In the summer of 2020, a website pulled the veil back on what many church officers in Reformed denominations were saying about women (and also other minorities, but I’m focusing on women in this post). Its administrators were officers in the OPC. They were particularly consumed with the release of Recovering from Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and how dangerous it is for the church.
One of their favorite Puritans to recommend was William Gouge. So naturally, they look to him for a possible argument against women going to college, as the image captured above shows.
Two years later, we can still wonder how the views of these church officers have been challenged. Yesterday, a soon to be released book was brought to my attention that an OPC church officer who is also a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary cowrote with his wife. It’s titled Gospel-Shaped Marriage. This is part of the description on Amazon:
Drawing from Scripture and the writings of Puritan minister William Gouge, their advice also prepares churches, friends, and others to support married couples in their lives.
I took a peek at the “Look inside” to find this in the Introduction:
“The third and unique aspect of this book is the path that it charts, for here we follow an old insight from a book written four hundred years ago. The book, by a pastor named William Gouge, is quaintly titled Domestical Duties. Not everything in it is helpful, but some things are, and in these few pages we pass on the best of what we learned and are trying to put into practice.” (14)
Not everything in it is helpful?
With all the abuse being revealed in Christ’s church, it blows my mind that anyone would direct our men and women to the teachings in this book by Gouge.
Sure, there are some good things in there, particularly when he is talking about Christ. But one cannot read Gouge without coming away with the teaching that woman is enslaved to man. She, by nature, must be ruled by him. In Gouge’s words from his Domestical Duties:
“The reason of this order I take to be the inferiority of the wife to her husband.”(10)
According to Gouge, the problem is we are always trying to usurp authority as part of our inferior nature. What a burden this puts on the man!
“Surely because for the most part inferiours are most unwilling to undergo the duties of their place. Who is not more ready to rule, than the subject?”(10)
These domestical duties break down differently for the man and the woman. The men are “more fit” for the “weighty affairs of the family” and the wife for “less, but very needful matters” (125).
Not only is the husband superior over the wife. Gouge spends pages upon pages on the ways that the wife must inwardly and outwardly acknowledge it:
“3. Of an husband’s superiority over a wife, to be acknowledged by the wife. (See Treatise 4, Sections 6, and 7.)
The subjection which is required of a wife to her husband implieth two things.
1. That she acknowledge her husband to be her superiour.
2. That she respect him as her superiour.
That acknowledgement of the husband’s superiority is twofold,
1. General of any husband.
2. Particular of her own husband.” (129)
You know, because nature:
“2. Nature hath placed an eminency in the male over the female: so as where they are linked together in one yoke, it is given by nature that he should govern, she obey. This did the heathen by light of nature observe.
3. The titles and names, whereby an husband is set forth, do imply a superiority and authority in him, as Lord (1 Peter 3:6), Master (Esther), Guide (Prov 2:17), Head (1 Cor 2:3), image and glory of God (1 Cor 11:7)” (129-130).
“The point then being so clear, wives ought in conscience to acknowledge as much: namely that an husband hath superiority and authority over a wife. The acknowledgement hereof is a main and principal duty, and a ground of all other duties. Till a wife be fully instructed therein and truly persuaded thereof, no duty can be performed by her as it ought: for subjection hath relation to superiority and authority. The very notation of the word implieth as much. How then can subjection be yielded, if husbands be not acknowledged superiours? It may be forced, as one King conquered in battle by another, may be compelled to yield homage to the conqueror, but yet because he still thinketh with himself, that he is no whit inferiour, he will hardly be brought willingly to yield a subject’s duty to him, but rather expect a time when he may free himself and take revenge of the conqueror” (130).
And yet, Gouge gives women more dignity than some of his contemporaries. He does teach against wife spanking as discipline. Women, we are just so close but so far away from equality. He refers to that notion as “a fond conceit that husband and wife are equal.” In this, he speaks about how some argue that the man may be the head, but the woman is the heart. And he says because of this, wives begin thinking of “themselves every way as good as their husbands, and no way inferiour to them” (130).
