Adj. Pertaining to complementarianism and egalitarianism.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

A Wrong Turn

I know, I've been hogging the blogging lately, but I felt compelled to share what I read today in the outstanding book, God's Word to Women, specifically Lesson 96.

This lesson begins with scriptural backing for the idea that one factor that may have been delaying the Lord's return is the muzzling of women. Paragraphs 791 and 794 read:
But woman will emerge-- in fact, is now emerging-- from obscurity. It is amazing that certain men most insistent on the doctrine that Christ is coming soon, are blindly zealous in delaying that coming as much as possible, by hindering the emancipation of woman, and her ministry in the Gospel. They refuse to see that the express order of development in Christ’s kingdom on earth was given by Christ Himself in the two parables of the Kingdom; and by the Apostle Paul in the symbol, “Adam was first formed, then Eve” (1 Timothy 2:13).

On the days of Pentecost Peter said: “This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel . . . I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your . . . daughters shall prophesy . . . and on My handmaidens I will pour out in those days of My Spirit,” Acts 2:17-20. That prophecy has, as yet, been only partially fulfilled. It is yet to be filled out to the full. The sun has not yet been turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, nor has the great and notable day of the Lord yet come. Only a handful of women, as compared with “all flesh,” has, as yet, prophesied. The prophecy must be filled out to the full before “that great and notable day,” and those who stupidly hinder that prophesying on the part of women are placing themselves, as it were, across the path of the fulfillment of God’s Word. Instead of “hasting the coming of the day of God” (2 Peter 3:12, margin), they are hindering the preparation for that coming.

There is much more and I strongly recommend reading the whole book to get context and more scripture references. But who knows how long the Lord's return has been delayed by the silencing of women? This is perhaps the most tragic consequence of so-called complementarianism. Any time half the Body of Christ is "entitled" over the other half, the whole Body suffers (1 Corinthians 12:26).
795. When Christ laid His hands upon the bowed back of the woman, that Sabbath (see Lesson 89), and ordained her to glorify God in the synagogue, it was not precisely to heal her of her bent back. Before that, He had told her, “Woman, thou art loosed from thine infirmity.” but she could not grasp the full import of His words. She was bound in spirit, as well as in body. She had had “a spirit of infirmity eighteen years,” we are told. She could not dispel that spirit of infirmity without Divine aid. After His laying hands on her, however, then she could straighten up and glorify God.

796. “Where the Spirit of the Lord is there is liberty.” Was ever anyone able to change his or her delusions short of aid from without? We doubt it. A cure of the spirit demands the aid of the Spirit. Who does not understand that the chief difficulty that God and Moses had in delivering the children of Israel from the bondage of Egypt was not the Egyptians, but the spirit of slavery and the spirit of bondage to pagan gods, to which those Israelites were likewise enslaved? God easily disposed of the Egyptians in the Red Sea, but He could not, in the same easy fashion, drown the spirit of bondage in the Israelites which they had acquired under slavery. Just so with women of today. Except for a mere handful of mistaken men, who could easily be put aside, the men of Christian countries constitute no longer an obstacle to woman’s freedom and preaching of the Gospel.

797. The vast majority of men would welcome woman’s freedom in everything worth the name. In the past such was not the case, and, as a consequence woman has acquired that spirit of infirmity of which God prophesied when He pointed out to Eve that her “turning” would be to her husband— in other words, she would turn away from God to him, placing herself in dependent relations to him such as she ought to hold toward God alone. This tendency Eve bequeathed to womankind and it has been fostered throughout past ages, and only Christ can cure the spirit. Pagan and godless women, as such, with all their struggles and often offensive efforts towards emancipation, will never get free. There is no freedom for women excepting escape into Christ the Emancipator; because the bondage is not really of the male’s creation, but of Satan’s; and the reason of that bondage is because Satan knows that “the seed of the woman” will yet completely destroy his seed.

798. And when will the Church come out into the “glorious liberty of the children of God” (Rom. 8:21), which is its rightful inheritance? When the free Spirit of God descends upon it again as on the day of Pentecost. And when will that time come? If I read aright, when the women of the Church become free, or not at all— for the prophet Isaiah has said: “Rise up, ye women that are at ease; hear my voice, ye careless daughters; give ear unto be speech . . . Tremble, ye women that are at ease: be troubled, ye careless ones. . . Upon the land of my people shall come thorns and briars; yea, upon all the houses of joy in the joyous city. Because the palaces shall be forsaken; the multitude of the city shall be left; the forts and towers shall be dens forever, a joy of wild asses, a pasture of flocks; Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high” (32:9-15). Thus does the prophet of old call upon women to leave their careless ease, and come and wait on God with all the rest, for the outpouring of His Spirit upon them, as well as upon men, that the way may be opened for the restoration of Jerusalem, and for “the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21). Let us women, then, hasten to our Lord, and beseech Him to lay His hand upon us, dispel this “spirit of infirmity” with which Satan has bound us, “lo these eighteen” centuries, and then lift our voices in the synagogues and churches, and glorify our God.

But the main point I wanted to share today is concerning Christ's "headship" and what it really means to the church. Let's hear Dr. Bushnell again, from Lesson 37. This is absolutely breathtaking. The "head" is to bring up the "body" to equality!
282. The "head" in the symbolic language of the Revelation (where alone it is used in pure symbolism in the N. T., aside from the headship of Christ and of the husband), does not signify rule. The red dragon has diadems on his seven heads to signify rule (Revelation 12:3); the Beast has diadems on his horns (not on his heads) to signify rule (Revelation 13:1); the diadem, not the head, is a symbol of rule in these instances. The heads in each case signify divisions; the diadems, rule. The teaching is that all divisions of rule unite in the dragon, and in the Beast, in turn; they obtain universal sovereignty. In Revelation 17:9, 10, we read: "The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth: and they are seven kings" (R. V.). This refers to the Beast and the Scarlet Woman on the Beast. Here the symbolism is support. Seven mountains support the foundation of this great city, and seven kings support her rule (Revelation 17:18). The Woman rules these "heads;" they do not rule her.

