Primogeniture

Primogeniture

In the next of Matt Slick’s articles on women in ministry that I will be reviewing is his article called Primogeniture found at http://www.carm.org/womeninministry/primogeniture.htm

Matt gives what he considers to be the meaning of primogeniture:

“Primogeniture, the biblical teaching that the firstborn has preeminence and authority over those that follow in the family.”

I would like to ask where he gets such a definition from the bible? The correct definition of primogeniture from the dictionary is:

  1. The state of being the first born or eldest child of the same parents.
  2. Law The right of the eldest child, especially the eldest son, to inherit the entire estate of one or both parents.

Where does it say that the firstborn has authority over those that follow in the family? The bible doesn’t say this and Matt seems to have picked up an error from CBMW that primogeniture is about people having the right to rule others just because they are first born.

While the first one born had the right to the inheritance from the Father, God bypassed man’s system at times to give the rights to one who was not firstborn. For example God calls Ephraim his firstborn in Jeremiah 31:9 even though Ephraim was the second one born and it was Manasseh who was the first one born. Jesus is the ultimate first born and he is called the first born of or over all creation as he is the pre-eminent one because he created all things. However the bible never says that a human creature is given the right to rule others just because he is the first one born.

The issue of primogeniture would not even come into play regarding men and women since Adam was not the first of siblings. Eve was his wife, not his brother. There is no place in Genesis that God gave Adam the right to rule over his wife and it wasn’t until sin entered the world that God told Eve in prophesy that this is what Adam would do to her, but God never said that it was his will nor did he tell Adam to rule Eve. His words were to Eve prophetically, not to Adam as a command or the giving of a right.

Matt’s article fails the test of truth in his effort to prove that God has given man the right to rule over women because man was created first. There is no right in primogeniture to rule over others and Jesus said that lording over others was something that was not to be heard among the followers of Christ. Matt’s article proves that those who seek to dominate and control others will grasp at straws to try to prove biblically their “right” to do so. However Matt’s “proof” of a man’s right to rule has no biblical basis at all.

15 thoughts on “Primogeniture

  1. The first born in the Torah of Moses was to inherit a double portion.  The way this worked was the number of children was determined and 1 added and then each child got one share of that, except the first born got 2 shares.  For females, they got their share as part of the wedding dowry; for males when the father died.  This is part of the subtext of the prodigal, he has said in that culture that he wants his father dead.

    Even the quotes Matt gives show that the rights of the first born can  be transferred to another.  And these rights were not authority over according to the Bible.

  2. As I keep asking, what kind of Christian even wants to rule over another adult Christian? What kind of “servant” seeks preeminence? What “body part” tries to make other body parts go through it instead of reporting directly to the “brain”?

    Anyone can see that a Christian with those attitudes has no idea of what Jesus modeled in his humanity and how we’re all supposed to treat each other. To aspire to the divine qualities of Jesus and tell the other half of his Body to only model the human qualities of Jesus is the height of conceit.

    There is just something fundamentally wrong with any Christian who will fight for preeminence.

  3. Jacob? Joseph? David? Solomon? Were any of these leaders ‘firstborns’? 

    Primogeniture is about inheritance not leadership or authority.

    I often wonder if these men know the difference or if they do know and hope no one checks out their wrong teaching. Since CBMW teaches this to some extent (Piper) I have to conclude they are ‘making’ it fit their desperate premise.

  4. Don,

    Thanks for the comments about how primogeniture worked in the Torah. Matt followed none of it scripturally.

    Paula,

    I whole-heartedly agree with your thought that there is something fundamentally wrong with a Christian who wants to fight for preeminence. There doesn’t appear to be humility operating there and there should be a love for the rest of the body instead of a desire to rule.

    Lin,

    You also made an excellent point that primogeniture is not even about leadership let along ruling since some of the best of God’s leaders were not first born. I have also wondered myself about the quotes from CBMW whether they really do expect that people will just swallow what they say without ever checking out the facts. How does this happen that we are raising a generation of followers who have no capabilities of being Bereans?

  5. “How does this happen that we are raising a generation of followers who have no capabilities of being Bereans?”