He calls this “a very weak argument.”
“… 3. Even in those things wherein there is a common equity, there is not an equality: for the husband hath ever even in all things a superiority: as if there be any difference even in the forenamed instances, the husband must have the stronger” (130).
In his needing to belabor the wife’s acknowledgment of her own husband’s superiority, we get the money quote:
… But for a wife who knoweth and acknowledgeth the general, that an husband is above his wife, to imagine that she herself is not inferiour to her husband, ariseth from monstrous self-conceit, and intolerable arrogancy, as if she herself were above her own sex, and more than a woman.(131)
And there it is. More than a woman. Translation: more than an inferior being. Monstrous thought.
I mean, if equals even on occasion give the courtesy of submitting to one another, “how much less ought wives, who are their husbands’ inferiours?” (134).
One way of showing male superiority is for a woman to just zip it:
“For this end in his presence her words must be few, reverend and meek. First few:
…and so will her very silence testify a reverend respect. …for a wife to be sparing in speech, to expect a fit time and just occasion of speech, to be willing to hearken to the word of knowledge coming out of her husband’s mouth. This argueth reverence. Elihu (Job 32:6) manifested the reverend respect, which as a younger he bare to his elders, by forbearing to speak while they had any thing to say. How much more ought wives in regard both of their sex and of their place?
Also, since women by nature are so inferior, it is up to her man to rebuke her if she is to learn anything. Gouge writes pages on this, but I think you’ll get the idea here:
“47. Of a wife’s meek taking a reproof. (See Treatise 4, Sections 34 and 35.)
The husband having authority over his wife, by virtue thereof he hath power, yea it is his duty as there is needful cause to rebuke her: By just consequence therefore it followeth, that it is her duty to yield obedience thereunto.”(153)
Woman is stuffed down, down, down.
Many, many pages are spent on all the things which a wife must get consent from her husband before doing. There is much more to share, but I hope you see the problem here. It’s more than a few “unhelpful” parts. This is the foundation of his teaching.
It is not gospel-shaped. No. This abhorrent teaching of a woman’s nature, “that man is more eminent in place, and also more excellent in dignity” is Aristotelian to the core. It is a counter-text to the picture of woman in Scripture, who points us to heavenly Zion, the great assembly, and the mother of the living. God created men and women both as icons, or representative symbols, of himself, showcasing a great love story—the story of the outgoing, overflowing love of the triune God.
We can’t even imagine this kind of love with this superior/inferior anthropology of man and woman. I doubt this new book on marriage will include these and the many other offensive parts. But why in the world chart a path to follow the insight of Gouge? Why? I know this isn’t some OPC conspiracy, but the irony is thick that my book was considered the dangerous one. I’m just a laywoman, no more. And this is a pastor and professor in the denomination. It’s just all so revealing.
We are created to share covenantally in the Father’s love for the Son, in the Holy Spirit. Our very bodies tell the story of a gift given in eternity—a gift of a bride to the Son. Rather than Gouge’s Aristotelian framework, imagine man and woman revealing the deep mystery of an eternal trinitarian covenant that is prefigured in creation. Christ doesn’t stuff his bride down.
In the words of Elizabeth Packard (two hundred years after Gouge):
“Women cannot be made to sink permanently.” (Quoted by Kate Moore in, The Woman They Could Not Silence, 347).
And so we see her standing in the glory of our Savior at the end of Scripture, the bride “coming down out of heaven from God” (Rev. 21:2). And she speaks: “Both the Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come!’ Let anyone who hears, say, ‘Come!’ Let the one who is thirsty come. Let the one who desires take the water of life as a gift” (Rev. 22:17).
She rises. She is all whom Christ loves. All who love Christ. And he elevates her.