283. "Head" (kephale), in the N. T. is used in the same way as "head" (rosh) in the O. T. for "chief,” in speaking of Christ as the "head of the corner" in six different passages; but these are quotations of, or references to, Psalm 118:22, "The stone which the builders refused is become the head of the corner." The head or cornerstone gave support to the entire building and was usually of immense size for this purpose; it also bound the sides of a building together. So Christ is the support of His church, and binds its members together into one (Ephesians 4:15-16; Colossians 2:19).

284. We have shown (pars. 248-250) that St. Paul is not teaching the subordination of wife to husband, in 1 Corinthians 11:3-16, unless it be implied in the one phrase, “of a wife the husband is a head;” and we waived the discussion of this symbolism until the present time. As we have already said, the only other place where it is stated that the husband is head of the wife, is Ephesians 5:23, and there we are told in what sense he is head,--as Christ also is Head of the Church" (R. V.). Christ is the cornerstone of the church,--its support, Builder. For Christ is no mere stone; He lives, and Christians are represented by St. Paul as growing "up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:15). And Colossians 2:19 describes Christ as "the Head, from which all the Body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.” Neither of these two passages refers to Christ's government. They represent Him as the support, nourisher and builder of the Body, its Savior.

285. But Ephesians 1:22 does speak of Christ's Headship as a reign. God "hath put in subjection all things under His feet" (R. V.); and the preceding verse informs us that this means that all "principalities and powers" are put under Him. But where is His church? The opening verses of the next chapter tells us. We have been quickened, and raised up with Christ. The Church is not, therefore, under His feet, in this headship of governments; it is designed that the Church share His rule,--Revelation 1:6; 3:21; 20:4, etc. We are taught that God gave Him "to be Head over all things to the Church." He is God's gift "to the Church" that we might share His headship over all things; as Dean Alford says here: "He possesses nothing for Himself . . . but all things for His Church, which is in innermost reality Himself,"--speaking, of course, of the mystical Body.

286. Christ began to found that Church when He said, "Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem until ye be endued with power from on high," then, "Go ye into all the world ". . . preach . . . teach . . . baptize." (See Luke, Mark and Matthew). Men and women listened to the command; women tarried and got the power as well as men (Acts 2:3-4); but men said: "No! Paul teaches that woman is merely a symbol of the Church; man a symbol of Christ. Therefore woman must not preach; must not teach; nor have power, or she will destroy the symbol.” Symbol of a strange church this! Woman with no message for the world; no converts to baptize; veiled like Judaism; stripped of power...

288. No church can long survive the silencing of its women. The church which silences women will be found to silence the Holy Spirit. A sect, or sex, or race which attempts a monopoly of the Spirit's voice and power, will find that the Holy Spirit will flee far from it. Woman is destined to have a very large share in the preaching of God's messages, and in bringing souls to Christ, for did not God promise, long ages ago, as regards woman, that her seed should bruise the Serpents head?

289. No teaching of the New Testament has ever been more cunningly perverted than this concerning the "headship" of the husband. Does Christ jealously keep the Church from rising into His power: or does He say, "Behold I give you power?" Does He say, "This is My throne, keep away!" to the Church; or does He say, "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on My throne?" Christ's delight and His constant exhortation is for us to share His throne-life with him. If we fall short, it certainly is not because He has ever shut the door to our attainment of it. He is not jealous of His own exaltation; He only secured it (for He had it before He came to earth), in such a manner that He might bring it within our grasp also.

290. But are we not to obey Christ? Yes, most certainly; obey Him because He is God, because He is King of kings; and these a husband is not, and he should not usurp Christ's prerogatives. Christ said: "Be not ye called Rabbi: for ONE is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.". . . "Neither be ye called masters; for ONE is your Master, even Christ." Woman's spiritual Head is also her King; and so is man’s spiritual Head. But woman's matrimonial head is not her king,--he is only a fellow-disciple and fellow-servant of the King; and the King has laid down His rules as to the conduct of fellow-disciples towards one another: "Ye know that the princes [rulers] of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them. But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister: and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant" (see Matthew 20:25; Luke 22:25).

291. When the Word says, "the husband is the head of the wife," by the pen of St. Paul, it merely states a fact; those where the conditions under which women lived at that time. The husband was, in those days, the head of the wife simply because he held the superior place. In days when a man could divorce his wife "for every cause" (Matthew 19:3; and even Christ's own disciples demurred when Christ declared this was not right), there could be no doubt that women were compelled to be ignorant, inferior and very cheap. The rabbis taught that it was lawful for a man to divorce his wife if she even burned his food. Hence the Apostle says: "Be a head, as Christ is a Head of the Church,--to help your wife upward to your own level,"--for it is only as man imitates Christ in his conduct that he can remain in the Body of which Christ is Head. Therefore the woman should "imitate" (1 Corinthians 11:1, R. V.) St. Paul, and the others in worship. And the man has certain duties to perform toward his wife which are analogous to what Christ purposes to do for His Church, for its elevation, until it shall "reign in life with Christ Jesus." This is the headship of the husband that Paul speaks of. He would never encourage the husband to imitate Adam and Antichrist in trying to be "as God," to woman, and to interfere with Christ's authority over His own servant,--woman.

Wow. Christ is building up his Body and making it equal to him, sharing our humanity and then making us rise with him. That is how the husband is to be as "head" to his wife.