Adj. Pertaining to complementarianism and egalitarianism.

***Working to be a safe place for all sides to share.***


Sunday, March 30, 2008

Children Mature But Wives Never Do (?)

Photobucket Wifely submission/subjection doesn't come up in the Ten Commandments (which is interesting, what with the way it's proclaimed by some to be the answer to societal woes). Children are to obey parents in the Big Ten, but wives (and slaves) are not commanded to obey. Apparently, their subjection wasn't important enough to rate inclusion, but why, I wonder?

I would posit that it's because children are in a state of needing someone wiser and older to obey. The obedience of children makes sense: the toddler isn't aware that running in front of the car is dangerous. He needs a shepherd to guide him into maturity.

As an adult, he will respect his parents for what they did for him, but he will no longer obey them as a child. In fact, if things run their course, it will one day be the parents "obeying" the child, as he gently leads them to finely chopped meals and helps them clean themselves when bodily wastes emit.
In otherwords, the obedience of a child is a temporary thing in order for the child to grow into a competant capable adult. Interestingly, this is also how authority in church leadership is defined by Paul, as a temporary thing in order to get those "younger" to a place of equal or greater maturity than that of the leader (see Ephesians 4:11-13).

As is the case with children, are women literally in need of a masculine authority to obey in order to be safe, in order for them to walk in wisdom (whether in the home or in the church)?
If so, when does the woman get to grow into maturity? And why does both the authority of the parent and the church leader act as a tool to aid the "younger" to grow to a place of maturity (and thus the authorities "job" is to work him/herself out of a job, as it were), but the authority of the husband (in the complementarian framework) remain something the woman must always be subject to?

In other words, why does female subjection not seem to make good common sense (to me, anyways) when so many of the other commands do?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Declaration of Independence excluded women

According to the CBE Scroll, the authors of the second paragraph of the U.S. Declaration of Independence excluded women when they wrote:
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.
The CBE Scroll says:
The mention made of ‘men’ above refers to both men and women; right? Wrong! When Thomas Jefferson and those who helped him draft the Declaration of Independence wrote of governments deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, they did not include women. In fact, in 1787 they gave white male property owners over the age of twenty-one the right to vote, and they did not give the same right to women. That would have to wait until 1920.
I assumed, I guess, that "all men" was an inclusive term in the Declaration of Independence. But what the CBE Scroll claims makes sense in light of property ownership, lack of women's suffrage, etc.

Do you think that the authors of the Declaration of Independence included women with "all men"?

Monday, March 24, 2008

Biblical manhood and womanhood

Both complementarians and egalitarians claim that their interpretation of the the Bible is the one that reflects "Biblical manhood and womanhood." Both sides have biblical scholars who present evidence from the Bible which, they say, supports their viewpoint.

Do you feel that it is right for either side to claim the label of being "biblical" with regard to gender issues?

When both sides claim to be "biblical" how does one determine which side actually is?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What does the Bible say?

Every once in awhile I like to summarize some of what I've been hearing in comments on this blog. I'd like to do that now by listing some of the things that the Bible says or does say does not say about the gender issues. When I use the word "says," I am referring to some explicit statement in the Bible that directly says what at least some of us believe. Feel free to correct me if I make a mistake about any of these:
  1. The Bible says that Christians are to submit to "one another" (Eph. 5:21).
  2. The Bible tells wives to submit to their husbands (Eph. 5:22).
  3. The Bible does not explicitly tell husbands to submit to their wives.
  4. Husbands are instructed to love their wives as Christ loved the church and died for it.
  5. The Bible never says that husbands have authority over their wives.
  6. The Bible never says that husbands are to lead their wives.
  7. The Bible says that a husband is the kephale (literally non-symbolic meaning, "head"; there is debate about its symbolic meaning) of his wife.
  8. The Bible says that there is a unity of head and body.
  9. The Bible never says that a woman is subordinate to her husband.
  10. The Bible does not say that women are to "obey" their husbands.
  11. The Bible never says that a woman is in any way inferior to her husband.
  12. The Bible does not explicitly describe differences of responsibility based on whether a person is a husband or a wife.
  13. The Bible says that a woman is not to "usurp" authority over a man or to teach him.
  14. The Bible says that Priscilla and her husband Aquila "explained to [Apollos]the way of God more accurately."
  15. The Bible says that Eve was deceived by the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
  16. The Bible says that Adam yielded to temptation in the Garden of Eden.
  17. The Bible says that the ground was cursed after the Fall.
  18. The Bibles says that the serpent was cursed after the Fall.
  19. The Bible does not say that either Adam nor Eve was cursed after the Fall.
  20. The Bible does not say that a man's "rule" over his wife or a woman's pain in childbirth was part of the curse after the Fall.
  21. The Bible says that some women prophesied (Acts).
  22. The first person to tell the good news that Jesus had come back to life was Mary, a woman.
  23. Jesus taught men, as well as women.
  24. Jesus did not treat women as inferior to men as was the cultural norm of his day.
  25. Jesus submitted his will to that of his heavenly Father.
  26. Jesus taught his disciples that greatness comes from serving others.
  27. The Bible teaches that both fathers and mothers are to manage their home life.
  28. Children are to obey their parents, both fathers and mothers.
  29. The fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 6 5) are not gender-based.
  30. The Bible does not say that any of the gifts of the Spirit are gender-based.
What else would you add that the Bible explicitly says or does not say about gender issues?