9 thoughts on “An OPC Answer to Misogyny in the Church?…”
Mr. Gouge’s prescriptions result in what Headless Unicorn Guy calls “the sweet, smiling sociopath.” It is profoundly ironic that anything associated with this model would be called “Gospel-shaped.”
And what a meretricious neologism that is! “Cringe!” as my daughters would say.
This is like going back to Johnathan Edwards to get a “Biblical” view of Critical Race Theory. (Oh danggit I just gave some “reformed” dude a book idea)
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If women have a different nature than man, then they have no hope of salvation, because scripture states that Christ took on man’s nature not women’s!
Very well put, as usual.
What does nature teach truly teach us, about men and women? But let’s not forget some very foundational truths that we see in nature, such as ‘the heavens declare the Glory of God’; or that nature teaches us, of first importance, what Paul writes to the Romans in chapter 1-that ‘the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men’; this essential truth, revealed in all of Creation, is also referenced in Romans 3, as we learn that in our very nature, we have a conscience created to teach us the plain difference between right and wrong, which is inherent even ‘among the Gentiles’ who were not given the revelation of God in the Law. Romans 8 also references that the Creation-nature-is aware of the consequences of Adam’s sin, and ‘groans’ as though in childbirth, waiting for the new Creation yet to come!
Paul is more specific about the positive things revealed by nature-even stating that ‘His Eternal Power, Divine Nature and Invisible Attributes are clearly seen throught what has been made. WOW-CLEARLY SEEN_through what has been MADE.
I have a doctorate in Human Physiology, awarded in 1984, and I spent much of the the next 3 decades studying God’s amazing design of us, looking mechanistically at our cells, organs, biochemical and physiological pathways, with a specific interest in how sex hormones, particularly estrogen and progesterone give women NOVEL organs that are REQUISITE to the process of ‘nurtuing NEW LIFE’ from conception to parturition, and ‘what can go wrong’ in an effort to LOVE STRUGGLING PEOPLE by mitigating human suffereing caused by diseases as a FOLLOWER OF JESUS, whose LIFE is given us as a model to follow in OUR lives as new creations, redeemed for a purpose.
We are ‘fearfuly and wonderfully made’.
in STUDYING the “HIGHEST ORDER’ of God’s creation-MAN; made in His IMAGE to bring HIM GLORY, and given responsiblity in the CREATION to fulfill a mandate not revoked by the fall-the ‘creation mandate’ given to mankind in two sexes–the first order being to ‘propagate and fill the earth’-which is LARGELY carried out by the WOMAN-without whom NONE OF US WOULD BE HERE in the first place; so if we are going to LOOK TO NATURE, to define that in SOME PERVERSE WAY NEGLECTING THIS FIRST ORDER REALITY that WITHOUT EVE_the ‘mother of ALL LIVING’-NONE OF US WOULD BE HERE.
if NATURE tells us ANYTHING about ‘men and women’ we might actually CONSIDER that WOMEN hold a PRIORITY POSITION in LIFE. PERIOD.
Without the AMAZING DESIGN of God of a WOMAN’s BODY which FUNDAMENTALLY contains a truly SACRED SPACE, in which GOD WORKS to SHAPE OUR INNERMOST PARTS (Psalm 139) WITHIN THIS CENTRAL VITAL SPACE a woman’s body surrounds and FUNCTIONS to enable human development to take place-EVERY OTHER PART contributing to the NURTURE of this INDEPENDENT HUMAN LIFE-this at the level of ‘first things’.
As a PHYSIOLOGIST-I strudied a NUMBER of organs-MOST disease processes involve MULTIPLE organs in our bodies-and MUTIPLE biochemical, cell biological and physiological systems.
So IF we are going to ARGUE FROM NATURE-then PERHAPS WE SHOULD KNOW WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT FIRST.
NATURE clearly TEACHES the major systems in WOMEN function in what I would classify as a Physiologist with decades of study of the human body and its systems, as SUPERIOR.
