I just finished posting a comment on another blog where a debate on the gender roles question is going on. This is a complex issue, and I am trying to learn to be gracious and thoughtful about it. Anyway, I thought maybe I'd post my comment here because it also summarizes some of the stuff I discovered in my most recent paper (which I mentioned in my last post).
All I can say is that when Paul says the woman was made for the man, he is talking about “being the glory of man” (which no heterosexual man can deny), not some sort of ownership. Besides, a couple verse later Paul jumbles up the order lest anyone take it too far. One other thing, people keep hearkening back to creation order, but when Paul does this I think it has more to do with the long-cultured idea of promigeniture (or firstborn status), and not some inherent dominion over women that is given to man. And even promigeniture is a rule that in God’s redemptive plan seems to have been made to be broken (i.e. Jacob, Judah, etc).
Also, while I haven’t read every word of the comments above, I should note that the word “helper” is used of God more than anyone else in the Old Testmant, as in God helping humans, so to say it implies subordination is to read a lot into the Hebrew word based on our English translation.
And when you read the creation account you see a build up of this idea of mutuality in the human race, never more sacredly reflected than in the marriage relationship. Then comes the fall and it reads like a messing up of the whole thing. But if you look at the first two chapters of Genesis you are hard-pressed to find patriarchy unless you have those glasses on already. Which I’ll sadly admit, for most of my life I have had.
I am extremely grateful for the gracious way many egalitarians have continued to dialogue on this, and they can count me as one of the won over. Having said that, I resist the “fight” mentality, and even in disagreeing with complimentarians I simply ask them to not discount us egalitarians as liberal nutcases or even militant feminists (although there will be those) and to just keep in the dialogue, all of us who have been saved by the grace of Jesus speaking the truth in love. If we can do that, no matter what decision we make, we can be sure we’ll be glorifying Christ at least through the dialogue itself.
You can find the blog thread here as well as a great article this lady wrote in "Books and Culture" which originally led me to her blog (which has little to do with the issue of women actually, far as I can tell). I highly recommend this B & C article. I really want to read John Stackhouse's book, "Finally Feminist".