Do you spot any errors n my list?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

women in church leadership

This Side of Sunday blog recently wrestled with questions about the interpretation of Bible passages having to do with women in church leadership. The post was written by a former complementarian who now believes that the Bible teaches egalitarianism.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The KIND of woman matters?

I lifted this blog post off of the Triablogue blog, posted by Gene Bridges concerning Isaiah 3:12, which says,
As for My people, children are their oppressors,
And women rule over them.
O My people! Those who lead you cause you to err,
And destroy the way of your paths.

(I found that reading the chapter from the beginning helps with the context of what follows.)

I've been asked to comment on the (mis)use of Isaiah 3:12 by some complementarians.

First, let me clear, I am a biblical complementarian, not an egalitarian. That said, my position is heavily caveated. I don't affirm women as elders in a local church, but a seminary is not a local church. Ergo, yes, it's fine with me if women teach male students in seminary. I am also on a personal mission to get more women engaged in E-pologetics. We need you!

I have heard this passage used in the way Wade describes, and it's got nothing to do with the *fact* of female rulers/misrulers. Rather it speaks to the *reasons* they are ruling.


The men are absent? Why would that be? To what would that be a reference?

1. Well, when children oppress, that speaks to an inversion of the created order, not in the home, but society as a whole. Children, under no circumstances are to have authority as rulers. "Children" were oppressing. Which children?

Answer: Child rulers. I would also point out that the definition of a "child ruler" in the Ancient Near East,as in the OT law on stoning rebellious children, is quite flexible. Not all references to "children" mean "little boys and girls," what we would call elementary or preschool age children or slightly older.

The law on stoning a rebellious child, for example,deals with any child, specifically adult children, who disgrace the family. A child who oppresses as a ruler, would be any ruler of young age that is oppressive.

2. And women rule over them. How? Through those child rulers. There women acting as coregents and counselors and coopting the power of the throne in the highest tradition of the evil houses of the North, following after that whorish Queen Jezebel who certainly set the bar high, did she not,for the very name "Jezebel" has been ruined for every generation since.

Women in the court and their influence is spoken of in somewhat positive fashion in some places. Jerusha, mother of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah was daughter of Zadok, high priest,and a godly woman.

On the other hand, we have the story of Ahaziah, 22 years of age when enthroned, who walked in the ways of Ahab. His mothers name was Athaliah, the granddaughter of Omri. She engaged in a systematic campaign to overthrow the House of David. Jehoram was 32 when he took the throne, and reigned 8 years. He walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab did, for Ahab's daughter was his wife. Then we have Shimeath and Jehozabad referenced in 2 Chronicles 24. Look it up and see why they are there. As with the Assyrians God raised up to judge Israel (and whom God held accountable for their sins in so doing), so God uses Zabad and Jehozabad to judge Joash.

And that's the point of the passage here. The reference to "women ruling over them" has nothing to doone way or the other with women in leadership roles and the intrinsic role of women. Rather, Isaiah is making a reference to the history of young rulers who have been influenced by mothers and wives who have followed not after God but the gods of the pagans. We see this in 2 Chronicles, where the Chronicler makes constant reference from the time of Ahab to the insinuation of women from Ahab's family into the House of David. The same pattern appears over and over. It's a repeat of the Sin at Meribah in Numbers - the intermarriage with the Moabite women. It's a repeat of Solomon's women problems - for he let them worship their idols. It's a repeat of Jezebel's role in the life of Ahab. It is, in short, an ongoing problem in the life at court in Jerusalem. This gets repeated even in the NT and is a signal of apostasy. Remember the role women played in the life of the royal court under Herod?

The problem isn't related women for the sake of women - it's what sort of women are involved - women like Jezebel. and Athaliah, not women like Jechiliah, Jerusha and Jehoshabeath. Look carefully at the books of the Kings and Chronicles. Very often, the mention is quick (blink and you'll miss it), but an evil, immature king is connected to a woman who is depicted in the background. When good king is listed,and you see a connection to a female, I would say the presumption is that the author is making a tacit comment that this woman was godly and had positive influence.

If you're one of those who thinks women involved in high level government positions, to take a more mundane example, is a sign of a wicked nation, this text doesn't support you. It's not about the gender of who is sitting on the throne, it's about the power behind the throne, namely the wives, mothers, and counselors of those men. Men ruled, but the women in their lives corrupted them. It tells us (a) to watch who we marry and to whom we listen, and (b) gives us a good reason to "leave your father and mother and cleave to your wife, if the problem is your wicked mother or grandmother, and it speaks to the tremendous influence (and responsibility) women have over the men in their lives, both sons and husbands. Men, listen to the godly women in your lives and take their wise counsel to heart! Men, stand up to the ungodly women in your lives and and rebuke them!