Epidemiologically WOMEN SURVIVE longer than men, the DOMINANT physiological system in our BODIES is the Heart and circulatory system-the ‘cardiovascular’ system.
MEN”S cardiovascular system FAILS EARLIER than women’s; MEN DiE of cardiovascular diseasee-YEARS EARLIER-which demonstrates a SUPERIORITY in woman’s cardiovascular system; and ESTROGEN, the ‘female hormone’ is mechanistically associated and I believe causative in this greater survival and SUPERIORITY of the MAJOR system in our body…
Men’s BONES are superior and MUSCLES are stronger–than women’s, because of the impact TESTOSTERONE has on bone growth and muscle mass.
Women’s IMMUNE systems are buth SUPERIOR and able to develop the immune system for a newborn for the first weeks of life, until the newborn is capable of manufacturing his or her own immune system elements.
Women’s immune system handles immunity for a SECOND human being-and that immune system continues to be passed on to the newborn child, along with essential nutrients that, in our present world, we are seeing is DIFFICULT to replace, synthetically (we have a national shortage in infant forumula-which is NOT SIMPLE to replace-but very compilcated).
I could go on and on, describing many things God has designed into His Creation, to bring us to a sense of TRUE AWE and WONDER at HIS DESIGN, that draw us to WORSHIP HIM as our CREATOR GOD!
So let’s not be FOOLISH and WRONG in starting by a premise that comes from a DARK AGE OF MEDICINE_until 150 years ago, medicine was SO PRIMITVE that we didn’t know the BASICS about good hygiene…
Only in MY LIFETIME have we begun to develop therapeutic agents that can prevent the spread of ‘infectious diseases’ that once caused MASSIVE deaths and CRIPPLING diseases. Our UNDERSTANDING of God’s DESIGN of US-the pinnacle of His Creation-was PRIMITIVE.
the statements made before our MODERN understanding of ‘nature’-were made in UTTER IGNORANCE-and NOT for good intentions, it seems.
Let’s RECOGNIZE not just the FALSENESS of the statement that BY NATURE men are SUPERIOR to women-and DISCARD the teachings that have this as a foundational truth-recognizing that such statements are CATEGORICALLY WRONG and FALSE… and so the WHOLE THEOLOGY BUILT ON THEM is also false; though not ALL the elements are false; each statement needs to be considered on the basis of its individual merit.
But the ‘bathwater’ is false, and even corrupt. as it DENIGRATES half the human race, just as ‘justification for slavery’ was based on the FALSE PREMISE that the race-or simply the color of a person’s skin-made them LESS HUMAN than another group.
To DIMINISH ANY person made in the IMAGE OF GOD is inherently not just false, but WRONG.
We are told plainly that even the CHIEF OF SINNERS was not less of a human.
Paul the apostle, was a man who WENT AROUND LOOKING FOR CHIRISTIANS TO MURDER, in the NAME OF GOD.
Let that sink in–Paul was WORSE than many of our modern ‘mass murderers’-he was SANCTIONED by the REIGNING AUTHORITIES in the PEOPLE OF GOD_the JEWS-to SUPRESS the GOSPEL by seeking out those who were EVANGELIZING and ANY who followed Jesus-and PUT THEM TO DEATH by a HORRIBLE METHOD_as people were KILLED as MOBS GATHERED and THREW LARGE STONES AT THEM until they were DEAD.
PAUL was a MURDERER OF CHRISTIANS ACTIVELY WORKING TO STOP THE GOSPEL FROM GOING FORWARD…
Was he LESS THAN HUMAN?
OF COURSE NOT!
He IS the ‘chief of sinners’ ON RECORD as such in God’s Holy Writ.
But NEVER LESS THAN A MAN MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD, DESIGNED BY GOD to show HIS GLORY-even when he was in a BADLY FALLEN STATE.
