This arguably goes across the board in regard to many institutions that are considered sacred. The slave/master institution used to be considered sacred. Masters were over the slaves, and actually slavery in Israel was ahead of its time, as it was for the benefit of those enslaved who needed help. With careful laws set in place in the Pentateuch (Genesis through Deuteronomy), slaves were to be elgible for complete release at a certain time, having received the help they needed. In Paul's time, while he taught Christian masters to treat their slaves well, and Christian slaves to serve their masters well, yet in 1 Corinthians 7 and particularly Philemon we find him arguably, and I think clearly on careful study of these passages, putting the nail in the coffin to end that institution altogether. Of course slavery has a different sound to it today, given our own relatively recent history as a nation, over slavery of the past. Though in reality, much of the slavery of the past had its share of vices and problems as well.
A key passage in my understanding of the goal of the kingdom being important in our thinking and actions today is Galatians 3:26-29 (note also Colossians 3:9-11):
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.Paul is saying that these distinctions, in a sense, break down, in Jesus. So that in accordance with God's creation and his new creation in Jesus there are no longer people enslaved to other people. Women are no longer ruled over by men, a consequence I believe of the fall (Genesis 3, note verse 16). As we gather from Matthew Henry, woman was created from man's side, and from close to his heart to be a partner with him, side by side, not over or under him.
Paul had to deal with the institutions of his day and the partriarchical society in which they lived. So as in other places in Scripture, God's truth accomodates to where people are living, but revelation is progressive, bringing God's people along towards the goal of the kingdom of God in Jesus.
As for men and women relationships I consider myself to be something of a complementary egalitarian (though "egalitarian" as a word is reduced because of its misuse in society today, to me simply meaning there is an equality while at the same time acknowledging the differences between male and female). I take passages as in Ephesians 5 to speak to us today directly, while at the same time accomodating the truth of God to the conventions of that time in that heavily patriarchical society. (1 Corinthians 11 must be compared with 1 Timothy 2, and other passages, in looking at this issue. A most helpful book and clearly written is by William Webb: Slaves, Women & Homosexuals. He sees the first two entities as parallel, and the last- the homosexual, as not, but forbidden in practice across the board in all of Scripture, and therefore not in God's goal of the kingdom.
Today we live in what we might call a soft patriarchical society among many and more of an egalitarian society among others. But among Christians, I doubt that the practical outworking between the two positions is different at all. Except for the place my side gives to women to serve as pastors. Most married couples make decisions together on either side, sometimes choosing to defer to one or the other as well as compromise (as we all know).
Just some food for thought in thinking through these issues in which we Christians are divided.
Any thoughts you'd like to share on this?