“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other word would smell as sweet.”
– William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
In the days prior to launching this blog, we already had several teachings ready to go, with several more in the pipeline; there was no lack of content, and we all had a fairly clear idea how we would all contribute to this project to see it take flight. It was a fairly smooth, seamless process, with just one small snag: we didn’t have a name. As a leadership team, we deliberated over group chat, quite extensively, what to call this new ministry which we had intended to build together. Although there never was a clear consensus, someone suggested the name “11:3 Restoration,” based on 1 Corinthians 11:3, in which the apostle Paul writes,
“But I want you to understand that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.”1 Corinthians 11:3 (NASB)
“People are going to take it the wrong way,” I protested. “I don’t want people to stumble across our page and scoff, ‘Oh, that’s the verse they picked?’ They’re going to take one look at it, and think all we’re doing is trying to ‘put women in their place.’ That’s gonna turn folks off.”
Even though that’s definitely not what the verse is talking about, it’s risky business to present patriarchy and/or headship anywhere in the Western world; and from a feminist perspective—or in my case, a perspective that was afraid of offending—a surface reading of 1 Corinthians 11:3 can seem problematic. And if that’s your focus, then I suppose that’s all you’ll see. Looking at the text a second time, however, made me realize that this passage is not only significantly deeper than I first realized, but also perfect as a foundational verse for this endeavor.
Allow me to switch gears for a second to explain.
“In the beginning,” (Genesis 1:1) as it is said, God created a big, beautiful world, and took six days to finish His masterpiece, marking His handiwork every so often by the phrase, “it was good.” (1:4, 10, 12, 18, 21, 25) God then broke this pattern at the close of the sixth day, when we are told that He saw something out of the ordinary: for the first time in the short existence of His otherwise “good” universe, something happened which God considered to be “not good,” (2:18) that is, that man was alone. The text tells us that God’s solution to remedy that which was “not good” was to create a woman named Eve, and to give her to Adam to be “a helper suitable for him.” (2:18) The problem was solved, and the situation which was “not good” had been remedied. It was only after this final act–the forming of woman, and joining her to the man–that God looked back on the entire universe that He had created, and deemed to be not only “good,” but “very good.” (1:31)
To recap, the core message of Genesis 1-2 can be read as follows:
- Everything that God created in the entire universe was “good.”
- For man to be alone, however, was “not good.”
- When woman was created and given to man, the entire universe became “very good.”
What was it that God created that prompted the betterment of all things? I would suggest the Genesis account is indicating to us that the crowning achievement of God’s creation—that which elevated the entire universe—is the covenant of marriage, comprised of male and female, fulfilling their God given roles, and being what He designed them to be. It is no wonder Paul refers to marriage as the “great mystery,” (Ephesians 5:32) analogizing it to the relationship God maintains with His people.
When read in this light, it becomes readily apparent that 1 Corinthians 11:3 isn’t about “putting women in their place,” any more than it’s about “putting men in their place.” It isn’t about any of that. It’s about recognizing that the same God who created all things in Genesis 1 established a family structure that He intended to endure until Revelation 22. It’s about recognizing that “God is not the author of confusion but of peace.” (1 Corinthians 13:33) It’s about recognizing that when God created the covenant of marriage—and by extension, the family structure—He was creating something that is “very good.”
That, above all else, is the heart of 11:3 Restoration.
We aren’t here to tell women to be better submitters. On the contrary—we’re here, primarily, to encourage men to better leaders within the home, and to equip future generations of Godly men to walk in the footsteps of the patriarchs.
Ultimately, we’re here to get back to what God called “very good.”