HOW in OUR WORLD, american ‘evangelicals’ have LOST SIGHT of the VERY GOSPEL this MURDERER was TRANSFORMED BY GRACE to be an APOSTLE OF, as an EXAMPLE TO US of God’s GRACE and LOVE, is at a MINIMUM meant to teach us that NO ONE is BEYOND THE GRACE OF GOD.
So HOW CAN WE NOT PAUSE and TAKE THE TIME to THINK ABOUT how AIMEE has been treated by men who PRIDE THEMSELVES ON THEIR UNDERSTANDING OF THE BIBLE…
These men have ACTED LIKE WOLVES… and NEED TO BE CALLED ON IT, and EITHER BROUGHT TO REPENTANCE, or SEPARATED for REFLECTING THEY ARE NOT ACTING LIKE FOLLOWERS OF JESUS, if they will NOT repent…
LOVE and CHURCH DISCIPLINE are the two hallmarks of the TRUE CHURCH-according to Francis Shaeffer, and Martin Lloyd-Jones writings from the seventies-when there was GREAT dsichord over the DEPARTURE of the mainline denominations from HOLDING TO THE BASIC TRUTH that GOD”S WORD is TRUE (infallible and innerant, both, in theological terms).
A godly sister in Christ has been WORKING FOR YEARS to help DISCIPLE WOMEN, and came against a WALL that exists in the american ‘evangelical’ church that ACTIVELY SUPPRESSES half the human race, who are MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD, CALLED TO become followers of JESUS and MEANT TO FOLLWO JESUS ALONG SIDE MEN.
Brothers in the OPC-stand up and BE MEN and DEAL WITH THE WOLVES IN YOUR MIDST; and DEFEND THOSE WHO ARE STILL BEING ATTACKED WRONGLY…
I’m not in the OPC. I’m a ‘Paulist’ in my theology;;; oops-Paul EXPLICITLY warns me NOT TO SAY THAT.. .Okay-I REPENT. I’m NOT A PAULIST but a FOLLOWER OF JESUS..
Yes, I am a ‘member in good standing of a church’ but WHICH church, WHICH denominiation-really isn’t meant to be somethng that SEPARATES US in ANY WAY.
If we can’t handle issues like this one lovingly in ways that bring us to a place where ‘reconcliation’ takes place for people who were HARMED by the ABSENCE of LOVE, and then to RESTORATION and UNITY IN OUR CALL TO FOLLOW JESUS AND TAKE THE GOSPEL SEERIOUSLY and LOVE ONE ANOTHER, how can we HOPE to be AMBASSADORS OF RECONCILIATION with the FALLEN, HURTING WORLD AROUND US that we are told by paul is ACTIVELY HOSTILE TO GOD.
the POWER OF THE GOSPEL is simple; the LOVE OF GOD is able to OVERCOME any adversary.
the GOOD SAMARITAN teaches us simply what God’s LOVE in the gospel of JESUS calls us to FOCUS ON and engage in DAY TO DAY.
I devoted my life to the BIVOCATIONAL calling of God He called me to, setting me apart to be a ‘shepherd’ over the very sheep who BELONG TO JESUS, who HE has given into the care of ‘shepherds’ today-men who have RESPONSIBILITY to care for and NURTURE the SOULS of HIS sheep.
a ‘high calling’-a SOLEMN RESPONSIBILITY.
if SHEPHERDS cannot LOVE and LOVINGLY DISCIPLINE one another-then ‘how are they doing with OTHERS who have LESS UNDERSTANDING OF GOD”S WORD than THEY HAVE PURPORTEDLY DEVOTED THEMSSELVES TO. (I would contend that a RIGHT UndERSTANDING OF GOD”S WORD leads to a GREATER not LESSER manifestation of “LOVE’ in tangible expression…
BROTHERS IN THE OPC, how can you ALLOW THIS TO CONTINUE? bring it to a HALT and BECOME A MODEL of how GOD”S LOVING CORRECTION leads to RESTORATION AND RECONCILIATION.
there are a LOT OF PEOPLE HURTING in our world and OUR NATION-and this kind of HARMFUL DEALING with women who are SEEKING TO ADDRESS SERIOUS OUTAGES-the lack of DISCIPLESHIP OF WOMEN being one of the larger needs that a relative handful of women and VERY FEW men-are visible in addressing…
‘we can do better than this’..