    About a 2 years ago, my SS class decided to throw out all the topical studies and only study books of the bible. Boy oh boy did that change things. There were some who could not believe some of what they were reading because it did not line up with what they had been taught. (Mainly within the realm of cheap grace).

    Some even left. But the 25 or so that stayed have become more and more hungry for the deep truths.

    One of the things we have all agreed upon that are left is that none of us really knew scripture. We knew bits and pieces. We did not understand the whole ‘scope’ of scripture. That is why this subordination within the Trinity teaching has gained so much ground. people do not know better because they do not look at the scope of scripture.

    During a study on Genesis, one of the more studied women made a comment about Eve ‘usurping ‘ her role. I very gently asked her to show me where that was pointed out in the text or another part of scripture. She couldn’t….. except to read into it. That started a whole study on that part and how that has been taught for so many years….all had to admit, it was read into the account.

    It is amazing what can happen when people read scripture and only seek truth and not their presuppositional premises.

    But first, they have to stop following movements and celebrity Christians.

  6. LIN! good going.

    I have been doing book by book studies for several years now. It is truly amazing how unskilled the average Christian is in studying Scripture. As you implied, they only know how to parrot the words of the then popular Christian writer or speaker.

  7. If anyone is interested, I wrote a long rant a few years ago about the sorry state of Sunday School (alliteration intended) at This Link. I’d be interested in any comments.

  8. Paula, from one of your lessons:

    “One of the most aggravating trends in the modern Bible study is the question, “what does this verse/passage mean to me?”. That’s a totally backwards way to read the Bible. We’re not here to impose our beliefs on the Bible, we’re here to get our beliefs from the Bible. The idea is to figure out the writer’s intended meaning, not how we can make the words support something we want to believe and then call it a Biblical teaching. We’re supposed to be getting something out of the Word, not putting something in.”

    it is so easy to fall into this trap. I even see some of us doing it in our SS and we have to pull ourselves back each time. ( I do believe that certain passages can ‘speak’ to us differently at different times but that does not mean the passages means something different. The Holy Spirit used it  to teach ME something personally. that sort of thing. )

    it is hard to even lovingly rebuke people for giving deciding what a passage means to ‘them’ as they get so offended but it has to be done.

    In reality, many of the hierarchalists are doing this very thing when interpreting scripture. And it is easy for others to believe it when they do not know the scope of scripture. I just keep asking them questions…what about this and how does that relate to what you are saying, etc., etc. Ask enough of these  type questions in a group situation and those around at the time start seeing a bigger picture and wondering about such interpretations. (Not those who are married to the hierarchical view, though. They have an agenda)
     

  9. Lin, your comments are so true, and I find myself doublechecking my own motives and lenses when I read the bible-wondering if I have become overclouded with my egalitarian understanding.  And I have been accused of doing so by my spouse.  (I think my spouse does the same 🙂  Yet, I find I cannot, in good conscience, adopt any other view, in light of all I am learning.  As you said, however, those who are married to their view will be the most difficult to pry lose, no matter how good the questions or teachings are.  Because I so wish to be on the same page with my spouse on this issue, and we aren’t, I still struggle to not try to force the ‘good questions’ or ‘good teaching’ on my poor spouse. 

    On another topic, what kinds of church circumstances have those of you who are egalitarian found for yourselves?  Are you a lone ranger in a comp church and toughing it out-gracefully or otherwise- or have you found a church that is actually egalitarian without being liberal?  I am finding some churches-being new to this area and state-that are egal. and non-liberal but they almost always are very seeker-sensitive and naive to some of the new-agey things creeping into the church, like contemplative prayer, etc.  Haven’t decided which is the lesser of the evils:  a strict fundamentalist church (my spouse’s) or an egal church with loose boundaries?! (And I would have to go without the spouse.)  Interestingly, none of the egal churches have true bible studies-they do book studies by popular authors!  The fundamentalist church does bible studies but the format is very tightly controlled by the teacher so questioning is very difficult to do, though not impossible.  Still keeping an eye out for a home group that would be suitable but haven’t found one of those, either.

