Interdependence of Man and Woman as Co-humanity
In looking into this issue let’s begin at the beginning. God created Eve to be an interdependent compliment to Adam - Genesis 2:18. Man was not independent of woman, nor was woman independent of man. In Genesis 3:6 Eve violated this principle of interdependence when she decided to take the fruit and eat it without Adam's input. Eve acted unilaterally and therefore the curse in Genesis 3:16 is effected in part to correct and control the woman's tendency to assert her own independence..."your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."
Now fast-forward to Romans 5:14-18. In verses 16 and 17 we're told that the process by which Adam and Eve introduced the curse into the world is reversed and undone by Jesus Christ. Thanks to what Jesus accomplished every aspect of the curse is nullified - Colossians 2:13-14, including that which instated the preference of the man over the woman in Genesis 3:16. According to 1 Corinthians 11:11, in the Lord man is not independent of woman, nor is woman independent of man - we've regained that status of interdependence for which we were originally created. That's why Galatians 3:27-28 tells us that there is no distinction or preference between men and women, "for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
Now the important thing is that this interdependence comes with certain expectations. For one thing, within the context of a marriage the man is to demonstrate his interdependence by loving his wife unconditionally, and she is to demonstrate her interdependence by submitting willingly to his leadership of the family - Ephesians 5:22-33. The other context brought to our attention in Scripture is that of the coming together of the local church - 1 Corinthians 11:18; 1 Corinthians 14:23 and elsewhere sprinkled throughout the text. In this context the man is to demonstrate his interdependence by playing the role of a servant leader, not an autocrat, following in the footsteps of the Lord Himself - Matthew 20:25-28. He is to lead the assembly by way of example in public prayer and exhortation with his head uncovered, sharing a psalm or a hymn or a word from God - 1 Corinthians 11:4,7; 1 Corinthians 14:26. Within that same context of the coming together of the local church the woman is to demonstrate her interdependence by submitting to the servant leadership of the man, expressing her spiritual gifts without assuming a posture of authority over him - 1 Timothy 2:11-12. She is to pray and prophesy silently, to herself and to God, with her head covered as an outward symbol of both her interdependence with respect to the man and their shared dependence upon God - 1 Corinthians 11:5,10; 1 Corinthians 14:34.
These expectations in no way minimize the essence of our interdependence as men and women in the Lord. In addition to speaking an eloquent testimony to our angelic audience - 1 Corinthians 11:10; Ephesians 2:10 - they are also a necessary reminder of what Isaiah calls "the rock from which you were hewn” - Isaiah 51:1. Looking back to the quarry of sin from which we were dug, we are reminded of Eve's original violation of the principle of interdependence and are cautioned not to repeat the same in our dealings with each other. We remember that we are a spiritual Body comprised of interdependent members, with Christ as our Head - Ephesians 4:15-16, a spiritual House built with interdependent stones, with Christ as the Chief Cornerstone - 1 Peter 2:4-5.
In putting all of this into practice in our day-to-day lives it's wise to remember the word of the Lord to His prophet Samuel: God does not look at outward appearances, but at the thoughts and intent of the heart - 1 Samuel 16:7. It's not the outward compliance with stipulations and expectations that's of supreme importance, but rather that we each think of others as more important than ourselves in the spirit of interdependence - Philippians 2:3-4. We must maintain relationships and behavior patterns that are in keeping with the principle of interdependence, for now we serve "in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter." - Romans 7:6. As we express Christ’s love to each other in this way, others will recognize that we are His disciples – John 13:35. In so doing we together demonstrate our total dependence on God as the very Author of our co-humanity.
Written by Stephen T. Kia, January 2001