Abuse is a widespread problem; sadly, the american church offers those of us who struggle with it, in its many forms-most of which I’ve experienced first hand-but in God’s Providence, someone ELSE was always there who was TARGETTED more severely or more directly. I worked in ‘hostile work environments’ in TWO university settings; in both, the perpetrator of the ‘harassment’ was not sanctioned; but allowed to remain in authority even after MULTIPLE WITNESSES who had been ‘harassed’ or WORSE came forward, finding the courage to SPEAK… but in both universities, they were SILENCED..which reversed the healing that began when they ‘found their voices’-for years.
that’s just plain wrong. But it’s the recurring pattern we are seeing in the church in America. Evidenced plainly in the report just released that details the way a small group-the EC, handled abuse in the largest denominaition in our nation.
But it’s handled this awful way-in way too many places. And I know of NO good examples where it’s been handled well-from first hand experience. I know of a FEW cases were a ‘community’ is LEARNING through repeated lessons-what God simply CALLS US TO ENGAGE IN IN HIS LOVE-when someone is HURTING because of the spiritual, emotional, physical or sexual abuse they have endured…
What people NEED is embodied in the simplest of parables; but also in stories God gave us in the lives of REAL PEOPLE to hear and learn from.
Why not GATHER TOGETHER, Reconginze how LARGE this problem IS in OUR OWN COMMUNITIES-and BRAINTSTORM about ways we can TAKE THE LOVE OF GOD IN THE GOSPEL and MAKE IT TANGIBLE IN THE LIVES OF REAL PEOPLE WE KNOW who are HURTING BADLY.
We have LEARNED how to HELP PEOPLE in a ‘GOOD SAMARITAN” way when they suffer from the trauma of loss that comes when there is a ‘natural disaster’.
we respond WELL when someone’s life is devastated by a tornado, a flood, a hurricane, a fire, a severe thunderstorm that brings a tree branch down damaging property. We send PEOPLE to HELP THEM, even are organized at a community level to help, nationally and as faith commuinties (a half DOZEN churches around me-have ‘disaster relief’ trailers-and there’s a building within three blocks of my house with a denomination’s name and ‘disaster relief’ in the side of the building.
People traumatized by another human being-emotionally, physically, spiritually, or sexually-need ‘someone to come along side them’ who KNOWS THE LOVE OF GOD-some may need counselors trained to handle the severe forms of trauma that require greater understanding-but they ALSO NEED the LOVE OF GOD expressed by simple ‘friends who know Jesus’; and the ASSISTANCE that only a COMMUNITY has resources for…
I don’t need to spell this out further.
BROTHERS IN THE OPC; don’t form a ‘committee’ to ‘look into the problem’ and two years from now, take baby steps.
of the more than 150 of you who recognized the harshness of how Aimee was treated, are there not a handful of you who can start communicating about specific things that can be done individually, to offer simple ‘community’ and be a place that ADDRESSES the ONGOING SIN of ORDAINED MEN who continue to ATTACK HER?!
I READ the OPC’s BCO to see whether I COULD SUBMIT A RESOLUTION; but there’s NO PROVISION for me to do so as someone OUTSIDE the OPC. so I CONSIDERED finding and JOINING a local OPC church-so that i could SUBMIT such a resolution…
But I could not locate one that seemed suitable or close enough to take action. I believe it’s the right ting to do, when you see something wrong that affects ‘your neighbor’ to ENGAGE in whatever you can do to LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.