I believe Gene brings legitimate added context to 1 Tim. 2:12 (see first full paragraph). Does this address questions about authority and women in the church? Or, do his considerations answer questions that the Apostle Paul doesn't even invite us to ask (per the Grudem/CBMW view)? Would egalitarians be comfortable with these considerations given by a complementarian? Does it fit with a complementarian view of church leadership?

What does "one another" mean in Eph. 5:21?

One of the differences between some completarians and, I think, all egalitarians is in how they interpret and/or apply the meaning of Greek allelois (English "one another") in Eph. 5:21. Egalitarians understand this word to refer to mutual relationships within the Body of Christ, that is, that each Christian is to submit to each other Christian, where submission is a voluntary act of deferring to the desires of another.

Some complementarians believe that "one another" is to be applied more restrictively. The narrowest interpretation of the word that I have read about, if I have understood the claim correctly, is that the word only applies to submission relationships which follow Eph. 5:21. According to the Greek text there is one such submission (Greek hupotasso) relationship, namely, that of wives to their husbands (5:22). Some complementarians believe that submission relationships following Eph. 5:21 include the "obey" (Greek hupakouo) relationships, namely, children to their parents (6:1) and slaves to their masters (6:5).

Some complementarians, again, if I understand them correctly, believe that "one another" does not refer to mutual submission at all, but only to any relationship where the Bible says that one person is to submit to another, such as those relationships described in my next paragraph.

As I have written previously, there are other passages in the Bible which also use the Greek word hupotasso ("submit"). In Col. 3:18, also, wives are told to submit to their husbands. In Heb. 13:17 we are told to both "obey" and "submit" to our spiritual (church) leaders. In James 4:7 we are told to "submit" to God.

Here are some questions that we can discuss:
  1. What relationships do you think "one another" refers to in Eph. 5:21?
  2. Do you understand "one another" to refer to mutual submission relationships (each Christian to each other Christian) or only unilateral submission relationships?
  3. Are any of the "one another" relationships dependent on the gender of any individuals?
  4. Are any of the "one another" relationships dependent on the social or employment status of any individuals?
  5. Do you understand loving service to someone, servant-heartedness toward someone, or obedience to someone to be forms of biblical submission to that person?
  6. If you believe that "one another" refers to how any Christian is to submit to any other Christian, in an appropriate situation, do you believe that that submission no longer applies to a man if he marries a woman to whom he previously had a mutual submission relationship, as he relates to her within their marriage?
I realize that these are difficult questions, perhaps some that you have never considered before. Don't feel like you need to answer each of them, if they are difficult for you. But if you can address some of them in comments to this post, that would be helpful for our discussions on this blog. As always, try to support your answers with evidence, especially evidence from the Bible.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

submission and subordination

Maybe I do a better job of asking questions than answering them. In any case, I have tried to follow the arguments for and against eternal subordination of the Jesus Christ the Son to God the Father. I believe I have also heard it taught that wives are to be subordinate to their husbands.

But I'm thinking that the Bible teaches that Christ submitted himself to the will of his Father. And the Bible teaches that wives are to submit to their husbands, as well as that within the Body of Christ we are to submit to each other. We are taught to submit ourselves to governmental authorities. But I can't recall any biblical teaching about subordination.

Am I forgetting some biblical teaching? Or does subordination mean the same thing as submission to some people?

It would seem to me that subordination has to do with rank, such as a lieutenant being subordinate to a general in the military. Those who have subordinates have authority over those subordinates, in my understanding. Submission, on the other hand, seems to me, to be an act. Submission, as far as I know, does not imply that one is submitting to someone who has authority over them, although it is possible for someone to submit to someone who has authority over them. It seems to me that subordination and submission are different things. One can be subordinate to another but not submit to that person (technically called a superordinate, in some disciplines). That lack of submission to do what an authority figures commands can be a serious matter of disobedience, a breach of protocol. A parent can submit to the wishes of their children, while not being subordinate to their children.

I'm not convinced that the Bible teaches anything about Christ being subordinate to his heavenly Father or that women are subordinate to their husbands. But Phil. 2 beautifully describes the willing submission of Christ to a process in which he was born as a human to be a servant.

If you'll allow (hmm, do you have any choice?!) this punster the following: perhaps thinking about submission in terms of subordination is rank!

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Does naming imply authority?

Some complementarians believe that naming someone implies that you have authority over them. They believe that because Adam named Eve and himself in Genesis 2:23, Adam had authority over Eve. Hebrew scholar John Hobbins blogs today on this question. John concludes:
Naming is not always about wielding authority. It can be an expression of love and appreciation, the conclusion of a process of discovery and self-discovery.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Is There Such a Thing as a Complegalitarian?

For fun tonight I googled on "complegalitarian." There were hits to this blog or to posts on other blogs about this blog. Then I spotted a hit on the title "Is There Such a Thing as a Complegalitarian?" It's an essay by my friend Mark Strauss. Mark is a complementarian. Sometimes he refers to himself as a mild complementarian. In any case, if you'd like to read his essay, click here.