is an example of the intellectual underpinnings of complementarianism. From Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood by Wayne Grudem and John Piper.

Chapter 12
John M. Frame

    Are men and women equally in the image of God?
    Some have answered in the negative because of Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 11:7, “A man ought not to cover his head, since he is the image and glory of God; but the woman is the glory of man.”

    I agree with C. K. Barrett that “in this context Paul values the term image only as leading to the term glory.” The reference to “image” is incidental to Paul’s purpose, and therefore not mentioned with respect to woman; but it notifies his readers of the Old Testament basis for saying that man is the glory of God, “glory” and “image” being roughly, but not entirely, synonymous.

    “Glory” in this context is the honor that one person brings to another. Man, Paul says, was made to honor God. Of course, woman was also made to honor God; but in addition, she is also made for a second purpose: to honor man. God made her specifically to be a helper for Adam (Genesis 2:18, 20; cf. Proverbs 12:4; Ephesians 5:25-29). Man honors or glorifies God by uncovering his head, for covering the head connoted subservience to another creature.Such subservience to men is especially inappropriate for a male prophet, whose whole function is to speak for God, or for one leading in public prayer, whose whole function is to lead the people to God’s own throne. Woman, however, even when prophesying or praying in public, must not only honor God, but also honor man. Indeed, she honors God when she honors the specific task of “helper” for which God made her. Unlike the man, then, she honors God best by displaying a symbol by which she honors her fellow-creature. (page 230)

    Will We Be Male and Female in Heaven?

    Scripture doesn’t explicitly address this question, so we should not be dogmatic in trying to answer it. But some broad Biblical principles may lead us in one direction or another.

    We might be inclined to answer “no” to this question because of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 22:30 that resurrected saints will neither marry nor give in marriage. In the resurrection, earthly families will be overshadowed by the great family of God (cf. Luke 20:36). I am, however, inclined toward an affirmative answer:

    (1) Those who appear after death in Scripture always appear similar to their earthly forms (1 Samuel 28:11-15; Matthew 17:1-13; 27:52ff.; Revelation 11:1-12). I would assume that the men continued to appear as bearded (if they wore beards on earth), speaking with masculine voices. This fact seems to yield some presumption, at least, that we retain our sexual characteristics after death.

    (2) Even angels (whom Jesus says we will resemble in the resurrection) tend to appear in Scripture as men, rather than as women or as asexual beings (Genesis 18:2, 16, 22; Joshua 5:13; Hebrews 13:2).

    (3) Jesus’ resurrection body also resembled the form He bore on earth, even down to the wounds in His hands and side (John 20:25, 27), although His new existence is mysterious in many ways. At the resurrection appearances, I have no doubt that the disciples saw a male figure.

    (4) Sexuality, as we have seen, is part of the image of God, part of what it now means to be human. It is possible that this resemblance might in the next life be replaced with other kinds of resemblance. (“Image of God,” we will recall, covers much territory.) But if we lose our sexuality, why should we not also lose our arms, eyes, and brains?

    (5) Our sex organs and secondary sexual characteristics have functions other than procreation. They also image different attributes of God and express the variety of human personality. Sex, after all, is not just reproductive capacity. Stereotypes aside, men and women do differ in personality and in the distribution of their spiritual gifts. The body of a godly woman often serves as an appropriate accompaniment to her personality, reinforcing our impression of her inner meekness and quiet strength. Similarly for men, mutatis mutandis. We would, I think, sense something odd if Mother Teresa’s personality were found in the body of, say, Sylvester Stallone, or vice versa.

    So here’s a weak vote in favor of the affirmative: I rather suspect that we will still be male and female in the resurrection.


Kevin Knox said...


So a committed complementarian can find a heretically radical complementarian, argue with him, and suddenly be "centrist." You know, I really don't mind when people say things that I think are wrong, but when they crassly manipulate an argument like this I get frustrated.

One does not have to be a Greek scholar to know they got 1 Cor 11 all wrong. Nothing about the argument Paul makes there is clear or logical in our translations. I assume that somewhere, somehow Paul is making the argument that if man is above the angels, and angels are allowed to appear before God without head covering, then it is shamefully obvious that women should be allowed the same.

I look forward to The Source. I really want to see another perspective on this chapter.

Talmida said...

Good grief!! What nonsense!

God made her specifically to be a helper for Adam???

I just translated this! The Hebrew word for "help" is the same word used to describe GOD in the Psalms (my help and my shield). It has been translated as succour, which means RESCUER! It is not in any sense a subservient "good help is hard to find" kind of helper! The word can be used for a country that comes to your aid in times of war, an ally.

That is how I finally translated it -- God created woman as an Ally for man.

And the comment about Mother Teresa's personality being in Sylvester Stallone's body is the most patronizing thing I've read for years -- would the authors feel the same way if Mother Teresa was young and had a body like Pamela Anderson? Or if Sly Stallone was small and mousy looking?


And image = glory?!?!

Okay, there is no end to the silliness of this passage. None.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

So a committed complementarian can find a heretically radical complementarian, argue with him, and suddenly be "centrist."

Sorry, Codepoke, who is who here?

Talmida, I am concerned at how many people 'appreciate' the book that this came out of.

Anonymous said...

I always appreciate it when a doctrinaire Calvinist man tells all women how they should act based on an obscure passage in Paul. that should clear it up for everyone.
Ron Smith

Suzanne McCarthy said...

a doctrinaire Calvinist man Is that what they are? I was issued a copy of Breve Instruction Chrietienne when I went to Bible School in Swizterland but I guess I didn't read it thoroughy. I missed the part about male and female in heaven.

Kevin Knox said...

Sorry to confuse.

John Frame refers to "others" who don't believe that women are even equal to men in nature. He disagrees with those "others" then goes on to list several ways in which women are inferior in his mind; all the while taking credit for elevating women higher than those "others". So, because he believes "separate roles but equal natures" he conceives himself to be a darling of a man compared to those who believe in simple inferiority.

I'm sure there's a nasty name for the logical falacy of successfully defeating the wrong argument. It's not straw-man, because he doesn't falsely characterize egalitarianism. He simply tries to ignore it away.

Peter Kirk said...

John Frame, in arguing that "Those who appear after death in Scripture always appear similar to their earthly forms", confuses the true resurrection with the special temporary reappearance of the dead. The only example we have so far of true resurrection if Jesus himself, and it is worth noting that he was never immediately recognised by those who saw him, implying that his form had changed in some way, even though some resemblance remained including his wounds. As for "At the resurrection appearances, I have no doubt that the disciples saw a male figure", I would have some doubt, but if this is true it is more probably because he was dressed as a male rather than because they saw sexual organs demonstrating that he was male.

Suzanne McCarthy said...

This is such a speculative area. I don't see how we can say anything at all about our physical beings in heaven.

Suzanne McCarthy said...


I have looked at some images of angels in Christian art and I have found it very interesting. There are basically three kinds of angels, (Not cherubs or anything like that) but there are 1) the feminine ones, more common than I would have thought; 2) the fully masculine ones with a little facial hair, quite a surprise to me and then 3) the most common are male but without facial hair, these are often but not necessarily quite young teenagers.

I have to ask if this reflects a preference of the painters for teenage boys, or whether there is more to it. There appears to be an ideal that an angel should be strong and youthful, but without facial hair. Are angels stuck eternally at some particular stage of puberty, or do angels represent what we most admire in both male and female. Obviously facial hair, although it looked appropriate on Christ, is not so elegant on an angel. Food for thought.

I am refering in this discussion only to how people have interpreted the idea of angels in the Bible, not to what the Bible says about them.

Matthew Celestine said...

Those pictures of angels are very nice, but a bit disturbing.

I think we will porbably keep our gender. Loosing it is not taught in the Word, so it is reading something foreign in to argue we become sexless.

Every Blessing in Christ