BROTHERS, don’t stand IDLE… God detests ‘lukewarmness’.
Aimee should not be the one DEFENDING herself or SPEAKING to the ONGOING TRAVESTY of teaching elders acting like wolves in the OPC.
Brothers, ACT IN LOVE.
protect ONE OF YOUR OWN WOMEN who has been attacked and HARMED. and SHOW US WHAT BIBLICAL LOVE that leads to REPENTANCE, that brings forth fruits-‘reconciliation, restitution (a LARGELY FORGOTTEN CONCEPT OUTSIDE THE LITIGATION CIRCLES of our culture), and RESTORATION.
the GOSPEL IS POWERFUL and LEADS TO ALL THREE..
PAUL a MURDER_became an APOSTLE OF THE VERY FAITH HE WAS TRYING TO SUPRESS.
OUR GOD is POWERFUL, but WAITS for us to CALL ON HIM and FOLLOW HIM where HE LEADS.
TRUST HIM, LOVE HIM and LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF, and PROVE HIS LOVE to the FAITH COMMUNITY and the world around us that is watching.
HE is the GOD OF LOVE and the GOD WHO RESTORES.
Considering Gouge’s quotes in Aimee’s blog post, one might wonder whether William Gouge understood that his wife Elizabeth, as well as his mother, sisters, daughters, granddaughters, his female parishioners, etc., were “more than” women as he conceived them, and that it would have glorified God if they thought of themselves as such. Before any temporal relationship, God’s female image-bearers, are from God, endowed with the natural image of God that they might be to God’s eternal praise beyond the shadows and types given us on earth. Fleeting marriage for the man and woman points beyond this life to our unmediated consummate communion with the triune God in heaven. This is why God says through his prophet Isaiah, “Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth — everyone who is called by my name whom I created from my glory, whom I formed and made” (Is. 43:6b-7).
It seems to me that William Gouge read the woman according to natural law, unnaturally understood by his fallen reason. His tract on “The Particular Duties of Wives” reflects that the woman according to nature was made for the man and that the man according to nature was made for God. A right reading of the Genesis 1 natural image and a right reading of natural law, as a servant of the covenant, have the same end. We read ourselves and nature rightly that we might know him and worship him. The visible things are given that we might set our hearts on God’s plans to consummate his communion with his image-bearers, male and female, as he brings us into never-ending fellowship with himself on his holy mountain. In others words, the woman reads the man and the man reads the woman according to God’s plan to bring an elect bridal people to a holy realm by means of a faithful federal head, that God might delight in his people and he in them forever.
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Gouge, being a Westminsterian divine, no doubt frequently employs “superior” and “inferior” as the larger catechism does, in terms of duties required and sins forbidden in the fifth commandment. I think you may want to note his treatment and rebukes of lazy and harsh husbands, or his criticism of men who try to takeover the labors of a capable wife. Also the equality he saw of husbands and wives as equal “superiors” (governors) over everyone else in their home.
William Gouge, concerning the Fifth Commandment that “most usually the husband and his wife are the chiefest in a family, all under them
single persons: they are governors of all the rest in the house.”
Gouge further remarks concerning a
trusted wife that “it is inferred, that she orders all the things of the house, whereof many particulars are there specified…. She is a joint
governor with her husband over the children and servants, as was showed before.”
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This does not alter what Gouge makes explicit, the woman’s natural inferiority. It is outrageous, sheer “hubris” for a woman to think of herself as the true complement of the man without the ontological hierarchy that Gouge understands by nature. Consider this quote, “I do not deny that a wife may have more understanding than her husband, for some men are very ignorant and stupid . . .” Gouge’s scale of inferior and superior knowledge and understanding allows for some overlap—-a wife who has a “great measure of knowledge and discretion” might perhaps go “against this principle” of superiority and inferiority and be able to judge better than a husband who is “very ignorant and stupid.”