  10. Lin,
    Yes, it’s very tough to keep examining our preconceived ideas and holding them up to the light of the Word. But there has to be a commitment to that principle by all involved, or at least the majority, or we find ourselves always fighting against the majority. This is the sort of “one mind” we should have, not that we all agree on every detail, but that we agree on basic principles.
    Truthseeker,
    I have yet to find a fellowship where egal is truly welcomed, or where the seeker movement has not taken over. It seems that Christians, sheep that they are, are easily herded and far too trusting of mere human leaders. But that’s the nature of “organized religion”, to control large masses of people. In contrast, Jesus spoke of a Body without walls, without rituals, without clergy, a relationship with him instead of a master/slave arrangement. Such a thing makes strong individuals who are not easily herded or fooled.

  11. Paula,

    Loved your link to your ‘rant’ on Sunday schools!  Very refreshing!!!   How true it is that we tend to just keep folk in a perpetual state of ‘baby bird receiving the worm’ rather than growing people to become mama and papa birds spiritually.  Or worse, we just discuss Christian books without even opening the bible.  

     Love, too, your picture of what Jesus meant us to be and have as ‘church’.  That is so freeing and inspiring.  Helps, also, to hear that others struggle to find a ‘good’ church.  I would be happy to just find several believers who would be willing to meet in a home, without feeling like they had to have a man lead and teach the bible study.  Not that men aren’t good for that, but to insist on it usually means the man will teach with a heavy hand and squelch much discussion, especially any generated by a woman (in my experience in strict churches).

    Speaking of churches and what Jesus did, I would highly recommend the dvd series, “Follow the Rabbi” by Ray Vanderlaan?  It is an excellent dvd series (about $200 for about 8 dvds with approx. 6  25 min. mini segments per dvd) that is filmed on site in Israel, etc. and Ray, who has studied Jewish culture extensively, both formally (PhD) and otherwise, teaches or shows us what it looked like in that context and culture.  He reveals some very interesting bits of info that really show how far, in some ways, we have come from what the early church looked like.  It doesn’t really address the issue of women in the church as a focus point anywhere, though some of what he shares does touch on it.  Learning the cultural context is SOOOOO helpful and he does a great job of presenting that.  (Just google Follow the Rabbi to find his site.)  Enough of this tangent.

  12. “On another topic, what kinds of church circumstances have those of you who are egalitarian found for yourselves?”

    Well, my situation is a bit strange. I left a Christian seeker-mega after 16 years that was shallow on the essentials (sins are mistakes and grace is cheap) but very dogmatic on the secondaries such as women’s roles, raising kids, etc. It was more of a family oriented Republican social club for the upper classes than a real ecclessia.

    I had NO idea where to go and dreaded finding a church after so many years. So, I just started visiting my mom’s old home church down the street where my step dad still goes. What I found was a very nice mix of everything AND agreement on the essentials. We have Calvinists, Free will folks, Egals, Comps, Cessationist,
    continualists, etc. But, everyone loves each other. I have just fallen in love with it. And we study the Word!

    My whole attitude toward church has changed. I no longer think I should be fed at church by one pastor or my teachers. (I know that is sad) but that attitude can get us in trouble. We are all to feed each other and judge what is taught by searching the scriptures and our goal should be not only correct doctrine in the essentials but a growing in Holiness.

    We do not have sermons on men and women’s roles. Thank Goodness! It seems that is all I heard at the mega was sermons on family, roles, money, tithing, etc. There were ‘formulas’ for everything.  I am sick of it. I mean, if our relationship with Christ is growing and we are growing in holiness, those things come into line. I am sick of formulas, checklists, books and conferences! It was the same thing over and over said in a different way.

    My cousin sent me a quote the other day and I cannot remember who said it but it went like this:

    “A woman’s heart should be so hidden in Christ that a man should have to seek Him first to find her.”

  13. Truthseeker and Lin,
    I too have a hard time deciding here in Southern Cal. which is the lesser of two evils;  the fundamentalist mega-biggies which tend to be as you say Lin, far-right Republican social clubs
    , or the egal main-liners which are almost bereft of any serious Berean style study of scripture.

Comment to join the discussion

%d bloggers like this: