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The "Headship of Man" doctrine and women's roles in family, church, workforce, politics...

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The "headship" principle, stated simply, is that a woman's role is to follow the leadership of men.

bullet As a child, this means she must obey her father.
bullet As a married woman, she must submit to her husband's decisions, and to the
A common belief among conservative Christians is that God instituted the headship principle (male in leadership; female in a supporting role) at the time of creation. This is shown in the following ways:
bullet God created Adam before Eve; he was the firstborn of the human race and thus had special responsibilities
bullet God told Adam about the restriction on eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. This gave him the responsibility to teach Eve to avoid the tree
bullet After they ate the fruit, God addressed Adam first, holding him accountable for the disobedience.
bullet God cursed Eve, saying that Adam shall rule over her.

"The headship principle was instituted by God at creation, re-iterated after the fall, and upheld as a model of male-female Christian relationships in the home and church." 1 Since there is no Biblical passage canceling the headship principle, many feel it is still in force. Thus, women should not be in a position of authority over men.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Dr. Helmut Koester, "The role of women in the Christian churches of Paul's day." This is a series of excerpts from his speech titled "St. Paul: His Mission to the Greek Cities & His Competitors," given to the Foundation for Biblical Research, Charlestown, NH, on 1997-SEP-13. It is available at:
  2. William Einwechter, "Should Christians Support a Woman for the Office of Civil Magistrate?" Vision Forum Ministries, 2004-JUL-08, at:

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Copyright 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2007-JAN-11
Latest update: 2007-JAN-11
Compiled by B.A. Robinson

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